Archive | Winter 2009

Torta di Gianduja con Amarena

We developed this recipe for a meal featuring Kobalt Cabernet Sauvignon Dessert Wine. We often bake this cake in individual silicone bombe molds and stuff it with sweetened mascarpone, but it also makes a simple, beautiful 9-inch cake to slice at your table.

For the torta:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted hazelnuts, skin on
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For the glaze:

  • 6 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp. Amarena cherry syrup
  • 1 ounce unsalted butter

To garnish:

  • 1/4 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
  • 4 ounces Amarena cherries
  1. Preheat an oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch spring-form cake pan.Cream together the sugar and butter in a stand mixer. Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix until just smooth. Add the chocolate and hazelnuts and mix until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold together the egg whites and the chocolate mixture. Transfer the batter to the buttered pan and bake for 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out of the center clean. Remove the cake
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Ginger Simple Syrup, Apple-Coconut Foam, and Apple Chips

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Add 2 cups of superfine sugar, stirring until it dissolves.
  3. Add 10-15 coin-sized, round slices of peeled ginger, simmer for 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Allow this to cool to room temperature then strain out the ginger pieces.

Syrup will last one week in refrigerator. Makes enough for 12 drinks and extra for the garnish recipes below.

Apple-Coconut Foam

  1. In a saucepan, bring 9 ounces of apple juice and 3 ounces of ginger simple syrup to boil and then remove from heat.
  2. Meanwhile, bloom 1 1/4 sheets of gelatin in cold water for ten minutes, pick up the gelatin in your hand, squeeze out the excess water, add to the hot liquid, and then whisk it all together in a metal or glass bowl.
  3. Place the liquid, uncovered, in the refrigerator until it is cold to the touch.
  4. nto the cold liquid, whisk in 1/3 cup regular Thai coconut milk (NOT the low-fat kind).
  5. Pour this mixture into a whipped cream charger.
  6. Add the gas cartridge to the charger, shake vigorously for 20 seconds and then let it rest in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.To
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Autumn Apple Cocktail

  • 1 and 1/2 ounces St. George Single Malt Whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce Nana Mae’s Organics Gravenstein Apple Juice or other organic apple juice
  • 1/2 ounce ginger simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 1/4 ounce Aqua Perfecta Pear Eau de Vie or any poire william brandy

Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass, stir well, add enough ice to fill the glass entirely, shake hard for seven seconds, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with Apple-Coconut Foam, Dehydrated Apple Chips, and edible flowers (I like marigold petals or rosemary blossoms). Makes one drink.

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Rudd Negroni Cocktail

  • 1 and 1/2 ounces Distillery No. 209 Gin
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce Carpano Antica Formula or other good quality sweet vermouth
  • 1 orange, washed and scrubbed

Pour all liquid ingredients into a mixing glass, stir well, add enough ice to fill the glass 2/3 full, stir vigorously for 15 seconds, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Using a citrus zester, invert the orange over the drink and zest the orange in such a way that you can see the oil from the orange’s skin spray onto the top of the drink. Add the zest. Makes one drink.

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Scone Mix

by Maria Helm Sinskey

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup zante currants or chopped dry fruit such as apricots, plums, tart cherries or cranberries
  1. Mix all ingredients together except for the fruit and place in a mason jar. Place 1/2 cup dried fruit in a separate bag and put in on top of the flour mix. Seal with lid.
  2. Tie a card with the following instructions to the container.

Currant Scones

Yield: 1 dozen

  • Dry scone mix
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter – cut into chunks & chilled
  • 1 cup heavy cream plus 1/4 cup for brushing the tops
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment baking paper.
  2. Place the scone mix in a large bowl, add the cold butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until the dough resembles coarse cornmeal with hazelnut-sized chunks of butter. Do not over mix at this point. Add the dried fruit and then the cream.
  3. Mix until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead it lightly to incorporate the ingredients.
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Dark Chocolate Truffles by Maria Helm Sinskey

Dark, decadent and delicious.

