Holiday Feature

Autumn Pastiche

Serves 8


Autumnal Garnish:
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 cup port wine
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, halved

Autumn Leaf Cookies:
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
l/4 teaspoon salt
6 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons tightly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons warm water

Warm Cinnamon Anglaise:
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Late Harvest Sorbet:
Late Harvest Sorbet recipe


Measuring cup, two 10- by 15-inch baking sheets with sides, paring knife, cutting board, measuring spoons, plastic container with lid, oak or maple leaf (leaf should be no larger than 4-1/2 by 6-1/2 inches), lightweight cardboard, pencil, X-Acto knife, electric mixer with paddle, rubber spatula, 1-quart stainless steel bowl, parchment paper, cake spatula, large flat plastic container with lid, 1-1/2-quart saucepan, whisk, two 3-quart stainless steel bowls, instant-read test thermometer, ice cream scoop.

Soak the Currants
Combine the currants and port wine in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Allow to stand at room temperature for several hours or overnight.


Prepare the Autumn Leaf Cookies

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pick out a suitably shaped leaf, then make a template: using a pencil, trace an outline of the leaf onto a 5- by 7-inch piece of lightweight cardboard; then cut along the outline of the leaf using a sharp X-Acto knife (remove the leaf-shaped cutout). The outer piece of cardboard with the leaf-shaped hole is the template.

To make the cookie batter, place the butter, 1 cup sugar, and the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat on low for 1 minute, then on medium for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on high for 1 additional minute. Once again, scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating on high for 1 minute and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat on medium for 30 seconds. Add the flour and beat on low for 15 seconds, then on medium for 10 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the batter, until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Transfer 1/2 cup of the autumn leaf cookie batter to a 1-quart bowl. Add the dark brown sugar and warm water. Use a rubber spatula to stir gently, until thoroughly combined. Form a pastry cone with parchment paper. Transfer the mixture to the pastry cone. Cut off a 1/8-inch tip from the cone. (This mixture will be used to create the "veins" in the leaves.)

Line two 10- by 15-inch baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the template on the parchment paper so that it touches one of the inside corners of the baking sheet. Place 1 level tablespoon of the plain cookie batter in the center of the leaf outline. Use a cake spatula to smear a thin coating of batter to completely cover the inside of the template (carefully scrape away any excess batter on the surface of the template).

Carefully lift the template away from the leaf-shaped batter. Repeat this procedure to form 3 more leaves, one at a time, in the 3 remaining corners of the baking sheet. Then repeat to form 4 more leaves on the second baking sheet. Pipe out "veins" onto each leaf-shaped batter using the pastry bag filled with the darkened batter. Bake both sheets on the center rack in the preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until golden brown.

While the leaf cookies are baking, cut 10 more pieces of parchment paper to fit the insides of the baking sheets.

Remove the cookies from the oven. Work quickly, using a cake spatula to lift the baked cookies off the parchment paper, resting each cookie against the outside edge of a dinner plate so that it bends in a naturalistic way as it cools. (This must be done quickly-otherwise the leaves will harden before they are shaped.)

Prepare the remaining leaves using the same procedure used with the first batch, baking 8 cookies at a time on 2 baking sheets (line the baking sheets with unused parchment paper for each batch of cookies).

Once all the leaf cookies have been baked and cooled, they may be stored in a tightly sealed plastic container at room temperature until needed (they will stay crisp for several days in a tightly sealed container at air-conditioned room temperature).


Late Harvest Sorbet

1 750-ml bottle late harvest Reisling wine (3-1/4 cups)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 quart red seedless grapes, stemmed and washed

Prepare the Sorbet:

Heat the late harvest Reisling wine, sugar, orange juice, honey, and lemon juice in a 3-quart saucepan over medium high heat. When hot, stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil. Add the grapes (they go in whole) and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 15 minutes (this will yield 6 cups of slightly thickened late harvest grape syrup mixture).

Cool the mixture in an ice water bath to a temperature of 40-45 degrees F, about 15 minutes. When the late harvest grape mixture is thoroughly chilled, purée the mixture using an immersion blender. (If you do not have an immersion blender, purée the mixture in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.)

Freeze the chilled late harvest grape syrup mixture in an ice cream freezer, following the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the semi-frozen Late Harvest Sorbet to a plastic container. Securely cover the container and place it in the freezer for several hours before serving. Serve within 3 days.



Desserts To Die For
by Marcel Desaulniers
Photographs by Michael Grand
Copyright (c) 1995 by Kenan Books, Inc.
Text (c) 1995 by Marcel Desaulniers.
Recipe reprinted by permission


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This page created December 1998; modified November 2006