Milk Chocolate Creme Brûlée

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

Milk Chocolate Creme BrûléeCreme Brûlée has almost become a national dessert.  There is scarcely a restaurant that doesn’t have some version of this French favorite.

Many years ago when I was visiting my son in LA, Eric, Jolene and I went to Il fornio restaurant.  I don’t remember what I had as an entree but I sure do remember the Milk Chocolate Creme Brûlée.  If memory serves me right I had two!  A year or so later when I went for another visit, Jolene and I would go back for more.  When they had no tables, we were very happy to sit at the bar so long as we could have our creme brûlée.

The Milk Chocolate Creme Brûlée is inspired by the one I so loved. There is a hint of fennel and orange, a classic Italian duo along with milk chocolate.  However, I warn you this is a once in a while treat.  I don’t think I have ever made anything with so much fat in it.  From 40% or heavy cream, to half and half, egg yolks and then, of course, the chocolate – milk chocolate no less. Continue reading

Amaretti Cookies

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

Amaretti Cookie photoI haven’t found anything to date made with almond extract that I don’t love. These Amaretti cookies which are Italy’s version of a macaroon are a perfect example. Crunchy, gluten free and low in fat, these are the perfect accompaniment to lightly sweetened or macerated fresh fruit or ice cream.

While these can be found in Italian grocery stores, it can be difficult to find them in state side grocery stores. But Amaretti cookies are so easy to make you don’t have to search them out anymore.

There are several ways to make them. I prefer to use almond paste rather than ground almond. No matter how much the almonds are pulverized  in the processor, they will never be as smooth as almond paste with its distinctive bitter almond flavoring. Do not use marzipan. While almond paste is an ingredient in marzipan, it is not pure almond paste.  My store carries an eight ounce package which is perfect for this recipe. Continue reading

My Pastry Kitchen Essentials

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

Overall shot of equipmentEvery pastry kitchen, be it professional or personal has their own pastry kitchen essentials. These are mine which I used at the bakery and in my personal kitchen.  Long ago when we remodeled the kitchen at our house I put all the gadgets I had accumulated in a box.  Six months later I used exactly one thing out of that box. I never again bought anything that I didn’t know I would use on a regular basis.

Cookie Scoops/Dishers/ScoopsCookie scoops, dishersIin the profession these pastry kitchen essentials are referred to as dishers or scoops because we use them for a lot more than cookies, i.e. meatballs, mashed potatoes, anywhere you want to make sure all the sizes are the same. They are used for portion control. Some are all stainless steel – some have plastic colored handles.  Vollrath makes these in both all stainless as well as colored plastic handles.

I prefer the all stainless steel dishers as the plastic handles can more easily be broken. The size number is on the tool – somewhere. You just have to find it as there isn’t a uniform place for it, unfortunately. Continue reading

Magic Shell for Ice Cream

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

Magic ShellIt’s that time of the month when I’m off to TV land.  By virtue of the fact, I have four to four and a half minutes on air, whatever I am doing has to be easy and doable. This month my focus is on the Magic Shell for ice cream.

If you’ve ever had a soft serve ice cream dipped in chocolate that forms a hard shell, magic shell is it. I always have mine dipped twice and then try to eat it fast enough so the ice cream doesn’t drip all over me. I’m usually not successful so it calls for getting one of these when I’m in an old, comfy top I don’t much care about.

Coconut oil can be found in most grocery stores today,   You want the refined coconut which is opaque white in the jar and solid, not liquid. coconut oilSome say you can use any oil or butter but I have only made it with the coconut oil. After you open the oil, store it in the refrigerator. Liquify in the microwave when you want to use it again or as in this case, just spoon it out.
Continue reading

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