Sweet Technique

Master the basic skills necessary to become a great pastry chef.


Sweet Technique: How to Make Toffee

Do you remember your first-ever taste of toffee? I remember mine distinctly. It was on visiting day at summer camp, and the toffee was a Heath bar, smuggled in by my father against very strict "no food in bunk" rules. I suppose that the rule was only partially broken, because as soon as it was opened, it was devoured. Such flavors! Such texture! One taste of buttery, nutty, coffee, chocolate, sweet, salty, crunchy goodness and I became an addict. More

Sweet Technique: How To Make Layer Cakes from a Single Sheet

Professional cake makers have a little secret up their sleeves that they don't want you to know about. Next time you're enjoying a piece of wedding cake and wondering how the baker achieves such perfectly uniform layers of cake, here is one possible answer: The cake layers are actually punched out from single sheets of cake. Some layers may even be pieced together from the scraps left over from punching out other circles or squares. More

Sweet Technique: How to Make Biscotti

There's a time and a place for biscotti, and when the moment's right it's great to know how to make a batch. They are the perfect pairing for coffee or tea&mdash when you want a little something sweet but you're not quite in the mood for a sugary cookie or other dessert. Biscotti are both easy to package without breaking and extremely shelf stable, making them a thoughtful and pretty homemade gift or cookie jar staple. More

Sweet Technique: How to Make Pastry Cream

Pastry cream is the unsung hero of the dessert world. You may know it best as the filling in your cream puff, the "cream" in a Boston Cream pie, or the "pudding" in banana cream pie. It's especially worshiped by French pastry chefs; I challenge you to order something from a pâtisserie that doesn't contain it. Simply put, pastry cream makes good desserts better with its creamy, oozy richness, by adding flavor and smooth texture to anything it touches. More

Sweet Technique: How to Make Frozen Mousse Bombes

If you're ever in the mood to put together a fancy dessert at home, mousse bombes are a fantastic way to go. They satisfy my craving for many things at once; a little cake, a little frozen mousse, and a surprise bit of fresh fruit, jelly, or nuts. Best of all, they have a gorgeous, smooth shell of chocolate that looks as beautiful as it tastes, giving you the dramatic payoff of a plated dessert with just a little effort. More

Sweet Technique: How to Make Bonbons

For Valentine's Day this year, I won't be handing my money over to Hallmark or Hershey's or even Jacques Torres. Instead, I've invested in a gift for myself that will keep on giving to others for years to come: an acrylic bonbon mold and some high-quality, couverture dark chocolate. With these items, I can create chocolate bonbons custom-made to suit my sweetheart's tastes (or my own). More

Sweet Technique: How to make Canelés (Cannelés) de Bordeaux

It's been three weeks since I began working on Canelé for my column, and this is what they've reduced me to: crazed, unable to pull myself away, and struggling to put down words that might help you, gentle reader, avoid the madness to which this pastry has driven me. Learn from my dozens of attempts and come see how to makes canelé for yourself. More

Sweet Technique: How to Make a Chocolate Souffle

Before the proliferation of molten chocolate lava cakes on restaurant dessert menus in the last quarter of the 20th century, there was the chocolate soufflé. Rich and decadent, yet impossibly fluffy with its warm, oozing center, chocolate soufflé is the great grandmother to all of the warm, partially baked chocolate desserts that followed. Learn how to make it right here. More

Sweet Techniques: How to Make Spritz Cookies

For a number of reasons, spritz are a serious contender for the title of my favorite cookie. They suite my taste exactly; crisp, made primarily of butter, perfectly balanced with a nice hit of vanilla and salt. Best of all, they appeal to the geeky, perfectionist baker in me, because learning to make perfect spritz cookies is a marathon, not a sprint, and I'm still only on mile 13. I love a good challenge in the kitchen. More

Sweet Technique: How to Make Orangettes

Orangettes are the ultimate candy for those who love the chocolate and orange flavor combination. They are brilliant in their simplicity, made of nothing but orange peel, sugar, and the best dark chocolate you can get your hands on. They are also relatively easy to make at home, have a long shelf life, and are quite beautiful. They're the perfect project for gifting or squirreling away for a stash. More

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