Search Results for: jenny mccoy

 

By Carly DeFilippo

It’s the day after the launch of her first cookbook, Desserts for Every Season, and Jenny McCoy’s voice is a little hoarse. She’s trying to remember a story about Emeril Lagasse—one of her first jobs was working for the chef at Delmonico, his restaurant in New Orleans. As she reminisces about him, she chuckles, and when she does her eyes are bright, her friendly dimples more pronounced. “He’s been the best chef I’ve worked with. He made a point at the start of every night to walk up to every employee, from the person washing the pots and pans to the chef de cuisine to say hello. He’s so human, generous and approachable. Those are things I took away with me.”

Chef Jenny McCoy

Today, Jenny, ICE’s newest Pastry and Baking Arts Chef Instructor, is an impressive chef in her own right. At age 17 she started the Pastry and Baking Program at Chicago’s Kendall College. Her parents wanted her to go to college or get a job, but she didn’t want to go to a traditional college right away.

Despite her parents’ worries, Jenny learned a number of important things—about herself—in culinary school. For example, she works really well under pressure, creating her best work in practical examinations that required her to demonstrate skill and knowledge under the knowing, scrutinizing eye of the chef instructor. “Scare the crap out of me and you can see me do good work,” she jokes.

She also learned how to balance confidence and humility—working with a sense of her own skill and understanding, but acknowledging the constant potential to make a mistake.

jenny mccoy book

After culinary school, she pursued a degree in food writing at DePaul University, in an effort to overcome the intimidation she felt about creative writing. She then worked for Emeril Lagasse at Delmonico and in his test kitchens, writing for his blog and developing ideas for his television shows as well.

When it came to evaluating her own career trajectory, it came as no surprise that Jenny liked the diversity of doing different (and often new) things every day. “I couldn’t really say I wanted to do one thing over another. I was just interested in everything,” Chef Jenny explains. “I really wanted to be more well-rounded in the industry.”

Her diverse interests and talents have led her to a wide range of impressive accomplishments. In 2011, Jenny helped the team at Craft in New York City earn its second 3-star review from the New York Times. The following year, she co-founded Cissé Trading Company, a successful line of hot cocoa and baking mixes sold at 500+ national outlets, and was named a StarChefs.com “Rising Star Pastry Chef”. Just this month, she was nominated as a 2014 finalist for the International Association of Culinary Professional’s cookbook awards. She has also appeared numerous times as a guest or judge on the Food Network and is in production on a new show slated to air later this year.

Jenny McCoy at the launch of her most recent cookbook, Desserts for Every Season

Her latest role, Chef Instructor at ICE, springs from a passion she discovered while working with celebrity chef and ICE graduate, Missy Robbins, at A Voce. In addition to developing recipes for the restaurant’s menu, Jenny was spending a significant portion of her time teaching the staff how to recreate each dish for service. In the midst of her hectic schedule, she realized that she particularly enjoyed teaching and thus reached out to ICE about joining our roster of recreational cooking instructors. “ A light bulb just went off—I realized teaching was something I wanted to do,” she says. “I grew to love it more and more.”

When a Chef Instructor position for professional Pastry & Baking Arts students opened up, Jenny sprung at the opportunity. Teaching career students has been a unique opportunity for her to revisit the core recipes that form the basis for any pastry chef’s career—and to share her own innovative approach to seasonal baking in our teaching kitchens.

Follow Chef Jenny on Twitter @jenny_mccoy and visit her website for recipes and other articles.

 

 

By Carly DeFilippo

Meet Chef Jenny McCoy - HeadshotMost chefs are content to have just one prestigious job on their resume. But from Jenny McCoy’s first days in the industry, she’s racked up nothing but all-star experiences, from the celebrated Blackbird and Charlie Trotter’s in her hometown Chicago, to Emeril’s New Orleans dynasty and Tom Colicchio’s NYC Craft empire—all before the age of 32.

Today, Jenny’s focus may have shifted from running multiple professional kitchens to leading hands-on classes for aspiring chefs at ICE, but she’s just as busy as ever—creating an exclusive line of baking mixes for Crate & Barrel, judging Rewrapped on the Food Network and working on a follow-up to her acclaimed cookbook Desserts for Every Season.

In light of these accomplishments, you might assume Jenny was an all-star student, the kid who had her life planned out from the age of five. In actuality, it was Jenny’s own adolescent rebellion and lack of traditional academic ambition that led her to the food industry in the first place. As a high school graduate, Jenny’s only experience in the food industry came from her mother’s short-lived vegetarian bed and breakfast in rural Wisconsin and her aunt’s small catering business, run out of her home. In fact, it was actually Jenny’s total lack of experience with cooking that drew her to the idea of culinary school.

After mere weeks of enrolling in Kendall College’s culinary program, Jenny was already rethinking her decision. She didn’t know much about cooking, but she was really horrible at baking. On a tour of the pastry kitchens, Jenny became enamored with the chocolate sculptures and exquisite cakes. The beauty and structure of pastry was seductive, and—ever ready for a challenge—Jenny switched programs without a second thought.

