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Making this large braid is easier and quicker than forming individual Danish pastries. Though the beautifully woven top of the pastry looks complicated, it is not difficult to do.

One 4 x 12-inch braid, about 10 servings

Walnut Filling

1 1/2 cups walnut pieces

2/3 cup milk

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

1/3 recipe Danish Pastry Dough (see below)

Egg wash: 1 egg well beaten with a pinch of salt

 Cinnamon Icing

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon milk or water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

One 12 x 15-inch cookie sheet lined with parchment paper

  1. To make the filling, place the walnut pieces in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse 5 or 6 times at 1-second intervals. Remove 1/4 cup of the chopped walnuts and set aside for finishing the braid. Continue to pulse the remaining walnuts until they are finely ground, but not pasty. Combine the milk, sugar, and butter in a heavy nonreactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Add the ground walnuts and breadcrumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until the filling thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla and cinnamon, and scrape the filling into a bowl to cool.
  2. Lightly flour the work surface and the dough and roll the dough into a 12-inch square. Slide the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it until the filling has cooled to room temperature.
  3. Remove the pan of dough from the refrigerator. Mark but don’t cut the chilled dough into 3 sections, each 4 inches wide and 12 inches long. Slash through the 2 outermost sections diagonally downward at 1/2-inch intervals. Spread the cooled filling over the center (unslashed) section. Fold the slashes one at a time over the center filled section, alternating a strip of dough from first one side then the other. Cover with a dry towel or plastic wrap and allow the braid to rise at room temperature until the braid puffs slightly, up to 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
  5. Paint the braid with the egg wash. Draw the brush against the rim of the bowl to remove excess wash, to avoid having the egg wash puddle under the braid. Sprinkle the braid with the reserved chopped walnuts. Bake the braid for about 20 minutes, until it is well risen and a deep golden color.
  6. Slide the braid, still on the paper, onto a rack to cool.
  7. To make the icing, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and place over low heat, stirring constantly, until the icing is warm, about 110 degrees. Drizzle the icing from the end of a metal spoon into the braid in an irregular pattern. Slide the braid off the paper onto a platter or cutting board.
 DANISH PASTRY DOUGH

DOUGH

1 cup milk

5 teaspoons (2 envelopes) active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

3 large eggs

 

BUTTER LAYER

1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

14 ounces(3 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter

About 3 pounds dough

  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the milk just until it feels warm, about 110 degrees. Pour it into a small bowl and whisk in the yeast. Set aside.
  2. Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse several times just to combine. Add the 4 tablespoons of butter and pulse 6 or 8 times, until the butter is absorbed and the mixture looks powdery. Add the eggs and yeast mixture and continue to pulse until the dough forms a ball. If the dough refuses to form a ball, add up to 3 tablespoons of flour a tablespoon at a time, pulsing once or twice after each addition. To mix by hand, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir well to mix. Rub in the butter by hand, being careful to leave the mixture cool and powdery. Beat the eggs into the yeast mixture and add to the bowl. Stir vigorously with a rubber spatula until the dough forms.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface (you may need the help of a scraper) and fold the dough over on itself 6 or 8 times. Sprinkle with up to 3 tablespoons more flour if the dough is very soft. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 8 hours.
  4. To prepare the butter layer to be incorporated into the dough, scatter the flour on the work surface. Remove the butter from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and roll the butter in the flour to coat it. Pound the butter with a rolling pin, gently at first. Turn it often to keep it coated with flour. The butter should become soft and malleable, but not begin to melt. Press the butter occasionally with your fingertip to check its consistency—it should be cool and pliable. Flouring your hands with any flour left on the work surface (up to 1 tablespoon additional flour), quickly knead the butter into a solid mass and set it aside for a moment. If the room is warm, refrigerate the butter.
  5. Scrape off any bits of butter stuck to the work surface and flour it lightly. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and turn the dough out in one piece onto the surface using a rubber spatula. Make sure the dough does not fold over onto itself or it may become too elastic to roll. Lightly flour the top of the dough and, using the palm of one hand, press and pull it into a 6 x 12-inch rectangle.
  6. Divide the softened butter into 8 fairly equal-sized pieces and press each quickly between the palms of your hand to flatten it. Distribute the flattened pieces of butter in a 6 x 9-inch rectangle over the bottom two thirds of the dough.
  7. Fold the top (unbuttered) third of the dough down over the middle (buttered) third. Then fold the bottom (buttered) third up over the other layers to make a 5-layered package of dough and butter.
  8. Position the dough on the work surface so that the fold is on your left. Lightly flour the work surface and dough and, with a rolling pin, press a series of horizontal lines in the dough to flatten it gently. You don’t want the butter to squeeze out the sides or the dough to become thinner at the edges, so when the dough is approximately 1/2 inch thick, roll it, without rolling over the edges, to make a 12 x 24-inch rectangle. Fold the two narrow ends of the dough to within 1/4 inch of the middle, leaving a 1/2-inch space between their ends. Fold over again at the space to make 4 layers.
  9. Repeat step 8. Loosely wrap the dough in plastic wrap, then slide it into a large plastic bag, to allow room for it to expand.
  10. Refrigerate the dough for 2 t o 24 hours after preparing it. Freeze for longer storage: Allow it to rest in the refrigerator for several hours, then remove it from the refrigerator, deflate it by pressing it gently with the palms of your hands, and cut off the amount you wish to freeze. Double-wrap the portion in plastic wrap and freeze for as long as several weeks. Defrost frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight before using it.
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Cha Shao Bao

