We’re all entitled to make mistakes. Even though I helped set the schedule, I went on memory and thought the dessert we were making for French Fridays with Dorie this week was the cheesecake tart. Turns out that it’s Waffles and Cream. Think of this as a preview. I’ll make the waffles when I get chance, but I might wait until the week everyone else is making the cheesecake tart.
We’ve been friends for a while now. So I’m comfortable telling you how it is. I am an adventurous eater, and there is little I won’t eat. There is one food, however, that causes me to have a visceral reaction of revulsion. I only have to think of it, not even actually see this food. Can you guess what it is? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s cottage cheese. I don’t know what it is about it. I think it’s the curds. Ricotta doesn’t bother me, or fresh goat cheese, or farmer’s cheese, but I simply cannot deal with curdy cottage cheese. That’s just the way it is.
This week, I made the cheesecake tart recipe for French Fridays with Dorie. The main ingredient is fromage blanc. Fromage blanc is a fresh low-fat cheese with a soft texture like crumbly cream cheese or farmer’s cheese. It’s not a common grocery item, but knowing that the recommended substitute was cottage cheese, I knew that I had to find the real thing.
I was looking for Vermont Creamery’s version of fromage blanc because I’ve seen it around. Instead, I found one made at Nettle Meadow Farm in the Adirondacks of New York State. (Cher, do you know the farm?) This award-winning fromage blanc is made from goat milk and flavored with honey and lavender. That seemed perfect for a dessert. I love how the package lists the different plants the goats forage on! If you can’t read the label, it says: “This cheese is a sumptuous concentration of the organic grains and wild herbs our goats and sheep eat every day, including wild raspberry leaf, nettle, kelp, comfrey, garlic, barley, goldenrod”.
I minified this one: one third of the recipe to make 2 mini tarts. One with dried fruit for me, and one without for Howard.
The tart starts with Dorie’s Sweet Tart Dough. This pastry is one of my favorite recipes in Around My French Table. I always press it into the pan, no rolling required. And the result is like a shortbread cookie base for whatever delicious filling you choose.
For the cheesecake tart, the creamy filling is made from processing the fromage blanc and the other ingredients until it’s smooth. A slurry of cornstarch and milk helps thicken it up.
First, you sprinkle a spoonful of dried fruit (I had a medley of golden raisins, cranberries, cherries, and blueberries) on the bottom of the tart (or not, for Howard). Then, you pour in the filling and bake it until it puffs up. Once cooled, all it needs is a sprinkle of powdered sugar before serving.
When I said I was making a cheesecake tart, Howard stopped listening after I said “cheesecake”. He was imagining a New York Cheesecake, not a French one. Once he got over the initial disappointment, we agreed that it was good, not too sweet or tart or heavy. We both liked It, though next time I’ll surprise him with that New York Cheesecake.
You’ll have to wait until next month to find out how the other Doristas’ cheesecake tarts came out, but if you’re interested in their Waffles and Cream, check out their links here. The cheesecake tart recipe is in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.
When I was in high school, my mother (the gadget queen) had an electric crepe maker. You plugged it in, dipped the surface in the batter, and when the crepe was browned, you pulled it off. I remember being obsessed with making crepes, mostly savory dishes, filled with (now) retro fillings like tuna and chicken mixed with mayonnaise and topped with lots of cheese.
Last year (I think), my sister Jennifer bought a crepe pan and declared crepes to be her new holiday signature dessert. Was it for New Years’, Jennifer? I don’t recall ever making sweet crepes though. Until now. This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is Butter and Rum Crepes, Fancy and Plain.
The batter is what you might expect for pancakes (milk, eggs, flour, melted butter) with some flair (sugar rubbed with citrus zest, dark rum and Grand Marnier). It needs to rest, so I made in the day before I wanted to make the crepes.
I’ll admit that I’m not very good at making regular pancakes. That’s Howard’s job (I was fired years ago). Making crepes is a bit more difficult. I had a hard time figuring out the right amount of batter to pour in and swirl around to get full coverage. I finally settled on using a quarter-cup measure, not quite filled, to scoop from the batter bowl and pour into the pan.
I used the non-stick skillet I use for omelets. Its sides are a bit high and sloping which made it hard to loosen the crepe for turning. A flatter pan might have been worked better for me. I found a rubber spatula worked well to separate those lacy bits from the pan before gently grabbing the edge to flip it over. You definitely need Nonna fingers for this one (that’s those experienced fingers that grandmothers have that don’t feel the burn of touching hot food). It took me most of the batch to get the technique down and feel comfortable. At least the mistakes were tasty.
Dorie suggested leaving the crepes plain (well, they are sprinkled with sugar, so not quite plain) or filling with lemon curd. I had a jar of lemon curd in the fridge, so I didn’t make it from scratch, though I do highly recommend the Lemon Curd recipe in AMFT. For variety, I filled some and left some plain.
To top off the dessert, Dorie gives a recipe for a warm honey-citrus sauce. What are you doing with your leftover sauce?
I liked the crepes. I certainly need more practice to be able to make these with confidence. Miraculously of all, Howard said he wanted a plateful of crepes. Go figure. There isn’t any component of this recipe that I would have predicted he would eat. He said “it was alright”. I don’t know if that’s the truth, or if he’s just gaslighting me.
To see how my Dorista friends made out, check out their links here.