Blog Events

The Pastry Queen's American Beauty Cake

Today is the very last Project Pastry Queen challenge. Over 2 years ago, Ashley and I met up in Austin to attend a cooking demo with The Pastry Queen, Rebecca Rather. I’d forgotten about several great recipes in the book and decided that I’d cook and bake all the way through the book.

100-ish recipes later, it is my most used, most stained, and most beloved cookbook.

The final challenge is pretty representative of the book: an involved, multistep, Texas-sized, show-stopping dessert with 9 eggs, 26 ounces of chocolate, 2+ sticks of butter, and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. Y’all…

The Pastry Queen's American Beauty Cake

It’s an intensely rich, dense, flourless chocolate cake that’s topped with a semisweet chocolate mousse, and then coated in a chocolate glaze. The Pastry Queen calls it The American Beauty Cake. My husband calls it The PMS Cake.

It’s similar to the Chocolate Overdose Cake but has one less component. And it’s one of those recipes that require you to read all the way through first because there’s an overnight step. One I missed last night but welcomed the “quiet time” in the kitchen this morning for a little baking therapy.

The Pastry Queen's American Beauty Cake

The cake is meant to be served from the freezer, so if – like me – you were born with a negative amount of will power, there’s still hope. I cut the cake into wedges, placed it on a plastic wrap-lined baking sheet, and froze the slices solid (~2 hours) before individually wrapping them in more plastic wrap.

Check out the other PPQ members’ take on American Beauty Cake. Thanks to all those who’ve baked and followed along with the project over the last couple of years. It has been fun.

I’ve already started to work up a fun twist for Project Pastry Queen, Part Deux. Stay tuned :)

American Beauty Cake

An intensely rich flourless chocolate cake, topped with mousse and a chocolate glaze.

Ingredients

  • For the cake:
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp dark rum or liqueur of choice
  • For the mousse:
  • 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) butter
  • 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • For the glaze:
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • For serving
  • Fresh fruit, like raspberries (optional)

Instructions

  1. Make the cake:Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line the bottom of a 9-inch sprinform pan (outside wrapped with a triple layer of foil to protect from leaks in the waterbath) with a parchment round and lightly spray the bottom/sides with baking spray.
  3. Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave in a large bowl, on 30-second intervals until melted.
  4. Whisk in the eggs and sugar until well combined.
  5. Stir in the vanilla and liqueur and then pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Place the pan in a larger pan (like a 13x9) and fill the larger pan with enough hot water to come up level with the batter.
  7. Bake 35-40 minutes, until firm to the touch, and then remove from the oven (but let cool completely in the waterbath).
  8. After the cake cooled, I cut ~4-inch wide strips of parchment and lined the sides of the springform pan, pushing the parchment down between the cake and sides (shrinkage made this possible). This helped with removal later.
  9. Make the mousse:Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave, stirring until smooth; set aside to cool.
  10. Whisk the yolks, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth and then whisk in the chocolate mixture.
  11. Using a mixer, whisk the whites until stiff peaks form.
  12. Fold the egg whites in 3 batches into the chocolate. Once an addition is almost completely incorporated, add the next. The texture will look completely questionable but keep going. It gets better.
  13. Place the cream into the mixer bowl and whip that just until soft peaks start to form.
  14. Fold the whipped cream into the mousse mixture until the texture is uniform - you'll fold this much, much more than a more traditional mousse.
  15. Spread the mousse over the cooled cake, wrap the top with foil, and freeze overnight (at least 6 hours).
  16. Make the glaze:In a small sauce pan, bring corn syrup and cream just to a boil.
  17. Turn off the heat and add the vanilla and chocolate.
  18. Whisk until smooth and then let sit in the pan for 30 minutes to cool and thicken.
  19. Remove the cake from the freezer and turn it out onto a rack set on a baking sheet or on a cake plate, mousse-side on top - remove the ring and peel off the parchment sides.
  20. Pour the glaze into the center of the cake, letting it flood the top and run down the edges (it won't cover the sides completely).
  21. I put the cake in the fridge to set the glaze and then cut pieces for the freezer.
  22. To freeze the whole cake, chill the cake to set the glaze and then wrap with plastic wrap and freeze.
  23. The cake is recommended as best-served just minutes out of the freezer.

