Tag Archives: chocolate ganache

Part 1: Mincemeat Tarts and a Cookie

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Mincemeat TartletsThese Mincemeat tarts concentrates on finishes for minature tarts as well as a delightful cookie filled with mincemeat.

This Mincemeat is nothing like the original combination of minced meat, dried fruits, suet and tons of spices born out of the necessity to preserve meat, without salting, curing, smoking or drying it in days long gone by.

A Brief History of Mince Pies

According to Walker’s Shortbread History of Mince Pies, As with many traditional recipes, especially the ones we make and enjoy around big holidays or life events, mince pies are steeped with tradition and customs. Mincemeat would often be made on stir-up Sunday along with the Christmas pudding, the last Sunday before Advent. Stirring the mincemeat was quite an event, and English tradition dictates that it should only be stirred clockwise. Stirring the mincemeat anti-clockwise would lead to bad luck and poor fortune in the coming 12 months.

To spread the joy, it was tradition in England that each member of the family gave the mixture a stir, while making a wish. And if you wanted to be ensure good health and happiness in the upcoming year, you should eat one mince pie every day for the Twelve Days of Christmas, from Christmas Eve until the 5th of January.” 

Modern Mincemeat

Today’s modern Mincemeat is a boozy, sweet, fruit filling for tarts and pies as well as a variety of other desserts.  While mincemeat often plays a supporting role in an American apple pie, the English mincemeat pie is a two bite pie and in keeping with that tradition, I have made small tarts with different finishes including one topped with chocolate ganache and one finished with a cookie.

I found a small tartlet tin that is perfect for the size of Mincemeat tarts I wanted to make.  They worked  beautifully as you can see.  I have no idea why they are called egg tart pans.  However, these have to be washed by hand or they turn a funny brownish color.  I use an easy press in dough for the shells.  This same dough will make perfect shrink proof crusts when baked empty.Small pastry shell

Because I made my mincemeat in February, I added brandy or rum from time to time to keep it moist. Well, by the time I was ready to use it, it was a pretty heady mixture for sure.  So to tame it, I combined it with apple juice and brown sugar and cooked it until the liquid left was syrupy. I particularly like the mixture because it doesn’t boil up over the top of the tarts when baked.

If you’re new to mincemeat or a seasoned pro, there’s plenty here to pick from.  So make one or make all and start your own Christmas tradition.

Be sure to watch for Part 2 this week which is  a Cheese and Mincemeat Danish. If making this Danish, reserve 1/2 cup mincemeat.  

Mincemeat Tart Filling

1 batch mincemeat
1/2 cup apple juice
Brown sugar to taste, optional

In a medium saucepan, combine the mincemeat and apple juice.  Add brown sugar to taste.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid is syrupy.  Cool completely before using.

This can be done days ahead and refrigerated.  Bring to room temperature to use.

Pastry for Mincemeat Tarts

For how-to photos, please go here.

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (175 grams or 6 ounces)
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon cake flour (50 grams or 1 3/4 ounces)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams or 1 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold (114 grams or 4 ounces)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon water

In a processor fitted with the steel blade, place the flours, sugar, and baking powder.  Pulse several times to mix.

Cut the cold butter into small pieces and place in a circle over the dry ingredients.  Process for 20 to 30 seconds until the butter in indistinguishable in the mixture.

In a small bowl, mix the egg, egg yolk, vanilla. and water together with a fork.  Pour this over the ingredients in the processor.  Process for 15 to 20 seconds until the pastry forms a ball.

Spray 25 – 2 1/2” tart shells lightly with a non-stick baking release.  Drop a #70 disher/scooper or 1 slightly rounded tablespoons of pastry into three or four shells at a time. Scoop of pastry for Mincemeat Tarts Flatten them evenly to cover the bottom of the shell.  Flattened in bottom of tinPress the pastry up the sides of the tins Pressing side in

slightly over the top edge.

Slightly over the top edge
Flatten the pastry with the heel of your hand even with the top of the tin.Finished shell

Last, square off the bottom edge of the pastry by pressing it evenly against the tin.

Preventing bowling of shell for Mincemeat Tarts

Mincemeat Tartlets

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the shells on a half sheet pan. 24 will fit on a pan if they are staggered.

