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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Just in Time for Memorial Day Weekend!

Happy Thursday! Perhaps you're busy shopping for the holiday weekend (or maybe not...the stores were empty this morning!). If you haven't decided what you're bringing to the festivities/sharing with your family, I've got a few recipes from the papers to help you choose!

NYT:
Simplest Strawberry Tart
Emily Weinstein

Ingredients

Rye Crust: 
  • ⅔ cup/85 grams all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup/85 grams rye flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 9 tablespoons/127 grams very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
Tart: 


  • 1 cup/225 grams mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 pound/450 grams small, sweet strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons high-quality strawberry jam

Directions

  1. Prepare the crust: Whisk the flours and salt together in a large bowl. Combine apple cider vinegar with 5 tablespoons ice water.
  2. Working quickly, add butter to the flour mixture and toss to coat. Use your fingers or the palms of your hands to press each cube of butter into the flour, ensuring that each butter piece gets coated, until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size lumps. If at any time the butter seems warm or soft, briefly refrigerate the bowl. Alternatively, you can pulse the butter and flour together in a food processor.
  3. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the cold vinegar-water mixture over the flour mixture. Use a gentle hand or wooden spoon to stir the water into the flour until just combined. If using a food processor, pulse a few more times, or until the dough begins to come together. If the dough seems dry, add more of the cold vinegar-water mixture, a couple of teaspoons at a time. You have added enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough and easily squeeze it together without it falling apart.
  4. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. (Dough keeps for up to 3 months in the freezer wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil. Thaw in refrigerator before using.)
  5. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400 degrees.
  6. On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out the pie crust into an oval about 15 x 6 inches and just under 1/4-inch thick. Use a paring knife or pastry cutter to trim any rough edges and move the parchment paper and crust to a baking sheet, preferably rimless. Dock the crust with a fork to prevent it from puffing up too much in the oven. Brush the surface of the crust from edge to edge with the egg wash.
  7. Bake until crust is deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Check on the crust halfway through baking; if any bubbles have appeared, use a spatula to press them flat. Cool the crust completely on the pan.
  8. Prepare the tart: While the crust is cooling, combine mascarpone and 2 tablespoons sugar. Hull the strawberries and cut them into 1/4-inch slices.
  9. Carefully slide the cooled crust off the baking sheet onto a serving platter or board. Spread mascarpone over the top in an even layer, dot with jam, then arrange sliced strawberries in a single, slightly overlapping layer in a decorative pattern. Sprinkle the tart with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. (Omit this final sprinkling if your strawberries are particularly sweet.) Slice and serve immediately.


Washington Post:
Blueberry and Lemon-Cream Icebox Cake:
Tony Rosenfeld

Ingredients
  • 2 pints fresh blueberries, stemmed and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup (available at larger grocery stores, on the baking aisle)
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 12 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 8 ounces graham crackers, or more as needed
  • Confectioners' sugar, for serving
Directions
  1. Puree the blueberries in a food processor until smooth. Use a flexible spatula to push the puree through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing to extract as much as possible from the solids (discard them). There should be about 2 cups of strained puree. Return it to the food processor, along with the syrup and and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, and blend until well incorporated. Reserve 1 cup as a sauce for serving; cover and refrigerate it.
  2. Add the mascarpone to the remaining blueberry mixture (in the food processor) and blend until the mixture becomes uniform and smooth.
  3. Combine the lemon zest, granulated sugar and heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on low speed for about 1 minute, then on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
  4. Use parchment paper to line the bottom and sides of the loaf pan (an initial light coating of cooking oil spray may help). Use an offset spatula to spread half of the blueberry-mascarpone mixture evenly in the bottom. Cover completely with the graham crackers, making a single layer that uses about one-quarter of the crackers; breaking them as needed.
  5. Next, use the spatula to spread half of the lemon whipped cream evenly over the graham cracker layer, then repeat with another graham cracker layer, the remaining blueberry mascarpone mixture, a graham cracker layer, the remaining lemon whipped cream and a final graham cracker layer. Compress very gently; the assembled cake should come to the top of the pan. Wrap in plastic wrap and weight with a heavy plate or pan. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to a day in advance.
  6. To serve, remove the weight and plastic wrap. Place a platter over the pan, then use both hands to invert the cake so it lands on the platter. Gently peel away the parchment paper and discard it.
  7. Whisk the reserved cup of blueberry puree so it becomes smooth and pourable. Drizzle some over each slice of cake, then sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Serve right away.