Smoking-050-72dpi

While still in school, Jenny secured a spot at a small fine dining restaurant called Gordon’s. Initially, she didn’t grasp her good fortune, but soon realized that she had landed in one of the most influential kitchens in Chicago. “I quickly realized I was working somewhere special,” Jenny explains, “and that I should be selective with everywhere I worked from that point forward.”

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the next two restaurants on Jenny’s roadmap would change the course of her career forever. The first, Blackbird, was only in its second year when she arrived, but had already received considerable praise from the likes of Bon Appetit and the Chicago Tribune. The kitchen consisted of a mere six employees—James Beard award-winning chef Paul Kahn and his happy, hand-picked “dysfunctional family.” Jenny adds, “At Blackbird, I learned a lot about sourcing, about creating food that felt like it had a soul to it.”

Meet Chef Jenny McCoy - Dessert - Missy Robbins - A Voce

One of Jenny’s plated desserts from A Voce

Yet Jenny knew there was another level of restaurant to be conquered: looking to the pinnacle of Chicago’s restaurant scene, she set her sights on Charlie Trotter’s. This world-famous kitchen couldn’t have been more different than Blackbird. Jenny’s first trail lasted a full 18 hours and set the bar for the rigor to come. Where Blackbird had felt like a family, Charlie Trotter’s was a battlefield. After six months of grueling 85-hour weeks, Jenny gave her notice. “If I had never had the experience at Blackbird, I might have stayed at Trotter’s indefinitely, but I knew that I would learn more in an environment where I felt heard, felt nurtured.” In years since, the decision has proved wise—of all the experiences on her resume, Blackbird remains the one that most impresses Jenny’s fellow chefs.

Meet Chef Jenny McCoy - Emeril Lagasse - Delmonicos

Photo Credit: Mandee Johnson

Around the same time, Jenny took a trip to New Orleans and fell in love with the city. Soon enough, she relocated to “The Big Easy”—arriving just two days before Hurricane Katrina. It took five months of waiting and crashing on the couches of various friends, but eventually local restaurants started hiring again. Jenny submitted her resume to all the top local chefs, including Emeril Lagasse.

Starting off at Emeril’s Delmonico, Jenny helped reopen the damaged restaurant and ran the pastry kitchen. Intrigued by Emeril’s other restaurant locations, product development and media efforts, this was also the period in which Jenny first began pursuing projects outside restaurant kitchens. Within a mere two years, Jenny had worked on everything from recipe development for cookbooks, to revamping the pastry program at Emeril’s NOLA, to writing five posts each week for Emeril’s blog.

At this point, Jenny was 28, and though she didn’t want to leave Emeril’s empire, there was still one major city she wanted to conquer: New York. She first opened Marc Forgione’s namesake restaurant as Pastry Chef, but soon pursued another position more suited to the multi-tasking management experience she had gained at Emeril’s. Under ICE alum Missy Robbins, Jenny ran the pastry program for A Voce Madison, while simultaneously developing a new pastry menu for A Voce’s second location in the city’s prestigious Time Warner Center.

 

But after two years of immersing herself in all things Italian dessert, Jenny yearned to return to seasonal American pastry. She found the opportunity—and her creative footing—in the kitchens of Tom Colicchio’s Craft. There, Jenny was offered the creative freedom she craved: shopping the market four days a week, changing the menu whenever she wanted. “I was surrounded by people who were absolutely dedicated to food and ethical sourcing. It was an experience that refined my perspective and style, and it greatly influenced the recipes in my first cookbook, Desserts for Every Season.”

Meet Chef Jenny McCoy - Craft - Food Event

What do you do when you reach the pinnacle of the restaurant industry at the mere age of 32? For Jenny, her “graceful exit” from restaurant kitchens came in the form of an offer she couldn’t refuse. An investor approached her about becoming the co-founder of a prepackaged foods start-up. The seed money was already in place; all Jenny had to do was develop the recipes. So, taking a calculated risk, Jenny left Craft.

 

Meet Chef Jenny McCoy - Cisse Trading CoThat company, Cissé Trading Co., paved a completely new path for Jenny in the field of product development. The signature baking mixes she developed can now be found in 1,000 stores nationwide and sparked offers for other consulting opportunities—including her line of baking mixes for Crate & Barrel inspired by Jenny’s first cookbook, Desserts for Every Season (a side project she pulled off while still working for Cissé). Combined with her high-end restaurant experience, Jenny’s newfound expertise in product development also rendered her a perfect judge for the Food Network’s new series, Rewrapped.

As if these diverse projects weren’t enough responsibility, Jenny had also begun teaching classes at ICE. Back at A Voce, it had become clear to her that she wasn’t really a “pastry chef” anymore. She was a high-level manager, hiring chefs and training them to execute her vision. So Jenny began teaching in ICE’s recreational department, and soon enough, she joined the faculty of our Pastry & Baking Arts program. “What I love about teaching is meeting new people and seeing the excitement, the glimmer in their eye,” Jenny explains. “It’s that moment when they’re like, ‘Oh my god! I just made a pie! I didn’t ever think I would bake a pie!’ that I absolutely love. It reminds me of when I was back in culinary school and the reason I got into the industry in the first place.”

