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

Italian Calzones

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

Finished cutWhat’s better than Italian food?  Italian Calzones that you can hold in your hand!   Eat them for a snack, lunch, supper or just because it seems like a good idea.

One of the things I like so much about this recipe is that it does not use a yeast dough for the crust.  That eliminates a lot of waiting time.  This crust is so full of flavor and is very easy to use and to make.  After the initial roll out of the crusts, I trim them into perfect 9″ circles by using an 9″ cardboard circle.  This isn’t because I am seeking perfection but because it is easier to enclose the filling if the circles are relatively perfect.

The calzone pastry is an all purpose savory pastry that I used for the  Goat Cheese Pesto Tart.  It makes great crackers rolled fairly thin, brushed with egg white and sprinkled with more cheese.

If you want a really great pastry use Kerry Gold butter with garlic and herb.  Lacking that any butter makes a great savory pastry dough for calzones. Continue reading

Pave d’Amour

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

Slice of CakeThis Pave d’Amour or Cake of Love is truly a celebration cake made for all the highlights of life.  It is one of those recipes that looks daunting but actually isn’t. It just requires a schedule and can be done over a number of days or even weeks as desired. While not as fast as some cakes, its complexity is what makes it so special.

The original recipe for Pave d’Amour came from Alice Medrich’s first book “Cocolat”.  Her version is a square cake and is stunning as are all her recipes. While her cake called for a sponge cake, I used the yellow cake which adds to the stability of the cake and also to its taste.  We used the Pave d”Amour as one of our wedding cakes and it is the best celebration cake I know of to this day.  When cut, the layering is stunning and never fails to receive accolades.  When eaten, it never fails to receive well deserved praise.

We used the whipped ganache in multiple other recipes besides the Pave d’Amour at the bakery.  It has a mind of its own and must be made a day or more ahead or it won’t whip.  We tried making it in the morning and whipping it in the afternoon and it simply wouldn’t whip.  So we just scheduled it in days ahead of time and we were good to go.  It can be tricky to whip so take it slow and test it before over beating if you are unsure.  If it is over beaten, it cannot be used.  However, this is perfect when a heavy chocolate ganache would be overpowering.  As with many things in baking and pastry, it just takes getting used to. Continue reading

Blitz Cronuts

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

Finished CronutWhen I first heard about Cronuts, quite frankly, I thought they were obscene.  Having made several batches of them, I can tell you they are!!

Using Dominique Ansel’s recipe, which I cut in half, I applied the same technique I came up with years ago for Croissants and Puff Pastry. in record time. Where he takes 3 days, this method makes them in less than a third of that time.   As you can see from the photo to the left, the flakiness is beyond anything iI have ever seen.  The are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  While his recipe for home cooks as he refers to it, takes 3 days and a lot of elbow grease, this version of cronuts can be made in a day.  Much of that time is just resting the dough.  The actual work is minimal and spread out.  To make these easier, you can refrigerate the cronuts at various stages if you want.

The dough is like no other yeast dough I have ever made. Although soft and smooth, it has a craggy look and an almost aerated texture. Continue reading