Pave d’Amour


Slice of CakeThis Pave d’Amour or Cake of Love is truly a celebration cake made for all the highlights of life.  It is one of those recipes that looks daunting but actually isn’t. It just requires a schedule and can be done over a number of days or even weeks as desired. While not as fast as some cakes, its complexity is what makes it so special.

The original recipe for Pave d’Amour came from Alice Medrich’s first book “Cocolat”.  Her version is a square cake and is stunning as are all her recipes. While her cake called for a sponge cake, I used the yellow cake which adds to the stability of the cake and also to its taste.  We used the Pave d”Amour as one of our wedding cakes and it is the best celebration cake I know of to this day.  When cut, the layering is stunning and never fails to receive accolades.  When eaten, it never fails to receive well deserved praise.

We used the whipped ganache in multiple other recipes besides the Pave d’Amour at the bakery.  It has a mind of its own and must be made a day or more ahead or it won’t whip.  We tried making it in the morning and whipping it in the afternoon and it simply wouldn’t whip.  So we just scheduled it in days ahead of time and we were good to go.  It can be tricky to whip so take it slow and test it before over beating if you are unsure.  If it is over beaten, it cannot be used.  However, this is perfect when a heavy chocolate ganache would be overpowering.  As with many things in baking and pastry, it just takes getting used to.

While I usually don’t recommend turning cake layers upside down for assembly, anytime a soaking syrup is used it must be brushed on the underside of the layer to be absorbed.

To make the Pave d”Amour cake the following recipes will be needed.  However, I have given you a time table for making these in a week or a month ahead of assembly.  Any of the component parts that have been frozen need to be thawed before assembly.  The buttercreams, if frozen,  can be reconstituted using this method.

Pave d’Amour means cake of love and this is truly a loving gesture.

To make this cake you will need the following:
– 1 recipe Yellow Cake baked in 3 layers- this can be made up to a month ahead and frozen.
– 1 recipe French Buttercream Coffee flavored – using the ingredients listed below.  This can be made up to a month ahead and frozen.
– 1 recipe Italian Buttercream – this can be made up to a month ahead and frozen
– 1 recipe Whipped Ganache, recipe below – this can be made a week ahead
– 1 recipe Orange Liqueur Syrup, recipe below – this can be made a week ahead
– 1 recipe Chocolate Souffle Layer, recipe below – this must be made the day of assembly

Yellow Cake baked in 3 layersYellow cake

Coffee Buttercream – for how to photos and in-depth information click here.Coffee Buttercream2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar (150 grams or 5 1/3 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened but not runny (225 grams or 8 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla

Place the eggs and yolk in the bowl of a 5 quart mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium high until very light, very pale in color and foamy. Continue beating until the syrup is ready.

This small amount of syrup comes to temperature very quickly after it reaches 220 degrees so watch it so it does not go over 242 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Place the water in a small saucepan. Add the sugar and cream of tarter. Stir to combine.

Bring to a boil. Wash down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water to prevent crystallization. Boil to 242 degrees.

Pour the syrup in slowly trying to stay between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Do not pour in too quickly or it will sink to the bottom of the bowl where it cannot be incorporated. Beat until completely cool.

When the base is cooled, add the butter a tablespoon or two at a time. Beat until incorporated. Do not add additional butter until the previous amount is completely mixed in. When all of the butter is incorporated, add the vanilla with coffee and continue beating to achieve a light texture.

Yields: 2 1/4 cups, 400 grams or 14 grams.

