I have a recurring dream that I live in Brussels and own a tiny patisserie.
My shop is nestled on a quiet cobblestone rue between a cheese shop that also sells artisan dried tobacco, and a dressmaker who also sells flowers.
An old man with a delicately carved cane gazes through my store window at the goodies in the pastry case, puffing through a new pinch of fragrant tobacco in his mahogany pipe, arms laden with a bouquet of hydrangeas and freesia from the florist/dressmaker next door, wondering if his beautiful wife wouldn't also enjoy a chocolat confection to compliment her floral surprise.
The patisserie has but one table: a long, time-worn pine piece that seats 20. My customers don't mind the familiar closeness of strangers as they sit with their steaming cups of cafe and their morning croissant.
Treasure-filled shelves line the walls: old books, handmade soaps, brooches and hatpins rescued from estate sales, vintage aprons, sheet music for my favorite Chopin nocturnes, antique grain sacks re-purposed into tea towels, and seeds packets for Italian vegetables.
I love this dream. It's one I pray to have every night, because each time it comes, I add a little more detail. The last time I had it, I met my husband. He took me for a long bike ride on the outskirts of the city, complete with a picnic of cheese, bread and wine. I am definitely planning to say "yes" when he asks me out again.
In the shop, I have many delicious desserts to choose from, like these Truffle Heart Cakes.
These cakes are from my secretly-assigned blog for this month's Secret Recipe Club: Katrina's Baking and Boys. Katrina's "crew" consists of four boys, ages 14 to 5, and her dear hubby. She's fairly outnumbered, but seems to be loving it. I understand, Katrina. I, too, love being the resident princess.
Simple to make: the glorious, glossy batter is baked in a 13" x 9" pan and then heart-shaped cookie cutters are used to make individual cakes. The glaze is a breeze to make and oh-so-easy to spoon over the cooled cakes. You can accessorize the cakes with raspberries, strawberries, whipped cream, or any number of delectable dessert sauces. These babies are the little black dress of the dessert world.
I rolled the extra pieces of cake into truffles, covered them with the glaze and sprinkled them with cocoa powder.
Please stop by Katrina's site to see her delicious work.
Chocolate Truffle Heart Cakes
Makes a 13" x 9" cake; use cookie cutters to achieve individual cakes
1 cup unsalted butter (8 ounces)
8 ounces best quality semi-sweet (60% cocoa) chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
¼ cup strong coffee (if you like, place 1 tablespoon of brandy and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a measuring cup and then add coffee to make ¼ cup)
1 recipe Chocolate Glaze (see below)
Line a 13" x 9" cake pan with parchment paper. Generously slather the paper and sides of the baking pan with butter. Set aside.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan (or in the microwave). Add the chopped chocolate to melted butter and stir until melted.
Measure sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Whisk sugar and cocoa together to break up any lumps. Add eggs and coffee (or any other combinations of desired liquid/liquors/extracts) to bowl and mix well. Whisk in the melted butter/chocolate. Batter will be thick and glossy.
Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake at 375 degrees until the surface of the cake appears dry and begins to develop tiny cracks--about 20-25 minutes. Cool cake completely, then wrap well with both plastic wrap and foil. Refrigerate overnight.
Turn chilled cake out onto a clean, flat surface (such as a large cutting board). Cut out heart shapes, or any shape you desire. (I agree with Katrina's sentiment: this cake is extremely rich and filling, so any size larger than about 3 inches would probably be too much for one person.)
Roll any remaining pieces of cake into small truffles.
Place a clean sheet of parchment paper beneath a wire cooling rack. Place the cakes and any truffles you may have created on the wire rack. Prepare the Chocolate Glaze (recipe below). Use a ladle to spoon the glaze evenly over each cake and truffle. Scrape any glaze that has dripped onto the parchment paper back into the bowl, if desired.
[Alternatively, you can lift each cake with a spatula in one hand and use the other hand to ladle the glaze over the cakes. Allow any extra glaze to drip directly back into the bowl. (I was not coordinated enough to do it this way, but it would have been easier.)]
Chill the cakes on a wire rack. Up to one hour prior to serving, arrange cakes on individual plates and let them come to room temperature.
12 ounces best quality semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
9 ounces (18 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 ½ tablespoons (31 grams) light corn syrup
2 ½ tablespoons water
Place all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Place over a pan of steaming water. Stir frequently until mostly melted. Remove from the heat and set aside to finish melting, stirring until glaze is perfectly smooth. Let glaze cool to about 90 degrees F before using.
Recipe from Katrina at Baking with Boys