I’m always happy when these appear on a dim sum cart in a tea house, and I knew I wanted to create a recipe for them, though my skills in Chinese cooking are mostly limited to eating it! So I called on my longtime friend Norman Weinstein, a gifted teacher of Chinese cooking, and these are the result. The recipe is also loosely based on one in Florence Lin’s Complete Book of Chinese Noodles, Dumplings and Breads (Quill Paperback, 1986).

I’ve given a full recipe for these, including the preparation of the roast pork. If you live near a Chinese restaurant that has good roast pork, by all means buy some for the recipe. If you don’t like pork, skinned and boned chicken thighs make an adequate, though not perfect, substitute.

Sixteen 3-inch buns

CHINESE ROAST PORK

2 1/2 pounds boneless Boston pork butt

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons black soy sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup Chinese rice wine or dry California sherry

2 tablespoons oil, such as corn, canola, or peanut

BUN FILLING

2 tablespoons oil

1 medium (about 8 ounces) white onion, peeled, halved, and chopped

2 1/2 cups Chinese roast pork, above, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 tablespoons chicken stock or water

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup finely sliced scallions, both white and green parts

2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons chicken stock or water

BUN DOUGH

3/4 cup milk

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 large egg

4 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

Egg wash: 1 egg well beaten with a pinch of salt

1 roasting pan with a cooling rack slightly larger than the pan

2 cookie sheets or jelly-roll pans lined with parchment or foil for baking the buns

  1. To prepare the roast pork, cut the meat into 1 1/2 inches thick, then across the slices every 1 to 1 1/2 inches to make long strips. Place the meat in a rectangular glass or stainless steel pan that will hold it in one layer. Set the meat aside while preparing the marinade.
  2. To prepare the marinade, in a small bowl combine all remaining ingredients and stir well to mix. Pour over the meat and stir the meat around in the marinade in all directions so that all the meat is well moistened with it. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the meat marinate for 3 to 6 hours at a cool room temperature or in the refrigerator.
  3. To roast the pork, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.
  4. Pour about 1 inch of warm water into the roasting pan and balance the rack on top of the roasting pan. Lift the pieces of pork from the marinade and arrange them on the rack. Roast the pork for about 1 hour, basting 2 to 3 times with the remaining marinade and turning the pieces several times. Remove the pan from the oven and place the rack over a jelly-roll pan. Cool the pork to room temperature. If you are roasting the pork in advance, refrigerate it in plastic wrap before continuing. Cold pork is easier to dice.
  5. To prepare the filling, heat the oil in a large sauté pan or wok and add the onion. Cook over low to medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Stir in the diced pork and chicken stock and simmer 1 minute. Add all the remaining ingredients except the scallions and dissolved cornstarch and stir well to mix. Push the filling aside to expose some of the pan bottom and add the cornstarch mixture. Stir constantly until it thickens slightly, then stir the thickened cornstarch evenly into the filling. Cook, stirring, 1 minute longer, then stir in the scallions. Scrape the filling into a glass or stainless steel bowl and cool it to room temperature. For advance preparation, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to a day before continuing.
  6. To prepare the dough, in a small saucepan over low heat, heat the milk until it is lukewarm (about 110 degrees). Remove the pan from the heat and pour the milk into a medium bowl. Whisk in the yeast, followed by the butter. Whisk in the egg with the sugar and salt.
  7. Place the flour in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the yeast and egg mixture, scraping it in with a rubber spatula. Pulse until the dough forms a very soft ball. Let the processor run continuously for 10 seconds to knead the dough.
  8. Invert the dough into a buttered bowl and carefully remove the blade. Turn the dough over so that the top is buttered and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  9. To form the buns, scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and use a bench scraper or knife to cut it in half. Roll each piece of dough under the palms of your hands to an 8-inch cylinder. Cut each cylinder of dough into eight 1-inch pieces.
  10. Place one of the pieces of dough on a lightly floured work surface and press and roll it to a 3-inch disk. Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling in the center and draw the sides of the disk of dough up all around the filling to meet in the center. Firmly pinch the seam closed and invert the bun, seam side down, onto one of the prepared pans. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  11. Cover the buns with oiled plastic wrap or a towel and let them rise at room temperature until they almost double in bulk, about 30 minutes.
  12. About 15 minutes before the buns are completely risen, set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  13. Immediately before baking the buns, carefully brush them with the egg wash.
  14. Bake the buns until they are a deep golden color, about 20 to 25 minutes. Switch the pan from the upper rack to the lower one, and the pan from the lower rack to the upper one, about midway through the baking.
  15. Cool the buns on a rack.