Italian Buttercream - for how to photos and in depth information click here. 
6 tablespoons water
1 cup sugar (200 grams or 7 ounces)
3/4 cup egg whites (about 6 whites from large eggs)
3/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 cup sugar (50 grams or 1 3/4 ounces)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter (5 sticks or 570 grams), softened but not runny

This small amount of sugar syrup comes to temperature very fast after it reaches 220 degrees. Watch is carefully to prevent it from going too high. Place the water in a small saucepan. Add the sugar and stir; bring to a boil. Wash down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water to prevent crystallization. Boil to 250 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Simultaneously, place the egg whites and cream of tarter in a 5 quart mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until stiff on high, then immediately turn them down to low or #1 to hold them. When the sugar syrup is ready, raise the mixer to medium and slowly pour it over the whites. Aim for between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Do not pour it over the whisk as it will not incorporate into the egg whites. Also, make sure it is poured in slowly to prevent the syrup from sinking to the bottom of the bowl, from where it cannot be incorporated. Beat until completely cool.

Add the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time. Do not add more butter until the preceding butter is incorporated. When all the butter is in, add the extracts and beat to incorporate. Continue beating until very light in texture.Italian Buttercream

Yield: Approximately 2 pounds (910 grams) or 6 cups

Whipped Ganache – This must be made at least one day ahead and refrigerated.Chocolate Ganache set up1 cup 40% cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate (114 grams)

Heat cream until steamy and very hot but not boiling. Submerge chocolate in cream and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted.  Cover directly with film and refrigerate until needed.  This can be made a week ahead of assembly.

When ready to use, place in a mixer bowlchocolate ganache in bowl and beat on medium until spreadable. chocolate ganache mixingchocolate ganache mixedDo not overbeat as it will granulate and cannot be recovered.  If in doubt, stop beating and try spreading it on a plate.  It should spread easily but have the firm consistency of buttercream. If it is too soft, return to the mixer and beat on low.

Orange Liqueur Soaking Syrup -for how to photos see the Orange Cranberry Cake
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup orange liqueur (Curacoa, Grand Marnier, Triple Sec)

Place water in a small saucepan. Add the sugar and stir. Bring to a boil; brush sides of pan with cold water and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool completely.  Add the orange liqueur.   Store in the refrigerator. This can be made several days ahead.

I find it easiest to pour the syrup into a 1 cup measure so you can keep track of how much you are brushing on each layer.

Chocolate Souffle Layer – Make this the day the cake it is assembledSouffle ingredients3 ounces semi sweet chocolate (85 grams)
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee (not expresso)
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar (50 grams or 1 3/4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Draw two 9 inch circles on parchment paper. Circle on parchment

Melt the chocolate over hot water in a double boiler or at half power in the microwave. Remove from the heat. Dissolve the coffee in the water and vanilla mixed together.Coffee, vanilla, waterCoffee, vanilla, water mixed Whisk this into the egg yolks egg yolks with coffee mixtureegg yolks in bowl with coffee mixedand then stir in the chocolate. Set aside.eggs in bowl with chou.egg yolks with choc. mixed

Beat the whites until soft peaks form;Egg whites beating gradually add the sugarAdding sugar to egg whites and beat until stiff. Beaten egg whitesStir about 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate to loosen it. One quarter egg whites in chocolatePour the chocolate over the whites  and fold together.  Chocolate into whites

Folding choc. & egg whitesSouffle finishedSpread 1/2 (125 grams or 4 1/3 ounces each) evenly over each circle to within about 1/4 inch of the edge. Souffle batter on circleSpreading souffle layer Souffle layer spreadBake 7 to 10 minutes until baked through but not dried out. Cool on paper.Baked souffle  layerJust before assembling the cake, trim the soufflé layers into 9 inch rounds by turning the parchment upside down and cutting along the original 9 inch lines if necessary.

Assembly of the Pave d’Amour
Place 1 layer of cake on a 10” cake board upside down. Brush 1/3 cup orange liqueur syrup on the layer evenly.Brushing cake layer with syrup

Spread about 1/2 of the French Buttercream over the layer.buttercream on layerCoffee Buttercream spread

Place the soufflé layer on top of the buttercream by turning the parchment upside down.  Souffle layer on top of cakeCarefully remove the parchment. Removing the parchmentSouffle layer on cake

Spread 1/2 of the whipped ganache over the soufflé layer. ganache on first layer

Top with a second layer of cake and repeat this layering, ganache on 2nd layerGanache on first layerfinishing with the third layer of cake soaked in syrup.Finished cake

Wrap the cake in film and refrigerate cake to firm up before undercoating and finishing.Cake assembled and wrapped

Trim sides evenly if necessary.

