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Creations from The Art of the Dessert

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From Ann's interview

What is the food that you love so much that you would gorge yourself on?

Maryland Strudel, I love it almost more than anything.

Now that its fall, I finally made this - I'll post that later. But, I wanted to share how much I'm enjoying this book - its the perfect skill level for me. What I'm most enjoying is that it seems most recipes teach me a new technique or skill. The strudel taught me a new way to make the dough (melting butter and sour cream together, then adding it to the flour), and cutting 3/4 through while its still warm, so that when you serve it, you'll have a clean cut. Maybe this is old hat to many of you, but its brand new to me and I'm really loving it!

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Here it is.

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A beautiful butt if I've ever seen one. Notice the little sugar spec trying to run away on the top...I got him.

And the guts...

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I had to modify (as usual). I thought I had walnuts, but didn't so I used almonds and pecans. In retrospect, my pine nuts would have been even better. On one (the recipe makes two) I stayed as true to the recipe as I could, but on the one in the pictures I added crystalized ginger. So, on the inside there's apricot, yellow and dark raisins, currants, cranberries and cinnamon. She suggested serving with Manchego which would have been stellar, but I went for ice cream instead.

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Great thickness (thinness?) on the dough, Rob! I've been aching to make strudel but I've been distracted by desserts gifted to me, again. Apricots aren't available here so I'll go a classic route, but sour cream in the dough sounds like an excellent idea, for extra tenderness and flavor.

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I wish you could get your "butt" over here so I could eat your "guts" out!!! :biggrin:

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Last night I made a super meal of Chicken with Vin Jaune and Morels for some friends and capped it off with the Cassatta. Six layers of rich almost-pound cake layered with currant jelly and a mixture of ricotta, cream cheese, cream, marsala, and cinnamon, covered in a light and smooth fudge frosting.

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As I'm coming to expect with this book, this was a really tasty and easy dessert. I had stayed away from it for a while because I thought it was going to be a lot of work - it wasn't. A couple of challenges however. The recipe called for baking the cake in two 8x4 loaf pans, then cutting each into 3 layers. What you're seeing in these pics is just one loaf pan - I ended up making two cakes which is fine with me, but if I had done it her way, the cake would have been nearly 12 inches tall. The second concern was the filling. When I made the filling according to the recipe it was too thin. If I had simply mixed the filling and put in on the cake, it would have oozed out or soaked in. I tried to whip the cream while mixed which did thicken it some, and then I put it in the fridge to firm up the cheeses. Those steps made it thick enough to work with. I think the problem was that I used reduced fat ricotta since it was the only thing available in my town. That may have thinned the mixture enough to cause the problem, so someone who has access to full fat ricotta should let us know if they run into the same issue.

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I haven't had a chance to bake much from this book yet but I did make the Schnecken a while ago and they were amazing. Unfortunately they disappeared before I remembered to take a picture so I can't show you. I made them the size she suggests and also in a mini-size, with raisins & nuts and without. They are the right sweetness for me (I don't like really sweet cinnamon rolls) and oh so buttery. Everyone that tried one raved.

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Rob: That's weird. Was the cake actually 12" tall in the book? (Though a lot of them don't have pictures....) I guess you were more successful in getting the cake to rise (I'm not sure how things work in high altitudes.) Regardless, it looks incredibly decadent :smile:

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No pic in the book and it didn't rise anymore than a pound cake, so I don't know. Many of her recipes leave you extras to be used later - for example this one had some scraps from the squaring off, which I quickly ate, but then yesterday realized the very next recipe wanted me to use in the babka which I'm preparing to make. I have been making high altitude adjustments on the cakes using THESE recommendations, which have been very successful for me.

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for example this one had some scraps from the squaring off, which I quickly ate, but then yesterday realized the very next recipe wanted me to use in the babka which I'm preparing to make.

That's a good tip for books that make use of scraps, maybe a little "reserve for use in (whatever)" note with the recipe so you know not to munch or toss the leftovers.

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Chocolate Babka

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A very light coffeecake-like bread swirled with apricot jam, cake crumbs, chocolate shavings and topped with struesel.

