Bonjour! Last year at this time I was in Paris. Sigh.
I did not have the same level of appreciation for pastry then but I did manage a visit to Laduree and many, many, MANY other less notable but no less delicious patisseries.
One of the reasons I love French decoration in particular is because it is all very edible. The chocolate, tuile and spun sugar decorations the French use make my taste buds tingle upon sight. Although I love gumpaste and its amazing versatility I've found the texture can be overwhelming on top of a tiny sweet.
French pastries, like entremet, are often extremely complicated with numerous ingredients and steps but the outcomes are always beautifully refined. These cupcakes are far from masterpieces of refinement however I do love the informality of the cupcake combined with the complexity of the decorations. It keeps the fussiness in check and creates a sense of casualness. And the edible dried flowers add that touch of organic imperfection that I love in any form of design. Okay, I'm hyper-analyzing now. They are just cupcakes for heaven's sake.
No, I did not eat all of these cupcakes. They were made for a fundraising bake sale to support the Canadian Cancer Society and this month's Daffodil campaign. Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity to make a ton of cupcakes for a great cause.
Now for the introductions, starting on the left is the Vanilla Pistachio Cupcake with Rosewater Macaron, center is the Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcake with Port Wine Macaron and to the right is the Fresh Strawberry and Creamcheese Cupcake with Kusmi Tea Macaron. Because the cupcakes involve three to four different recipes each, I will create separate posts with recipes and tutorials for each one. For now lets just look at some pretty pictures and go into a little more detail.
The Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcake with Port Wine Macaron was my favourite flavour-wise. It is a decadent chocolate cake with salted caramel filling and is topped with a salted caramel buttercream. The chocolate macaron is sandwiched with a port-infused dark chocolate ganache. It is decorated with a chocolate disc brushed with gold luster dust and Callebaut Crispearls.
The Fresh Strawberry and Creamcheese Cupcake with Kusmi Tea Macaron is my favourite visually. It is a strawberry cake made with a strawberry reduction for a potent and delicious natural flavour. It is topped with a classic creamcheese buttercream. I decided not to add a filling because I wanted the two main flavours to mingle on their own. The macaron is brushed with gold luster dust and sandwiched with a Kusmi tea-infused white chocolate ganache. It is decorated with a delicate pink dusted, white chocolate petal.
I picked up this Kusmi Tea in Paris but it can be found in many specialty gourmet food retailers around the world. I had not heard of Kusmi tea at the time but I remember I was drawn like a magnet to their delightful storefront in Montmartre. I used the Imperial blend, it is a wonderfully floral and complex green tea.
The making of these cupcakes was a three day, painfully pretty process that was not without its hiccups. Day one was making the pastes, sauces and ganaches (made caramel three times, burned twice), as well as started my egg whites ageing for the macarons. Day two was macaron madness, I'll get into that in the recipe posts. And day three was making the cake, buttercreams and final decorations. Intensive but sooo much fun.
I hope you enjoyed this bit of Parisian inspiration. Recipes will be up soon!