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

I’ve never been a big pie person. I can appreciate a good homemade pie with a thick crust and multiple scoops of ice cream, but it’s not the Thanksgiving dessert that I look forward to most. If you fall into the same anti-pie category as me, try making these hazelnut and cardamom sticky buns instead. The cardamom and hazelnut form a delicious flavor duo, especially when paired with this soft, tender dough.

sticky buns

I remember the first time I made sticky buns in culinary school during module 4 of my culinary arts program at ICE. The entire class was excited —because how often do you get to make sticky buns, let alone eat them? We lined muffin pans with pecans and caramel and placed the bun dough on top. Those 30 minutes spent waiting for the buns to bake felt like an eternity.

Now that I’ve learned the proper way to make them, sticky buns are way less intimidating. Essentially, all you’re doing is making a cinnamon roll, but adding the “topping” to the bottom before baking. Then, when they’re finished baking, you flip the buns onto parchment paper. The end result is a gooey, sweet topping and filling with a delicious yeast dough that everyone at the dinner table will be thinking about well past Thanksgiving.

As if sweet, delicious gooiness wasn’t enough, sticky buns are also amazing because you can switch up the flavors with the seasons — you can substitute pecans, pistachios and walnuts for the hazelnuts, and cinnamon, lemon and pumpkin for cardamom. There’s a lot you can do with sticky buns, which makes it a great go-to dessert for any occasion.

 

sticky bunsHazelnut and Cardamom Sticky Buns

Dough

Ingredients:

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ¾ teaspoons yeast
2 eggs
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
A pinch of cinnamon
3 ½ tablespoons sugar
½ cup butter, unsalted, room temperature

Preparation:

  • In a small saucepan, heat the milk until it reaches 110-115°F.
  • Add the sugar and yeast to the milk, and let the mixture sit for five minutes until the yeast becomes frothy.
  • Add the eggs to the milk mixture and whisk until smooth.
  • In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, mix the flour, salt, cinnamon, sugar and butter together using a dough hook.
  • Pour in the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  • Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl and allow to rise for one hour. After one hour of rising in a warm spot, transfer the dough to the fridge for one hour.
  • Roll out the dough to form a rectangle, about 10-12 inches wide.

Filling

Ingredients:

1 egg, whisked for egg wash
½ cup hazelnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Preparation:

  • Combine the hazelnuts, cardamom, cinnamon and light brown sugar to create the filling mixture.
  • Cover the dough with egg wash, and then spread the filling mixture on top.
  • Roll the dough along the long side. Cut the log evenly into 12 equal pieces. These pieces will be placed on the topping in the prepared pans (see below).

Topping

Ingredients:

½ cup hazelnuts, chopped
1 ⅓ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup corn syrup
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cardamom

Preparation:

  • In a saucepan, over medium heat combine all the ingredients until just melted to create a caramel topping. Be careful not to overcook this mixture.

Making the sticky buns

  • Heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Prepare the sheet pans by spreading the chopped hazelnuts on the bottom and covering them with the caramel topping.
  • Place the buns in the baking pan on top of the caramel and hazelnuts, making sure to give space between each one, as they will double in size when baking.
  • Bake buns for 30 minutes until golden. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, and then flip the sticky buns onto a parchment-lined sheet tray.

Master sticky buns and much more in ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts career program — learn more today.

By Robert Ramsey ­— Culinary Arts Chef-Instructor 

With the heat of August ushering in peak tomato harvest, I came up with a few recipes to get creative with summer’s favorite fruit, beginning with a rich, creamy cold soup from the Andalusia region of Spain called salmorejo. Everyone has heard of Spain’s most famous soup — the cold, refreshing gazpacho. Think of salmorejo as gazpacho’s velvety cousin: it’s rich with tasty Spanish olive oil, thickened with a bit of bread and as smooth as a perfect flan.

salmorejo

Ingredients:

2 pounds tomatoes, quartered (look for the best you can find at the market)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 stalk celery, chopped
5 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
1 Serrano chili, seeded and chopped
12 ounces (1 small can) low-sodium tomato juice
½ teaspoon dry chili flakes
4 ounces white bread, torn or cubed and crust removed
⅓ cup good quality red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¾ cup good quality Spanish olive oil
Serrano ham, hard-boiled egg and chives for garnish (optional)

salmorejo soup

Preparation:

  • In a large, non-reactive vessel, combine all ingredients except the olive oil. Mix well and marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours, or preferably overnight for maximum flavor.
  • Working in batches, place the mixture in a Vitamix blender and slowly adjust the speed from the lowest to the highest setting. While the blender is running, slowly stream in the olive oil to emulsify. The color will change to a beautiful orange and the texture will become smooth and creamy. Repeat with remaining mixture.
  • Return mixture to the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving in chilled bowls. Top with chopped hard-boiled egg, chopped Serrano ham, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of freshly chopped chives (if desired).

tomato Vitamix

Master recipes for all seasons with Chef Robert — click here to learn about our culinary arts career program. 

Vitamix is now offering our readers special discounts on their popular Vitamix models: C- and G- Series, Certified Reconditioned S30, and Certified Reconditioned Standard Programs Machine. Use the URL and discount code below and find your culinary voice with Vitamix. 

www.vitamix.com/CSP
Promotion Code: ICEVitamix21216
Expires: December 31, 2017

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.

Soft serve ice cream is one of the true joys of summer. (On second thought, let’s be honest: we eat it year-round.) To satisfy our endless craving for soft serve, ICE Chef James Briscione shows us how to make three recipes for soft serve — each in under five minutes! As a bonus, two of them just happen to be vegan. Even better, the only kitchen equipment you’ll need is a hand blender and a jar.

First on the menu is Peanut Butter & Jelly — with raspberries and creamy peanut butter, it’s a sweet ‘n’ tasty throwback to your favorite lunchbox staple. Next is Spicy Mango Coconut, a refreshing tropical treat that gets a nice kick from fresh-cut chili. Chef James finishes with a silky Strawberries & Cream soft serve, hit with a touch of lemon zest to give it that extra je ne sais quoi.

Consider your days of ice cream truck chasing over.

You, too, can make ice cream, pastries and more like a pro — click here to learn about ICE’s career programs. 

By James Distefano – Chef Instructor, School of Baking & Pastry Arts

When I was the executive pastry chef at the original Rouge Tomate, my job was to incorporate more fruits and alternative grains into my baking while cutting back on the refined sugar and flours. I saw this directive as a positive challenge — one in which I could expand both my knowledge of ingredients and also my palette.

My medjool date sticky toffee pudding is a great example of this. It combines sweet medjool dates with whole wheat and buckwheat flours. Using the dates allowed me to cut back on the sugar and still retain the cake’s sweet decadence. I added a touch of cocoa powder to play into that richness while counterbalancing with the cocoa powder’s bitter qualities. Finally, I topped it off with a little banana caramel sauce. You might think that’s bananas, but who doesn’t love a date on Valentine’s Day?

sticky_pudding

Medjool Date Sticky Toffee Pudding
Servings: Makes about 8-10 servings.

Ingredients:

170 grams medjool dates, pitted
6 grams vanilla extract
10 grams baking soda
392 grams water
85 grams butter
227 grams dark brown sugar
75 grams eggs
122 grams all-purpose flour
85 grams whole-wheat flour
14 grams buckwheat flour
56 grams cocoa powder
6.3 grams baking powder
1.5 grams salt

Preparation:

  • Heat oven to 350° F.
  • Place the dates, vanilla extract and baking soda in a medium-size bowl and set aside.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then pour over the dates and cover with plastic wrap to soften them. This should take about five minutes.
  • Once the dates have softened, puree them into a smooth paste utilizing a blender. Set this loose date paste aside.
  • In a bowl fitted for an electric mixer, cream the butter and dark brown sugar on medium speed until it is light and fluffy.
  • Turn machine down to low speed and gradually add the eggs.
  • Alternately add your dry ingredients and the loose date paste, beginning and ending with your dry ingredients until all of the dry ingredients and the date paste have been incorporated.
  • Portion batter into individual molds and bake at 350° F until set. They will feel lightly firm with a soft spring to them.
  • Allow them to cool to room temperature before unmolding.
  • Serve with Banana Caramel (recipe below) or store until ready to serve. These cakes will last up to one day stored in an airtight container.