Meet Chef Jenny McCoy - ICE Kitchens

In truth, Jenny has never truly stopped being that fresh-out-of-high-school pastry student—and that’s what makes her so successful. Endlessly curious, spontaneous and independent, she has grabbed hold of every opportunity that comes her way and inspires her students to do the same. “Early on in my career, someone wisely told me to spend all my money eating out, all my vacations staging, to buy tons of cookbooks and really immerse myself in the food world,” Jenny reflects, “It really has shaped my career—it made me do better.”

Want to study with Chef Jenny? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

By Jenny McCoy — Pastry & Baking Arts Chef-Instructor

A small slice of my career as a pastry chef has been dedicated to introducing bakers to the flavor combination of pumpkin and chocolate. Some of you may have already tasted the duo — if you are one of those people, congratulations and please consider adding some chocolate chips to your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. However, if you have not had the experience of chocolate and pumpkin combined, stop your holiday baking plans now and redirect your attention to this post immediately. Your Thanksgiving is about to get so much better.

pumpkin bars

Roasted pumpkin, whether made from scratch or canned, has a slightly sweet and very earthy flavor. If you mix this quintessential fall flavor with chocolate, which can either emphasize or contrast the flavor of pumpkin, something magical happens. When I’m interested in a strong contrast of flavor, I pair pumpkin with dark chocolate, which has an intense flavor and a bitter quality that juxtaposes nicely with the sweet, mellow flavor of pumpkin. When I prefer to accentuate the sweetness of pumpkin and make it the star in my baking, I combine it with milk chocolate because together they both highlight their sweetness and milder flavors. (Pro tip: Play around in the kitchen with both combinations to see which you like best.)

In the case of my recipe for Pumpkin Nutella Bars, I’ve taken chocolate and pumpkin one step further in the direction of deliciousness by adding Nutella. While Nutella is made with cocoa powder (which is dark and bitter), it is also mixed with a fair amount of sugar and milk, so it really has a flavor profile closer to milk chocolate. And the addition of roasted hazelnuts cannot be beat.

I can’t wait to hear what you think of these Pumpkin Nutella Bars, and be sure to share any other fun pumpkin and chocolate baking ideas you have this holiday season!

pumpkin nutella barsPumpkin Nutella Bars
Servings: makes 16 servings

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Bar Batter

Nonstick cooking spray
2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg
¾ cup pumpkin puree

For the filling

1 jar (13 ounces) Nutella

Pumpkin Seed Streusel Topping:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted

Preparation:

First, make and bake the Pumpkin Bar Batter

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9”x13” baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl, stir the flour, baking soda, salt and spices, and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg and vanilla. Mix the batter until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and slowly alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the pumpkin puree, while mixing on low speed. Mix until the batter is smooth and evenly combined. Transfer the pumpkin batter to the baking dish and spread into an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes.

While the Pumpkin Bars are baking, make the Pumpkin Seed Streusel

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin seeds, sugars, salt and spices. Slowly drizzle the melted butter into the bowl, while tossing the dry ingredients constantly, and mix until just crumbly. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Remove the pan of pumpkin bars from the oven and drop the oven temperature to 325°F. Let bars cool for 15 minutes.

Time to fill, top and bake the bars

  • Carefully spread the Nutella over the entire surface area of the warm baked bars. (If the Nutella melts a bit and sinks into the batter, that’s OK. Use a bamboo skewer or even a toothpick to create a marbled look.)
  • Sprinkle the Pumpkin Seed Streusel evenly over the top of the Nutella, and bake until the streusel is light golden brown and a wooden toothpick or cake tester comes out clean when inserted in center of the bar, about 30 minutes. Cool the bars in the pan for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Master baking for all seasons — learn more about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

 

Recipe by Jenny McCoy — Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

Apples aren’t the only fruit we’re excited for this fall — it’s also cranberry season. If you’re looking for delicious ways to mix cranberries into your baking repertoire, Chef Jenny has an irresistible idea for you: a flaky double-crust apple-cranberry pie that’s the perfect mix of tart and sweet — the best of both worlds. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a spoonful of crème fraîche, and let the compliments roll in.

Double-Crust Cranberry Apple Pie

Double-Crust Apple-Cranberry Pie

For the Flaky Pie Dough
Yield: Makes 1 double-crust pie or 2 (9-inch) pie crusts

Ingredients:

3¼ cups (450 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons (6 grams) granulated sugar
1¼ teaspoons (8 grams) salt
2¼ sticks (252 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
¾ cup (175 grams) ice-cold water, plus more if needed

Preparation:

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt together for a few seconds. Add the butter all at once, and rub into the dry ingredients to mix until the butter is reduced to small pieces about the size of peas. Slowly add the water and stir until the dough just comes together, yet lumps of butter remain in the dough.
  • Divide the dough in half, and flatten each piece into a 1-inch thick disk. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, one to two hours.