Yield:3 dozen truffles

  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, 60-70% cocoa solids, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a stainless steel or glass bowl.
  2. Bring the cream and salt to a boil and whisk it gently into the chocolate. Stir (do not beat) with the whisk, until the chocolate has completely melted.
  3. Stir in the butter until completely incorporated.
  4. Cool to room temperature. Place the ganache in the refrigerator for 2 hours until firm but still soft enough to scoop. You may also cover the ganache and chill it overnight or until you are ready to use it. Soften at room temperature until scoop-able.
  5. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Use a small 1/2 ounce ice cream scoop to scoop the ganache and place the balls on the prepared pan. Chill the truffles for 1 hour.
  6. Put the cocoa powder in a shallow pan. Remove the truffles from the refrigerator and roll them into balls between your hands. They do not have to be completely round or smooth.
  7. Place them in the cocoa pan a few at
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Pecan Date Cake

by Maria Helm Sinskey

I created this red wine scented date cake to complement the artisan cheese we serve at our winery in the Napa Valley. Wrapped well, these date cakes will store for up to 4 months in the refrigerator. Use toasted almonds or walnuts instead of pecans for a variation.

Yield: 6 wheels

  • 1 1/2 cups fruity dry red wine such as merlot
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 cups pitted, coarsely chopped dates
  • 2 cups pecans, lightly toasted
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together the wine and sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce to 1/2 cup. Cool.
  2. By hand or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, slowly mix together the dates, pecans and cooled wine/sugar syrup until well combined, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Divide the mix into 6 equal pieces.Dampen your hands with cold water and shape into 1-inch-thick wheels. Wrap individually in plastic and tie with a ribbon.
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Chocolate Coffee Gingerbread with Hazelnut Poached Pears

Recipe courtesy of Bruce Aidells

For the Gingerbread

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dark molasses
  • 1 cup mild olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup hot brewed coffee
  • ¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 cup dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.Grease and lightly flour a 12-inch bundt pan.In a medium bowl combine the salt, spices, flour and baking soda and set aside.Combine the sugar, molasses, oil and eggs in a mixing bowl and beat with a whisk until smooth.Stir the dry ingredients into the wet then add the hot coffee, ginger and chocolate, the chocolate will melt.Pour into the prepared pan and bake 50 – 60 minutes or until the center springs back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.Cool for 10 minutes, then unmold.

Serve warm or at room temperature, sliced, with a spoonful of hazelnut poached pears alongside and topped with a dollop of coffee-scented whipped cream (recipes below).

Yield:8-10 servings

For the Pears

  • 1 ½ cups Golden Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup Frangelico
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Individual Cheddar and Chive Yorkshire Puddings

Recipe courtesy of Bruce Aidells

I prefer to make individual Yorkshire puddings because I think the presentation is more dramatic and the results are more dependable than one large pudding.These airy puddings can be tricky and if you want perfection every time use only whole milk and you must hand whisk the batter because an electric beater will overbeat the batter and it will not puff and rise.Use heavy pottery custard cups, large hole cast iron muffin pans or popover pans.

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced chives
  • 6 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, OR the same amount of melted roast beef fat

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Lightly brush 8 custard or muffin cups or popover holes (should be 3/4 cup size) with 2 tablespoons melted butter or melted beef fat.Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat eggs and then beat in milk until well blended.In another bowl combine the flour and salt.Use a fork or a pastry blender to stir in the remaining melted butter or beef fat.Gradually add the flour and fat mixture to the egg … Read More

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Broccolini with Pecan Brown Butter

Recipe courtesy of Bruce Aidells

  • 4 bunches broccolini (about 2 ½ pounds), washed
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring 6-8 quarts of salted water to a boil.Add broccolini and stir to separate each stem.When water returns to a boil, adjust heat to a light boil and cook for 4-5 minutes.Taste a stem piece. The broccolini is done when crisp tender.Drain and set aside and keep warm.

Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.Add shallot and garlic and stir for 2 to 3 minutes until the vegetables have softened.Add pecans and a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.Increase heat to medium high and stir continuously until the butter has browned and pecans develop a toasted aroma.Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.Toss mixture with broccolini and season to taste with salt and pepper.Serve at once.

Note:To toast pecans, spread on a small baking sheet and bake in the middle of a 350ºF oven until nicely golden brown with a nutty aroma, about 5 to 10 minutes.Transfer to a … Read More

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