Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pumpkin, Pecan and Apple time!

Well, again I have taken way too long to post on my blog but fortunately I waited so long it is now in one of my favorite seasons for desserts! PIES! Pumpkin, Apple and Pecan being my favorite... at least at this time of the year. 
I have lots of ideas for pumpkin sweets and conveniently pumpkin does savory very well also. 
So now I have to decide which of these recipes you would most likely use and appreciate...hmmmm... I can give you my favorites. I always tell my students to cook or bake what they love to eat and this will ensure your guests will love it too... so heeding my own advice...
Personally I enjoy the flavors of the season but want to have lighter dessers since the meals we usually eat tend to be on the heavy and rich side. I decided that I will share with you my Pumpkin Souffle Roulade with Rum scented cream, Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with graham cracker crust, Apple cranberry gallette, and Maple-Bourbon Pecan Pie. 
Some are light and airy while others rich and delicious but all are flavors of the season! 
That ought to get your mouth watering :)

First I present my beautiful, light and easy:

Pumpkin Soufflé Roulade

Prepare a ½ sheet pan measuring 12”x 18” with parchment paper on the bottom… no need to grease the pan.
Preheat your oven to 375°

In a large mixing bowl, measure out :

1 cup pumpkin puree
8 egg yolks
1 Tablespoon dark rum
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger

Mix together until smooth.

Then have ready:
8 egg whites
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt

Whip the egg whites with the salt until a foam begins.
Add the sugar very slowly so it absorbs into the whites.
Whip the whites until a stiff but still soft peak forms.
Fold the whites into the pumpkin mixture and carefully lay out the batter
into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. It will rise a bit and then fall when it cools. Don’t be alarmed. This is a soufflé and it will fall. The goal here is to create enough structure in the egg whites that it doesn’t fall completely but leaves a nice ½” thick cake to roll up with whipped cream.

The cream filling:
1 ½ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
2 T. dark rum

Whip the cream with the sugar and rum until stiff peaks form.
Lay the soufflé out on plastic wrap with powdered sugar sifted on it so it doesn’t stick.
Spread the cream over in an even layer.
On the long side of the cake nearest to you, begin to roll the cake up using the plastic wrap. Start by folding the end up in a tiny roll so it makes it easier to roll the cake up. Wrap it in the plastic, refrigerate for several hours and serve with powdered sugar sifted over top.

This can be made a day ahead and left in the refrigerator until service. It has all the flavors of the holiday without the heaviness. 

NEXT: Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
This was my Mom's favorite pie in the 50's and I now see it re-emerging from the past. If you have not tried it I suggest you do... what a surprise. So light and airy but still very traditional. No one will be disappointed with this slight change in tradition! 
This pie is not baked but cooked on top of the stove. Gelatin is added so it is NOT a vegetarian pie but if you make it one day ahead and leave it in the fridge it will have a perfect consistency. 
The cream can be flavored with cinnamon or nutmeg or just lovely vanilla. Your choice!

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
1, 9” deep dish pie plate

Graham Cracker Nut Crust

Combine 1-3/4 cups fine graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and
1/2 cup melted butter

1.    Melt the butter and pour it over the crumb/ nut mixture and with your hands rub it in until the crumbs and moist and hold together when you squeeze them in your hands.
2.    Place all the crust in the pie pan and begin pressing up the sides of the pan. When the sides are covered in a tightly pressed layer then press the bottom down. If you have too many crumbs don’t try to use them or your crust will be too thick and make this light pie much heavier. Instead wrap them well and freeze them for another pie.
3.    Bake your crust for 5 minutes in a 350°F to set the crust.
4.    Let cool before adding your filling.
Pumpkin filling

1 T gelatin bloomed in ¼ cup cold water
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ginger
1 ¼ cup canned pumpkin
2 egg yolks
1 ¼ cup evaporated milk
  1. Place all of the above ingredients into the top of a bain marie or double boiler and cook about 10 minutes until it mounds on a spoon or holds a ribbon.
  2. Take off heat and add softened gelatin stirring until dissolved.
  3. Cool pumpkin mixture.
2 egg whites
¼ cup sugar

  1. On an electric mixer whip the egg whites until foam begins to form and then slowly pour in the sugar.
  2. Whip until stiff peaks form being careful not to over whip to dry peaks.
  3. Fold whites into the cooled pumpkin mixture and pour into prepared and pre-baked pie crust.
  4. Let set up in refrigerator for at least an hour and then ice with sweetened whipped cream.
 Ok well everyone loves apple desserts (I think, anyway) so I wanted to do a twist to the regular old but wonderful all American apple pie. The french do not use cinnamon in their apple desserts which to us Americans sounds down right unpatriotic so I will give you a French style pie with all the American flavors!

