Archive for December, 2020

Yule Log

The history of the yule log dates back before the medieval era. Back then, Gaelic Europeans and Celtic Brits would gather to welcome in the winter solstice at December’s end. People would feast and celebrate the days finally becoming longer, signaling the end of the winter season. To cleanse the air of the previous year’s events and to usher in the spring, families would burn logs decorated with holly, pinecones or ivy. Once burned, the logs ashes were a valuable treasures said to have medicinal benefits and to guard against evil.
As time past, the hearths in homes became smaller and ideal for baking and judging from the ingredients the first yule cake could have been as early as the 1600. Sponge cake which is the base of the log is one of the oldest cakes still made today. You may be intimidated by this cake but with a few tricks you can make the perfect log for the center piece of your table.

Cake batter (Genoise)
1/3 cup cake flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
4 eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter

1 2/3 cups powered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter (soften)
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/3 cup marcarpone cheese
2 tablespoons coffee flavoring liqueur

1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces dark chocolate chips

8 ounces dark chocolate chips

Prepare a 1/2 sheet tray by brushing melted butter on the inner surface and lining the bottom with parchment paper and the coating the paper with butter.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a medium bowl and set aside. Place the eggs into a metal bowl and add in the sugar, whisk immediately to avoid lumps. Place the bowl over a pot of water and slowly bring up the heat until you reach about 100 degrees. Remove the bowl from the heat. With a hand mixer at high speed blend the egg mixture until you reach about a triple volume. Lower the speed for about a minute to decrease the air bubbles. Add in the flour mixture to the egg mixture by folding it in. Do not over mix, only mix until flour pockets are no longer visible. Pour the batter into the prepared 1/2 sheet tray. Spread the batter to all sides evenly and tap the sheet tray to the counter slightly to release the bubbles. Bake in the center oven for 8 – 10 minutes until springy to the touch. Run a knife around all edges and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Sprinkle a kitchen towel larger than the sheet pan with some powered sugar. Invert the towel over the cake and flip over releasing the cake onto the towel. Roll the cake from the short end until you have a rolled up log. Allow to cool 15 minutes.
Prepare the filling; whip the powered sugar, butter, cocoa powder, salt, and coffee liqueur. Then add in the mascarpone cheese and mix until incorporated. Unroll the cake and spread the filling across the surface evenly. (reserve a small amount to attach branch) Roll the cake back up and refrigerate for approximately 3 hours to firm. Prepare the frosting; Bring the heavy whipping cream to a boil then add in the chocolate chips. Allow to stand for 1 minute, then whisk until chips are completely melted. Remove the log from the refrigerator and slice about 3″ off one end at a 45 degree angle to from the branch of the log. Lay the log onto your platter and attach the branch to the desired side and attach with remaining filling. When the frosting has cooled slightly and thicken, begin to cover the entire area by pouring over the top and spreading with a knife. To make the bark melt the chocolate in a microwave for one minute and stir. Heat again for another minute and stir until completely melted. Spread onto parchment paper (which is laying on the back of a 1/2 sheet tray) thinly and allow to cool. (Placing it into the freezer will speed things up) Then break the thin chocolate into 1/2″ x 3″ pieces and place onto the log.

Chef Brian Klauss

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Pecan Tarts

With the bakery closed for the season and the holidays approaching I’m doing a lot more baking from my home kitchen. Because of the pandemic, I also spend a lot of time in the house with my wife. So today we decided to make one of the recipes from her recipe box together. I love my wife but working on any projects together bring up another level of patience…….because we hardly ever agree. We worked 30 years together in our business but she always knew her place…...I was the boss……. and if you ask her, she would agree. But after several years together in semi-retirement she has slowly moved up the ladder. To keep peace I hold my tongue, as she explains how to assemble, fill and bake the recipe she claims to have made since the beginning of time. I do like making individual desserts and this one is easy and fast and best of all it taste great.

Ingredients (crust)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
3oz. cream cheese

3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (soften)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup chopped pecans

To make the crust; with a hand mixer cream together the flour, butter and cream cheese until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 3 hours.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. You will need a 24 mini cupcake pan and 24 mini cupcake liners.
To make the filling; In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment add the brown sugar, butter, egg and vanilla extract beat at a medium speed until light and fluffy. Stir in the chopped pecans, then set aide. Pull the dough from the refrigerator and on a lightly flour surface, roll the dough out to about 3/16″ thickness. With a two inch round cutter cut 24 round disks of dough. Take and flatten the paper liner and place one dough disk in the middle, then place it into the mini cupcake pan and press down slightly allowing the dough to take the shape of the pan. (Do not press hard when the filling is added the dough will drop and seat itself). Fill each dough with about a teaspoon of filling to the top of the edge of the dough. Bake in the middle rack for 25 minutes. Cool slightly and remove each tart to a cooling rack.

Chef Brian Klauss

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Gingerbread Cookies

What a great cookie project to do with your grandkids right before Christmas, either building a gingerbread house or an army of gingerbread men and women. This recipe can make both. There is nothing like the smell of gingerbread cookies during the holidays. If you are sitting there watching the snow fall, get up and make these cookies.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Royal Icing
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup warm water
3 teaspoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle add the butter and sugar then beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and egg to incorporate. In a medium bowl add the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and spices, mix well. At a low speed slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until combined. Divide the batter in half and wrap into plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. In the mean time make your royal icing by mixing together all the ingredients in a stand mixer at a medium speed with a whip attachment. Transfer to a pastry bag with a small round tip. (Tint separate bags of royal icing with desire colors)
Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees and line two 1/2 sheet trays with parchment paper
On a floured surface roll out your dough to about 3/16″ to 1/4″, using a gingerbread cutter, cut the gingerbread and place onto the parchment paper about 1″ apart. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, Let cool completely before decorating them.

