This 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. Since May and June are such celebration months, I’m reintroducing this cake as one of my all time favorites because I think everyone should know about it. Continue reading
This is a Coconut Cream Pie with a difference. It has a great crust, lightened pastry cream filled with toasted coconut but instead of oodles of whipped cream topping, I have switched it to a meringue which I think allows the filling, which is the star of the dish, to stand out.
The coconut is toasted to bring out the full flavor.
I love whipped cream, but it often coats your tastebuds minimizing other flavors. It also doesn’t hurt that by substituting the meringue the calories and fat are reduced. See what you think.
For how to photos, go here.
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
1 1/3 cup milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar (100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (40 grams or 1 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Soften the gelatin in the water and set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the milk until very hot but not boiling. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a non-reactive bowl. Whisk in the flour. Add the hot milk slowly, whisking well and scraping the pan with a rubber spatula to make sure all of the egg yolk mixture is incorporated.
Strain into the top of a double boiler whisking constantly, heat until very hot and beginning to thicken. Remove the top of the double boiler and place directly over heat. Whisk constantly until it comes to a boil; cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat; add the vanilla. Tear the gelatin into small pieces and stir into the hot liquid until it is completely dissolved. There is no need to liquefy it, the heat of the mixture will do this for you.
Transfer to a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream, poke a few holes in it. Cool to room temperature and then and chill at least 6 hours or overnight.
Yield: 2 cups
Single Pie Crust for the Coconut Cream Pie
For How to pictures, go here.
1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour (6 1/3 ounces or 180 grams)
1/3 cup sifted all purpose flour (scant 1 1/2 ounces or 40 grams)
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and frozen until hard (90 grams or 3 ounces)
3 tablespoons shortening (like Crisco) frozen and cut into pieces (45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons beaten egg
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5 tablespoons water, chilled and divided
Place both flours and the salt in the processor bowl. Pulse several times to mix. Place the butter and shortening evenly over the flour and pulse until the butter and shortening are in pea size pieces.
Combine the egg, lemon juice and water. Pour it in a circle over the processor contents. Pulse until it forms clumps. Pour out onto a lightly floured work surface. Push the clumps together into a ball. Knead 4 or 5 times for form a dough. Pat into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap in film and refrigerate a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out to a circle approximately 13 inches. Place in the pie pan and fit into corners. Cut the overhang an even 1 inch all the way around. Tuck the crust under and flute the edges.
To bake blind, freeze for 30 or more minutes until hard. Spray a large piece of foil with a non-stick baking release Place it, sprayed side down, on top of the crust. Fill it to the top with beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes with the weights. Remove them by bringing the four corners of the foil together and lifting out. Return to the oven and bake for approximately 13 to 15 minutes more until lightly browned and set.
Cool completely before assembling.
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut (170 grams or 6 ounces)
1 cup 40% cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar (22 grams or 3/4 ounce)
Pastry Cream, chilled
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the coconut in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes until a medium brown, stirring several times so it evenly browns. Cool.
Combine the cream and powdered sugar in mixing bowl; beat until stiff. Fold into, along with the coconut into the pastry cream. Spread it evenly into the cooled, baked crust.
Meringue for the Coconut Cream Pie
For How to pictures go here.
4 egg whites from above
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 cup sugar (200 grams or 7 ounces)
Place the oven rack on the most bottom rung. Preheat the oven to broil.
Place the egg whites and cream of tarter in a mixing bowl. Beat until soft peaks begin to form. Gradually add the sugar. Beat to really stiff peaks. Place in a piping bag fitted with a large open star (#8 or 9 open star) and pipe the meringue into swirls onto the filling starting at the inside edge of the crust, making sure you are attaching it to the crust. Fill any empty places with small stars of meringue.
Pipe more meringue on top of the already piped meringue until it is all used. Alternately, just spoon it on and make swirls with the spoon making sure you are attaching it all the way around to the crust.
At home I use a small pastry torch to brown the meringue. The important thing is to hold it about a foot away and keep it moving to avoid burning the meringue. You can see a lot of pastry torches, sometime called Creme Brulee torches here.
