Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

20th Century Cafe’s Sacher Torte

It's every bit as rich and wonderful as it looks -- Sacher Torte, a Viennese classic.
It’s every bit as rich and wonderful as it looks — Sacher Torte, a Viennese classic.

My introduction to this magnificent chocolate creation known as Sacher torte came not in Vienna, where it originated, but if memory serves me, in San Francisco — at Alice Medrich’s legendary Cocolat bakery.

Sitting down to a dark, dense, chocolately slice with a glass in which equally dark filtered coffee was slowly dripping into it was the epitome of elegant adulthood. I almost felt as if I had to hold my pinkies aloft to enjoy each and every bite.

One of the most famed European cakes around, it was first created in 1832 by 16-year-old Franz Sacher, then later gained an outsized following at the Hotel Sacher, established by his son Eduard.

It looks so fancy. And it tastes so fancy. But at its heart, it’s really just a double-layer chocolate cake that’s covered entirely in a dark chocolate glaze and hiding a filling of apricot preserves.

So, if you can make a chocolate cake, you can definitely make a Sacher Torte. Especially if using the recipe from Baking at the 20th Century Cafe: Iconic European Desserts from Linzer Torte to Honey Cake (Artisan Books) by pastry chef extraordinaire Michelle Polzine with food writer Jessica Battilana.

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Head Over Heels For Upside-Down Clementine Cake

Sliced clementines decorate the top of this upside-down cake so very prettily.
Sliced clementines decorate the top of this upside-down cake so very prettily.

No matter if winter has brought torrential rain, hail, sleet or snow to your doorstep, this simple little golden cake is pure sunshine sure to brighten any day or mood.

“Upside-Down Clementine Cake” is the quintessential one-pan cake — with the bonus of cheery, bright slices of clementines dotting it.

The recipe is from “Petite Patisserie: 180 Easy Recipes for Elegant French Treats” (Rizzoli). Inspired by the treats at neighborhood patisseries, this sweetly designed book is by Christophe Felder, who for 15 years was the pastry chef at the Michelin-starred Hôtel de Crillon in Paris before opening his eponymous pastry school in Alsace; and Camille Lesecq, a former pastry chef of Le Meurice in Paris. Together, the two also operate the patisserie, Les Pâtissiers, in Mutzig, Alsace.

The book starts out with a series of foundational recipes that others build upon. The rest of the book is divided into chapters not by specific dessert categories, as you might imagine, but by the days of the week. Only in the world of Felder and Lesecq, the week has not seven days but eight, with the addition of “Funday” — a concept that I can completely get behind.

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Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies

A load of chocolate plus a little espresso combine to take these cookies over the top.
A load of chocolate plus a little espresso combine to take these cookies over the top.

These cookies are truly, madly chockablock with chocolate.

And that’s never a bad thing, is it?

“Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies” is from the new cookbook, “100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen, with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.

This sweet collection is by Sarah Kieffer, celebrated creator of the award-winning, The Vanilla Bean Blog.

Among the 100 tantalizing recipes are “Chocolate Basil Brownies,” “Raspberry Rye Cookies,” and “Olive Oil Sugar Cookies with Blood Orange Glaze.” There’s even an entire chapter on “Pan Banging Cookies,” using the technique she perfected that went viral. It involves banging the tray of cookies periodically as they bake in the oven, flattening them and creating concentric ripples that leave them crisp on the edges with soft centers.

“Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies” don’t require that kind of work. They also don’t need an electric mixer to make.

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Minty Chocolate Malt Cake

A load of crushed candy canes top this ultra minty chocolate malt cake that's a cinch to make.
A load of crushed candy canes top this ultra minty chocolate malt cake that’s a cinch to make.

Not one, not two, but three mints in one.

Forgive the play on the old Certs jingle (if you’re old enough to remember that), but this cake fairly leaves me breathless in its minty majesty.

“Minty Chocolate Malt Cake” is from the new cookbook, “Snacking Cakes: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Yossy Arefi, a fabulous food photographer and cookbook writer, who created the blog, Apt. 2B Baking Co.

These 50 recipes are the types of cakes we all love to bake — single-layered, simply adorned, easy enough to whip up on the spur of the moment, and perfect for any occasion.

Get ready to enjoy everything from “Grapefruit White Chocolate Cake” and “Salty Caramel Peanut Butter Cake” to “Chocolate-Orange Beet Cake” and “Sticky Whiskey Date Cake.”

Best yet, with each recipe, Arefi includes notes on how to bake the particular cake in other pans (loaf, round, sheet, square), if you so prefer.

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Baking Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies With My New Helper

Baking Martha Stewart's Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies with The Tiny Chef.
Baking Martha Stewart’s Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies with The Tiny Chef.

Everyone needs a sous chef in their life, right?

Meet mine.

He may be small, but he’s big on heart. He sure knows his way around a kitchen, too. He’s even eaten at Alinea before I have! So jelly.

Yes, I’ve joined the cult of The Tiny Chef. If you’re not yet acquainted with this little culinary cutie who just loves to cook at his teeny stove with button-burners and quench his thirst from a sewing-thimble cup, then you are missing out. Press his tummy, and he even talks. How could I resist? I call him an early Christmas present to myself. Given this crazy year, I’m pretty sure I deserve him, too.

Chef has a sweet tooth just like me. So, of course, the first thing we had to make together were cookies.

He started leafing through a copy of the new “Martha Stewart’s Cookie Perfection” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy. He took his time pouring over the more than 100 recipes for treats such as “Chocolate Mint Wafers,” “Pumpkin Snickerdoodles,” “Iranian Rice Cookies,” and “Pink Lemonade Thumbprints.”

In the end, he settled on “Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies.” I think it’s because he loves butter. I also think it’s because these cookies get especially pretty crinkly surfaces because the dough balls are first rolled in granulated sugar, then in confectioners’ sugar.

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