I'm a stickler on presentation. I'm certain that all has to do with my aunt who lived next door while I was growing up. She was a baker and would often call me on the phone announcing she had something to show me right away. I'd immediately run over to her house, where I would find a cake... or a pie... or sweet rolls. The dessert was always beautiful, and we would talk about how lovely it was and how good it will taste. Then... I walked back home. The pastry was for another time; after dinner, or for guests that would be visiting. Never for that immediate moment.
That's probably why I am so critical of myself and whatever I make in my kitchen. My family could care less. They just want to eat it, no matter what it looks like. I often describe my desserts as rustic; just never quite achieving that polished French pâtisserie perfection.
On my recent trip to Paris, I visited my favorite culinary supply store, E. Dehillerin, and took my very patient husband along. (He now knows "my Paris" more than he had ever wanted.) There I picked up some steel rings for making small, individual tart shells. I'm now working at releasing the perfect pastry, finding that a pâte sucrèe pressed into the ring has a better outcome than a tart pastry that is rolled. But pressing fingers too hard against the ring when filling with the pàte sucrèe can also be problematic. I see many long days ahead working on technique.
Don't you absolutely love this tower of molds that was in the Dehillerin window? Can you imagine the stunning dessert that would make?
My little raspberry tarts with pastry cream were inspired by the raspberry tarts above, that we ate at Le Petit Lux, along with our afternoon espresso. The pâtisserie is on Rue de Vaugirard, the longest road in Paris which extends from the Jardin du Luxembourg to the Porte de Versailles... Wow, that is long!
Ivy garlands at the Jardin du Luxembourg. If I tried to grow something like this in my yard, it would probably end up infested with red spider mites...
Sprinkle tarts with confectioners' sugar before eating... then, enjoy!