January 27, 2017 § Leave a comment
You know how sometimes you want to really impress your guests with a very special, not “only” delicious but also beautiful-looking dessert? If you are willing to put in a little bit of effort, a Pear Charlotte will definitely deliver the wow factor, as well as the “deliciousness”. AND, drum rolls, it must be made in advance, so no last minute stress!!
This classic French dessert often comes with a “creme bavaroise” filling (it includes eggs and is quite rich) but this recipe from Daniel Boulud (Elle Decor, November 2015) calls for gelatin and makes for a slightly lighter if not completely dietetic filling .Try it and you’ll be smitten! (Note that the author suggests using canned pears or other fruit if you do not have the time or inclination to poach the pears!! Another time-saving tip!!)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise pods Zest and juice of 1 lemon
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup honey
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
7 Bartlett pears
1 T unsalted butter Salt
4 sheets gelatin or two ¼-oz. packets
1 package ladyfingers (24 pieces)
1 ½ cups heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line a charlotte mold with plastic wrap so that the bottom and sides are covered.
In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil the cinnamon sticks, star anise, lemon juice and zest, maple syrup, honey, sugar, and water. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Set aside ¼ cup of syrup.
Transfer the remaining syrup to a large shallow baking dish. Peel, quarter, and core four of the pears and slice them thinly (about ¼ inch thick). Immediately transfer the slices to the baking dish and mix them with the syrup to prevent oxidation. Cover the dish and place in the oven to poach the pear slices for about 15 minutes.
Peel, quarter, and core the remaining three pears and roughly chop into small chunks. In a medium saucepan, combine the pear chunks with the butter, a pinch of salt, and the reserved ¼ cup of syrup;
set the saucepan over medium heat, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until the pear mashes easily with a spoon. Use a handheld immersion blender to puree until smooth.
Bloom the gelatin in a small bowl of cold water and add it to the pear puree; mix well and transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 45 minutes.
Remove the poached pears from the oven and let them cool slightly in the syrup. Using a slotted spoon, gently transfer the pears onto a plate lined with paper towels. Quickly dip the ladyfingers in the syrup and set them aside; they will slowly absorb the syrup.
In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the cream to stiff peaks,
then, using a spatula, gently fold the pear puree into the whipped cream;
do not overmix.
To assemble the pear charlotte, line the walls of the charlotte mold with the syrup-soaked ladyfingers, arranging them vertically side by side. Pour half of the pear-cream mixture into the charlotte, then add a double layer of sliced pears. Pour in the remaining pear-cream mixture. Lay four more ladyfingers across the top and trim the four remaining ladyfingers to fill in gaps so that the top (which will be the base of the charlotte once inverted) is covered. Place in the refrigerator for at least four hours to set completely. To serve, unmold the charlotte onto a plate and arrange the remaining pear slices on top in a circular pattern.
January 9, 2017 § Leave a comment
There is no doubt that miniature cookies check all the boxes: cute beyond compare and small enough that you can have a few without feeling the guilt and the pounds piling on!!
SWEETTABLESCAPES makes them on a regular basis for many different events and they’re always a big hit!! Our collection of miniature cookie cutters is constantly growing! So here are some of the latest styles:
November 29, 2016 § Leave a comment
When the weather starts cooling, it becomes all the more appealing to retreat to the kitchen, warm up the oven and bake something delicious. If I have extra time, I will go all out and spend the afternoon making some easy-to-freeze cakes, that I know will be ready anytime. Such an afternoon happened recently and one of SWEETTABLESCAPES creation was this massive and massively-yummy Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Lemon from Food and Wine Magazine.
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
- Pinch of fine salt
- MAKE THE CAKEIn a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the 1 1/2 sticks of butter with the shortening at medium-high speed until smooth.
Add the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- At medium speed, beat in the eggs 1 at a time until just incorporated, then beat in the vanilla;
- scrape down the side of the bowl. Beat in the dry ingredients and buttermilk in 3 alternating batches, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
- At low speed, beat in the lemon juice.Scrape the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and use a spatula to smooth the surface. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then turn it out on a platter or cake stand to cool completely.
- MAKE THE GLAZEIn a medium bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the lemon zest, lemon juice, butter and salt until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Let stand for 20 minutes until the glaze is set. Cut the cake into wedges and serve.
The glazed cake can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen.
November 18, 2016 § Leave a comment
I still remember the Pain d’Epices of my childhood, store-bought, dense, and plain (no nuts or dried fruit in it, which suited me just fine since I really did not care for the extra-sugary, syrupy cherry bits that seemed to be the standard addition in many a “pain d’epices”). Mine was simple and perfectly sliced in its cellophane wrapping. I could grab a piece anytime and I did!! I particularly enjoyed it with a piece of chocolate…
Fast forward a few years(..??) and here I am attempting the real deal…A Pain d’Epices with loads of dried fruit and nuts; and since homemade is still the bomb, it came out fantastically spicy, nutty and altogether delicious. Even got a major husband’s stamp of approval!
This recipe had been sitting in my files ( I think I cut that one out from the New-York Times) for quite some time and with the holidays approaching, I really wanted to give it a try. Done! And needless to say, this will become a traditional giveaway dessert at SWEETTABLESCAPES.
2 cups nuts, preferably a mix of sliced almonds, slivered almonds, skinned pistachios, skinned hazelnuts, walnut halves and pine nuts
1 cup dried fruit cut in small dice, preferably equal amounts of apricots, figs, prunes and dates
1/4 cup dark raisins
1/4 cup golden raisins
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
finely grated zest of 1 orange
4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pastis or other anise-flavored liqueur (we used Anisette)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)
pinch of salt
1 cup pine honey or other strong flavored honey (we used lavender honey)
3/4 cup sugar
2 TBsp dark rum
2 pieces star anise, tied in cheesecloth
3 cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter four or five aluminum-foil baby loaf pans. Dust insides with flour and tap out excess. Place pans on baking sheet; set aside.
- In large mixing bowl, combine nuts, diced fruit, dark raisins, golden raisins, lemon and orange zest. Mix well. Add baking soda, pastis, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Stir to mix.
- In medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 3/4 cups water with honey, sugar, rum and star anise. Bring to boil, and immediately remove from heat. Remove and discard star anise. Pour liquid into bowl of fruit and nuts, and stir gently. Let mixture rest for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally . Add all-purpose flour, stir well and let rest for 2 or 3 minutes.
- Divide batter among pans; the pans will be about 3/4 full. Place baking sheet in oven. Bake until knife inserted in center of cakes comes out with the tiniest bit of moist batter at the tip, 45 to 50 minutes. (Check cakes after 20 minutes of baking; if at any time the cakes appear to be browning too quickly, cover them loosely with tent of aluminum foil.)
- Transfer cakes to a rack, and cool to room temperature. Unmold, and wrap in plastic film. To serve, cut into thin slices. the cakes are best after ripening for 3 days at room temperature. If sealed in airtight wrap, they may be frozen for a month.
NOTE: This cake is an excellent keeper. In fact, it should not really be eaten until 3 days after it’s made; its flavors need time to ripen. In addition, this cake is great toasted for breakfast and superb with savory foods.