Perfect Easter Treats - WTNZ FOX 43 Knoxville, TN

Perfect Easter Treats

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With Easter right around the corner, it's time to find those perfect Spring-inspired treats for your holiday!

Pastry chef/author Gesine Bullock-Prado (sister of star Sandra Bullock) gave up her career as a Hollywood producer to follow her dreams as a baker! Now, Gesine — whose cookbook "Bake It Like You Mean It" is available now — stopped by Access Hollywood Live with some tasty recipes perfect for your Easter celebration!

VERMONT SANDTORTE CAKELETS

(Makes 12 mini Bundt cakes)

Sandtorte is the viennese answer to traditional English pound cake. Sand translated from the German means—wait for it—"sand." This has no relation to the finished product; it's simply pastry lingo Viennese chefs utilize to describe a cake recipe that starts with cream¬ing butter and sugar together (the two do look like wet sand at the beginning of the process). In this case, we'll be creaming together maple sugar and butter for the same effect. And the additional step of dipping in a yummy mixture of sugar and cinnamon gives the cake the appearance of having a shiny, sandy topping.

FOR THE CAKES:

  • 1 cup (230 g) unsalted European butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (220 g) maple sugar, divided
  • 5 eggs, separated 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/2 (210 g) cups cake flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

FOR THE ASSEMBLY:

  • 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325F (165C). Spray a 12-cavity mini Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray. (I use a Nordicware Sweetheart Rose muffin pan.) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attach-ment, cream together the butter and 1/2 cup (110 g) of the maple sugar until light and fluffy, 8 to 10 minutes.

Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add 1 egg yolk. Beat on high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the next egg yolk. Repeat until all the egg yolks are incorporated. Add the vanilla bean paste, mix to combine, and transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Sift the cake flour and nutmeg together onto a large piece of parchment paper. Resift two more times, leaving the sifted mixture on the parchment.

In a clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and salt and whisk just until foamy but not stiff. With the mixer on high speed, slowly add the remaining maple sugar and whisk just until stiff, glossy peaks form. (Be careful not to over¬beat to the point of dryness.)

Using a large rubber spatula, fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture and fold it gently into the batter.

Divide the batter evenly among the individual mini Bundt cavities. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, just until the tops are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes away clean.

To assemble:

Place the melted butter in a bowl that's wide enough to hold a mini cake. In a separate bowl of the same size, com¬bine the sugar and cinnamon. Dip the top of each mini cake in the butter mixture, then immediately dip in the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.

*****

INTERIOR HEART

This is one cake that is literally "full of heart." But you can make it full of flowers or shamrocks, if you'd like. Just follow the baking instructions and stamp out adorable shapes with a cookie cutter, to be revealed with every slice.

FOR THE CAKE:

  • 1 pound (455 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups (800 g) granulated sugar
  • 10 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 cups (750 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) nonfat buttermilk
  • 3 or 4 drops red food coloring
  • FOR THE BUTTERCREAM:
  • 10 egg whites
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds (685 g) unsalted butter

Make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Line a half sheet pan with parchment and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Spray a large tube or angel food baking mold with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attach¬ment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 10 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds between each addition. Add the vanilla.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder. With the mixer on low, alternate additions of the flour mixture and the buttermilk. Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure the batter is well mixed.

Transfer a little less than half of the batter to a large mix¬ing bowl. Add the food coloring to the bowl and stir to distribute the color.
Spread the red batter in an even layer in the prepared half sheet pan and bake until the cake is just barely done and feels firm when touched but doesn't spring back, 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Put half of the un-dyed batter in the bottom of the tube pan (see photo 1, page 164). Using a 3-inch (7.5 cm) heart-shaped cookie cutter, stamp out 14 or 15 heart shapes from the red cake (see photo 2, page 164). Place the hearts in the tube pan, rounded side down into the batter and point sticking up (see photo 3, page 164). Don't press the hearts all the way down into the batter, just enough that the batter keeps them upright. Place them as close together as you can while still keeping the hearts properly angled in the round.

Fill a large pastry bag with the remaining un-dyed bat¬ter and pipe it into the tube pan, making sure to fill any hard- to-reach areas and covering the hearts completely (see photo 4, page 164). Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and springs back when gently touched. Allow to cool completely in the pan.

