Heavenly French Custard Cakes

Hello friends,

Have you ever had a dessert that calls your name? yeah, there’s such thing I tell you…a dessert that’s perfect in every way that makes you wanna have seconds forever?…a dessert that’s creamy and perfumed with a fusion of vanilla bean and rum,  so velvety and airy that with every spoonful you wish to scream your own name?

I have many reasons to love this *heart braking* dessert but I think I made my point. French Berries Custard not only calls my name but knows my last name too.

delicious french berry custard cakes

Allow moi: My cousin who’s a cook genius (who learned from her mother who’s also a cook genius), taught me a little about her baked desserts every time I travel across the ocean to visit her. She bakes a lot and she gave me this recipe which I tweaked to my liking. But you see, sometimes I’m envious of my cousin for two reasons: she lives in Paris (that’s major) AND she has spare time to bake. a lot. Of course I want to live in Paris, who doesn’t? those who don’t are not my friends 😉

delicious french berry custard cakes

Back to baking, when I made the dessert something went terribly wrong which turned out a happy accident at the end: Normally this dessert comes with burnt sugar on top but here is the thing, remember the story about my Ex-kitchen? part of the renovation chaos was that when I prepared the custard and sprinkled raw sugar on top, put it under the broiler to give the sugar a glow, turned it on and waited…and waited. I thought my oven was slow…guess what? It was dead. The cakes just sat there, bored. I delayed dessert time (sorry dear family) and put the custards back in the refrigerator until I figure things out. No I wasn’t going to buy a torch.

french delicious berry custard cakes

The next early morning I made coffee and checked on my custards. I took one out, the sparkly raw sugar seemed to glow in the morning sun, beautiful to look at and I thought whatever. I took the first spoonful. All I heard was the chilled raw sugar crystals crackle in my mouth and my throat groan. Another spoonful…in no time I gave up my coffee and had a second custard (I only made five). I was aiming on the third one (calories shmalories, I said it was good not fat free), but then I heard my husband’s foot steps. Lucky him, because if I didn’t he would have nothing left. I told you this dessert calls my name.

delicious french berry custard cakes

Ingredients:

1 c. fresh mix of blueberries and blackberries
4 ego yolks
3 tbsp white sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 tbsp rum extract
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
raw sugar for garnish

Store the raw sugar in the coldest part of your refrigerator until ready to use. Preheat oven to 325. Put six oven proof small ramekins in a large roasting pan and fill each button with berries.
Make a slit in center of the vanilla bean and with a spoon scrape the inside. Mix it with the rum, set a side. In a small bowl combine yolks, white sugar and vanilla-rum mixture. Mix well until creamy, set aside. In a small sauce pan pour the heavy cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and slowly add the cream to the yolk mixture, continue whisking until smooth. If the mixture is not smooth strain it through a strainer.
Divide the cream among the ramekins. Pour warm water into the roasting pan about half way up. Bake between 15-20 minutes or until the custard is set. Let cool for 10 minutes then remove dishes from the pan into the refrigerator to cool for at least 3 hours.
To serve, sprinkle an even layer of chilled raw sugar over the custards. Pretty spoons to go with, nice music in the background and you and your guests are ready to indulge into one of those unforgettable mmm moments. Bon-Appetite.

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Roasted figs with tangerin in honey nut sauce

Juicy, delicious and sweet roasted figs dessert – something to impress anyone with

delicous roasted fig with nuts

roasted figs with honey and tangerine nut sauce

That recipe takes me to one of the most unusual ingredients I use in my kitchen: figs. I used to think that cooking with figs requires special skill and imagination. Fig was something my dad introduced to us as kids. He would buy fresh figs in season and we would indulge on it and enjoy their sweetness and unique “seedy” texture, but that’s all I knew about figs. I never had it cooked or roasted. Until recently. Now my trips to Paris have taught me a thing or two about figs, to start with:

Fig is delicious when baked on anything or on its own
It oozes with juice when cut while warm.
You can stuff it with your favorites
You don’t have to be a skilled cook
It’s a unique fruit to draw with pencil, when cut open

