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Category ... Sweets

Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America 2012

Aug 18, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

One of my favorite events of the year, the Dessert Professional's 19th Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America, was held again this past June, at the Institute of Culinary Education. My only disappointment was that my dear friend and colleague Marcel Dessaulniers, this years honoree to the Hall of Fame, was not able to be present. He was busy opening his new café with his wife and partner artist Connie Desaulniers: Mad About Chocolate! Marcel was owner of The beloved Trellis Restaurant in Wiliamsburg, Virginia, and author of Death by Chocolate and several other wonderful cookbooks. Now people will be able to taste his favorite chocolate recipes without even having to make them!

In addition to tasting many delicious desserts, meeting the chefs, colleagues, and old friends, this year I brought back a very special recipe which was my favorite taste of the event: raspberry caramels. They were presented, along with the classic caramels, by pastry chef Marc Aumont of The Modern, NYC. I'm embarrassed to tell you how many times my hand dipped into these bowls of caramels!
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Chef Aumont also offered these beautifully presented little chocolate mousse desserts. Is it any wonder he works at The Modern (the top restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art)?

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My dear friend, pastry chef Jean-François Bonnet of Tumbador Chocolate, introduced me to pastry chef Sandro Micheli who had once worked under him at Daniel, NYC and is now the Executive Pastry Chef. I was stunned by the beauty of his chocolate glaze and when I asked Jean-François for the secret of the amazing shine his answer was: "just perfect execution."

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For a complete list of this year's top ten pastry chefs and the recipe for the raspberry caramels read the extended entry.

Continue reading "Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America 2012" »

Bravo Breville--The Perfectly Even Oven!

Feb 04, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose in Equipment

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Can it be--an oven that is perfectly even?! Over the years I have baked in many an oven. I even drove several hours deep into Connecticut, with cream puff pastry ready to pipe, to try out a Gaggenau oven that promised to be perfectly even. It was from top to bottom but not from front to back. Resigned to this disappointing fact that ovens are just not perfectly even, I have written solutions into recipes, such as turning a cake two-thirds of the way through baking, or bread half way through baking, but when it comes to cream puff pastry or sponge type cakes such as génoise, opening the oven door to move the pan would spell disaster as the baked item would deflate like a balloon stuck with a pin.

A few years ago I happened to speak to someone at the Breville company about another one of their appliances and the representative told me about their Smart Oven saying it was "an oven with a brain," and that I had to try it. I was intrigued and then disappointed when it never arrived. Many months later I met Julia Leisinger, the delightful manager of Sur La Tabla Soho store, and noticing that they sell the oven, asked her what she thought of it. She told me that she has one and that not only is it even, its size makes it ideal for small apartments. Julia is a baker so now I was really determined to try the oven so that I could know whether I could recommend it.

A year passed and to my surprise and delight I heard from Julia that she had met with the Breville people and reminded them of their promise to me. Shortly after the oven arrived and then, I must confess, sat reproachfully on my dining room table for months while I waited for my schedule to clear to approach this promising new appliance.

FInally I bit the bullet and gave it my standard acid test: I piped a spiral of cream puff pastry on parchment set on the 15-inch pan that comes with the oven, placed the rack at the bottom position as recommended in the booklet, and set the oven on bake, convection, but using 425˚F/220˚F for the first 10 minutes of baking instead of lowering the temperature the usual 25 degrees for convection baking. Then I lowered the temperature to the usual 350˚F/175˚C and continued to bake for the usual 15 minutes. As you can see from the photo, the proof is in the puff--it was perfectly, effortless, evenly golden brown.

Next I piped little 1-1/2 inch cream puffs. They blossomed from 3/4 inch high to 1-1/2 inches and again were perfectly evenly golden-brown.

This is a beautifully designed little oven that does just about everything except microwave. I moved it into permanent position in my apartment. How many ovens do I have? Four are in NY and 2-1/2 in Hope, NJ. (The half is the GE toaster oven I've had for 44 years and still performs perfectly for toast, baked potato, and other small items, taking up minimal space on the counter.)

As a cookbook author, it is important to test recipes in different types of ovens as the oven is the common denominator of success or failure in baking.

Here is my recipe for cream puff pastry which can be filled with whipped cream, or ice cream (profiteroles) or a savory filling. And as promised, this is the first in a series of monthly postings featuring Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs.

Continue reading "Bravo Breville--The Perfectly Even Oven!" »

White Chocolate Rises to New Heights

Jul 17, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Sweets

The most delicious thing I tasted at the Beard Awards back in May was that delicious I went back for three more servings! It was presented by pastry chef Bill Corbett of Daniel Patterson's Coi Restaurant in S.F. He made a roasted white chocolate mousse, using a special new technique he had learned recently at a course at ValRhona in France. It is simply astonishing, yet not surprising, how the milk solids in the white chocolate, on roasting, caramelize and transmutate (yes I know there is no such word but there needs to be and there is now!) into such extraordinary flavor. Just think of the possibilities!