For the buttercream:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, granulated sugar, and salt. Constantly whisk the egg white mixture over a bain marie (a large saucepan half full of simmering water) until the sugar has completely dissolved and feels warm to the touch (attach a thermometer and make sure the mixture reaches 160°F / 72°C if you are ner¬vous about uncooked eggs).

Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on high until the mixture quadru¬ples in volume and the bowl is cool to the touch.

Add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, until the but¬tercream thickens. The icing may look as if it's starting to separate and appear chunky; this is perfectly normal. Just walk away for a few minutes while the mixer does its work, and you'll come back to beautiful buttercream.

To assemble:

Run a long, thin knife along the edge of the baking pan to release the cake. Place a cake platter on top of the tube pan, face down, and flip the pan over. Gently left the pan off so the cake remains on the platter.

Coat the cake with a smooth layer of buttercream. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

*****

TANGERINE DREAM TEA RING:

(Makes 1 coffee cake)

This is a sweet bread that will take you from brunch to midnight snack, that's how damned good it is. It's not at all cloying, but it's addictive. And although it's ter¬ribly elegant, it brings to mind the most wonderful of childhood summer treats: Creamsicles.

FOR THE DOUGH:

  • 5 cups (700 g) bread flour plus 1 cup (140 g) extra
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) tangerine (or orange) juice, from about 4 tangerines
  • Zest of 1 tangerine
  • 1 tablespoon orange extract
  • 1/4 cup (55 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 1 cup (100 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup (250 g) quark or farmer's cheese (ricotta is a fine substitute but make sure to drain it until relatively firm and dry)
  • 1 (8-ounce / 225-g) package of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • Zest of 1 tangerine
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 to 3 drops orange food coloring (optional)

FOR THE ASSEMBLY:

Egg wash (1 egg whisked with 2 tablespoons water)

FOR THE GLAZE:

1 cup (100 g) confectioners' sugar

1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk

Make the dough:

Place 5 cups (700 g) of the flour, the yeast, granulated sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Stir to combine.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, tangerine juice, tangerine zest, and orange extract. With the mixer running on low speed, add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. When just combined, slowly add the butter in small bits until incorporated.

Mix the dough until it starts to pull from the sides of the bowl and is very shiny. The mixing process can take up to 15 minutes. Be patient. If the dough is very sticky, slowly add more flour from the extra cup.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the dough to the bowl and let rest until it doubles in vol¬ume, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll it out into a rough rectangle, approximately 24 inches (61 cm) long and 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30.5 cm) wide.

Make the filling:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attach¬ment, combine all the ingredients. Mix until smooth.

To assemble:

Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a 15-by-25-inch (38-by-63.5-cm) rect¬angle. Transfer the filling to a large pastry bag fitted with a large open tip. Pipe the filling over the entire surface of the dough, leaving only a 1-inch (2.5-cm) border on one long side. Spread the filling over the filling.

Brush the exposed border with egg wash. Starting with the long edge of the dough with the filling, gently roll the dough into a long log; pinch the dough together at the seam to seal. Gently transfer the dough log to the pre¬pared sheet pan, seam side down, and form the log into a circle. Press the ends together, gently pinching the edges of dough to seal.

Using a very sharp serrated knife, cut gashes three-quar¬ters of the way through the dough at 1-inch (2.5-cm) inter¬vals. Slightly rotate each half-slice so that the attached slices are fanned out, slightly overlapping one another. Lightly cover the ring and allow to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Brush the ring with egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the ring is golden brown.

Make the glaze:

Whisk together the confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth.

Remove from the oven and spoon the glaze over the entire ring while it's still very warm. Serve warm or cooled

*****

PISTACHIO-CASSIS HEART TARTS:

(Makes 8 tartlets)

This is a combination I find so arresting that I can't help myself from eating every morsel. The meringues are sweet, but the pistachio brings a heady earthiness to the party that makes the shells irresistible in them¬selves. Then there's the black currant filling—all sweet¬ness and unbridled fruitiness, but with a slight tang that elevates what could be a cloying sugar bomb to an artful bouquet of a dessert. This little tart is, in a word, special. Quite frankly, it's one of my all-time favorites.