 

For the Sauteed Apple-Cranberry Pie Filling
Yield: Makes 6 cups

Ingredients:

8 medium Gala or Pink Lady apples
¼ cup (50 grams) light brown sugar
¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
Ground cinnamon, to taste
¼ teaspoon (1 gram) salt
4 to 6 tablespoons (56 to 84 grams) unsalted butter
¼ cup (56 grams) brandy (optional)
1 cup (130 grams) cranberries

Preparation:

  • Peel, core and slice apples into ¾-inch slices. Gently toss sliced fruit, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
  • In a large saute pan, melt half of the butter over medium-high heat. Add half of the sliced fruit and sauté until light golden and caramelized, turning fruit as needed. Add half of the brandy and cook until alcohol has reduced, tossing fruit in pan to coat.
  • Spread the cooked fruit in a shallow baking dish or on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining butter, fruit and brandy. Add the cranberries, stir and let cool to room temperature.

 

For The Double-Crust Apple-Cranberry Pie
Yield: Makes 1 (9-inch) pie

Ingredients:

Unbleached all-purpose flour, for rolling
1 recipe Flaky Pie Dough
1 recipe Sautéed Apple-Cranberry Pie Filling
1 large (50 grams) egg, lightly beaten

Preparation:

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll one disk of dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter by starting at the center of the disk and rolling away from you. Use additional flour and give the dough a quarter turn between each roll to prevent it from sticking to the table. Continue rolling until the dough is an even ⅛ inch thick. Repeat with the second disk of dough.
  • Carefully roll one circle of the dough around the rolling pin and unroll over the pie plate. Fit the dough into the plate by gently pressing it into the corners and against the base and sides of the plate. Trim the excess dough, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Place the lined pie plate in the freezer for about 15 minutes to chill slightly. Roll the second piece of dough onto the rolling pin and unroll onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet and place in refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Spread the Sauteed Apple-Cranberry Pie Filling into the prepared pie shell. Remove the sheet of rolled pie dough from the refrigerator and lay over the pie filling (if the sheet is stiff, just give it a few minutes to soften), reserving the parchment-lined baking sheet for later use. Trim the excess from the top sheet of dough to line up with the overhang of the shell. Fold the overhang in half, tucking the cut edge between the shell and the pie plate. Using your fingertips, decoratively crimp the edges together to seal. Cut a few decorative slits in the top of the pie crust to allow for steam from the fruit to vent. Place the pie in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill the dough slightly.
  • Lightly brush the entire surface of the dough with the beaten egg. Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes, or until the crust is deep golden brown, the filling bubbles and the liquid has just thickened.
  • Cool on a wire rack until just warm before serving.
  • This recipe is for a regular crust pie — to do a lattice crust, as pictured, check out this step-by-step guide.

Double-Crust Cranberry Apple Pie

Want to learn pro-level baking with Chef Jenny? Click here for information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

By Jenny McCoy — Pastry & Baking Arts Chef Instructor

It’s hard to truly determine who ought to be credited for the first brownie. One version of history credits Bertha Palmer, a Chicago businesswoman and socialite, for inspiring the sweet that is about as American as apple pie. On a recent visit to Chicago, I took a walk down one of the brownie’s memory lanes.

Bertha was the wife of Potter Palmer, a wealthy businessman who was very much involved in the development of downtown Chicago. They were introduced by a mutual friend and Potter’s former business partner, Marshall Field (whose department store acquired and popularized Frango chocolate truffles, by the way). As a wedding gift to his bride, Potter gave Bertha an extraordinary gift — The Palmer House hotel. Under the couples’ ownership, largely directly by Bertha, The Palmer House became the epicenter for entertainment amongst socialites in Chicago and well-heeled travelers worldwide. In 1893, for the World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition, an event that would draw influential people from around the globe, Bertha entertained the notion of creating a small confection that has since become beloved all the world over.

Palmer House brownieStorytellers say that for the World’s Fair, Bertha asked The Palmer House pastry chef to create a small cake or confection that could be included in boxed lunches for ladies visiting the fair. The pastry chef developed a thick, dense, fudgy chocolate bar, covered in walnuts and a sweet apricot glaze. It was unlike any other confection and became incredibly popular. Though it still wasn’t called a “brownie,” as similar versions of the dessert later appeared in the Sears Roebuck catalog and in cookbooks by Fannie Farmer and others, its name was given. More than a century later, you can still enjoy a square of warm chocolate goodness topped with ice cream made with the same recipe used in 1893 at The Palmer House. Or, if you can’t make it to Chicago anytime soon, you can create a batch of brownies yourself using the recipe below, adapted from the original.

