Writing Pastries Like a Pro

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

I have been asked on more than one occasion how I write Pastries Like a Pro. It’s so automatic, I have never really given it a lot of thought. So basically it goes like this.

There are several scenarios I follow. When I knew I would be moving from my house of 47 years late last year, I worked furiously to finish my blogs almost through the month of February. I knew the day of the move was the start of an intense period of change for us and we both looked forward to it. But Wow! did I ever under estimate the time to get settled in and unpacked. The good news is, we are comfortable and loving our new home. But now it’s time to get back to a normal life and that includes blogging.

I usually set up my list for 3 to 6 months ahead. This is for self defense. I don’t want to get to Monday or Tuesday of the week and realize I do not have a blog for that week. It also helps me organize the blogs so I am not doing chocolate, or cakes, cookies or anything else too many times in a row. It often takes a simple shifting of blogs around to make the list more interesting. Continue reading

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

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

Carrot Cake Cheesecake sliceOne of the constant challenges of owning a bakery is coming up with new items to entice the clientele.  This Carrot Cake Cheesecake was one of the more unusual cakes we featured from time to time.

It consists of two layers of carrot cake sandwiched with a creamy cheesecake and finished with the traditional cream cheese frosting.

When I made this for the blog, I forgot to water bath the cheesecake layer.  I thought you would enjoy seeing the difference between the water bathed layer and the one I forgot to water bath.  Not only did they look different, the texture of the cheesecakes differed.  The one on the left had no water bath.  The one on the right did.  As you can see, it is flat and even.two cheesecake layersI also found that making the cheesecake layer in a processor yielded a firmer cheesecake than if it is made in a mixer.  However, both ways work. Continue reading

Chocolate Chocolate Truffles

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

Box of trufflesAt the bakery, we were known for our chocolate.  Among the favorites were the Chocolate Chocolate Truffles.  We only offered these from October to May when the weather was cooler.  We had one client who was so funny.  I could count on her to be the first call to get these truffles.  She used to hide them in a purple box in the back of her refrigerator – until her boys got old enough to figure there was something special in the box.  Then she had to start sharing the truffles. She would tell me she ate truffles all over the world but these were the best.  I have always remembered her kind words.

The secret to these truffles is to freeze the centers before coating.  We had a chocolate tempering machine and I really miss it.  But there is a way to approximate the finish.  The truffles themselves are really easy to make and finish.  A bit of practice will make you an expert.  The first coat almost always goes out of temper, meaning they will be really dull with white streaks.   After dipping the first coat, let them come to room temperature. Continue reading

Triple Chocolate Heart Tarts

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

Triple Chocolate Heart TartTriple Chocolate Heart Tarts – gorgeous, sophisticated, stunningly flavorful and easy – what more could you want in a Valentines dessert?  When I had my bakery, we made so many of these both for Valentines day in these adorable tart shells and during the year when we made them in 12” European tarts it was amazing.  What’s “so many” you ask.  What about 1500 pieces which amounted to 125 tarts for banquet desserts usually with only a few days notice?  If you can’t find 4 1/4” heart shaped tart pans, use 4 1/4” round ones – the dessert will be just as gorgeous, sophisticated, stunningly flavorful and easy!

Because these tarts are very short, there is only a small amount of “crust” on the bottom to anchor the filling.  The majority of the filling is poured over the bottoms and allowed to set up in the cooler.  The remainder is heated just to loosen it and combined with whipped cream for a third layer of chocolate.  The finish I have used here is the one we used at the shop.  The rosette is piped on with a bit of buttercream which we always had around.  I have included a chocolate ganache if buttercream is not to be had. Continue reading

Flourless Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

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

Finished photoThe original recipe for these really chewy, rich flourless chocolate cookies comes from King Arthur Flour but of course I had to put in my 2 cents worth. This gluten free, almost fat free cookie goes together quickly with a whisk and a bowl or a hand mixer and bakes up in minutes. While it is good by itself, it is better if you sandwich them together with raspberry jam and sprinkle them with powdered sugar. These Flourless Chocolate Raspberry Cookies are amazingly fudgy and moist and have quickly become a favorite. Continue reading