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They’re actually supposed to be something known as a Paris-Brest, a particularly special variant of a cream puff.

It all started with a bicycle race called the Paris-Brest-Paris (named after its route), which began in 1891 and is still run today, although not as an actual competition apparently. This celebratory version of a cream puff was created to commemorate the race, because everyone knows that pastry cream is exactly what you need when you’re riding a bicycle for 1200 kilometers (roughly 745 miles).

Traditionally, the Paris-Brest is a cream puff that is piped into the shape of an 8-inch ring, cut in half after baking, and filled with an almond-spiked pastry cream. It’s said that the ring shape mimics the shape of a bicycle wheel, which I suppose is true enough considering that they’re both circular. The dessert can be quite impressive to look at and undoubtedly requires some pastry-making skill.

I like to think I have some pastry-making skill and could make a Paris-Brest if I had the time and energy to do so. But, I have a two-month old baby, and time and energy are in short supply. I decided to simplify things and just make cream puffs.

I’ve made the pâte à choux before, long ago when the Doristas made the goat-cheese puffs in 2012. It’s easy to do, but – as I noted then – once started, they require full attention. Just like a baby! The pastry cream is pretty much the same type of thing, in that it demands full attention once it’s started. I made the pastry cream Wednesday evening while Geordie watched Hannah, and I was exceedingly pleased with it. It may be an involved process, but it’s a relatively short one, and one that ends with glorious results. One moment, the milk and egg and sugar mixture is all liquid and loose – the next, it’s lovely and thick and creamy. Very fine, indeed. The choux pastry I didn’t have a chance to make until today, in the afternoon. Hannah cooperated, for the most part; she woke up just as I was mixing in the eggs, cried a bit while I spooned out the puffs, and then pouted all the while they were baking. I think she’s just upset that she’s going to have to wait quite a bit before she can have one herself.

I’d pout too if I were her.

creampuffs

They’re not the prettiest little cream puffs ever made, but they’re delicious. I wish I’d made less of them, because I’m extremely tempted to make them my dinner. Much like the goat cheese puffs, I find these completely irresistible. The puffs are delightful enough by themselves, but the addition of the pastry cream puts them completely over the edge. Delicious doesn’t actually do them justice. They are beyond terrific. I want them all the time, except I also want to lose weight, so that’s right out.

I’ll be dreaming about these cream puffs tonight, that’s for sure. They’ll be haunting me for weeks. I can’t wait to make them again. Perhaps when Hannah is a little more autonomous. It certainly is a nice little treat I can’t wait to share with her in a few years.

To see some very lovely and proper Paris-Brest creations, check out the French Friday links. This seems to have been a popular dessert with the Doristas, no matter how the pastry came out. And no surprise!

No, I haven’t given up on French Fridays with Dorie. But various circumstances – not just limited to pregnancy! – kept me from participating in June. Last week’s wheat berry and tuna salad didn’t appeal to me (it was the tuna – I haven’t had much stomach for it lately), and next week’s swordfish is also one I’m going to have to skip, reluctantly, because it’s one of those high-mercury fish that pregnant women aren’t supposed to eat. Also, we’re in a bit of a financial crunch right now, and I’m budgeting grocery spending very, very strictly.

I made an exception for these cherries because 1) they were on sale, and 2) I love cherries. I especially love the big Bing cherries that are so prevalent this time of year. Other cherries, like the little pink Rainiers, are okay, but not my favorite. It’s Bing all the way. No way could I resist this clafoutis. (hint: don’t pronounce the ‘s.’)

What exactly is a clafoutis? Well, it’s kind of like a cake-custard-pudding thing with cherries. I really don’t know how else to put it. It’s got a batter which isn’t flour-y enough to be cake or egg-y enough to be custard or slippery enough to be pudding. It’s just all of those things. Traditional clafoutis are made with whole cherries, pits included. Inconvenient, yes, but supposedly necessary for the best flavor. Of course, it can be made with pitted cherries, but that sounds like extra work and messy work at that.

The first (and only other) time I had clafoutis was in New York City, when my mother and I went to a performance of the ballet Giselle. (The trip was actually for a job interview to teach English in Japan, which I’m very happy to say I got, leading to three of the best years of my life. I should write about it some time, as it was the funnest job interview I’ve ever had. It lasted three days and took place in the Empire State Building.) Anyway, the restaurant at the theater served us a modern French meal, which was finished off by a little dish of cherry clafoutis. This one was a little more tart-like, very similar to the alternative that Dorie provides in her bonne idée, and I don’t remember it having whole cherries. It was still delicious.

This was also delicious. I made it for our 4th of July dessert, because why not?

wholecherries

A pound of whole cherries goes into a thoroughly buttered (or Pam’ed, in my case) pie dish.

clafoutisbatter

The batter (comprised of some basics like sugar, eggs, milk/cream, and a tiny bit of flour) is poured over the cherries. By the time this happened, I was already getting excited about shoving a piece in my mouth.

Bake until puffy.

Bake until puffy.

