La course des petits bateaux (The Little Boat Race) – June 16, 2012
Anyone who knows me, either personally or from afar, knows from my Facebook status updates that I care about people and various causes.
If I ever fail to take the proper steps to help someone in need, that little voice inside my head begins to scream; I have to do something, because my innate drive to help is just so strong.
In 2009, when I was working as a freelancer for an advertising agency, I met Etienne Bastien, who told me about the Fondation Mathieu-Lafond. There was no pressure, he only provided me with a few words and some information.
The following year, in 2010, I made a donation to the Foundation. At the time, I had no idea I might want to do more someday.
In so many words, I would say that the Fondation Mathieu-Lafond was created by the family, friends, and colleagues of a young man who had a big heart and whose life was cut short by the 2004 Tsunami. You can find out more about the Foundation on its Website, where you can read about the organization’s history, its goals, and La Course des Petits Bateaux.
So how did Nougat & Nectarine come to be involved in all of this? Well, Nougat & Nectarine is my passion, and through it I’ve decided to challenge myself. Accordingly, I will participate in La Course des Petits Bateaux on Saturday, June 16, by selling cupcakes in hopes of giving something back to the Foundation.
I’m doing this because without even knowing it, the Foundation has warmed my heart. I’m doing this for you, the youth, for all of the children who will be there after us, to emphasize that life is beautiful, and that I love you.
I will be present along with a few family members and some of my friends. We will welcome you from behind a beautiful cupcake stand where we will have 500 cupcakes for sale.
We hope to see you there. Please hurry and buy your ticket to access the Beach Club site. Additionally, La Course des Petits Bateaux will feature a sandcastle competition and is sure to be fun for the whole family. People will also have a chance to see how the boats are built. It is going to be a wonderful day filled with people who care about the children of tomorrow.
Please visit: www.fondationmathieulafond.com/4-activites.html
I look forward to seeing you, and I hope that my sweets will make it into your hands (and mouth) for a noble cause!
Tips: Room temperature for all ingredients
Did you take everything you need for a recipe out of the fridge and forget about it or no longer have time to bake? Don’t panic, just put everything back!
Pastry can be tricky sometimes, but after years of practice, you will develop techniques similar to those of your mother or grandmother. It’s all about trial and error, and believe me, you will not be the first person to throw away a cake that did not come out correctly. Your mother did it, and so did your grandmother.
If you are baking in the morning, take your ingredients out the night before, or at least five hours before you start; the eggs, the butter, the milk – all of the ingredients the recipe calls for that are typically kept in the fridge.
When I was younger, I never used to do this. But my dad told me to do this one hundred times, and now I do it automatically. Don’t worry, no one will get sick.
In the summertime, unless you have an air conditioner, don’t take your ingredients out more than 2 to 3 hours before you start baking.
Finally, remember to wash your eggs before you break them. This is a normal thing to do, as they’ve been handled by a stranger. You can never be too careful when it comes to bacteria.
Did you say pistachiossss! July 7 2010
Very few people know about my history with pistachios. It started a while back when someone asked me to bake cupcakes for a sweet sixteen party; three flavours were requested: chocolate cake with plain chocolate icing, lemon cake with limoncello frosting, and vanilla cake stuffed with strawberry preserves and swiss meringue buttercream. A small cake topped with pistachio frosting completed the cupcake stand like a crown.
I had never tried to make anything pistachio flavoured before, but I accepted the request and began researching Pistachio frosting recipes right away.
This wasn’t the easiest thing to research. I ended up finding three different approaches to pistachio flavouring: pistachio cream (frosting made with pistachio cream from Italy – I found the cream at Les Douceurs du marché at the Atwater Market), pistachio paste (found at Al Van Houtte Épicurien on avenue Laurier in Montreal), and crushed pistachios (which are blanched and finely crushed).
The pistachio buttercream I decided to make called for butter, powdered sugar, and pistachio cream. The flavour was good, but it wasn’t prominent enough. In other words, it was too subtle for my taste.
Two weeks later, I got a second pistachio request; this time for an adorable little two-year-old. We decided to try a pistachio cake. It was as if I was destined to go through the motions of finding the perfect recipe.
My favourite thing about these experiences is that they push me to broaden my flavour horizons. It’s all a matter of taste.
So here we are, back at square one. The idea of making a pistachio cake seemed easy enough when it was just a matter of prep. After experimenting with pistachio cream, pistachio paste, and crushed pistachios (I’ve done this twice now, I am a true pro!), I’ve found myself nursing a pistachio cake addiction.
Here’s the recipe:
1 cup of pistachios, blanched, shelled, and skinned
1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cardamom powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
½ cup of milk
¼ teaspoon of Madagascar vanilla
½ cup of unsalted butter
¾ cup of sugar
3 large eggs
4 to 5 hours before making the cake, take all of the ingredients out of the fridge to ensure they reach room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease your pans (either two round 6 inch pans or one 13×9 inch pan) and place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom (this will help your cake to come out clean).
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, place the shelled pistachios in the water for 5 minutes. When that’s done, drain the water, place the pistachios on a towel, and roll them out so that the skin comes off easily. Then, place the pistachios in a food processor for approximately 5 minutes (or however long it takes to crush them to your taste). Add the flour, baking powder, cardamom powder, and salt. Set aside.
Combine the milk and vanilla.
Cream the butter and sugar together for at least five minutes or until the mixture is white and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each one. Reduce the speed of your mixer and add part of the pistachio mixture (the one with the flour) alternately with the milk until everything is combined (be careful not to over mix).
Spread equal parts of the mix in each pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the centre of the oven. I recommend checking the cake with a cake-tester after 25 minutes. The cake is ready when the tester comes out clean.
When the cakes are ready, take them out of the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes in the pans. Take a knife and slice around the perimeter of the pan; that way, if the cake is sticky, it will be easier to unmold. Make sure the cakes are completely cool before icing.