The Daring Kitchen July Cooks’ Challenge: Papillotes de pêches et framboises à la vanille (Peaches and Raspberries Cooked in Parchment Paper with Vanilla Bean)

The dissertation has been pretty overwhelming lately. This is the big push before the defense so I haven’t had much time for all the things that I love like spending time with my friends, cooking, blogging, eating out and drinking.

I miss the drinking. I ran an errand the other day and saw some nice people drinking wine in the shade. I remember jealousy thinking, “I bet they don’t even appreciate that wine!” Suddenly, I was overcome with the desire to grab their glasses out of their hot little hands and go sprinting down the street.

I didn’t do it, but I sure wanted to.

No way did I think that I was going to be able to participate in the Daring Kitchen challenge this month either until I saw the challenge: cooking en papillote.

En papillote is a fancy schmancy way of saying that you cook something in a paper envelope. We’re not talking about any old paper here; we’re talking about parchment paper, also known as bakery release paper or greaseproof paper. Cooking in parchment is a terrific way to cook delicate things quickly without fear of them drying out. You can also roast food en papillote as the paper allows just enough steam to release so that potato skin, for example, gets nice and crispy while the insides gently steam to perfection.

You could use aluminum foil instead of parchment paper — also known as a hobo pack — but I find that the results lack the finesse and elegance of cooking in paper. I might also be too negatively affected by the word “hobo,” and too seduced by the phrase “en papillote“!

It’s true that this month’s Daring Kitchen assignment wasn’t really a challenge for me since cooking en papillote is one of my favorite cooking methods. On this blog, I have posted a recipe for roasted tiny potatoes en papillote and roasted salmon with mango and Bird’s Eye chiles. However, it was completely new for me to use this cooking method to make a something sweet instead of something savory.

This dessert recipe was inspired by one that I saw months ago on Elle à table, the companion cooking site of French Elle Magazine. I kept the primary components — parchment, peaches and raspberries — and changed the rest. The original recipe has you peel the peaches. However, if the peaches are nice and ripe, this step seems fussy. It also seems like it would be a big waste of precious juice. The Elle à table recipe also calls for lime zest and juice, whereas I only used the zest for fear that the extra juice would have made the dessert too watery. Instead of a lime, I used a lemon. I also swapped out the cinnamon for vanilla bean, and shortened the cooking time so that the fruit would stay more intact.

Just like there is more than one way to roast a chicken, there is more than one way to make a parchment paper packet. Traditionally, you take a large piece of parchment paper, fold it in half, and cut out a heart — just like how you did as a child. After you position your food on the paper, you seal up the packet by folding or crimping the edges shut. To give you an example of how to seal up a parchment paper packet, here is a video with Chef Paul Prudhomme — who can pronounce papillote any dang ol’ way he pleases in Cajun country.

Alternatively, you can arrange your food in the center of a square of parchment paper, pull two of the sides up, fold them down, and then tie off the ends with cooking string. For some more examples of parchment paper packets, I direct you to this month’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge PDF.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter how you seal up the parchment paper as long as you make sure that your packets are snug, but not too tight around your food.

I made two different kinds of packets for this challenge. You can see them both in the photo gallery below. This challenge didn’t take up too much of my time since I had the fruit already (it’s high peach season here). Most importantly, it reminded me of how valuable it is to not give up those things in life that give you pleasure at those moments in life when you feel most stressed out.

A big thank you to Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie for the terrific challenge 🙂 In terms of mandatory items, you only asked that we cook in parchment. As suggestions, you gave us some amazing savory ones like beef, lamb or rabbit. I chose a gourmand take on cooking en papillote, which I hope still keeps with the spirit of the challenge even though it might not have been as challenging!

Mandatory blog checking lines: Our July 2012 Daring Cooks’ host was Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie! Sarah challenges us to learn a new cooking technique called “Cooking En Papillote” which is French and translates to “cooking in parchment”.

* The reveal date for this month’s French cooking challenge happens to fall on Bastille Day: le 14 juillet 🙂 Bonne fête, tout le monde!


