Conquering Cuisine with Denis Chiappa
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Featured Recipe of the Week: Mother's Day Cake
Celebrate Mom with a homemade treat
A treat for Mom
A treat for Mom

Tomorrow we celebrate all Moms.  We honor them, thank them and pamper them, reminding them just how special they are. And more often than not, a gift is given to these special women in our lives. Some of the most special Mother’s Day gifts are those homemade gifts from little hands….a card, a beaded necklace or portrait.  Of course, those Mother’s Days are some of the least relaxing because the children are so young, but those gifts are the most cherished. As the children get older, the handmade gifts often fall to the wayside, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

In today’s class, The Art of the Mother’s Day Cake, our culinary adventurers learned the principles of baking, making a multi-layered chocolate, berry and almond meringue torte.  And these adventurers were able to personalize their Mother’s Day Cakes with their own decorations. What a great gift for any mom! And for those that took the class with their mom, even better!  Because time is the best gift of all.

So think about baking a special gift for your mom and then gather around the table to enjoy the time together and a delicious treat.

Conquering Cuisine Mother's Day Cake Class

All recipes use unsalted butter, unbleached, not enriched all purpose flour, large cage free eggs

Cocoa Genoise, like a sponge

5 fresh free range eggs separated, room temp

1 cup fine white granulated sugar

3/4 cup unbleached white flour with 1/2 t baking powder

1 Tablespoons dark cocoa

pinch salt, 1 teaspoon Baking powder

2 T melted cooled unsalted butter

I T heavy cream. ( This for genoise meant to be a bit sturdier)


Beat whites till stiff, with salt, and tighten with 1/2 the sugar at the end

Beat yolks with sugar till pale. Do not let sugar stand on yolks before beating.

Fold half the whites into yolks

Whisk cocoa in  flour, add little at a time to egg yolk/sugar mixture, with sifter, with a folding motion with spatula  Do not overmix

Add half remaining whites

Add rest of flour,( mixed with cacao powder)

Add melted butter, in a ring around batter

Add cream, in a ring

Add rest of whites; Fold,  Do not overmix. It's fine if some white is not mixed.

Pour into prepared buttered/floured 10  inch round or square pan

Bake 350 for 10 minutes

325 for 8 to 10 more minutes.

Cool away from drafts, unmold by sliding a knife first around the edges , then tapping lightly.

Cake soaker,

        Make a simple syrup by bringing to a boil  in a saucepan 150 gr water and 150 gr sugar, cool. Add vanilla extract, rum, or other liquor.

French meringue for disks, nests sticks, small swirls , pavlovas, etc.

This is the 1 sugar system. The 2 sugars system involves half granulated and half icing sugar for stiffer meringue.

4 large, room temp egg whites in a super clean bowl, pinch of salt

250 to 270 grams granulated superfine white sugar

Start beating at medium for 2 minutes, increase speed, when peaks form stream in half of the sugar at high speed, reduce speed add remaining sugar.

Italian meringue.

Italian Meringue differs from French Meringue in that the hot syrup has cooked the egg whites, which then retain their shape longer, are more stable and food safe. Use for mousses, bombes, French buttercream, French macarons, lemon meringue pie.

For 6 egg whites. ( large mix bowl, room temp)

400 gr white sugar

Cover in pan with 15 cl water and 1 teaspoon juice of a FRESH lemon .Dip a pastry brush in water and brush any bits of sugar from the sides of the pan down into the syrup to melt, otherwise it will turn the sugar syrup grainy. When all of the sugar is dissolved, bring it to a fast boil until it reaches soft to hard ball ( 118/20 celsius, 240/50 F) Watch to not boil to caramel!

As soon as the syrup reaches the correct temperature, pour it onto the egg whites in a thin, steady stream as you whisk. Be careful not to pour the hot syrup directly onto the beaters, as it may stick to them or splash back at you.

When all the syrup has been mixed, continue to whisk the meringue until it has cooled. It should be shiny and stiff. Allow to cool completely before using.