Notes

Yields: 14-16 slices

Source: The Pastry Queen

Estimated time: 8 hours

FacebookTwitterTumblrShare

{ 41 comments }

Ham and Cheese Kolache

This week’s Project Pastry Queen challenge was selected by Emily of She Makes and Bakes. And it’s one of my very, very favorite recipes in the entire book: Kolache.

Kolache are czech breakfast pastries that are very popular in Texas. While traditionally topped with a cream cheese or fruit mixture, it was the savory versions that sold out day after day at my parents’ bakery. Sausage, ham and cheese, and jalapeno sausage & cheese were the most popular varieties.

Ham and Cheese Kolache

There’s almost no better breakfast during the summer than a peach kolache but I chose to make a few changes to the recipe and make ham & cheese kolache this week:
– I let the dough rest in the fridge overnight. The recipe suggests at least 4 hours but the long overnight rise makes the dough more flavorful.
– I used 2 oz of dough per kolache (a little smaller than a golf ball), flattened the dough into a circle, and topped with a pinch of shredded cheddar and a spoonful of cubed ham.

Ham and Cheese Kolache

– 1 lb of ham (I got two 1/2-inch slices from the deli counter) and 4 ounces of shredded cheddar will get you about 20 kolache from a half batch of kolache dough.
– Adding fresh jalapeno slices to the filling is optional. Recommended, but optional.

Check out Emily’s blog for the full recipe and see how the other PPQ members tackled kolache this week.

FacebookTwitterTumblrShare

{ 18 comments }

We’re in the home stretch of Project Pastry Queen, just a few weeks left. This week, Emily of A Gilt Nutmeg chose to turn back the clock and make a beautiful peach tart from the early days of the project, the Fredericksburg Peach Cream Cheese Tart.

A sweet, ripe juicy peach is one of summer’s gifts. I don’t want to seem ungrateful but let’s be totally honest, here. Summer kind of owes it to us. Triple digit heat index? No rain for months and then it floods? A potential hurricane?

But we’ll take it.

This week’s tart is not just for summer. As written, it showcases the sweet Texas peach but it also makes a wonderful fall tart when made with apples and cinnamon.

But like all of the desserts in The Pastry Queen, it’s Texas-sized. And beautiful.

The last time I made the peach tart for PPQ, I only made a half-recipe of the filling and used a 9.5-inch tart pan. I eliminated the egg and cream in the dough and added just enough water for it to come together like a normal pie crust. Leftover pie crust can be frozen for future desserts. Or you can be even more resourceful and make homemade pop tarts :)

For the original recipe, check out A Gilt Nutmeg. To see how the other PPQ members tackled the tart, check out the Project Pastry Queen blog.

FacebookTwitterTumblrShare

{ 10 comments }

Cherry Pie Bars

I was super excited to see the recipe that Amanda selected for this week’s Project Pastry Queen challenge: Blackberry Pie Bars.

Redemption. Sweet, cherry-studded redemption.

Because the last time I made them, I totally bonked the recipe. Hard. There would be no bonking this time!

I made a few changes this go ’round:
– I actually read the recipe before getting started. Knowledge is power, people.
– I made half the recipe in an 8×8 pan with halved fresh cherries.
– I reduced the sugar by 1/3 and used fat-free Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.
– I only reduced the almond extract by 25% from the full recipe. Because almond extract is magical, especially when paired with cherries.

The shortbread crust makes these bars a cookie-cobbler-pie hybrid. The almond extract and cherry-studded middle layer is a glass of milk away from heaven. The best part? No forks required. So grab a bag of cherries while you still can and give this one ago!

FacebookTwitterTumblrShare

{ 21 comments }