Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wedding Day Macarons

Macarons, the classic meringue-based Parisian sandwich cookies, are as popular as ever today, with pastry chefs coming up with innovative flavors and ways of showcasing them on their menus. Pastry Chef Francois Payard of FPB (Francois Payard Bakery) in Soho, for example, is making fabulous ice cream sandwiches for the summer. The combination of crispy meringue shells and rich, creamy ice cream is irresistible, and they are a hot seller at the bakery. They’re available in flavors such as pistachio, raspberry, strawberry cheesecake and mango. But it’s another creative use of macarons at Payard that really got my attention: an over-the-top, colorful wedding cake made from multi-hued macarons. The cake was designed by Garry Larduinat, a wonderfully talented pastry chef at Payard, who combined a white cake with rows of artfully arranged macarons. Pastillage ribbons, lillies and gumpaste roses accent the cake and I can’t imagine a more awe-inspiring and beautiful wedding cake for the modern bride.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Blueberry Almond Parfait

Fresh berry parfaits are the ideal summer dessert because they are so light and refreshing, but what I love most about them is how they combine various textures and flavors in every spoonful. A simple formula for a classic summer parfaits starts with a layer of cake 

topped with berries and then sandwiched with a cream of some sort. For this Blueberry Almond Parfait, I made a simple almond frangipane cake, which is very moist, slightly dense and pairs beautifully with fresh berries. I chose blueberries for my fruit, 

cooking one-third of them briefly with a little sugar and then folding in the remaining third with a little lemon juice, which gives them a slightly saucy consistency. For my cream layer, I kept thing simple by whipping up some cream with mascarpone cheese and sugar. 

Though it slipped my mind today, I usually serve this parfait with a biscotti or almond cookie or some sort, though you could also top it off with some lightly toasted almond slices for a bit of crunch.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Strawberries and Cream Vacherin

Here’s a great summer dessert that’s really easy to put together, yet makes a dramatic presentation at a spring or summer dinner party. The jewel in this dessert is a homemade strawberry sorbet, made 

with local berries (don’t even bother making it with those over-sized cottony supermarket numbers; a good fruit sorbet is all about the quality of the ingredients). It comes together quickly in a blender 

and has the fresh, tart taste of summer days, when berries are at their peak. After a few hours of chilling in the fridge, it’s run through an ice cream machine where it turns into one of the best

 sorbets you’ll ever taste. And when matched up with some store-bought vanilla ice cream and crunchy meringue rounds, this dessert is a memorable combination, refreshing, but just rich enough to satisfy any dessert lover’s after-dinner cravings. It’s like an adult creamsicle, flavored with strawberry instead of orange.