Banana Caramel Sauce                  

Ingredients:

75 grams granulated sugar
375 grams banana (about 3), very ripe, chopped into small pieces
125 grams whole milk
125 grams heavy cream
3 grams vanilla extract
1.5 grams salt

Preparation:

  • In a small pot heat the whole milk and heavy cream. Set aside.
  • In a second small pot, begin caramelizing the granulated sugar utilizing the dry sugar method.
  • Once all of the sugar has been added to the pot, allow it to turn a deep amber color, right before it begins to smoke.
  • Add the chopped banana to the caramelized sugar and gently stir, allowing the bananas to cook in the hot caramel for one minute.
  • Deglaze the pot with the warm milk/heavy cream and simmer the caramel sauce for five minutes.
  • Place the banana caramel into a blender and begin to process, making sure the blender is on its lowest setting first.
  • Gradually increase the speed until the blender is on its highest setting. Blend for 30 seconds more.
  • Strain the banana caramel through a chinois and immediately chill over an ice bath until it is cold.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

This is a great sauce for the Date Sticky Toffee Pudding and for just about anything else you’d serve with a traditional caramel sauce.

Sweet tooth piqued? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

 

At ICE, we’re falling for fall. The cozy knits, the bounty of apples, the fall-spiced beverages and, of course, the pumpkins—what’s not to love? The below pumpkin-centric dessert comes from chef and cookbook author Melanie Underwood, who will be teaching the upcoming recreational baking course, Fall Desserts, at ICE. The kitchen classrooms, which are outfitted with BlueStar ovens, are the perfect playgrounds for recreational cooking and baking. Says Chef Melanie, “BlueStar ovens are beautiful and they work great in home kitchens.”

Students in Chef Melanie’s autumnal baking course will try their hand at this recipe for pumpkin whoopie pies. “Pumpkin and maple are two of my favorite autumn flavors and they pair wonderfully with this fun, easy dessert that both kids and adults love,” says Chef Melanie.

pumpkin-whoopie-pies-1

(credit: Melanie Underwood)

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Servings: makes about 30 2-inch pies

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½  teaspoon salt
1 ¼ sticks (5 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin purée
2 cups filling (see recipe below)

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 375º F.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and zest until light and fluffy (on medium speed, about 5-10 minutes).
  • Add the eggs one at time and mix until combined.
  • Turn off mixer, add ⅓ of the dry ingredients and mix on low until mixture comes together. Add ½ of the pumpkin purée and mix until combined. Repeat with remaining flour and pumpkin, ending with the last ⅓ of flour.
  • With an ice cream scoop, scoop mixture (about 2 to 4 tablespoons, depending on the size you like) onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 12-15 minutes (when done, they should spring back when lightly touched).
  • After the “cookies” cool, spread or pipe the filling on the flat surface of one cookie and top with another cookie, pressing together lightly.

For the filling
Yield: about 2 cups

Ingredients:

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
½ stick butter (2 ounces), room temperature
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

  • Using an electronic mixer with a paddle attachment, combine all of the ingredients together and mix until smooth and creamy.

pumpkin-whoopie-pies

Click here to register and check out all of the cooking and baking classes at ICE this fall. 

 

By Caitlin Gunther

Toasted-Almond and Coconut Ice Pops recipe

Recipe reprinted from In A Nutshell: Cooking and Baking with Nuts and Seeds by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian. Copyright © 2014 by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Gentl & Hyers. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

With the sun shining and the mercury rising, just the thought of baking can seem ludicrous. What’s the lover of sweets to do? The answer: break out those ice pop molds. These sweet treats on a stick have endless flavor potential and are the perfect way to indulge your sweet tooth throughout the summer.

In celebration of Popsicle Week 2016, we’re sharing recipes for toasted-almond and coconut ice pops from In a Nutshell: Cooking and Baking with Nuts and Seeds, by ICE chefs Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian. They’re so tasty you’ll gobble them up before they have the chance to melt.

