Panna Cotta is one of our favorite desserts because it is incredibly easy to make. You just heat cream, add gelatin, pour into molds and let it set. You end up with a luxurious, creamy and elegant dessert. This milk chocolate recipe from ICE Director of Pastry & Baking Arts Programs Nick Malgieri adds a healthy dose of milk chocolate and a dash of vanilla — always a favorite among students as well as who ever may be tasting their treats!

20 fluid ounces milk
3 teaspoons granulated gelatin
20 fluid ounces heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1 pound chopped milk chocolate More…

Summer is in full swing and the markets are filled with a bounty of delish fruit and vegetables. We’ve been spotting heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, blueberries, and tons and tons of stone fruit such as cherries, nectarines, and peaches. We were inspired to bake up a wonderful fruit pie. In the Pastry & Baking Arts program at ICE, students make a variety of pies including cherry, blueberry, and more. But this recipe comes from ICE Director of Pastry & Baking, Nick Malgieri’s class on Summer Fruit Pies. He says, “This fragrant almond crumb topped pie is perfect summer baking – it is fast to prepare and makes use of the best seasonal fruit.”

Almond Crumb Topping:
1 cup all-purpose bleached flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup sliced almonds
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Tart dough for one pie
3 pounds firm, ripe yellow-fleshed peaches, about 8 or 9 medium peaches
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose bleached flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 / 8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter More…

Everyone loves a brownie. Well, maybe everyone except for my kids who would rather have a macaron from Maison du Chocolat. They are the exception who snubbed their noses at the forty dollars worth of free Godiva truffles I recently smuggled home in my purse from an event. I mean come on now, free chocolate is always good in my book. But getting back on track, recently I noticed a new crop of brownie mixes on the market. Now on a good day you can score some Duncan Hines family-sized brownie mix at Target for a mere 2 bucks. Add an egg of two and a little oil and call it $2.50 and you get a nice pan of brownies that taste like mom made and make your kitchen smell like you are god’s gift to husbands (or at least mine). So when I started seeing these new mixes breaking a 10 spot, I knew some serious taste-testing was in order. So this past week I gathered a group of experts, a mixed panel, some honest to goodness pastry chefs (like ICE Director of Pastry & Baking Arts Program Andrea Tuntunjian and Chef Instructors Jeff Yoskowitz and Chad Pagano) and some regular joes, everyone eager to participate in the Great Brownie (Mix) Bake Off 2011.

To start with, let’s meet the contestants. In the line-up, we had Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate ringing in at $3.59 a box followed by Duncan Hines Double Fudge with the extra rich syrup package at $3.89. In the middle price range we had Fat Witch Bakery’s Original Fat Witch Brownie Mix at $6.99. And at the top end was Williams Sonoma Brownie Mix (manufactured by Dancing Deer Baking Company) and Baked’s Deep Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix both at a whopping $16.00 a box.

As far as time and labor, the Ghirardelli and Duncan Hines were simple – add some eggs and oil, stir together and pour in the pan, prepped in under 5 minutes. Both Fat Witch and Baked required you to melt butter and chocolate and then stir in the ingredient packs and the Williams Sonoma mix had you ribbon eggs (highly unusual in the world of brownies) and melt butter. Now to start, if you have to melt butter and chocolate then the only step you seem to be saving with the mix is measuring out the dry ingredients. I would also like to note that I was quite underwhelmed with the quantity of chocolate that was provided in the mixes considering their price. Especially when I had to add four eggs and half a pound of butter to the Baked mix, easily driving up the cost to closer to twenty dollars.

And the results….. More…

Last week, we brought you a recipe for Pecan Balls to add to your holiday baking repertoire. This week, we’re bringing you another cookie recipe to help celebrate the season. These classic gingersnaps are one of the first recipes students make when they start the Pastry & Baking Arts curriculum, designed by the ICE Director of Pastry & Baking Arts and respected cookbook author, Nick Malgieri. The molasses keeps the cookies soft and tender, and the warm, fragrant spices make them a perfect winter treat.

9 ounces all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces butter
8 ounces sugar
1 egg
2 fluid ounces molasses More…

This weekend, ICE Chef Instructors, students and alumni participated in the 13th Annual Chocolate Show at Metropolitan Pavilion in NYC. The show is “the world’s largest event dedicated to chocolate!” The four-day exhibition of everything chocolate draws in pastry chefs and chocolate enthusiasts from across the world.

The event kicks off with chocolate fashion show every year. ICE alum Zac Young, fresh off his stint on Top Chef: Just Desserts, participated in the fashion show and worked with designer Nicole Romano to construct a dress made entirely of balls of chocolate for the kick-off event. Young returned later in the weekend to give gave a demonstration in the Culinary Theater, showing the audience how to make Chocolate Pie “On Its Side,” one of the most popular dishes on the menu at his restaurant, Flex Mussels. More…

When both Chef Instructor Scott McMillen’s morning class and Chef Instructor Michelle Tampakis’s afternoon class in the Pastry & Baking Arts career program made a large display of a plethora of different cookies and bars last Friday, these gooey, rich brownies stood out. As Halloween is just around the corner, this appropriately titled recipe from Nick Malgieri may be the perfect, decadent treat on a night that celebrates ghouls and ghosts.

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
8 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound granulated sugar
1 pound dark brown sugar
1/2 fluid ounce vanilla extract
1/2 pound all-purpose flour More…

As the pastry arts become more popular and the restaurant world pays more attention to the end of the meal, ICE’s own Chef Nick Malgieri is staying ahead of the curve. The creator of ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program, he has just released a new book, Bake!: Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking that book seizes on this current demand for all things pastry and demystifies baking for anyone hoping to create their own pastry masterpiece.

A true luminary, Chef Nick was the executive pastry chef at Windows on the World and his books include, The Modern Baker, Chocolate, How to Bake, A Baker’s Tour, Perfect Cakes, and Cookies Unlimited. Along the way, he has won IACP cookbook awards, James Beard awards and was twice named one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America by Pastry Art & Design.

Chef Nick’s extensive experience in Europe and America is the basis of ICE’s comprehensive curriculum. Though pastry is exploding now, he has been working, teaching and writing cookbooks for more than 30 years. He said, “When I had a wholesale pastry business in the early ‘80s it was easy to sell to restaurants because nobody had a pastry chef. Pretty soon, fast food joints are going to have pastry chefs.” In his words, as the pastry arts have grown, “People are expecting beautiful desserts. You can find astounding things at commonplace restaurants.”

Chef Nick’s Bake! helps recreate some of these types of amazing treats. The book, “takes the intimidation and imagined difficulty out of baking.” Formatted into 20 short chapters, each chapter of the book opens with an illustrated guide to a technique or exemplary recipe that forms the basis of the rest of the recipes in the chapter. More…

Marshmallows Split-screen

Kick off the Halloween weekend with this popular, easy to make candy recipe by Chef Nick Malgieri, director of ICE’s baking programs. Fresh lemon and orange juices give these fluffed squares a delicate citrus flavor while a touch of food coloring makes them the perfect festive treat. More…

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