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Un clapotement sur la vitre du rêve – Brownies fondants au cacao

[A spalsh on the window of dreams – Fudgy cocoa brownies]

cocoa brownies bitten

Those brownies saved me from the many damages of sleepless nights. You see, I’m that kind of people who wakes up in one go – 4am, 8 am, or 11am… it feels the same to me.
And once that I’m awake, it will take hours to find my sleep – not to mention, lovely dreams filled with acorns and pastries – back.

This hadn’t been a problem in my life so far.

But as Guillaume woke me up forty five minutes before our 7:36am alarm for the eleventh day in a row with half-closed eyes, a giant smile on his face, and only one word to be said: brownies (or more accurately: J’ai envie de brownies), it sort of became one.

cocoa brownies cake stand

A quick look into the prospects of such a situation rushed me to the kitchen.

And here I was, stirring a mixture of butter, cocoa and sugar over a bain-marie at 6:49am; into which I, later, mixed in eggs and flour.

cocoa brownies batter

Once my oven was doing what it’s best at, I sat on the counter and looked through the window while sipping a green tea latte.

Seconds later, the barely perceptible blue morning sky grew into a dark grey cloud, and drops of water started hitting the glass.

cocoa brownies

At that exact moment, it felt like le monde appartient à ceux qui se lèvent tôt [literally, the world belongs to those who rise early].

By 7:17am, the dark-brown appareil had turned into the fugdiest brownies I’ve ever made and filled our flat with a toasty chocolate scent.

And for the record, Guillaume even emerged from bed before the usual wake-up time just to have a couple of slices.

cocoa brownies slice

Brownies fondants au cacao
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet (thank you Deb).

When I had my first bite of those insanely fudgy brownies, I felt sorry I hadn’t made them back when I first spotted them on Smitten Kitchen.

At the time, I thought it would be nice to experiment but wasn’t sure the flavour would be au rendez-vous. But I was wrong. Not only the use of cocoa powder provides the brownies with an intense chocolate taste, but it also is the secret to their amazing texture (along with the high quantity of sugar that is).

A new favourite at home!

Brownies fondants au cacao

makes 16 slices

140g butter
280g caster sugar
80g cocoa powder
1/4 heaped tsp maldon sea salt
2 large eggs
65g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a 25x25cm baking tin with baking paper.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a bowl and cook over a simmering bain-marie, stirring from time to time until it forms a smooth mixture and feel hot to the touch (around 50-60°C).

Set aside to cool down slightly, then mix in the eggs one at a time, using a whisk and stirring for a good minute after each one.
Fold in the flour and spread the batter evenly into the prepared tin.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until barely set. Allow to cool on a rack, then remove the brownies from the tin and slice into slices.

L’espace d’un moment – Une semaine de printemps

[Spur of the moment – A spring week]

J’aime: fudge-like cocoa brownies, pretty fabrics, roast pumpkin soup with lots of chili pepper, blooming flowers, perfect macarons, finding the perfect shop for kitchen tools, bright pink rhubarb, sharing a cheap Chinese take-away with Guillaume, polaroid pictures, waking up early, and dark chocolate with maldon sea salt.

moments

Le must: coming up with the most reliable recipe for macarons; after weeks of research. It feels like finding out you had had a treasure lying in your attic for ages.

I’m super happy because these cute little guys are so going to be part of the book I’m – deceptively slowly – trying to write (not this picture though, it was just a mere snapshot taken tonight, on the floor of our bedroom with a table cloth suspended in between two chairs to reduce the incoming light).

I will definitely share some more pictures later this week (or perhaps, more realistically, month) after I post the recipe for the most delicious brownies ever and the funny story that goes behind them.

macaron pola

In bloom

spring is here again

Spring is here again, or so says my once upon a time number one favourite rock band.
Although Nirvana is still occasionally listened to – preferably loud in my headphones – my music interests have changed.

So has my life.

Rather unexpectedly, I realised some of the old posts, which pictures got lost during the move from blogger to wordpress didn’t really fit the person I’ve now become.
I’ve thus decided to temporarily delete them until I get the chance to re-upload the pictures.

It hasn’t been an easy choice, and certainly doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for foodbeam to having pushed me to make my dream come true by becoming a pastry chef.

