RLB Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

My thought on biting into this tart was, “it could totally be something I paid ridiculous amounts for at a bakery.” It not only tasted that good, it felt that luxurious. The unctuous give of the ganache, the light, rich, nutty filling, and the soft, sweet and nutty crust contrasted with and complemented one another, each  providing something the other lacked, while bringing out their best qualities all around. The bakery fantasy worked best when my eyes were closed, though. Visually, my rendition of this tart was resolutely homey.

It began with an evenly browned crust that sat well in my new tart pan. I was worried that the dough would slump and pull away from the sides, but it kept its shape nicely.


P1040489 cream glass bowl

The first hint of trouble arose when I began whipping the cream. I refrigerated the bowl and whisk attachment for my mixer, and since I needed two, I also refrigerated a smaller mixing bowl and the whisk attachment for my immersion blender. The problem, I realized, was the low and wide bowls I love. I can reach in and get to all the corners with my spatula, which is great when I’m making pancake batter or quick bread dough, but they’re decidedly ineffective at containing cream that’s being beaten by an electric whisk rotating multiple times a second. Even the larger bowl was defeated by the motor.

Undaunted, I switched to my trusty hand whisk, and beat the cream to something at least approaching soft peaks. Then I mixed the rest of the filling ingredients with the KitchenAid.

filling in mixer
praline paste with flavorings beaten in
filling on beaters
whipped cream added to the filling


naked tart

It looks pretty good here, too. You’d never know a quarter of the whipped cream   was decorating my cabinets half an hour earlier.

ganache tart with chocolate

The ganache was heated cream and chocolate, strained with a teensy bit of Frangelico added. The liquor store didn’t have any miniature bottles, so I had to buy a half-size one for two teaspoons of liquor. No matter, I’m sure I’ll find a use for it!

P1040505 tart decorated

Here’s the tart right after ganache application, and a couple of hours later, when my daughter applied a starburst. A frustrating process for her because the paper she was using as a stencil curled, and she left a couple of water spots on the ganache where she attempted to eliminate a ridge. A noble effort nonetheless.

tart slice

Here is the final product, which looks entirely acceptable I think, but tastes far better than it looks!

RLB Pink Pearl Lady Cake

I looked at the photo of this cake in The Baking Bible and thought, “ooooh, beautiful cake”. Then I looked at the recipe and thought, “uh-oh, the pearls will try my patience mightily”. Luckily, I have a daughter who loves getting things just so. She agreed to help me with the precision-oriented items on this cake, and thank goodness she did!

cake lumpy fondant

Here’s the beginning of the fondant. Doesn’t look promising, if I say so myself. I was worried that instead of having a smooth covering for my cake I’d produce something lumpy and ugly. Definitely not Valentine’s Day-worthy. I persevered, however, and I’m glad I did.

cake plastique cake plastique with spoon

Along with the recalcitrant fondant I made white chocolate plastique, which was magical. Melted white chocolate mixed with corn syrup immediately turns into a smooth and yes, almost plastic-y ball.

cake ff
This is not a moon rock, it’s white chocolate and corn syrup landing on my kitchen counter

cake fondant and plastiquecake fondant combined w plastique


Here’s the fondant and white chocolate plastique separately and combined. You can see the white spots of plastique in the slightly gray fondant.

Next I turned my attention to the cake. I checked it when it was slightly underbaked, then walked away and forgot about it for a couple of minutes longer than ideal…

cake on parchment strips

with this result. Luckily it was only a couple of minutes too long, so the crust was a little too brown, but the cake itself was fine. My sous chef was on the job sanding off the worst of the burnt edges with a Microplane.

Now, the strawberry mousseline filling. That was difficult. I tried beating the egg whites by hand because my electric mixer was full of butter waiting for the meringue/corn syrup mixture. It went okay until I had an equipment malfunction

broken whisk

the handle of my trusty whisk came off! I did my best to keep going, but the mousseline, while tasty, didn’t achieve full volume.


fondant pearls

Meanwhile, my sous chef outdid herself in the fondant pearl department, and then in the rolling fondant and decorating the cake department:

cake speaker rolling pinslice background slice from top

So good! And pretty, too.




RLB Mini Gateaux Breton

finished for top

These cookies were yummy, and thank goodness they are far easier to make than their fancy name might imply. Except for toasting and grinding the almonds, preparation was standard-issue cookie simple.

I started early in the morning, because I wanted to have a treat to send with my 16-year-old who was visiting a friend in college. Grinding nuts and adding sugar was easy with my trusty food processor.

ground almonds

yummmmm. My slivered almonds had skin on them because, well, they were what I had on hand, and it was -4 degrees Fahrenheit out, so I skipped the grocery run.

Butter, more sugar, eggs and flour all went into the mixer, then the dough was ready for some time in the fridge.


I tasted some of the dough from the bowl, just to be sure the skins on the almonds hadn’t done something unspeakable to the taste, but nope, it tasted just fine!

Next I put the dough in mini muffin tins. The original recipe calls for mini brioche tins, and I must say the picture in the book is super cute, but the muffin tin worked okay, even though the cookies look a tad dull. (shhhh, don’t tell!) Also, they didn’t taste dull at all. There was butter, and almonds, and the outside was just slightly crunchy, making a delightful contrast with the soft and cakey inside.

dough muffin tins

mini gateaux on plate

Once they were completely cool I bagged them up and sent them to be consumed by adolescents who probably would have been fine with the raw dough.