The Palmer House Brownie
Adapted from the original recipe found here

Ingredients:

14 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 pound unsalted butter
12 ounces granulated sugar
4 ounces all-purpose flour
8 whole eggs
12 ounces crushed walnuts
Vanilla extract
Apricot Glaze (recipe below)

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 300° F.
  • In a double boiler, melt chocolate with butter.
  • In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients except walnuts.
  • Pour chocolate into dry ingredients and mix with a spatula for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add eggs and vanilla to chocolate mixture and mix to combine. Pour into a 9”x 12” baking sheet, sprinkle walnuts on top and use your fingers to press walnuts down slightly into mixture.
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. When finished baking, the brownies will have risen about ¼ inch and the edges should be a little crispy. Note: Even when properly baked, brownies will test “gooey” with a toothpick in the center due to the richness of the mixture. Remove brownies from oven and allow brownies to cool for about 30 minutes.
  • While brownies cool, work on your Apricot Glaze (recipe below). Once brownies cool, use a brush to spread a thin layer of the Apricot Glaze on top. Cut into squares and serve (highly recommended with a scoop of ice cream).

Pro Tip: The brownies are easier to cut if you place in the freezer for about 3-4 hours after glazing.

Palmer House brownies

For the Apricot Glaze

Ingredients:

1 cup water
1 cup apricot preserves
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

Preparation:

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together water, preserves and unflavored gelatin.
  • Bring to a boil for two minutes. Use hot.

Want to master brownies and more with Chef Jenny? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program. 

By Jenny McCoy — Chef Instructor, School of Baking & Pastry Arts

If you are not familiar with clafoutis, please make yourself acquainted. It is one of the easiest desserts to make, not to mention an absolute showstopper.

Like a soufflé, this dessert puffs to great heights and begins to deflate moments after being removed from the oven. However, unlike a soufflé, clafoutis batter is super simple to make — just whisk the ingredients together and voila! There is no need to fret over under-whipped egg whites or over-folded batter. Clafoutis is made with whole eggs and yolks, plus some flour to bind the batter, making it foolproof to execute.

summer fruit clafoutis

Summer is the perfect season for tucking into a freshly baked clafoutis. Many clafoutis recipes, particularly at this time of year, highlight cherries. This is because the clafoutis was first created in Limousin, France, a region celebrated for its black cherries. While I do love the classic cherry clafoutis, I find that clafoutis is even better suited for fruits with more tart and acidic qualities, like raspberries, blackberries, plums and apricots. I also enjoy topping it with chopped nuts and turbinado sugar, to give it a crunch to contrast its soft and delicate texture.

And don’t desert this fruity dessert after summer passes — it’s glorious at any time of year, particularly in the autumn when baked with thinly sliced Granny Smith apples or cranberries. 

Summer Fruit Clafoutis
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

Softened unsalted butter and sugar (for the ramekins)
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 pinches salt
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
¾ cup heavy cream
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups fresh fruit, such as berries or sliced stone fruit
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
¼ cup chopped pistachios, optional

summer fruit clafoutis

Preparation:

  • Place a rack in center of oven and preheat to 350° F. Lightly butter and sugar eight ramekins.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt together. Add the eggs, yolks, cream and lemon zest and continue to whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in the melted butter.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins, evenly scatter the fruit over the top of the batter, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar and pistachios.
  • Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until puffed, set in the center and light golden brown (about 15 to 20 minutes). Serve warm, and with ice cream if desired.

Want to master seasonal desserts and more with Chef Jenny? Click here for more information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

By Jenny McCoy — Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

As the Fourth of July approaches and we eagerly anticipate colorful firework displays and backyard barbecues, why not celebrate with a red, white and blue sprinkle-covered confetti cake? This delicious lemon-almond cake, filled with fresh strawberries and blueberries and layered with cream cheese icing, is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Before you begin, here are my favorite pro tips for success:

  • Use some shortening to make the cake a brighter white, which also makes it easier to color. If you prefer butter, you can substitute the shortening with more butter.
  • Be sure to scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl as you add the ingredients to your cake batter. This will ensure your batter is buttery smooth.
  • If you want to customize the results, your cake batter can be flavored with a variety of extracts. One of my favorite combinations is vanilla and coconut extracts. Alternatively, if you prefer a plain vanilla cake, replace the almond extract with an additional one teaspoon vanilla extract, for a total of two teaspoons.
  • I love to use a cardboard cake round to invert my cakes from the pans. It gives them a sturdy surface to fall on, which prevents the cake layers from tearing. Ask your local bakery for a few or cut out some rounds from a cardboard box.
  • Don’t have a cake turntable? Not to worry! My favorite kitchen hack is to use the plate and wheel from a microwave to layer and frost my cakes.
  • Instead of worrying about your cake layers sliding around as you frost the top and sides of the cake, try this trick — use a long bamboo skewer to hold everything in place.
  • A flat, metal bench scraper (more often used for cutting bread dough) makes for amazingly straight sides on your frosted cake. If you don’t have a bench scraper, use a metal icing spatula, like the one featured in the video.
  • Don’t worry about having a perfectly frosted cake for this recipe. As long as it’s relatively smooth, once it’s covered in sprinkles, it will be a showstopper no matter what!