Alternatively. place the oven rack to the most bottom rung. Preheat the oven to broil on high. Set the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and into the oven for about 1 minute and 15 seconds or until lightly browned. Watch it carefully as the top most peaks of the crust will burn quickly. Cool completely before cutting. Store in the refrigerator.
Makes a 9″ Coconut Cream Pie or 10 to 12 servings
This Café au Lait Crepe Cake with Orange Cream Sauce is my way of sending out a bad year and welcoming in a better New Year. I wanted to do something special to reward all of us for doing our part and sticking it out. Every part of this can be made ahead. It can also be assembled ahead and refrigerated or frozen.
French Crepes for the Crepe Cake
This is actually an easy cake to make. The crepes are a bit time consuming if you use one pan at a time but they can be made ahead and frozen. Because the crepes are so delicate, the cake is easier to put together if the crepes are frozen. Please read my post on All Purpose French Crepes for a complete rundown on this French specialty with how to photos.
I used an 8” non stick pan to make these. The crepes themselves will be about 7”. Have hand a stack of parchment paper or wax paper cut into 9” squares with which to stack the crepes as they come from the pan.
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour (235 grams or 8 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
1 1/2 cups water
5 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons brandy
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 stick of butter for the pan
Place all but the stick of butter in a food processor (by batches if necessary). If by batches, whisk together in a large bowl after processing. Let rest for 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
Over medium heat, swipe the pan with the stick of butter for the first crepe and every 4 or 5 after that. Ladle about 2 tablespoons or 1 liquid ounce of batter into the middle of the pan. Quickly swirl the pan around to cover the bottom and about 1/4” up the side.
Brown on one side for about a minute or so, flip the crepe and brown the other side. The first side of the cooked crepe is always the best looking.
Stack between paper as soon as it is done. Cool to room temperature. If not using immediately, wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for a few days or place in a freezer bag and freeze for a month or so.
For use in the Crepe Cake, leave them frozen.
Yield: About 24 crepes
Café au Lait Truffle Filling
The Café au Lait filling is from a line of truffles I designed some time ago. It calls for milk chocolate but semisweet could be substituted. This can be made a week ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature to use. It needs to be very soft but not liquid.
1 1/4 cups 40% cream
1 1/2 tablespoon instant coffee
15 ounces milk chocolate (425 grams)
Heat the cream and coffee until steaming. Do not boil. Submerge the chocolate below the cream. Let sit 4 to 5 minutes. Stir to incorporate chocolate, whisking gently towards the end to remove any lumps. Pour into a storage container and bring to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight or up to several weeks. Bring to room temperature to fill the crepe cake.
Yield: About 2 1/4 cups
Orange Cream Sauce for the Crepe Cake
The Orange Cream Sauceis a variation of the sauce for Crepes Suzette and was first featured in the Stuffed French Toast blog where you will find the how to photos. This can be made days ahead and refrigerated. Serve at room temperature.
The slightly tangy sauce compliments the richness of the cake.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons Curacao, Triple Sec, Cointreau or Grand Marnier
2 tablespoons Brandy
1/4 cup 40% cream
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
Melt butter in a saucepan. Add the sugar, orange and lemon juice; bring to a boil and boil hard for 3 to 4 minutes until somewhat thickened.
Add the orange liqueur and brandy; boil another 2 minutes to return to thickness. In the meantime whisk the cream and cornstarch together.
Remove the orange mixture from the heat and let the boiling subside. Add the cream mixture; return to heat and, stirring constantly, bring back to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Cool completely and store in the refrigerator.
Yield: 1 cup
Café au Lait Truffle Filling
Orange Cream Sauce
Remove the crepes from the freezer. They may seem stuck together, but if you lift the paper under the crepe you should be able to slowly pull it away. Also, after you get one side lifted, insert your hand under the crepe and it should pop off the stack.
Place one crepe on a serving plate or cake board. If the crepes are at all moist, place a paper towel on top of them and press down to remove the moisture.