LA Times
Lemon Blueberry Buckle
Adapted from "Rustic Fruit Desserts" by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson.Crumb Topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter, cubed, at room temperature
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Add the butter, using a fork or your fingers to cut in the butter until it is reduced to the size of peas. Loosely cover the bowl, and place it in the freezer while you mix the cake batter.

  • Cake:6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, divided
  • Crumb topping, chilled
  • Juice of 2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons)

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, three-fourths cup sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  4. Stir the flour mixture into the bowl, a third at a time, alternating with the buttermilk, until both the flour mixture and buttermilk are evenly incorporated into the batter. Gently fold 1 cup of the blueberries into the batter.
  5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and distribute the remaining blueberries evenly over the top of the batter. Remove the crumb topping from the freezer and sprinkle it over the berries.
  6. Bake the cake until it is lightly golden and firm on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through for even baking.
  7. While the cake is baking, make a lemon syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the remaining one-third cup sugar with the lemon juice and whisk until blended. Heat the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens to a syrupy consistency, 6 to 8 minutes. (The glaze will bubble while cooking and may need to be removed from the heat to check that it is the proper consistency.) Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and drizzle the warm glaze over. Cool to room temperature. The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, covered in plastic wrap.

Happy baking!

Monday, May 16, 2016

What to do with Leftover Easter Bunnies

Happy Monday everyone! After stuffing our faces with delicious greasy pizza last night, my husband and I have agreed to pull back on the heavy foods this week. So obviously I'm thinking about chocolate. Milk chocolate, to be specific. I don't keep many temptations in the house, but as a pastry chef, I always have chocolate chips, and as it turns out this month, leftover Easter bunny. So you know what I love to do with too much chocolate? Turn it into a different delicious dessert! Here are a few recipes for those leftover bunnies hidden in the back of your pantry!

Milk Chocolate-Banana Pudding
Melissa Clark, NYT

Ingredients
  • 5 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream, plus 1 cup whipped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large bananas, thinly sliced
  • 14 whole chocolate wafer cookies, plus 4 crushed, for garnish (see note)
Directions
  1. Place chocolate in a bowl. In a separate large bowl, sift together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt; whisk in egg yolks and 1/2 cup milk until smooth.
  2. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring remaining 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup cream to a simmer. Pour over chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot chocolate mixture into egg mixture until completely incorporated and cocoa is dissolved.
  3. Return custard to saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Do not let mixture reach a simmer. If custard begins to steam heavily, stir it, off the heat, a moment before returning it to stove top. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Spread several tablespoons pudding evenly into an 8-inch square pan (or a glass bowl). Top with an even layer of bananas; arrange whole cookies on top of bananas. Cover with remaining pudding. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with crushed cookies. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight before serving.
Tip: Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers work perfectly. If you can’t find them or want to paint the lily, try using chocolate sandwich cookies like Newman-O’s.



Milk Chocolate Brownies
Gourmet, February 2007

Ingredients
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces fine-quality milk chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Directions
  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. Melt butter and half of chocolate in a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring, until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, until mixture is glossy and smooth.
  3. Whisk together remaining ingredients, then stir into chocolate mixture. Stir in remaining chocolate.
  4. Spread batter in pan and bake until a wooden pick or skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs adhering, 25 to 30 minutes.


