New YOrK-BASeD AwArD-wINNING JOUrNALIS T KAreN weISBerG HAS COvereD THe ISSUeS AND
LUMINArIeS OF THe FOOD-AND-BeverAGe wOrLD—BO TH COMMerCIAL AND NONCOMMerCIAL—
FOr MOre THAN 25 YeArS.
For the fall and through the holidays, approximately 800 guests
per day at The Hotel Hershey will be served in three restaurants
and numerous banquet areas. Harris’ staff of 12 creates all the pastries, including “warm desserts with lots of nuts such as pecans,
walnuts and chestnuts, as well as cranberries and figs—though not
necessarily together,” she says. Chocolate fondue, bread pudding
and upside-down pear cake served warm are all menu possibilities.
Of the warming spices, Harris cites cardamom as her favorite,
but used sparingly. “I like it in our Winter Spice Hot Chocolate,
where it’s combined with white pepper, ginger, cinnamon and
She typically offers pumpkin in one of its popular iterations—
tart, mousse, creme brulee or cake. “If we’re doing massive
production, we’ll buy a good canned puree. Otherwise, if it’s
to be prepared for Harvest, our farm-to-table concept, we’ll use
fresh, locally grown pumpkins,” she says.
When there’s a late fall crop of white asparagus, Harris will
prepare Frozen Parfait with White Chocolate and Crumbled
Almonds. For this dessert, the molded parfait is plated with
almond sponge cake and garnished with candied almonds.
A TOUCH OF WHIMSY
Meg Galus, pastry chef at Boka and Swift & Sons, Chicago,
likes to go nostalgic, playing with the richer, heartier flavors
of the season, but with a touch of whimsy. “I want things to
be familiar with a creative touch. I want a dessert to start in a
familiar place and let it evolve from there,” she says.
For the holidays at Boka, Galus prepares a whipped pumpkin
cream piped onto the plate as an intricate ribbon that runs beneath
fried beignets dusted with sugar. Whole-milk ice cream made
in-house from local milk and cream is topped with heated toasted
milk sauce to complete the plate.
Galus emphasizes the need for desserts to be kept as light as
possible and not be overly sweet. “The trick is to make it seasonal
but not too specific,” she says. “For example, peppermint ice cream
with hot fudge feels too much like a Christmas dessert. And we
try not to make these desserts too brown with all the brown sugar,
brown butter, apples and pears.”
At Swift & Sons, Galus uses the Chocolate Trolley to play with
offering small bites of holiday-themed chocolate desserts. “I’m
thinking about bûche de Noël, chocolate caramels, chocolate candy
bars, chocolate mousse, financiers, etc.,” she says. “Our Chocolate
Trolley is our No.1 seller every single night—even without a
Kristen Murray, chef/owner of Maurice in Portland, Oregon,
offers Duck Fat Linzer Cookies brimming with raspberry jam.
“People are amazed by how light these cookies are since they’re
made with duck fat instead of butter,” she says. “We do it with a
nod to Agen in Gascony, where they make a lot of pastries with
duck fat.” Persimmon Golden Raisin Walnut Cookie harks back to
a recipe from Murray’s great aunt. “It’s chock-full of persimmon
puree plus golden Sultana raisins and toasted walnuts from Oregon.
“Both these recipes include lots of warming spices, such as
cinnamon, allspice, white pepper, cardamom and nutmeg.”
The holiday pastry menu may also include candied kumquats
in a black pepper cheesecake, or perhaps a pear dumpling
in which the hollowed-out pear is filled with almond cream,
wrapped in dough, then brushed with egg wash, Swedish sugar
and anise seeds.
The yule log that Murray prepares every Christmas is replete
with caramel mousse and has chocolate cardamom in the flourless
cake. She garnishes it with “sweet little meringue mushrooms,
candied fruits, candied rosemary or spruce that we do in egg white
and sugar—the same process used for candying flowers,” she says.