Tag Archives: dessert

Flourless Chocolate Torta

The Hubs decided to treat himself with dessert for Father’s Day and when he eyeballed this Flourless Chocolate Torta in the latest Milk Street magazine, he knew it was the ticket! Rich, light and flourless, this Italian cake is a fudgy, brownie-like dessert created by Eugenio Gollini of the medieval town of Vignola back in 1886.

In reinventing this cake, Milk Street found that peanut flour, one of the most distinctive ingredients of the original Gollini torta, could be omitted without sacrificing flavor or texture. Instead they use almond flour which provides an equally flavorful and moist cake—and is much easier to source.

Instant espresso powder accentuates the deep, roasty, bitter notes and a dose of dark rum lifts the flavors with its fieriness. Serve with lightly sweetened mascarpone, whipped cream, or with vanilla gelato or ice cream—in our case, it was with a non-dairy oat vanilla brand that our lactose intolerant guests loved.

Don’t use natural cocoa. The recipe will still work, but the cake will be lighter in color and not quite as deep in flavor as when made with Dutch-processed cocoa. Take care not to overbake the cake. Remove it from the oven when a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with a few sticky crumbs clinging to it. After 30 to 45 minutes of cooling, the cake is inverted out of the pan; don’t worry about re-inverting it. True torta Barozzi is left upside-down for cutting and serving.

Don’t forget that the eggs need to be room temperature.

Flourless Chocolate Torta

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 10 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 10 pieces, plus more for the pan
  • 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • ¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
  • 1 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
  • 4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • ¾ cup white sugar, divided
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 3 Tbsp. dark rum

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Butter an 8-inch square pan, line the bottom with a parchment square and butter the parchment.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, cocoa and espresso powder. Let stand for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to soften, then whisk until the mixture is smooth; cool until barely warm to the touch.
  3. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the egg yolks and ½ cup of the sugar until lightened and creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk until homogeneous. Add the almond flour and salt, then whisk until fully incorporated. Whisk in the rum; set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-high until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining ¼ cup sugar, then beat until the whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add about a third of the whipped whites to the yolk-chocolate mixture and fold with a silicone spatula to lighten and loosen the base. Scrape on the remaining whites and gently fold in until no streaks remain. Transfer to the prepared pan and gently shake or tilt the pan to level the batter.
  6. Bake until the cake is slightly domed and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 to 45 minutes; the cake will deflate slightly as it cools.
  7. Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert onto a platter; if needed, peel off and discard the parchment. Cool completely. Dust with cocoa before serving.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe adapted by Rose Hattabaugh for Milk Street

Tres Leche Cake Adventure

It was son David’s 29th birthday and he requested a Tres Leche Cake as his dessert choice. Well, neither of us had ever made one, but you know how we enjoy a culinary challenge—and boy, were we thrown a curve ball or two…

Since there were going to be only four of us for dinner (and one of us doesn’t eat dessert), the ability to easily halve the ingredients was a game changer—after all, the full recipe feeds up to 16!

So the half-cake batter was made exactly as noted in the directions and put in the preheated oven. After 25 minutes, it was no where near done. At 30 minutes, the center was still jiggly and The Hubs used a toothpick to test for doneness—still too wet. We added another 10 minutes which rendered the cake a light golden color, but also caused the middle to sink 😦

Several other reviewers mentioned that when they made the half version, they also experienced sunken centers. We think perhaps poking it for doneness caused it to deflate, maybe? The Hubs first inclination was to deep-six it and start over but that would have meant a trip to the grocery store for more ingredients. So after some quick rethinking, we decided to move forward.

The milk amounts were cut in half too, and most of the combination was poured over the cooled “forked” cake. Because of the inward slope, the liquid was drizzled around the top edges and the pan was tipped and turned to try and keep as much of the moisture near the top instead of all gathering in the sunken center. We used the majority of the milk mixture to fully saturate the cake, tossing the remainder. Into the fridge it went for a good nights rest.

The whipped topping would not suffice if we made only half of the amount because of that sunken middle, thus the decision to make the entire amount. Fiasco number two. The cream never got stiff, in fact, after switching from a hand held mixer to the mighty Kitchen Aid with whipping attachment, it only got more watery, so down the drain it went, and to the grocery store The Mister went.

Our next topping attempt was going to be an altogether different recipe found in Fine Cooking, which sounded like the perfect antidote. But of course, when The Hubs got to the store (the only one that happened to be open on Easter Sunday), they were completely out of heavy cream! Defeated, he just grabbed a can of ready whip and called it a day…

David commented that “It’s best to preface this blog by mentioning that Tres Leche is not a presentation-worthy cake, but it is a delicious one, with originality and authenticity.” (Maybe if you discount that canned whipped topping.) The Hubs said “I always used to have a glass of milk with cake. This was like pouring the milk on the cake and then eating it.” And girlfriend Vikki noted “It’s like cotton candy melting in your mouth—a little more cakey, but it’s better that way.”

