Now that I'm on the orchestra board, I have to attend its monthly meetings. Yesterday, a friend told me the secretary takes attendance, and there is such a thing as an unexcused absence. You're expected to participate. I've yet to see the full potential as a participant, but I'm eager to find out just what can be done with this thing.
The December meeting is held at the general manager's house, and people bring food in to make it special. That's one thing I do know I can participate in, so I made something I haven't made in several years, a Champagne Cream Torte. I used to make this for company Christmas parties when I worked for Husband in his office.
The torte is basically a giant cream puff filled with Champagne cream, which is a delight on its own, and topped with something pretty. The original recipe calls for a brushing of corn syrup and a sprinkling of almonds, but I went the ganache route with a sprinkling of pearlized sugar. It goes like this:
Start with the cream:
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup Champagne
2 tablespoons butter
Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan and stir in Champagne—you can drink the rest, and if you're making this in the afternoon, it's a nice little treat. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute more. Beat eggs on medium speed until well blended. Gradually stir at least half the hot mixture into the eggs and stir back into the saucepan. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Cover and chill 1 1/2 hours or until chilled.
While that's chilling, make the ganache:
6 tablespoons heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
Melt the cream and chocolate together in the microwave—30 seconds, and stir, then heat at 10-second intervals until well blended. Stir in the sifted sugar until smooth. Set aside until spreadable.
For the torte:
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
Heat water and butter to a rolling boil in a saucepan. Stir in flour, reduce heat to low and stir vigorously about 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat, and with an electric mixer, beat in eggs all at once, beating until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 400˚. Spread dough into a 10-ring about 2 inches wide on an ungreased cookie sheet (or trace the ring on parchment paper and line the pan with the paper). Bake 35 to 40 minutes until puffed and golden. Cool completely. The ring will deflate—with a bread knife, slice the ring horizontally and carefully remove the top, removing any doughy insides.
Beat 1 cup whipping cream until stiff. Fold in the Champagne cream until thoroughly combined. Spread cream mixture on bottom layer of torte. Top with remaining torte ring. Spread top with chocolate ganache. Serves 12.