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Martha's Dessert Buffet

MyCookbook Recipe Database
MyCookbook Member: MarthasArchive2
Recipe Category: Dessert
Recipe Preparation Level: difficult
    A dessert buffet is a lavish, romantic way to top off a wedding reception dinner. Guests appreciate it as well, for they can approach at their leisure and gravitate to the treats they adore among the array of fruits and confections.

    In the very special dessert buffet Martha features today, an opulent display of fruits and sweets beckons from under a white silk canopy. Pineapples, a traditional American symbol for welcome, top each canopy pole, and the table is edged by colorful summer fruits arranged so as to give the feeling of a thick, ropey garland. Pedestals, compotes, and cake stands heaped with sweets form multiple levels, which are essential to create interest and dimension (the pedestal cubes are simply styrofoam blocks draped in sheer colored fabrics). A croquembouche, a traditional choice for a wedding cake in France, crowns the center of the regal display, and four extravagant rose-petal carpets surround the table.

    The recipes below provide examples of what to serve in a dessert buffet, but the options are nearly endless—fruit, chocolates, pastries, tartlets, tuiles, and cookies all work wonderfully.

    Makes 3 dozen

    Corn syrup gives these cookies added crispness and a shiny glaze.

    1 sheet puff pastry from a 17-ounce frozen package
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup light corn syrup

    1. Heat oven to 425°. Defrost pastry according to the manufacturer’s directions. Line two baking sheets with parchment, and set aside.

    2. Sprinkle a clean work surface with 1/4 cup sugar. Place dough over sugar, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Using a rolling pin, gently press sugar into dough, rolling out dough slightly; rotate dough frequently to prevent sticking. With longer side of dough toward you, fold over edge, and roll tightly with your hands until you reach the middle. Turn dough so the unrolled edge is toward you, and roll again, meeting first roll in center.

    3. Chill dough in freezer 15 minutes. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and place on prepared baking sheets.

    4. Bake the palmiers 7 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the corn syrup with 1 tablespoon water. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush palmiers with corn-syrup mixture; bake another 4 minutes. Turn the cookies over, and brush with syrup again. Continue baking 4 minutes more, or until golden brown. Transfer palmiers to a wire rack to cool completely, and store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

    Makes 2 dozen

    Lemon Curd (recipe follows)
    Poppy-Seed Pâte Sucrée (recipe follows)
    Candied Lemon Slices (recipe follows)
    Sweetened Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
    1 tablespoon poppy seeds

    1. Place Lemon Curd in a pastry bag, fitted with a #7 round piping tip. Pipe approximately 2 tablespoons curd into the center of each Poppy-Seed Pâte-Sucrée shell. Drain the Candied Lemon Slices from the syrup, and remove any seeds.

    2. Fit another pastry bag with a #35 star tip, and fill with Sweetened Whipped Cream. Place one Candied Lemon Slice on top of each curd, and finish with a rosette of whipped cream. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, and serve. Assemble as close to serving time as possible.

    Makes 3 1/3 cups

    12 large egg yolks
    Zest of 2 lemons
    1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

    1. Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Using a whisk, combine mixture. Place over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon; make sure to stir sides and bottom of saucepan. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of wooden spoon, 20 to 25 minutes.

    2. Remove the saucepan from heat. Hold a fine sieve over a medium bowl, and push mixture through sieve with the back of a ladle. Add the butter, one piece at a time, stirring with the wooden spoon to incorporate into a smooth consistency. Transfer to a medium bowl. Lay plastic wrap directly on surface to avoid forming a skin, and wrap tightly. Place in the refrigerator until firm and chilled, about 3 hours. Lemon Curd may be made up to 1 day in advance.

    Makes 24 three-inch shells

    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    3 tablespoons sugar
    2 tablespoons poppy seeds
    1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    4 tablespoons ice water
    2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
    Vegetable-oil cooking spray

    1. Heat oven to 375°. Place flour, sugar, and poppy seeds in food processor. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, approximately 10 seconds.

    2. With machine running, add ice water and egg yolks through the feed tube, and process until the dough holds together.

    3. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap; press into a flat circle. Wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 1 hour.

    4. Coat tartlet pans with cooking spray. On a lightly floured board, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a round 3 1/2-inch pastry cutter, cut out 36 circles. Press dough into molds, and place a second tartlet pan of the same size on top; press the two together lightly.

    5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes; when the pastry begins to brown around the edges, remove the top pan, and continue baking until the pastry dries out and turns golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.

    Makes 3 dozen

    3 lemons
    4 cups sugar
    4 cups water

    1. Using a mandoline, cut lemons into thin slices. Place sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Place over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.

    2. Add lemon slices to sugar water; bring to a second boil. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature. Store refrigerated in covered plastic container up to 1 week.

    Makes 1 1/3 cups

    2/3 cup heavy cream
    2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    Place cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes. Prepare as close to serving time as possible.

    Makes 50

    Personalize these delicate cookies, which look like curly pieces of ribbon, with your own special message or date.

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    3 tablespoons Dutch cocoa
    1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
    8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
    2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
    4 large egg whites, room temperature

    1. Make a 7-by-1 1/4-inch rectangular template by cutting a section out of a 1/8-inch-thick piece of cardboard.

    2. Heat oven to 400°. Sift 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour with the cocoa, and set cocoa-flour mixture aside. Using the edge of a paring knife, scrape seeds from the vanilla bean into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add butter and sugar. Using the paddle attachment, beat the seeds, butter, and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg whites, one at a time.

    3. Transfer half of the batter (2/3 cup) to a medium bowl. Fold in the cocoa-flour mixture until well combined; set aside.

    4. Fold the remaining flour into the remaining batter until well combined.

    5. Fit a baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat, and place the stencil on the mat. Using a small offset spatula, spread 1 tablespoon of white batter over the stencil. Lift stencil, and remove. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a #2 Ateco plain tip with 1/4 cup chocolate batter, and pipe your message onto the tuile. Repeat the process to make 25 white tuiles, reserving 1/4 cup white batter.

    6. Bake tuiles 6 minutes. Using a spatula, remove from baking sheet, and lay over a rolling pin to curl. If tuiles become too cool before shaping, return to oven 30 seconds. Let cool completely on pin.

    7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 with chocolate batter, using reserved white batter for piping. Store tuiles in an airtight container up to 1 week.

    Makes 24

    Chocolate lovers can take this recipe one step further by painting the bottoms of these tuiles with melted bittersweet chocolate once the cookies have cooled.

    1 1/2 cups pistachio nuts
    1 large egg
    2 large egg whites
    Zest of half an orange, grated
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1 cup sugar

    1. Heat oven to 400°. Place the nuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse nuts until medium ground, and set aside.

    2. In a medium bowl, mix together egg, egg whites, and zest. Add flour and sugar, mixing until combined. Stir in nuts.

    3. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat. Place 1 tablespoon batter on the mat, and repeat, spacing dollops at least 2 inches apart. Moisten your fingertips with water, and flatten dollops slightly.

    4. Bake tuiles 8 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cooking. Using a spatula, remove tuiles from baking sheet, and lay them over a rolling pin to curl. Let tuiles cool completely on pin. If the tuiles become too cool before shaping, return to oven 30 seconds. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

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