 

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Truffeltorte

An adaptation of the truffle cake from the famous Sprungli cake shop in Zurich. This dessert is easy to make in advance and, as it makes two cakes, one may be used immediately and the other refrigerated or frozen for later use.

Two 3 1/2 x 8-inch rectangular cakes

Cake

6 ounces semisweet chocolate

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

2/3 cup sugar

8 large eggs, separated

1 1/3 cups blanched or unblanched ground almonds

2/3 cup dry breadcrumbs

Filling

24 ounces (1 1/2 pounds) semisweet chocolate

2 cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

Unsweetened cocoa powder for finishing

One 11 x 17-inch jelly-roll pan, buttered and lined with a sheet of parchment or wax paper

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. To make the cake, cut the chocolate into fine pieces and place in a small bowl over hot water to melt, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool. Beat the butter with 1/3 cup of the sugar until the mixture is soft and light, then beat in the chocolate, then the yolks, one at a time. In a small bowl, combine the almonds and crumbs and stir them in. In a clean, dry bowl with clean, dry beaters, beat the egg whites until they hold a very soft peak, then beat in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a slow stream. Continue to beat the whites until they hold a firm peak. Stir a quarter of the whites into the batter, then fold in the rest with a rubber spatula.
  3. Spread the cake batter on the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until firm. Slide the cake layer from the pan to a rack to cool.
  4. To make the filling, cut up the chocolate into fine pieces and set aside. Combine the remaining ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Whisk smooth and strain into a bowl. Refrigerate until thickened. Immediately before using the filling, whisk gently by hand to lighten slightly.
  5. To assemble the cakes, cut the baked layer into 6 layers, each about 3 1/2 by 8 inches. Place 2 of the layers on 4 x 8 1/2-inch pieces of cardboard to make handling easier. Spread each with a thin layer of filling. Cover each with another layer, and cover those with the filling. Place the last layer on each cake and mask the sides with a thin layer of filling. Divide the remaining filling in half and place half on the top of each cake. Smooth the filling into a wedge shape on top of each cake; slant the short ends upward toward the center of the cake. Chill the cakes to set the filling, and dust very lightly with cocoa powder before serving.
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Italy: Sicilian Ricotta-filled Pastries

Cannoli probably developed from an Arab pastry, as is the case with many other Sicilian pastries. Usually fried in lard in Sicily, they were originally a Carnival pastry, though nowadays they are available throughout the year.

Pastry shops here in the United States they use a special kind of ricotta called ricotta impastata, a very smooth, dry-textured ricotta made by pureeing well drained ricotta with very dry whey cheese. In Sicily, the ricotta commonly available is dry-textured enough to make a fairly firm filling on its own. Freshly made ricotta from an Italian grocery store is an adequate substitute, and sometimes such a store will even order you some ricotta impastata, if you can use the whole 10-pound package. If you have access only to the kind of ricotta available in the supermarket, drain it well in a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a wet paper towel set over a bowl in the refrigerator overnight. It’s also best to let the filling chill as long as possible to firm it up before filling the cannoli. Real cannoli filling is flavored with a drop of oil of cinnamon.

You’ll need 8 or 12 cannoli tubes for frying the pastry shells. These are cylindrical metal tubes about 1 inch in diameter and about 5 or 6 inches long. They’re not difficult to find in cookware shops or department stores. If you are using the tubes for the first time, fry them briefly in the oil heated to cook the cannoli shells to season them and prevent the dough from sticking. Let them cool and wipe them clean with paper towels before using them.

About twenty-four cannoli

CANNOLI DOUGH

3 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons lard or butter

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth

1 egg white, beaten with a fork, for sealing the shells

RICOTTA FILLING

3 pounds whole-milk ricotta

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1 to 2 drops oil of cinnamon

1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) candied orange peel, cut into 1/4-inch dice

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and sifted in a strainer to remove any dusty particles

FINISHING

1 cup (about 4 ounces) unsalted very green pistachios, skinned, dried out (but not toasted) in the oven, and chopped medium-fine

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

8 or more cannoli tubes, plus two jellyroll pans lined with paper towels for draining the fried shells

