Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pear and Hazelnut Cake

The Gourmandise School Logo
 The Gourmandise School  
 Sweets and Savories


Welcome to a sweet New Year!
Oh, I do love a fresh start.  Last years' recipes are filed away to remind us how we loved them at some later date, and new ones are tested, tried, tweaked and, of course, tasted.  We expanded our cookbook collection this holiday season and can't wait to share our favorite new techniques over the next few months.  

In the spirit of honoring the last twelve months of our favorite recipes while ushering in a new set, we bring you caramel and creme fraiche.  Butter and hazelnuts.  And candied pears.  Any of these recipes are wonderful on their own.  Together, they make us swoon!  This recipe was inspired by one of our favorite Pastry Chefs.  Roxana Jullapat is a local gem, and if you haven't yet visited her dessert menu at Cook's County, then let that be your resolution. 

Pear and Hazelnut Cake
Adapted from Roxana Jullapat's recipe in Sunday Suppers at Lucques

Prepare an 8, 9 or 10" cake pan by buttering the sides and cutting out a circle of parchment paper the size of the bottom of the pan.  Lay in the pan after buttering.

In a medium saucepan, brown:
8 ounces unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 vanilla bean (or 1 Tbsp vanilla extract)
1/4 tsp sea salt

In a large bowl, sift together:
1/4 cup flour
1- 1/4 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of a stand or hand-held mixer, place:
6 egg whites
2 Tbsps sugar

Set aside:
6 ounces hazelnuts or hazelnut flour, well toasted and cooled
  1. Brown the butter, vanilla and salt by melting them up over medium heat.  Once a golden blond color appears (and you will smell it)!, pull off the heat and swirl.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and transfer to another container to cool for 15 minutes.
  2. Beat your egg whites until the reach stiff peaks.
  3. Stir your cooled hazelnuts into the flour mixture.  Stir in your warm, browned butter.
  4. Fold 1/2 of the egg whites into the mixture, then the remaining whites.  Don't overfold- it's best to leave a few streaks of whites rather than deflating them completely.
  5. Bake at 350 until the center is set- somewhere between 25 and 35 minutes, depending on the size of your pan.

Cream Fraiche Caramel
In a medium saucepot, place:
200 g (scant 1 cup) sugar
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp lemon juice           

Set aside:
2 ounces (half a stick) salted butter

1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup creme fraiche 
  1. Bring the cream simmer and set aside.
  2. In a saucepot, heat the sugar, water and lemon juice on medium heat until they reach a golden caramel color. You may want to tilt the pot from time to time, but do not stir with any instrument.
  3. Once you have reached the golden caramel stage, slowly (and carefully) add in the creams. Turn the heat back on to medium-low.
  4. Cook over this heat, stirring occasionally, for about 3-5 minutes. The caramel will thicken a bit.  Turn off heat and add the butter.
  5. Pour over unmolded cake.
Dried Pear Slices
2 pears
  1. Slice the pears as thinly as you can; we like using a mandolin.
  2. Place pears in one layer on a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet.
  3. Bake at lowest heat possible- 175 if you can- for about one hour, or until they are dried.
  4. Peel off paper.
  5. To candy, if desired, melt sugar in a pan until golden brown.  Carefully dip the ends of the pears in the sugar and place the pear slices back onto parchment paper to set.  
  6. Arrange pears over caramel.
Wishing you a delicious day,
Clémence and Hadley 

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