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Elegant Fall Desserts to Impress

September 29th, 2010

While some people consider Costco’s giant $5.99 pumpkin pie to make all autumn dessert-making obsolete, we stand firmly behind the notion that fall is the season for excessive indulgence in all kinds of sweet treats.  Whether you enjoy our incredible pumpkin parfait or our rustic fig crostada, your guests (if you choose to share) will be sure to rank you among their favorite friends in the upcoming holiday season.  Bon apetit!

Pumpkin Parfait with Gingersnap Cookies and Candied Ginger

1/4 Cup Dark Rum
2 Teaspoons Unflavored Gelatin Powder
1 15 oz can Pumpkin (Note: Do not use pie filling, but rather canned pumpkin puree)
1/2 Cup Granulated Cane Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
2 extra large Free-Range Egg Yolks
2 Teaspoons Orange Zest
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 Cups Cold, heavy cream
1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla
2 Cups Sweetened whipped cream
10 Ginger cookies, Chopped
1 Package Candied Ginger

1. Place the rum in a heat-proof bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it; set aside for 10 minutes until it softens.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar, egg yolks, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

3. Set the bowl of gelatin and rum over a pan of simmering water until the mixture is clear; immediately whisk the gelatin mixture into the pumpkin mixture.

4. Whip together the heavy cream and vanilla on high speed until soft peaks form.

5. Fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture.

6. To assemble, spoon the pumpkin mixture into parfait glasses and add a layer of whipped cream; top with chopped cookies and candied ginger pieces.

7. Repeat this order, ending with the third layer of pumpkin. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Rustic Black Mission Fig Crostada with Lavender-Honey Mascarpone

1 pound short crust pastry (recipe follows)
1 basket Black Mission Figs, thinly sliced
1/3 cup Brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Ground cardamom

Streusel Topping:
1 cup Unbleached Organic Flour
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 cup Granulated Cane Sugar
1/2 cup Unsalted Organic Butter

Honey-Lavender Mascarpone:
1 cup Mascarpone
2 tablespoons Lavender Honey
1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons Heavy Cream

Special equipment:
Rolling pin

Short Crust Pastry:
3 cups Unbleached Organic Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
4 ounces Unsalted Organic Butter, cold
8 ounces Shortening, cold
1/2 cup Ice cold water

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. For the crostada: Roll the short crust pastry 1/4 -inch thick and cut into 6 (6-inch) rounds.
Refrigerate the pastry rounds for at least 30 minutes. Cut 5 evenly spaced 1-inch slits around the edge of each pastry round (perpendicular to the edge). Whisk together the egg yolk and water to make an egg wash. Brush the edge of the pastry with egg wash.

3. For the filling: Toss the figs with the brown sugar and cardamom. Pile an equal amount of fig mixture inthe center of each pastry round. Fold the pastry around the figs, overlapping the pastry at the slits, and press firmly to seal. Place the crostada on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush the outside of the pastry with egg wash.

4. For the streusel topping: Combine the flour, sugar, and cinnamon together. Using your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles corn meal. Sprinkle the streusel on top of each galette.

5. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake for 20 minutes longer.

6. To make the mascarpone cream, stir together mascarpone, honey, vanilla, and heavy cream until well blended.

7. Serve the crostada warm with a dollop of mascarpone.

8. Short Crust Pastry: Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Using a cheese grater, grate the butter and shortening into the flour. Combine the mixture with you fingers until it resembles cornmeal. Add the ice cold water, and mix with a spoon, pulling the water into the flour until a dough forms.

9. With your hands, shape the dough into 2 balls and flatten them into disks. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 1 month

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