  1. To make the dough, in a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Rub in the lard or butter by hand until it is finely incorporated. Whisk the egg, yolk, and wine together and use a large rubber spatula to stir the liquid into the flour mixture. Continue stirring until all the flour is evenly moistened and then scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough briefly by folding it over on itself repeatedly until it becomes too firm and elastic to knead further. Use a bench scraper or a knife to divide the dough into 3 pieces. Flour 1 piece and pass it through the widest setting on a pasta machine. Fold the dough in thirds and pass it through again from the open side. Repeat until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer shreds as you are putting it through the machine. Fold the dough in thirds again, wrap it in plastic, and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. After all the pieces of dough have been passed through the pasta machine, fold each in thirds again, wrap them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight before continuing.
  2. To form the cannoli shells, remove the dough from the refrigerator and flour 1 piece. Pass it through the pasta machine open end first, as before. Decrease the size of the opening by two notches and pass through again, flouring the dough as necessary to keep it from sticking. Pass through every other setting, ending with the next-to-last setting on the machine. Place the strip of dough on a lightly floured work surface and cover it with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough.
  3. Use a plain round cutter or a stiff cardboard pattern and the point of a paring knife to cut the dough into 4-inch disks. If using a cutter, slide a couple of folded sheets of parchment paper under the dough to act as a cushion. Cut straight down without twisting the cutter, which would seal the cut edge of the dough and make it puff up like a balloon while frying. Overlap the disks of dough on the work surface until you have cut them all.
  4. Roll over 1 disk of dough with a rolling pin to make it slightly oval. Position 1 cannoli tube lengthwise on the oval and draw 1 side of it up to the top. Carefully moisten about 1/2 inch of the top edge of the dough with egg white, using a brush. Make sure not to get any of the egg white on the metal tube or it will make the fried shell stick. Draw the other edge of the dough disk up to meet the first one and overlap them slightly. Holding the tube above the work surface to prevent pressure from cutting through the bottom of the dough, press the overlapped dough firmly together with your fingertips. Repeat with as many disks of dough as you have cannoli tubes.
  5. To fry the cannoli, in a large Dutch oven heat the oil to 375 degrees. Fry 3 or 4 cannoli at a time to a deep golden color. Drain them on one of the paper towel-lined pans. As soon as you’ve removed all the cannoli, immediately remove the tubes. (This must be done while the shells are still hot or they will contract on cooling and stick to the tubes.) Use an oven mitt to grasp the end of the tube and use a towel or several thicknesses of paper towel in the other hand to gently twist the shell off the tube. Return the shell to the pan to drain and cool. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough and tubes. If you only have a few tubes and need to reuse them, make sure to let them cool before wrapping more dough around them.
  6. While the shells are cooling, make the filling. Place the ricotta in the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on lowest speed for 30 seconds. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating just until it is absorbed. Beat in the vanilla and the cinnamon or cinnamon oil. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to stir in the candied peel and the chocolate.
  7. To fill the cannoli, put some of the filling in a pastry bag that has a 1-inch opening at the end, but no tube. Squeeze filling into the shell from one end, releasing the pressure when the filing reaches the end of the shell you are squeezing from. Pull the pastry bag away in a downward motion to leave the filling straight against the end of the shell. Repeat with the other end of the shell. Repeat with as many of the shells as you want to fill at one time.
  8. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios on the filling at the ends of the shells. Dust the cannoli with confectioners’ sugar right before serving.

 

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Nick Malgieri by Nick - 1M ago

I only know this originally Hungarian cake in its Viennese form. In Vienna, it is made from two thin layers of chocolate cake with a whipped chocolate cream filling and a shiny chocolate glaze—definitely a dessert for an important party. The good news is that it can be made entirely in advance. Do wait to cut it shortly before serving, however, or the cake layers will dry out.

Twenty to twenty-four 2-inch cubes

CHOCOLATE CAKE BATTER

6 large eggs, separated

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup sugar, divided

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted with 1/4 cup water

1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

CHOCOLATE FILLING

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 tablespoons butter

16 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

CHOCOLATE GLAZE

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

One 12 x 16-inch or 18-inch half-sheet pan or jellyroll pan, bottom and sides buttered and lined with buttered parchment or foil

