Strawberry Verrines

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

Strawberry Verrine

A verrine is a layered dessert or appetizer that is served in a small glass.  The glass allows for a beautiful vertical presentation.  Verrines originally came to us from France, but as with all foods we make them ours by the ingredients used.

With strawberry season upon us, this strawberry verrine is the perfect example of an updated classic dessert.   Many of the original dessert versions featured Bavarian cream which is set with gelatin.  There are usually three layers and anything goes.

This version actually consists of two recipes already on the blog.  Each changed just slightly to achieve this verrine.  This can be made a day or two ahead without the decorative strawberries on top.  The mousse consists of the Dark Satin Ganache to which I add whipped cream when it has cooled.  The top is pastry cream without the gelatin so it is a softer cream. The strawberries should be diced very small, about 1/4 inch so each mouthful gets a goodly amount that will blend with the other ingredients. Continue reading

L’Opéra Petit Fours

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

L'Opéra Petit FourL’Opéra Petit Fours, a combination of chocolate and coffee flavors, are very much a lesson in component parts.  Many pastries consist of several recipes combined to make the whole.  By rearranging which and how the component parts are combined, endless pastries can be made.

There are two types of petit fours – petit four glacé which are those covered in fondant and petit four sec which are small pastries that can be picked up.  L’Opera Petit Fours petit fours belong to the petit four sec variety.  At the shop we made petit four sec as I consider them to be so much more flavorful and beautiful.

L’Opera Petit Fours are also the best petit four I have ever tasted.  As with much in food, that level cannot be achieved in a quickie recipe.  But most of the component parts can be executed days ahead of time making the final assembly very easy and relatively fast to accomplish.  I recently made 140 of these for a function where four additional petit fours were offered.  These not only disappeared first, they were the most talked about. Continue reading

Fruit Basket Banana Cake

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

Fruit Basket Banana CakeBananas, strawberries and pineapple team up to make the Fruit Basket Banana Cake. It  is the perfect cake if you are looking for something light but with lots of flavor and it is a great summertime dessert.

The banana cake is one I worked on for a while.  Most banana cakes are heavy and I wanted one that was lighter but still had plenty of banana flavor.  It is unusual in that it uses both oil and butter.  Other than that, it is a straight forward, easy to make banana cake. The cake also makes great cupcakes with a browned butter buttercream.

The pastry cream is lightened with a bit of whipped cream.  Crushed pineapple is folded in and after it is spread between the layers, strawberries cover the cream.  The Fruit Basket Banana Cake is finished in whipped cream with a piped lattice design on top. Continue reading

Painted Cookies

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

Finished PhotoWhen I had the bakery and later, the retail shop, we made hundreds and hundreds of these painted cookies for holidays and for wedding favors.  I originally came up with this method over thirty years ago because I could’t use a piping bag with any grace or consistency.  So instead of piping decorations on a cookie as everyone did then, I swirled colors though a lemon glaze and finished them with an explosion of color.  Now, it is a common technique used by everyone professionally as well as baking enthusiasts even if they can pipe.

While the focus of this blog is the painted cookies, I have included a recipe for a sugar cookie that is the ideal for cut outs as it stays flat and keeps its shape.The number of cookies to a recipe depends upon the size of the cutters. Continue reading

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