One last trick: to make sure the cakes don’t stick to the pan, cut parchment paper into a circle to line your round cake pan. Here’s how:

Remember how you used to make paper snowflakes from folded paper in elementary school? Well, that same technique will now serve you well as an adult. If you enjoy baking cakes, that is.

For a round cake pan, simply fold a piece of parchment paper in half three times to make a triangular wedge of paper (kind of like a slice of cake—what a coincidence!). Turn your cake pan upside down and place the tip of the paper wedge directly in the center of the pan. Trim the wider edge of the paper wedge to the length of the radius of the pan, or the very edge of the cake pan. Unfold and voila! A circle of parchment paper to perfectly line the inside of your round cake pan. Check out this video on ICE’s Instagram feed to see how it’s done.

July Fourth-fetti Cake
Makes one three-layer cake

For the Cakes:
Makes 3

Ingredients:

2 sticks (8 ounces) butter, softened
½ cup (4 ounces) shortening
3 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3 large egg whites
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Red food coloring
Blue food coloring
3-4 tablespoons red, white and blue sprinkles

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Lightly spray three eight-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, egg whites, almond extract and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and stir together. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the milk and mix until combined. Add the remaining half of the dry ingredients, followed by the buttermilk and mix until well combined and smooth.
  • Divide the batter evenly between three bowls and add blue food coloring to one bowl and red food coloring to the second bowl, mixing in and adding coloring in drops as necessary until the desired color is reached. Add sprinkles to the third bowl and stir until evenly combined. Pour the batter into the three prepared cake pans and bake until very light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans for five minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.

 

For the Lemon-Almond Simple Syrup:
Makes ½ cup

Ingredients:

½ cup simple syrup
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract

Preparation:

  • Combine the simple syrup, vanilla extract and lemon extract and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
Makes 6 cups

Ingredients:

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (16 ounces) cream cheese
6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until soft and very smooth. Add the cream cheese and mix until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar and salt and mix until fully combined. Add the vanilla extract and whip on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days.

 

To assemble the cake:

Ingredients:

1 blue cake layer
1 sprinkle cake layer
1 red cake layer
½ cup Lemon-Almond Simple Syrup (recipe above)
6 cups Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe above)
1 cup blueberries
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups red, white and blue sprinkles, to decorate

Preparation:

  • Slice the tops off the cake layers to create a flat surface. Place the blue cake layer on top of an eight-inch round of cardboard. Use a pastry brush to lightly soak the blue cake layer with the simple syrup. Spread about one cup of the frosting on the blue cake layer and cover with fresh blueberries. Top with the sprinkled white cake layer and repeat by soaking the cake layer with simple syrup and covering with one cup of frosting, and top with the fresh strawberries. Place the red cake layer on top. Frost the tops and sides of the cake with the remaining four cups of frosting. Freeze cake for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Place the sprinkles in a large bowl. Hold the cake over a rimmed baking sheet and gently cover the sides and tops of the cake with the sprinkles by pressing them against the frosting and allowing the excess to fall back onto the tray. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to two days. If refrigerated before serving, let cake stand at room temperature for one to two hours before serving.

Want to learn how to make tasty desserts like a pro? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.

By Jenny McCoy — Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

The strawberry shortcake — one of the most quintessential American desserts – has seen an evolution like none other.

It started out as a dessert made in the springtime to celebrate the strawberry harvest season. Made of layers of crumbly biscuit or shortbread-like cakes, sweetened cream and strawberries, it was a simple dessert with a gorgeous composition of textures and flavors — soft and creamy, a bit crisp, a bit acidic and ever so sweet. Over time, as chemical-leavening agents such as baking soda and baking powder became more popular in cake recipes, the shortcake used in some recipes became more cake-like, eventually becoming anything from a pound cake to a sponge cake.

strawberry shortcake bars

I’ve tasted many variations on the strawberry shortcake, from a fancy entremet with precisely even layers of white chocolate cake, whipped mascarpone, strawberry gelée and strawberry sorbet, to strawberry shortcake-flavored OREO cookies. However, my absolute favorite of the less-than-traditional interpretations of the dessert is the Strawberry Shortcake Dessert Bar made by Good Humor. Growing up, when the ice cream truck rolled through my neighborhood, they were always my first pick. I would enjoy eating the sweet crumbly coating of the bars first, then slowly work my way to the electric pink strawberry ice cream center.

So this spring, I decided to recreate my childhood treat from scratch. Instead of the original strawberry ice cream center surrounded by vanilla ice cream, I decided to marry the two. I swirled homemade strawberry jam in churned vanilla bean ice cream. The result is downright delicious. And as for the cake part of the ice cream bar (which is actually more like cookies), I ground up freshly baked sugar cookies with freeze-dried strawberries and melted butter, to make what is almost like a hot pink cookie piecrust, and generously coated the ice cream bars by rolling them in the mixture.