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. For the cake batter, put the 6 yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk in 1/4 cup of the sugar by hand. Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip the mixture on medium-high speed until the yolks and sugar are light and thickened. If you only have one mixer bowl and whisk, scrape the yolk mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Wash the bowl and whisk in hot, soapy water, rinse and dry them.
  3. Put the 6 egg whites and salt in a clean dry mixer bowl. Place on the mixer with the whisk attachment and whip the whites on medium speed until they are very white, opaque, and beginning to hold a very soft peak. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a stream. Continue whipping the whites until they hold a firm peak.
  4. Stir the chocolate into the yolk mixture, immediately followed by about 1/4 of the whipped egg whites. Sift over and fold in the flour, and then fold in the remaining egg whites.
  5. Scrape the batter onto the prepared pan and use a medium offset spatula to spread the batter evenly.
  6. Bake the cake layer until it is risen (it will not rise very high) and firm when pressed with a fingertip, about 15 to 20 minutes . Slide the paper from the pan to a rack to cool the cake.
  7. For the filling, bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally to make sure the corn syrup doesn’t fall to the bottom and burn. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and chocolate. Gently shake the pan to make sure the butter and chocolate are completely submerged and wait 2 minutes for them to melt. Whisk the filling smooth and pour it into a bowl. Refrigerate the filling until it is about 80 degrees, or until it is of spreading consistency. Don’t leave the filling in the refrigerator indefinitely, or it will become too hard to whip.
  8. To assemble the cake, slide the paper with the cake still stuck to it to a cutting board and cut through both the paper and the cake with a sharp serrated knife to make two 12 x 9-inch rectangles. Slide one off the cutting board. Run a long, thin knife or spatula between the paper and the cake that remains on the cutting board to loosen it, but leave the paper under the cake. (This will make the cubes of finished cake easier to remove later on.)
  9. Scrape the cooled filling into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat it with the paddle on medium speed until it is lightened to a milk chocolate color. Don’t overbeat, or the filling will separate.
  10. Immediately use a medium offset spatula to spread the whipped filling evenly over the cake layer on the cutting board.
  11. Invert the remaining cake layer, still stuck to the paper for easy handling, to a cookie sheet with no sides or to a stiff rectangular piece of cardboard. Gently slide the cake layer into place over the filling. Carefully peel off the paper.
  12. Place a stiff cardboard or cookie sheet on the cake and gently press to make sure the top layer of cake adheres well to the filling.
  13. Refrigerate the cake while preparing the glaze.
  14. For the glaze, bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Gently shake the pan to make sure all the chocolate is submerged and wait 2 minutes for it to melt. Whisk the glaze just until smooth, but avoid whisking too much or the glaze will be riddled with bubbles. Let the glaze cool until it is just slightly warm to the touch, about 100 to 105 degrees.
  15. After the glaze has cooled, remove the cake from the refrigerator and pour the glaze over it. Quickly spread the glaze evenly with a medium offset spatula. Don’t worry about any glaze that drips down the sides of the cake, as it will be trimmed away later on.
  16. Refrigerate the cake again for at least 1 hour, or until a short time before you intend to serve it, to set the glaze.       Glaze the cake on the same day you intend to serve it for maximum sheen.
  17. Rinse a long, sharp serrated knife in hot water, then wipe it clean with a cloth. Use the knife to trim the sides of the cake evenly, rinsing and wiping between each cut. Cut the cake into 2-inch squares.

Serving: Lift the cubes of cake off the paper with an offset cake server or spatula and line them up symmetrically on a platter. Serve alone or with a little unsweetened whipped cream.

Storage: Keep the cake refrigerated, but bring it to room temperature for an hour or so, depending on the room temperature, before serving. Cover leftovers with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature again before serving.

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Nick Malgieri by Nick - 1M ago
Sandwich Cookies from Bad Ischl

Famed as a small resort right outside the city of Vienna, Bad Ischl was a favorite gathering place on members of the imperial court from Vienna during the nineteenth century. Of course, for Viennese aristocrats vacation meant strolling around and enjoying sweets. This was one of their favorites: walnut butter cookies, sandwiched with raspberry preserves, streaked with chocolate icing, and topped with whole blanched almonds.

About twenty-four 2 1/2-inch sandwich cookies

DOUGH

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 cup (about 4 ounces) walnut pieces, finely ground in the food processor

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

FILLING

1 cup seedless raspberry preserves

CHOCOLATE GLAZE

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup light corn syrup

2/3 cup sugar

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

About 24 whole blanched almonds (one for each sandwich cookie)

Two cookie sheets or jellyroll pans lined with parchment or foil

  1. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.
  2. For the dough, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar with an electric mixer fitted the paddle attachment on medium speed until soft and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the ground walnuts.
  3. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the flour with a large rubber spatula, mixing until the dough is smooth.
  4. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 3 parts.
  5. Flour the surface and the dough and gently roll it to about 1/4-inch thick. Use a plain cutter to cut out 2- to 2 1/2-inch cookies and place them on the prepared pans 1 inch apart in all directions.
  6. Incorporate the scraps from the first piece of dough into the second and roll and cut more cookie bases.
  7. Repeat step 6 with the last piece of dough. Reroll any remaining scraps once more, then discard the rest. (Leftovers will make tough cookies.)
  8. Bake the cookie bases until they are very light golden in color, about 15 to 20 minutes. Change the position of the pans from upper to lower rack and vice versa, also turning them back to front at least once during baking. If your oven gives strong bottom heat, stack 2 pans together for baking on the lower rack to provide insulation against burning the cookies. Cool the cookies on the pans on racks.
  9. Meanwhile, place the preserves in a medium saucepan and bring them to a boil over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally. After the preserves boil, lower to a steady simmer and allow them to reduce for about 5 minutes, or until slightly sticky and no longer watery.
  10. Turn half the cookies upside down so that the flat bottom sides face upward. Put about 1/2 teaspoon of the reduced jam on one of the cookies and top it with another cookie, flat side down. Continue until all the cookies have been sandwiched with the preserves.
  11. For the glaze, stir together the water and corn syrup in a medium saucepan and then stir in the sugar. Bring the syrup to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and swirl the pan to submerge it. Let the glaze stand for 3 minutes.
  12. Meanwhile, line up all the sandwiched cookies close together on a piece of parchment paper (you can reuse the paper they were baked on).
  13. Whisk the glaze smooth, then pour some into a paper cone or a non-pleated plastic bag. Whether cone or bag, snip the end and drizzle the glaze over the cookies in straight lines. Continue until you have used all the glaze.
  14. While the glaze is still wet, gently press an almond into the center of each cookie.

