Ambroisie and Bay Leaf Creme Caramel - SHF#12

17 September 2005

As much as I appreciate Jennifer‘s great idea of SHF, I’m grateful to Elise at Simply Recipes for choosing custard for the theme this month – because I’m a real custard fiend! Getting fresh eggs, milk and cream at a farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, cooking up creme brulee, creme caramel or vanilla ice-cream is a kind of weekly routine for me, we’ve always got something custardy (and loads of leftover egg whites) in our fridge.

I had trouble choosing what to make, but in the end I only managed to try these two desserts. One of them is yet another entry from the Hidemi Sugino book – I’ve found so many interesting recipes in this book and I’m afraid there will be lots more similar looking desserts coming up… This cake may not look like it involves custard, but beneath the chocolate glaze, it has a custard-based pistachio mousse, chocolate mousse, raspberry jam and pistachio and almond sponge as a base. It’s called Ambroisie and is supposed to be his signature dessert – although I haven’t actually had this cake yet, I’ve always wanted to try making it. I was supposed to use ‘proper’ pistachio paste but couldn’t really afford it – so ended up making it myself from whole nuts. I used a normal food processor and although the colour of the paste wasn’t as green/nice as I hoped, it turned out really nice as the mousse and the sponge. I’m not mad about the combination of chocolate and fruit in general, but I must say it was much better than I thought – the two rich creamy mousses with the raspberry flavour were delicious!

In the recipe, you make chocolate sponge as well as the pistachio sponge, but um, I couldn’t be bothered making two different sponges this time… After pouring the shiny glaze, I was also supposed to stick some thin chocolate plates around it, but again I skipped that bit too… but it still tasted good :) I’d love to try making this with proper pistachio paste some time, though.
 


I found this creme caramel recipe in Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course – I was hooked as soon as I saw it. It’s not just that it sounded intriguing but it was also a perfect excuse to use some fresh bay leaves from our garden. I’ve only started growing herbs this year, but all of them have been doing well and we’ve been enjoying them so much (and saving money too!) Infuse the milk with the fresh bay leaves instead of vanilla – and cook it just like a plain creme caramel. The recipe suggests using half milk and half double cream, but I like creme caramel just using milk so I adjusted it. The result was amazing, I was so impressed how well this combo works together. I normally prefer dark caramel, but for this recipe I think that a lighter caramel flavour works better in order to taste the subtle spiciness of the bay leaves. As she suggests in the book, you wouldn’t get this clean flavour from dried leaves – so make sure you will use fresh ones.
 

        47 comments    Permalink

  • The first photograph looks so glossy and almost ceramic! The second photo looks especially yummy.

    Posted by Aileen | 17 September 2005 #
  • hi keiko, they both look so beautiful...the ambroisie sounds really terrific (i am a huge fan of anything with pistachios)...i can only imagine taking a forkful of it and being blown away by all the gorgeous layers inside...re:bay leaf and custard...isn’t claudia fleming just the best ;) everytime i flip through her book yet another recipe manages to catch my eye...

    Posted by J | 17 September 2005 #
  • I love that creme caramel. I’m getting that book, thanks for the tip keiko

    Posted by Monkey Gland | 17 September 2005 #
  • Keiko, those look so great! Sorry I miseed you this past week, please do look me up if you are ever in Chicago. We are in Glasgow at the moment and it is so brisk and overcast, it is quite lovely against the vaguely gothic architecture. We are travelling on to the Isle of Bute in a few hours. Take care.

    Posted by gemma | 17 September 2005 #
  • Oh my goodness, these are amazing! I too am a custard-lover (among all desserts) and looking at your fantastic pictures... not easy to keep sitting here and continue typing, I want some custard. :D Great job as always, with the sweets and the photos! By the way that creme caramel is gorgeously baked and smooth! (Yes I get this excited about custard haha)

    Posted by Mel | 17 September 2005 #
  • Pardon me while I pick up my jaw from the keyboard... Wait, it’s stuck in saliva... Oh well, at least I’m looking at something amazingly pretty!

    Posted by Zarah Maria | 17 September 2005 #
  • both look amazing as usual... in fact, I am by now a bit used to getting surprised by your graceful creations (am I making sense?)

    O did I tell you I paid a visit to HS shop in Ginza last month? His signaure ambroisie had been sold out, but my company and I were all quite fat and happy with his desserts. I’ve also got another book of his, and I have made several things so far, all of which have been quite good.