Speaking of drawings, before you read the recipe please allow me, I need to say this: did you know I speak four different languages fluently? sure you’d think ‘hey I know people who speak seven’, but that’s not what I mean. Language is about communicating your non-verbal inner passion. My inner languages are designing, cooking and painting and illustrating. Not necessarily in that order but you get the idea. And one of the reason I’m drawn to cooking is that as an artist it’s my ever-growing passion to arts. Cooking is not only to satisfy our hunger, to me it’s also a process of images unfold in my mind, a process that illuminates my soul. It’s a whole other life in the kitchen but with my other inner languages it goes hand in hand. When I cook I’m connected with the very essence of my creative being. It makes people sometimes ask me something like ‘why do you bother so much in the kitchen?”. It’s hard to explain and depends on who asks me, sometimes I don’t even bother to respond.

So I had a decadent dessert of fig on pastry in Paris (if I could only spend one night in that pastry shop). Not only that I wanted seconds but the dessert looked like a piece of art, like a beautiful gift made only for me. Oh these French…I decided to make my own at home. I changed some ingredients, eliminated the dough and came up with a delicious, sweet and nutty and of course different from anything I had made before.

delicious dessert of roasted figs in honey nut sauce

Ingredients

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Fresh ripe medium size figs, with stems

1 tangerine, washed, sliced and cut to small pieces
1/2 c. fresh roasted walnuts, roughly chopped
3 tbsp honey
3 cloves
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (the best you can effort)
4 tbsp tap water

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Preheat oven to 400. Clean figs but not under running water use wet paper towel instead, dry them and cut them slightly open on top with a sharp knife (see image). In a small pan combine sugar, honey, cloves, vinegar, water and nuts. When bubbly turn to low and cook for just a few minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Pay attention not to burn it. Remove from heat and set aside to cool a bit. Discard cloves and add the vanilla paste and the tangerine pieces . Stir. In a small shallow baking dish place figs close to each other, gently push fig open and fill each with the nuts mixture and spoon over the honey sauce. Cover loosely with foil and bake figs for 7 min. Remove foil, baste the figs with the sauce and roast uncover for another 5-7 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temperature. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Place a couple of stuffed figs on your most beautiful china and drizzle with the sauce, garnish with thin slices of tangerine.

Now, you are ready to impress your guests.
And yourself too.

Bon Appetite

Moroccan cuisine in Paris

I love authentic Moroccan food. There is no second to its richness, texture, flavors and the awesome verity in Moroccan cuisine makes it a very happy food.  One of my favorite is couscous but not the kind that comes in a box. No! I’m glad my mother doesn’t read my blog, if she knew I used instant couscous in this recipe (quick and easy but delicious), she would never let me in her house again. So lets just keep is between the two of us shall we.

But I’m hungry for the real deal here, the kind of couscous my mom prepares from scratch. The kind of couscous that if you start to cook it early in the morning, you might be able to finish on your child’s graduation day. That’s how long it takes to make it. Is labor of love worth the hassle? let’s think: it’s fluffy, airy, versatile, delicious and takes on any flavors you top it with, simply 100% customizable to your own juice buds. I’d say Yes. Do I make it from scratch? On occasions, depending on my mood. But that’s another post.

moroccan couscous

Paris is loaded with top-notch restaurants, especially middle eastern ones that prepare my kind of couscous. I will not mention what they top the couscous with but it’s…oh, I can’t even describe it. But I’ll tell you anyway, they top it with Chicken Tagine, spicy sausage, tender meat, lamb, or simply cooked vegetables that make this dish blast with flavor. Almost the same as my mom’s.

moroccan chicken with olives

Besides, when you’re in Paris can you go wrong with food? most chances, in my opinion, no.

paris cafeThis is my favorite spot when I visit Paris with my husband, located in Place de la Madeleine . This is the view from our window so it was easy to check when this place opens.

I love to explore goodies in Paris especially Moroccan food but let’s get things straight here – I am not talking about Morocco, a country that got me in every sense of the every way, the core of all everything Moroccan.

But Morocco, in a future post.