Well, I finished my second full week of pastry school. I can’t truthfully say it was the best week ever – mostly because I got dreadfully sick and spent the week fighting a fever and trying to keep my lungs from being coughed out of my chest, but there were some pastry-related incidents as well.
Because of the fever, I had to miss éclair day. My pastry cream came out lumpy. I burned a pan of caramel so badly it ended up looking like a pan of dry, blackened charcoal. Oops. Also, we made croquembouche, which were supposed to look like holiday-themed, conical towers of pâte à choux (pat-ah-shoe… cream puff dough). I tried to decorate mine to look like a snowman, but instead of looking clean and elegant like this ones,
From the French Culinary Institute Classic Pastry Arts, Level 1
- 170 grams pecans
- 170 grams butter, room temperature
- 200 grams sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 230 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, for egg wash
- extra pecan halves or pieces, for garnishing
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the 170 grams of pecans in the oven or in a dry pan until lightly browned. Cool completely. Pulse the nuts in a food processor, until they’re the size of coarse cornmeal.
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the ground nuts, egg yolk, salt, scrapings from the vanilla bean, and bourbon, and mix until thoroughly combined.
Add the flour, and mix gently until just incorporated.
Shape the dough into a log approximately 2.5 inches thick. Roll the log up in a sheet of parchment paper and chill in the refrigerator, about 30 minutes.
Once chilled, slice the log into 1/4-inch thick slices, and place the sliced cookies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Lightly brush the tops of the cookies with egg wash, and place a pecan half (or some crumbled pecan pieces) on top of each cookie.
Bake the cookies for 7 to 10 minutes, or until nicely browned on the edges.
Makes 50-60 cookies.