La Dolce Vita

by Brenda Shafer

Live the sweet life. Delight in one of these delectable indulgences from five area restaurants.
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La Dolce Vita St. John's Restaurant Dane Frazier Pastry Chef

Dane Frazier Pastry Chef

Maple Pecan Bread Pudding

St. John’s Restaurant
  • 6 oz. toasted bread cubes*
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Brown sugar pecans**
  • Maple glaze***

Place toasted bread cubes into a large container and top with a fine mesh strainer. Combine heavy cream, milk, and maple syrup in a pot. Bring to a boil.

While liquids heat, whisk sugar, eggs, and yolks together in a separate bowl. When liquids boil, pour a small amount into the egg and sugar mixture while whisking to temper eggs. Gradually add the rest of the hot liquid to the egg and sugar mixture while whisking to make custard. Then add vanilla extract.

Strain the custard into the container with bread cubes. Let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Stir to ensure the bread soaks up custard. Cover and chill at least 4 hours to form pudding base. For best results, chill overnight. Stir once again to ensure an even soak.

Preheat oven to 350⁰ when ready to bake. Add brown sugar pecans to the pudding base and mix in well.

Portion 5 oz. of pudding base into 8 oz. ramekins (should be enough for 8 ramekins), sprayed with pan spray. Place ramekins in a deep roasting pan and fill pan with hot water till it is almost halfway up the ramekins. Cover ramekins and pan with foil and bake in the center oven rack for 25 minutes.

Carefully take pan out of oven and remove foil. Place pan back in oven and bake another 20-25 minutes until top of bread pudding has browned slightly. Remove from oven, cool slightly, then brush puddings with maple glaze. Serve warm puddings in ramekins or pop them out and plate them for a more refined look. Pour reserved maple glaze over puddings and top with vanilla ice cream right before serving.

*To make toasted bread cubes:

(challah, brioche, or potato bread) Cube day-old bread and place on papered sheet trays. Toast bread cubes at 250⁰ for 30-45 minutes or until dry. Turn bread cubes around halfway through baking to promote even toasting.

**To make brown sugar pecans:

  • 1 oz. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 6 oz. pecan halves, lightly chopped
  • 2 oz. brown sugar

Melt butter, salt, and maple syrup in pot. Add pecans and mix well. Place on parchment lined sheet pan and toast at 350⁰ for 12 minutes. Cool, then add brown sugar and mix well. Reserve until pudding is ready for baking.

***To make maple glaze:

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Place maple syrup, sugar, and water in small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Take off heat, and reserve until needed.

(above) photos by Lanewood Studio

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La Dolce Vita Acropolis Grill Betty Butler Kyriakidis Chef & Owner

Betty Butler Kyriakidis Chef & Owner

Yia Yia’s Baklava

Acropolis Grill
  • 1 lb. pecans, coarsely ground
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 lb. butter, melted
  • 1 box phyllo dough

Preheat oven to 350⁰. Combine nuts, cinnamon, and sugar in a bowl. Brush a 9×13 baking dish with some of the butter. Layer 10 pieces of phyllo in the dish, brushing every 2 sheets with butter (always layer 2 sheets of phyllo at a time).  Sprinkle a quarter of the nut mixture over the 10 phyllo pieces. Then layer 4 pieces of phyllo on top, brushing every other sheet with butter. Sprinkle another quarter of the nut mixture. Add 4 more phyllo sheets on top, brushing every other sheet with butter, then add another quarter of the nut mixture, 4 more pieces of buttered phyllo, and the remaining nuts. Finish with remaining 10 pieces of phyllo on top, brushing every other sheet with butter. Brush the top piece with extra butter. Cut into the baklava on a diagonal, about 1 1/2 inches wide. Then make diagonal slices, about 1 1/2 inches apart, to create a diamond pattern. Bake until golden, about 1 hour.

For syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 orange peel (optional)
  • Juice of one lemon

In a saucepan, bring the sugar, honey, water, cinnamon stick, and orange peel to a boil over medium heat, then cook 10 to 15 minutes and add lemon juice. Pour the warm syrup over the hot baklava as soon as it comes out of the oven. Let cool with syrup soaking into baklava. Once cooled, keep wrapped at room temperature.

