Just Desserts

Restaurant desserts demystified! Three local chefs share their signatures recipes for sweet endings.
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Sticky Toffee Pudding (Serves 15)

Chef Cesar Juarez, Harvest Bistro, Closter

TOFFEE SAUCE
1 lb. unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
4 cups packed light brown sugar
4 Tbs. brandy

PUDDING
3 tsp. baking soda
6 cups dried dates n 5 cups water
10 oz. unsalted butter at room temperature
8 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs 4½ cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder

For The Toffee Sauce:
Bring the butter, heavy cream and brown sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan, letting it reduce until it becomes thick, about 10 minutes. (If it gets too hard, add more cream.) Remove from heat and add the brandy.

For The Pudding:
• Preheat oven to 350º F.
• Bring the baking soda, dried dates and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and let cool. After it is cool, transfer to a blender or food processor and purée.
• In a large bowl, blend the butter, vanilla extract and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the flour and baking powder and blend well.
• Using a rubber spatula, fold the date purée into the flour mixture. • Spread the batter onto a full-sheet pan and cover with foil. (If a full-sheet pan will not fit in your oven, you can use two half-sheet pans.) • Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
• Cool for 1 hour in the refrigerator. Use a 6-ounce ramekin to cut out circles of cake. • Spoon some toffee sauce into the bottom of each ramekin, top with a layer of cake. Continue to layer until the cake reaches the top of the ramekin. Top with toffee sauce.
• Return to a 350º oven and bake until the sauce starts to boil over and the cake is warm to the touch, approximately 5 minutes.
• Remove cakes from ramekins. A paring knife may be used if the cake does not come out easily.
• Top with vanilla gelato and garnish with your favorite fruit.

 


 

Rhubarb Panna Cotta (Serves 8)

Chef Kevin Kohler, Café Panache, Ramsey

CARAMEL
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. water
¼ cup light corn syrup

PANNA COTTA
2½ cups heavy cream
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped with the back of a knife
3 gelatin leaves

RHUBARB
4 stalks rhubarb
½ cup wildflower honey
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. anise seeds
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

For The Caramel:
Place sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. (Be careful not to let the mixture splash onto the sides of the pan.) Cook until the caramel is amber in color. Remove from heat and quickly pour ¾-inch of caramel into 8 ramekins or coffee cups. Set aside for an hour to cool and harden.

For The Panna Cotta:
• In a medium saucepan, combine heavy cream, milk, sugar, vanilla beans and scrapings. Cook gently, for about a minute, to infuse the vanilla into the cream.
• Place the gelatin leaves in ice water and let soften for 3–5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water. • Using a chinois or a fine-mesh sieve, strain the warm cream into a bowl. Whisk in the softened gelatin leaves. Remove any bubbles or foam from the surface of the cream with a spoon or ladle.
• Ladle the cream into the ramekins or coffee cups, about three-quarters full. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

For The Rhubarb:
• Peel the rhubarb, just as you would celery, and chop into half-inch pieces. (You should have about 2 cups.)
• In a medium saucepan, bring the honey to a boil and cook until it is reduced by about one third. Add the rhubarb, pepper and anise seeds. Cook until the rhubarb is softened, but not mushy, about 3 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let cool a bit. Then mix in the orange juice.

To serve, portion the rhubarb equally into 8 soup bowls. Using a paring knife, circle the custard in the ramekin to loosen it. When you feel it loosen, place your hand over the opening of the ramekin, turn it sideways and bring it over to the rhubarb. Then remove your hand and carefully flip the custard on top of the rhubarb. Garnish with fresh strawberries or raspberries and a sprig of mint.

 


 

Candied Hazelnut Brownie with Peanut Butter White Chocolate Cheesecake (Serves 20)

Chef Peter Loria, Café Matisse, Rutherford

HAZELNUT BROWNIE
8 oz. semisweet (63%) chocolate
10 oz. unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
4 oz. all-purpose flour
4 oz. chopped candied hazelnuts

PEANUT BUTTER WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE
1 1/8 lb. cream cheese
½ can (7 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
3 vanilla beans, scraped
2 large eggs
1 tsp. honey
1 Tb. creamy peanut butter
1/8 cup chopped white chocolate

For The Brownie:
• Preheat oven to 325º F.
• Line the bottom of a 6" x 9" pan with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper and sides of pan with cooking spray.
• Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Set aside to cool.
• In a large bowl, combine the eggs, salt, vanilla, flour and hazelnuts using an electric mixer.
• Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate/butter mixture.
• Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until firm. Set aside to cool.

For The Cheesecake:
• Preheat oven to 300º F.
• In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, milk and vanilla bean scrapings using an electric mixer.
• Add eggs one at a time, whipping slowly. Add honey.
• Mix in peanut butter and white chocolate.
• Pour batter into a 6" x 9" pan and set on a half-sheet pan. Pour about ¼ inch of hot water onto the half-sheet pan. (The water bath will prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking.)
• Bake for 36 minutes.
• Remove from oven and let sit at room temperature until the pan is cool to the touch. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours.

To serve, punch out rounds of brownie and cheesecake using a ¾" biscuit cutter. Place cheesecake on top of brownie and garnish with strawberries, raspberries, whipped cream—use your imagination.

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