Silky Chocolate Mousse with Peanut Butter Crunch
Rachel Lansang-Hidalgo, Food & Wine, February 2009

Ingredients
Peanut-Cream:
  • 3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 3 ounces white chocolate, chopped
Mousse:
  • 2 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 pounds milk chocolate, chopped
  • 3 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 9 large egg yolks
Crunch:
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups cornflakes, lightly crushed
  • 1/4 cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped
Directions
  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer with the chopped peanuts. Let the peanut cream stand off the heat for 15 minutes. Strain the peanut cream into a medium bowl; discard the chopped peanuts. Wipe out the saucepan, add back the cream and bring to a simmer. Off the heat, whisk in the gelatin and chopped white chocolate until melted. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate the peanut cream until it is set, about 2 hours.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until steaming. Put the milk chocolate and unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl and add the hot cream. Let stand until melted, then whisk until smooth; let cool. In another small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks at high speed until smooth. Slowly pour in the hot sugar syrup while beating at high speed; be careful not to pour the syrup directly onto the beaters. Beat until the mixture is cool, pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate mixture until no streaks remain. Cover the mousse with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Line a medium baking sheet with wax paper. In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, melt the peanut butter and chocolate at high power at 30-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Stir in the cornflakes and peanuts and spread the crunch on the baking sheet in a 1/2-inch layer. Freeze until firm, about 1 1/2 hours. Chop into small pieces.
  5. Spoon the mousse into 8 glasses or bowls and top each with a scoop of the peanut cream. Sprinkle with the peanut crunch and serve.
MAKE AHEAD: The chocolate mousse and peanut cream can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. The peanut crunch can be frozen for up to 5 days.


Happy baking!

Monday, May 9, 2016

What's Under That Fondant?

Happy Monday! It was a busy week for me; this weekend's bridal shower cake order was a tiered, casino and purple-themed, elegant cake. Tall order! Check it out below:



One of the tricky things about fondant is figuring out how to keep it on a cake. The best (and tastiest glue) is using a thin layer of buttercream beneath the fondant. Too thick and it makes the fondant bubble on top, too thin, and it doesn't stick. I like to do a crumb coat on the cake, and then a very thin layer on top. Not only a great adhesive, but for those cake eaters who ignore the fondant, they get an extra little layer of frosting!

Happy baking!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Sweet or Savory, a Crust is a Crust

Wow, we made it to Friday! Recently I used leftover chicken from my Granny's matzah ball soup recipe to make a chicken pot pie (single crust)! But a pie crust is a pie crust is a pie crust, and while each can be made differently and used for different types of desserts, the delicacy of the crust is important in every situation. How much you handle the crust and knead the dough is key - and it's as little as possible. While it's easy to make a crust in a food processor, using a pastry blender is easy and leads to a better result! Check out the steps to making an herb crust below (but choose your favorite recipe to bake it into a crust!):

Herb Crust
Bon Appetit, Oct 1999
Makes single crust
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (**I sub in 1 cup of whole wheat flour**)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons (about) ice water
Directions

  1. Blend first 5 ingredients in processor until herbs are very finely chopped. Add butter and shortening. Blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. 
  2. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Using fork, mix enough ice water into flour mixture to form moist clumps. 
  3. Gather dough into ball; flatten into rectangle. Cover and chill 30 minutes. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.)


Dry ingredients and herbs

Mix with a pastry blender
and then a fork for the ice water

Mix until combined, but that's it!

Roll out at least 30 min later

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sweetening with Condensed Milk

Happy Thursday to all! I was recently reminded of the sweet joys of baking with sweetened condensed milk, a deliciously sweet and creamy concoction that adds a delightful punch to desserts that aren't often the first off our "to do" lists. Check them out below:

Macaroons!
Coconut Macaroons
Danny Cohen (aka Danny Macaroons)

Ingredients
  • One 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
  • One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until firm peaks form. Fold the beaten whites into the coconut mixture.
  2. Scoop tablespoon-size mounds of the mixture onto the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 25 minutes, until golden; shift the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheets to racks and let the cookies cool completely.
  3. Dip the bottoms of the macaroons into the melted chocolate, letting any excess drip back into the bowl. Return the cookies to the lined baking sheets. Drizzle any remaining chocolate on top and refrigerate for about 5 minutes, until set.
MAKE AHEAD: The macaroons can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.


