Amaretto Truffle Torte

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

Finished SliceThe Amaretto Truffle Torte is one of the most intense, decadent tortes you will find.  Comprised of a Riene de Saba base, caramel, roasted hazelnuts and a chocolate ganache infused with Amaretto it is as sleek and sophisticated as a torte can be.

The  Riene de Saba base is one we used for several desserts at the bakery.  I used it in my first post for this blog, the Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Torte.  I like it because of its depth of fudgey chocolate flavor.  It is about 1/2 inch tall, perfect to hold whatever tops it and it freezes well which allows it to be made ahead. The only caveat is it shouldn’t be overbooked or it will dry out.

The caramel  for the Amaretto Truffle Torte has to be made at least the day before but can be made a week before if desired.  It should be stored in the refrigerator if it is made more than a day ahead.  To make it spreadable, microwave it briefly just to the point of spreadability.  Do not stir it vigorously as it may granulate if you do.

The filling is a simple but intense chocolate ganache.  Amaretto liqueur is fortified with almond and vanilla extracts. Continue reading

Holiday Cookies

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

Finished trio of cookiesThese very special Holiday Cookies offer a variety of flavors to add to your list of holiday cookies.  They are all easy to make and can be made ahead to minimize your last minute preparations.

Sienna Lace has very special memories for me.  I first encountered Almond Lace cookies, from which this recipe is derived from the owner of a cooking school in Iowa. I was, at one point in my ever changing career, a traveling cooking teacher which is how I found myself in Iowa.  I remember a long drive from the airport on roads that appeared to be cut straight through fields of crops.  It was cold and the land lay quiet as it waited for spring before it could come to life again.

Being a city girl, I couldn’t imagine the long drive without a house, shopping center or building in site.  There was an occasional stop sign but that was pretty much it! When we finally arrived at the house, it was warm and inviting with the aroma of a perfectly roasted chicken with rosemary and a side dish of sweet potatoes and apples.  Dessert was the almond lace cookies. I had never seen them before and was enthralled.  I also remember wondering how many I could eat before I looked boorish! It took me no time at all to ask for the recipe. Continue reading

Eggnog Cheesecake

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

Eggnog CheesecakeI’m glad the holidays only roll around once a year because I love eggnog.  When we were younger we entertained a lot and I made an eggnog that my husband still talks about and he hasn’t had it in years!  To be sure it was boozy.  But it was also balanced with heavy cream and the combination made it easy to drink a lot – which too many people did!

This cheesecake is as easy as it gets and is perfect for the holidays.  It can be made ahead and frozen completely finished.  Just thaw it at least day ahead in the refrigerator.

Nutmeg is a must and adds the defining taste to an Eggnog Cheesecake.  So if cheesecake is your thing, this is one to add to your list.

The whipped cream wreath around the Eggnog Cheesecake is reminiscent of the marvelous foam that topped the eggnog.

This is a variation of the Sour Cream Cheesecake so it may look a bit familiar.  But as cheesecakes go, this is one of the creamiest and smoothest to be found.

Continue reading

Murbteig Pastry

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

Finished photoMurbteig cookies  were one of my favorite Christmas cookies made by my mother. The basic pastry is German or Viennese depending upon what book you are reading.  It is extremely easy to put together. Mother made this in a mixer but I find it easier in the food processor. Both versions are included.

In addition to these cookies, Murbteig has many applications in the pastry world.  In my book, “The New Pastry Cook”, I devoted a chapter and many more recipes to this marvelous pastry.

I still remember my mother rolling out gobs of these cookies every year. We also had Murbteig cookies at Easter which I suppose explains the chicken. The basic cookie was always made with a set of cutters in the shape of the four suits of cards. I still have the small cutters that came from Penny’s for twenty nine cents. Box of cuttersShe also included a small little chicken. I have no idea why the chicken or the card cutters but they are a dainty cookie and look just beautiful on a cookie tray. Continue reading

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