Sunday, November 18, 2012

Just Desserts' Chris Hanmer's Holiday Baking Secrets

So what has Chris Hamner been doing since he won season two of Top Chef Just Desserts? One of hopefully many things is partnering with Sams's Club as part of their Simply Delicious Chef Brigade.

Using quality ingredients sourced from Sam’s Club, Chef Hanmer unveils three straightforward recipes: His Crispy Holiday Vanilla Cookie makes a great DIY gift; Roasted Honeycrisp Apple Crème Brûlée with fresh fruit is deceptively simple to bake; and Chef’s Heavenly Holiday Chocolate Almond Cake will satisfy guests with each bite.

The creme brulee recipe comes later in this post; find the other two recipes at But first...baking secrets:

Chris Hanmer’s Holiday Baking Secrets

1. Measure out all the ingredients for any given recipe before you begin baking or cooking. In professional kitchens, we call this mise en place. It saves time and allows for faster prep and cooking.

2. To enhance flavor, brown plain butter in a pan before adding to a recipe for a great, easy way to infuse a rich, toasty flavor into baked goods.

3. Double or triple cookie recipes and freeze them. Make the cookie dough, scoop into balls and freeze. When it comes time to bake, just remove from the freezer and bake as directed. Should any holiday guests drop by unexpectedly, you'll be ready for them!

4. Baked goods make great, thoughtful gifts and are wonderful for sharing. Pre-pack "goody bags" with your favorite cookies or treats along with a recipe card for friends and family.

5. For holiday dinners, be sure to pick a dessert that can be made in advance, in part or in full, or save time by purchasing readymade desserts like fresh pies and rich cheesecakes at Sam’s Club. This way you'll have more time to spend with loved ones and require less time in the kitchen.

Chris Hanmer’s Roasted Honeycrisp Apple Crème Brulee
4 Servings
Warm the soul with this crème brulee dish. Taste buds will tingle as the seasonal flavors of honeycrisp apples and spiced walnuts mingle in your mouth.

Roasted Honeycrisp Apples
• 2 Honeycrisp Apples
• ¼ cup Granulated Sugar
• ¼ cup Unsalted Butter
• ½ tsp Salt
• ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
• 1/8 tsp Ground Nutmeg

Crème Brulee
• ¾ cup Whole Milk
• ¾ cup Cream
• 6 Egg Yolks
• 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
• 1/3 cup Granulated Sugar

Spice Crunch Walnuts
• ¾ cup Whole Walnuts
• 1 tbs Egg Whites
• 2 tbs Granulated Sugar
• ¼ tsp 5 spice blend

Roasted Honeycrisp Apples
1. Peel, core and slice the apples into ½ inch cubes. Cut the butter into cubes about the same size.
2. In a mixing bowl, toss the apples with the cubed butter, sugar, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg.
3. Place on a baking sheet. Roast the apples at 350°F for about 15- 20 minutes or until just tender. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Crème Brulee
1. Preheat over to 200°F.
2. Warm the milk with ½ the sugar in a saucepot. Add the remaining sugar with the egg yolks, mixing well with a whisk.
3. Mix the cold cream and vanilla extract into the warm egg milk mixture.
4. Divide the apples evenly on the bottom of four 4 oz oven safe dishes. Pour the custard mixture into the dish to just cover the apples. Bake for 1 hour or until set.
5. Remove from the oven and let cool in the refrigerator about 2 hours. This can also be made 1 day ahead.

Spice Crunch Walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Place on a parchment paper lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Putting it all together: Dust the top of each Crème Brûlée with granulated sugar and caramelize with a torch. Top the dish with a few spiced walnuts and serve.

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