Rustic Apple Cranberry Tart

Cream Cheese Pie dough: (two 10” tarts)
   12 oz. room temperature unsalted butter
   12 oz. room temperature cream cheese
   1 tsp.salt 
   1 tsp. lemon juice
   14 oz. AP flour

Make the dough:
   In a bowl of an electric mixer cream together the butter and cream cheese until they are well blended. Add the salt and lemon juice and then the flour. Mix only until blended. Do not over mix. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Apple cranberry filling for two tarts:
  4#  golden delicious or granny smith apples (before peeling and coring)
  6 oz dried natural cranberries
  3 Tbl. Cornstarch
  6 oz. sugar
  2 tsp. Cinnamon! 
  ½ tsp. allspice
  2 oz. butter melted

Make the filling:
  Peel, core and slice the apples rather thin. Place them in a large bowl with the cranberries and add the flour, all but one TBL of the sugar, allspice, vanilla and melted butter. Toss until all the fruit is covered.

 Assemble the tart:
 Roll the dough out into a 14” circle and about 1/8 of an inch thick.
 Mound fruit mixture in center of dough, leaving 3-inch border. Fold dough border over fruit, pleating loosely and pinching to seal any cracks. Bush dough with beaten egg. Sprinkle dough with 1 tablespoon sugar.
Bake tart until crust is brown and filling bubbles, about 45 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to rack and cool tart slightly, about 20 minutes. Slide metal spatula under all sides of crust to free from parchment. Using large tart pan bottom as aid, transfer tart to platter. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream. 

AND last but certainly not least my very very wonderful Maple Bourbon Pecan pie which, by the way, does not have any CORN SYRUP in it! YAY! 
It is by far the very best pecan pie I have ever had the pleasure to eat! 
I love this pie but have always hated the corn syrup part which is what make it too sweet and very sticky in your mouth. 
This pie will be neither! Perfectly sweet, nutty and with a touch of Bourbon which makes is very Southern. I think you will never make another recipe when you make this one!

Maple Pecan Pie with Bourbon

1 1/2 cups pecans

1 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup maple syrup 

1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

1/4 cup unsalted butter

3 large eggs (lightly beaten)

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

1 pie crust (chilling in the fridge until used)

1. Bake the pecans in a preheated 350F until nicely toasted, about 8-12 minutes.
2. Heat the sugar, syrup, bourbon and butter in a large saucepan until it boils, stirring constantly.
3. Remove from heat and let cool.

4. Beat in the eggs, cream, vanilla and salt.
5. Spread the pecans over the bottom of the pie crust.

6. Pour the liquid mixture into the pie crust.
7. Bake in a preheated 350F until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40-50 minutes.

Monday, March 5, 2012

What is an Entremet anyway?

Whenever I try to describe this divine dessert the question I often encounter is, "what the heck is an entremet?" It is not surprising to me that most Americans haven't experienced the luscious layers of goodness in this very French dessert but all you have to do is frequent a high end bake shop in a large city and most are now making them. They usually have a high shine glaze on top with either chocolate or fresh fruit garnishes and sometimes both... Inside are multiple layers of flavors and sometimes textures too.
I had the pleasure of working with a French Chef who was proficient in making these wondrous sweet fantasies. I will share the information but can not provide a recipe since they are very very long and very complicated. BUT at least you will know how they are made and the next time you come across one you will be more than tempted to try it!    
They are typically made using a 4.5 cm tall by 8" wide ring mold and acetate liner. The one you see above has two crisp layers of walnut meringue and is filled with alternating mounds of chocolate and vanilla mousse. This is the more simple style of entremet with no glazing and a very simple garnish.                                                                                                          

These desserts can be as simple or complex as you would like them to be. The important aspect of them is they have layered flavors. How many layers? How many flavors? Well, that is up to the creator. The ones I am sharing with you are somewhat simple in flavor combinations but never simple in makeup and assembly!