Chocolate Fudge with Bourbon Sugar
William Werner

Ingredients
Bourbon Sugar:
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 cup demerara sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
Fudge:
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 72%), coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Directions
Bourbon Sugar:
  1. Preheat oven to 150° or as low as yours will go. Scrape vanilla seeds into a small bowl; stir in demerara sugar and bourbon. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let dry out in oven overnight, leaving door slightly ajar. Mixture should feel like demerara sugar again in the morning.
Do Ahead: Store bourbon sugar airtight at room temperature up to 2 months.

Fudge:
  1. Line an 8x8” baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang on 2 sides; lightly coat with nonstick spray. Heat chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let bowl touch water), stirring occasionally, until almost completely melted. Set aside.
  2. Combine condensed milk, butter, bourbon, corn syrup, and kosher salt in a small saucepan; scrape in vanilla seeds and add pod. Heat over medium until barely hot (same as the chocolate).
  3. Gently stir one quarter of milk mixture into chocolate with a rubber spatula. Add another quarter of milk mixture, stirring to incorporate (it might look broken and greasy; don’t worry, it will come back together). Continue with remaining milk mixture in 2 additions, stirring vigorously until fudge is very shiny and almost elastic, about 5 minutes. Scrape into prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle with bourbon sugar and sea salt. Let cool, then cover and chill at least 4 hours.
  4. Turn out fudge onto a cutting board and slice into 2x¾” rectangles, 2” squares, or triangles.
Do Ahead: Fudge can be made 1 week ahead. Wrap tightly and chill.


Coffee Infused Tres Leches Cake
Rick Bayless

Ingredients
For the Cake:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Salt
  • 4 eggs at room tempterature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the Three Milks, Meringue, and Garnish:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 14-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso or strongly brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoonvanilla extract preferably Mexican
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup shaved Mexican chocolate
Directions
  1. Bake the cakes. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan that makes 6 large muffins with muffin papers.
  2. Place the flour, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Separate the eggs, dropping the whites into the bowl of a mixer and the yolks into a medium bowl. Add the oil, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of water to the yolks and mix well. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they start to thicken and form soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  3. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the egg yolks and mix well. Gently fold in 1/3 of the beaten egg whites. Repeat, alternating the flour mixture and egg whites until everything is thoroughly combined. Scoop the fluffy batter into the prepared muffin tins, place in the hot oven and bake until the tops spring back when touched, 20 to 22 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then take the individual cakes out of the molds, remove the papers and invert them into a deep 13x9 inch baking dish.
  4. Make the three milks mixture. Combine the heavy cream, evaporated milk, condensed milk, coffee, vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a bowl and mix well. Slowly pour the mixture over the cakes, soaking them thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the milks to be absorbed into the cakes.
  5. Frost the cakes with meringue and serve. Combine the sugar with 1/3 cup water in a small (2-quart) saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, swirling the pan gently until all the sugar is dissolved. Dip a brush in water and use it to clean the sides of the pan so no sugar crystals remain. (This is an important step in keeping the syrup from recrystallizing.) Lower the heat to medium and boil the syrup until it reaches soft ball stage (when a little syrup dropped into cold water will form a soft ball).
  6. While the syrup is boiling, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until the whites form soft peaks. Drizzle in the hot sugar syrup in 4 additions, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat until the bottom of the bowl is cool.
  7. To serve, place each soaked cake on a plate, decorate with a big dollop of meringue, toasting the peaks with a kitchen torch. Sprinkle with the Mexican chocolate and present to your guests to enjoy.