Toasted-Almond Ice Pops

Ingredients

For the ice pops:

1 3⁄4 cups (14 ounces) almond milk

1⁄2 cup heavy cream

1⁄4 cup whole milk

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons almond butter

 

For finishing:

Light corn syrup (optional)

1 cup (4 ounces) crushed toasted sliced almonds

 

Preparation

  1. Place all the ingredients for the ice pops in a blender and mix well, 30 to 45 seconds.
  2. Pour the liquid into ice pop molds and set them in the freezer to freeze overnight.
  3. Remove the bars from the freezer. Working with a couple of bars at a time, remove bars from the ice pop molds.
  4. Dip a bar in warm water to melt it slightly, or brush it with light corn syrup. Press the bar into the crushed almonds, covering it on all sides. Place on a parchment-lined pan and return it to the freezer until ready to serve. Repeat with the remaining bars. Store the bars, wrapped well in plastic wrap, for up to one week.

 

Coconut Ice Pops

Ingredients

For the ice pops:

1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) coconut milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup whole milk

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup (2 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut

 

For finishing:

Light corn syrup (optional)

1 cup (4 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

 

Preparation

  1. Place all the ingredients for the ice pops except the shredded coconut in a blender and mix well, 30 to 45 seconds.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the 1/2 cup shredded coconut.
  3. Pour the liquid into the ice pop molds and set in the freezer to freeze overnight.
  4. Remove the bars from the freezer. Working with a couple of bars at a time, remove bars from the ice pop molds.
  5. Dip a bar in warm water to melt it slightly, or brush with light corn syrup. Press the bar into the toasted coconut, covering it on all sides. Place on a parchment-lined pan and return it to the freezer. Repeat with the remaining bars. Serve immediately or store, wrapped well in plastic wrap, in the freezer for up to one week.

Want to learn how to make tasty desserts with our ICE instructors? Get more information about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

By Victoria Burghi—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

The holidays bring out a little extra style and glamour in all of us. In the same way we like to decorate our homes and dress up for our celebrations, we should create festive desserts to match the allure and the magic of the season.

When deciding what to serve at a holiday gathering, I take into consideration a few factors: how easy it is to prepare a dessert, flavors I want to highlight, my budget and—of course—how much I want to impress my guests!

pipingduo

In terms of flavors, I like to keep holiday desserts within the seasonal range. Nothing says the holidays like cranberries, pumpkin, sweet potato or eggnog. After all, we have the rest of the year to make apple pie, don’t we?

Holiday celebrations are also the time to splurge on expensive ingredients that we might avoid otherwise, from nut pastes (pistachio, almond and praline) to expensive chocolates or liqueurs. As far as impressing guests, a beautiful presentation is key. There are some obvious options, like silver and gold dragées, but with a few easy tips, you can make any sweet more glamorous and festive.

If you would like to learn first-hand how to create show-stopping desserts, I will be teaching a Holiday Baking class at ICE on November 14th. In anticipation of the class, I’m sharing one of my favorite creative holiday treats: White Chocolate Bûche de Noël with Cranberry Marmalade.

The sweet nature of white chocolate provides the perfect blank canvas to showcase the tart flavor of cranberries. Cocoa butter is the main ingredient in white chocolate, a vegetable fat found in the cocoa beans of the cacao tree. This recipe uses melted white chocolate as the primary fat in a sponge cake, the base for a rolled cake or “roulade.” To create the roulade, the cake is layered with a thin coating of cranberry and clementine marmalade and filled with a white chocolate mousse. For a final touch, this bûche de noël is decorated with red and white buttercream, silver-dusted holly leaves and candied cranberries.