This is one of my favorite flavor combos but the mousse that surrounds the center has 4 different recipes just in the one mousse! It is a caramel mousse surrounding a vanilla sponge cake and the center is a pear mousse that has chunks of poached pear. It is garnished with a cold mirror glaze and dark chocolate rings.
The real secret to these desserts is a very very cold freezer. I mean a below 0°F freezer. Each step is done  individually and everything needs to be complete before you assemble. In other words, with this beauty you need to have the cake baked, the pear center made and frozen before you make the complicated caramel mousse. Then you pipe the mousse into the ring, press the thin layer of cake in it so the mousse goes up the sides of the ring, then pull out your frozen pear center place it on top, then more mousse then the last layer of cake. Put the entire cake into the freezer until frozen solid. You have built it upside down! When you take it out of the ring it will have a perfectly flat top and the cake will be on the bottom! Clever, huh? Well, they are all not done like this but it is a great technique for creating a perfectly square cake.

The next entremet I want to share with you is the chocolate mint entremet. It has layers of chocolate sponge, chocolate mousse and a center of mint mousse. My favorite technique used for this one is the top striped layer!
You begin by making some simple ganache and using an icing knife spread the ganache on a silpat and then using a cake comb pull the comb straight through the ganache to create the stripes and freeze.
Meanwhile, make your mint mousse for the frozen center piece, spread some of the mint mousse over the stripes and freeze the entire thing as well as the rest of the mousse which goes into a smaller molds (4" fleximolds) to be placed in the center of the cake when assembled.
When all is frozen you bring out the silpat with the stripes and put your ring down on top of it. Then you begin to build the cake upside down just as the pear one was built.
The cake was baked in a 6" pan. This way all the center pieces are surrounded with the chocolate mousse. The garnishes are white chocolate splattered with green cocoa butter for color and again the glaze is a cold mirror glaze.
Don't you just want to bite it? Well, although beautiful with the shinny glaze and colorful garnishes it is important to remember the flavors! They should be packed with layers of flavor and not just sweet and pretty to look at! I have seen entremet with as many as 8 layers and four complimentary flavors.
To all my pastry chef colleagues out there, make these, create new flavors and most of all have fun! This is what our customers are wanting, fun new flavors and textures to delight the mouth!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

James Durbin's wedding cake and other cake matters...

Since it has been almost one year since I have written a word... I thought I might begin by sharing some of my lastest greatest creations! I will also add some tips and tricks I used to make the cakes beautiful in case any of you are interested in cake decorating and like the designs that I fashioned.
First of all my big thrill of the year! James and Heidi Durbin's wedding cake!
If you are not familiar with them, James was on Season 10 of American Idol and really should have won if you ask me but all is fair since he came in forth, got a record deal, sold 40,000 records the first two weeks it came out and was recently married to the love of his life and the mother of his beautiful little boy!
I had the extraordinary opportunity to make their wedding cake!
First of all, I would like to share with you the inspiration for the design:
Heidi, his wife has Faithfully on hers and James has Forever Yours on his. Both are lyrics from the Journey song "Faithfully. Kinda romantic... even if you don't like tattoos, right?
So here is the cake:
She wanted something more romantic and feminine and he a bit more rock and roll, so I came up with this idea! it embodies both and is very personal as well. I was thrilled to be part of their special day!

So here is how I did it:
First you should know that this is a buttercream cake NOT fondant icing!
Second the ribbon around the bottom is real satin ribbon this way if you client doesn't really like fondant, the ribbon can be easily removed.
Lastly the lettering I made with black fondant that I bought already colored, way easier than trying to make black!
I made each letter by hand by rolling out each little piece and forming the letters on a marked "cutting mat" that has graphic measurements on it so I can make sure the letters are all the same size.
I followed the picture of the tattoos for the main words and found a website with fancy lettering for tattoos to design the initials on the bottom layer.
I then used a white luster dust to highlight each letter making them pop even more.
After letting them dry for a couple of days, I assembled them piece by piece. By that I mean that each line was separate from the others in the letter. For instance, the F has a top line, a middle line and smaller curly lines for accent. Each one was placed on the cake separately. I did not glue them together until they went on the cake. This way I could prevent cracking as I tried to place flat letters around a round surface. It worked beautifully!
They were so happy with the cake that the bride emailed me at 2:30 AM on her wedding night to tell me so! And if that were not enough, on Monday January 9th 2012 People magazine did an article on the wedding with a video showing them cutting the cake and then they mentioned The Cake Shoppe by Chefany as the creator of the cake!! Wooooo HOOOO!!!