When it comes to French pastry, Pierre Herme is almost like a household name. I’d mentioned him countless times on this blog and I’m sure some of you guys would already know that I am quite a fan of his works, especially the art of macaron making, which he revolutionised with innovative combinations of flavours and the use of exotic ingredients some totally unheard of, sometimes to the point of the unimaginable under his “Signature“, “Fetish” and in more recent years, his “Jardin” series. But during our most recent trip to Tokyo, we’d decided to go back to the traditions and “re-discover” the French classics. Read on to see how Pierre Herme fares!
A question which I’d been getting from some friends and readers of late is, “What have you been baking lately?” Well knowing their kind intentions, I replied them with a honest “nothing much”, discounting the usual pandan chiffons, christmas fruit cakes and CNY pineapple tarts and cookies of course. Indeed, the direction of this blog has changed somewhat compared to how it was conceptualised years back when I first started to write about the confections I make at home. Don’t get me wrong, pastry is still my passion, which I am always ready to engage in fervent discussion with anyone who broaches the topic. But so is cooking. Which came first, cooking or baking? Not quite exactly a chicken or egg question but I think I had sufficient grounding in both since young. But the question from these friends and readers brought me back to the very reasons how this blog had begun, to share my passion for pastry and baking, so I guess it is also timely for a quick revision of my pastry 101s…
My story with the mango and passionfruit pairing started back in 2011, when I first made Hidemi Sugino‘s “Tahiti タヒチ – Tarlette au Mangue et Fruit de la Passion“. It was a beautiful creation which I hope to make again some time soon in the near future. Hopefully when miyazaki mangoes become more affordable(I wish!), or when I have access to the cheaper Taiwan grown variety. Then in 2012, triggered by the Diner en Blanc saga (read about it here), El Tropicano was born, a plated dessert comprising of a soya bean panna cotta and a fruits tartare with mango and passionfruit as the main components. It was made somewhat tongue-in-cheek and in a slightly spiteful manner if I might add, now thinking in retrospect but all in good fun. Then in 2014, I opted for something simpler, and made a Mango and Passionfruit Yoghurt Pudding which was simple but no less yummy. Needless to say, the matrimony of these two much loved tropical fruits is high on my favorites’ list. And now 2015, I’d cracked my head again, this time for a cheesecake-based entremet, named “Tahiti v.2015” after Sugino’s creation which got me all started.
The pastry scene in Taipei is really developing very rapidly. Just barely a year since our last visit and so many new cafes and pastry joints have sprung up all over. One thing we’d also noticed, is that some of the traditional bakeries seemed to have caught up with the trend and begin to decorate their cakes with macarons and tempered chocolate pieces in place of the old school cream and piped gel decor. To survive one has to keep up with times. And this is true for practically every trade.
Yet amongst this wave of change, there are some who preferred to stick by the old ways. Despite the rebellious resilience to resist changes, they seem to have a strong and loyal following of folks who would continually patronise these shops who simply refuse to jump on the bandwagon. This comes as no surprise as these old school confectioneries sell not just cake, but also “peddle” memories and reminiscence of the not-too-long-ago yesteryears that go together with it. Nostalgia is after all a very powerful ingredient as you probably already know, remember the past to fuel the future. (more…)
One of the dining places we used to frequent over weekends was Ichiban, a Japanese restaurant at Parkway Parade as J loved the Tori Katsu Curry there. They have a loyalty card system where diners get a stamp for every 20 dollars spent. The stamps are then redeemable for free food items or dining vouchers. Many a times, we find ourselves falling short of just a few bucks to getting another stamp and of course the stack of Ichiban Fiesta Japanese Cheesecake sitting beside the cashier’s was the best option to “top up our bill”. Over time, we grew to love this cheesecake, buying it at every opportunity, even when we are not dining there.
I saw several fellow friends in the blogging community who have really positive reviews on the Featherlight Cheesecake recipe from Alex Goh’s “Fantastic Cheesecake” and I couldn’t resist the temptation to try it as well. Cathy from Cathy’s Joy and Jess from J3ss Kitch3n were a great source of motivation so despite not having tried this before, I jumped on the bandwagon and the cake was indeed true to what had been raved; the texture was very soft and light, totally effortless on the palate. Instead of using conventional creamcheese, I decided to use Fromage Blanc for the cake, since I bought a tub earlier in the week from Carrefour to have a taste of the real thing and compare with the ones I’d yielded from my earlier experimentation. Some modifications to the original recipe were made and I’d listed them below.