December 22, 2013

Peppermint Patties

How appropriate for our last recipe of the year- peppermint patties. Seasonally relevant and great stocking stuffers. A creamy, minty filling enrobed in dark chocolate, simple and elegant and so delicious! After sourcing a few hard to find ingredients, these are a breeze to make. Quite a nice send off before we tackle the next chapter in the new year, puff pastry and croissants. I hope you'll all join us as we continue to bake through the book!


I absolutely love peppermint patties! The dark chocolate and mint flavor combo is superb. This recipe seemed a bit intimidating at first, but it was really only a matter of procuring the correct ingredients. The process itself wasn't complicated. The optional ingredients I omitted, since I couldn't find them anyways. I decided to make my own pouring fondant, there were lots of recipes online. So first I made that, then stared on the peppermint centers.

I followed the instructions properly, took the sugar to the correct temp and added all the ingredients. But the mixture never got to be opaque white, it was still clear-ish. I thought it might change as it set up, but no. Instead of using a piping bag, I just poured the hot sugar into a glass measuring cup with a spout, and poured it into the individual silicone molds. I re-used the cupcake liners from the last recipe. The book says they should solidify in about 15 minutes, but I found it look much longer. Just to be safe, I let them set up overnight. I think the pouring fondant I made wasn't correct, because they never got a creamy texture. You could still see the grains of sugar in the patties. The taste was ok, but the texture wasn't as nice.

I used the pouring method to enrobe them in dark chocolate. I dipped the bottoms, let them set up, then poured the chocolate over the tops. I find you use more chocolate this way, and there's more wasted, but it does work. Again, the tempering was an issue, so it took a long time for them to harden properly. But overall, I'm pleased with the result. It's hard to believe that you can make a store-bought treat like this at home, but with the proper ingredients, it's not hard at all!


What a fun name for a sweet treat! This recipe is guaranteed to please sweet lovers of all ages. Although the name is playful and the ingredients are simple, the team at Bouchon still presents it in a sophisticated and elegant manner. Instead of a bar shape, these are individual rounds, much better for munching. A sprinkling of fleur de sel on top lets you know, these are grown-up versions of a childhood favorite.

December 15, 2013

Pâte de fruit: two flavors

Pâte de fruit is a sophisticated holiday treat made from pure fruit puree. Its translation means fruit paste, but it more resembles a jelly candy. The process is much like making jam, but with a stronger gelling agent. Most high-end chocolatiers and confiseries carry this sweet treat, which can be quite pricey. They are best eaten right away, which is usually not a problem; they get gobbled up immediately. They can be made with any flavor of fruit, but berries tend to be popular, both due to their distinctive flavors and bright hues. Although some of the ingredients in this recipe are hard to find, it's worth searching them out to achieve the proper results.

December 8, 2013


Nougat, this week's recipe, is a common Christmastime treat is southern Europe. It is made from egg whites, honey, nuts, and sometimes dried fruit. It's a popular sweet in France, Italy (torrone), Spain (turron), Greece (mandolato), and Malta (qubbajd). It is also used in many candy bars, including the duty-free airport favorite Toblerone, which this recipe tells you how to make with the scraps. It keeps for about a month, so it makes the perfect holiday gift to make in advance and ship to friends and family who can't be together this time of year. 

December 5, 2013

Happy Anniversary Bouchon Bakers!

Well bakers, it's been a whole year since we started this blog. That's right, we have successfully completed 53 weeks of baking, for a grand total of 76 recipes! And that's not including all the creams and fillings we had to make in order to complete those recipes. Believe it or not, that's only halfway there. There's still a lot of baking in our future, with puff pastry, croissants, and breads still to come. 

To celebrate this occasion, we were inspired by the season. We decided to pumpkin-ize our favorite recipes so far, just like Bouchon Bakery does in its bakeries this time of year. Our bakers chose from a few options offered at the bakery, featured in this article

We hope everyone has enjoyed reading about our baking adventure, and that you continue to follow us as we finish the book. As always, feel free to email us with your own baking exploits, and we'll be happy to feature you on the blog. 

