Thronesgiving 2016: Highgarden Lemoncakes

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Happy belated Thronesgiving, everyone!

As you probably gathered from the preview image, I had hosted a Game of Thrones-inspired feast on premiere night of the new season. This year was actually the second annual event and we certainly pulled out all of the stops. I cooked a multi-course meal for about FOURTEEN PEOPLE this year.

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My friends even brought me some gifts like a dragon egg cookie jar, and this awesome Chef White Walker made by Adam of Kuiosike Industries.

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Getting to this point was not easy. I spent almost the entire weekend prepping and cooking, having to even pass on duties to my husband and his best friend when I burned the palm of my left hand. Clearly I’m not a Targaryan. It was all worth it though to be able to ring in a whole new season of dwarves, dragons, and direwolves with my sworn brothers and sisters of the “Watch.”

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So what does this mean for all you folks at home? Recipes! And lots of them. I’ll be posting up everything I cooked over the next few weeks to give you plenty to drool over while we watch our favorite characters live, scheme, and/or die at the hands of Uncle George. So shall we get started on appetizers?

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The first dish of the night is in no way canon to the books or show, but rather more inspired by the culture. Given that Westeros is essentially England and Western Europe smooshed together into one continent/country, I gather that Highgarden (home to the Tyrell family) is based on France.

With this in mind, I wanted to use French flavors and cooking techniques to create a version of the lemon cake that the Tyrells would serve to Sansa Stark to sweeten their proposal. I started off with making gougères — essentially choux pastry with cheese mixed into the dough. This light snack is said to come from Burgundy and generally offered cold for wine tastings — seemingly appropriate since the Redwyne family also hails from Highgarden.

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To this pretty versatile dough I decided to use lemon juice and zest, and then mix in some provincial French flavors with some gruyère cheese, herbs de provence and lavender. Yeah, I know that most herb blends already have lavender in them, mine did not. If yours does, use the suggested amount anyway because it really brings out the lemon.

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So one nice thing about choux pastry and gougères is how the steam essentially creates giant bubbles on the inside so you can stuff them with even more tasty things. Borrowing from even more French favorites, we’ll be stuffing these “cakes” with a mix of chèvre, lemon zest, honey, and almonds.

Some notes I would include is that if you ever intend to make this more than once, or any kind of piped pastry, save your hands a lot of pain, time, and trouble and invest in a decorator gun or press. The more you play with it, you can pipe fun shapes like roses or swans without any strain on your tendons at all.

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This might not be the dessert version of lemon cakes you’d be expecting, but I know I’d seriously consider an engagement to Willas Tyrell if this was what I could be eating every day.

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Stay tuned next week for the next course – soup and bread pudding!

Highgarden Lemoncakes

Makes 30 Gougeres
Equipment: Oven, baking sheets, parchment paper, medium saucepan, rubber spatula, pastry bag or press, 1/2 inch round pastry tip.

Ingredients

Pastry
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon herbs de provence
  • 1/2 tablespoon lavender
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1.5 cups gruyère cheese, shredded
Filling
  • 6 oz. cream cheese
  • 6 oz goat cheese
  • Zest of another lemon
  • 1/2 cup crushed almonds
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Start making the choux pastry by mixing together the flour, lavender, and herbs de provence. Mix milk in a separate measuring cup with the cornstarch.
  2. Bring the water, milk, butter, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the flour with a rubber spatula. Reduce the heat to low and keep stirring until the dough dries and pulls away from the pan.
  3. Put the dough into a mixing bowl and allow to cool for a minute. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing each thoroughly into the dough with the spatula before adding another. Fold in the gruyere cheese.
  4. Transfer dough into a pastry bag and pipe tablespoon (or slightly larger) sized rounds, about two inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20-22 minutes until touched with golden brown. Remove from the oven at let cool on a rack.
  5. While the pastry bakes mix all ingredients for the filling in a separate bowl and set aside.
  6. When the pastry has cooled, slice the tops and reserve.
  7. Transfer filling into a pastry bag and pipe filling into the pastry shells.Top each puff with its pastry top. Serve.

The Gluttonous Geek