I thought for sure that this recipe wasn't going to work. When I made the dough it was so wet and sticky - I had no idea how I was going to roll it out. But Amernick said to make it like thick ice cream and I did, so I ploughed ahead. And what do you know...it worked perfectly! I loved the texture of this but would have added more filling to satisfy my sweettooth. Of course, that meant that my spouse thought it was perfect. Amernick calls for this as a dessert with ice cream, but we both agreed that it was best left as a decadent breakfast or brunch item.

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That looks so good at 7:06 in the morning. All I have is a banana here at work. Where are you getting your recipes from? Do you have your own business or is this just something you do all the time?

Rena

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All of the recipes in this topic are from Ann Amernick's The Art of the Dessert. And I squeeze these in in between my two full time jobs and eG time :blink: Sugar keeps me going!

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I made the babka a month back, and it was delicious.

I'll second the advice to add more filling.

The cassata looks delicious!

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The Chocolate Viennese Cake. I had eaten sacher tortes many times, but never made one, so I didn't realize that corn starch was the reason for the texture. Often times that texture is a big turnoff for me - not this one. My guests found a good but a bit rich. We had our first snow!

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I made the Demayo chocolate cake, filled it with homemade pear/ginger preserves, and frosted with bitter chocolate sour cream frosting (which was a bad choice). The cake is incredible (I have a post-demolition photo that I will upload when I get to a computer with an image processing application). This is definitely going to be my go-to chocolate layer cake recipe. I only had 9" pans, and the cooking time was a bit longer than hers, but it came out incredibly moist. The tricky part for me was that it is a very delicate cake - I broke one of the layers just moving it from the rack to the plate - and I needed a much softer icing (maybe a ganache? Maybe even seven minute?) I was very happy with the ginger. The bite went really nicely with the dark chocolate flavor of the cake.

-L

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Edited for photo. This is a post party shot. As you can see, I am not the worst cake decorator on the planet. If, however, the worst cake decorator were to die... :wink: It tasted good, anyway!


Edited by lperry (log)

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If, however, the worst cake decorator were to die...  :wink:

I don't have plans for relinquishing my title anytime soon.

Looks tasty and very moist.


Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

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Great minds...its on my to-do for this afternoon. I'll try to get the pre fork pic.

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Here's my Demayo. We decided its not a German Chocolate cake because of the intensity of the chocolate - 1 C. of cocoa. My deep dark dirty secret behind this picture is that the cake was a disaster. First, I made high altitude adjustments that weren't quite right...odd doming on top. Second, my spouse sprung a dinner party on me where the cake was expected (2 hours before the party)..."oops, you mean I didn't tell you?" Third, assembling a cake before it has fully cooled is not a good idea. Fourth, I only had my finely grated Indian coconut - good flavor, poor texture. The result was a good tasting cake where the top layer broke apart into 6 pieces and slid off the sides because the filling wasn't quite set.

We all liked it, but not to the extent that lperry did. But, I don't know what's the recipe and what was my doing. But it certainly would be worth making again to find out.

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It doesn't look disastrous to me at all! I hope you try it again with something that might be better with the dark chocolate flavor. Next go round I am going to fill with berries and whipped cream. German chocolate cake was never something we had when i was growing up, and I've never had one that wasn't from a box, so it didn't occur to me to make it by the recipe. My inspiration was the little dark chocolate-covered ginger candies from Trader Joe's.

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The secret is...look at how much of the cake you can see. The top layer broke into a bunch of pieces...really, it was an ugly mess.

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Has anyone tried Ann's unusual technique for making puff pastry? In it, she describes a technique in which the butter is first cut into slices, then made into 4 discrete sheets which are then layered into the dough during the first set of turns. I've never seen anyone do it this way (seems unnecessarily complicated), but I'm intrigued and plan on trying it this weekend. I'll report back with my results. Anyone else tried her technique?

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I have and thought the same thing. I think that technique provides a bit more control over the shape of the butter as you begin rolling it. Not necessary, but I see the usefulness.

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I have and thought the same thing.  I think that technique provides a bit more control over the shape of the butter as you begin rolling it.  Not necessary, but I see the usefulness.

it seems like it would help to control the gluten formation in the dough as well. while i don't have the book, i'm sort of picturing the technique in my head. do you roll the dough out into a rectangle and fold it over the "sheets" of butter that you've created? then you continue to make your folds?

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Yes - its pretty much the typical process, but she starts by having you cut the butter into rectangles and assembling them into your square. I'll have to pull the book and make sure I'm not misspeaking.

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