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.

 

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At ICE, we make it our mission to help students find their culinary voice — that creative drive within each of us that determines how we express ourselves through food. Whether it’s a career training program, a recreational course in pie crusts or a special event featuring handmade pasta, we’ll give you the tools to hone your culinary creativity. Join us as we ask some of today’s leading food industry pros to share their culinary voice.

Duff Goldman’s slogan is simple: If you can dream it, we can create it. Whether it’s a lifelike Betty White cake or a multi-tiered, hand-painted wedding cake (with or without lasers), the pastry chef and owner of the Baltimore-based, wildly popular Charm City Cakes bakery and star of Food Network’s Ace of Cakes is up for any confectionary challenge. We asked Duff to share his culinary voice with us, and his response should come as little surprise to anyone who’s seen his creations: “I really like to make people smile; I like to make them laugh; and I always like to make them think.” Watch the video and find out more about Duff Goldman’s unique culinary voice.

Find your culinary voice with ICE — learn more about our career training programs.

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By Michael Laiskonis, Creative Director

When ICE moved into its current facility at Brookfield Place, staff and students were treated to new features like the Chocolate Lab – my home base – as well as our indoor hydroponic farm. This innovative space focuses on unique varieties of culinary plants grown for flavor, and their efforts benefit our students in the teaching kitchens as well as chefs and restaurants throughout the city. Every time I walk past the brightly lit farm, I can almost taste the dozens of flavors growing within and my imagination immediately starts to stir. This first in a series of posts traces some inspired ideas that emerge when we crossbreed these amazing raw materials with advanced pastry projects in the Chocolate Lab.

Anise hyssop parfait

The farm features several staple herbs — varieties of basils and mints, for example — plus new and exciting crops rotating into production on a weekly basis. During a recent tour and tasting of the hydroponic farm’s offerings, two items stood out: anise hyssop and purple oxalis. The former was an old friend, a sweet expression of licorice and mint. The latter, however, was something I was unfamiliar with. A relative of the sorrel family, the deep violet leaves of the oxalis resemble the flapping wings of a butterfly and provide an interesting tartness. More surprising was the flavor that came from its stem — a refreshing acidity that called to mind delicate young rhubarb stalks. To highlight these herbs, I began constructing flavors and textures in my mind. Sweet apricot, aromatic vanilla, honey, cream…with these building blocks in place, I picked my hyssop and oxalis and then headed into the lab.

Anise hyssop parfait

Sprig of Nepitella

As I assembled ingredients, the dessert’s architecture materialized. The anise hyssop would infuse an airy mousse, or parfait. The apricot would be lightly sweetened with honey and provide a fluid liquid center inside the parfait. A shiny glaze speckled with vanilla would enrobe the parfait, which would find its place atop a crunchy, buttery pastry base. Still enamored with the oxalis stems, I considered lightly candying them to preserve their slender form and to balance their flavor. The format of a petit gateau, an individual dessert often found in boutique pastry shops, offered the perfect format in which to condense these flavors and textures for maximum impact.

Stay tuned for more sweet collaborations with the hydroponic farm at ICE!

Anise Hyssop Parfait – Apricot, Honey, Vanilla and Purple Oxalis
Yield: Makes 16 individual desserts

Pâte Sucrée

Ingredients:

120g unsalted butter, softened
2g salt
90g confectioner’s sugar
30g almond flour
50g whole egg
60g all-purpose flour (1)
175g all-purpose flour (2)

Preparation:

  • Combine and blend the butter, salt, confectioner’s sugar and almond flour in a food processor.
  • Add the whole egg and first measurement of flour (1); process just until incorporated.
  • Add the remaining flour (2); process just until incorporated – take care not to overmix. Wrap the dough and chill.
  • Chill or freeze. Allow a minimum of one hour resting period before use. Roll or sheet very thin, to a half sheet pan sized rectangle. Transfer to mesh silicone mat and par-bake sheets for five minutes at 150°C/300°F to set; cut 7cm (2 ¾ in.) discs and continue baking approximately five to ten minutes, or until golden brown.

Honey Apricot Coulant

Ingredients:

0.5 sheet gelatin, hydrated
200g apricot puree
15g honey

Preparation:

  • Combine puree and honey in a saucepan. Bring just to a simmer.
  • Whisk in the gelatin. Drop into small silicone half-sphere molds. Freeze.

Anise Hyssop Parfait

Ingredients:

200g whole milk
30g anise hyssop
60g egg yolks
75g sucrose
10g gelatin powder (225 bloom), hydrated in 40g water
400g heavy cream (36% fat), whipped

Preparation:

  • Place the milk and anise hyssop in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat, remove from heat, cover and allow the mixture to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain.
  • Prepare a crème anglaise with the infused milk, egg yolk and sucrose; cook to 84°C/183° Add the hydrated gelatin. Strain and cool to 25°C/77°F.
  • Fold the crème anglaise base into the whipped cream and deposit into silicone ‘stone’ molds. Allow to stand at room temperature for five to ten minutes, insert the frozen apricot coulant centers, top off the mold with additional mousse if necessary and continue to freeze completely.