No lying, the cake would not have won any medals in a bake-off, but all those that ate it, loved the taste. I’ve learned in life you can’t always have a win-win, but you can learn from mishaps and move on. The Hubs is determined to make it again—next time around with a few changes.

Notes: This recipe can be halved. If doing so, bake the cake in an ungreased 8- by 8-inch baking dish and reduce baking time to 25 to 30 minutes. (Although in our case, it took 40 minutes!) Be sure to thoroughly chill the cake prior to serving. You could even pop it in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes right beforehand.

Tres Leche Cake

  • Servings: 12-16
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients (whole cake)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 (12-oz.) cans evaporated milk
  • 2 (14-oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For the topping:

  • 2-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Combine flour and baking powder in small bowl; set aside.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer, beat egg whites and salt with whisk attachment on medium-low speed until whites begin to froth, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and beat whites until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. The mixture may look a bit thick.
  4. Add egg yolks and beat just until combined. Decrease speed to low and add flour in three additions, alternating with the milk, scraping sides and bottom of bowl as necessary. Add vanilla and beat just until combined.
  5. Scrape batter into an ungreased 13- by 9-inch baking dish (or 8- by 8-inch for a half cake). Bake until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer cake to cooling rack and cool completely in pan, 60 to 90 minutes.
  6. Once cooled, poke cake all over with fork. Combine evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and 1 1/2 cups heavy cream in large bowl. Pour mixture evenly all over cake. While cake soaks, make whipped cream.
  7. In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer on medium speed. When it begins to thicken, slowly add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat just until it holds firm peaks, 3 to 4 minutes (be careful not to overbeat).
  8. Spread whipped cream over cake and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours. Serve.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe is a mash-up between one from María Del Mar Cuadra (cake) and Fany Gerson (whipped topping)

White Wine-Poached Pears with Lemon and Herbs

If you’re looking for an easy pear dessert that lets the fruit shine, look no further. The Hubs came across this lovely recipe in his new acquisition by Cook’s Illustrated (CI) “The Compete Mediterranean Cookbook.” Poached pears are a classic French dessert, and yet simple enough to make at home.

Because our bosc pears were a bit too firm yet, the simmering process took longer to render them tender enough. We also lengthened the sauce reduction time to get the syrup to the correct consistency. Making them the day before our dinner party gave the pears ample time to refrigerate overnight.

They can be served as is, or with crème fraîche… perhaps even a shortbread cookie on the side…

NOTES from CI: For the best texture, try to buy pears that are neither fully ripe nor rock hard; choose those that yield just slightly when pressed. Use a vegetable peeler to peel strips of lemon zest, but take care to avoid the bitter pith beneath the skin. For the white wine, a medium-bodied dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay is recommended.

White Wine-Poached Pears with Lemon and Herbs

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 bottle dry white wine (750-ml)
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 6 strips lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 5 sprigs fresh mint leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seed scraped out and reserved
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. juice from 1 lemon
  • 6 ripe but firm pears (about 8 oz. each), preferably Bosc or Bartlett
  • Crème fraîche, for garnish, optional

Directions

  1. Bring the wine, sugar, lemon zest, mint, thyme, vanilla seeds and pod, cinnamon, and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves completely, about 5 minutes; cover and set aside until needed.
  2. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with water and add the lemon juice. Peel, halve, and core the pears following the illustrations in the related quick tips, adding them to the lemon water to prevent browning.
  3. Drain the pears, discarding the lemon water, and add to the wine mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until pears are tender and a toothpick or skewer can be inserted into pear with very little resistance, 10 to 20 minutes, gently turning the pears over every 5 or so minutes.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fruit to a shallow casserole dish. Return the syrup to medium heat and simmer until it is slightly thickened and measures 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer, then pour over the pears, discarding the strained solids. Refrigerate the pears until well chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
  5. To serve, spoon portions of fruit and syrup into individual bowls or on plates. Drizzle crème fraîche over the tops, if desired.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Double Chocolate Cake with Honey-Rosemary Syrup

This unique syrup-soaked chocolate cake was the perfect dessert for our Christmas dinner, however you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to make it.

Floral honey and piney, resinous rosemary combine for a surprisingly delicious match for chocolate, their flavors and aromas complementing and lifting the dark, bittersweet notes.