Undercoat the cake with Italian Buttercream.  This is also referred to as the crumb coat.   Put as much buttercream as you think you will need to undercoat in a separate bowl so if any crumbs get into it, they won’t transfer to the finish layer.undercoating 1st layer 2Undercoat 1st layer - 2Place a large dollop of buttercream on the top.  Push it out to the edges Undercoating top 1making sure it overhangs the top at the side of the cake. undercoat applied Using a bench scraper, smooth out the side of the cake.  Smoothing sidesThe buttercream that overhung the sides is now above the top edge.  Smooth it out by placing your spatula at the edge of the cake and very lightly bring it in towards the center lifting it slightly as you approach the center.  Smoothing top 1undercoat smoothing top 2Continue in this manner until all the edges are feathered in.  undercoat  finishedRefrigerate to set.

Apply a finish coat of buttercream as you did the crumb coat to the Pave d’Amour Finish coat on sidesButtercream over top edgeSmooth out the top and decorate as desired.  I used a #7B tip to pipe this S design.Piping 1piping 2Piping 3piping 4piping 5

Finished wholeI normally pipe a bottom edge.  I have no idea why I forgot it.  Actually I do have an idea – we were moving out of the house we lived in for 47 years into a marvelous apartment and I think my head was not fully engaged in finishing the Pave d’Amour

So pipe an edging around the bottom and you will have the Pave d’Amour cake.  However, no matter how good it looks  it can’t compare to the extraordinary taste.

Blitz Cronuts


Finished CronutWhen I first heard about Cronuts, quite frankly, I thought they were obscene.  Having made several batches of them, I can tell you they are!!

Using Dominique Ansel’s recipe, which I cut in half, I applied the same technique I came up with years ago for Croissants and Puff Pastry. in record time. Where he takes 3 days, this method makes them in less than a third of that time.   As you can see from the photo to the left, the flakiness is beyond anything iI have ever seen.  The are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  While his recipe for home cooks as he refers to it, takes 3 days and a lot of elbow grease, this version of cronuts can be made in a day.  Much of that time is just resting the dough.  The actual work is minimal and spread out.  To make these easier, you can refrigerate the cronuts at various stages if you want.

The dough is like no other yeast dough I have ever made. Although soft and smooth, it has a craggy look and an almost aerated texture.

While  New York cronuts  are filled and iced, my preference is simply rolling them in sugar.  It seems like gilding the lily to do more to these.  But feel free to fill and frost if desired.  You can find Chef Ansel’s Cronut  recipe with fillings, frostings and a lot more work here.

CronutsCronut Ingredients1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon water, warm
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast (7 gram package)
1 7/8 cups bread flour (260 grams or 9 1/4 ounces)
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt (he uses 2 1/2 teaspoons)
4 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into small pieces (60 grams or 2 ounces)
1 tablespoon egg white*

*Beat the egg white until foamy and broken down. Measure 1/2 of it.

9 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into small pieces (135 grams or 4 3/4 ounces)

Combine the water and yeast.Yeast in water

Place the flour, sugar and salt in the processor bowl. Dry ingred. in processor bowlProcess to mix. Dry ingred. processedAdd the cold butterButter in and process until the butter is indistinguishable. Butter processedAdd the egg white to the water/yeast mixture. Egg white in yeast waterPour the water mixture over the dry ingredients. Water over dry ingredients Process until the dough balls up. Process for 30 seconds more.Dough balled up

Remove from the processor bowl and knead several times to make a smooth ball.  Dough on tableDough kneadedplace in a bowl that has been spray with releasing agent.  Cover with film and mark the time on it.Dough filmed with timeLet rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Flour the work surface lightly. Deflate the dough and press it into a round about 1 inch thick. I do this in one step by turning it out over the floured surface

Risen dough on table and just flattening it with the palm of your hand.Flattened on table Wrap in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer.Wrapped on table Allow the outer edge of the dough to freeze about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in from the edge.  The time will vary depending upon how cold the freezer is but should take about 1 to 1/2 hours.