Cranberry Bouche de Noel 2

White Chocolate Bûche de Noël with Cranberry Marmalade

White Chocolate Roulade (yields 1 rectangular 18”X12” sheet pan)

  • 170 g white chocolate
  • 56 g butter
  • 6 g vanilla
  • 30 g water
  • 320 g eggs
  • 150 g sugar
  • 122 g AP flour
  • 1 g salt
  1. Gently melt white chocolate and butter over a bain-marie. Add the water and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Set aside and keep at room temperature.
  2. Whisk together the sugar and the eggs in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer set over a bain-marie and heat until warm and all the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Transfer the bowl to the machine and whip on medium-high speed until very thick, fluffy and increased in volume (ribbon stage)
  4. Fold in the sifted flour and salt by hand. Mix a small amount of the batter with the white chocolate mixture and then fold in the rest of the white chocolate.
  5. Spread the batter onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.
  7. Once the sheet cake has cooled for 5 minutes, run a knife around the edges, dust with a small amount of granulated sugar and flip over a piece of parchment paper. Peel off the back of the paper attached to the cake and gently roll up the sponge cake. Allow the cake to cool rolled up until ready to use.

White Chocolate Plastic (for holly leaves)

  • 75 g white chocolate
  • 30 g corn syrup
  1. Gently melt the chocolate over a bain-marie or in the microwave until completely melted and smooth.
  2. Add the corn syrup and mix only until the mixture thickens and is well blended.
  3. Wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  4. When ready, knead and roll the plastic and cut the holy leaves.
  5. Dust the leaves with silver or pearl dust.                             

Cranberry and Clementine Marmalade

  • 200 g cranberries
  • 200 g sugar
  • 200 g clementine segments
  • 100 g water
  1. Simmer all the ingredients together (low heat), stirring to avoid the mixture from sticking to the pan.
  2. The mixture will be ready when all the water has evaporated and the fruits have disintegrated.

White Chocolate and Clementine Mousse

  • 50 g clementine juice
  • 2 gel sheets
  • 150 g milk
  • 200 g white chocolate
  • Grated zest of one clementine
  • 200 g heavy cream (whipped to soft peaks)
  1. Soak the gelatin leaves in the clementine juice and keep refrigerated for 5 minutes.
  2. Place the white chocolate and the zest in a bowl.
  3. Bring the milk to a boil and pour over the white chocolate.
  4. Add the soaked gelatin and the clementine juice to the white chocolate and whisk to blend into a smooth mixture.
  5. Refrigerate until slightly thickened.
  6. Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks and carefully fold it into the white chocolate mixture.
  7. Refrigerate the mousse for one hour before filling the roulade.

Buttercream

  • 225 g butter, softened
  • 450 g confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 100 g clementine juice
  1. In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar until very light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly begin to add the clementine juice and continue to cream the butter until all the juice is incorporated and the buttercream is smooth.

Assembly:

  1. Unravel the roulade, but keep the paper underneath. Spread the cranberry marmalade over the entire surface.
  2. Spread the white chocolate mousse over the marmalade, leaving a ½” space all around the edge without mousse.
  3. Carefully pick up the edge of the parchment paper and begin to roll up the cake.
  4. Place the roulade on a cardboard with the seam down and freeze it until ready to finish it with the buttercream.
  5. To create a swirled effect with the buttercream, first brush a couple of lines of red food coloring inside the pastry bag previously fitted with a star tip.
  6. Fill the bag with the buttercream and then pipe rosettes all over the surface of the roulade.
  7. Decorate with the holly leaves and cranberries.

Click here to sign up for Chef Victoria’s holiday baking workshop and visit recreational.ice.edu for even more pastry classes.

Blame it on Joe Beef: ever since Chefs Frédéric Morin and David McMillan opened this popular temple of elegant excess in 2005, American magazines and food blogs can’t get enough of the indulgent dishes from the capital of poutine. But while Montreal’s savory dishes get most of the hype, the city has no lack of impressive outposts for sweets. ICE Chef Instructor Victoria Burghi reports back from her recent trip to the “city of saints.”

By Victoria Burghi, Chef-Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

As a pastry chef, I’ve always enjoyed exploring the food scene of a new city—in particular, learning about new styles of sweets. So I was thrilled to visit Montreal this summer and to learn about the city’s wide range of traditional, modern, unique and audacious sweets.

