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Saturday
Mar202010

Mac Daddy: Lovely and Amazing Macarons by Pierre Herme

I'm going to start Macaron Day (March 20, natch) by saying something bold: Macarons are not the new cupcake.

Don't get me wrong--in spite of this statement, I am not a macaron hater. It's just that I firmly believe that a good macaron is harder to come by than a good cupcake. Too sweet, too eggy, too chewy--the pitfalls with macarons are numerous, whereas cupcakes, like pizza, seem to go by the adage that even when they're bad, they're still kind of good.

If, however, all macarons were made like the ones at Pierre Hermé, it might be a different story.

Dubbed the "Picasso of Pastry", Pierre Hermé is basically--dare I say it--the mac daddy, the closest thing to a rock star that the macaron could possibly claim.

This is a lot to live up to for pastry pilgrims like myself, and so when we approached the macaron mecca on Rue Bonaparte, I must confess to a soupcon of hesitancy. 

But you know what? If there is a macaron that will make you a believer, it is probably going to be from Pierre Hermé.

We picked up three from the eclectic menu: the Marron et the Vert Matcha (chestnut and green tea), the Fragola (strawberry-balsamic), and the Magnifique, an unlikely pairing of strawberry and wasabi.

(Warning: I'm about to wax very poetic about these little burger-cookies.)

I said it on Serious Eats, and I'll say it again. Biting into one is like biting into a cloud: the macaron is light as air, and yields perfectly to the generous dab of ganache, which is smooth, rich, and creamy without having a texture that is incongruous with the delicate cookie base.

And that's just the texture--the flavors are just as thoughfully balanced and delicious. Each of the flavors we sampled, while unusual, not only worked, but worked well. This was most notable in the strawberry-wasabi flavor. The wasabi was not so much a smack as a whisper, giving the sweet strawberry a little nudge and certain je ne sais quoi. It wasn't spicy per se though, and you really shouldn't be scared of it.

So what is this all to say? Pierre Hermé makes a mean macaron. If you're in Paris, go there.

Pierre Hermé, various locations in Paris (we visited the one on Rue Bonaparte); online at pierreherme.com.

Friday
Mar192010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Moments in Fiction, Volume 2

One batch was not enough: here's another baker's dozen of novels which prominently feature sweet treats! Some are guilty pleasures, some are bittersweet tales--but they all have one thing in common: each one features delicious desserts.

Belle in the Big Apple by Brooke Parkhurst: This novel is kind of like candy--an escapist tale of a southern belle in NYC, and does come with some recipes for sweet treats. 

Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs: This novel has a distinct roman a clef feel, with an aging food tv show hostess battling low ratings and radical rating-boosting ideas; half the fun is picking out who the people in the novel are meant to represent; the rest is the fun of the story and the recipes at the end of the novel.

The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler: A coming-of-age story about a bakery owner's daughter who is struggling with her parents' divorce and the trials of growing up...but with plenty of gratuitous cupcake scenes! (CakeSpy Note: read the CS interview with the author here!)

Entertaining Disasters by Nancy Spiller: A reclusive food writer battles personal demons in more ways than one as she plots the ultimate dinner party. Complete with many recipes, including a great Opera cake recipe!

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond: An adorable children's book detailing the unforeseen consequences of giving a mouse a cookie. Great illustrations too!

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd: Honey. Honeycake. You want to read this.

She Flew the Coop by Michael Lee West: This one is described as "a novel concerning life, death, sex, and recipes in Limoges, Louisiana" -- and it includes cakes.

Spiced: A Pastry Chef's True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the Kitchen by Dalia Jurgensen: OK, so this one is fact, but reads as if it were fiction: a behind-the-scenes look at a pastry chef's life in some of NYC's fanciest restarants, by the current pastry chef at Dressler.

Sorcery And The Single Girl by Mindy Klasky: No recipes, but this novel about a witch in training with a best friend who owns a bakery has plenty of rich descriptions of sweet desserts.

Sprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlay: A murder mystery...with cupcakes!

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen: Magic and bonbons all rolled into one sweet package in this book.

Sweet Treats: Cupcakes for Two/Blueberry Surprise/Bittersweet Memories & Peppermint Dreams/Cream of the Crop by Various (short story collection): Doesn't the title say it all?