Happy baking!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Post Easter/Passover Spring

Happy Monday everyone! As we kick off the week, we leave behind the carrot and lemon cakes of Easter; the macaroons and chocolate matzah of Passover, and look ahead to fruity desserts for spring. Let's check out what's in store for spring:

Mock chestnut cake, topped with matzah crunch (for Pesach)
Apricot Almond Layer Cake
Gourmet, April 2005

Ingredients
Almond Macaroon Layers:
  • 12 oz sliced blanched almonds (3 3/4 cups) or blanched slivered almonds (2 3/4 cups)
  • 3 1/3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
Apricot Compote:
  • 6 oz dried California apricots (1 1/2 cups), finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • For praline almonds
  • 1 cup sliced blanched almonds (3 oz)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
Mascarpone Cream:
  • 1 1/2 cups imported Italian mascarpone cheese (10 oz)
  • 1/4 cup well-chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup Disaronno Amaretto or other almond-flavored liqueur
  • Special equipment: parchment paper
Directions
Make macaroon layers:
  1. Trace 2 (8-inch) circles on 1 sheet of parchment paper and a third circle on second sheet. Turn sheets over and put on 2 baking sheets.
  2. Pulse almonds with 1 1/3 cups confectioners sugar in a food processor until very finely ground (mixture will resemble sand), 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and sift in remaining 2 cups confectioners sugar, then stir until combined well.
  3. Beat egg whites with salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Add granulated sugar a little at a time, beating, then increase speed to high and continue to beat until whites hold stiff, glossy peaks, about 3 minutes.
  4. Stir whites into almond mixture until completely incorporated (batter will be thick), then divide batter evenly among traced circles on baking sheets (about 1 2/3 cups per circle), smoothing into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.Let rounds stand, uncovered, at room temperature until tops are no longer sticky and a light crust forms, about 30 minutes.
  5. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 300°F. Bake macaroon layers, switching position of baking sheets halfway through cooking, until macaroons are crisp and edges are just barely pale golden, about 25 minutes. Turn off oven and let macaroons stand in oven 10 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheets on racks, about 1 hour.
Make compote while macaroon layers bake:
  1. Simmer dried apricots in water in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan, uncovered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until apricots are very soft and most of liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes. Stir in preserves, then cool completely.
  2. Make praline almonds:
  3. Heat almonds in a 12-inch dry heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until almonds are hot but not yet colored, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners sugar and continue cooking, stirring and tossing, until almonds are lightly toasted and sugar glaze is caramelized, about 3 minutes. Immediately transfer almonds to a large sheet of foil and spread into 1 layer with a fork. Cool completely.
Make mascarpone cream:
  1. Just before serving, beat together mascarpone, heavy cream, and Amaretto with cleaned beaters at medium speed until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup praline almonds, then fold remainder into cream.
  2. Put 1 macaroon layer on a platter and spread with one third of compote (about 1/2 cup), then spread one fourth of mascarpone cream (about 3/4 cup) on top. Make another layer with second macaroon in same manner. Top with remaining macaroon, remaining compote, and remaining cream (1 1/2 cups), then sprinkle with reserved praline almonds.
Cooks' Notes:
  1. Macaroon layers can be made 2 days ahead and kept in an airtight container, layered between parchment paper, at room temperature.
  2. Apricot compote can be made 5 days ahead and chilled, covered.
  3. *Praline almonds can be made 1 week ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.