Using a #40 disher/scooper or a scant 2 tablespoons, fill each pastry shell, spreading the filling evenly just below the top of the shell.Filled tart shells for Mincemeat Tarts

Top with crumbs or pipe a Viennese Whirl on top or leave plain.  If you are finishing these several ways, reduce the amount of crumbs or dark satin ganache.

To Top with Crumbs

Go here for the recipe.  Cover lavishly with crumbs, pressing them into the filling lightly.

Viennese Whirl Topped Mincemeat Tarts

Fill the tartlet shells with the mincemeat filling.

Make the Viennese Whirls below.

Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2” open star tip.  Fill the pastry bag and pipe a whirl of batter directly onto the tartlet to within 1/4” of the edge.  See piping instructions below with the recipe.

If Finishing with Ganache or Whipped Cream

Fill the shells as directed.  Do not finish the tops i any way.Pastry shells filled and topped for Mincemeat Tarts

Baking the Tartlets

Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until the pastry shells, crumbs or Whirls are a medium brown.Baked tarts

Cool in their tins and release by turning upside down.  I turned them out in my hand.  Make sure you press the crumb side down firmly in the palm of your hand to keep them in place.

Viennese Whirl CookiesViennese Whirls

These are a perfect butter cookie.  Just a few ingredients and so very easy to make. The flavoring can be changed by substituting others for the vanilla.  Additionally, a grated lemon or orange zest can be added to the dough.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened* (225 grams or 8 ounces)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (65 grams or 2 1/4 ounces)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cup cake flour (225 grams or 8 ounces)

*The butter shoud be very soft for this recipe.  More so than usual.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Cream the butter and powdered sugar until light and creamy.  If using citrus zest, add it with the butter and sugar. Butter and sugar creamed for Viennese Swirls Mix in the vanilla or alternate flavoring.

Add the flour, beating on low to mix.Viennese Cookie Dough

To Shape and Bake Cookies

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Draw a template on parchment paper using a 1 3/4″ round cookie cutter spacing them about 1″ apart. Place a second piece of parchment on top.  Fit a piping bag with a 3/8″ open star.

If the batter is too stiff to pipe, place only as much as you can pipe at once in a microwave bowl.  Microwave very briefly, 5 to 8 seconds max.  Pipe the cookies to within about 1/8″ of the circles.

Remove the template and chill or freeze for 5 to 10 minutes.

Double pan and bake the cookies for about 13 to 15 minutes, turning them half way through if browning unevenly. They should be a light medium brown. Cool completely.

Mincemeat filled Viennese Whirls Sandwiches

Pair the cookies up as to size.  Puree 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the mincemeat filling in a food processor.  Fill the sandwiches as desired. Top with a second cookie. 

Dark Satin Ganache

For how to pictures, go here

1/2 cup heavy cream
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (150 grams or 5 1/3 ounces)
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
8 ounces semisweet chocolate (225 grams)

Heat the cream, butter, and corn syrup until very hot, but do not boil.  Submerge he chocolate under the cream for several minutes.  Whisk very gently until smooth.  Do not be too enthusiastic or air bubbles  will form.

Spoon a scant tablespoon of ganache over each of the plain baked mincemeat tartlets.  Rotate the tarts to fill the top or use an offset spatula to spread the ganache. Refrigerate to set.  Serve at room temperature.

Whipped Cream Topping

This is not pictured above.

1 cup heavy cream, cold
1/3 cup powdered sugar (40 grams or 1 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium until it thickens and then beat on high until stiff.

Pipe onto tartlets with a 1/2” B tip several hours before serving.  Refrigerate but serve at room temperature.

If you haven’t made mincemeat tarts this is the perfect time to start a new Christmas tradition in your house. And there’s no better way than to start with your very own mincemeat.

To Store and Serve:

The Crumb Topped Mincemeat Tarts should be lightly dusted with powdered sugar before serving.

These tarts can sit at room temperature for several days.

To Make in Advance:  Bake the tarts as called for.  Finish them with crumbs the Viennese Cookie or glaze them with the ganache after they are baked.  Freeze them.  Thaw in the refrigerator.  Serve at room temperature.

Rocky Road Snack Cake

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Rocky Road Snack CakeAs a committed chocoholic, this Rocky Road Snack Cake fills the bill. I noticed recently that I haven’t posted a chocolate recipe for a while and being short on time came up with this really fast snack cake.