Rhubarb Cannolo - Photo Credit: Trip Advisor

Rhubarb Cannolo – Photo Credit: Trip Advisor

My culinary tour of Montreal began on a Saturday night, at Toqué, one of the city’s most distinguished restaurants. After touring the impressive, highly organized kitchens, our gracious server introduced us to its chef and co-owner Normand Laprise, who greeted us from within an immaculate walk-in refrigerator with a hand shake and a big smile.

After an exceptionally interesting dinner in the hands of Chef Laprise, I only had room for one dessert; but it was a spectacular way to end the meal. Toqué’s rhubarb cannolo consisted of a very thin and crispy tube-shaped tuile filled with cassis chantilly cream and brunoise of strawberries. The filled shell was wrapped in gently poached rhubarb strips, so tender that they fell apart the minute you cracked the shell. This already stunning plate was garnished with mildy sweetened rhubarb purée and a blackcurrant leaf syrup. A creamy, perfectly quenelled juniper ice cream accompanied the dessert.

Needless to say, my first restaurant encounter in Montreal left me hungry for more. So, for the second day of my trip, I embarked on a rambling walk along Rue St. Denis and Rue Mont-Royal.

The first stop of my Sunday tour was Pomarosa, an artisanal gelateria where I sampled avocado gelato, along with the distinctive, tropical fruit flavors of guanabana and lulo. Guanabana fruit has white flesh with hints of banana, pineapple and strawberry. It is a highly acidic fruit, perfect for smoothies or any other frozen dessert, and it’s absolutely divine. The lulo (“little orange”) ice cream was also enjoyable, since it wasn’t too sweet and offered a unique opportunity to enjoy the rhubarb and lime-like flavor of the fruit.

The next stop was D Liche,a quaint cupcake boutique that offers not only sweets, but also a number of baking and decorating tools for aspiring cupcake bakers. Playing off the popularity of miniature desserts, the shop offers two different sizes, which allowed me to indulge in both their key lime and blueberry flavors.

Photo Credit: Point G

Photo Credit: Point G

As I wandered toward Rue Mont-Royal, the range of pastry opportunities continued to grow. One of the spots that would have fit right in with New York’s portable pastry craze was Boutique Point G, a macaron boutique that offers unusual flavors like lime-basil, chocolate-sesame, crème brulée and maple taffy.

A note about local flavor: one word that you quickly learn in Montreal is “érable,” which means maple. Canada is the number one producer of maple syrup in the world, most of it coming from the province of Quebec. Thus, it’s no surprise that it has become a very popular ingredient, seen in maple candies, fudge, butter, cookies and an infinite amount of other confections.

This ubiquitous maple syrup was particularly celebrated at the most memorable of all my stops: À la Folie patisserie. This super sleek, ultramodern pastry shop has infused maple into three classic French pastries—choux, macarons and tarts—and would attract any passerby like honey to a bee.

Photo Credit: A La Folie

Photo Credit: A La Folie

The miniature maple-flavored choux pastries come adorned with small maple-flavored marshmallows, while another noteworthy flavor included a rose water with candied rose petal and pink fondant. Next to these beauties you will encounter happy rows of traditional french macarons, followed by an oversized invention called the YOLO—a large macaron sandwich filled with flavored mousse and cream, then dipped in chocolate.

But the YOLO is only the first of the shop’s creative inventions. I also discovered the frenesie: a choux-macaron hybrid pastry that resembles a traditional French religieuse, a cream puff base topped with a macaron of the same flavor and color. Even more ambitious, À la Folie’s delire is a work of art: the base is a round pâte sablée crust filled with either a fruit purée or cream. Sitting atop the tart is a glazed mousse dome surrounded by tiny macarons and decorated with large chocolate curls.

Even the tarts defy expecations. Instead of a traditional round tart sliced into wedges, the chef filled triangular pâte sablée tarts with frangipane or pastry cream and then, in most cases, topped the cream with a triangle of crèmeux or a light crème patissiere. The triangles are then glazed and decorated accordingly. My personal favorites were the maple and apricot tart, decorated with a half of a chocolate maple leaf, and the apple dulce de leche, whose paper-thin sheets of Granny Smith apple formed a perfectly glazed triangle on top of the crust. The entire shop was truly magical!