Cut the stick of butter in half lengthwise. Turn it one quarter turn and cut again lengthwise making 4 long pieces. Cut these every half inch or so to make small cubes.  Cut the one tablespoon into 4 cubes. Freeze along with the dough.Butter cut

Remove the dough from the freezer and cut into four pieces. Cut each of those into 3 pieces making a total of 12 pieces.Frozen doughCut in half

Cut in 4A quarter cut into thirdsDough cut into 12 piecesPlace 4 pieces of dough in the processor bowl Frozen dough in processoralong with 1/3 of the butter. Dough/btr in processorPulse until the dough and butter are cut into small pieces. Dough/bt cut togetherPour out onto a work surface.Dough-butter cut upRepeat 2 more times. Push the dough/butter into a rectangle.Pushed into a rectangle Roll out into a 6×15 inch rectangle.  Chunks of butter should be visible.Rolling out 1Rolled outFold the two ends to the center of the dough Fold number 1and then fold them together like a book.2nd fold

Turn the pastry so the folded edge is toward your right. Folded to rightRoll out again into a 6×15 inch rectangle and fold as above. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Repeat twice more as above. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator  at least 3 hours or better overnight.

Roll the dough out into a 7×11 inch rectangle. Rolled to cutCut 6 rounds out with a 3 1/3 inch round doughnut cutter. First cutSix cut outRe-roll  the scraps into a 6 1/2″x 3 1/4 inch rectangle.  Cut out two more.  Take the scraps and form them into any shape you want to use it up.  With a 1 inch cutter, cut the center out of each round.  Center hole Place on a parchment lined baking pan, cover lightly with a towel and let rise until tripled.Finished trayRisen cronutRisen Cronut 2

Before you start frying, make sure you have all your equipment handy.  Here I have my thermometer, a large fork for turning the cornets, a paper towel lined cooling rack and sugar in which to roll the hot cronuts.Tools for deep fryingHeat 1/2″ of oil to 350°F. Clip on a thermometer.  Thermometer at 350 degrees Place as many cronuts in the pan as will fit with room around them.  I used a small casserole and fried two at a time so I didn’t have to use a lot oil.  Frying cronuts 1Frying 2Fry until golden brown on one side, about 90 seconds,Golden doughnuts in oilflip and fry on the other side another 90 seconds.  If they fry faster, the oil is too hot, if slower the oil is too cool.  It is important to keep the oil at 350°F throughout the frying.  The temperature will go up and down so you have to moniter it by raising or lowering the heat.

Fill, glaze or roll in sugar.  You can see the layering in the uncut Layering of cornetand cut cronuts.

Cut cornet

I particularly love the holes.  They are so dramatic.  Holes in oilYou can see the layering when you pull one apart. Fried hole layering Yield: 8 cronuts with holes.

Lemon Meringue Pie


Finished PhotoWhen I first thought about blogging about a Lemon Meringue Pie I thought it would be an easy blog since everybody knows about Lemon Meringue Pie.

That might have been one of my biggest misconceptions in pastry.  As I began researching, I found no one agreed on a number of details.  Among the problems were the meringue separating from the shell after it was baked, the pie getting watery after cutting, and the meringue “weeping”.

Most recipes recommended putting the meringue on while the filing was hot, making sure it was attached to the crust.  It seems everybody agreed on that.  Finishing it in a 350°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes to brown it was also pretty much the norm.  So that was test #1.  The results were less than desirable.  The meringue separated and the tart got very watery after refrigerating it.  The soggy crust was a real turn off!

