03 January 2009

Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts

My friend Anne was off to California to see her granddaughter. She was looking for a Maida Heatter recipe. It seems Anne has several Maida Heatter books but not the one with this recipe. Anne wanted to make, Victorias, a famous pastry from Angelina's on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris.

Maida Heatter acquired this recipe when she contacted Angelina's asking them to if they would send a box of Victorias to her. She was told in no uncertain terms that Victorias are to be eaten immediately. In lieu of pastries she got a recipe which she included in Maida Heatters Book of Great Desserts.


Pastry Shells

2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

5 ounces butter, cut into 1/2- inch chunks

1 egg plus 2 egg yolks

Place the flour on a large board, marble, or other smooth work surface. Make a large well in the center and add the remaining ingredients. With your right-hand fingertips, work the center ingredients together. Gradually incorporate the flour, using a dough scraper or a wide spatula in your left hand to help move it in toward the center. When all the flour has been absorbed, knead briefly until the dough holds together and then finish by "breaking" the pastry as follows.

Form it into a ball. Start at the further side of the dough and, using the heel of your hand, push off small pieces (about 2 tablespoons), pushing it against the work surface and away from you. Continue until all the dough has been pushed off. Re-form the dough and "break" it off again. Re-form the dough; do not chill.

Work with half of the dough at a time. On a floured pastry cloth, with a floured rolling pin, roll evenly to 1/8-inch thickness. Reverse the dough occasionally to keep both sides lightly floured. With a 4-inch round cookie cutter, cut 18 rounds. Scraps of dough may be reserved and then rerolled together. (You will have a bit more dough than you need - extra shells may be frozen before or after baking, or extra dough may be frozen unrolled).

As the pastry circles are cut, transfer them with a metal spatula and fit them into tartlet pans. (If you don't have enough tartlet pans to use the 18 rounds all at once, place the extra rounds on waxed paper or plastic wrap until you are ready for them).

Do not stretch the dough. Press it gently into place. Place the lined pans on a jelly-roll pan or cookie sheet and freeze or refrigerate until firm.

Tear aluminum foil (against a ruler or table edge) into 4-inch squares. Line each frozen or refrigerated shell with foil, pressing it firmly against the bottom and sides. (Do not fold the foil down over the sides of the pastry). Fill with small dried beans or uncooked rice, to keep the pastry from puffing up. Then remove from the oven and lift off the foil and beans/rice/pennies by carefully lifting opposite corners of the foil. Return to the oven and bake 6-9 minutes until the bottoms begin to color slightly and the edges are golden.

As shells are baked, remove the pans from the oven individually with a wide metal spatula. With your fingertips, carefully remove the shells from the pans to cool on a wire rack. When cool, transfer to trays that will fit in the refrigerator. Prepare filling.

Chocolate filling

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream, scalded

In the top of a large double boiler over hot water on moderate heat, melt the chocolate. Stir in the sugar. Add the boiling hot cream all at once and stir and stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Cook uncovered over moderate heat for 30 minutes, scraping sides and bottom occasionally with a rubber spatula. Remove from heat and place top of double boiler in ice water. Stir continuously and gently with a rubber spatula, scraping the sides and bottom in order to not let the chocolate start to set. Test the temperature frequently on the inside of your wrist. As soon as it is cold, pour it into a pitcher.

Pour into pastry shells, pouring carefully just to the tops of the shells. They should be as full as possible, but be very careful not to let any run over in spots where the shells are lower. Carefully tranfer to refrigerator. Refrigerate for a few hours.

Victorias may served simply as they are at Angelina's, with a light sprinkling of chopped green pistachio nuts right in the center, put on while the chocolate is still soft. Or they may be very elaborate with whipped cream swirled through a pastry bag with a star tip.

Serve these chilled.

You will need individual tartlet pans 3 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch in depth, and a 4-inch round cookie cutter.

Here are Anne's Victorias. She is still getting used to her iPhone!

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