 

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Nick Malgieri by Nick - 1M ago
(Viennese Yeast-Risen Tea Cake)

This popular Austrian cake (prepared in Alsace as well as Germany) probably migrated to France with Stanislaw Leszczynski, the exiled king of Poland who set up court in Nancy, capital of the Lorraine. The king was a legendary baker and he is credited variously with having introduced the baba and the savarin to France. Perhaps his interest in bread was passed on to his daughter Maria, who married Louis XV and became queen of France.

One 8- to 9-inch diameter gugelhupf, 10 servings

SPONGE

1/2 cup milk

2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

 

DOUGH

1 cup golden raisins

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

 

Confectioners’ sugar for finishing

 

One 1 1/2-quart to 2-quart gugelhupf mold or Bundt pan

A mold with a central tube is essential to the baking of this delicate and easy-to-prepare yeast-risen cake. Though Gugelhupf molds are fairly easy to find in kitchenware shops and department stores, you may substitute a Bundt pan. But if you do, note that it will probably have a much larger capacity, so make sure that the dough does not rise too much or the resulting gugelhupf will have a foul, yeasty taste. Or double the recipe—that will fill a standard 3-quart Bundt pan perfectly

  1. Thickly butter the gugelhupf mold with soft, but not melted, butter. Remember to butter the rim of the mold and the top of the central tube.
  2. To make the sponge, heat the milk to lukewarm, about 110˚F, in a small saucepan over a low flame. Pour the milk into a bowl and whisk in the yeast. Stir in the flour smoothly and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the sponge to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes, until the sponge is more than doubled in bulk.
  3. For the dough, cover the raisins with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Drain and cool.
  4. To make the dough, in a heavy-duty mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sugar on medium speed until soft and light. Beat in the salt, lemon zest, and vanilla. Beat in the egg and continue beating until smooth, then beat in the yolks, one at a time, beating the batter smooth after each addition. Beat in the flour, then the sponge, and beat the dough smooth. Add the raisins and mix gently to incorporate.                    To mix the dough in a food processor, combine all the ingredients except the flour, sponge, and raisins in the work bowl fitted with the metal blade. Pulse to form a paste, then allow the machine to run continuously for 30 seconds. Remove the metal blade and attach a plastic blade; add the flour and sponge and pulse until a soft dough has formed. Allow the machine to run continuously for 15 seconds. Add the raisins and pulse 2 to 3 times to distribute them throughout the dough. Scrape the dough into a buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature until the dough has doubled, up to 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Deflate the dough and distribute large spoonfuls of it evenly around the mold. Smooth the top of the dough with the back of a spoon to make it flat and even. Cover loosely with buttered plastic wrap or a dry towel. At room temperature, allow the dough to rise until it fills the mold (or half fills the Bundt pan), up to 1 1/2 hours.
  6. When the gugelhupf is almost completely risen, set a rack at the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375˚F.
  7. Bake the gugelhupf for about 45 minutes, until it is a deep golden brown and a thin knife blade inserted between the side of the mold and the central tube emerges without any wet dough clinging to it.
  8. Unmold to a rack to cool. Sprinkle lightly with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
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Although chocolate éclairs are the traditional popular favorite, I have always been partial to éclairs filled with coffee-flavored cream and covered with coffee icing. Remember, with these you can plan ahead. You can bake the éclair pastry and freeze it on one day, make the filling the next, then reheat, cool, fill, and ice them on the third day. Such a division of labor makes preparing a pastry with many steps easy.

Twelve 4-inch éclairs

PÂTE À CHOUX

1 cup water

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

 

COFFEE PASTRY CREAM

2 cups whole milk

2/3 cup sugar

6 egg yolks

1 pinch salt

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon rum

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

 

COFFEE ICING

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

2tablespoons light corn syrup

1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

One cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan lined with parchment or foil

Twelve 4-inch éclairs

Although chocolate éclairs are the traditional popular favorite, I have always been partial to éclairs filled with coffee-flavored cream and covered with coffee icing. Remember, with these you can plan ahead. You can bake the éclair pastry and freeze it on one day, make the filling the next, then reheat, cool, fill, and ice them on the third day. Such a division of labor makes preparing a pastry with many steps easy.