4 beautifully ripe yellow peaches

1 vanilla bean pod, split into four pieces

1 punnet of raspberries*

Cane sugar

The zest of 1 lemon

Cold butter

How to prepare:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 400° F.

2. Defuzz the peaches by very gently rubbing as much of the peach fuzz off as you can under cold running water. Cut the peaches into slices that are a little more than a quarter-inch thick.

3. Evenly divide the peach slices between 4 parchment paper sheets. You will use about one peach’s worth of slices per packet. Tuck one split vanilla bean pod in-between the peach slices. The vanilla should perfume the fruit, but not overwhelm it. Arrange a small handful of raspberries over the peaches. Sprinkle the fruit with cane sugar. Grate a little lemon zest over the top. Dot the fruit with about a 1/2 tablespoon of cold butter cut into small pieces

4. Crimp or tie off your parchment paper parcels and arrange them on a large baking sheet. Bake them between 8-10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and carefully open them (they will be steamy). Find and discard the vanilla bean pods.

You can serve the peaches and raspberries straight from the paper, or you can transfer the fruit to a small bowl to top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or gelato.

* Although punnet is a Britishism, but it’s a pretty useful word for those little plastic or molded paper baskets intended for berries. We don’t seem to have any equivalent in American English (the closest approximation is a pint basket). Furthermore, punnets for raspberries are generally smaller than the containers used for pints of strawberries . . .


55 thoughts on “The Daring Kitchen July Cooks’ Challenge: Papillotes de pêches et framboises à la vanille (Peaches and Raspberries Cooked in Parchment Paper with Vanilla Bean)

  1. rubyandwheaky

    Ohhhhhh girlfriend!!! Does that look goooooood! What a simple and sophisticated way to prepare fruit. Cooking with parchment paper always seemed mysterious to me so I never tried it. Is there a knack to cooking with parchment? What is the difficulty level? Happy Bastille Day! I’m rooting for you as your dissertation defense day approaches. 🙂

    • baconbiscuit212

      Thank you! It is super simple. I would put the difficulty level and very easy. It is a super simple way to make something that looks like you slaved in the kitchen all day.

      For cooking en papillote, I think that the only things to keep in mind are that whatever you are cooking should cook quickly (fish is ideal), vegetables should all be cut to the same size so they cook the same, and that some herbs don’t really stand up to steaming (like basil).

      Otherwise, the sky is the limit!

      Thanks for the Bastille Day wishes and the defense day support! You are the best 🙂 It means so much!

  2. trixfred30

    Oh god i can remember doing my dissertation on a typewriter with a single led readout that only showed what you were typing a line at a time – no one had PC’s in their digs at Uni then although we used them at college itself – i did my paper over three nights before the deadline – it nearly killed me, metaphorically speaking as in it was hard work and i cursed my laziness all the while i was doing it

    • baconbiscuit212

      I wish this would take 3 nights! It’s my doctoral dissertation, so we’re talking 200+ pages.

      I am glad that it is not on a typewriter though. Could you imagine! Nightmare!

      • trixfred30

        I’d be interested to know – I just replied to your reply (!) using that tab thing in the top right hand corner but it hasn’t appeared on your blog – is it in the spam folder? SOmeone else said this was happening…

        • baconbiscuit212

          Wow. You were right! It was in the spam folder. That is so weird! It hasn’t happened to me yet, but undoubtedly it will at some point.

          That tab on the right hand side is infuriating. Sometimes it will delete my replies while I am writing them.

  3. Susan

    OHHHHH I noticed you’d been blogging less and wondered if D day was approaching. You will rock them! Go fight win! And lovely fruit, by the way. 🙂

    • baconbiscuit212

      Thank you! A good friend of mine told me that the best day of his life was when he took all his dissertation notes in the dumpster.

      I don’t think I’ll do that, but I bet that once I return all these library books, my apartment will be HUGE!

      Thanks for all the support and encouragement!