Bill offered to send me the recipe but before I could remind him it appeared in the JBF notes publication:

Roasted White Chocolate Mousse

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 pound white chocolate, broken into large chunks
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/3 cup feuilletine (see note)
2 3/4 cups heavy cream, divided

Preheat oven to 300˚F. Put the white chocolate chunks into a roasting pan. Roast in the oven for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes. The chocolate will turn a golden caramel color. It will stiffen between stirrings but should become smooth as you stir it. Pour the roasted white chocolate out onto a silicone baking mat or wax paper and allow to set for 24 hours. Don't worry if the chocolate develops a mottled appearance (known as bloom).

Break up the roasted chocolate into small pieces. Measure out 160g/5.6 ounces (about 1-1/3 cups) of the chocolate. Melt the 160g/5.6 ounces of chocolate with the canola oil in a bowl over boiling water. Mix in ½ teaspoon salt and the feuilletine. Spread on a silicone baking mat or wax paper and leave to set overnight.

Place the remaining chocolate (about 300 g/10.6 ounces or 2-2/3 cups) in a medium bowl. Bring 1 cup of the cream to a boil in a small saucepan Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside to cool until thickened, at least 20 minutes. Whip the remaining cream (about 1-3/4 cups) in a stand mixer until it forms soft peaks. Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Carefully fold the remaining whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Divide the mousse between 4 to 6 ramekins or serving bowls. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

To serve, break the chocolate feuilletine bark into small pieces and use to garnish the mousse.

NOTE: Feuilletine is a crunchy, buttery flak that can be purchased at specialty baking stores or online. If you can't find it, substitute finely crumbled cigar wafer cookies.

Did You Know

Apr 04, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Did You Know

That egg whites can be frozen for at least a year but to freeze egg yolks you need to add sugar to keep them from getting too sticky and unusable.

For 1 egg yolk/about 1 tablespoon/0.6 ounce/18 grams stir in ½ teaspoon/2 grams sugar. Don’t forget to remove the sugar from the recipe after defrosting the yolks.

My favorite healthful lunch is 0 fat Greek yogurt with 1 heaping teaspoon of lemon curd swirled in and a handful of blueberries.

Continue reading "Did You Know" »

Peanut Nut

Mar 21, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Recipes

I love international cuisine, but when it comes to peanut butter, I’m as American as apple pie. Or maybe it should be changed to as American as peanut butter. Peanut butter seems to be the great divide between American and European taste. I’m sure they’re out there but I don’t know a single European who would prefer peanut butter to hazelnut paste in fact for many it isn’t even a contest—they wouldn’t consider eating the stuff in the first place. Quel domage!

My favorite recipe in The Pastry Bible is the peanut butter and chocolate mousse torte and not surprisingly Fine Cooking magazine chose that recipe to be featured in one of their Best of the Best cookbooks as their favorite recipe too. In my upcoming Rose’s Heavenly Cakes there will be a terrific combination of spice cake and peanut buttercream.

Of course peanut butter also shines in savory dishes as was amply demonstrated by several of America’s top chefs at a recent peanut butter party hosted by the National Peanut Board. I’m posting some of my favorite recipes from the event below except for one which I must tell you about instead as it requires special food service ingredients and machinery—the peanut cotton candy. How chef Linton Hopkins, from Atlanta, Ga. managed to capture the ethereal texture of cotton candy and the full flavor of peanut butter is nothing short of culinary alchemy! One of his secrets is using roasted peanuts for the oil used in the mixture. I’m not going to go on raving about each recipe as I wouldn’t be posting them if they were anything short of fantastically worth making yourself!


Rose and Linton


Suvir and three dishes

Continue reading "Peanut Nut" »

Cherry Jam

Jul 07, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

for those of you who have been asking how to thicken sour cherries into jam, i have some important information for you that may help---if not this year, for next year. it comes with a story i can't resist telling:

yesterday, i called a neighbor whose number was posted on a sign by the road advertising eggs and produce. i'm always on the prowl for fresh eggs and it's been several years since i've found a source in hope.

to my delight, walt menegus called me back saying he had a huge supply. we started talking baking and it turned out his wife maria bakes, cans, and happened to have a cherry pie sitting on the table at that very moment.

we wasted no time in driving over and what a paradise we discovered on hope crossing road, a road we traveled over a hundred times, never seeing what lay behind the pine trees! we were invited in for a piece of pie and to our mutual delight discovered that it was my recipe from a rodale cookbook to which i had contributed many years ago!

