Apple Pie ala Mode with Salted Caramel

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Apple Pie Ala ModeApple Pie ala Mode is one of my favorite desserts but once the boys were out on their own one of my biggest challenges was what to do with full size desserts. Even more so today since Mike has diabetes and the last thing I need is a whole pie! The neighbors can only eat so much!

So I came up with an Apple Pie ala Mode ala minute. A way to have apple pie, with or without the ice cream, at a moment’s notice. And what an apple pie –spiced apples, pate brisee crust and vanilla ice cream all topped off with a salted caramel sauce.

The salt can be omitted from the sauce if desired or more can be added. But this is, hands down the best caramel sauce to be found. It’s also one of the easiest. You don’t even need a thermometer. Think of everything you can do with it. World class turtle sundaes, apple slices dipped in the sauce, or just drizzled (heavily!) on vanilla ice cream. It tastes just like my favorite ice cream, Hagan Das Caramel Cone ice cream. How much better can this sauce get. Oh, did I mention it only takes about 15 minutes to make. Easy enough to always have on hand.

This sauce is from Averie Cooks who has a great blog.  She is correct in that is is a really easy recipe to make. Just make sure you take the sugar syrup dark enough.

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Pumpkin Mousse Torte

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

This recipe contains raw egg yolk and as such may not be the best choice for the elderly or very young. Although, I haven’t tried it, I can’t think of a reason the egg yolk can’t be omitted and still have a good dessert.

Finished photoI can’t even remember when we started making these at the bakery.  I do remember it took many tries to get the amount of gelatin just right so it would keep it firm but not turn rubbery, a sure sign of too much.  But I can sure tell you we sold hundreds and hundreds.  As popular as it was with my clients, I don’t think anyone could love this more than my grandson, Sam.  I do remember we had gone to Chicago to take care of him for a few days so his parents could have a weekend get-a-way.  Sam was still in a high chair and was a hugely picky eater – something that dismayed all of us. In an attempt to get something into him, I gave him a bite of my pumpkin mousse.  Well, that sure opened the floodgates!  I couldn’t scoop the dessert into a spoon and offload it into his mouth fast enough.  He barely swallowed and his mouth would fly open again for another bite.  He reminded me of baby birds being fed by their moms!  Sam even requested it for his 7th birthday cake.  Not an unusual request, except it was July in St. Louis.  Hot, hot, hot and humid!   Did I mention it was outdoors?

This is a very straight forward recipe with little to trip you up.  Just make sure everything for the pumpkin mousse is at room temperature.  Then the warm gelatin needs to be poured in a steady stream while the mixer is running.  If the pumpkin mixture is cold, the gelatin can immediately set forming undesireable rubbery blobs.  Very unappetizing!

A cheesecake pan is, as always, my recommendation over a springform pan.

A reader brought to my attention the need to do something with the leftover pumpkin. If you go  Streusel Topped Pumpkin Muffins.  If you make  1 1/2 times the recipe you will use the remaining 3/4 can of pumpkin.  If you are a tad short, that’s fine.  They also freeze beautifully.  Continue reading

Chocolate Cranberry Curd Tart

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Chocolate Cranberry Curd TartChocolate Cranberry Curd had become an absolute favorite for the holidays at the bakery. Besides its vibrant color, the taste and texture are outstanding. We used it in tarts, cakes and petit fours. Room permitting, we would freeze cases of cranberries at the end of the season in order to get a head start the following season and test new recipes during the year.

I love cranberries so much that the staff would have to make me take some of the cranberry desserts off the menu so we could put other seasonal items on.  There is nothing like the sweet tart taste and the intense red color enclosed in a deep chocolate brown glaze.

The tart itself is easy to make with its press in crust which means no rolling.  The cranberry curd itself has one extra step as you have to cook the cranberries and puree them before actually making the curd.  The glaze is a simple matter two ingredients which make the perfect finish. Continue reading

Pecan Bars

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Finished photoThese Pecan Bars are one of the most used recipes from the Culinary Institute of America. I have seen various versions of these Pecan Bars but this one is the one we used in the bakery. The key is to boil the filling to 240 degrees or the filling will sag when it is cut.   Otherwise this is the easiest of recipes to make.

While the CIA cuts these Pecan Bars into diamonds, we cut them into bars or into squares to avoid any loss of product.  We used the squares for petit fours and they never failed to please.  The baked bars or squares may be frozen.

For these Pean Bars, I don’t toast the nuts before using them as they bake in the oven.  Make these once and I’m sure you will be adding them to your favorites  list. Continue reading

Gateau St. Honore

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Finished St. HonoreI once taught this St. Honore as a pastry class in one dessert -and so it is.  From the pastry cream to the Pate Brisee to Chou paste all finished with a hard caramel decoration, the St. Honore is a spectacular showpiece.  Everyone who loves baking and pastry should make this at least once.  Although it has a lot of steps, they can be broken down into an easily managed schedule.

This was one of the chapters in my first book, “The New Pastry Cook”. As with every other chapter, the information in the front of the chapters is key to the success of the pastry.  Here is the chapter header.

Chou paste is one of, if not the most versatile basic pastries in the entire repertoire of pastry making. By definition, chou paste is really a thick sauce ad not a pastry at all.  It can be sweet or savory, baked, poached or deep fried, made free-form or piped into shapes. Alone, it maybe filled and/or sauced, or it can be combined with other pastries to make elaborate desserts.  Leftover paste can be turned into delicious hors d’oeuvre. It takes its name from the french word chou, which means cabbage, the best- known shape of chou paste, the cream puff, was thought to resemble a small cabbage. Continue reading