The Brussels Chocolate Shop Tour, Stop #9: Laurent Gerbaud.


It was a long walk back from Stop #8, Zaabärand upon further investigation of the map, it appeared that there were many interesting tourist-y spots along the way to the next stop, so I decided to take advantage of this, and explore some of them, such as:

the museum area…

ring wraith?

ring wraith?

…the Place de Palais…

Koninklijk Paleis van Brussel.

Koninklijk Paleis van Brussel.

….and the Parc de Bruxelles.

within the park walls.

within the park walls…

...lived two little cherubs.

…lived two little cherubs.

As the exploratory fun came to a close, I found myself practically right at the entrance of:

Stop #9: Laurent Gerbaud.


I was in love as soon as I saw this sign on the window. There’s something to be said for good looks. I definitely wanted to know more…

Inside, the fun kept going, as I was greeted by this display:



This place was like my aesthetic heaven. It was colorful, fun, and upbeat; kinda like myself. Plus it was full of chocolate (also kinda like myself at this point). I browsed around, and finally settled on something I’d been seeing at many shops throughout my journey, but that I’d never seen back home – chocolate covered pieces of dried fruit. Being that I love both chocolate and dried fruit, I had to try it. Deciding on what type of fruit was the hard part. After much deliberation, I went with a fruit I don’t see in dried form too often at home – pears.

the perfect pearing.

the perfect pearing.

Well, I was by no means disappointed. The dark chocolate and pears were, as you may have guessed, the perfect pairing.

As I paid for my goods, I came face to face with this glaring declaration on the back wall:

fo' sho'.

fo’ sho’.

And by Jove, it was true. And, quite possibly may have never been truer. 🙂

Hang in there for the grand finale – the final stop on the tour: Stop #10, Frederic Blondeel: way over yonder in the minor key… 

No time for love, Dr. Jones.

Or for blogging. The hecticness of the holidays has begun. Throw in pastry school finals, and some minor family drama, and sadly, my favorite pastime has been sent to the back-burner (I love a good oven pun). But not for long! With graduation a little over a week away, I’m going to have so much free time I’m not going to know where to begin. It’s been so long, I forget how to have free time. But one thing I know for sure, this newly found freedom will definitely include a lot of baking and blogging. So hang tight, young grasshoppers. For every oven door that closes, another one opens. In the meantime, enjoy some photos of plated desserts from my class (that’s almost over!).

Chocolate Marquise (with edible Tuile spoon).

have your dessert and eat the spoon.


Chocolate Lava Cake (with mini meringue ice cream sandwich).

you'll lava it.


Gingerbread Cake (with poached pear).

what a lovely pear.


and finally: Apple Strudel (with cinnamon ice cream).



Stay tuned – they’ll be much more to come when I have no class….

Cranberry, Gingerbread, Pumpkin, oh my!

Thanksgiving may be gone, but the leftovers remain…and will probably for at least a week or so. This is by no means a bad thing, in my book, especially where dessert is concerned. I was particularly busy this Thanksgiving, as I had not one, but three Thanksgiving celebrations to make desserts for! And I couldn’t have been more thankful for the opportunity to do so. Not only did it give me a chance to try out some recipes, but as I mentioned in the past, the flavors of fall are by far my favorite and really do make the best desserts. So this year, I spread my little baking wings, and tried three distinct dessert varieties:

1. Pumpkin.

I wound up making two pumpkin desserts, both from one cake recipe. A pumpkin cake with pumpkin buttercream:

pumpkin inside and outside.

 And out of  the leftover cake and icing, came pumpkin cake balls:

great balls of pumpkin.

 2. Cranberry.

Last year, I made a cranberry fudge pie for the first time. It turned out pretty good, but after a year of schooling, I thought I’d try again, and see if I’ve improved at all in a year.

a year's worth of pastry school was worth it.

 3. Gingerbread.

I’ve been on a gingerbread kick since I made it in class two weeks ago, so I decided to make a gingerbread cake to take over to my parents. Well, in a true act of serendipity, the cake went from good to heavenly by the mere mistake of melting too much butter. I realized it immediately after I had melted it, and didn’t add any extra butter to the recipe, but had this bowl of melted butter just sitting there, with nothing to do. “Hmmm…I bet I could make some sort of glaze with that,” I thought. So I grabbed some cinnamon and confectioners’ sugar, and next thing I knew, I had created an easy, yet amazing buttery glaze which fit the cake like a glove.


 I also added something else to this gingerbread cake which was entirely intentional – mashed pears. I had all these leftover little pears that were starting to turn brown and I really wanted to use them. So, I cut them up, mashed them in a bowl, added some cinnamon and brown sugar, and threw it into the batter. The result? An even moister and flavorful cake!

Now, I should be happy that I wound up with no leftover desserts – it means that everyone really liked them and that’s the goal, right?  Next year, I’ll just have to make them bigger. 😉

Recipe Sunday: Gingerbread Mini Cupcakes.