I just wasn’t comfortable with the words-only – and sometimes, very random – articles; and I do truly hope you understand.

I guess the fact that Spring is finally showing up might have had some effect on this sudden urge to declutter. I’m just so excited with those sunny beams and blooming flowers.

She is the liquid princess – Brioches marbrées au thé matcha

[Matcha green tea marble brioches]

brioche matcha loaf

With no rational reason except that those brioches looked terribly good, I decided to venture into the realm of feuilletage.

Once again. Although, this time, my kitchen did not come with a rolling pin.

I could have bought one on my recent visit to Pages. I almost did in fact. But eventually got out from the shop carrying many cercles [rings], a couple of knives, a sugar thermometer, and some ramekins.

brioche rising

Quite providentially, my kitchen did come with too many empty wine bottles to admit it; let’s be honest, I had five of them sitting on the counter.

In my defence, I must tell you they have been there for weeks, not just since the last waste removal day, which was – let me think – this morning.

brioche matcha

Armed with the one bottle that seemed fit for the occasion – read perfectly cylindrical, label removed – I went straight for the recipe. And then realised the folding instructions were in Japanese.

Now, why my kitchen did not come with full wine bottles? At that point, I could have used a glass.

Instead, I started doodling, only to realise my panic attack was pointless. A simple tour double.
Just like for puff pastry.

brioche-tour-double

I made the dough. Left it to rise. Made the matcha filling. Chilled it. Then, I started rolling and folding, and rolling and folding.

Somehow, my dreamlike vision of the use of wine bottles as rolling pins vanished when the filling started leaking and the dough stuck to the bottle.

brioche log

My counter ended up green, so did my fingers.

But that’s okay.

First, because I like green. And second, because I see no problem whatsoever in licking green fingers when they taste like matcha.

brioche matcha bite

One lesson I have learnt from this experience: get yourself a decent rolling pin girl.

If unlike me – and probably not unlike every person around the world – you own a rolling pin, then I urge you to make these brioches. With green tea, or if you’re feeling a little more subversive, with cocoa powder.

brioche loaf tin

Brioches marbrées au thé matcha
Adapted from Les carnets d’une connasse parisienne.

Don’t be scared with all the rolling pin action here. These brioches are very easy to make, and a teart to eat.

Soft and fragrant.

When it comes to yeasted dough’s, my favourite kneading technique – which I learnt at school – is quite close from this one. I wish I could make a video to show you, but for now, the explanations of Richard Bertinet will have to do.
I don’t do it the exact same way, but the throwing and folding are similar. Trust me, this kneading technique is a keeper.

If you’re going to use cocoa powder instead of matcha, go for 20g of powder. And then proceed as follow.

Brioches marbrées au thé matcha

makes 12 small brioches, or 6 small and a loaf bread.

for the brioche dough
300g strong flour
60g cater sugar
one tsp dehydrated yeast
125g whole milk
one egg
50g butter, diced and at room temperature

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the butter and mix until it forms a rough dough.
On an unfloured surface, start kneading the dough incorporating the butter as you do so until it forms a smooth ball; around 8 minutes.
Place the dough back into the bowl – covered with a cloth – and leave in a warm place for 2 hours or until double in size.

for the matcha filling
80g milk
one egg white
50g caster sugar
20g flour
20g matcha green tea
10g butter

Bring the milk to the boil. While it’s heating, mix the white and sugar in a bowl until combined. Mix in the flour and matcha green tea, and beat until homogeneous.
When the milk is boiling, pour it over the matcha mixture, whisking as you do so. Transfer back into the pan, and cook on medium heat until thick. Mix in the butter.
Spread it on a baking tray lined with cling film, around 20x15cm. Chill.

for the shaping

Remove any air from the brioche dough by gently patting it down, then roll it into a 30x20cm rectangle. Place the matcha filling in the middle, then fold the dough over it, sealing the extremities together. Roll into a longer rectangle, then make a tour double. Repeat the folding one more time, then roll the dough back into a 30x20cm.
Roll the dough onto itself to form a log. Trim the ends, then using a sharp knife, slice into 3cm-thick segments.
Butter 12 5.5cm-wide rings, and place the slices into them, cut side up. Or if you’re making a loaf, arrange six slices into a loaf tin, and the remaining slices into rings.
Cover loosely with cling film, and allow to rise for 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

The notebooks – Treacle tart et oranges sanguines à la grenadine

[Treacle tart and grenadine-marinated blood oranges]

treacle tart

It would probably be an understatement to say that I am messy.

