Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chocolate Soufflé Roll with Cocoa Cream Filling

Part cake, part soufflé, here’s a flourless chocolate cake that’s as light as air. It’s a cake roll, baked in a sheet pan and then topped with a cocoa cream and rolled up, jelly roll style. I love the texture of this cake, which gets all its structure from beaten eggs and chocolate – it’s made with a dozen eggs and 12 ounces of chocolate. The eggs, 

along with a good amount of sugar, are whipped up in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer. If you have a 5 or 6-quart stand mixer, though, you can use that; the beaten eggs will just make it to the edge of the bowl. My chocolate of choice was Guittard 61 percent, one of my favorites, but any high-quality chocolate will do. The 

finished cake is light yet rich; at room temperature it’s very soft, and when chilled it takes on a slightly fudgy resistance. Another wonderful thing about this simple cake is that it’s very easy to put together, though, I must say, it does take a certain amount of bravery to roll it up and then transfer it to a serving plate. But even 

if the cake cracks a bit, a good dusting of confectioners’ sugar will hide, or distract from, any blemishes. This recipe comes from Jeanne Kraus, from the May 1999 cover of Chocolatier. Jeanne is now a Pastry Chef Instructor at Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago, but she gave me this recipe when she was working at the Hudson Club, also in Chicago. Though the Hudson Club has since closed, this recipe lives on as a testament to Jeanne Kraus’s considerable talent.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake Tart

One of my favorite things to make – and eat – is vanilla cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries. The juicy, slightly acidic berries are the perfect match for a rich and creamy cheesecake. But cheesecake is time-consuming; it takes a long time to bake, then needs to be

chilled for several hours before it’s ready to eat. A good alternative to this dessert is a no-bake, no-bother Strawberry Cheesecake Tart. It features a filling made with cream cheese and heavy cream whipped up with a bit of mascarpone cheese. The filling is eggless, 

stabilized with a small amount of gelatin, so it doesn’t need to be baked. The tart crust is made from an almond sablé dough – almonds and strawberries are an excellent match – and whole berries cover the filling. I brush the berries with some melted 

strawberry jam to give them a jewel-like finish, and sprinkle toasted sliced almonds around the tart’s edge. This pretty, spring tart has all the flavor of the original cheesecake, but it’s a lot easier to make, leaving more time to enjoy this lovely spring weather we’ve been having. And it also makes a wonderful dessert to honor Mom on her special day. Happy Mother’s Day!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Twice-Baked Brioche (and Croissants)

There’s nothing worse than a stale croissant, I always say. Unless, of course, it’s stale brioche. But thanks to those clever French – who pretty much think of everything when it comes to pastry – there’s an excellent way to revive these baked treasures once 

they’ve passed their sell-by date. It involves simply brushing the brioche or sliced croissant with some sugar syrup, slathering on some Almond Cream (aka frangipane), sprinkling the top with some sliced almonds and baking them until puffed and golden. The 

result is a delicious, warm almond pastry that’s even better than the original iteration. Patisseries all over employ this trick, which can be done with homemade croissants and brioche as well as store-bought. If you do use store-bought, try to get croissants that are  

actually made with butter (as opposed to unidentified hydrogenated ingredients), from a reputable source (not, for example, a street vendor, even if he's French).