Snack cakes need to be quick, good and so easy to make.  This Rocky Road Snack Cake fills all those requirements.  Half of the cocoa version of the high ratio cake is the base for this one.  A deep chocolate ganache moors the mini marshmallows and peanuts to the cake.  While any nut can be used, I just like the peanuts with this. They can be left whole or lightly cut in the processor.

Rocky road Snack Cake is perfect with a tall glass of cold milk. So if you’re in a hurry and need a chocolate fix, this is the cake for you. Continue reading

L’Opera Ice Cream Cake

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

L'Opera Ice Cream CakeIce Cream Cake runs the gamut from basic to elegant.  My love for L’Opera with its combination of coffee and chocolate is well known and now I have added another dimension to this favorite flavor combination by replacing the coffee buttercream with coffee ice cream.

Layers of coffee liqueur soaked almond sponge cake, chocolate ganache, and coffee ice cream are the component parts of this exquisite ice cream cake.  It definitely conjures up thoughts of something special and it won’t disappoint.  While this may look formidable, every part is made ahead and can be done at different times so it is very doable.

Although I used homemade no-churn ice cream, this could also be made with a bought coffee ice cream if you want to skip that step. I will say the no-churn version is the creamiest, best coffee ice cream I have ever eaten.  But it comes with a caveat.  It softens quickly.   However, you shouldn’t have a problem if you just cut it and serve it.   Everything in the recipe can and should be made ahead for easy assembly.

The completed ice cream cake can be frozen for a month well wrapped after it is completely frozen.  There is some waiting time between layers as each one needs to be frozen before proceeding to the next.  However, since the next step only takes a matter of minutes it’s not a big deal at all.

To easily remove the ice cream cake from the loaf pan, I lined it with plastic wrap.  However, it wrinkles like mad on the sides and I’m not sure I would do it that way again.  I think I might just assemble it in the loaf pan without the plastic wrap and then release it by warming the outside of the pan very briefly with a hair blower and slide it out.  The sides would definitely be better looking but anyway you do it is fine.  The important thing is the taste will be there.

While I use instant coffee, espresso can be used but cut it at least in half since it is so much stronger.

Ice Cream Cakes are wonderful, combining the best of both worlds.  My L’Opera Ice Cream Cake is, in my humble opinion (which I guess doesn’t sound very humble) the best.

Almond Sponge for L’Opera Ice Cream CakeAlmond Sponge Ingredients for L'Opera Ice Cream Cake

This can be made a month ahead and frozen if desired.  In any case, it should be frozen for easiest assembly. It is also referred to as Jaconde.

4 eggs
1 cup almond flour (100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces)
2/3 cup sugar (135 grams or 4 2/3 ounces)
1/3 cup flour (45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces)
4 egg whites (128 grams or 4 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons sugar (25 grams or scan 1 ounce)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a half sheet pan lightly with a baking release.  Line with parchment paper and spray the paper.  Set aside.

Fit a mixer with the whisk attachment.  Beat the whole eggs, almond flour, and sugar Ingredients in mixeruntil very light and almost white.  Fold the flour in lightly.  This is easiest done with a whisk.

In a clean bowl with a clean whisk attachment, beat the whites until soft peaks form.  Add the sugar a little at a time and beat until stiff but pliable.  Pour the egg mixture over the whites and fold in being careful not to knock the air out of the whites.Whites added to sponge

Pour into the prepared sheet pan, spread out evenly andSponge in pan bake for 12 to 14 minutes.  It will be lightly colored and firm.  Do not underbake.  Cool completely and freeze.

Coffee Soaking Syrup

Using the ingredients below, go here for how-to pictures.

1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon instant coffee
2 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur*

*If you don’t want to use the liqueur, increase the coffee to 2 teaspoons and use 2 tablespoons water.

Combine the water and sugar in a small pan.  Bring to a boil and boil hard for 3 to 5 minutes until reduced to about 2/3 of a cup. Dissolve the coffee in the liqueur or water and add to the sugar syrup.  Cool completely, store in a container and refrigerate up to a week ahead.

Yield:  3/4 cup

No-Churn Coffee Ice CreamIce cream ingredients

This ice cream takes a while to set up so start at least a day ahead of assembly or up to a month ahead. It will soften faster than store-bought ice cream which may also be used.  However, the flavor is, by far, the best.