Table Manners by Mia King: In the followup to Good Things, character Deidre McIntosh is on the road to creating her own gourmet cookie line, but with some bumps in the batter--er, along the road. This book has a selection of recipes at the end, too, including some from CakeSpy buddies Peabody and Ivy Chan!

Friday
Mar192010

Sweet Love: A Bakery Crush on Rocket Queen Cupcakes, Albany, OR

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Jessica Stanley, owner of Rocket Queen Cupcakes, an Albany, OR-based custom order operation, when she found herself passing through Seattle.

It's always great to meet cool people in the cupcake community--but it's even better when you get to taste their wares.

And Jessica came packing a triple-threat of deliciousness from her menu, including:

The People's Cake, which is described as "Grandma's secret recipe, a dense red velvet cake finished with her rich, cooked buttercream frosting."

The Ms. Devereaux, which is described as "Our take on a key lime pie! A graham cracker crust is baked into a tangy, sweet cake and topped with a cream cheese frosting."

and a delicious combo of Lemon cake, raspberry filling and cream cheese frostin(pictured top).

Currently the Rocket Queen Cupcakes line is available by special order only in the Albany, OR area, but they're not ruling out a retail location in the future. But regardless of whether it's a retail location or just more presence in wholesale accounts, one thing is certain after tasting these cakes: they have a rich and delicious future ahead of them. The cupcakes are extremely dense, with decadent, moist cake (my favorite--no light as air cake for me, please). As for the frostings, my only hesitancy came with the cooked buttercream: while Jessica informs me that this is technically the traditional way to go for red velvet cake, I have sheepishly admit that I prefer the rich tang of cream cheese frosting with the scarlet-hued cake. But this preference aside, the frostings were all quite good, especially (in my opinion) the cream cheese frosting which topped the decadent and tart Ms. Devereaux.

It's sweet love for Rocket Queen Cupcakes, and I can't wait to see their business take orbit.

Rocket Queen Cupcakes, by special order in the Albany, OR area; for more information, visit rocketqueencupcakes.com.

Thursday
Mar182010

Grande Dane: Danish Delights in Solvang, CA from Cake Gumshoe Gayle

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Gayle Wheatley, a pastry aficionado, writer, and artist based in Los Angeles, who grew up near Solvang, California. You can find her writing at www.culturevixen.com, and her art at www.gaylewheatley.com

You’re not in Denmark anymore…although you’d never know it.

For sweet aficionados this side of the pond, European confectionery delight can be sampled just a hop, skip, and a jaunt from Los Angeles. Without having to fly to Denmark to embark on this culinary journey, one can get their pastry fix in Solvang, California, a Danish village located in Santa Barbara county. Downtown Solvang is no ordinary California city. It’s home to Scandinavian shops, wine bars, and eateries that all architecturally appear to have been plucked out of a picturesque village outside Copenhagen. Yes, Danish flags flap in the wind. Yes, store clerks strutt traditional costumes. And yes, Smorgasbord feasts and aebleskivers (Danish pancakes) beckon from restaurant windows. Solvang even boasts not one—but three—historic windmills!

But the best part of a trip to Solvang are the bakeries. Traditional to the core, Solvang boasts four savory bakeries that serve a delicious array of Danish desserts made with quality ingredients, prepared fresh daily. Perhaps my unsatiated pastry cravings are the result of early years spent working in a Solvang bakery, when once upon a time I had access to unlimited quantities of delicious delicacies, and the full-bodied perfume of Danish sweets used to follow me around. Nowadays I’m on the other side of the pastry counter, but the sweets are just as tempting as ever.

Demystifying the Pastry Counter

When you enter a Solvang bakery, the first rule of thumb is to find your way up to the glowing front counter to have a look at all the fancy sweets you can choose from. What you’ll see can be broken down into the following tasty categories:

Danishes & Puff Pastry: These are the very pastries that coined the term “Danish,” and they are a completely different animal than the zombie variety you’ll find at the local coffee shop. These are filled with a burst of fruit such as blueberry, apricot, cream cheese, raspberry, or apple. You’ll also find bear claws and boats, which are fruit-filled Danishes dusted with powdered sugar. Then there my personal favorites: cinnamon crisps, Danish waffles, and florentines. I can never resist a large swirly cinnamon crisp or a Danish Waffle filled with whipped cream and a squirt of raspberry. Chocolate-dipped florentines are another favorite: a crunchy treat made from crushed almonds sandwiching a mocha buttercream center.

