Makes 36 cake bites
- 1½ (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 recipe Vanilla Pound Cake (recipe follows)
- 1½ cups apricot preserves
For Vanilla Pound Cake
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2½ cups granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 3¼ cups cake flour, sifted
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup vanilla yogurt
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with a mixer at medium speed until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar and almond extract; beat until combined.
- In a separate large bowl, beat cream with a mixer at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Add whipped cream to cream cheese mixture, and beat until combined.
- Using a serrated knife, remove crusts from Vanilla Pound Cake, and slice each pound cake lengthwise into 3 equal layers, leveling tops, if necessary.
- Spread an even glaze of apricot preserves onto each cake layer, dividing preserves equally. Spread approximately ¾ cup cream cheese mousse onto 2 layers of cake, and stack. Repeat with remaining cake layers and mousse to make a total of 3 (2-layer) cakes. Spoon remaining 2 cups mousse into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe mousse in lines along length of tops of cakes. Place cakes in freezer for about 1 hour. Using an electric knife, cut each cake into 12 equal portions.
For Vanilla Pound Cake
- Preheat oven to 300°. Spray 2 (10x5-inch) loaf pans with baking spray. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper; spray again.
- In a large bowl, beat butter with a mixer at high speed for 1 minute. Add sugar, and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to medium. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
- In a separate large bowl, sift together flour and baking soda.
- In a small bowl, combine yogurt, cream, and vanilla extract. Add yogurt mixture to butter mixture, beating at medium speed to combine. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 batches, beating well after each addition.
- Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until a wooden pick inserted near centers comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes; remove to wire racks to let cool completely.
White Chocolate Ganache Tartlets
Makes 24 tartlets
- 3 (4-ounce) bars white chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 (6.3-ounce) box miniature tartlet shells*
- Garnish: edible flowers
- In a medium bowl, place chocolate; set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine cream, butter, and syrup. Bring to a boil. Pour hot cream mixture over chocolate; whisk until smooth. Spoon approximately 1/2 teaspoon chocolate mixture into each tartlet shell.
- Chill for 2 hours, or until set. Garnish with edible flowers, if desired.
- For testing purposes, our test kitchen used Clearbrook Farms Mini Bite-size Sweet Tart Shells, available at specialty foods stores or online at clearbrookfarms.com.
Éclairs with Vanilla Pastry Cream
Makes about 3 dozen éclairs
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water, divided
- 1/2 cup butter, diced
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 recipe Vanilla Pastry Cream (recipe follows)
- 1/2 (16-ounce) package chocolate-flavored candy coating, melted
- 1/2 (16-ounce) package vanilla-flavored candy coating, melted
For Vanilla Pastry Cream
- 1 cup milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, scraped, and seeds reserved
- ½ cup sugar, divided
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring 1 cup water and butter to a boil. Add flour and salt; using a wooden spoon, stir vigorously until mixture forms a ball, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool for 5 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat flour mixture on high for 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and using a spatula to scrape down sides as necessary.
- Spoon mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip. Pipe mixture in 3-inch logs onto prepared baking sheet. Using remaining 1 tablespoon water to moisten your fingertip, gently smooth éclair dough.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
- Using a knife, pierce each éclair on top side, leaving a 1/4-inch hole. Spoon Vanilla Pastry Cream into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch tip. Pipe pastry cream into éclairs. Carefully dip bottom side of each éclair into melted candy coating. Place dipped side up on parchment paper to dry.
- Drizzle with alternating flavors of melted candy coating. Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 6 weeks.
For Vanilla Pastry Cream
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, vanilla extract, reserved vanilla seeds, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a medium bowl, combine egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and whisk until smooth. Gradually add milk mixture to egg mixture, and whisk until combined.
- Place mixture back in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture boils. Remove from heat, and add butter, whisking until melted. Strain mixture, and cover surface of pastry cream with plastic fi lm.
- Chill for at least 2 hours before using. Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 3 days.