Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Peanut Nougatine & Chocolate Millefeuille; Toasted Peanut Infusion

We were privy to the most stupendously delicious pizza lunch hosted by Chubby Hubby and his fabulous wife S. Hand-crafted by S (ever met a Manolo-shod fashionista who also happens, amongst other things, to be one fine pizzaiola? here you go), each and every of the sublime pies was strewn with an insanely generous shower of summer truffle shavings. Surely, the very definition of casual luxury.

Knowing what was on the menu, I couldn't turn up empty-handed. Knowing what was on the menu, I also knew we would all be very stuffed (and very happily so) by the end of lunch. So dessert would need to be something decadent but pretty much over in two bites.

Or, as it turns out, two bites and a gulp.

Based on another Michel Bras recipe, this time from Essential Cuisine: Michel Bras. A beautiful volume, the dessert chapter is truly something else. While the recipes are written in the same crisp, succinct fashion as those of The Notebooks of Michel Bras: Desserts, the presence of dreamy photographs extravagantly sprawled across double page spreads makes the book that much more inviting to pick up and use.

If you enjoy mucking about with caramel, the nougatine layers are really fun. First make a peanut pâte sablée. This dough is rolled out, baked till golden, then crumbled and rubbed through a medium sieve - try to resist eating too much of it as it emerges from the oven, short, buttery and deliciously spiked with sea salt. Then caramelize some sugar and mix in the pâte sablée crumbs. This mixture is thinly spread between two pieces of baking parchment then reheated in the oven so it once again becomes pliable. Working quickly before it gets a chance to cool too much and stiffen, roll the nougatine between the parchment pieces to get the sheet even thinner before peeling off the topmost piece of parchment and scoring the nougatine into rectangles each measuring a mere 4 by 8 cm - a long metal or wooden ruler is very useful here.

The original recipe alternates the nougatine layers with a crème fromagère made with fromage blanc. But as I love the combination of peanuts and chocolate, and happened to have on hand chocolate crème pâtissière flavoured with Amedei's Chuao - my new favourite bittersweet chocolate - made earlier in the week for filling éclairs, I decided to use it in place of the crème fromagère.

The peanut nougatine millefeuille is accompanied by a chilled toasted peanut infusion. Rich and creamy, it's best served in shot glasses.

The flavour of the infusion really depends on the degree to which the peanuts have been toasted. So a bit of care needs to be taken when the shelled peanuts are in the oven; they need to be turned regularly to ensure even colouring. Otherwise, the infusion is really simple to make. Simply heat milk, cream and sugar together. When it comes almost to a simmer, take the pan off heat and add the toasted peanuts, then cover and let stand for at least 10 minutes before straining and chilling. For a more pronounced flavour, you could grind the toasted peanuts to a fine powder first before adding to the milk, and letting the mixture steep for longer (as long as overnight; let cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge ) before straining.


Blogger Astrid said...

Stunning! And very inspiring. I'd love to try that peanut nougatine, even though I'm not fond of peanuts. I wonder if it would work with almonds?

3:35 pm, September 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is plain gorgeous! The pictures are really well taken.... I wished i had half the photographic talent... :P

5:00 pm, September 26, 2006  
Blogger Lilo said...

It's wonderful !

7:49 pm, September 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

J, can I ask, of all the pastry / desserts book you have, which one would you recommend ? Or rather, which one is your favourite ?

9:04 pm, September 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's seeing photos like this that completely humble me. I wonder if I'll ever be able to make such creations?

9:58 pm, September 26, 2006  
Blogger Julie said...

I cannot show this to my husband because he would go nuts(sorry for the pun) with longing. He might even suggest we make it ourselves. A wee bit ambitious for me, but secretly I think my husband has all the patience and precision to make an excellent pastry chef. Instead, he fusses with software. I love that you used the chocolate creme here--absolutely an improvement on the original! This is one of my favorite creations of yours.

10:11 pm, September 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What works of art! You're on a spectacular roll here with your Michel Bras creations. I'm sure you gave that truffled pizza a run for its money... ;)

10:57 pm, September 26, 2006  
Blogger Krithika said...