A lot of people quoted Alton Brown who can dispense some really bad information.  His theory that putting the meringue on the filling when it was hot would partially bake the meringue.  Now there is a misstatement for the ages!  The first thing to realize, is that no matter what you do meringue does not bake.  It either stays soft as in the topping for Baked Alaska and Lemon Meringue Pie or it is dried out in the oven as in a Pavlova shell or meringue cookies.  The top may brown but it never bakes through.

The sugar allocated to the meringue in most recipes was between 1/3 to 1/2 cup to 4 egg whites. In my second test, I used 1/2 cup sugar (100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces) to 4 egg whites.  However, this time I decided to put them on a chilled filling.  Big mistake!  I covered the filled crust with film and refrigerated until it was cold.  However, it condensed and no amount of patting it with paper towels dried it enough to keep the meringue tight to the filling.

So at this point I started researching some more when I came across an answer to the question, “How do you keep meringue from pulling away from the sides of a pie after it is baked?  The person answering the question was Takamo – no kind of address so that is all I can tell you.  His answer was directly opposed to most of the information on the internet or in cookbooks, but it works.  His reasoning is spot on and it was wonderful to find something that I had been thinking about.

Basically, he agreed with attaching the meringue to the side of the crust, particularly the inside of the crust  on top.  However, he explains that the meringue should be put on top of a room temperature filling.  Not chilled, not hot, just room temperature.  His reasoning is thus:  “Hot filling is what causes the sugar in the meringue to liquefy when condensation occurs due to the heat.  The filling must be cooled first.

Then, the meringue, when made should incorporate cream of tarter which is often left out during its preparation. This stabilizes the mixture and prevents the egg whites from separating. Also, excessive whipping can cause the meringue to separate, as does an inaccurate amount of sugar added to the egg whites. Here is a recipe for meringue: Rule of thumb: one cup of sugar for every 3 large egg whites. (for medium sized eggs, use four eggs and for jumbo sized eggs, add ¼ cup of sugar) Rule of thumb,: 1/4 teaspoon of Cream of Tartar for every 3 egg whites. (for meringue only) Egg size in this case doesn’t matter. 1 teaspoon of vanilla for every cup of sugar.

The whipping time varies. Room temp, size of eggs and speed of mixer are dependent on how fast the eggs whip. Always start on a low speed until the eggs start to foam. Then finish on medium speed. High speed on the mixer causes the egg whites to separate and the formation of the meringue can occur too quickly and control of the meringue is lost. The idea is to slowly incorporate air into the mixture, not breaking down the egg whites. The chemical properties of the sugar are what “cook” the egg whites. Not heat.

During the browning stage of the meringue, the oven will tend to cause the sugar to further absorb the moisture from the eggs and cause it to become “syrup-like” Low temps on the oven are the culprit. Pre-heat and set your oven to “broil” then place the pie on the shelf lowest to the heating source. With the door open, watch the pie brown. It only takes a minute or two to do so. If you have to, rotate the pie for even browning and quickly remove it. Allow it to cool to room temp before putting it in the fridge. In a professional kitchen, I some times use a propane torch to brown the tops, but it takes a skilled hand. Source: La vie du Boulanger, Marcel Neau cir;1984″

So I tested his version also – #3.  I agree with much of what he says but disagree with his egg white/sugar ratio.  The meringue is simply too heavy.  One of the important standards of a good lemon meringue pie is that it be topped with billows of meringue.  Three egg whites and 1 cup of sugar does not produce billows.  I also found the sugar would not completely dissolve in the egg whites.  I beat it for over 10 minutes on medium as Takamo suggested but a grittiness from the sugar was still there.

To sum up:  First,  It is important to cover the lemon filling with film after being made and poured into the shell.  Then allow it to cool at room temperature.  At this point and not before,  the meringue is added.