November 25, 2013

Marshmallows: Vanilla, Lemon and Raspberry

Marshmallows. Fluffy, light as air treats that can take on many shapes and flavors. Magically made from egg whites, gelatin, and sugar syrup, homemade marshmallows are light years better than the puffs you can buy at the grocery store. Although they may be intimidating to make at home, once tasted, they will convert you forever. It would be a sin to toast these over a roaring fire, they are so divine. This week we take on layered marshmallows: vanilla, raspberry and lemon, with the option to coat them in chocolate. You could easily make these whatever flavors you like, but this particular combination is very nice.

November 19, 2013

Caramels and Lemon Caramels

Continuing in the confections chapter, this week we have two variations of caramels: classic and lemon. Although the lemon caramels aren't caramels at all, but rather chocolate candies made with a specific type of caramel flavored chocolate, Valrhona Caramelia. This particular chocolate is essential is producing the caramel flavor of these candies. As with the other recipes in this chapter, timing and preparation are key to success. Either of these treats would make lovely holiday gifts for friends or family.

November 11, 2013


Toffee is another form of cooked sugar, similar to caramel. It is cooked to a higher temperature and nuts are added, usually almonds. This version is similar to English Toffee, which is made with butter and coated in chocolate. This would make a lovely holiday gift for parties or neighbors, wrapped up in cellophane bags and tied with a bow. 

November 3, 2013

Caramel Apples and Caramel Corn

For Halloween week we celebrated by making caramel apples and caramel corn. The method for making caramel is different in each recipe, but both delicious!

October 29, 2013

Witch Hats

Skipping around a bit in the book, we're tackling a very season-appropriate recipe this week: witches' hats! The Bouchon version consists of a speculoos cookie base, topped with a peak of fluffy white marshmallow, and covered in dark chocolate. So tasty and cute for Halloween!

October 20, 2013


A brioche that is soaked in a sweet syrup for flavoring and moisture. The cavity in the middle is filled with piped whipped cream and fresh fruit. The recipe takes a tropical turn with mangoes, papayas and bananas but feel free to pick your favorite fruits to accompany this treat.

October 13, 2013


Continuing with the brioche recipes, this week we attempted the tropézienne, a pastry originating from southern France. According to the book, a local chef from Saint-Tropez created this pastry while a movie was being filmed in the area. It is traditionally filled with orange blossom scented pastry cream, but this recipe adds Nutella instead, and I can't imagine anyone objecting to that!


standard bake and measure
special ingredient: Biscoff spread

This recipe was the most difficult in this chapter so far. I made the dough, let it rest overnight, and the next day it hadn't risen at all. After shaping it and letting it rise again for 2 hours, no change. I baked it anyways and it was flat and dry. The yeast failed me! So I ran out to the store again and bought more yeast, and tried again that very night. The second try was better, I could see (and smell) the yeast working. The next day, it was obvious that the yeast had worked. So I shaped it again and set it out to rise, and it was quite sluggish. Maybe my house was too cold, because after over 3 hours, it still hadn't risen as much as the recipe indicated it should. But, I baked it anyways, because at this point I was super frustrated with the whole process. It rose and got nicely browned, but I'm not sure if that's how it was supposed to look. 
Making the filling was much easier. I made a half recipe of the pastry cream, and it turned out perfectly. Believe it or not, I couldn't find Nutella at Whole Foods. Fortunately, I had a jar of Biscoff spread on hand, so I used that instead. The filling was smooth and delicious, although a bit loose for piping. 
I did a poor job cutting the pastry for filling, it was a bit uneven. I piped the filling in a swirl and sandwiched the top over it. 
Maybe it's because I had such a hard time with the dough, but I wasn't impressed with the final outcome at all. The finished brioche wasn't as light and airy as previous recipes. Although the filling was delicious, and I'll remember that for the future, I won't be making the dough again.

October 7, 2013


The brioche treats are sweet inside and out, with a sugar cube tucked in the middle and crunchy pearl sugar on top. Candied orange peel adds another note of sweetness and flavor. There is quite a bit of butter in this recipe, so a bit of patience is needed while your mixer kneads (pun intended). And when our bakers went to photograph their creations, coincidentally all the craquelins were shown in threes!

