Recipes: 'The Sweet Melissa Baking Book' These decadent baked goods, though familiar, revel in scents and tastes slightly unexpected.
NPR logo Recipes: 'The Sweet Melissa Baking Book'

Recipes: 'The Sweet Melissa Baking Book'

These recipes appear in The Sweet Melissa Baking Book: Recipes from the Beloved Bakery for Everyone's Favorite Treats by Melissa Murphy, (Studio, 2008).

Chestnut Honey Madeleines
Makes 2 dozen cookies

Melissa Clark, a very talented (and my favorite) food writer for The New York Times, once wrote about my chestnut honey madeleines: "Delicate brown, dusted with sugar and scallop shaped, the chestnut honey madeleines at Sweet Melissa Patisserie in Brooklyn look just like ordinary madeleines. But one bite proves otherwise. A perfumed, almost autumnal sensation fills the mouth, like the scent of sunshine-dried leaves, butterscotch, and toasted nuts. Then the featherweight cake dissolves, leaving you to wonder: Could all that flavor really have come from such a dainty morsel? . . . " (The New York Times, Feb. 17, 1999) No wonder she's my favorite food writer.

2/3 cup roasted hazelnuts

1 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

13 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 large egg whites

1 tablespoon chestnut or clover honey

Using a pastry brush, brush on soft butter and then flour two 12-cup madeleine molds. Refrigerate until ready to use.

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, grind the hazelnuts with 2/3 cup of the confectioners' sugar, pulsing as fine as you can get it, so that it is a semicoarse flour (you should have 1/2 cup hazelnut flour).

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the hazelnut flour, all-purpose flour, and the remaining confectioners' sugar.

3. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until the butter solids at the bottom of the pan turn golden brown. Immediately remove from the heat and strain into a bowl to stop the cooking. Discard the solids.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined. Add the butter and honey and mix until combined.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared molds, filling almost to the top. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

6. Position a rack in the top and bottom thirds of your oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

7. Remove the filled molds from the refrigerator. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. After removing from the oven, immediately tap the pans on your work surface to release the madeleines. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

To serve, turn the madeleines scallop side up and dust with confectioners' sugar. They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for three days. For longer storage, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days, or freeze for up to three weeks. Do not uncover before defrosting.

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Torte
Makes one 8-inch torte

I love the simplicity of this torte. It really highlights the use of exceptional ingredients. Be sure to use the highest-quality bittersweet chocolate available, and raspberries that are fresh and plump. It doesn't bake for long, and the resulting luxurious texture will remind you of truffles. For extra indulgence, serve with raspberry sauce.

8 ounces best-quality bittersweet (64-68 percent) chocolate

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

3 tablespoons rum

3 large eggs

1/2 dry pint fresh raspberries

1 tablespoon best-quality unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, for sprinkling

Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Turn an 8-inch springform pan upside down and cover the bottom and sides with aluminum foil. The foil should come up at least 2 inches on all sides, so the water from the water bath will not leak through. Lightly butter the inside bottom and sides of the springform pan. Line the bottom with an 8-inch round of parchment paper.

1. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering, not boiling, water, gently melt the chocolate with the butter, stirring until smooth. Heat until it is just melted; don't let it get too hot. When the chocolate is fully melted, stir in the rum.

2. In an electric mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering, not boiling, water, heat the eggs while stirring until just warm to the touch. Remove from the heat.

3. In the electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment beat the eggs until tripled in volume, or when they reach soft peaks.

4. Fold half of the eggs into the chocolate mixture until almost incorporated. Fold in the remaining eggs until just blended but with no streaks remaining.

5. Pour half of the batter into the prepared springform pan. Scatter the fresh raspberries evenly over the batter, and then pour the remaining batter over the berries. Smooth with a spatula.

6. Place the springform pan in a roasting pan large enough to hold it. Fill the roasting pan with hot water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake uncovered for 5 minutes. Cover the pan with aluminum foil or an upside-down cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes more. Remove to a wire rack, uncover the pan, and cool in the water bath for 1 hour.

7. Remove the pan from the water bath. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm, about 3 1/2 hours.

8. Using a sharp knife, carefully loosen the cake from the edges of the pan. Release the springform ring to unmold the cake. To release the bottom, invert the cake onto a flat plate lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil and remove the bottom and the parchment round. Turn the cake right side up onto a serving plate and dust with sifted cocoa powder. Keep refrigerated before serving.

Slice with a hot knife and serve. The torte keeps tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to four days.

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