March 2, 2015

raspberry chocolate starIt’s been icy, snowy, cold and not at all hospitable. I baked all weekend, because nothing says happy like the smell of baked goods in the oven. I wobbled through my first experience with canelé. I made a sensational and surprisingly simple caramel chocolate tart. And then I baked for Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.

caramel tart dark baked crustTwo days of baking. Thousands of calories. Highs and lows. It was a dramatic three days in the kitchen.

great crust and too airy interiorI’ve long been a canelé fan but once I tasted an official canelé in their Bordeaux birthplace, I was a goner.  [I thank Kate Hill for this education, in addition to all my porky-knowledge.]  

looked like the right amountThis little sweet packs a punch. It’s got everything I’ve ever wanted in a pastry.There’s that crackly crunchy caramel crust, rich with flavors of brown butter and honey. and then there is a custardy center, firm, but still so egg rich and vanilla and rum-scented it’s almost a flan or a crème caramel. Whereas the canelé could be very nearly too much of a good thing, it is tempered by size. There is restraint in the classic two-inch, two-bite treat.

the giant puff of deathIt’s impossible to make canelé spontaneously. Scott D, my cooking co-conspirator on the west coast, was happy to  join in on the endeavor. We studied, shopped ,and planned for several weeks. Scott went with silicone molds. I hunted down copper ones. He bought beeswax online, I searched (fruitlessly) for a local beekeeper. (It’s wintertime. They’re not easy to find.)

three pretty good caneleIn short, Scott’s canelés were much more successful. I made three rounds (in my four molds) and three of them came out well. Very well. There is so much more to learn. Scott and I are both continuing the experimentation this week. I’ll write in detail about the process when I’m more comfortable with the whole thing.

dark chocolate layerUndeterred by baking misdeeds in the canelé department, for brunch with the cousins (later cancelled due to weather),  I moved on to a caramel chocolate tart I have long admired. Let’s start with the truth: Every single recipe Dorie Greenspan writes is perfect. And this is no exception. You want to own Dorie’s new book, Baking Chez Moi.

slice of heavenThis salty, caramel tart with a whisper of dark chocolate is dead simple, beautiful to behold, with a delicious complexity and depth far beyond what the simple ingredients might suggest. Make it and share it with friends. It’s the perfect dinner party dessert, easily made a day ahead.

brioche doughNot satisfied with baking only canelés and a tart, and because we were invited to a Great British Bake Off finale viewing party, I had one more baked good to go. (What? You’re not watching GBBO? Find it on-demand ASAP. This is a delightful romp of a reality show, as British as they come. It’s charming.)

before the bakePulling out all the stops, I made my own version of the Nutella Star that buzzed around the web last fall. Instead of Nutella, I used my raspberry chocolate jam. Maybe you have something suitable in your pantry? This is a showstopper of a bake. It’s delightful – really more coffeecake than cake – perfect for dunking. I’ll be making it again and again.

oh my stars 2When bad weather is brewing,  if you are stuck inside because of weather, what do you make? Tell me in the comments and on March 21, I’ll randomly select one of the comments for a special pre-season give-away of a signed copy of Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry.

That’s the first day of spring – canning can’t be far behind.


sliced star with tea

66 Responses to “The Bake Off: Canelé, Caramel Tart, Chocolate Raspberry Star and a Giveaway”

  1. Jenny Hartin

    Every time the weather gets bad – I think I must have enough milk in the house to make homemade ricotta. I think we need another canele bakeoff so I can participate!

  2. Donna Currie

    There’s no “one thing” that I make in bad weather, but there’s a good chance there’s something hearty simmering on the stove and cookies in the oven.

  3. Anne

    Soup and bread, sometimes chili, and a little something sweet to round it off!

  4. Allison Cofone

    When weather is bad, I am a soup and bread girl. The kids love it when we start baking, too — cookies, brownies. They love chocolate chip cookies or sugar cookies, because then they get to decorate.