Petit-fours & Mini Sweets Petit-fours: Or miniature dessert cakes, are typically filled with buttercream and a squeeze of fruit puree, then topped with fondant and fancy embellishments sculpted from icing. You’ll also find all kinds of tiny treats from almond-topped pistachio bars to macaroons, to rum balls and chocolate-topped Napoleon hats. But the big stars of the show are the rich and tempting chocolate-crowned eclairs, generously stuffed cream puffs, and delicate multi-layered Napoleons.

Danish Specialties: These are pastries meant to be shared, as you’ll notice by their size, which can easily feed a dozen. These show stoppers include:

 

  • Kringles: pretzel-shaped coffee cake filled with marzipan, custard, and raisins, and sprinkled with sugar and sliced almonds.
  • Butter Rings: Round cakes made with butter, marzipan and custard, topped with frosting in the shape of rings.
  • Strudels: A well-known family classic filled with apricot, raspberry, custard, or perhaps cream cheese, sprinkled with sugar and almonds.
  • Butter cookies: You’ll find buckets upon buckets of these assorted cookies that include favorites such as chocolate chip, lemon, coconut, cinnamon, almond, chocolate marble, and sugar-frosted.

 

Bread: The staple of any bakery, bread completes the pastry counter, offering the only item that won’t satisfy a sweet tooth. But the bread in Solvang’s Danish bakeries is traditional and hearty. The most common loaves you’ll find in Solvang are pumpernickel, onion-cheese, cardamom, and cinnamon-raisin.

Once you’ve selected your Scandinavian specialties of choice, you can either dine in and enjoy your sweets with coffee or tea, or head out for an impromptu picnic in one of Solvang’s parks or courtyards. Either way, you’re sure to treat your taste buds to an old world experience you won’t soon forget.

Places to Sample Danish Delights in Solvang, CA:

Danish Mill Bakery, 1682 Copenhagen, Solvang, CA 93464 (805) 688-5805; online at danishmillbakery.com

Mortensens Danish Bakery, 1588 Mission Drive, Solvang, CA 93463 (805) 688-8373; online at mortensensbakery.com

Olsens Danish Village Bakery, 1529 Mission Drive, Solvang, CA 93463 (805) 688-6314 olsensdanishvillagebakery.com

The Solvang Bakery, 460 Alisal Road, Solvang California 93463 (805) 688-4939; online at solvangbakery.com

Wednesday
Mar172010

Muraling in Minneapolis: The Sweetest Bathroom in the World, at Cake Eater Bakery

When the highly anticipated Cake Eater Bakery opens next month in Minneapolis, here's what you're going to do.

1. You're going to either drive, bike, or walk over, if you're in Minneapolis; if not, sorry, but you're going to have to book yourself a flight.

2. Order something at the counter. I'm not the boss of you, so I'm not going to tell you what to order, because pretty much everything I've tasted that they've made is very delicious.

3. You take your treat to go, and hightail it...to the bathroom.

Yes, the bathroom. Because, my friends, Cake Eater has what is undoubtedly the sweetest, awesomest, best bathroom in the world--because it's the only bathroom in the world to have a mural done by CakeSpy.

Yup--it's true: I just spent several days muraling in Minneapolis, and the outcome couldn't be sweeter.

The mural itself is loosely based on battle scenes from The Lord of the Rings--reinterpreted with pastry characters.

A flaming Orthanc Tower is being righteously put out by a stream of pouring milk, care of to-go coffee cups;

a noble Gandalf-inspired cake (on a unicorn for added magic) leads a crew of brave warriors to battle;

the pie warriors defend their territory;

and of course, a delicious piecemeal army is coming in from the other side to help win the war of sweetness.

and to think--this is what it looked like before:

...and here's a panorama to give you an idea of how it all comes together:

I know, I know--you've just found your favorite bathroom in the world.

Cake Eater Bakery is coming soon to 2929 E 25th St in Minneapolis! For the latest info, stay up to date via their website, blog, Facebook, and of course Twitter feeds. Oh, and you can get totally sweet tees here!