September 30, 2013

Doughnuts, 3 ways

Doughnuts. Little bits of fried dough. Whether they're dusted with powdered sugar, or filled with cream or jam, they're the perfect sweet treat. Most cultures have their own version of fried dough, usually made for special occasions or holidays, but the American version is the everyday doughnut. Bouchon's version, which they only sell in the bakery on weekends, is similar to a brioche dough, either coated in vanilla sugar or filled and glazed. Our bakers had varied results with this recipe, but overall produced delicious results.

September 22, 2013

Hot Cross Buns

With bites of currants and cranberries and a lovely spiced icing with cinnamon and cardamom, these brioche buns have the marks of a fall treat. We couldn't wait till Easter to try this recipe. Warm bread with a spiced topping - Happy First Day of Autumn!

September 15, 2013

Sticky Buns

This week we start a new chapter, Brioche and Doughnuts. These sweet treats are made with an enriched dough, which usually has butter and eggs in it. Not quite breads, not quite pastries, this dough is yeasted and usually used for morning sweets. The perfect example is this week's recipe, sticky buns! Now, these are not your run of the mill sticky sweet sugar bombs that you might find at the mall or airport. These are elevated, rich but not too sweet, refined but still utterly satisfying. And they definitely live up to their name, sticky.

Unfortunately, our bakers have dwindled over the weeks of this project, but hopefully delicious recipes like this will encourage more baking and sharing. Don't be shy, please share your delicious results with us!

September 9, 2013


We went savory this week to finish off our chapter on Pate a choux. These gougeres or savory puffs are seasoned with salt, pepper and gruyere. Chef Keller recommends piping them in molds like for the sweet cream puffs but our bakers made them freehand. Have a look!

September 1, 2013

Paris-New York

The story behind this week's recipe is quite unique and interesting. This is a traditional French pastry, but is usually with an almond praline filling. However, to "Americanize" it, this version uses peanuts and peanut butter, which is so specifically and uniquely American. The filling is made up of buttercream, peanut butter, and diplomat cream, which uses both pastry cream and whipped cream. So rich!

August 27, 2013


Little miniature swans made out of pate a choux. These artistic puffs are relatively simple to do, requiring just a bit of piping work and assembly. Similar to the eclairs and cream puffs, they have pastry cream filling, but then for a more textured, feathered look, a bit of whipped cream is piped on top.

August 18, 2013

Eclairs - Chocolate, Lime Coconut, or Dulce de Leche

Continuing in the pate a choux chapter, we come to éclairs. They use a similar dough as the cream puffs, with slightly different proportions, to make a stiffer dough. Since the éclairs are piped freehand, the dough must be stiffer than the cream puffs, which are molded. At Bouchon, the éclairs are piped using a French star tip to form grooves in the dough, which let them expand evenly while baking. 

Our bakers could choose to make any of three different varieties: chocolate, lime coconut, or dulce de leche. While the chocolate éclairs are the most traditional, the other two variations are more modern and certainly more complex and delicious.

Chocolate Eclairs

August 11, 2013

Miss Daisy

This week we made stacked cream puffs traditionally known as religeuses but with a twist, they were dressed up with fondant. To make Miss Daisy, a small cream puff is used for the head and larger cream puff for the body. Then you're free to use your creativity with the fondant to create her ensemble. Here are our Miss Daisies.

August 4, 2013

Cream Puffs and Cookies for Cream Puffs

We have left the land of tarts, and entered a new chapter: pate a choux! In French, pate means pastry, and choux means cabbages, which is what some say the first buns made using this method looked like. Although nowadays, it can be used to make any number of sweet or savory pastries, including this week's recipe, cream puffs.

Thomas Keller's cream puffs follow most traditional recipes, with a few variations. The pastry is piped into molds to ensure uniformity, and is then frozen before baking. Also, a special cookie is placed on top before baking, which then melts to the top of the puff and creates a crisp texture. Check out this video from the Today Show where the chef demonstrates his technique:

July 28, 2013

Spiced Caramel Chiboust with Hazelnut Streusel and Peaches

We are finishing off the Tarts chapter with a recipe that is a bit more difficult both in its composition and components. Our bakers did an incredible job tackling it. The way the tart is structured is very much like how many pastry chefs are presenting tarts these days, a thin layer of crust with a molded strip of "filling" placed on top. It is drastically different than how we've done tarts thus far- roll out dough, press into a pan, bake and pour in filling. Second, the components require careful reading of the instructions to make sure everything is timed properly. Again, much praise for the great writing in the book because it's not impossible, just a step up from what we've done before which seems fitting now that we are half way through the book.