What’s your favorite version of the classic strawberry shortcake — biscuits or pound cake? Or do you deviate completely from the original and love something crazy like strawberry shortcake-flavored chewing gum? Try out my take on strawberry shortcake ice cream pops and let us know what you think.

 

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars
Makes about 8 servings

Ingredients:

1 batch Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream Pops (recipe below)
1 cup sugar cookie crumbs
1 cup freeze-dried strawberries
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Preparation:

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place in the freezer.
  • Combine the cookie crumbs and strawberries in a food processor and drizzle with butter. Pulse a few times to mix. Spread the mixture on a large plate.
  • Remove each ice pop by dipping molds briefly in hot water or let stand at room temperature for a few minutes. Quickly remove one ice pop at a time from the mold and dip in crumbs, turning over to coat and pressing to adhere. Transfer the ice pops to the baking sheet in the freezer and let them set until firm, at least 20 minutes. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to one week.strawberry shortcake bars

Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream Pops
Makes about 1 quart 

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups whole milk
1 ½ cups heavy cream
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
6 large egg yolks
½ to ¾ cup strawberry jam (recipe below)

Preparation:

  • In a medium pot, bring the milk, cream, salt, vanilla bean and ¼ cup of sugar to a boil. Turn off heat and let steep at room temperature for 10 minutes; return to a rolling boil.
  • Whisk the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and yolks in a large bowl until smooth. Gently temper the yolks by slowly adding hot cream mixture while whisking constantly. Once completely combined, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Place the bowl of ice cream base over another bowl of ice water and stir until cool.
  • Churn the ice cream base mixture in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the churned ice cream to a large mixing bowl, layering large dollops of strawberry jam in between large spoonfuls of ice cream. Fold once or twice to swirl the jam into the ice cream. Divide the softened ice cream among ice-pop molds, insert sticks and freeze until firm, at least four hours or up to one week.

Strawberry Jam
Yield: Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:

½ pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1 cup granulated sugar
2 pinches salt
1 ½ teaspoons pectin
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preparation:

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar and salt. Mash the berries until they are crushed. Sprinkle the pectin over the top of the mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens to a jam-like consistency. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and let stand at room temperature until cool. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Sugar Cookie Crumbs
Makes about 1 1/2 cups of cookie crumbs 

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until combined. Reduce the mixer to low speed and slowly add the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Divide the dough in half and roll out onto a floured surface until about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the sheet of dough to a baking sheet. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Bake until light golden brown and set, 14 to 18 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet until room temperature. Break the dough into small pieces and grind in a food processor until crumbs. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Want to take your pastry skills to the next level? Click here for more information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

By Jenny McCoy — Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

As Chef Jenny explained in her previous post, the virtues of shrubs — those trending drinking vinegars made from a combination of fruit, sugar and vinegar — are many. For one thing, they aid in digestion and keep blood sugar levels in check. They also happen to mix well with most spirits, making them the perfect, healthy-ish mixer for cocktails at your Memorial Day barbecue. That’s why Chef Jenny concocted a seasonal, dangerously tasty strawberry-rhubarb shrub — serve with your spirit of choice or a splash of soda water on ice, and feel good about your beverage choice this Memorial Day.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Shrub

For the drinking vinegar base
Yield: Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:

8 ounces strawberries, rinsed, hulled and chopped
8 ounces rhubarb, cleaned, leaves removed and thinly sliced
½ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¾ cup white wine vinegar

Preparation:

  • In a medium pot, combine strawberries, rhubarb, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and balsamic vinegar. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a simmer and the fruit begins to break down. Reduce heat to low, add white wine vinegar, cover and cook until the fruit has turned to mush and has released all of its juices, about 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the fruit pulp. Refrigerate the liquid until cold and serve in cocktail (recipe below) or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

 

For the cocktail
Yield: Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

Ice cubes
2 ounces vodka, or spirit of choice
4 ounces Strawberry-Rhubarb Shrub
2 ounces soda water
Splash of white wine vinegar
Strawberries, for garnish (optional)

Preparation:

  • In a rocks glass, fill to the top with ice cubes, add the vodka, shrub, soda water and white wine vinegar. Stir, garnish with a piece of strawberry and serve immediately.

* Since the Strawberry-Rhubarb drinking vinegar base in this cocktail has a dual flavor — strawberry and rhubarb — I like to double the ratio in my cocktail so the flavors really stand out against the spirit and soda water. Of course, if you’d prefer the traditional ratio of 1 part drinking vinegar, 1 part spirit and 1 part soda, that works, too!

Ready to learn how to create sweet dishes like the pros? Click here for more information on our Pastry & Baking Arts program.

