Chocolate Cranberry Curd Tart

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

Chocolate Cranberry Curd TartChocolate Cranberry Curd had become an absolute favorite for the holidays at the bakery. Besides its vibrant color, the taste and texture are outstanding. We used it in tarts, cakes and petit fours. Room permitting, we would freeze cases of cranberries at the end of the season in order to get a head start the following season and test new recipes during the year.

I love cranberries so much that the staff would have to make me take some of the cranberry desserts off the menu so we could put other seasonal items on.  There is nothing like the sweet tart taste and the intense red color enclosed in a deep chocolate brown glaze.

The tart itself is easy to make with its press in crust which means no rolling.  The cranberry curd itself has one extra step as you have to cook the cranberries and puree them before actually making the curd.  The glaze is a simple matter two ingredients which make the perfect finish. Continue reading

Pecan Bars

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

Finished photoThese Pecan Bars are one of the most used recipes from the Culinary Institute of America. I have seen various versions of these Pecan Bars but this one is the one we used in the bakery. The key is to boil the filling to 240 degrees or the filling will sag when it is cut.   Otherwise this is the easiest of recipes to make.

While the CIA cuts these Pecan Bars into diamonds, we cut them into bars or into squares to avoid any loss of product.  We used the squares for petit fours and they never failed to please.  The baked bars or squares may be frozen.

For these Pean Bars, I don’t toast the nuts before using them as they bake in the oven.  Make these once and I’m sure you will be adding them to your favorites  list. Continue reading

Gateau St. Honore

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

Finished St. HonoreI once taught this St. Honore as a pastry class in one dessert -and so it is.  From the pastry cream to the Pate Brisee to Chou paste all finished with a hard caramel decoration, the St. Honore is a spectacular showpiece.  Everyone who loves baking and pastry should make this at least once.  Although it has a lot of steps, they can be broken down into an easily managed schedule.

This was one of the chapters in my first book, “The New Pastry Cook”. As with every other chapter, the information in the front of the chapters is key to the success of the pastry.  Here is the chapter header.

Chou paste is one of, if not the most versatile basic pastries in the entire repertoire of pastry making. By definition, chou paste is really a thick sauce ad not a pastry at all.  It can be sweet or savory, baked, poached or deep fried, made free-form or piped into shapes. Alone, it maybe filled and/or sauced, or it can be combined with other pastries to make elaborate desserts.  Leftover paste can be turned into delicious hors d’oeuvre. It takes its name from the french word chou, which means cabbage, the best- known shape of chou paste, the cream puff, was thought to resemble a small cabbage. Continue reading

Apple Cake with Pecan Caramel Top

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

Finished 4While apple pies get most of the attention  an Apple Cake with all of its spices, lots of apples and raisins is no slouch. We made many of these for catered events where there was no refrigeration as the plated deserts could sit for hours at room temperature.

This is a dense cake filled with fruit. The pecan caramel top compliments the cake and adds a luxuriousness that a buttercream would not.

Any apple that bakes well can be used. Many prefer Granny Smith apples,but  Pink Ladies or Gala apples are also good choices. Continue reading

Coconut Cream Cake

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

Finished photoThis is the Coconut Cream Cake that was so very popular at the bakery. Fairly early in the life of the shop, I got a mailer from General Mills touting their flours. It was a beautiful color brochure with cakes and sweet breads. I tried the cakes and the one that just amazed me is the one we used  with minor changes. This very almond flavored cake is the most moist white cake I have ever eaten.  We used the white chiffon cake for our wedding cakes and it never ceased to get raves.

Because this is a very loose batter, it is important when folding in the whites to make sure you go to the bottom of the bowl each time. When making one cake this isn’t a big deal, when making a batch in a 60 quart bowl, it is very important so that all of the layers have all of the ingredients. If making this in a large batch, it is also important to scale out quickly as the batter can thin out if it sits too long. Continue reading