(above) photos by Lanewood Studio

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La Dolce Vita Rembrandt's Coffee House Kari Evans Pastry Chef

Kari Evans Pastry Chef

The Nun

Rembrandt’s Coffee House

For choux buns:

  • 2 1/4 oz. butter, cut into cubes
  • 5 oz. water
  • 2 1/2 oz. plain flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425⁰. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and draw onto it eight 2-inch-wide circles and eight 1-inch-wide circles. Put the butter in a heavy-base saucepan with 5 oz. of water and heat over medium heat until the butter melts. Bring the mixture to boil and then immediately remove from the heat. Quickly add in the flour. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a soft ball. Return to the heat and cook over a low heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Gradually add the eggs, beating well between each addition to form a smooth, shiny paste. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain nozzle. Pipe round discs onto the baking tray in the marked circles, and, using a damp finger, smooth over the top of each disc. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375⁰ and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Remove the choux buns from the oven and pierce each bun with a skewer to allow the steam to escape. Return to the oven for 4-5 minutes to dry out. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

For crème pâtissière filling:

  • 18 oz. whole milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds only
  • 6 medium egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 oz. caster sugar
  • 3/4 oz. corn starch
  • 1 oz. plain flour

Pour the milk and vanilla seeds into a heavy-base pan and bring gradually to boil. Remove from heat and let cool for 30 seconds. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar until pale, then whisk in the corn starch and plain flour. Pour the vanilla-infused milk onto the egg mixture, whisking continuously, then pour back into the pan. Bring back to a boil, whisking continuously over medium heat and cook for 1 minute. Pour the crème pâtissière into a bowl.

For chocolate mousse:

  • 10 oz. heavy cream
  • 5 oz. melted semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 batch of crème pâtissière

Whip the heavy cream soft where the whip leaves marks. Melt the chocolate. Make the mousse by adding some chocolate to the batch of crème pâtissière and folding in with a rubber spatula. Then add some of the whipped cream and fold in with spatula. Alternate back and forth until it is all folded together.

For chocolate ganache icing:

  • 5 oz. double cream
  • 7 oz. plain chocolate (around 36% cocoa solids) broken into pieces

Bring the cream to a boil in a small pan. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and shiny. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool. Transfer to fridge to chill until the ganache has thickened to a spreadable consistency.

For collar:

  • 5 oz. heavy cream

Whip cream in a mixing bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Spoon the cream into a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle.

To assemble the Nun:

Spoon the chocolate mousse into a piping bag fitted with a long thin nozzle (or alternatively you can use a jam syringe). Fill the choux buns with the chocolate mousse. Dip the filled buns into the chocolate ganache to coat halfway up the sides. Sit the small buns on top of the larger buns. To form a collar, pipe lines of cream around where the small bun sits on top of the large bun.

(above) photos by Lanewood Studio

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La Dolce Vita Bald Headed Bistro Wesley True Chef & Partner

Wesley True Chef & Partner

Apple Cider Granita with Ginger Panna Cotta and Whipped Cream

Bald Headed Bistro

For panna cotta:

  • 2 1/4 tsp. powder gelatin
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. ginger powder

Sprinkle gelatin over milk, and let dissolve for 10 minutes. Place all the other ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, and whisk in gelatin milk. Pour in rocks glasses, and fill halfway up. Let sit in the refrigerator for 4 hours till it’s set.

For granita:

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 20 pieces allspice
  • 10 cloves

Mix all ingredients together, and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat. Place in bowl in the freezer and let sit. After 2 hours, mix with a fork, then let sit overnight. After liquid has set, scrape with a fork and reserve the granita.

To assemble:

  • Dollop of whipped cream

Top the panna cotta (in the rocks glass) with freshly whipped cream about three-fourths of the way up the glass. Then add the granita and enjoy.

(above) photos by Rich Smith

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La Dolce Vita Cafe Roma Shannon Ritzhaupt Chef & Owner

Shannon Ritzhaupt Chef & Owner

Raspberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding

Café Roma
  • 1 1/2 qt. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 baguettes (crusty leftover bread)
  • 1 cup white chocolate
  • 2 cups raspberries (fresh or substitute frozen)
  • Crème anglaise, bourbon caramel sauce, whipped cream (optional)

Heat heavy cream and vanilla to a simmer.
Mix egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until well
combined and pale yellow in color. Add hot cream to egg mixture slowly while stirring. Cube the bread into 1-inch pieces, add to the liquid mixture, and allow to soak for about an hour. Then add white chocolate and raspberries to the bread mixture. Pour the bread mixture into a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350⁰ for about 45 minutes. Garnish with crème anglaise, bourbon caramel sauce, and whipped cream
or nothing at all. It will be great either way.

(above) photos by Rich Smith

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