Rhubarb-Pistachio Bundt Cake with Rose Glaze
Caren Rothman, Poppy's Catering 

Ingredients
Cake:
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons rose water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons raw pistachios, toasted and chopped
  • 8 ounces rhubarb (2-3 stalks), trimmed
Rose Glaze:
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Decorating the Cake:
  • 2 tablespoons dried rose petals
  • 2 tablespoons raw pistachios, toasted and chopped
  • Special equipment: 12-cup Bundt pan
Directions
Make the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour Bundt pan, tapping out excess flour.
  2. Rub together granulated sugar and lemon zest with your fingers in a large bowl until fragrant. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream lemon sugar and 3/4 cup butter until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, scraping down sides of bowl and beating well between each addition. Beat in rose water and vanilla extract on medium-low speed until just combined.
  3. Whisk 2 1/4 cups flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in another large bowl. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients to lemon sugar mixture in 3 additions, alternating with yogurt in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Fold in pistachios.
  4. Cut rhubarb crosswise into 2 1/2" pieces. Using a mandoline set to 1/4" or a very sharp knife, slice rhubarb lengthwise, maintaining as much red skin on stalks as possible.
  5. Pour one-third of the batter into prepared pan and smooth surface. Add half of the rhubarb, nestling pieces side by side to form a thick ring on top of batter. Pour another third of the batter on top of rhubarb layer; smooth surface. Repeat with remaining rhubarb and batter.
  6. Bake cake until the surface is cracked and golden brown, springs back to the touch, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cake rest in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.
Make the rose glaze:
  1. Whisk powdered sugar, milk, rose water, vanilla extract, and salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Glaze should be pourable but stiff enough to hold its shape-it can be thickened with more powdered sugar or thinned with more milk if needed.
Decorate the cake:
  1. Using a spoon, drizzle rose glaze over cooled cake, holding the spoon a few inches above the cake. While glaze is still wet, sprinkle rose petals and pistachios on top.
  2. Do Ahead
  3. Cake can be baked, cooled, wrapped in plastic, and stored at room temperature up to 3 days. Glaze can be made and stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.
Cooks' Note: 
  1. Dry your own rose petals from fresh roses or find dried rose petals at gourmet and Middle Eastern food stores.


Strawberry-Basil Shortcakes
Chris Fischer, Bon Appetit, May 2014

Ingredients
Shortcakes:
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
Berries And Assembly:
  • 1½ pound fresh strawberries, hulled, quartered (about 3 cups), divided
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 sprigs basil
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
Directions
Shortcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk sugar, baking powder, salt, and 2 cups flour in a large bowl. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work in butter until the texture of coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Add cream and mix until dough just comes together (it will be sticky).
  2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 12x4” rectangle about ¾” thick. Cut out rounds with a 2½” biscuit cutter, re-rolling scraps as needed to make 8 rounds. Whisk egg with 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Transfer rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush tops with egg wash. Bake until tops are golden brown and shortcakes are cooked through, 15–20 minutes.
  3. Do Ahead: Shortcakes can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.
Berries And Assembly:
  1. Coarsely chop 2 cups strawberries (use any bruised or less perfect ones) and cook with 2 Tbsp. sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until berries are softened and mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Let berry compote cool.
  2. Meanwhile, toss basil, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and remaining 1 cup strawberries in a medium bowl and let sit until fruit begins to release juices, 10–15 minutes. Discard basil.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat cream, crème fraîche, and remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar to soft peaks, about 4 minutes.
  4. Split shortcakes and fill with berry compote, whipped cream mixture, and macerated strawberries.

Happy baking!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Fondant Decor

Happy Monday! I spent the week making an extravagant bridal shower cake, topped with a big, poofy fondant bow. Let's break down the details of how to make this show-stopping bow!





  1. Make sure your fondant is pliable and soft; this requires a little kneading (think bread dough). Be sure to keep your fondant double wrapped in plastic while not using it...fondant hardens as it sits in the open air. 
  2. Using a fondant rolling pin, roll out a piece of fondant into a rectangle (perhaps about 1/4" thick, 8x10" wide for easier control. Cut strips about 3/4" thick.
  3. Paint a dab of royal icing on the bottom of one end and place a 6" piece gum paste wire on top. Fold the other end of fondant to meet and pinch until the two ends hold together. Place the loop on its side (on parchment! Don't let it stick!) overnight to harden. 
  4. Continue the process until you make 30-40 pieces (occasionally some will break as you lift them).
  5. Day 2: Make a ball of fondant as the base of your bow. Attach a row of loops into the ball like a 2D flower. Attach a little bit of fondant to the ball - another layer of ribbons. Another little ball and a few more ribbons. As you attach ribbon on top of ribbon, the spacing will get tighter and smaller, giving it more of a poofy, 3D appearance. Be sure to cover up the balls of fondant in the center so the bow looks seamless as it gets bigger.
Good luck and happy baking!