Gorgeous ! Milk with peanut infusion sounds like a great idea. You are so creative , J

12:16 am, September 27, 2006  
Blogger Jen said...

this is yet another wonderfully flawless creation. I would be happy to have you over my place anytime!

1:33 am, September 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in awe of how perfect your layers are - so beautifully constructed and shot as always!

3:49 am, September 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My english isn t very good but waouhhhhhhhhh what a beautiful Blog and photos are so nice !!!

Perhaps somebody could translate in French lol...

Bravo !!!

4:30 am, September 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your presentation as always is amazing.

5:39 am, September 27, 2006  
Blogger Cathy said...

Just beautiful Jocelyn! I love the combination of chocolate and peanut as well, and this together with the mix of crunchy and smooth and creamy must have been out of this world!

9:07 am, September 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've melted and gone to heaven...this must have been the most incredible thing...I am speechless.

12:09 pm, September 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm coming right over. The flight's only 1/2 a day or so! Those photos are so sexy!


11:27 pm, September 27, 2006  
Blogger Annette Tan said...

That looks amazing, as usual. I reckon the chocolate creme was a good substitution. And that peanut infusion sounds like the old Chinese favourite, peanut butter soup.

10:42 pm, September 28, 2006  
Blogger Veron said...

ooh wow amazing. I can just imagine eating this and drinking a cappuccino. I'm on a dessert roll myself over here ...
Veronica's Test Kitchen

12:17 am, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Brilynn said...

This must have taken forever to make, your hosts must have enjoyed them very much.

1:34 am, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Parisbreakfasts said...

Serene, ethereal, celestial... your creations are a heavenly delight for the eyes and the senses.

9:39 am, September 30, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every time I visit your blog I am always taken aback at your elegant prose and stunning pictures. And every time I comment, I think I say the same thing. However, point is your work is breathtaking and inspiring.

10:13 am, September 30, 2006  
Blogger *fanny* said...

I wonder how i managed to live without the internet (and thus without your blog) for the past few weeks.

Joycelyn, you're simply amazing. Everything you make is drop-dead gorgeous and i can feel your sensibility and passion through your writing.


10:07 pm, October 01, 2006  
Blogger Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

Your blog is such a treat! You amaze me, each time! I love your photos and I swear I can smell the deliciousness thorugh your blog!!

4:03 am, October 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your photos are really wonderful! Greetings from Romania.

2:46 pm, October 03, 2006  
Blogger tigerfish said...

looks so beautiful and exquisite...

2:13 am, October 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I swear, you are the epitome of culinary fabulousness! :) Someday I hope I too can make desserts that look like they should be on the cover of Vogue :)

2:33 pm, October 05, 2006  
Blogger baobei said...

Hi J,
I saw your recreation of Isaphan. Was wondering where do you get Rose water in Singapore? What would be the right portion of rose syrup to rose water for the rose macaron? Pls advise.

11:21 pm, October 05, 2006  
Blogger Gustad said...

does it all squeez out

1:47 am, October 06, 2006  
Blogger J said...

Nice nice nice~!

do drop by~!

1:45 pm, October 06, 2006  
Blogger Ruth Daniels said...

Beautiful post as usual.

Thanks to your praise, I bought a Treasury of Jewish Baking. Now if only I could get my desserts to look half as good as yours.

7:38 pm, October 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all you NYCers, I just got this code for the Time Out eating event on Tuesday. I went last year, and there’s a bunch of restaurants giving out free food, cool music and there’s a couple of open bars for the whole night. There’s a coupon code (TONYVIP) you enter at check out so you can get them for 20% off your tickets if you buy them before Tuesday. It’s a really fun event, and I think you get a gift bag and a free subscriptions, too.

3:48 am, October 07, 2006  
Blogger Kajal@aapplemint said...

OMG ! U deserve the 3 P'S.... a beautifully prepared, presented and photographed dessert !i'm a big fan of urs.

10:02 pm, March 23, 2007  
Blogger Ramsey Kerr, The Rampaging Gourmet said...

Your Millefeuilles look truly wonderful. I may have to make some myself, though the fact that you made chocolate crème pâtissière with the intent of putting it into an éclair leaves me deeply concerned for the well-being of your immortal soul.

11:19 am, August 10, 2007  

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