FOR THE MERINGUE SHELLS:

  • 1 cup (115 g) finely ground pistachios or pistachio flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup (100 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 1 generous tablespoon powdered gelatin
  • 1 cup (240 ml) cassis (black currant) purée (see Sidebar, page 48; also see Note below)
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 5 egg whites
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) mascarpone

FOR THE ASSEMBLY:

1/4 cup (25 g) confectioners' sugar

NOTE: For the black currant purée, you can substitute 1 cup (240 ml) black currant preserves, warmed and thinned with 2 tablespoons water, or 1 cup (240 ml) blackberry purée.

Make the meringue shells:

Preheat the oven to 250F (120C). Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper. Draw 8 (4-inch / 10-cm) hearts, evenly spaced a few inches apart, on each piece of parchment. Flip the parchment over, so that the outlines are visible but will not transfer onto the meringue.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the pista¬chios, cornstarch, and confectioners' sugar. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attach¬ment, add the egg whites and salt and whisk until light and frothy. With the mixer running, very slowly add the granulated sugar—this should take more than a minute. Continue whisking until stiff white peaks form.

Combine one-third of the egg whites with the nut mixture and stir until a paste forms. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the remaining egg whites into the mixture until no white streaks remain.

Transfer the nut meringue to a large pastry bag fitted with a medium-large open tip. Using the outlines on the parch¬ment as guides, pipe the meringue into filled heart shapes.

Bake the hearts for 30 to 45 minutes, until baked through and dry but not browned. Set the meringues aside and allow to cool completely.

Make the filling:

Bring 1/4 cup (60 ml) water just to boiling. Add the gela¬tin to a heatproof and microwave-safe bowl and pour the water over it, making sure that each particle of gelatin is saturated; stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved into the water. If there are still some undissolved particles, microwave the mixture in 10-second intervals, stirring between blasts, until they are completely dissolved. (You want to time dissolving the gelatin so that it is still liquid when you incorporate it into the whipped-cream mixture but has cooled enough that it doesn't break the meringue or melt the whipped cream. Conversely, if it cools too much, it will set too early and you'll be left with gelatin chunks in the mousse.)

Gently warm the cassis purée to just a little above body temperature (100°F / 38°C, if we're being persnickety) and stir in the gelatin mixture. Set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine the granulated sugar with ¨÷ cup (80 ml) water. Stir over low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan and heat the syrup until it reaches 234°F (112°C).

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and the salt and whisk until foamy.

When the sugar reaches temperature, decrease the speed of the mixer to medium and carefully pour the hot sugar down the side of the bowl. Once all of the syrup has been added, increase the mixer speed to high and whip until the meringue is bright white and shiny and maintains a stiff peak when you lift the whisk attach¬ment from it. Transfer the meringue to a metal bowl and set aside.

Using the same mixing bowl (you don't have to clean it), add the cream and mascarpone and whip until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the meringue.

Check the temperature of the gelatin mixture: It should be slightly warmer than room temperature and the consis¬tency of a thick maple syrup. Gently fold one-quarter of the egg white mixture into the purée to temper, then gen¬tly fold in the remaining egg white mixture until no white streaks remain.

Spread the mousse onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and freeze until it is set, about 1 hour. Using a heart-shaped biscuit or cookie cutter, stamp out hearts of mousse slightly smaller than the meringues.

To assemble: Using a small offset spatula, gently transfer one mousse heart to the top of each meringue shell. Gently place a second shell, smooth side down, on top of the mousse, but don't press down.

Refrigerate the tarts until set, at least 2 hours. Gently place a stencil over the meringues and dust with confec¬tioners' sugar. Serve immediately.

A NOTE FROM THE SWEET TALKER: Fruit purées are terribly easy to make. Place your berries (4 cups / 760 g small berries, or 3 cups / 525 g chopped strawberries) or other fruit in a sauce¬pan with ¼ cup (50 g) sugar, or to taste. (Berries such as currants and gooseberries are tart and may require more sweetness—do a taste test.) Simmer the fruit over low heat until the sugar has melted. Allow the mixture to cool. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse the fruit mixture until smooth (you can use a blender or an immersion blender for this pro¬cess as well). Strain the purée through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds, and voilà! Purée! Freeze any extra purée in a zip-top bag. Purées are lovely in mousses, as sauces to accompany plated des¬serts, and as toppings for sundaes! You can also buy fantastic premade purées in an array of fla¬vors from ordinary (raspberry) to exotic (passion fruit). My favorite brands are Boiron and L'Epicerie.

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