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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

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
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 

  • 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
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

  • 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
  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!

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