Wednesday
Mar172010

Cake Byte: Street Treats, a Mobile Dessert Truck, Coming Soon to Seattle

Photo via street treatsFire up your twitter accounts, Seattle: you've got someone new to follow, both on Twitter and in real life: the newest member of the Seattle mobile food mafia, Street Treats--a mobile dessert truck!

Yup: coming this spring, Street Treats will be Seattle's mobile source for sweet stuff, occupying different locations on a daily basis, according to their site:

We’re looking at spots in lower Queen Anne, First Hill, South Lake Union, SODO, Beacon Hill, Belltown and Rainier Valley. Check back for exact locations in April 2010.

And what will they be serving, you ask? Well, owner Diane Skwiercz will be baking up a delectable array of cookies, brownies and bars (including an especially fascinating specimen called the "Butterscotch cloud", comprised ofchocolate, butterscotch and tiny marshmallows); but the truck will also stock pies from local legend (and beloved by CakeSpyHigh 5 Pies and a rotating array of ice cream flavors from Half Pint

The official launch is still TBA, but hopefully in the next month or two.

For more information, check out streettreatswa.com or follow them on Twitter!

Monday
Mar152010

Sweets for the Sweet: Samoa Cupcakes by Rainy Day Gal

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Rainy Day Gal (a.k.a. Jenny Miller), a fellow Seattle blogger with a major sweet tooth.

Right now Samoas are here. As are Thin Mints. And Tagalongs. And some weird new flavors that nobody wants. But I'll forgive them their dried-cranberries-in-a-cookie misstep just this once. I just can't resist those cute little gals in uniform in front of the grocery store. I'm their best customer, and especially so this year because I decided to take on a baking project involving my all time fave---the aforementioned Samoas. Crunchy cookie covered in chocolate, caramel and toasted coconut? What could be better? Making it into a cupcake, of course. You could do this with any of your favorite cookies, Girl Scout or non---see my suggestions at the end of this post. To match the flavors of the Samoa, I chose a basic vanilla cupcake and a frosting lightly flavored with coconut. I now accept that I am ready to begin. So I will.

First we need to get some coconut milk reducing to make it more concentrated. Pour a can into a saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer over medium heat for about a half hour. Give it a stir once in a while. It will froth and get really big, but the liquid is really reducing in there. Meanwhile, grab the basics: flour, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.

4 eggs. Hippie eggs. I wrote a song about them earlier but I felt it would be inappropriate to share with you. Unsalted butter. 2 sticks. Cubed.

One cup of whole milk. And I'm definitely not going to share my song about hippie milk with y'all.

Pure vanilla extract. Don't ever buy imitation vanilla flavoring, pretty please. I will come over and throw it out your window. And, most importantly? The cookies.

I used two boxes for 24 cupcakes. I accept that there are far too many calories in Samoas alone, let alone in a Samoa cupcake. Somewhere Jillian Michaels is doing push-ups in her magical trainer castle and plotting what she'll have in store for me tomorrow. Stick 'em in your food processor and pulse away. Not even close. Getting closer.... ...perfect.

Toss 'em in a shallow bowl and let's get ready to make our cupcake batter. Toss your dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Give it a quick spin on low to combine the powdery stuff. Throw in your butter... ...and mix just until those little buttery chunks are coated with flour. Crack your 4 hippie eggs into the milk and add one tablespoon of vanilla. Mix well. Add the milk/egg/vanilla mixture to the dry ingredients a third at a time, stopping before each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl. One... two.... ...three. It's alright if it's a little lumpy. Those little chunks of butter will serve to keep the cupcakes moist.

Now here's my trick for filling cupcake liners. Grab a big freezer bag and anchor 3 inches of one of the bottom corners under something heavy. Your stand mixer works perfectly for this. Pour in the batter (I usually hook one edge of the bag onto the little metal thingie that the mixer attachments hook onto. Yes, that is it's proper name.). Seal the bag, hold at the corner and cut off the tip. This is for those of us ghetto-fabulous chefs who don't own pastry bags. Fill your liners about 1/3 full...

...and then sprinkle on a light layer of the crumbled cookies. Then squeeze more batter over the top so that the entire thing is about 3/4 full. Throw into a preheated 325F oven for 17-20 minutes.

By now your coconut milk should be about a quarter of what it once was. It's also creamy and thick---perfect! Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Ready to make frosting? Combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla, powdered sugar and reduced coconut milk in your mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

Mix until light and creamy.