Cover with cling film until ready to use. Italian meringue can be stored in the fridge for up to 6 days. 0r in freezer up to a month

French white or milk chocolate buttercream,

Whisk in 1 cup soft butter 100 grams melted white or milk chocolate .

Fold in 1 and a half cup Italian meringue Use for outside icing and piping .

For filling you can add whipped cream, up to 1 cup. But add just before using. cold cream will harden the mixture

Whipped cream. Whip 1 cup heavy cream with 1 T sugar, and 1 T liquor of choice, medium then full speed until medium hard peaks. Do not over whip.

For cocoa whipped cream add 1 T cocoa per cup cream; Tastes great, kids love!


Almond paste.

You can purchase almond paste in a store. There are 2 grades. Marzipan has more sugar content, is less expensive and fine for molding decorations.

Pure almond paste has less sugar, taste better, and is great for cake topping.

Either way, you'll need to soften the paste, by kneading it your hand. Add a touch of desired color, and roll on parchment paper,  or mold, using a little icing sugar to avoid sticking.

Homemade almond paste. Better than store bought! Easy...

Place in bowl with paddle, or knead by hand

150 g fine almond powder. ( Bobs red mill is good)

150 g icing sugar

2 à 3 drops vanilla or almond extract

teaspoon orange flower, or grand marnier ( Optional)

1 egg white. About 30 gr.

Knead all together, if a little too stiff add a little egg white, of too soft add a little icing sugar.  Color as desired, go slow with the coloring! Wrap in plastic, store in fridge for up to 10 days

If you want a very pliable paste, add a teaspoon glucose.

Use to make roses, figurines, molded fruits, cake tops, little scroll to write message.

Easy temper chocolate for decorations

Melt 100 grams good quality  65 to 70 per cent chocolate over double boiler ( No hard boil) or in 2,  1 minute sessions in microwave

Add 50 grams finely chopped  chocolate

stir very lightly. Use immediately. If reheat, reheat once, coll, reheat to temper.

To mold small figures, just fill the little molds, crystallize at room temp, 15 minutes, then set in fridge another ten, and unmold by tapping molds..

To make lace, hearts swirls, etc.

Swirls Fill a cone with melted tempered chocolate, pipe on parchment paper, making sure all parts of piping are connected, to avoid breakage. Let set, lift delicately.

For hearts. Spread tempered chocolate in thin sheet on parchment. Before total crystallize, press heart cutter. Finish crystallize,repress cutter, lift.

Chocolate coated leaves, great with an almond paste rose!

Melt chocolate as directed, coat UNDERSIDE of rose eaves, with a brush dipped in the chocolate, not going over edges; let crystallise, peel of green leaf delicately.

Frosted berries, leaves etc.

Put plain granulated white sugar in a medium large ziplock bag

Beat light 1 egg white.;dip berries in white, drain a little

Place in sugar bag, shake.Lay coated berries to dry on a tray, 1 hour in cool place,

Other decorative paste recipe: Homemade australian fondant, or sugar paste. ( Not tasty as  almond paste, good for covering of wedding cakes, and molding borders, such as braid ropes). You can buy in store but 5 times more expensive, and tastes like chalk.

2 pounds confectioners sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin soaked in 1/4 cup COLD water.

2 T heavy cream

1/2 cup glucose (found in cake decorating stores) if you don't have use corn syrup

2 tablespoons soft butter, or shortening . Flavoring.

Method  In a large bowl, sift the sugar and make a well in the center. In a small saucepan, add the water and sprinkle the gelatin on top to soften for about 5 minutes. Begin to heat the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is dissolved and clear. Do not boil.  add the glucose and butter, in still warm pan, stirring until well blended. Add the flavoring. Pour into the well of sugar, and mix until all of the sugar is blended. Use hands to knead icing until it becomes stiff. Add small amounts of confectioner's sugar if the mixture is sticky. Wrap ball with plastic, store for a couple weeks. Not in fridge.

Happy mother's day to all you wonderful mothers out there!!!

Chef Catherine

Enjoying a class together
Enjoying a class together




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