  5. Jeanne

    When we have nasty winter weather, I like to make things that warm all the senses. One of my favorites is bread. Breads that fill the house with the smell of lost times and cinnamon and taste like happy memories, with a texture that is both light and substantive. Breads that look almost too pretty to cut but bring a smile at the sound of the knife slicing through a perfect crust. I think I hear the kitchen calling me now…

  6. Starla

    Cool rainy weather means soup, yeast bread or corn bread, whipping up a batch of cookies (chocolate chip with walnuts, dried cranberries or whatever) or trying a new dessert recipe that fits with what I have on hand. Wish I could preserve that cool, rainy weather though — I’d bring it out in late August and early September while I was in the midst of canning Would cool rain be a blessing on a day spent with a boiling water canner?

  7. Gail Maganani

    I love your pictures and especially your recipes! I’d love to Win!

  8. Lynn

    I look forward to “snow days”. I always cook (except for once in 1996 when my children took over the kitchen.) I start with a soup or a stew and when that is cooking, I move on to brownies, chocolate chip cookies or some kind of chocolate cake. (sense a theme here?) I rarely run to the store for milk or bread….No need!

  9. Chef Jim

    Snowed in, too cold to go out much, I usually get very casseroley! Most often chicken, veggies, pasta or rice. With recipe or totally randomly created from what’s in the pantry! May end up as one dish meal, but usually a gazillion prep bowls used so it seems like a multi course like prep!

  10. Tracy McGinty

    Bad weather? Braised short ribs with egg noodles, cinnamon buns, lasagna, something baked with apples and spice…

  11. Virginia Tadrzynski

    I like to make something like minestrone or jambalaya. Usually chased with homemade corn bread.

  12. Rona

    There are so many wonderful things to bake in bad weather…I love brownies, pumpkin bread or banana bread…canelés definitely! You must try Dorie Greenspan’s recy from Baking Chez Moi. I used a silicone mold (thanks to Jenny Hartin) and they are perfect every time! PERFECT!

  13. Leslie

    When it was snowing and cold out, first thing in hand had to be some hot chocolate, maybe with a little adult addition of peppermint schnapps to add some auditional warmth and comfort. Then it is homemade bread to go with stew that has been simmering…. Makes the house smell incredible and you have no choice but to slow down, relax and enjoy the simple things

  14. Janice Quick

    My whole wheat bread and a big pot of chicken chili loaded with peppers and onions. So good!

  15. Pam C

    I love GBBO it really makes you appreciate the art of baking. It is also so relaxing to watch with the over the top American cooking shows.

  16. Risa Golding

    When it’s nasty outside I do mainly comfort food cooking – savory but I also bake cookies (when I’m not watching my eating) such as chocolate chocolate chip, Dorie’s World Peace Cookies, Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies – those are my three favorites.

  17. Lorraine Healy-Smith

    oh my God, this post is food porn! Uh, crappy, snowed in, freeze your toes off weather drives me to make beef stew – with a bone, Sour Cream Coffee Cake, with walnuts the cinnamon sugar and Chocolate Chip Cookies

  18. Joan

    When the weather is bad depending on what ingredients I already have on hand I want to bake. I’m not normally big on baking though. I usually do make soup as well since bad weather seems to call for soup.

  19. Judith

    I make a batch or two of soup – freeze some for later and enjoy a warm, decidedly different lunch from regular studio days. I bake a crusty 4-hour French boule or baguette (keeps the kitchen warm and smelling wonderful), and often make a batch of sun-dried tomato jam to have with the bread and a bit of chevre. Decadent.

  20. LyleGarlicGirl

    Vegetable soup and bread. Warms you up whether you’re coming in or going out.

  21. Terry

    I start a batch of soup when bad weather is predicted, but I always think I need chocolate as well, so brownies also get started.

  22. AMy L

    I like to make comfort food when the weather is bad – pot roast, chili, soups…If I’m in the mood to bake I’ll make muffins or cookies.

  23. MaryJo

    I love your book and I love to bake either rye breads or other whole grain sandwich-type breads when the weather outside is frightful! =0)

  24. Jill

    I’m not a breakfast lover, but I’m willing to change for your version of the Nutella Star!


    Usually, it is soup, soup, and more soup. However, this weekend, we rolled out the smoker and did pork and turkey. Called some friends to help us with pulled pork, sliced turkey, vinegared cole slaw and lots of beer! Warm inside and out.