Continue reading "Cherry Jam" »

Macaroons

Feb 22, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Questions and Answers

ZACHARY QUESTION

Do you have any experience with Parisian-style macarons? I've been a huge fan of these for years, always visiting Laduree and Stohrer when I'm in Paris. It's been my "life's dream" (in the realm of my baking anyway) to make the macarons as close to French patisserie quality as possible; I've been working on them lately and have had mediocre success. Main problems: many crack and split open while baking. I've tried the approach of letting them sit out for a few minutes before baking and baking immediately and nothing seems to guarantee consistency. I've contacted Laduree (they have a book now, in French!) to ask if I can visit their kitchen, but they didn't like that idea. Do you know of any secrets to these and getting them as tender and as close as possible to the real things?

Thanks! Zach

ROSE REPLY

Macaroons are very difficult to make at home. but I can give you one tip othat was given to me by a Swiss chef: after piping them, let them sit uncovered overnight before baking them. This helps to keep them from cracking, resulting in smooth tops. as Dorie Greenspan says in her delightful book Paris Sweets, each Parisian has his or her favorite place for macaroons. for this New Yorker its Laduree, but then, I have yet to do a thorough tasting investigation.

Flat Cream Puffs

Feb 07, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Pie and Pastry Questions

JEAN QUESTION


Feedback: I live in Mexico and the humidity is very high. I made cream puffs today. They rose up and were beautiful until I took them out of the oven. They fell flat and felt soggy. Is there anything I can do to keep this from happening?

ROSE REPLY

If you are also at high altitude you will need to decrease the amount of liquid to give more structure to the cream puffs. But for the high humidity it is essential, toward the end of baking after the cream puffs have set, to make a small cut into the side or bottom of each cream puff and then return them to the oven that the moisture can escape.

CORRECTION for Beranbaum Family Fudge

Dec 21, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Book Errata/CORRECTIONS

please note, it is sweetened condensed milk called for in the recipe, NOT evaporated!

Beranbaum Family Fudge

Dec 19, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Happenings

my stepson michael and his wife frances had the good judgment to space their kids a few years and 6 months apart which makes it just perfect for a biannual visit to snohomish washington for each of their birthdays. elyse, who is just turning 6, was born right before christmas, and haley, who will be turning 10 was born in june. this also gives us the chance to experience two different seasons along with seasonal activities in such a beautiful location.

this years’ christmas visit started off with a request from the kids to make cookies. haley wanted her favorite: chocolate chips without nuts, And elyse wanted to try a chocolate fudge recipe that was in one of her books called “strawberry shortcake.” since it was meant for kids to make, i figured it would be quick and easy but when i discovered that we were 1/4 cup short of sweetened condensed milk, i decided to add 2 tablespoons of butter instead. frances told me they all preferred bittersweet chocolate so instead of using 1 cup of semi-sweet chips and 1 cup of milk chips called for in the recipe we used 2 cups of bittersweet chocolate chips.

we decided to start off with the chocolate chip cookie batter as it’s easier to shape after chilling so while it was chilling we could whip up the fudge.

it was great fun for all of us. the kids donned their aprons, chefs hats and potholders i had sent them 2 years ago, got up on their step stools, and were most adept at exchanging turns for every step of the process.

i wasn’t expecting to like the fudge because i’ve always found it to be too sweet and grainy but i have to say this fudge recipe, in all its simplicity, was absolutely fabulous. we all loved it so much it will be sure to become part of a family tradition.

Butter an 8 x 8 inch pan and line it with a piece of waxed paper

In the top of a double boiler, combine 2 cups of chocolate chips, preferably bittersweet, a 12 ounce can (1-1/4 cups) sweetened condensed milk, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.

Set it over simmering water and heat, stirring often, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top so that it is even. Place it in the frig and allow it to chill and set for at least 2 hours.

cut the fudge into 1 inch squares and then keep it covered with plastic wrap.

Making Caramel

Dec 17, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Pie and Pastry Questions

Mark Question:
Your Pie and Pastry Bible is my absolute favorite cookbook - quite thorough! I had a problem with the Boulders Tart that I was hoping you could help with. I couldn't get a caramel to form by simply adding the sugar and corn syrup. There simply wasn't enough liquid. I added water to accommodate and it worked fine, but I'm wondering what I'm missing. Thanks again for a wonderful resource!
Best, Mark

Rose Reply:
caramel is made by evaporating the water from the sugar. the more the water evaporates, the higher the temperature of the syrup aned ultimately the deeper the color of the caramel. i like to add a little extra water in the form of corn syrup or water to start the process of melting the sugar more evenly. the cornsyrup also helps to prevent crystallization. if you add extra water it will just take longer for the sugar to start caramelizing but if it works better for you that’s fine.

