Amid the sea of pumpkin and pecan pies and endless cookie variations being passed
around during the holiday season, it can be hard coming up with desserts that stand
out. We’ve done the legwork for you and asked local chefs to share their favorite
festive recipes. Gilberto Rojas, the pastry chef at Bistro V in Greenwich, CT, shares two of his most popular dessert recipes for the holidays—or anytime you want to treat guests to something special.
Single or Mixed Berry Tart
Makes 9 inch tart
For Sweet Sugar Dough:
8 ¾ ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
4 ½ ounces confectioners’ sugar
3 large eggs
1 pound, 1 ½ ounces cake flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1.Place butter in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low and slowly add sugar just to combine. Raise speed to medium and mix until butter mixture is creamy. Scrape down sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
2. Add eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next. Adding the eggs all at once can cause your mix to separate. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl using a spatula.
3. When all eggs are incorporated add your dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Do not overmix!
4. Using a bowl scrapper, scrape dough from bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Gently form dough with hands and separate into disks. Wrap in plastic film and let rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
To make Pastry Cream:
2 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
1 ¾ ounces cornstarch
1 ¼ ounces sugar
2 cups whole milk
Vanilla bean or extract
- In a sauce pan combine milk, vanilla and half of the sugar over high heat.
- In a separate bowl combine the eggs, cornstarch and remaining sugar and whisk vigorously until pale yellow. If you don’t whisk immediately the eggs will “burn” resulting in a lumpy pastry cream with specks of yolk.
- When the milk and sugar come to a boil, remove from heat and slowly pour a bit into the egg mixture while consistently whisking. This will temper the eggs and milk.
- Once fully tempered return egg and milk mixture to the sauce pan over high heat, whisking consistently. Whisk for 2 minutes or until thick and smooth.
- Remove from heat and press plastic film on the cream so it doesn’t form a skin. Set aside to cool.
To make Almond cream:
8 ¾ ounces unsalted butter
8 ¾ ounces sugar
8 ¾ ounces almond flour
3 large eggs
1 ounce cornstarch
- Combine butter, sugar and almond flour in a bowl of a stand mixer. Cream until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time, making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next one.
- When all eggs are incorporated add cornstarch and mix well to blend.
To Assemble the Berry Tart:
1.Roll out sweet dough onto a lightly floured surface into a 10 inch circle about 1/8 inch thickness.
2. Carefully transfer into a 9 inch tart ring and trim excess dough.
3. Mix almond cream and pastry cream until fully combined and fill tart with cream.
4. Bake off at 220F until tart is golden-colored.
5. Use fruit jam to spread on top of the almond and pastry cream mixture. Garnish with fresh berries.
For French Sponge Cake:
4.5 ounces cake flour
4.5 ounces sugar
5 large eggs
1 ¼ ounces unsalted Butter
- Preheat oven to 350F and set up double boiler or sauce pan filled with 3 inches of water, and let come to anboil. Melt butter and grease and flour 9 inch cake pan. Sift cake flour.
- In a heat proof bowl combine eggs and sugar. Using a wire whisk, whisk vigorously until well blended.
- Place bowl heat proof bowl over double boiler (or a sauce pan of boiling water). Make sure the pan has been removed from heat and the bowl should not be touching the water! Immediately begin whisking vigorously for 10 minutes or until the egg mixture is warm to touch. Be careful to not overheat egg mixture as it will make your cake dry and tough.
- Remove bowl from double boiler and continue to vigorously whisk for 10 minutes or until the egg mixture has tripled in size. At this point you can mix on high in a stand mixer.
- Once your egg mixture has tripled in size, carefully begin to incorporate the sifted cake flour. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in sifted caked flour making sure to not deflate the whipped egg mixture.
- Once all the cake flour is incorporated, pour in your melted butter into the still streaky batter. Carefully fold together. Pour into a greased and flour cake pan and put into preheated oven immediately.
- Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until the top of the cake is golden brown and sides are pulling away from the cake pan. Unmold cake immediately and let cool on a wire rack.
For Chocolate Mousse Filling
1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
12 2/3 ounces heavy cream
2 2/3 ounces sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
- Set up double boiler (or sauce pan filled with 3 in of water). Let water come to a boil. Melt the chocolate over the double boiler. Chocolate should be melted but not hot!
- Whip heavy cream to soft- medium peaks. Cover and set aside; keep cool.
- In a sauce pan, combine sugar and water. The consistency should be the same as wet sand. Cook sugar and water over medium heat until it reaches 240F.
- While sugar is cooking combine whole egg and egg yolk in a stand mixer with the whip attachment. Whip on high until eggs are thick and pale yellow.
- Carefully pour cooked sugar syrup down the sides of the bowl into the egg mixture. *Make sure not to hit the whip attachment!*
- When sugar is fully incorporated pour melted chocolate into egg and sugar mixture, fold by hand using a rubber spatula
- When the chocolate is incorporated, gently fold in whipped cream using rubber spatula.
Assembling the Chocolate Mousse Cake:
Simple syrup flavored with liquor (optional)
Chocolate shavings for garnish
- When the cake is completely cool, cut and level into even layers and brush on simple syrup to keep moist. To make simple syrup, boil a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water; flavor as desired with liquor (optional).
- Using an offset spatula, evenly spread chocolate mousse between the cake layers. Use remaining mousse to smooth over the filled cake. Garnish with chocolate shavings.
Photographs by Hollie Bertram. Recipes provided by Bistro V pastry chef, Gilberto Rojas, and scaled down by NYC pastry chef, Chantelle Salamanca