Erika Bruce for Milk Street

The cake has a fine crumb similar to pound cake, yet is tender and light, and the syrup makes it extremely moist. If you can, plan in advance and make the cake a day ahead; its texture improves as the syrup slowly soaks in. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.

Tips: Don’t measure the ¾ cup water and then bring it boil it or too much will steam off as it heats. Instead, boil a larger quantity of water in a kettle or saucepan, then measure the ¾ cup. Don’t underbake the cake or it will sink as it cools. When testing doneness, make sure the toothpick comes out clean and dry from the cake’s center. Finally, to ensure even absorption, drizzle on the syrup in four applications, with a brief rest between each. If applied all at once, the syrup will pool on the surface and turn the top soggy.

Double Chocolate Cake with Honey-Rosemary Syrup

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • 10 Tbsp. (1¼ sticks) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk

For the Honey Syrup:

  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Directions

  1. To make the cake, heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, then dust with flour; tap out the excess. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate and cocoa. Pour the boiling water over top, jiggling the bowl to ensure all the chocolate is submerged. Let stand for 1 to 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth; set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup sugar on low until just combined. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Reduce to medium and add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl once halfway through.
  5. Reduce to low, then add the chocolate mixture and vanilla; scrape the bowl. With the mixer running on low, add about a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk, then scrape the bowl. With the mixer running, add half of the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining buttermilk, then finish with the remaining the flour mixture. Fold the batter by hand to ensure it is homogenous. The batter will be thick but pourable.
  6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until the cake forms a thin, crisp center crust and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, rosemary, salt and ⅓ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Transfer to a liquid measuring cup and cool to room temperature.
  8. When the cake is done, cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the rosemary from the cooled syrup, then drizzle about a quarter of the syrup onto the warm cake. The syrup will not be immediately absorbed; let stand for about 5 minutes to allow it to soak in. Drizzle on the remaining syrup in 3 more applications, allowing a 5-minute rest between each.
  9. Cool the cake completely in the pan, at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight (if storing overnight, wrap the pan in plastic and store at room temperature). To serve, run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the cake, remove the sides of the pan and cut the cake into wedges.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe from Briana Holt of Tandem Bakery + Coffee in Portland, Maine

Rustic Pear Crostata

A work of art—and not by me. Recently we enjoyed a fabulous dinner at the home of friends Rosanne and Gary (Mr. and Mrs. Z, as you may recall). And the showstopper was the Rustic Pear Crostata, a recipe Mrs. Z. got from well-known chef Lidia Bastianich.

Now I know I’m not much of a dessert eater, but the crostata was a thing of beauty—and I’m sure those purple edible butterflies may have had something to do with the attraction. Yes, that’s correct, I did say edible butterflies. I was so intrigued, I questioned where Rosanne got them.

The answer? From http://www.DecoMachineLLC.com where they sell edible dessert toppers or, “pictures you can eat.” These are very thin and almost translucent (see through), similar to a “communion wafer” and are virtually tasteless, not sweet at all and, are sugar-free.

The Hubs LOVED his portion! He’s a pear man to begin with, and then served with a generous dollop of homemade whipped cream, you’d think he died and went to Heaven. He certainly didn’t decline the offer to take some of the leftovers home…

Couldn’t resist giving a shout out to my gal-pal for the fabulous dinner with the eye-catching finale! Drum roll please…

Rustic Pear Crostata

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 8 Tbsp. very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Large egg

Ingredients for the filling:

  • ¼ cup apricot jam
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 3 Firm-ripe bartlett pears, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1 Large egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

Directions

  1. For the dough, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Pulse just to combine. Scatter in the butter pieces and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the egg and 2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl and pour over the flour. Pulse just until the dough comes together in loose crumbs. (Add a little more water if the dough is too crumbly or a little more flour if it is too wet.)
  2. Mound the dough on a work surface and knead a few times to make a cohesive dough. Wrap in plastic and flatten into a disk.
  3. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Let rest on the work surface for 10 minutes before you begin to roll it out.   
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, with a baking stone, if you have one, on the bottom rack.
  5. For the filling, warm the jam in a small bowl in the microwave to thin it out, then stir in the sugar. Toss the pears, cornstarch, and lemon zest and juice until the cornstarch is absorbed. Drizzle with the jam mixture and toss to combine.  
  6. Roll the dough on a piece of parchment to a circle with a 13-inch diameter. Mound the pear mixture in the center, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Dot the top with the butter pieces.
  7. Fold the crust over the top of the fruit, pleating as you go. Slide the crostata, still on the parchment, onto a baking sheet. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.  
  8. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the bottom of the crust is crisp and golden, about 40 minutes. Remove to a rack and let cool at least 30 minutes.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature. If desired, shake on some powdered sugar just before serving.

http://www.lynnandruss.com