Mine puffed up real good. It deflated as it cooled, though, and that made it a little more manageable. It had to bake a little longer than what Dorie suggested, but that’s okay. Because I was also going to be baking our dinner, I’d made this earlier in the day and it had all the time it needed.

After dinner, we settled down in the living room to try to watch some Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which was eventually drowned out by the local fireworks. No, not official fireworks. Just neighborhood, suburban fireworks. Apparently, Texans love fireworks. The cats, on the other hand, were not so keen. Neither were we when we woke up the next morning and saw the assorted firework debris that had collected in the yard.

At least we had clafoutis to comfort us.

Whole-Cherry Clafoutis with a dusting of Powdered Sugar. Ah.

Whole-Cherry Clafoutis with a dusting of Powdered Sugar. Ah.

The pits were not a problem for me. I think Geordie would have preferred to have them removed. But then he topped his with some ice cream, and he had nothing else to complain about. I’d like to make this again with some mixed berries; I’m hoping raspberries will go on sale eventually this summer. Maybe I’ll make that for my birthday next month.

This was a very nice dessert indeed, and I’m very glad I made it.

Because I am going on vacation to Florida for two weeks starting this Sunday, I probably won’t be able to do the rest of the July recipes. Even if I do, I won’t be actively seeking out a way to post on the blog (or do anything else internet-related either), so there ya go. But I’m hoping to get back to my regular French Friday cooking come August. I’ve missed it!

This was a popular dessert among the Doristas (no surprise!), and to see their beautiful clafoutis, check out the links over on the FFwD blog. See you guys in August!

Today is Food Revolution Day, as put forward by Jamie Oliver in his continued quest to encourage people to practice their cooking skills and cook not just for themselves but for others. To quote the website, it is “a global day of action for people to make a stand for good food and essential cooking skills.”

For Doristas, it meant that this week’s assignment was an open-ended one. We were allowed to select whatever recipe we wished to make. All that was asked of us was that we “cook it, share it.” A wonderful idea, really, because one of the best parts of making anything homemade – bread, dessert, entree, whatever – is being able to share it with others. Most of what I make tends to only be shared with Geordie, but that’s where blogging about French Fridays comes in: I’m able to share it with anyone who stumbles across the post!

I’ve missed the last two Fridays in blogging only. I made the dishes, I just haven’t gotten around to writing about them yet. Still working on that. But this one I didn’t want to slip to the wayside. I knew straightaway that I was going to make a dessert of some kind, because desserts are so easy for Geordie to take the work, making them quite shareable, and one of the most shareable desserts I know of are cookies!

Specifically, cocoa sablés.

cocoasables

Remember the olive sablés we made a couple months ago? Well, these are a more traditional sablé, still with the sandy texture but this time flavored with dark cocoa. They’re not overly sweet, but they are a little decadent and I bet they would be delicious served as ice cream sandwiches (as Dorie herself suggests). They are also easy to make, and as I got about 40 from my batch, there are plenty of them for sharing!

I’m afraid I didn’t take many pictures of the process, but it really wasn’t necessary. This is cookie-making at its most basic – and, in my opinion, good cookies are almost always simple and basic.

Butter and sugar are creamed together. Vanilla is added. In goes a mixture of flour, cocoa, and salt. I decided to add in the optional chopped chocolate bits. And thus, the mixing is done. It took me longer to chop the chocolate than it did to mix all the ingredients together.

But now we must wait. The dough is divided into two parts, and each part is rolled into a log and wrapped in plastic. They must sit in the fridge for three hours, thus delaying our chocolate fix.

But that’s okay! My logs went into the fridge around 3:30; by the time dinner was over at 7, they were more than ready to be sliced and baked. After 15 minutes, Geordie and I had a lovely, chocolaty after-dinner treat.

These sablés are very rich. They go down much easier with some milk! As Geordie said, they’re terrific as a dessert – as a slightly sweet closing to a meal – but maybe a little jarring as a snack. As a cookie, I really enjoyed both making them and eating them. I intend to try the basic butter sablé in the near future, because I am finding that I really, really like sablés. I’m pretty sure they’re now my favorite cookies.

Geordie took most of the cocoa sablés to work today – and brought home zero. Yay! Success!

As I said, most of what I make is shared only with Geordie, and that is especially true with the French Friday assignments. It was really nice to send him off to work with these beautiful, delicious cookies. Homemade cookies were made for sharing!

I hope to be able to be a little more involved with the Food Revolution next year. Right now, I’m still not feeling up to cooking as much as I was before. I do what I can, but often, I’m either too tired or just not interested in what I had planned to cook. Raw vegetables still make me queasy. Once they’re cooked, I’m fine! But I have to get them cooked first. I’m hoping I get over that soon.

Anyway, this week’s FFwD assignment was a lot of fun, and because we got to choose our recipes, the Doristas went all out and picked some really good ones! Check out the links to hear their stories and see their delicious dishes.

Happy cooking!

Sara

I am a daughter and a sister, a wife and a friend. I am a reader and a writer, a dreamer and a realist, a teacher and a learner. I am the mother of a baby born sleeping. I am on a journey of healing, walking a path paved with tears and grief and hope.

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