Once the cakes are done, set them on a rack to cool completely before frosting. I'm fairly certain my cupcake army is plotting to take over my home. Once they're cool enough, frost with about 1 tablespoon of frosting each. We're really using frosting in this case to serve as "glue" for the cookie crumbs---we don't want to overdo it. After frosting, give 'em a light dunk in the cookie crumbles. Perfect! I found one stray cookie in the box, so he gets the seat of honor (pictured top). Uh oh. Maybe he's commander of the army.

I think I've just done myself in. And, just because I feel like being sued for copyright infringement*, I stuck a purdy little Girl Scout logo on one of these beauties. *Rainy Day Gal has no affiliation with the Girl Scouts. She admires and respects the organization and hopes that they will not sue her, but instead send her boxes and boxes of cookies. 

Alright, let's get down to it: how did they taste? Pretty darn good. The cake was moist and a tad on the dense side, with a crunchy little layer of cookie halfway down. The frosting added to the flavor of the cake, but didn't overpower the taste of the cookies on top. I simply loved the texture: crunch is always good. These cakes are not for the faint of heart, however---they are incredibly rich. I would make two Girl Scouts share one. A chaser of milk is definitely in order. I now accept that this post has come to an end. But before you go here are some ideas I have for making cupcakes using other flavors of GS Cooks (that's my new nickname for them. Go with it.):

I hope you're enjoying Girl Scout cookie season as much as I am! Well, who am I kidding---I don't think anyone enjoys Girl Scout cookie season as much as I do. Have a totes fab wed, y'all. -RDG Samoa Cupcakes

  • One batch Vanilla Vanilla Cupcake batter
  • 2 boxes Samoas cookies, pulsed in a food processor until crumbly
  • One batch Slightly Coconut Frosting (see below)

Preheat oven to 325F. Fill cupcake liners 1/3 full of batter. Sprinkle a light layer of cookie crumbs on top of batter. Pour the remaining batter on top until liners are about 3/4 full. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Once cool, spread one tablespoon of frosting on top and then lightly press frosted side of cupcake into cookie crumbs. Makes 24 cupcakes. Slightly Coconut Frosting

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Pour coconut milk into a saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced by 75%. Let cool. Combine 4 tablespoons of the reduced coconut milk and remaining ingredients and beat until light and creamy. Refrigerate any unused frosting.

Monday
Mar152010

The Bomb: Filled Cupcakes a la Smitten Kitchen for Serious Eats

Here in Seattle, every March something extremely joyful happens: all of the cupcake shops debut their individual takes on boozy Irish-themed cupcakes.

However, for those of you not in Seattle (or someplace that embraces Irish-inspired cake flavors as readily), fear not, because I've found a recipe to share.

It's an adaptation of the now legendary version first found last year on Smitten Kitchen, with some small liberties taken. Amazingly, while the alcohol is very much present in these cakes, it somehow manages to not be overpowering, instead imparting sophisticated flavor to the frosting and filling and a decadent fudgy texture to the cake.

For the full writeup and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

 

 

Sunday
Mar142010

Poires from Paris: Bagatelle de Poires Pochees Recipe

Totally sweet: a recipe from an actual French person! Here's a guest post from the wonderful and talented Helene, whose work you can find over here.

Well, today you will be able to amazed every one by cooking: "une bagatelle de poires pochées" for 8. How to make it? Nothing easier... I'll show you right now.

First, you have to prepare your pears by dousing them in a delicious sugar and spice coating.

For 4 pears, mix into a big pan:

  • 1 liter of water
  • 500 g of sugar
  • 3 or 4 cinnamon stick
  • Some star anise
  • 4 g. of vanilla

Let the mixture heated and dip your peeled pears, drained and cut in 2 pieces.

Let it cook slowly...