  26. Nywoman

    Julia Child’s Reine de Saba. Stewed Veal in a Dill Sauce and lots of soups.

  27. JKB in MN

    When snowy and cold, as it often is here, I like a nice Apple crisp, or a simple streusel coffee cake. Brewed strong tea is a must! Stay warm.

  28. Janet

    Cold weather cooking always includes a big pot of chili and a big pot of soup. This year also included Meyer lemon rolls, which were divine!

  29. Annie brown

    I usually make soup or stew and I’ve been making slow cooked cake like fruit things because generally one or two of my kids and stop over. I can’t wait for spring and planting a garden,

  30. kyle gregory

    I make pot roast, or anything else that requires the oven to be on for any extended period of time.

  31. Amanda

    When it’s cold outside it’s time for soup. I dig through the fridge and just make whatever comes to mind. While it simmers I either dream of ice cream flavors to make when it’s warmer or I pull out a canning cookbook and start planning. No time like winter to plan your summer larder.

  32. Eileen

    Last week, a good friend gave me a box of just picked oranges, grapefruit and lemons, and the forecast was for rain all day on Sunday. I was delighted to have a reason to be inside and made a total of 33 jars of orange marmalade with Grand Marnier – delish! Now it is on to lemon curd, grapefruit sections in mint infused light syrup. By the way, the Great British Bakeoff has been fabulous to watch, and I’ve got a list of baked goods from the show to try. The hot water pastry was a new one on me, and I immediately tried it to great results.

  33. Karen K

    When its cold outside I turn on the oven, break out my fav books and start cooking – I usually end up with bread and anything that goes with it. I love making home made breads of all kinds, a big pot of soup (potato) or a bubbling hot casserole – Chicken & rice sounds yummy about now. Top that off with some home made cookies or a custard pie. YUM!

  34. Karen Brown

    Lemon Dream Bars are my go-to, always successful dessert – and they are snarfed up quickly. I make them in a tart pan, because it looks so much more elegant when I slice it. My recipe comes from a sweet little handmade cookbook put together in 1985 from the 4th grade at Thornapple School in Ada, Michigan. My Mom was a teacher there and sent me a copy. It’s full of jello recipes and dishes that call for French Onion Soup packets – but the Italian meatloaf and the Lemon Dream Bars can’t be beat. I double the amount of lemon for good luck.

  35. Nadia Murray

    Cold miserable weather means comfort food and baking – bread, pie, brownies along with soup, chili, mac and cheese. Winter here in CA also means citrus so I am often baking Meyer lemons into bars, lemon drizzle pound cake or lemon pie.

  36. Amy S

    If DC’s big snow predicted for tomorrow actually happens, I’ll bake biscotti.

  37. Betty B

    This time of year I plan to get ‘weathered in’ experimenting with Hot Cross Buns. A nice brunch in front of the wood stove with eggs from our hens (very disgruntled presently), local bacon, our own honey and the warm Hot Cross buns will really hit the spot.
    The British Baking show and Food 52’s Piglet have brightened my winter doldrums.

  38. Mary-Denise Smith

    Ha! Cathy, you crack me up! “Every single recipe Dorie Greenspan writes is perfect.” True, but this is most certainly a case of the pot calling the kettle black! Don’t know if Dorie makes her own ketchup, but you got me hooked.

  39. carol

    I would love a copy of the book! Whenever the weather is bad it’s always soup time. Needless to say we’ve had lots of soup!

  40. Laurie

    Bad winter weather definitely means soup or stew simmering on the stove and cookies in the oven! You have to have coziness indoors. 😉

  41. Nancy N

    We make muffins! Well, I make muffins, with a range of assistants. It’s been a lot of muffins. If it’s really bad out, I bake bread. Much more difficult with a range of assistants.

    Thanks for the delicious inspiration, and the chance!

    Nancy N

  42. karen collins

    during this longest winter in history, i’ve turned to baking way too often. and my absolute favorite was world peace cookies. i am delighted that so many others love and make them often too! bake 2, bake a dozen, whatever; just make sure to have some in the freezer!



  1.  Canelé de Bordeaux | In Scott's Kitchen

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