Second, using 4 egg whites from size large eggs and 1cup of sugar (200 grams or 7 ounces) is a two to 1 ratio by volume producing the high meringue requisite to this pie.  To insure the meringue does not pull away from the crust it is best to pipe it in a circular motion starting at the inside of the exposed crust.  I piped several times building up the meringue for an attractive look.  I know some recipes spoon the meringue onto the crust  but I think that is leaving open the possibility of not attaching it to the crust all the way around.

Third – the final important point is to brown it under a preheated broiler.  This prevents the sugar in the meringue from becoming too hot as it will in a lower temperature oven baked for a longer time.

Following these rules, the meringue will stay attached for days in the refrigerator with no weeping either on your part or the part of the meringue and without the filling becoming watery if it is kept for several days.   Even after I left the pie in the refrigerator for four days the meringue did not separate nor did it “weep” which is also caused by slow browning of the crust.  The filling did not become watery so the crust stayed crisp.

Pie Crust – Please see this blog for how to photo’s

1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour (6 1/3 ounces or 180 grams)
1/3 cup sifted all purpose flour (scant 1 1/2 ounces or 40 grams)
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and frozen until hard (90 grams or 3 ounces)
3 tablespoons shortening (like Crisco) frozen and cut into pieces (45 grams or 1 1/2 oz.)
2 tablespoons beaten egg
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5 tablespoons water, chilled and divided

Place both flours and the salt in the processor bowl. Pulse several times to mix. Place the butter evenly over the flour and pulse until the butter is in large pieces. Add the frozen shortening and continue to pulse until the shortenings are pea sized.

Combine the egg, lemon juice and water. Pour in a circle over the processor contents. Pulse until it forms clumps. Pour out onto a lightly floured work surface. Push the clumps together into a ball. Knead 4 or 5 times for form a dough. Pat into a circle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in film and refrigerate a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the oven rack in the lowest position.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out to a circle approximately 13 inches. Place in the pie pan and fit into corners. Cut the overhang an even 1 inch all the way around. Tuck the crust under and flute the edges. To bake blind, freeze for 30 or more minutes until hard. Line with foil, and fill with beans. Bake for 20 minutes in the oven. Remove the beans by bringing the four corners of the foil together and lifting out. Return to the oven and bake for approximately 18 to 20 minutes until lightly browned and completely baked.

Lemon FillingLemon Filling ingredients4 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/3 cups sugar (265 grams or 9 1/3 ounces)
1/3 cup cornstarch (45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces (45 grams mor 1 12 ounces)
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 fully baked 9″ pie shell

Separate the eggs, placing the yolks and whites in different bowls. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the water, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Water, sugar, cornstarch in paningred. mixed in panPlace over medium heat and, whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for one minutes. It will be very, very thick. Remove from the heat.ingredients cooked in pan

Whisk the yolks together and add several large spoonfuls of the hot mixture. Tempering egg yolks 1Whisk in. Tempering egg yolks 2Repeat twice more.

Pour back into the saucepan yolks in panand whisk all together.Yolks in pan mixedPlace back on the heat and bring to a boil once more. Boil for one minute. Remove from the heat.Cooked filling

Submerge the butter under the sauce and let it sit for a few minutes to melt. Butter inAdd the lemon zest.   Zest inLastly add the lemon juice.   Juice inWhisk gently to combine all. Immediately pour it into the pie shell. Pie shell with filling

Cover directly with film and let come to room temperature. Do not refrigerate.

When it is room temperatures, make the meringue.

MeringueMeringue ingredients4 egg whites from above
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 cup sugar (200 grams or 7 ounces)

Place the oven rack to the most bottom rung. Preheat the oven to broil.

