When it comes to matters of the heart, as the expression goes, the quickest route is through the belly. This Valentine’s Day, woo your sweetie with a homemade treat.
Bites of Europe baker Zada Sorrell, who makes all of the restaurant’s desserts from scratch, said that the difference between an OK and an outstanding desert is the details.
“Make something beautiful. Even if you’re making a box cake mix…(make it beautiful),” Sorrell said.
For a buttercream ganache cake, she made chocolate hearts for the dessert by piping hearts made from melted chocolate chips onto parchment paper to cool in the freezer. Later she sandwiches buttercream frosting with cake slices cut from a round cake.
She said that while many European restaurants get their desserts premade, that all the items are made in house is what appealed to her about Bites of Europe.
She explained that the raspberry crème tart is really impressive despite being straightforward to make. She takes a mini tart shell, fill with raspberry crème diplomat (a fancy sounding but delicious pudding-gelatin, fresh fruit base) with raspberries arranged on top.
“Don’t be scared,” she said. “You just have to screw up. But don’t be scared. A lot of times, people look at something that’s really difficult like pastries. They don’t know what this is, so it must be hard,” Sorrell said.
“Everyone has made box jello. The next step from there is to make something else from jello,” she said.
“Whatever you’re doing now, go to the next step,” she said.
Sorrell’s two secrets in the kitchen for making beautiful treats are Pinterest (for ideas) and paying careful attention to the details of the instructions.
“Making sure things are the right temperature before cutting into them will make sure you have clean edges. That can make all the difference with visual appeal,” Sorrell said.
“Put a topping on it. Fresh fruit on there — put some love into it. Don’t ever think you’re finished because you have something that you can put in your mouth,” she said.
Sorrell handles the baking at Bites of Europe. She bakes daily the sourdough, focaccia with olive oil and rosemary and the Pain Rustic loaf in addition to the daily desserts. All of the hamburger buns and hoagie rolls served are baked in house.
Raspberry Crème Tarts
For the tart shell:
11 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
In mixer with paddle, combine butter, sugar and flour. Mix on low until the mixture looks like wet sand. Add yolk and mix on low until the dough just comes together.
Knead on clean work surface until smooth. Wrap and chill in fridge one hour. Roll out on work surface dusted with powdered sugar. Roll the smooth dough onto the rolling pin to assist in transferring to tart tin.
For mini tarts, cut circles a bit larger than your tins. Bake using pie weights or dry beans in parchment paper. For mini tarts, just prick holes in bottom with a fork. Cook at 325 degrees F for 12- 14 minutes. Allow to cool before using.
For the crème diplomat:
1 (3.4 oz.) box vanilla pudding
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 package Knox gelatin
1 pint fresh raspberries
Make the vanilla pudding according to package directions and set aside.
Whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar in mixer until firm peaks are achieved; set aside.
Cook the 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries with the sugar until sugar dissolves and berries fall apart. Strain out the seeds. Dissolve gelatin in this liquid. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Fold the whipped cream into the vanilla pudding. Fold the raspberry gelatin into the pudding mixture. Chop half of the fresh raspberries and fold gently into pudding mixture. Reserve the other half for garnish.
Fill a tart shell, or pipe into dessert glasses and top with whipped cream, fresh raspberries and a sugar cookie.*
For the tart:
6 tablespoons raspberry jam
Spread the jam into the finished tart shell or shells. Pipe the raspberry crème diplomat on top of the jam using a piping bag. Use a decorative tip for mini tarts, or just spread it for a large tart. Decorate with the reserved fresh raspberries.