Second, prepare the biscuit

This is a cheap and easy recipe for a biscuit very Frenchy and so good.... This is the basis of our fruits or chocolate charlotte cake. For our recipe we need to prepare it in 2 plain circles. But first of all... the recipe :

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 100 g of sugar
  • 100 g of flour

 Procedure

  1. Separate the white from the egg yolk. Mix the yolk and 80 g of sugar in a bowl: whisk strong enough to lather and bleach everything.  
  2. Beat the egg whites until stiff and mixed with the remaining 20g sugar. Whisk again to smooth everything.
  3. Mix it gently with the yolk. Stir very slowly so as not to « break » our preparation.
  4. Add in once the flour and mixed it still gently.
  5. The batter is ready ! take your pastry tip and bag...
  6. Make 2 regular spiral, the size of your dessert circles.
  7. Sprinkle with icing sugar or cocoa powder twice.
  8. And presto! : bake them, 15 min. à 180°C

And third, the mousseline cream!

We have to start with our pear mixture.

Once it cooled, we will have to mix it with butter cream.

Ingredients

  • 300 g of whole milk 
  • 1 egg
  • 40 g of sugar
  • 30 g of fecule de pomme de terre (I don't know the word for this)
  • 1/2 vanilla pod

Faire un pâtissière :

  1. Heat the milk with the vanilla until it bowled.
  2. In the mean time, whisk together egg, sugar, powdered cream with a little hot milk (to relax the mixture).
  3. Once the milk is boiling, mixed everything in the pan and thicken everything, whisking bluntly!
  4. Be careful not to burn the preparation
  5. Once ready, take the mixture away from the fire and put it down a plate to the freezer for 20 minutes to cool it completely.
  6. Meanwhile, get your 170g soft butter!    I mean  a soft butter (not melted)  and whip  it into cream . 
  7. When your mixture is cooled, mix butter whipped with it.

Your mousseline  is ready!

Fourth, assembly ...

  1. Your pears are drained and  cutted 
  2. Place your first biscuit in the bottom and wet it with syrup poached pears. 
  3. Put your cream into a first layer and place a pear slice on the side of your circle.
  4. Fill with half a pear cutted in small pieces! be generous and cover with cream mousseline.
  5. Cover it with your second wet biscuit !
  6. The circle is completed ...chill for at least 2 hours.
  7. Once cooled, here is a great cake nearly done!
  8. It is better to eat the next day, so the flavors will be stronger and better "soaked" !  

C'est formidable...

Finally,  some decorating suggestions!

In France, it is common to add a thin layer of almond paste and write the name of the cake  on it.  

But I prefer that you use your imagination. If you're afraid of spoiling, prefer simplicity! For example, use your last poached pears into slices and place it on your decor, or the spices from the syrup...or maybe you'd like to make them into little "cupcakes" ...the sky's the limit!

Thank you very much! I hope you love this "bagatelle" French pear cake !  

Sunday
Mar142010

Tartelets of the Table: Chocolate Tartelet Recipe from Alabama Studio Style

When I received a sample copy of Alabama Studio Style: More Projects, Recipes, & Stories Celebrating Sustainable Fashion & Living in the mail, I was initially perplexed--although it is beautiful, it seemed like it was a book of sewing and home projects.

But then I found it: the recipes. Scattered throughout the creative sewing and home projects are several delicious recipes--most notably this one, for chocolate tartelets. Filled with creamy chocolate that falls somewhere between custard and ganache, these are an extremely delicious dessert, and they've definitely made me curious about some of the other recipes in the book, including coconut cupcakes. And there is a DIY project for homemade cake plates...

Chocolate Tartelets

Adapted from Alabama Studio Style by Natalie Chanin

You'll need: one pie crust, separated into 12 3-inch tartlet servings (use your favorite recipe for a 9-inch pie)

Note: a similar full size pie recipe is on the Alabama Studio Style site!

For the filling:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large egg yolks, beaten
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

For the meringue

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Filling procedure

In the top of a double boiler, combine 1 cup sugar and the flour. Add buttermilk and simmer over boiling water for about 15 minutes, until thick. Remove from heat. Beat the egg yolks, and then add them to the milk mixture. In a separate bowl, mix cocoa with enough boiling water to form a paste, and then whisk this paste into the double boiler mixture. Return to heat and simmer over boiling water until thick. Remove from heat, and add butter and vanilla. Cool, then transfer to prebaked pastry tartlet shells.

Meringue topping procedure

While filling is cooling, preheat oven to 325, and prepare meringue as follows: in a medium sized bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until mixture stands in a peak. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until stiff and glossy. Gently fold in 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Spread on top of prepared tartlets and bake until lightly browned, about 5-10 minutes.

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