Place the egg whites and cream of tarter in a mixing bowl. whites/cream of tarterBeat until soft peaks begin to form. Whites before sugarGradually add the sugar. Sugar inBeat to really stiff peaks. Meringue beaten in bowlMeringue on WhipPlace in a piping bag fitted with a large open star (#8 or 9 open star) and pipe the meringue onto the lemon filling starting at the inside edge of the crust. Piping meringue 1Make sure the meringue attaches to the pie crust all the way around. Piping meringue 2Piping Meringue 3Then pipe in concentric circles towards the middle. Piping meringue 4Piping meringue 5Pipe more meringue on top of the already piped meringue until it is all used. Piped Meringue on topAlternately, just spoon it on and make swirls with the spoon making sure you are attaching it all the way around to the crust.

Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and into the oven for about 1 minute and 15 seconds or until lightly browned. Watch it carefully as the top most peaks of the crust will burn quickly.Removing pie from oven Cool completely before cutting.   Store in the refrigerator.

Tons of billowy meringue over a tart lemon filling and flaky pie crust.  Take note of the meringue attached to the edge of the shell.  Get the forks ready!!
Finished slice

Makes a 9″ pie or 8 to 10 servings.

Happy New Year with a Peach Melba Royale


Champagne GlassesToast the  New Year’s celebration with a Peach Melba Royale – a different take on champagne!  Fresh raspberries float in a sea of peach schnapps and champagne to bring in the new year in style.

I can scarcely believe we are at the beginning of a New Year!  I still remember all the hubbub of turning over a new century in 2000.  Fortunately, the pessimists and negative predictions all got lost as we turned from the year 1999 to 2000.

For me the end of one year and the beginning of another is a time of reflections.  In the first place I always think I am going to slow down.  Then as I think more about it, I realize the years are speeding by more quickly as I get older – or so it seems.  I have been blessed with good health or at least the ability to overcome whatever has come up and for that I am most grateful.

In a time when technology has given us access to the world, I am happy for my family whose support has meant everything to me.  As my grandsons continue to grow much taller than me (and take great pride in doing do) I cherish the memories of playing hide and seek, baking with them, being with them.  I am curious to see where their lives take them.

I am grateful for the continued support so many of you have given me and thank each of you for reading the blogs and for all your comments which mean so much to me.

My wish is that each of us has the best of New Years filled with all that contributes to our happiness and well being.  I offer this recipe for a Peach Melba Royale to start it off!   Watch for the raspberries turn round and round as they rise to the top of the glass.

Peach Melba Royal
Fresh Raspberries
Peach Schnapps
Champagne, cold

Place 3 or 4 fresh raspberries in the bottom of each champagne flute. Add about 1 tablespoon of Peach Schnapps or more if you like. Top off with cold champagne. Enjoy!!

Hot Curried Party Mix


Finished PhotoOk, so Hot Curried Party Mix isn’t a pastry, but you do bake it.  This is a quick snack for anytime but well suited for News Years Eve and the Super Bowl.  (I know I am a little early. – just saying’)

I wonder how many “party mixes” have been concocted since someone first thought of them. Almost anything snacky can be combined and held together with some kind of a binder. The greatest thing about these is how easy they are to prepare. Be sure to make this Hot Curried Party Mix a minimum of one day ahead – a week is better. Stored in an airtight container, this will last a month, if you can keep out of it.

The amount of cayenne pepper in this makes a very zippy snack. If you prefer a milder version, cut the amount by half.

5 cups Chex cereal (rice or corn work the best)
2 1/2 cups mini pretzels
2 cups roasted peanuts (8 ounces)
1 1/4 cups chow mein noodles
4 tablespoons butter melted
1 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking pan with foil and spray with a non stick spray.

Combine the cereal, pretzels, peanuts and noodles in a large bowl.

Whisk the butter, soy sauce, curry powder, cayenne, mustard, salt and honey together. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix together very well. I use a gloved hand to do this as it is pretty sticky. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

Yield: Approximately 1 1/4 pounds which doesn’t sound like a lot but is.  I doubled it once and hardly had a bowl big enough to hold it all.