Meringue Shells

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

Finished 4One of the easiest and most versatile dessert shell is the Meringue Shell. Only three ingredients, egg whites, sugar and an acid along with  a bit of time in a low oven transforms these simple components into feather light, melt in your mouth containers for almost anything you want to put in them.

From Schaum Tortes of Vienna filled with a lightened lemon curd to ice cream balls, and the national dessert of New Zealand and Australia, Pavolova, these Meringue Shells make the perfect do ahead dessert. I remember well when I was young my mother making Schaum Torte on special occasions. She would make a large nine or ten inch shell and fill it with the most delicious lemon filling. I was always first in line for a piece. Well, one year my uncle came to our house to help transfer the mountain of food my mother made including the Schaum Torte, croissant and other treats to our grandmothers where we al ate. As he stepped off the curb, he slipped and while he remained upright, alas, the lemon filled treat fell from his hands into the curb. I don’t think he ever got over it. I’m sure my mother didn’t. I know for sure I didn’t.

There are many types of meringue from the soft pillows that cover a lemon meringue pie to buttercreams based on various meringues to crisp cookies or shells. The type of meringue depends upon the amount of sugar used. For a crisp meringue a two to one proportion of egg whites to sugar is used. For these crisp shells a base formula of 1 egg white to 1/4 cup (50 grams or 1 2/3 ounces) of sugar is used. An acid such as 1/2 teaspon cream of tarter or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar helps stabalize the meringue. Continue reading

No Bake Rocky Road Cheesecake

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

No Bake Rocky Road CheesecakeToday was KMOV TV Great Day St. Louis day and here’s the recipe for this easy to make no bake cheesecake.

Ummmm cheesecake – everyone’s favorite. But getting it to come out is another matter. Do you use a water bath or not? How do you prevent it from cracking? Or do you just give up and buy one? What if you could make a great cheesecake and not have to worry about the baking part? We’re not talking about just any cheesecake, but rocky road with chocolate, salted peanuts and marshmallows finished with a gravel top of peanuts and chocolate and caramel sauce? Now there’s no reason not to make one. Oh, and you can tell everyone you baked this perfect cheesecake and soak in all the compliments. No one will know this was a no bake cheesecake except you and me!! And I’m not tellin’!! Continue reading

Apple Caramel Hand Pies

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

Finished PhotoHand Pies have been around as long as people have been cooking.  Anything enclosed in bread or pastry that can be eaten out of hand qualifies.  It can be a turnover, English pasty, a calzone, or Russian pierogis.  Every culture has a hand pie no matter what they call it.

While many hand pies are savory, sweet hand pies qualify and have been front and center of late.  Any pie filling or sweet filling can be used as long as it isn’t runny.  A number of pastries can be used but I particularly like this Mock Puff Pastry.  The recipe has been around a long time.  I remember seeing it first in the ’80’s.  It combines two techniques – pie crusts and the laminating of doughs.  This dough contains no water.  It is held together with sour cream which makes a very tender, as well as tasty, pastry.

It is important when making the pastry to make sure the butter stays in pea size piece as in a pie crust.  The pastry should not come together in the mixer.  It should be removed as soon as it clumps together.  It is pushed together into a cohesive dough on the work surface and rolled into a rectangle.  I fold mine into what is called a book fold as has more layers than the traditional three fold laminated pastry. Continue reading

Orange Bread Pudding

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

Orange Bread PuddingOrange Bread Pudding with Orange Cream Sauce is the type of dessert I once joked about.  I was going to write a book named, “363 Bread Puddings and 252 Crème Brulees” because almost every restaurant in business serves these two desserts. But none of them comes close to this different take on everyone’s favorite dessert.

While technically any bread can be used, Challah or Brioche are my breads of choice for this bread pudding. Challah is the Jewish Bread rich in egg and braided.  It’s very close to Brioche.   Pecans and raisins work well with the orange flavor of the bread pudding. The Orange Cream Sauce accentuates the orange flavor while adding the perfect balance between sweet and tart. Continue reading

Better Than Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

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

Peanut Butter CupsToday was TV day on KMOV TV’s Great Day St. Louis.  This was my 4 minute segment.

Every once in a while I get a hankering for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. So recently I had one. I don’t know if it was me or if the formula was changed but it seemed gritty and not at all smooth like I remembered it.

So I set out to capture the taste I remembered and low and behold, I think it’s better! And not only better, but really, really easy. For ingredients for the peanut butter and two for the chocolate. So there’s no excuse for not making these.

The small paper liner cups can be found in grocery stores, party stores, and kitchen stores. They need to be small and just fit the cups. It is ok if they rise slightly above the cups. Continue reading