If you visit Montreal, you must stop by these dessert destinations and taste the art behind their perfectly executed pastries.

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By Chef Jenny McCoy, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

As summer winds down to a close, we’re all eager to make the most of our favorite warm-weather traditions. When it comes to dessert, there’s nothing that says summer fun like a batch of DIY s’mores. In honor of National S’mores Day, I’m sharing my go-to recipes for fluffy marshmallows and cinnamon graham crackers, plus some of my top tips for making them special—with or without the campfire.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Siegel

Photo Credit: Rebecca Siegel

  1. Indoor s’mores are just as fun. Simply use a stovetop gas burner or hand-held kitchen torch to toast.
  2. Keep it simple. If you don’t have time to make every component from scratch, just make one! (I recommend the homemade marshmallows.)
  3. Or get creative. Try mixing and matching different marshmallow flavors with milk chocolate, semisweet, dark or white chocolate bars.
  4. Know your audience. For kids, good ol’ Hershey’s is the classic pick for a reason. But for adults with more discerning palates, splurge on higher-quality chocolate bars; it will make all the difference.
  5. Skewers are all around you. Twigs, bamboo and metal skewers, or even leftover wooden chopsticks from your Chinese take-out will all work well for toasting marshmallows over an open flame.
  6. Make a big batch. Prefer to do the marshmallow toasting in a single batch? You can brown marshmallows under your broiler for a couple of minutes on piece of aluminum foil, then spread the gooey goodness on graham crackers. (A great option for those without a gas range, kitchen torch or grill!)

HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS

Yield: Makes about 84 one-inch cubed marshmallows

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 5 teaspoons (2 envelopes) powdered gelatin
  • ½ cup plus ⅓ cup cold water
  • ⅓ cup light corn syrup
  • 4 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla, almond, peppermint, lemon, raspberry, coconut or orange extract, to taste
  • Food coloring, as desired
  1. In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch together. Set aside.
  2. Lightly coat a 9” x 9” baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, pressing the film directly onto the base and sides of the pan. Sift the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch mix evenly over the bottom and sides of the pan, reserving the remainder for later use.
  3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over ½ cup cold water, and let stand to soften.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the egg whites on low speed. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cook the granulated sugar, corn syrup, remaining ⅓ cup of water and salt over medium-high heat, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 245° F, about 12 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from heat, increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and slowly pour the hot sugar mixture over the egg mixture.
  6. Add the softened gelatin to the mixer, and whip until combined. Add the flavoring and food coloring, as desired. Increase the speed of the mixer to high, and whip until thick, glossy and tripled in volume.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Sift the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch mix evenly over the top of the marshmallows. Chill marshmallows, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.
  8. Invert the pan onto a large cutting board and gently peel away the plastic wrap. With a large knife, kitchen shears, or a pizza wheel, trim the edges of the marshmallows and cut into desired shapes. Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch mix over cut marshmallows and toss to coat on all sides.

kevin beecroftCINNAMON GRAHAM CRACKERS

Yield: Makes approximately 30 crackers, depending on size

  • 2 cups graham flour
  • ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon-sugar, for dusting (optional)
  1. Place the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add the molasses, milk, and vanilla extract and process until the dough forms a ball, about 1 minute. Press the ball into a ½-inch thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Position two racks in the center of the oven and preheat to 350° F
  3. Unwrap the chilled dough, place it on a sheet of parchment paper and cover with a second sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough out to ⅛-inch thick and transfer the rolled dough between parchment papers to a baking sheet.
  4. Gently remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut the dough, using a pizza cutter and ruler as a guide, into 2-inch square pieces, or desired shapes. Trim and discard any excess dough. Using a fork, poke holes into the cut dough in desired pattern. Leave the crackers on the pan and bake until the edges just start to darken, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven; if using, dust with cinnamon-sugar before cooling. Let the crackers cool on the baking sheet completely. Once completely cool, carefully break into individual pieces.

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Click here for more ways to celebrate summer sweets at ICE. Tempted to spend more time in your kitchen? Check out more recipes from ICE.