Making Strawberries Romanoff

Should, upon placing an elegant little bowl like this in front of your dinner guest, he reply “I don’t like strawberries and cream” you shall grasp the nearest available pair of leather riding gloves and slap them with great force against his cheek bone. Villain! Do you not recognize strawberries Romanoff when you see them??? At that point you can challenge him to pistols at dawn if you like. It’s a judgement call.

I made mine in the Russian style with sour cream added to the sweetened whipped cream because, well, why not? I started of course with the best strawberries I could find. This is a half batch of two cups. I picked the smaller ones because I like the presentation of the uncut berries and the smaller they are the better the better the flavor balance you’ll have. I added the orange juice…

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Strawberries Romanoff Recipe

Those of you who don’t think macerated fruit desserts are impressive, I understand. There are a lot of pretty lame fruit cups out there. However this one was invented by Antonin Carême — the King of Chefs, Chef of Kings himself — and you know that dude never did anything half way. This does not disappoint. All you need is:

about 4 cups best quality small-to medium strawberries, hulled
2 ounces (1/4 cup) curaçao (or Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
2.75 ounces (about 1/3 cup) fresh squeezed orange juice
8 ounces (1 cup) cold heavy cream
2 ounces (generous 1/4 cup) sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

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Making Butter Spritz Cookies

The butter spritz is a grandma mainstay. Simple, rich, lightly sweet and crumbly, two or three and a pot of tea will see you through an entire afternoon of family gab. This stiff dough is commonly used in cookie presses or “spritz guns”. I learned to make them with a pastry bag and tip, so that’s what I’m going to do. The shapes take me back to neighborhood bakeries in Chicago.

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Butter Spritz Cookie Recipe

These are known as butter “spritz” cooking because, well, they’re spritzed: squirted out of a pastry bag or if you’re a fan of Ron Popeil, a cookie gun. Make a chocolate version by stirring in 1/3 cup cocoa powder…or do half and half!

8 ounces (2 sticks) soft butter
3.5 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar
1 large egg
11.25 ounces (2 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
coating chocolate, sprinkles, raspberry jam or other embellishments

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Making Caramel Apples

Most caramel apples are made using melted caramel candy for the coating, or a home made version thereof. Personally I prefer caramel sauce as starting point. You get a lot more flavor nuances when you cook the sugar to the breaking point, or at least that’s how I see it. That’s where the fun is. Cooking the syrup to the caramel stage is also a lot easier to my mind, as you don’t have to measure temperature. You just swirl it over the heat until it’s nut brown…easy.

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Making Candy Apples

Much as I love caramel apples, given a choice I’ll go for the candy apple every time. That’s because no one makes them much anymore. There’s a perception that they’re more difficult to make than caramel apples, but it ain’t so. If you can heat syrup in a pan and take its temperature, you can make a candy apple. Here, let me show you how easy it is.

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Anybody up for chouquettes?

Got a lazy autumn afternoon going? Have a craving for something sweet but don’t have the initiative or the appetite for proper pastry? Then chouquettes are your answer. These little blobs of choux (cream puff) batter are extremely light, slightly rich and just a little sweet. They’re perfect with what’s left of the newspaper and a cup of coffee. All you need to do is whip together a little choux batter, it’ll take you fifteen minutes tops.

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Making Cannelés

You often hear it said that cannelés are small, eggy “cakes”. Don’t you believe it. Cannelés are custards (with candy-like crusts) and need to be treated as such. I know what you’re thinking: Joe, what kind of custard gets baked at 525 degrees Fahrenheit? That answer is a HIGH HEAT custard, wise guy, and just like a low-heat custard, precautions must be taken to prevent a cannelé from absorbing too much heat too quickly, lest it form lots of bubbles, expand and ultimately break into a grainy, syrupy blob. I’ll explain on the way. Let’s get moving!

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Cannelé Recipe

There are many cannelé recipes out there, and most are very similar. What I’ve found is that the proportions are nowhere near as important as the process, which is detailed in the photo tutorial.

16 ounces (2 cups) milk
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) dark rum
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
8.5 ounces (1 1/4 cups) sugar
1 egg
2 egg yolks
5 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour

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