I’ve been collecting cookbooks since I was a kid – I have hundreds even though I cull my collection regularly. But I’ve been looking forward to the Duchess Bake Shop’s first cookbook since I heard they were working on it years ago – and it did not disappoint. It’s a stunning hardcover book, filled with beautiful photos and more step by step images than I’ve ever seen in a cookbook. It takes the pressure off of anyone intimidated by the thought of making real French pastries from scratch – it’s almost as if the owners were in your kitchen, holding your hand. (Or rolling pin.)
Duchess has been an Edmonton institution since they opened back in 2009, when they sold a dozen macaron a day – they’ve since grown into a $4 million business, with a staff that has gone from 4 to over 60. They now make 10,000 macarons by hand every week, and serve about 300 in the first hour of a typical Saturday. Even Buzzfeed has caught on – they were recently named one of the best bakeries you must visit before you die.
Giselle Courteau, along with co-owners Garner Beggs and Jacob Pelletier, have been working on this book for years –it’s the most professional looking self-published book I’ve ever seen. In it, you’ll find decadent sweets the likes of this salted caramel, which is a top seller in the expansion of their shop, called Provisions.
It’s a simple enough recipe to tackle first – with phenomonal results.
Duchess Bake Shop Salted Caramel
130 g (½ cup) whipping cream
270 g (1 1/3 cups) sugar
200 g (¾ cup + 2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cubed
30 g (¼ cup) almond flour (finely ground almonds)
¾ tsp fleur de sel or salt
1. Heat the cream in a microwave or a small saucepan on the stove until scalding. Set aside and try to keep it hot as you melt the sugar.
2. Place about a quarter of the sugar in a wide-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Gently melt the sugar, swirling the saucepan around as needed.
Do not stir. Once the sugar is almost melted, sprinkle another quarter of the sugar into the saucepan, swirling as needed. Repeat twice more until all the sugar is completely melted and has turned amber in colour.
3. Remove from heat and slowly pour in the hot whipping cream. Be sure to pour slowly as the mixture will bubble up. Using a heatproof spatula or spoon, mix the caramel until smooth. Using a fine mesh strainer, immediately strain the caramel into a bowl.
4. Mix the butter, almond flour, and fleur de sel into the hot caramel until all the butter is melted and incorporated. To achieve an extra-smooth result, you may use an immersion blender. Transfer the caramel into jars or a container, let cool, and refrigerate until set. Salted caramel will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.