  1. Set a rack at the middle level of the oven and preheat to 400˚F.
  2. To prepare the pâte à choux, combine the water, butter, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. As soon as it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and sift in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine smoothly.
  3. Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste dries slightly and begins to leave the sides of the pan. Transfer the paste to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon for 1 minute to cool slightly.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating each until it is absorbed before adding the next. Immediately use a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tube (Ateco #6) to pipe twelve 4-inch éclairs on the prepared pan.
  5. Bake the éclairs for about 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350˚F and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the éclairs are firm, well colored and crisp. Cool the éclairs on a rack.
  6. While the éclairs are baking, prepare the pastry cream filling. Combine the milk and half the sugar in a nonreactive saucepan. Whisk once and place over medium heat to come to a boil.
  7. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks and salt in a bowl and whisk in the remaining sugar. Sift the flour over the yolks and mix in.
  8. When the milk boils, whisk a third of the boiled milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return the milk to a boil, then pour the hot egg mixture back in a stream, whisking constantly. Continue whisking until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla, dissolved coffee, and butter. Pour the cream into a heatproof glass or stainless-steel bowl or pan. Press plastic wrap directly against the surface of the cream. Refrigerate immediately.
  9. To fill the éclairs, use a chopstick or vegetable peeler to pierce a small hole at each end of the bottom (flat side) of each éclair.
  10. Spoon the coffee pastry cream into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain tube (Ateco #3) and fill the éclairs. Insert the tube into one of the holes on the bottom of the éclair and squeeze gently until the filling appears in the second hole. Place the éclairs, flat side up, on a clean pan covered with parchment or wax paper.
  11. To make the icing, combine all the ingredients in a small, nonreactive saucepan. Place over low heat and stir constantly until the icing is barely warm, about 100˚F. Dip a spoon in the icing and let the excess drip off, to see how the icing will coat a surface. If the icing left on the spoon is thin and transparent, add 1/2 cup more confectioners’ sugar and test again. If the icing is too thick, add 1 teaspoon water and test again. Adjust with confectioners’ sugar or water until the icing is a good coating consistency.
  12. To ice the éclairs, submerge them unpierced (top) 1/2 inch deep into the icing. Allow the excess icing to drip off by holding the éclair icing side down, over the pan of icing for 10 to 15 seconds. Turn the éclair icing side up on the empty prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining éclairs, reheating the icing gently if it thickens too much. Arrange the éclairs on a platter to serve.
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Calvados, or aged French apple brandy, is produced in Normandy, one of the world’s great centers of apple cultivation. Sweet, tart, and bitter apples are first pressed and fermented into hard (alcoholic) cider, then the cider is distilled into Calvados that’s aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years, often much longer for premium brands. Two-year-old Calvados is fine for making desserts, as is American applejack, which is made in a similar manner. This cake is for a special fall or winter occasion; it’s not only delicious, but beautiful as well. Crowned with a ring of apple wedges poached in white wine and glazed with apricot jam, it’s so impressive that everyone will ask you for the recipe.

Plan ahead: This dessert has a lot of elements, all of which can be prepared in advance. Bake the cake layer and refrigerate it for up to five days. Make the syrup and refrigerate it in a covered jar, and prepare the apple puree several days in advance. Cook the apple wedges the day before and leave them in their syrup, covered, in the refrigerator. You can even assemble the cake in its mold beforehand, but only unmold and decorate it the day you intend to serve it.

Makes one 10-inch cake, about 16 servings

APPLE PUREE

2 1/2 pounds McIntosh or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and diced

1/2 cup water

1 cup sugar

 

CALVADOS SYRUP

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup Calvados

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

POACHED APPLE WEDGES

2 cups dry white wine or cider

1/2 cup sugar

2 3-inch-long pieces lemon zest

4 large (about 2 pounds) Golden Delicious apples

 

One 9-inch genoise cake layer (see below), baked and cooled

 

APPLE BAVARIAN CREAM

2 1/2 cups apple puree, above

1/4 cup Calvados

1/4 cup poaching liquid from the apple wedges

4 1/2 teaspoons (2 envelopes) unflavored powdered gelatin

2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped to a soft peak and refrigerated

 

APRICOT GLAZE

3/4 cup apricot jam

2 tablespoons water

 

FINISHING

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to a soft peak

2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

One 10-inch springform pan and one 12-inch pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip (Ateco #824)

1.      For the apple puree, combine the apples, water, and sugar in a large saucepan or enameled iron Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Place on medium heat and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat, cover the pan, and let the apples cook, uncovering and stirring occasionally, until they have completely disintegrated. Cool the apples and puree them in a food processor or blender. Pack the apple puree into a plastic container, cover, and refrigerate. Remember to remove the apple puree from the refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before preparing the filling from it.

2.      For the syrup, bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Pour into a small bowl, cool, and stir in the Calvados and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate if not using on the same day.