I’m not sure why, but I always imagined that gingerbread was really hard to make. I think it was because I always associated it with gingerbread houses, and those ARE hard to make. Well, not hard, but complicated. Sure, you could make an uncomplicated gingerbread crap shack, but that’s defeating the purpose. A gingerbread house is supposed to be elaborate – covered in various candy adornments. Gingerbread itself however, contrary to my longstanding belief, is not.

I made gingerbread for the first time last week in class. It was the school’s recipe, and it was very good. But, I thought it could use a few minor adjustments, so I went home, and tried out my tweaked version as mini-cupcakes. It worked. And here it is, for you to try, too! I topped them with a very very simple pear frosting. I’m almost embarrassed to post it, it’s that simple. But the two worked together so well, that I’ll share.


no house, no problem.

Gingerbread Cupcakes.

What you’ll need:

10 oz Flour

1/2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Ginger

9 oz Molasses

4 1/2 oz Water (hot)

2 1/2 oz Butter (melted)

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and ginger. On top of the dry ingredients, add the molasses, hot water, and melted butter. Mix until homogenous. Line a mini cupcake pan with paper liners, and using a small ice-cream scoop, fill each cup with one scoop. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes.  Makes about 4 dozen minis (about 2 dozen regular sized).

one bite wonder.

Once cooled, you can top with whatever you like, but I went with the super easy aforementioned Pear Frosting…

What you’ll need:

1 Stick (about 8 oz) Shortening

2  TBSP pureed pear (made from a fresh pear)

1 tsp water

about 16 oz confectioners’ sugar – depending on how stiff you like your icing.

What you’ll do:

Peel and slice a pear, and place in a pot filled with equal parts water and sugar on the stove. Once it boils, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Place in a food processor, and puree. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, pear puree and water. Add the confectioner’s sugar, a little at a time, mixing between each addition. Stop adding sugar when desired thickness is reached.

The Magic Pan.

So I was having dinner at my cousin’s house tonight, and she told of an old crêperie that used to be in Philadelphia called “The Magic Pan.” I’d never heard of this place (apparently it’s been gone for quite some time), but I just adore the name. So from henceforth, my crêpe-making pan will also be known by this charming moniker.

where the magic happens.

Yes. I did it. I made crêpes for the first time. I altered the recipe slightly (I’ll post it this coming Recipe Sunday, for all you crêpe fans, so be sure to tune in). Anyway, I was really careful to keep the layers thin, as two people mentioned that when they tried making them for the first time, they wound up looking more like pancakes.

not pancakes.

So, the hardest part was actually deciding what to fill them with! Often when presented with too many choices, one loses the ability to choose. So I knew I had to use the mini pears, that was a given. And the first crêpe I ever had was from a street vendor in Paris, and it had Nutella in it and that was heavenly, so I busted that out too, and noticed while doing so, an unopened jar of Marshmallow Fluff – this was going really well. After some careful consideration, I settled on two combinations: Nutella and banana for half of them; and Fluff, mini pear and caramel for the other half.

pretty maids, all in a row.

When they were all filled, I gave them a final dusting of powdered sugar.

crepes are the new cupcake.

This was so much fun – I love the fact that you can fill them with anything! I see much more experimenting in the near future. This may even wind up being a crêpe Christmas.The Magic Pan will definitely be gettin’ a lot of action. Now if I could just find a magic man… 😉


The perfect pearing.

There’s this farmer’s market down the street from my office that I get all my fruits and vegetables from (they also have a killer selection of dried fruits and nuts in the cutest little containers which I now have a gigantic collection of – they’re perfect for coloring icing in). Anyway, I go there at least once a week, usually twice, and the same man and woman are always working and they could probably recite exactly what I’m buying without even looking in my basket at this point.

Well, not this week. I had just made my usual path around the store: tomatoes, bananas, mushrooms, Polynesian fruit mix, grapes, pears…but wait! What is this I spy mixed in among the pears? I stopped dead in my produce-shopping tracks, as I scrutinized this new face among my old friends, and suddenly a big smile unwittingly spread across my face as I realized what I had discovered. It was the Small Indulgence of the fruit world: a mini pear.

little bump, big bump.

Not even half the size of a regular pear, these mini-pears were like my fruity dream come true! Not only can I make mini-desserts, but I can use mini-ingredients to make them! It’s the perfect pearing.

ideal for spooning.

I bought as many as I could shove into the bag. I was so excited, that I even made my friend look at them when I returned to work. Funny, but I don’t think he was quite as stoked.

Anyway, now I have to figure out what to use them for! I really want to try my hand at crêpes, and a friend gave me a really good recipe for them today (very similar to this one)….mini-pear crêpes? As the Magic 8-ball would say, “signs point to yes.”   

To be continued…..