Vanilla Pastry Cream

Vanilla Pastry Cream Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Pastry cream is one of the most versatile recipes in a professional pastry kitchen (and your home). It is used for the filling of eclaires, napoleons, fruit tarts, banana cream pie, trifle, and just scooped out of the bowl with a spoon. It is essentially “kick-ass” vanilla pudding, to quote one of my former bosses. It can be scented with vanilla, in fact I always start there and then add flavors to it. I’ve made everything from Thai chili-chocolate to passion fruit pastry cream. Here is the basic vanilla pastry cream recipe to start with!

This is an old post with old photos (I’ve come a long way with my camera since then)…

Read More

Homemade Doughnuts

Stack of Homemade Doughnuts | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

I made a batch of chocolate filled beignets for a dinner party. The next morning the oil was still on the stove, albeit cold and I had brioche dough left in the bucket. My boys were waiting for something to eat and the coffee machine was doing its magic. In as much time as it would have taken me to make oatmeal I whipped together a batch of warm fresh homemade doughnuts. The boys were thrilled and my coffee had the perfect companion! Read More

Tropical Fruit Vacherins (Meringue Cups)

  vacherin

Last weekend I co-hosted a Thai dinner party for 6 women. My friends Toni and Jen came over and we cooked up a storm of fresh dumplings, Tom Yam soup, green papaya salad and a spicy beef coconut curry with lime scented rice. It was a feast to be sure. I wanted to create a dessert that would fit the theme of our Thai dinner, look gorgeous and be light enough to eat after we had stuffed them full.

I made tropical fruit vacherins; cups of fluffy meringues baked until crisp. I served the vacherins filled with three different tropical sorbets: passion fruit, mango and coconut. That would have been enough, but this was a party and I wanted it to be a little more celebratory, so I added a tropical fruit tower on a pool of mango creme Anglaise. It was divine and their wasn’t a morsel left on the plates. Read More

Creme Anglaise (Vanilla Sauce)

Creme Anglaise is one of the most versatile sauces in the pastry kitchen. It is wonderful served with chocolate cake, as the sauce for floating island and as the base for lots of ice creams. It is also a creamy contrast to fruit desserts such as my tropical fruit vacherin, where I added mango puree to add a bright flavor to the sauce.

I always start with a simple vanilla flavored sauce and then add flavors to it to suit my dessert. Read More

Butter Shortbread Cookies

Butter Shortbread Cookies | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Last week was my aunt Kristin’s birthday, and she had only one request of me: butter shortbread cookies. She is a woman of very discerning tastes and gave me explicit directions on just how she wanted them baked. They were to be thick, delicate, not too sweet, a light dusting of very fine sugar and above all else, buttery! As some of you may have noticed, my aunt Kristin is one of my pastry muses. She doesn’t bake much herself, but she has a keen sweet tooth and can recognize a great recipe, without ever making it. Read More

Key Lime Cheesecake with Homemade Graham Cracker Crust

Key Lime Cheesecake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This key lime cheesecake is bright, citrusy and rich enough to satisfy even in the cold of February! I was in the mood for cheesecake, something smooth and velvety but not too sweet. Key Limes are readily available right now and have the magical ability to transport us to a warmer place of bright colors and sunshine, if only for a moment!

You can certainly use packaged graham crackers but why not make your own graham cracker crust, it is so easy and the flavor is so much more impressive! I like to bake my cheesecake in a cake pan instead of a spring form pan. I bake it in a water bath and find the cake pan easier to deal with. Getting the cheesecake out of the pan is easy if you follow my directions! Read More