3.      For the poached apple wedges, combine the wine, sugar, and lemon zest in a wide, shallow sauté pan. Bring to a simmer and remove from the heat. Peel, halve, and core the apples and cut each half into 6 wedges, adding them to the syrup as soon as they are cut. When all the apple wedges are in the pan, jostle them around so that they are in a single layer and add water to cover. Cut a piece of parchment paper the same diameter as the inside of the pan and cut a hole in the center. Press the paper into the liquid so that it is completely submerged and will in turn keep the apple wedges submerged. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook until the apple wedges are tender when pierced with a fork. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the hot liquid and cool them on a plate. Refrigerate the leftover liquid in a shallow bowl to cool quickly, then store the apple wedges covered in the cold liquid until you need them. Drain thoroughly on a pan covered with paper towels before finishing the cake.

4.      To assemble, cut the genoise into 3 layers. Wrap and freeze one of the layers for another use. Place one of the layers in the bottom of a springform pan and use a brush to sprinkle it with less than half of the Calvados syrup.

5.      For the apple Bavarian cream, put the apple puree into a large mixing bowl. Put the Calvados and poaching liquid into a small heatproof bowl and use a fork to stir in the gelatin. Half fill a small saucepan or sauté pan with water and place over low heat. Once the gelatin has absorbed all the liquid and is wet looking, place the bowl in the water and let the gelatin melt. Once the gelatin has melted, remove the bowl from the hot water. Quickly re-whip the cream. Whisk 1 cup of the apple puree into the dissolved gelatin to cool it and whisk the gelatin mixture into the bowl of apple puree. Quickly use a large rubber spatula to fold in the whipped cream.

6.      Pour half the Bavarian cream over the cake layer in the springform pan, spreading it with a medium offset spatula and making sure it also covers the side of the layer. Quickly place the second layer on top and sprinkle on the remaining syrup. Pour the remaining Bavarian cream over the layer and spread smooth. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until set, preferably overnight.

7.      To finish the cake, insert a thin paring knife between the side of the cake and the side of the pan and, pressing against the pan, loosen the cake. Unbuckle the side of the pan and lift it off. Use a wide spatula to slide the cake from the springform base to a platter.

 

GENOISE CAKE LAYER

Makes one 9-inch layer about 2 1/2 inches tall

4 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spoon into a dry-measure cup and level off)

1/3 cup cornstarch

One 2 1/2- to 3-inch deep 9-inch-round springform pan or 9-inch-round cake pan, buttered and the bottom lined with a disk of parchment or buttered wax paper

1.         Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.

2.         Whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla together by hand in the bowl of an electric mixer.

3.         Set the bowl over a saucepan of gently boiling water and slowly whisk until the egg mixture is warm, around 120˚F, about 30 seconds. Don’t overheat or the eggs won’t whip well.

4.         Place the bowl on a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on medium- high speed until the egg foam is light in color and increased in volume and the bowl no longer feels warm, about 3 minutes. When the eggs are ready, they’ll hold their shape on the whisk and you’ll be able to draw a line through them.

5.         While the eggs are whipping, stir the flour and cornstarch together. Use a strainer with open mesh to sift the flour mixture once onto a piece of paper.

6.         Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift about one third of the flour mixture over the egg foam, using a large rubber spatula to fold it in. Dig down to the bottom of the bowl and cut through the batter with the flat side of the spatula parallel to the bottom of the bowl to prevent the flour from accumulating there. Repeat with the last two batches of the flour.

7.         Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Tilt the pan in a circular motion to bring the batter about 3/4 inch from the top of the pan; this prevents the batter from doming in the center so that the baked layer has a flat, even top. Bake until it is well risen and firm in the center and the point of a paring knife inserted in the center of the cake emerges clean, about 30 minutes.

8.         Immediately use a small paring knife to loosen the cake from the side of the pan if it is at all stuck and invert it to a rack. Remove the pan, but leave the paper on the cake layer. Cover with another rack and invert the stack, removing the top rack. Cool the cake completely on the rack.

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Fragile and delicate in the extreme, these cookies are a labor of love to make because you need to bake them one pan at a time on the middle rack of the oven. If you have a double oven, start to bake another pan a couple of minutes before the first pan is ready to come out. These spread best on a bare buttered pan; brush the pans with very soft but not melted butter. If you don’t mind cookies that are a little thicker, you may use silicon mats to bake them.

Makes about 30 cookies

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/3 cup finely ground blanched almonds

 

3 cookie sheets or jelly-roll pans, buttered with soft butter

 

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, use a medium rubber spatula to stir together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the egg and beat until smooth.
  3. Add the flour and almonds and stir smooth.
  4. To save time, deposit all the batter on the pans right away. Drop level measuring teaspoons of the batter onto the pans at least 3 inches apart in all directions. Put 10 to 12 mounds of batter on each pan.
  5. Bake one pan of cookies until they have spread, come to a simmer on the pan, and are deep golden in color, 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately place another pan in to bake.
  7. Let the cookies cool for about 20 seconds, then slide a wide thin-bladed spatula under the edge of the cookie closest to you and gently work the spatula back and forth to pry the cookie off the pan and move it to a parchment-covered pan or wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining cookies. Don’t get nervous, but you have to do this quickly while the cookies are still warm or they’ll shatter when you try to lift them from the pan.
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