There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.
And if you’re like Jill Colonna, there are few things more agreeable than messing around in the kitchen making tuples, choux, and macarons for teatime.
French pastry is irresistable–to the eye and the palate, but as Colonna herself admits, it can be “fiddly” to make, expensive to buy, and fattening to eat.
With this book, she deals with “fiddly” by offering simple recipes that can be mixed and matched to create a full tea plate. And making pastries yourself will always be less expensive than buying them. As for the fattening part, that’s between you and your conscious; the best she offers is, no snacking.
But tea is the ultimate snack–sophisticated and civilized–especially when you’re serving stacked and cream-filled Religieuse a la Rose, crunchy and sparkling Diamants shortbread, or any variety of tartes and tartelettes. Along with those classics, Colonna provides the basics that will allow you to improvise–choux paste, puff pastry, and pastry creams.
Her enthusiasm, instructions geared to home cooks, and photographs will guide you through the “fiddly” bits, like the wrenching moment when the egg in the choux paste dough is just slipping around the bowl. Stay strong, keep stirring and you’ll soon have an eggy and pipe-able batter.
And if you’ve ever tried to make macarons at home, you’ll appreciate Colonna’s approach. She tempts you with pictures, warms you up with a few simple rules and then lets you loose with recipes for macarons flavored with rosewater and orange, lemon and grapefruit, salted caramel, fizzy orange, rhubarb and poppy, and even mojito.
One word of warning–pull up an online converter and/or use your kitchen scale to weigh out ingredients in grams. My Chouqettes delivered crisp and delicate as promised, but my Diamantes were a tad crumbly.
Finish, as the book does, with your own tea party or follow Colonna’s suggestions for a tour of Parisian patisseries, by neighborhood. Either way–mixing the batter or walking the neighborhoods, you can enjoy French pastry and not get too fat!