Crème Fraîche

Dec 14, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Questions and Answers

Patricia Question:
How do you make creme fraiche?

Rose Reply:
it’s really easy if you can find cream that has not been ultra-pasteurized which heats it to a much higher temperature than for pastuerized cream. pasteurized cream thickens much more quickly.

pour 1 cup of heavy cream into a canning jar with tight fitting lid. add i tablespoon of buttermilk. set it in a warm spot, such as over the frig, or near a warm cooktop, and try not to be like me who visits it frequently with anxious glances. let it sit undisturbed for 12 to 14 hours or until thickened but still pourable. ultra-pasteurized cream may take as long as 36 hours.

for a speedy crème fraîche that is a little less tangy but still delicious: combine 1-1/2 cups heavy cream and 1/2 cup sour cream.

Sugar

Dec 06, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Notes

Sugar, in all its wonderous forms, has been the focus of many articles over the past few years. People have expressed curiosity and a desire to try some of these sugars in their baking but are uncertain as to how to use them in place of the familiar refined granulated sugar. I wrote the following article primarily for chefs, in an attempt to demystify the subject. But I think the time has come to share it with the home baker as well.

First a tip regarding a commonly used sugar: Light brown. I store it in a canning jar where it stays soft for years, but if it should harden and lump, I make a little cup of aluminum foil, place it on top of the sugar, wet a paper towel, wringing out excess water, set it in the foil cup, and close the jar. In a matter of hours the sugar will soften as if by magic.

Whenever a recipe calls for light brown sugar I chose light Muscovado from the Island of Mauritius, off the coast of India. It is available in many specialty stores and on line at www.indiatree.com. The flavor is far more complex and delicious than ordinary light brown sugar and elevates the dessert to a higher plane.

Roses Sugar Bible published in Food Arts Magazine April 2000

Sugar, the one flavor that is pleasing to all humans and other mammals on birth, is alluring, addictive, and can be a powerful tool in the hands of the right cook.

Yes, sugar is sweet. But there's a lot more to it than that. Sugar can offer subtle to intense overtones of butterscotch, toffee, caramel, wine, molasses, spice and even bitterness. These qualities derive from both the variety of the sugar source and from the degree and type of refinement. Knowing the different varieties and granulations of sugar and the ways in which they best perform can add considerable depth, drama and sparkle to both cooking and baking.

Continue reading "Sugar" »

Crème Frâiche

Nov 23, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Questions and Answers

Dora Question:
Hello Rose,

Before I get to my question, I must let you know that your Cake Bible is phenomenal. Thank you for sharing all your expertise.

I've been an avid baker all my life, and this past April I made my first wedding cake for a very special occasion: my sister's wedding. She loves everything lemon, so I decided on a three-tiered cake, each layer consisting of an almond dacquoise base topped with a light layer of lemon buttercream, then alternating layers of genoise classique & lemon curd, and coverered with the buttercream and finished with porcelain white fondant.

Her bouquet consisted of white calla lilies, so I made some lilies out of the fondant for the top, and since she loves pearls, the cake was decorated with a royal icing "pearl" variation-on-a-theme: 7 pearls arranged in flower patterns for the bottom layer, 3 pearls arranged in a triangle for the middle, and single pearls for the top. It was a lot of work, but everyone loved it.

Now, onto my challenge. I've made creme fraiche many a time before, but lately I've been encountering lots of difficulty with it thickening properly. In the past, after having left the well-covered cream/buttermilk mixture on top of the fridge out to thicken for about 24 hours, it's thickened, and I've put it in the fridge to let it continue to thicken. Afterwards, I've sweetened it, and had no problems.

But I'm getting really frustrated with all of my recent attempts. I know that heavy cream can vary slightly from batch to batch, but even though I've tried a couple of brands of whipping cream, I'm still not having much luck. And when I try sweetening it after it's been refrigerated a while, it liquifies way more than it ever has in the past.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much for your time and for your generous spirit.

Warm regards,

Rose Reply:
crème frâiche is one of the most useful ingredients to temper the sweetness of desserts, to add to scrambled eggs for a rich creaminess and tangy flavor, and to sauces. there is an excellent product available from vermont butter and cheese company. as you know, making your own is quite easy if you can obtain cream that is NOT ultrapasteurized. sadly this is becoming more and more difficult. it has been my experience that with ultra-pastuerized cream, it will eventually thicken if left in a warm spot of 80 to 90 degerees but it may take several days. my best advice is to befriend your local bakery. they usually have access to commercial 40% butterfat cream that is not ultra-pasteurized. (that's what i've done!) offer to buy it and i'm sure they will be generous in ordering extra for you.

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