  4. frugalfeeding

    I’ve noticed that we haven’t had many blog conversations recently – it has made me very depressed :P. That looks so yummy 😀 I really hope the dissertation goes well! they can be quite a pain. Though, I can’t wait to get back to studying 😀

    • baconbiscuit212

      I’ve missed you too, Frugal! Soon, I will be back to my old blogging self. I can’t wait! A couple of weeks ago, I went to a friend’s going-away party. She was moving to London and I didn’t think I could miss it. I think I drank 3 bourbons straight in about 10 minutes without realizing it. It was like I was let out of prison!

      Studying is great. I do have to say though that when you are near the end, you just don’t even want anything to do with school anymore! But you have a long way to go till then. When does the term begin for you? October, right?

  5. emmycooks

    So purty–and I’m so glad you kept the peach skins! I always think it seems like a big waste of flavor (and juice, as you say) to remove them. These look beautiful! Hope they’re helping to fuel your work. 🙂

  6. Cauldrons and Cupcakes

    Thinking of you and that dissertation – oh the joy when it is done and you can marinate yourself in good wine!

    And you’re a bourbon drinker? *snap* Yay team!!! Man are we gonna have fun when I hit NYC.

    This recipe looks sublime, but no good for us wintering out the season Down Under. I’m going to try a take on this with apples and strawberries and let you know how I go!

    • baconbiscuit212

      Thank you! I can’t wait till this is over.

      And I am very much a bourbon girl! It was my first hard liquor, and you always remember your first 😉

      We’ll have such a wonderful time! There is a place downtown called the Brandy Library. They have great stuff that you will never see outside of the US. We’ll go for sure!

      Apples and strawberries en papillote? That sounds so yummy 🙂 Let me know how it goes!

  7. Jenni

    Haha, that cracks me up! Your peaches and raspberries look delicious, great job! And good luck on your dissertation! And have a nice glass of wine when it is all done!

  8. mjskit

    This challenge was the first time I had ever cooked in parchment and it definitely won’t be the last. I love this fruit recipe as well as the other two that you linked to in your blog. What a great way to roast tiny potatoes! I’ll be trying the fruit recipe soon!

    • baconbiscuit212

      Welcome to the Daring Cooks, Jenni! Your chicken looks like it turned out marvelously as well 🙂 I love that you used mushrooms in yours as they seem to hold up so well steamed!

      The roasted potatoes recipe is awesome. I was lucky to find these adorable little potatoes about the size of a quarter at the Farmers Market, but it works well with larger potatoes cut into smaller pieces too.

      Thanks for the message. The Daring Kitchen is such a great way to meet other food bloggers!

  9. Garden Correspondent

    This is lovely. There’s nothing I like better than food that looks harder to make than it is. I think that makes me a lazy show-off…
    You, on the other hand, are clearly working too hard, so here’s to a happy ending to this epic!

  10. Jasmine Pahl

    This is SO pretty. I adore the photo how-to with the cut out heart. Awwwwww!
    Very best wishes to you as you defend you dissertation. But if I hear of a rash of muggings in NYC where the victims were all carrying cold Chablis I’m afraid I’m going to have to turn you in. 🙂

  11. Victoria

    Oh, please sign me up as a future reader for your dissertation turned into a book–the topic sounds fascinating. I wish you lots of luck!

    The combination of raspberries and peaches is one of my favorites. I have a recipe for a jam that uses similar ingredients. I also like to add a tiny bit of rosewater to highlight the floral notes in raspberries. Will have to try your recipe in a compote form, since I have no oven yet.

    • baconbiscuit212

      Thanks! It would be great to turn it into a book at some point. Otherwise, it seems like my audience is 5 . . . 5 poor faculty members roped into reading it!

      In any case, thanks for the words of encouragement! As well as for the suggestion of the rosewater! That is brilliant. I would never have thought of that, but now it sounds absolutely perfect!

      When I lived in France, I didn’t have an oven-oven, but I had one of these combi-ovens that I could fit a chicken in. Surprisingly, it worked really well!

  12. hannah

    Looks so good! And so good also to time-out with what you enjoy. Yum.

    (Personally I sort of think Hobo Pack has a ring to it … now what does that say about me?!)

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