July 22, 2013

Lemon Meringue Tarts

Once again, Thomas Keller takes a classic dessert and refines it. Lemon meringue pie is an Americana delight, often found in diners and grandmothers' kitchens. The swirly peaks of toasted meringue are both sweet and light, offset by the tart and tangy lemon curd inside. Here, we elevate the dessert into individual tarts, including a layer of lemon madeleine cake to stabilize the meringue. Our bakers enjoyed this challenge with great results. 

Serious Eats has posted the recipe their website if you'd like to give it a try!

July 15, 2013

Plum Tart with Almond Cream

This is a very versatile tart in that you can substitute the fruit for a seasonal option of your choosing. In the book, plums were selected for their beautiful color especially in contrast to the blond/brown color of the almond cream. I could also see this with apricots, peaches or nectarines all of which are in season now and pair well with the almond flavor. This week, Pastry Chef Sebastian Rouxel, co-author of the Bouchon Bakery cookbook happened to make this tart as well. How timely!

July 7, 2013

Rhubarb Tart

This week, our bakers were pleasantly surprised by the rhubarb tart. Although it's a little late in the season for rhubarb, this tart was worth searching out the special ingredient. There were only a few components: pate sucrée, rhubarb, brown butter filling, and toasted almond streusel. The tart is baked in a quarter sheet pan to show off the long stalks of rhubarb, instead of cutting it up, like most pies do. The result is a more elegant tart, suitable for a dinner party or a picnic.

June 30, 2013

Apple Band Tart

The apple is a special ingredient for French pastry as it is the star of the classic tarte tatin and the recipe for this week, the apple band tart. In the Bouchon Bakery cookbook the tart is made extra decadent with the addition of pastry cream between the flaky crust and fanned apples. No scoop of vanilla ice cream needed here, unless you feel like indulging.

June 23, 2013

Apricot Flan Tart

Our task this week was a flan parisien. The name of this tart threw our bakers for a loop, since it's not at all like the dessert flan, with its caramel top, that most people think of. This is more of a baked custard in a tart, layered on top of apricots in this case. There are really only three elements to this recipe: pate brisée, custard, and fruit. Simple enough, right? See how our bakers fared!

June 16, 2013

Caramel Nut Tart

Week two of tarts, and after a rather difficult initiation, this week's recipe offered a bit of a reprieve. The tart is as simple as it sounds, with only three simple parts: pate brisée, caramel, and nuts. Our bakers enjoyed the simplicity of this recipe after last week's challenge. This would be a good tart any time of year for any occasion.

June 10, 2013

Chocolate, Praline and Cocoa Nib Tart

Incredible job by our bakers this week. We kick off the Tarts section of the book with a more complex recipe, if not the most in the chapter. There are several ingredients not in a typical baker's pantry and with a total of four layers to this creation, it is not one that can be whipped up in a day. Like with all the recipes we've come across, but especially for this recipe, planning is key and making the components over the course of a few days is very helpful. This Chocolate, Praline and Cocoa Nib tart has a buttery crust, praline, ganache and dentelle for the finish on the top. It is an impressive dessert. Read on to see what our bakers think.

June 3, 2013

Crepe Cake

And so we come to the end of the cakes chapter, with a bit of a misnomer. This crepe cake isn't a cake at all, merely a stack of light fluffy crepes filled with smooth satiny diplomat cream. What is diplomat cream? It's pastry cream, with gelatin and whipped cream added. The gelatin helps it set and keep its shape, while the whipped cream lightens it up and makes it smooth. Our bakers enjoyed making this recipe as much as they enjoyed sharing it with friends and family. 

May 26, 2013

Oh Ohs with Chocolate Biscuit

We are almost done with the cakes chapter, and I can think of no better way to wind down than with this fun and challenging recipe. Oh Ohs are Thomas Keller's version of everyone's childhood favorite, Ho Hos. The original Ho Ho was created right here in San Francisco in 1920. Hostess, the company that made them, has had financial problems lately, but thankfully, now we can make our own at home.  The chocolate biscuit recipe, along with sweetened whipped cream, are rolled up and dipped in luxurious melted chocolate. Our bakers stepped back into their youth when making these, and the results were deliciously nostalgic.