2 tablespoons instant coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 – 14 ounce can condensed milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Dissolve the instant coffee in the vanilla.Diluted Coffee mixture for L'Opera Ice Cream Cake

Pour the condensed milk into a medium-size bowl and stir in the coffee mixture.Coffee base for ice cream

Whip the cream until stiff but still pliable.  Pour the milk mixture over the cream and fold in.Coffee Ice Cream for L'Opera Ice Cream Cake

Divide into two bowls (about 1 1/2 cups each) if possible and place in the freezer overnight.  This makes it much easier to assemble.

Dark Satin Ganache

Go here for how-to photos.

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup corn syrup (70 grams or 2 1/2 ounces)
5 tablespoons butter (75 grams or 2 1/2 ounces)
10 ounces semisweet chocolate (285 grams)

Combine the cream, corn syrup, and butter in a small pan.  Heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat and submerge the chocolate in the mixture.

Let sit for a few minutes and then gently whisk to combine until smooth.

Pour into a container and refrigerate up to 10 days before assembly.

Assembly of L’Opera Ice Cream Cake

Almond Sponge, frozen
Coffee Soaking Syrup
Coffee Ice Cream, one bowl softened so it is spreadable
Dark Satin Ganache, warmed so it is spreadable

Line a 9×5 loaf pan with plastic wrap allowing it to overhang the short sidePan line with plastic wrap or leave it unlined for a smoother finish.

Cut three 9×5 inch rectangles from the frozen almond sponge as shown below.  Sponge cutCut the pieces into the sizes shown below.  It is easier to do this if the rectangles are kept frozen so work with one piece at a time.

Return them to the freezer when cut.

Bottom layer – cut 4 x8 1/4 inches
Middle layer – cut 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches
Top Layer cut 5 x 8 3/4 inches

Place the bottom layer of sponge in the 9×5 inch loaf pan.  Brush 1/4 cup coffee soaking syrup evenly over the cake layer.First layer in pan with coffee syrup

Spread with 1/2 cup ganache. First layer ganache on

Freeze for a few minutes until the chocolate is firm.Ganache frozenSpread half of the ice cream evenly over the ganache.  Ice cream over ganachePlace in the freezer and freeze until firm.  If you use the no-churn ice cream, it will take several hours.

When the bottom assembly is hard, repeat with the middle layer of the sponge, soaking syrup and ganache. Freeze again.  Spread the remaining ice cream over the ganache and let it freeze until hard.

Top with the top layer of sponge and soaking syrup.  Freeze overnight.Layered Ice Cream Cake

Return the remaining ganache to the refrigerator.

When ready to finish, release the L’Opera Ice Cream Cake from the pan by lifting it out of the pan with the overhanging plastic wrap.  Or, if not using the plastic wrap, turn it upside down on a cake board or a flat dish and heat the outside very briefly with a hair blower.  Remove the pan.  In either case, the ice cream cake should be upside down.Released Cake

Place it back in the freezer while you warm the ganache.

Pour the ganache down the middle of the cake and spread it out, going side to side with an offset spatula allowing the excess to run down the sides.Ganache finished ice cream cake

Place in the freezer until serving.

Cut with a hot dry knife into 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces.

Serves 12 to 14.

Other blogs you might enjoy include:
L’Opera Petit Fours
Caramel Brickle No-Churn ice Cream
No-Churn Nutella Ice Cream

Raspberry Rhapsody Cake

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Raspberry RhapsodyThis Raspberry Rhapsody had an interesting start. This is actually based on the Hungarian cake, Rigo Janci. I introduced it as that and I couldn’t get anyone to buy it. I finally tracked down the reason. It seems the chefs didn’t know how to pronounce it. Not wanting to look bad, they just skipped over it.

So, I just changed the name to Raspberry Rhapsody and it took off and became a good seller.

This Raspberry Rhapsody employs one of the moistest sponge cakes to be found. There is one little trick I found at the bakery that ensures this moisture. Immediately upon coming from the oven, the top of the layers are covered directly with foil until cool. This has the effect of steaming the sponge keeping it flexible and moist. Continue reading

Chocolate Raspberry Marzipan Gateau

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Chocolate Raspberry Marzipan GateauThis Chocolate Raspberry Marzipan Gateau is a prime example of French baking. I can’t remember where this comes from, certainly I did not come up with it. The three hole paper is turning yellow with age so it has to be when I was learning and becoming interested in pastry as a profession.

A note on the bottom says, “This is a wonderfully moist and flavorful combination.” I love finding little notes on old recipes. Continue reading