This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Stephanie of Kitchen Frolic and Kathy of Bakeaway with Me – you’ve each won a copy of Jill’s book!
There’s something intoxicating about a bakery case. The aromas, of course, help. But it’s the visual feast that is dizzying. Delicate millefeuilles; macarons in all their colour-wheel glory; choux puffs and éclairs stuffed full of cream; cakes, cookies, and tarts in all shapes and flavours – how can one decide?
That’s why high tea is such a pleasure. You can fill your plate with bite-sized versions of all those pastries. The French have their own take on teatime – le goûter. However, unlike high tea, le goûter is an everyday occasion. Children go in for Nutella tartines, but adults take tea or coffee with delicate pastries.
It’s a much better habit than the to-go cups and monstrous, leaden scones that feature in North American afternoon breaks.
Jill Colonna is something of an expert on le goûter and teatime, too. A Scottish transplant to Paris, she’s explored all that city has to offer the discerning mid-afternoon pastry aficionado. So much so that she gives tours of the best pâtisseries and chocolatiers in Paris.
She started her blog, Mad About Macarons, when she began experimenting with making French pastries at home. Her first book, also called Mad About Macarons!, demystifies the process of making these quintessentially French treats. Her macaron recipes range from classic to playful, guaranteeing you’ll never get out of practice.
Her latest book, Teatime in Paris!, just released on June 1st, takes on the rest of the pastry case. There are chapters on choux pastry, millefeuilles, tartlets, and of course, macarons. Each of these begin with an illustrated, step-by-step recipe for the basic version of the pastry, then move on to all sorts of variations. The book also includes recipes for canelés, crepes, little cakes, and more. There are even recipes for a few full-sized desserts and the last chapter sets out recipes for an elegant French tea party.
My family was quite pleased to learn that I’ve got the book bristling with bookmarks and several of them have volunteered to taste-test while I master these pastries. I have to say, it’s started out very well. I made Jill’s Passion Fruit and Lemon Meringue Tartlets last week and they are everything I love about pâtisserie baked goods.
Jill’s pâte sucrée (sweet pastry or sweet tart dough) recipe yields the best pastry cases I’ve ever made. They’re sturdy enough for any filling, but just the right balance of crispy and tender when you bite into them. They also don’t get soggy over time.
I could have stopped baking right there, I was so pleased with the pastry cases. I’m very glad I didn’t. The fruit curd filling has a little gelatin in it, giving it a sheen and substance that most homemade curds lack. The topping is a perfectly sweet French meringue that holds up in the oven and then in the refrigerator.
The tart, smooth filling contrasts so well against the texture of the pastry case and the sweetness of the meringue. They look beautiful, too. These tartlets are the closest thing to a pâtisserie sweet that I’ve ever made. I made them smaller than called for in the recipe, so that I could share them around in my extended family. It was also an excuse to use my grandmother’s butter tart pans, which are perfect for making tiny pastry cases.
Jill’s instructions guided me through the whole process easily. I’m looking forward to finally having some success with macarons under her instruction, though it’s her Chocolate-Earl Grey Tartlets with Orange-Liqueur Crumble Puffs that are next on my agenda.
I’ve gotten permission from Jill and Interlink Publishing to share the recipe with you. However, if you want the secret to Jill’s wonderful pâte sucrée, you are just going to have to buy the book. (You should.)
A note to Canadian and American bakers: if you haven’t invested in a digital kitchen scale, now is the time to get one. The ingredients are given in grams, for accuracy and an international readership. And really, what are you waiting for? You will be so pleased when your baked goods come out perfectly, consistently.
Passion Fruit and Lemon Meringue Tartlets
Makes 8 tartlets
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
Temperature: 160°C/320°F fan (Gas 4), then 200°C (400°F, Gas 7)
- 500g pâte sucrée (sweet pastry)
- Zest of an unwaxed lemon
- Juice of 2 passion fruits and 1-2 lemons (100g fresh juice)
- 100g sugar
- 2 eggs
- 90g cold butter, cut into chunks
- 1 x 2g sheet of gelatine
- 60g egg whites (approx. 2 egg whites)
- 90g sugar (normal sugar, not caster/super-fine)
- Roll out the pastry to 3-4mm (1/8-3/16″) thickness turning regularly on a lightly floured surface. Cut out rounds that are 2cm (3/4″) bigger than your tartlet molds. Gently press each round into a tartlet mould, trimming off excess pastry. Prick the pastry all over with a fork.
- Bake the tartlets for 10-15 minutes at 160°C/320°F fan (Gas 4). Allow to cool, remove from their moulds and set aside.
- Soak the gelatine in cold water for 10 minutes and zest the lemon.
- Strain the juice of two passion fruits using a sieve to remove all the seeds and make up to 100g by adding the juice of 1-2 lemons.
- In a saucepan, whisk together the passion fruit-lemon juice with the sugar, zest and eggs over a medium heat until the sauce boils, bubbles and thickens.
- Strain to remove the zest. Take off the heat and whisk in the butter and the gelatine (squeezed of excess water).
- Pour directly into the tartlet shells and place them in the fridge until ready to serve.
- To appreciate them at their best, remove from the fridge 10 minutes before serving.
- Whisk the egg whites at medium-high speed with an electric mixer in either a glass or metallic bowl. Just as they start to froth up, gradually add the sugar. Increase to a high speed, continuing with the sugar until the meringue forms strong, glossy, stiff peaks.
- Spoon (or transfer to a piping bag with a large serrated or plain tip and pipe out) the meringue on top of each tartlet, spreading it as much as possible over the top. If not piping, using the back of a spoon, lift parts of the meringue up into little cones for decoration.
- Bake in a very hot oven (200°C, 400°F, Gas 7) for about 5 minutes. Alternatively, brown with a culinary blowtorch.
- Remove and chill until ready to serve.
One last thing – don’t be surprised if you find yourself packing this cookbook on your next trip to Paris. One of the loveliest bonus features of the book is the illustrated appendix of Jill’s favourite sweet walks in Paris. It gives you advice about where to find sweets and pastries across a number of Paris’ famous neighbourhoods. And if, like me, you’re not going to Paris anytime soon, this chapter will help you visit vicariously.
You can see all this for yourself if you’re lucky. Interlink Publishing has been kind enough to offer two copies of Teatime in Paris! to my readers.
You can enter to win one of them via the link below. Readers with US or Canadian mailing addresses (with the exclusion of residents of Quebec) can enter to win one of two copies of Teatime in Paris! You can find the giveaway, along with the rules and eligibility requirements, by following this link. The winners will be notified by email on June 20, 2015. Good luck!
That’s it for my Spring Book Review series. It’s practically summer now, after all. I hope you’ve treated yourself to a few of the titles I’ve told you about over the last few weeks. And if you try any of the recipes I’ve shared, I’d love to hear about it! Now, go out and enjoy all the good food summer brings.