Au Peche Mignon – a little sin …

The best name for a French pastry shop I have ever heard. This is the one thing that makes going to Tallahassee, or through Tallahassee on the way to Orlando for work, or through Tallahassee on the way to Jacksonville tolerable. Thankfully we do not have to make the long (boring) drive to Jax on I-10 anymore. Just Pine trees – sigh.

This shop opened up the year we moved to Tallahassee and I am not entirely sure how I found it, might be because it near a great sushi restaurant – Kitcho, but Au Peche Mignon quickly became a favorite of mine. I could not afford it as a student very often, but it was a total splurge for me. Even one pain au chocolate was worth it – what a total pleasure.

D&D_2126This time I am ordering ahead of time to make sure I get the things that I want. As mentioned many (many) times, I am not a huge fan of chocolates, but Au Peche Mignon makes a bit of a liar of me – it is always the Noisette – a whole caramelized hazelnut (I want to know how to do that) covered in gianduja (which is odd because I do not like nutella), encased in dark chocolate. This is just the most amazing chocolate for someone who really does not care for chocolate in the grand scheme of things. I would like to just intern there and learn how to do things – that would make me really happy. Unfortunately these chocolates are a Christmas treat that I will not get in September. Sigh.

So here is the rest of the order for our way home from Orlando through Tallahassee.*

2 Croissants
4 Pain au chocolates
8 pieces of chocolate – it is so worth the $15.00
1 key lime tart – my first time with this.

I am going to spend way too much money, but I only do it twice a year at best. You have to eat the pastries fast, but the chocolates can last in the fridge for quite some time. Yep, spent $40, but it made me stupidly happy.

*Hopkins’ Eatery is another Tallahassee favorite – some of the best sandwiches ever – see: The Spin.

Cheesecake Cupcakes

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I really love this plate. just saying.

Cheesecake can be a contentious thing. People love it or hate it, and even if you love it you can take multiple sides in the debate: French, New York, topped with all manner of things from fruits to caramel sauce. Etc.

Sometimes the best way to try something is to pick the simplest version, because to my mind, doing simple well is a real skill. It’s kind of the way I test out the kitchen in a restaurant that is new to me, order something simple. I did just that with a new Italian restaurant, ordered Fettuccine Alfredo. It was sublime which tells me to trust the kitchen because if they can do that well then I can only imagine that they can do the other things on the menu just as well. Happiness.

This is a simple cheesecake recipe, but also sublime. Thank you Martha Stewart – you always steer me in the right direction. Merci.

This is the full recipe, but I just made half.

3 1/2 pounds (seven 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 large eggs, room temperature*

2 16-ounce containers sour cream
1 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
raw sugar for the top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line four 12-cup cupcake tins with heavyweight aluminum liners, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and flour. With mixer on low speed, gradually add sugar mixture to cream cheese; mix until smooth. Add sour cream and vanilla; mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined; do not overmix.
Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners, 4 ounces per cupcake. Bake for 15 minutes.
Cool slightly until cupcakes become concave. In a medium bowl, stir together sour cream, sugar, and vanilla to make the sour cream topping. Place a heaping tablespoon of topping in the center of each cupcake, and spread gently to edges of liner. Top with a bit of raw sugar and return to oven for 10 minutes.
Cool to room temperature on a wire rack and chill in the refrigerator until cold, at least two hours.

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That’s Turbinado sugar on the top and it is excellent but not in the original recipe – but do it. And again, the plate is really cool.

*When I half a recipe that has an odd number of eggs, I always go one up – so in this case, I used three.

Clafoutis

Clafoutis [kla-foo-TEE] *
Originally from the Limousin region, this country-French dessert is made by topping a layer of fresh fruit with batter. After baking it is served hot, sometimes with cream. Some clafoutis have a cake-like topping while others are more like a pudding. Though cherries are traditional, any fruit such as plums, peaches, or pears can be used.

This seems like a perfect summer dessert. Fresh fruit, simple batter and bake it up – yep – a weeknight dessert for sure. So I tried it on a Wednesday night and it makes total sense, except for one thing. I have never had a clafoutis before, so I was not quite sure what to expect. So then I had to look at pictures online to see if I was anywhere close to what it was supposed to be. And … ugh … had to look a definition to see what I should be tasting. I think I did this whole thing backwards. Not surprising, really. Do love to say the word though – clafoutis – so French. Sigh.

This will not stop me. One meh clafoutis, oh hell no! I will get this sorted and I think apples or pears for the fall would be lovely. I am kind of feeling bad for not showing my photograph of it, but it is just not right and that is totally my fault. As a history student, I should have know better than to not do my research.

Basic Clafoutis

1 cup whole milk
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl. Whisk together milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until sugar dissolves. Sift in flour and whisk until smooth. Pour batter into a cast iron pan or pie pan.

Add your favor fruit and/or flavoring (recommended on the Epicurious site). Bake until clafoutis is puffed and golden, 35 – 40 minutes. Serve immediately.

Notes: Since I used unsalted butter, I should have added a pinch of salt.

Also, needed more than one peach, which was what was suggested for the pear. The peaches really are lovely this time of year.

I did not sift my flour – huge mistake. So I had to run the batter through a fine mesh sieve and that helped. I always sift my flour when baking, can not believe I did not do it this time. Really? groan – I’m really better at this than that.

This thing deflates faster than a New England Patriot football –  well, there it is. I said it and it is true. Never been a patsy fan. So if you want a picture of it being fluffy – best be prepared to snap away as soon as it comes out of the oven.

19 August 2015

*Food Lover’s Companion, p. 143
Basic Clafoutis epicurious. Nov 2013 John Besh, Cooking from the Heart