Thanksgiving has come and gone.  I just quickly wanted to say how thankful I am for all the opportunities that this blog has given me! I also want to thank all my readers and those who give me great feedback from the recipes they have tried from this blog. Sunday has become a great highlight of my week as I get to explore so many new recipes and styles of baking.

To kick off the holiday spirit, I'm bringing you a buche de noel. It's a bit labor intensive-ish, but it is well worth it. The meringue mushrooms can be made a few days ahead, or left out entirely, to make the workload a bit less.

For the Icing:
12 oz. semisweet chocolate
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
2⁄3 cup heavy cream

Melt chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water over medium-low heat, whisking often. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cream. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until icing thickens, about 4 hours. Don't refrigerate.

For the Meringue:
10 tbsp. sugar
2 large egg whites
2 pinches cream of tartar
Pinch salt
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄4 cup cocoa powder
1⁄2 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 200°. Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling pan several times until sugar has dissolved, 1–2 minutes. Uncover pan and continue to boil until syrup reaches softball stage or 236° on a candy thermometer, about 4 minutes more. Put egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk and beat on medium speed until frothy, then add cream of tartar and salt. Gradually increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form, about 30 seconds. Slowly pour in sugar syrup while continuing to beat until whites cool to room temperature and become thick and shiny, about 10 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Use a rubber spatula to transfer meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4" plain pastry tip. To make meringue mushrooms, hold pastry tip perpendicular to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and pipe meringue into the shapes of mushroom caps and stems of various sizes, then set aside for 5 minutes. Lightly moisten a fingertip in cold water and smooth out any "tails" left behind on mushroom caps. Bake meringues for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and allow meringues to rest in oven until dry and crisp, about 1 hour. Bore a small, shallow hole in center of underside of each mushroom cap with the tip of a paring knife. "Glue" stems to caps by dipping tips of stems into icing, then sticking into holes in caps. Sift a little cocoa powder on tops of caps. Meringues can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.

For the Roulade:
2 tbsp. softened butter
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
7 egg whites
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. dark rum

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a 16 1/2" × 12" heavy baking pan with buttered parchment paper, cut large enough to hang over sides of the pan by about 1". Put chocolate in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Bring cream just to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, then pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool. Beat egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk on medium speed until frothy; increase speed to medium-high and gradually add sugar, beating constantly, then increase speed to high and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, 30-40 seconds more. (Don't overbeat.) Mix one-third of the whites into chocolate using a rubber spatula, then gently fold in remaining whites in two batches, taking care not to deflate batter. Spread in prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 10–12 minutes. Set aside to cool in the pan.

For the Filling:
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
6 tbsp. sugar
3 egg yolks
12 tbsp. unsalted butter

 Melt chocolate with 2 tbsp. water in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water over medium heat. Stir to combine, then set aside to cool. Combine sugar and 3 tbsp. water in a small heavy saucepan; cover and bring to a boil over medium heat, swirling pan several times until sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute. Uncover and continue to boil until syrup reaches the softball stage or 236° on a candy thermometer, about 5 minutes more. Meanwhile, beat yolks in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk on high speed until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and gradually pour in hot syrup. Beat constantly until mixture cools to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Allow butter to soften, then beat into egg mixture 1 tbsp. at a time, waiting until it's completely incorporated before adding more; continue beating until thick and smooth, about 5 minutes total. Stir in cooled chocolate and set aside.

Hope you enjoy this great recipe to kick off the holiday season! Until next week!

Photography is a huge part of having a food blog, or any blog really. Beautiful images make for an attractive site, however, this can be extremely hard to achieve. I personally struggle with the photography aspect, but I'm definitely learning and developing the skill. Throughout my photography experiences, I've figured out a couple of key elements that help me achieve my best photographs. Using diffusers, reflectors, and composition ideas, I've really strengthened my images.
Working with both natural and artificial light, I've come to notice the pros and cons of each. I really like the look of natural light, but the creative power with artificial lighting is completely worth taking the extra time to set the lights up!

So, the recipe this week is perfect for winter. Its rich chocolate combined with light whipped cream makes for the perfect dessert. I highly recommended this for any holiday parties that are coming in about a month or two!


Irish Mint Brownies

Yields 2 1/2 dozen

For the Brownie:
1 cup butter, cubed
4 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a microwave, melt butter and bittersweet chocolate; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in chocolate mixture. Gradually add flour until blended. Spread into a greased 13 by 9 inch baking pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

For the Filling:
4 oz white chocolate chips
1/4 cup refrigerated Irish creme coffee creamer
1 cup heavy whipping cream
15 mint Andes candies

In a microwave, melt white chocolate and creamer for 30 second intervals, stirring intermittently until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate for 30 to 40 minutes until chilled. In another small bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form; fold into white chocolate mixture. Beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes. Fold in chopped candies. Spread over brownies. Cover and refrigerate.

For the Icing:
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp butter
Halved Andes mints (optional)

In a small saucepan heat cream to a simmer. Place chocolate in a small bowl. Slowly pour cream over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Stir in butter until melted. (You may have to return the chocolate mixture to the heat in order to fully melt the butter.) Cool to room temperature. Carefully spread over the filling. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour until icing is set. Cut into bars and garnish with additional candies. Store in the refrigerator.

It was a huge day last week here at The Sunday Pastry! I know I didn't post as much as last year due to my long hiatus in this summer, but I have still improved so much with my baking!

Ok, on to this week's recipe:

Now in the transition from fall to winter, I never know what to make. Part of me wants to stick with apples and cinnamon, but there's a little voice in the back of my mind telling me to start posting Christmas cookie recipes. I swear, blogging is exactly like retail. You have to stay ahead, getting Christmas recipes out before people even begin to think what seasonal treat they might want to make.

So, I thought to myself, one last fall recipe to end the season... then I'll begin with the Christmas cookies and the huge thanksgiving desserts.

Apple Maple Tart

Adapted from: Green Kitchen Stories

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Finely crush graham crackers in a Ziploc bag with a rolling pin. Stir graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Add melted butter and stir with a fork. Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9” tart pan. Press hard to compact. Use a glass to press the bottom, but use your fingers to press the sides. Bake crust for 8 minutes, until it just starts to brown. Cool completely before filling.

 For the Filling:
3/4 cup applesauce

Place apple sauce directly into the center of the cooled crust. Spread to the edges with the back of a spoon.

For the Topping:

4 small red apples
½ lemon, juice
1 tbsp maple syrup or runny honey
1 tbsp cold pressed olive oil
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Prepare the apples by dividing them into quarters and removing the core. Slice the apples quarters into very thin wedges. Squeeze some lemon over the apple wedges to prevent them from turning brown.
Arrange the thin apple wedges in a circular shape on top working in a spiral towards the center. Use thick, large pieces on the ends and thin, flexible pieces in the middle. Brush with maple syrup and dust with cinnamon. Place the tart in the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the apples are golden on top. Let cool slightly before serving.
Serve within 12 hours of making the tart (immediately is best) otherwise the crust will become soggy.

So there, my last fall recipe. I've been seeing some really cool things on Pinterest that have given me some great ideas for next week! Until then!