Chef Brian Klauss

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Here in Michigan it’s cold, cloudy, and raining…another great day for baking. Here is a quick bread recipe that you can make for the family or wrap it up and give it as a gift. I personally love nuts in just about anything but this recipe can be made without them, if you prefer.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped dried dates (pitted)
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
1 egg (lightly whipped)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Streusel Topping
1/4 cup unsalted butter (cold)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and spray four 3″ x 5″ disposable foil mini bread pans with vegetable spray.
In a stand mixing bowl fitted with a paddle, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix to incorporate. In a microwave safe bowl add the water, orange juice and orange zest. Microwave for three to five minutes until it comes to a boil. Stir in the butter and dates and then allow to cool for 15 minutes. Now mix in the egg and syrup into the date mixture. At a low speed, add the date mixture to the flour mixture until just incorporated. Divide the batter into the 4 pans equally. To make the topping mix all ingredients into a medium bowl. Using a pastry cutter, grind until a crumb consistency is achieved. Top each loaf with the streusel mixture. (if you have extra you can place it into an airtight container for later use). Place the loaf pans onto a baking sheet pan and into the center rack of your oven. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes (toothpick needs to come out cleanly when finished). Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Chef Brian Klauss

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Pecan Bars

I use a variety of nuts at the bakery such as peanut nuts, almonds, cashews, walnut and pecans. I always store nuts in an airtight container in either the refrigerator or freezer. In the refrigerator that can last up to 6 months and in the freezer up to a year. Always allow the container to come to room temperature before opening, which will help avoid moisture. If you do store them in room temperature avoid direct heat and place them in an air tight container or vacuum seal. Here is a great pecan bar recipe I use;

There is two parts to this recipe. First the crust, then the filling. You will need a 9″ x 13″ and 2″ deep baking pan lined with aluminum foil (allowing the foil to hang over the top of the pan). Sprayed generously with vegetable oil. Pre-heat your oven for 350 degrees

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (cold in cubes)

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted)
4 eggs (lightly whipped)
3 cups lightly chopped pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large bowl add all the crust ingredients, using a pastry cutter ground until you form a crumb like texture. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press evenly across the pan. Bake in the oven for 18 minutes.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle add the melted butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla and blend until incorporated, stir in the pecans. Spread over the crust and bake for 35 minutes. Allow to cool on a cooling rack then refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Remove by lifting the foil edges and place on a cutting board and cut into bars.

Chef Brian Klauss

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Candy Tradition

Every year my wife’s family had a tradition at Christmas of making candy and over the last few years it has been passed onto my daughter Michelle. She will gather up friends and family, with food and drink as they embark on the productive activity of make candy to share with all who attend. Even though she is about to make this happen in the next few weeks I decided to make some today. I discovered something that would almost bring a tear to your eye. My wife who is the keeper of the recipe for the candy pulled out a recipe box. Thats right a recipe box. In the age of the internet, here is a box full of hand written recipes from her great grandma, her mother, her aunts, and even friends in the neighborhood. It was made in their handwriting and even had special notes to the person it was disigned to go to. When you stopped to think about it, schools today are avoiding teaching children how to write because of the advancement of the internet and computers. We are about to lose one of the most important personal treasures…. the hand written word. Reading and displaying each recipe my wife beamed with the remembrance of each relative who gave her the recipe. They were like love letters from the heart given to her in hope they would help feed her family. I realized that before the internet the only way to find a recipe was to go to your recipe box or cookbook. Anyways here is the recipe…. Don’t tell my wife I let this out……..


Hard Christmas Candy

1 1/2 cups of sugar plus 6 tablespoons
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon of candy flavoring
Powdered Sugar
Food coloring

Place a cloth sheet onto a large table and cover with a generous amount of powered sugar.

You will need a candy thermometer and a thick medium pot
Mix sugar, water and corn syrup in the pot and whisk well. On a high to medium heat bring the solution to 310 degrees. Remove the pot and add in the flavor of your choice and the food color to match. Mix well and pour a stream of the solution onto a cloth sheet covered with powered sugar. Allow the candy to cool completely before snapping into bit size pieces and place into a large bowl. Repeat the process until you have a good selection of color and flavors.

Chef Brian Klauss





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Raspberry Bars

While out shopping the other day I found a sale on Raspberries. How could I pass that up, only $1.00 per container. Making fruit bars was the first thing that came to mind. This recipe is a combination of a cookie, fruit and streusel topping.

Line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with parchment paper folding the sides over and pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees.

1 cup unsalted butter (melted)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

3 – 6oz containers of raspberries
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Streusel Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

In a medium sauce pan place the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice to make the filling. Place on a medium heat and bring to a boil. Allow to reduce while stirring to thicken. Strain through a sieve mesh with the back of a spoon to remove the seeds and allow to cool in the refrigerator.

For the crust, in a medium bowl add the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt together. Add in the flour and combine well and then press evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the pan, turn the oven up to 350 degrees.

Make the streusel by combining all ingredients together in a medium bowl. With a dough cutter begin to crush together to make a crumb like finish.

To assemble; Pour the raspberry jam over the crust and top with the streusel evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Allow to cool and top with the glaze then cut into desired bar size.

Chef Brian Klauss

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