RLB Pizza Rustica

To sausage or not to sausage, that was the question. The idea of a yummy dried sausage like sopressata diced and added to the ricotta/mozzarella/egg mixture in this pie was appealing, and I was sure two of the other three members of our household would also approve. The vegetarian said picking fancy salami out of her dinner was out of the question, however. What to do? I considered the bag of vegetarian meat crumbles in my freezer, but decided the flavor of fake meat wouldn’t be a good contrast to ricotta and mozzarella cheese.  I wound up  layering sopressata into half of the pie, leaving the other half meat-free. Both halves were good, but the meat eaters uniformly preferred the sopressata side.

mozzerella into ricottamozzerella on top of ricotta & eggs

Here’s the cheese and egg mixture.

pie dough in pan w ricottaT

The crust came out well, and stayed mostly in one piece when I put the rolled-out dough into a cake pan. Next came a layer of the ricotta mixture

layering pie

followed by mozzarella and some sopressata.

pie layered lattice unbaked

I topped it all off with a lattice crust that I actually wove! I was so impressed with myself. 😉

whole pie pie with slice out

I was worried about unmolding it because my cake pan was all one piece and the crust looked fragile. But the directions to cushion the top of the pan with paper towels to ease the load on the crust worked, and my rustic pizza remained whole. The salty sopressata, creamy filling and slightly sweet, herby crust combined to make a delicious whole. The vegetarian liked her side too.




RLB Posh Pie

sifted cookie ingredientsbutter

Sifted dry ingredients + butter. Only Rose Levy Beranbaum would start a recipe calling for a cookie crust with actually baking the cookies that go into that crust. So we begin at the beginning. The very beginning, with the above.

Mixing everything together, along with egg whites and sugar yielded a lovely dark chocolate dough.

dough in bowlcookie dough

which I floured perhaps just a tad over-enthusiastically after some sticking and tearing whilst rolling it out. Still, the cookies turned out well.


Then they were turned into pie crust and filled with chocolate Bavarian cream. This process involved much melting and straining and whipping. Some highlights:

chopped chocolate

Here’s the chopped chocolate ready to be melted by the custard mixture.

meringue bowlmeringue beaters

And here are my egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks. I’m so proud of myself for pushing through to actually stiff whites! I usually start to worry shortly after there are peaks of any sort in the whites, and stop short of my goal. These whites had lots of air in them, and that was reflected in the final product. (Yay!)

posh pie naked

Here is the pie with the Bavarian cream filling, and

posh pie entire

here is the completed pie, with a Julius Caesar-esque laurel. A laurel that it deserves, because it tastes like a chocolate cloud with chocolate topping.

RLB Sugar Rose Brioche

baked on rack

It does look a tiny bit like a rose. A blowsy rose to be sure, but the whorls and colors are appetizing. And it tasted good, too. Rich and cinnamon-y and just a little sweet.

I started the dough and stored it in the fridge while I drove children around. The dough was patient, waiting for me as I completed a step, removed it from the cold box, mixed in other ingredients and refrigerated it again.

Eventually I had real bread dough:

dough rolled out
ready for filling
Eggs, cinnamon and sugar at the ready, I applied them:

dough with cinnamoncinnamon sugar on dough

I can almost taste the cinnamon sugar through the screen. It was good! I was a little worried about the cutting and twisting steps. I read the directions through several times to be sure I had at least the general idea. So I was pleased when I cut the roll lengthwise and it looked just the way it was supposed to! I was even more pleased that it still looked good when I was done twisting it.

snakes up close
sliced dough ready to twist.

Then into the pan, which I think was smaller than it should have been.

in pan 2048x1536

Still, it fit. I figured the too-small springform pan was a better choice than the larger regular cake pan, so I kept things the way they were.

baked on pan 1647x1235

It’s tall, but it’s pretty. And the slices looked fine.


RLB Irish Cream Scones with Raspberry Butterscotch Lace Topping

dry ingredients + raisinsP1040345

Scones are one of kids favorite breakfasts, so I was pretty sure these would be a hit. he photo on the left is the dry ingredients with raisins on top. I used golden raisins instead of dark ones in hopes they’d somehow blend into the dough better and thus a few of them might be consumed by an unsuspecting child.

On the right is the dry ingredients plus honey.

flattened dough ball

And here is the flattened ball of dough, ready to be made into triangles like this:

dough scored

Here is the dough all cut up and ready for the baking pan. My daughter shuddered when she saw the photos of the cut-up dough though, so I won’t foist them upon anyone reading this blog. 😉

I have been glancing at the scone topping recipes in this book since I bought it, but since I knew I’d get to them eventually, I hadn’t read through the recipes to see how they worked. This week I had to figure it out, and I’m glad I did. I admit I was skeptical about the idea of raspberry butterscotch sauce, but it was So.Good. Mmmmmmmm.

raspberry topping ingredients raspberry toppiing

Here is the raspberry mixture. I was a little frazzled when I made this, so I didn’t strain the seeds out of the raspberries, and then I cooked the fruit in with the caramelizing sugar. Oops! Luckily for me, everything still tasted wonderful.  The only hitch was that “lace” was NOT going to happen with this topping. Its texture was more like Jell-O. So I spread the topping on the scones, and then I had an inspiration, and asked Z to style the scones for me.

Now I’ll never be a great photographer, but her skillz definitely improved the presentation below:

P1040377 scones with Zoe

Here are the completed scones, which tasted great, even with unlaced topping. And that’s Z in the background of the photo on the right. She’s agreed to help me out with the Pink Pearl Lady Cake two weeks from now. A very good thing, if I do say so myself!