    Posted by chika | 17 September 2005 #
  • I love, love, love the photo of your flan, Keiko.

    Posted by Nic | 17 September 2005 #
  • Looks delicious Keiko! As usual

    (P.S: I putted something in english on my blog)

    Posted by Shanna | 17 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko- I am always delighted with the desserts that you are posting because all of them look fabulous and very professional. I especially adore your Ambroise, your glaze is soooo shiny and I love the presentation so much since it was sooo sophisticated. I always like dessert with a piece of gold leaf on top that adds sophistication, simple yet elegant. I also love your flavor combination because I love pistachio and raspberry together, they are my favorite combination especially chocolate with raspberry. Perfect!I am so jealous that you can actually read Japanese and had the chance to try the recipes from the famous pastry chefs in Japan, I know that there are tons of good pastry books in Japan but I just can’t understand them so I don’t purchase them either. Thanks

    Posted by Cathy | 18 September 2005 #
  • Oh my god. I should not have looked at this first thing in the morning. Now, I’m starving. And worse, I’m starving for your desserts -- which unless I could somehow click my reb ruby addidas and teleport to your home, I’m never going to get a chance to try. They sound utterly delicious and the pictures are so inviting. I love the reflection on the Ambrosie and the way you tease us with just a sliver of the creme caramel shown. Great post! Now, off to see what’s in the fridge...

    Posted by Chubby Hubby | 18 September 2005 #
  • Holy perfection, Batman. Keiko, I bow before your genius. If Chubby Hubby finds his ruby shoes, I’m going to have to borrow them so I can teleport there too! Email on its way back to you -- thanks!

    Posted by Cath | 18 September 2005 #
  • Keiko, they look stupendous. I love creme caramel and looks like you’ve done justice to this king of custards dessert!!

    Posted by Steffles | 18 September 2005 #
  • Hello Keiko,

    I have spent many happy hours looking at delicious blogs, and yours is one of the best. Such beautiful pictures! You are very talented. I will keep tuning in to see what you come up with next.

    Posted by Anna | 18 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    They both look very very beautiful! I only wish that I could sample them myself but I am sure the gorgeous pictures at least reflect how amazing they would taste. I really enjoy coming to your blog...because it is always stunning :)

    Posted by soycap | 18 September 2005 #
  • man those two shots make me hungy! :) love the dof and the clean clear look!

    Posted by mikhail | 18 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    Your blog is sooo beautiful!! Do you have any suggestions for cookbooks that feature Japanese manju or other wagashi?

    Posted by Saori | 19 September 2005 #
  • They look fantastic. I especially love the Ambroisie. Your description is making me hungry.

    Posted by Mika | 19 September 2005 #
  • Delectable as always. And wonderful photos as usual. That flan looks incredible!

    Posted by AugustusGloop | 19 September 2005 #
  • Keiko, you ARE an artist!

    Posted by Melissa | 19 September 2005 #
  • whoa... wonderful pics and that Ambroisie looked like a mirror!

    Posted by babe_kl | 19 September 2005 #
  • Hi, this is my first time to your blog. It’s beautiful, and your photos for SHF are breathtaking.

    Posted by lori | 19 September 2005 #
  • "...(and loads of leftover egg whites) in our fridge".

    Keiko, I am just waiting til you make up some macarons like those from Pierre Herme in Paris! And OMG! Is that gold leaf on that chocolate dessert??? DEE-LUXE!! Thank you for making my day... ;-)

    Posted by rowena | 19 September 2005 #
  • Keiko - I can’t really add anything to the previous comments as I don’t want to be repetitive. But I wholeheartedly agree with them! Impressive!

    Posted by Pille | 19 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    Your pics are superb has usual. Thaks for the tip anyway, I’ve got plenty of bay leaves on my parisian balcony and my kids loooooove "crème renversée" !

    Cheers,

    Fred

    Posted by Frédérique | 19 September 2005 #
  • Keiko you make us all look bad. Your pictures are gorgeous, your attention to detail in your dishes is superb. You are an artist and a chef extrodinaire and I am so happy you choose to join in on SHF every month! Thanks!

    Posted by Jennifer | 19 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko!

    I have to say, that you take the most beautiful pictures of food I have EVER seen. Creme caramel and creme brulee are two of my absolute favorite desserts...and I think it’s time to try them. Thank you for all of the inspiration.

    Posted by Michelle | 19 September 2005 #
  • I totally agree with Chubby, I’m soo hungry now!!