For years, my absolutely organised mum fought with me, not understanding why I had to keep pretty much all of my belongings on my desk, or at worst, around my bed.

For years, I did not understand how – despite being raised by someone so tidy – I would always end up with so much stuff lying on the floor. And then, it struck me. I simply like to have my most cherished possessions close to me. I like to be able to see them at any given time. I like to nest in my own comforting world.

This eureka-moment had no effect on my paradoxical messiness. In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m surrounded by two cameras, a photo album, a bowl of edamame beans, and a neat pile of notebooks.

Yes, neat.

As messy as I can be, I have this strange thing with notebooks.
It started at school, where I would always have the prettiest ones; colour-coded, written using the exact same pen, and no ratures. I’ve even been spotted copying out one of my biology class notebooks because it didn’t feel prefect enough.
Then came pâtisserie kitchens and moleskines stained with chocolate. And yet, when you open them, overlooking the smears, you’ll notice only that one felt tip pen touched the pages (ask the guys at the hotel and they will tell you how angry I get if my pen gets stolen).

Now turn the pages, and see that drawing of a square tart filled with a liquorish-like treacle flan, topped with grenadine-marinated oranges and a square of white chocolate.

It’s the starting point of an endless excitement. Making pastries all day is a favourite. Creating pastries all day is the most favourite.

treacle tart large copie

Right now, I’m developing some very fine French pâtisseries for the book I’m working on. But I’m also playing around in the kitchen just for foodbeam. And it feels so nice.
I can’t promise daily recipes here, although I will make my best to come up with new exciting things if I’m not spending my days off exploring London for the best places to eat, or have a bubble tea, or some macarons.

london favourites

Yes, I’m totally keeping tracks of my London favourites there. It’s – almost – all film pretty (I love London, and I love my Pentax ME Super even more).

treacle tart close

Treacle tart et oranges sanguines à la grenadine

I’m calling this treacle tart although it’s really not a genuine treacle tart, but more of a treacle syrup flan encased in a tart shell.

I don’t know about you, but to me treacle has more complex – and yet quite close – flavour than liquorish. And I think it pairs well with acidic fruits like citrus or green apples. Here, I went for blood oranges and decided to enhance their natural sweetness by marinating them overnight in a light grenadine syrup.

And then I topped the whole thing with a square of white chocolate to bring out the creaminess from the flan, and to give the tart a nice shiny finish. You can definitely skip this if you’re not confident about tempering chocolate, although it only takes a few minutes.

Just so you know, I used small square rings (6,5cm-wide) which are quite high (3cm) so I could get more filling than crust. If you’re going to use regular tart rings, you’ll have enough flan to fill four tarts shells. Just adjust the quantity of pâte sucrée (around 300g), marinated oranges, and white chocolate squares (or in this case, circles).

Treacle tart et oranges sanguines à la grenadine

makes two tarts (see note above)

for the tart shell
150g pâte sucrée (see recipe here)

Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface, and line two tart square rings. Chill for 30 minutes.
Bake blind using rice or beans for 15 minutes or until just slightly coloured. Set aside.

for the treacle flan
80g double cream
40g treacle syrup
40g golden syrup
one egg

Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C.
Combine all the ingredients into a bowl, mixing until smooth. Divide into the prepared tart shells and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the filling is set.
The flan will rise quite a lot during baking, but will fall as the tart cools.
When the tarts are baked, transfer to a wire rack, and allow to cool at room temperature. The tart will nicely keep in an airtight container in the fridge overnight.

for the marinated oranges
segments from two blood oranges
100g blood orange juice
50g grenadine

Chop the orange segments into 1cm dices, and place into a bowl along with the juice and grenadine. Transfer to a freezing bag, and chill overnight.

for the montage
white chocolate squares, the size of your tart

Place the tart on a plate. Drain the orange segments, gently patting them down. Arrange them on top of the tart, then place a square of white chocolate.