Lemon Honey Panna Cotta with Lemon Fennel Puff Pastry Straws

Even the last scraps of home made puff pastry taste great and puff perfectly. Never ever dispose these precious leftovers, always put them to some use. The flavor of the real butter and the texture of the finished product is far superior compared to store-bought puff pastry.

I’m crazy about lemon-licorice combo. But the key is not to overdo the last component. If you wish, you can use anise seeds instead of fennel, but since the anise is more potent, reduce its amount accordingly. A little bit too much and you can end up with a cough syrup flavor.

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Vols-au-Vent

September Daring Bakers’ challenge is up. This time it’s classic puff pastry and vols-au-vent – flaky tartlets that can be filled with at least a thousand possible sweet or savory fillings. Only, I act as usual. First, being overwhelmed with different ideas, I decide to wait until my mind is made up. Then, I wait for the weather to become a bit cooler. And finally, when the weather is as hot as never, and the due date is tomorrow, I roll up my sleeves and get to work proceeding with the simplest solution.

I made one sweet and another savory vols-au-vent.

  • Sweet: peppery ricotta/mascarpone mousse with Bartlett pears, sautéed in butter, honey, and vanilla
  • Savory: smoked salmon mascarpone mousse

Yep, mascarpone is everywhere. I was utilizing the freshly made cheese; it is only wonderful when super-fresh.

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon who chose this French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the puff pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook “Baking with Julia” by Dorie Greenspan.

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Cornmeal Walnut Focaccia with Concord Grapes and Gorgonzola

I have a weakness (one of many…) – Concord grapes. With their season so short, I tend to overeat them while they last until my tongue is numb and the throat is itchy. And when these symptoms of the overindulgence aggravate, I stop eating them raw and start to bake.

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Herb and Parmesan Bread Twists

Haven’t we all tried tasteless extra-chewy bread sticks in restaurants and at parties? I’ve had my share. Without false modesty, I can assure you these twists are better. And the difference is called forth by a generous amount (and I mean GENEROUS) of fresh herbs, garlic, parmesan, and good quality extra-virgin olive oil.

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Coconut Raspberry Tarts

These are probably the last berries of the season (how sad…) They are topping the coconut pastry cream filling and a thin layer of raspberry-white chocolate ganache below. And yes, there’s more coconut in the tart shells, too.

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Triple Banana Double Caramel Mini Cupcakes

This is my basic and the most often used banana-bread formula. I do vary flavors, play with different flours, but I usually keep the proportions of the main ingredients the same. The bread is moist but not wet or sticky, just as good as any banana bread should be. I bake this batter as a loaf, cake layers or cupcakes, according to my mood or need.

Let me explain the cupcakes’ weird name. They are indeed banana cupcakes (banana number 1), filled with banana caramel (banana number 2, caramel number 1) and frosted with caramel cream cheese frosting (caramel number 2), and garnished with banana chips (banana number 3).

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