    Oishiiso!

    : )

    Posted by emi | 19 September 2005 #
  • sigh, keiko, i keep checking back at your site to look at the pictures, again and again and again.

    Posted by gwenda | 20 September 2005 #
  • keiko,

    hmm ... Suddenly I felt I’m 5kg heavier :( :D

    stunning photos as usual.

    wow! seems like you perfected the art of making chocolate (seriously, i think you already perfected the art of desserts). how do you get those gloss on the chocolate?? and is that a gold leaf on top of Ambroisie??

    Posted by slurp! | 20 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    The desserts seem as delicious looking as ever. I hope to accomplish something so beautiful at some point. You’re simply amazing!

    Posted by Reid | 20 September 2005 #
  • Oh Keiko, that top photo is one of the most stunning food photos I’ve ever seen! I love the way the perfectly-smooth chocolate just luminesces like a polished mirror. If you ever feel like translating the recipe I would be forever indebted, as the chocolate-almond-pistachio-raspberry flavor combination sounds like one step away from heaven. I also love the idea of a bay flavored custard - I really have to get Claudia Fleming’s book!

    Posted by melissa | 20 September 2005 #
  • That bay leaf flavouring for the creme caramel is intruiging, indeed! Must try that one of these days.

    And as always your pictures are superb! :)

    Posted by celiaK | 20 September 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko, beautiful photographs! The pistachio mousse sounds wonderful, and its nice to hear that you were able to make your own paste with raw pistachios. I also love the idea of the bay leaf infused milk for the custard, it opens up a world of ideas for other infusions too! Wonderful post!

    Posted by Michele | 22 September 2005 #
  • Wow, the pictures really blew my mind away. I got inspired from you to check out the Japanese cookbooks and they were all so luscious that I wish that I could read Japanese. I must go search for a translator as I really want to try the recipes.

    Posted by boo_licious | 23 September 2005 #
  • Bayleefs and sweet/creamy desserts is a really cool combination.

    Posted by hoppman | 25 September 2005 #
  • Hi there, I’m sorry I’m late getting back, I really appreciate all your kind notes!

    Gemma - I hope you’re having a great time wherever you are!

    Chika - I guess I missed your post about his shop? Let me know when you try the ambroisie. I was reading the other HS book at Books for Cooks the other day and thought it was quite good, but I think I should go through this one first...

    Cath - I was actually watching the original Batman the other day - is it just me who thinks Robin is a bit annoying...

    Saori - I’m sorry but I haven’t got any books that have any recipes for Japanese sweets, I can have a look for you if you would like a specific recipe, though.

    Rowena - I know I can make loads of macarons, but sadly I’m not a big fan of them...

    Gwenda - I’m so happy you are back ;)

    Slurp - yes, it’s gold leaf on top and the chocolate glaze is made of cocoa powder, double cream, sugar and gelatine. It’s quite easy to make and apply!

    Posted by keiko | 26 September 2005 #
  • MMMM. I love bay leaf in desserts! Beautiful!

    Posted by megwoo | 26 September 2005 #
  • Hi Megwoo - thank you, have you tried that combination as well? It’s subtle but really lovely!

    Posted by keiko | 27 September 2005 #
  • i didn’t actually see the recipe waht is it

    Posted by damboo | 7 October 2005 #
  • please tell i in need of recipe for big b’day celebration

    Posted by damboo | 7 October 2005 #
  • and if anyone else has recipes please tell me

    Posted by damboo | 7 October 2005 #
  • Hi damboo - thanks for stopping by. I’m sorry but the recipe was quite complicated even in Japanese and I haven’t really got time to translate it all right now. I’ll try when I can.

    Posted by keiko | 20 October 2005 #
  • Ho nice I’ve got fresh -really very fresh at that time -5° celsius- leaves in my garden , so , like Fred and you, , I’m going to make somthing with them :

    Posted by mercotte | 31 January 2006 #
  • Hi Mercotte - I’m glad to hear that your bay leaves are surviving this winter, mine are trying hard too! Looking forward to seeing your gorgeous creation with it.

    Posted by keiko | 2 February 2006 #
  • How rich I feel picking fresh herbs from my garden, it does save lots of money. I’ve never grown bay leaves though.

    Posted by Tanna | 21 July 2006 #
  • Hi Tanna - it does indeed, and I really enjoy growing them (their flowers are so pretty) - bay leaves are very easy to grow :)

    Posted by keiko | 27 July 2006 #
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