May 21, 2013

Palet d'Or with Devil's Food Cake

This week we tackled the palet d'or or chocolate disc. This is another multi-step, multi-day project but nothing is particularly difficult and with the excellent instruction in the book it is doable and is a showstopper of a dessert, with or without edible gold leaf!

May 12, 2013

Madeleine Cake

We are re-visiting madeleines this week, in the form of a cake instead of little shells. This recipe, although different in some aspects, is very similar to the traditional madeleines we tackled earlier in this chapter. The result is still a light, spongy, lemon-scented cake. Our bakers had a good time with this recipe, and it was a nice break from the more complicated parfaits last week, and a good rest before the upcoming recipes as well.

May 5, 2013

Strawberry Parfait with Olive Oil Cake

We are stepping it up with cakes. This week's strawberry parfait has a moist olive oil cake as the base and a rich cream filling combination of pastry cream and buttercream. Fresh strawberries are used but can be substituted for any other berry or fruit of your liking. Raspberry jam adds a nice tartness. Dolloped with a bit of creme fraiche, this is a lovely introduction to summer.

April 28, 2013

Rum Cake

Continuing in the cakes chapter, this week we made rum cake. Everyone was looking forward to this recipe. The description in the book of Sebastien's memories of eating this rum cake was really inspiring. Whether it was one big cake or many little cakes, our bakers enjoyed making this recipe.

April 21, 2013

Coffee Cake

What's a cup of coffee without a cake to go with it? We made Bouchon Bakery's coffee cake this week and aside from some overfilling issues, the recipe is simple to execute. The crisp streusel topping has a nice crackly appearance on top and the dusting of powdered sugar, cinnamon and cocoa is a must. You'll want to make this to go with your morning Starbucks from now on.

April 14, 2013


This week's recipe is pain d'épices, or bread of spices. We call it gingerbread, because that is the most dominant spice. It also uses cinnamon and cloves, with a generous amount of molasses.

All of our bakers enjoyed making, and eating, this recipe. It was fairly simple and definitely satisfying. This is one that we all agree we will make again, especially at the holidays, or whenever we need a little more épice in our lives. 

April 10, 2013

Bread Demonstration with Chef Matthew McDonald

This post is the third in a three-part series documenting the Bouchon Bakery Book Project team’s visit to Bouchon Bakery in Yountville.

In addition to giving us the grand tour of the bakery, Chef Matthew McDonald took us through the process of making a baguette from shaping to baking. We became nervous students when we found out it was hands-on but whom better to show us the ways of Bouchon Bakery’s bread than the head baker himself.

Here Chef Matthew is using his favorite Ikea scissors to create what I call the “fingers” of the epi baguette before placing them in the oven but let’s go back a couple of hours to the shaping.

April 7, 2013


We made bouchons this week. The bouchon is recognized by word alone as it part of Thomas Keller's establishments, Bouchon Bistro and Bouchon Bakery. But what is it exactly? This classic item offered at Bouchon Bakery is small and the perfect portion for indulging a little and getting a lot. The richness and decadence making it the ultimate chocolate treat. Glass of milk please.

The iconic shape comes from the fact that "bouchon" translates to cork or the stopper at the mouth of a wine bottle. In French "bouche" means mouth. At Bouchon Bakery, they use a specific mold to get the shape and it can be purchased exclusively through the Williams-Sonoma website. This week the bakers used the pan, while our guest baker had success making the bouchons in an aluminum muffin tin. These little cakes come out great, regardless of the type of pan.


April 3, 2013

In Conversation with Pastry Chef Janine Weissman

This post is the second in a three-part series documenting the Bouchon Bakery Book Project team’s visit to Bouchon Bakery in Yountville.

During our visit at Bouchon Bakery we sat down with Head Pastry Chef Janine Weissman. She started out at The French Laundry before moving over to the bakery where she has been developing and perfecting pastries for the past four years. Chef Janine was very much involved with the making of the bakery’s book so we were eager to techniques and favorite recipes.