Place one heaping tablespoon of the Café au Lait Truffle filling in the center of the crepe. Without delay, spread the it out to the edges, covering it entirely. Because the crepes are frozen and the filling is chocolate it will set up rapidly.
Place another crepe on top of the filling and repeat the filling all the way to the top. Leave the top crepe plain.
Wrap in film and refrigerate until completely set.
When ready to serve, you can place a doilie on top and sprinkle it heavily with powdered sugar, Carefully remove the doilie.
To serve, slice the Café au Lait Crepe Cake into about 12 servings. The servings may look small but the cake is very rich.
These Neapolitan Butter Cookies are three flavors in one and so unusual, I decided to throw one more cookie at you for the holidays.
Originated by Amy Hoan avid baker in Canada there are myriad variations on Instagram. These are a simple butter cookie that goes together without effort and is easy to shape. The dough itself is a breeze to work with right out of the mixer. You can vary the flavors by substituting other powders for the cocoa and strawberry.
To obtain the strawberry powder, I processed freeze dried strawberries in the processor. However, be sure to remove the package of desiccant that is in the package. I failed to do that once and when I saw the shreds of paper in the powdered strawberries I had to throw the whole batch out. If you process the whole package, store the leftover powder in an airtight container with the desiccant to keep it dry. Trader Joe’s has these and other flavors.
It is important not to over bake these Neapolitan Butter Cookies or they lose the balance of flavors. The bottoms should be barely browned. The cookies will have crisp edges and soft centers.
Neapolitan Butter Cookies
1 cup butter, softened (225 grams, 8 ounces or 2 sticks)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (250 grams or 8 3/4 ounces)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg
2 cups + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour (300 grams or 10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons freeze dried strawberries or raspberries, powdered
2 tablespoons cocoa*
Red food color, optional**
Sanding Sugar or granulated sugar as needed
*Any cocoa will due but there are color variations. Black cocoa is what I used and it gives the darkest color of all the cocoas. Dutch cocoa would be next and natural cocoa gives the lightest brown. For a deeper understanding of the types of cocoa, please see Cocoa Fundamentals Natural vs. Dutched.
** The use of red food coloring is optional but the cookies will look drab without it.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
Combine the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer. Beat just to combine. Add the egg and mix until blended.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until everything is incorporated.
Divide the dough into 3 parts about 270 grams or about 9 1/2 ounces each. Return one batch to the mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons of strawberry powder. After the powder is mixed in add red food color to get a vibrant red. (Some of it will bake out so it needs to be darker going into the oven.) Remove to a bowl.
Wipe the mixer out with a paper towel if needed. If a bowl scraper is used to remove the dough, it should be clean enough to continue.
Place a second portion of dough in the mixing bowl and add the cocoa powder. Blend in completely.
It is easiest to scoop one flavor all at once then put them together. Wash the disher/scooper in between.
Using a #100 disher/scooper, or about 2 teaspoons each, scoop each of the doughs and line them up on a baking sheet. Cover each batch with film as you go along so they don’t dry out.
Place one of each color before you.Gently push them together so they are one. Roll them between the palms of your hands to form a ball.
Roll the ball in the sugar and place on a baking sheet.
These cookies will spread considerably so place about 3 across and 4 to 5 down on a baking sheet. Below is an unbaked cookie next to the baked cookie.
Bake for 10 to 13 minutes. The white part will barely be brown and they will be slightly soft in the middle. Do not over bake.
I’m not sure why this is necessary, but as the cookies come from the oven, bang the pan on a counter to flatten them. I did with one pan and I didn’t with the other – it didn’t make a big difference.
Yield: About 26 Neapolitan Butter Cookies. Store in a covered container at room temperature for 4 to 5 days.
If you enjoyed these other cookies:
You might recognize Sunny Side Up Apricot Pastries if you own “Baking with Julia” by Julia Child. Michel Richard, the consummate baker contributed the recipe. These are a playfull French pastry featuring puff pastry, pastry cream and apricots. The finished pastries look just like sunny side up eggs. I told you he is the consummate baker! Continue reading