Glaçage

Ingredients:

9g gelatin powder (250 bloom)
45g water (1)
120g sucrose
75g water (2)
150g glucose syrup
160g white chocolate
100g condensed milk
Orange color, as needed (water-soluble, powder)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Preparation:

  • Hydrate gelatin in the first measurement of water (1).
  • Combine the sucrose, second measurement of water (2) and glucose in a saucepan and cook to 103°C/217° remove from heat and add to the white chocolate and condensed milk.
  • Incorporate the gelatin, as well as desired color and scraped vanilla bean pulp, and emulsify.
  • Chill, utilize glaze at 30-32°C/86-88°F

Assembly 

Ingredients:

White chocolate décor
Anise hyssop, leaves and flowers
Purple oxalis, leaves and candied stems

Preparation:

  • Place the frozen, unmolded parfaits onto a wire rack and glaze with the warmed glaçage. Briefly chill to set.
  • Transfer each glazed parfait to the baked sucrée discs and allow to temper. Finish with the white chocolate garnish, anise hyssop, purple oxalis and nepitella flowers.

Anise hyssop parfait

Want to explore the Chocolate Lab and hydroponic farm at ICE? Learn more about our Pastry & Baking Arts program.

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It’s official: ELF the Musical is returning to the Theater at Madison Square Garden. What better way to commemorate this huge announcement than a huge Elf-themed confection? That’s why ICE’s expert pastry chefs joined forces and spent over 500 hours crafting a 10-foot tall replica of Buddy the Elf, made of delicious Rice Krispies Treats®. The colossal confection was unveiled on Wednesday, October 25 at the Garden, and the result was outstanding — fitting for a larger-than-life, sweet-treat loving elf like Buddy.

Like the musical’s principal character Buddy, who embarks on a heroic journey in search of his family, ICE pastry chefs Elisa Strauss and Penny Stankiewicz set out on their own courageous quest to construct NYC’s largest Rice Krispies Treats® sculpture. It took several weeks, 70 pounds of chocolate, 50 pounds of fondant, 15 pounds of edible glitter and 300 pounds of Rice Krispies Treats®, but, with the help of 9 ICE pastry and cake decorating students, the chefs pulled it off.

ELF the Musical and ICE jointly donated the sweet sculpture to the NYC Department of Homeless Services, a partner of the Garden of Dreams Foundation, a non-profit charity that works with the Madison Square Garden Company and MSG Networks, Inc. to positively impact the lives of children facing obstacles.

ELF will run for a limited engagement from December 13-29, 2017 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Tickets are on sale now! 

Learn more about ICE’s career programs.

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By Lauren Jessen — ICE Graduate + Blogger, A Dash of Cinema

Long before I attended culinary school, I attempted to make homemade marshmallows. Unsurprisingly, my first go was a sticky mess — my marshmallows fell flat. Flash forward a few years later to actually being in culinary school at ICE: when it came time to make marshmallows in class, I had flashbacks of my previous marshmallow miss and was nervous that the lesson would result in a frustrating mess.

ghost marshmallows

photos: Lauren Jessen

In class at ICE, the process ended up being frustration-free. Sticky? Yes. And even a little messy. However, the end product turned out better than I could have imagined. The marshmallows were fluffy, delicious and light. I learned the proper way to make marshmallows, as well as how to use the ingredients involved. The recipe we used in class was excellent, and I rely on it every time I want to make marshmallows.

You might be surprised to learn that the recipe contains only five ingredients, but when everything is combined and the whipping begins, sweet magic happens. The best part about homemade marshmallows? You can make them any flavor and shape! You can make classic marshmallows or add extract flavors such as vanilla, coffee or peppermint. Then, once the marshmallows have solidified, you can use cookie cutters to form them into any shape you desire.

These marshmallows are inspired by the 1984 film “Ghostbusters.” When the large Marshmallow Man threatens the city near the end of the movie, the Ghostbusters are shocked because they never thought a marshmallow would destroy them. They even talk about how they used to roast marshmallows at camp. I couldn’t resist making a smaller version of that frightful Marshmallow Man.

These Ghost Marshmallows are a perfect addition to any Halloween party. Eat them solo or add them to a hot cup of cocoa for a sweet and spooky twist.

ghost marshmallows

Ghost Marshmallows

Ingredients

85 grams cold water (1)
18 grams gelatin powder
265 grams granulated sugar
100 grams corn syrup (1)
100 grams water (2)
90 grams corn syrup (2)
Dextrose, as needed for dusting

Preparation

  • Place the first measurement of water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and allow it to bloom and soften for 5-6 minutes.
  • In a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup (1) and water (2), and heat to 230°F.
  • Meanwhile, add the corn syrup (2) to the bloomed gelatin.
  • Pour the cooked sugar mixture into the stand mixer bowl and whisk at a medium speed until the mixture has become thick and lightened. The mixture will look like marshmallow cream after 10-15 minutes of whipping.
  • While the mixture is whipping, prepare a sheet tray for the marshmallow mixture: spray a quarter sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust with dextrose.
  • Once the marshmallow mixture is thick and lightened, transfer it to the prepared pan. Wet your hands with water and smooth the surface, patting the mixture down until it evenly covers the sheet pan.
  • Leave the sheet tray and mixture uncovered and let it set for one hour at room temperature.
  • After an hour (or you can leave it overnight), remove the marshmallow slab from the pan and flip it onto a dextrose-covered cutting board.
  • Cut the marshmallow slab into squares, or use a cookie cutter (generously coated with nonstick cooking spray to prevent sticking) to cut the marshmallow slab into your desired shape. (I used a ghost-shaped cookie cutter for this recipe.) Toss the shaped marshmallow in additional dextrose.
  • To make eyes and a mouth for the ghosts, use a toothpick to add small drops of chocolate syrup to create the face.

Ready to master marshmallows and much more? Learn more about ICE’s career training programs.

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