Thursday, December 18, 2014

My Favorite Special Occasion Dessert

Recipe Chocolate Éclair Torte
 This cake was one of my very favorites from Carl Andersen’s Chatam Restaurant in
Westwood Village. The Chatam was a wonderful jewel of a place but sadly is gone now. For decades it attracted movie stars and people in the know looking for great food by a wonderful Danish chef. When I was a student at UCLA in the early 70’s this was the place we would gather for a special lunch. 
The following recipe is from the book: STAR FOOD by Carole Andersen Travis (Carl’s daughter). PS It looks complicated but it's really not and tastes great!

1 recipe pate a` chou (recipe follows)
2 Tablespoons sugar
½ cup finely chopped walnuts
1 recipe Quick custard (recipe follows)
4 Tablespoons. (1/2 stick) butter
6 Tablespoons Powdered sugar
4 squares semisweet chocolate
2 Tablespoons butter

Lightly grease three 9 inch cake pans. Make pate a` chou and divide it equally among the pans. With a rubber spatula spread the paste evenly. Mix the sugar and walnuts together in a bowl and sprinkle this mixture over the three pastes. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, lower the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 20 min. or until the paste is well puffed, golden brown and light in weight. Remove the layers from the oven and cool them on racks.  

The cake layers will be uneven, puffed more in some places than in others, but don’t worry. (Note: I did up to here the day before and just covered the cakes with saran wrap overnight. It was fine. Then all I had to do was assemble the next day).

While the layers are baking, make the Quick custard and cool the pan in a sink of cold water, stirring occasionally to prevent a crust from forming. Beat the butter and powdered sugar until smooth and add the custard a spoonful at a time, beating all the while. When the custard cream is smooth and the cake layers are cooled completely, melt the chocolate and butter over very low heat. Don’t stir the chocolate-butter mixture while it’s melting. When completely melted, stir it with a rubber spatula and drizzle it over the three layer cakes. The object is not to cover the cake layer completely, but to grace the tops of all the puffed areas and drizzle chocolate in between. ( Note: Mine gets pretty well covered. I decided before hand which layer I would use as the very top and make that one look drizzly not totally coated and used up more of the rest of the chocolate on the two hidden layers.) If you allow the chocolate-butter mixture simply to run off the end of your spatula, you can do a beautiful job. Allow the chocolate to cool and set.

Place a layer on a cake platter and spoon half the custard cream onto it. Most of it should go in the middle; don’t spoon any custard around the edges. Top with the second layer of cake and spoon the other half of the custard cream mostly onto the middle of it, as you did on the first. Place the third and last layer of cake over the second layer of custard and gently settle it on. If any custard oozes out, scoop it cleanly off with a knife.

 Chill the cake for at least 2 hours. At the restaurant they piped whipped cream up the sides of the finished torte. I did this an hour or so before serving. I think it is a wonderful addition to the cake and prefer it with. You can decide. Here’s the recipe I use for the whipped cream which holds up nicely. ( would not use a canned whipped cream or dream whip but that’s just a personal choice. For one thing the canned whipped cream seems to melt but the homemade whipped cream really lasts even on the cake for hours in the fridge.)

Whipped Cream Recipe

Place 2 cups heavy whipping cream (I like Trader Joe’s in a bottle)
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Put all the above in a metal mixing bowl and chill with attachments for blender in fridge for 30 minutes. This somehow helps it whip or so they tell me.

Whip everything til it peaks. Don’t overbeat or you’ll have a thick butter. Ice the sides of the cake or pipe in the sides of the cake. Refrigerate til you serve.

Recipe Quick Custard
¾ cup sugar
4 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 ½ cups milk
3 large eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a saucepan (not aluminum). Gradually whisk in the milk, making sure the mixture is smooth. Beat in the eggs and whisk until completely combined. Cook over med. Heat whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches the boiling point and thickens. This is easily done if you scrape the bottom of the pan with the wire whip constantly! Be sure to use a heavy saucepan. When the mixture begins to thicken and boil, lift the pan from the heat with one hand and continue whisking with the other. If the custard isn’t thick, put the pan back on the heat, whisk and cook until the proper consistency is reached. Remove form the heat and cool slightly then stir in the vanilla and Grand Marnier. Cool it completely. 

Pate a` Chou recipe

As much as I love my food processor the best outcome for this is beaten by hand. Consider it good exercise.

1 cup water
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup flour
4 large eggs

Put the water in a fair sized saucepan that will be good to beat by hand in. Add the butter, cut into chunks. Bring the water to a boil, and when the butter has melted, add the flour all at once. Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the flour with a wooden spoon. When the flour has been absorbed into the water and butter mixture, return the pan to the stove and beat the mixture over moderate heat for approximately 1 minute or until all is combined and of a very smooth consistency. Remove the pan form the heat and allow it to cool for about 2 minutes. The mixture should still be hot. 
Break in an egg and beat with a wooden spoon until all is combined. The basic roux will break into scallop type pieces before taking in all the egg. Just keep beating until the mixture is smooth and has lost its shine. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Beating them in one at a time. Divide finished dough as directed in recipe to three cake pans. 
Hope you enjoy.  

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