By Jenny McCoy — Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

I have a vivid memory of a bun-related conversation with my grandmother. As she walked me home from day camp, I remarked that I wanted a bun in my hair. (I never had long hair; my mother thought a pixie haircut was “just so cute!” Naturally, long hair was all I ever longed for. That and braces.) My grandmother’s retort: “You want a bun from the bakery in your hair?” Perhaps that’s when my fascination for buns, rolls and all other warm, yeasty and sometimes sweet delights began.

hot cross buns

Springtime rolls around and out come trays of hot cross buns, adorning the display windows of European bakeries. An obsession with their soft tender crumb, fragrant spices and candied orange rind, and the strangely satisfying chewy texture of the doughy cross, is a cross I have to bear. I try to sample as many as possible — sometimes suddenly stopping my car to park when I come across a new bakery, just to compare them to the many dozens of buns I’ve enjoyed since childhood. I’ve tasted them while traveling throughout the south of England (on a tour of cathedrals, no less); I’ve sampled their Italian and Austrian counterparts on Good Friday in Florence and Vienna; and I’ve had countless rolls made by the plump-fingered Polish ladies whose bakeries I frequented while growing up on Chicago’s north side. Yet all of that abruptly came to a stop a few years ago, thanks to our dean of bread baking, Sim Cass. His recipe for hot cross buns is the absolute best I’ve ever tried. It is downright perfect, easy to execute and traditional in its roots — my kind of recipe. I’ve tweaked it ever so slightly, so I hope Chef Sim doesn’t damn me forevermore… keep reading, I’ll explain.

A few fun facts about these underappreciated buns:

Some people believe they can ward off evil spirits.

The cross is said to symbolize holiness; but, delicious as they are, I have no faith that these tasty little baked goods will save us from any harm.

The darned things have been damned!

These delectable sweets, with origins tracing back to ancient Greece, were recently banned in England from being served in schools, hospitals and other public institutions, as a means to prevent public endorsements of any one religion.

Icing evolution.                  

Traditionally, the cross decorating the buns was made from a simple paste of flour and water. Over time the cross has changed and some bakers mark their buns with a sweet frosting called fondant, which is similar to the icing used to top a cinnamon roll.

Let’s break bread, shall we?

Just as the saying goes, hot cross buns are quite commonly given as gifts during Easter, as a symbol of friendship and kindness. So regardless of your religious beliefs, you can gladly accept and enjoy them if you so choose. Just turn them 90 degrees and you’ll have an X instead of a cross — X marks the delicious spot.

hot cross buns

Hot Cross Buns
Servings: makes two dozen rolls

Ingredients:

7 cups bread flour
¼ whole nutmeg, finely grated
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground allspice
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ sticks unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 ½ cups whole milk
¼ cup honey
2 envelopes (½ ounce) instant active yeast
4 large eggs, divided
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
½ cup (2 ounces) candied citron peel, finely minced
1 ½ cups raisins
Nonstick cooking spray
1 recipe cross paste (recipe follows)
1 recipe honey syrup glaze (recipe follows)

Preparation:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, spices, sugar and salt and mix on low speed for one minute. Add the butter and continue to mix on low speed until the mixture resembles grated Parmesan cheese and absolutely no lumps or pieces of butter remain, about eight minutes. Meanwhile, warm the milk to about 100° F. Add the yeast and honey and stir to combine.
  • Switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the milk and yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and butter mixture in the mixer bowl. Add three of the eggs to the mixer, one at a time. Add the orange zest. Once the dough has mixed into one solid piece, mix the dough on low speed for three minutes. Increase the mixer to medium speed for four minutes until the dough is smooth. Add the candied citron and raisins to the mixer and continue to mix on medium speed for two minutes to combine. Remove the bowl from the mixer, lightly cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 45 minutes to one hour.
  • Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Once the dough has risen, divide the dough into 24 equal-sized pieces (about 2 ½ ounces each or a piece the size of a racquet ball). Roll each piece into a small ball, taking care to tuck in any raisins poking out of the dough (they can burn easily in the hot oven). Arrange the rolls of dough on the baking sheet in a 4 x 6 roll grid. Lightly spray the rolls with nonstick cooking spray and lightly cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Let the rolls rise at room temperature until increased in size by about 75%, about 45 minutes.
  • Remove the plastic wrap. Lightly beat the remaining egg in a small bowl. Brush the entire surface area of the rolls with the beaten egg. Carefully pipe a line of the cross paste across the rows of rolls in one direction, then repeat in the opposite direction to create a cross pattern.
  • Bake the rolls until a deep golden brown, rotating the tray halfway through the baking, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove the rolls from the oven and let cool on the tray placed on a cooling rack. Immediately brush the rolls evenly with the honey syrup glaze until no glaze remains. Let cool until just warm enough to handle and serve immediately, or cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container for up to two days. To store longer, transfer the cooled rolls to a freezer bag and freeze for up to four weeks. Thaw at room temperature and microwave to warm up for a few seconds before serving.

Cross paste:

Ingredients:

1 cup bread flour
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preparation:

  • Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a small round piping bag and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

Honey syrup glaze

Ingredients:

¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup honey
2 pinches of salt

Preparation:

  • Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Let simmer for three minutes and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

Learn to bake buns (and more!) like a pro with Chef Jenny — click here for information on ICE’s career programs.