It's been a week now since I've returned from Paris. Usually I'll have a period for several days of still being there in my thoughts -- as if I'm still in Paris; somewhat of a mindful afterglow. But upon arriving home I almost immediately began caring for a family member with pneumonia -- quite a scare. With my sister now on the mend, fortunately, I have been scrolling through the 1200+ photos on my camera, and what I discovered is -- a large percentage is devoted to French outdoor cafés. ( And why must I go blocks [if not miles] to sit at a café or find a decent pastry shop at home?). I guess that's one of the things I love about Europe and why I always find myself longing to return.
Below is just a small sampling of the tables and chairs that caught my eyes on the streets of Paris. So lovely...
One of my favorite shops to visit when in Paris is Astier de Villatte. I first discoved AV in 2000 at a small storefront on Rue du Bac. That location is now shuttered, but the flagship is on the Right Bank at 173 Rue Saint Honoré. I always stop by and just look. The joint venture between art students Benoit Astier de Villatte and Ivan Pericoli began by designing white handmade ceramic tableware and furniture and has expanded from there. I can only describe the centuries-old Paris shop as enchanting.
The tartlets above have a crust of Pâte Sucrée (rich, sweet shortcrust tart pastry) and a filling of Orange Marmalade and Chocolate Ganache with Grand Marnier. After my husband ate a tart made with Pâte Sucrée in Paris, that is probably all I will be allowed to bake in my kitchen! I recommend a low percentage bittersweet chocolate in the ganache, or even a semi-sweet chocolate.
Pâte Sucrée/recipe by Regan Daley
• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
• 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse several times just to blend the dry ingredients. Add the cold butter and pulse until the size of fat peas. Add the lightly beaten egg yolks and pulse two or three times, just until the mixture looks moist and crumbly and comes together in a clump when you squeeze it. If the mixture seems very dry, lightly beat one whole egg in a separate bowl and add up to half of this to the dough, pulsing until incorporated. The dough should be moist but still crumbly.
2. Dust your fingers with flour and press the dough evenly over the bottom and up side of a 10-11-inch tart pan with removable bottom (or into 2-inch tartlet pans, as I've done). Wrap the pan(s) and pastry carefully in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, at least.
3. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Prick the bottom of each chilled tart shell all over with a fork. Line the pastry with a piece of aluminum foil and fill the liner with rice. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges are just coloring, and the bottom of the pastry is beginning to cook. Remove the foil and rice and return the shell(s) to the oven until lightly browned all over.
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 4 ounces finely chopped dark chocolate
• 1 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1. Bring cream just to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour cream over chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Let stand for 2 minutes. Add butter, then whisk mixture until smooth. Add Grand Marnier and whisk in. Let cool, stirring often. Use immediately.
Assembly of Tarts
• Orange Marmalade
• 1/4 cup chopped white chocolate
• heavy cream
1. After pulling the tart shells from the oven, brush each of the bottoms with a teaspoonful of orange marmalade. Gently spread the Chocolate Ganache over the marmalade.
2. Melt the white chocolate over low heat or in a microwave oven with enough heavy cream to make it piping consistency. Fill a small zip-lock bag with the melted chocolate and make a tiny cut at one of the corners of the bag. Pipe a disk of the white chocolate onto the chocolate ganache and decorate with a silver dragée, if desired.
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