March 31, 2013

Marshmallow Eggs

Happy Easter! To celebrate we've hopped over to the Confections chapter at the end of the book to make these Marshmallow Eggs. Instead of Peeps, we have homemade marshmallows molded into egg shapes and coated in colorful sanding sugar. The process is a bit messy and sticky but when it comes to opening the eggs to reveal perfectly oval marshmallows, it is like a grown up's version of a reward at the end of an egg hunt

Thomas Keller did an Easter feature for NPR that includes this recipe

March 27, 2013

A Day at Bouchon Bakery

This post is the first in a three-part series documenting the Bouchon Bakery Book Project team’s visit to Bouchon Bakery in Yountville.

Lemon tarts with perfectly toasted whisps of meringue, a spring-colored line up of French macarons and a glistening golden breakfast pastry spread. These are just some of the delicious sights that you’re greeted with at Bouchon Bakery. I haven’t even mentioned the heavenly smells that come from the kitchen next door and continue to whet your appetite as you make your way from the bread baking in front to the buttery pastries browning in back. 

March 22, 2013

Financiers, 2 ways

This week, our subject is financiers. These are small cakes, often shaped as rectangles, which it is said resemble bars of gold, hence the name. However, the shape of the cake is not what defines it, the ingredients do. Two essential ingredients that set this cake apart from others are almond flour and brown butter. The result is a tiny, spongy, nutty and earthy cake that pairs well with a mid-morning cappuccino or cup of tea. Financier molds are difficult to find, so our bakers opted to use mini muffin pans instead. The cakes are still delicious, no matter the shape!

March 15, 2013

Madeleines, 2 ways

This week we start a new chapter in the book: cakes! This will be a challenging subject, although very delicious, I'm sure. 

We start off with a fairly simple cake, madeleines. These are small, shell-shaped cakes that are best enjoyed with a cup of tea or cappuccino. The cake batter is a sponge, or genoise batter, very light and airy. The book offers a traditional and a pistachio version. Everyone enjoyed making (and eating) these tiny treats. Also, it seems we are not the only ones inspired to bake through the book, as our guest baker this week is doing the same! 

Update: The recipe was featured in a USA Today article so we will share it with you here (Thanks Julie!)

March 8, 2013

Muffins, Part 2

Our second week of muffins we baked the richer, denser carrot and banana muffins. Carrot was unanimously the more popular choice and all agreed that the muffins were moist and delicious. The streusel adds great texture top the tops as well. Leticia, one of our team members decided to welcome Spring with her garden-inspired food styling. The carrots look ready for picking.

Thomas Keller did an Easter feature for NPR that includes the recipe for the carrot muffins

carrot muffins

March 1, 2013

Muffins, Part 1

This week, we're all dividing up a few muffin recipes. With so many different flavor variations, it seemed best to divide and conquer. The options to choose from are: corn, bran, blueberry, or lemon poppy seed. Most use similar technique and basic ingredients, so we are all still learning, without having to make so many muffins. All recipes call for a jumbo muffin tin, which makes a big fluffy muffin. This was a bit of a different week for our group (which we'll go into later), so we don't have everyone's input yet, but here's what we have so far. 

February 22, 2013

Assorted Scones

This week we divided and conquered. We made three different scones: chocolate cherry, bacon cheddar and cinnamon honey. There is something for everyone. All that is missing is a cup of tea and an episode of Downton Abbey. These scone recipes require that you freeze and then bake so they are great to have on-hand for unexpected guests or when you're just craving a sweet.

chocolate cherry scones

Tools of the Trade: Homemade Creme Fraiche

The plain scones recipe ask for creme fraiche. Since it is a little pricey I did a bit of research and it turns out you can make it yourself with just heavy cream and buttermilk or yogurt. The best part? It is half the cost of buying it.

February 15, 2013


Well, we're finally out of the cookie chapter! We all had a lot of fun and learned a lot, but I think everyone is eager to try something new. The next chapter is scones and muffins, yay! To avoid a lot of repetition, we're splitting up some of the recipes that are similar in technique but different in flavor, like we did for macarons. This week, we are all making plain scones, to prepare for next week, where we'll all choose one of three different flavor scones. So far, only a few of us have completed the recipe, but we'll add more results as we get them.