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Chocolate and Vanilla Hardcover – October 10, 2006

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About the Author

Gale Gand is the James Beard Award—winning executive pastry chef and partner of the acclaimed restaurant Tru in Chicago. Known across the country as the host of Sweet Dreams, which was the Food Network’s first daily show devoted entirely to baking, Gand has her own root beer company and line of bakeware. She lives in Illinois with her husband and three children. This is her sixth cookbook.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chocolate-Praline Cake in a Jar
Makes 10 to 12 servings

For a few years now I've been a judge at the Whirlpool Accubake Unique Cake Contest, which is similar to the Pillsbury Bake-Off. A chocolate cake with a pecan and butterscotch toffee topping called Chocolate Coffee Toffee Cake by Elizabeth Kirsch from Pennsylvania won first place in 2002 and the $10,000 prize, which she donated to Heifer International. Elizabeth told me she made her cakes in glass canning jars and would tuck one into her husband's business trip luggage so he wouldn't miss his favorite cake while he was out of town. This simplified version of her cake would be perfect to take to a picnic or even a backyard barbecue.

You'll Need

Ten to twelve 1/2-pint canning jars
Rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan

For The Cake

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup brewed coffee (I just use the morning’s leftover coffee)

For the Praline Topping

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup pecan halves or pieces

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place 10 to 12 1/2-pint glass canning jars on a rimmed baking sheet, evenly arranged with space between them. (If you have a Silpat liner, place it under the jars to prevent them from sliding around.)

To make the cakes, in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the brown sugar and eggs and mix until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and mix until combined. Add half of the flour, then half of the sour cream, and mix until combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and sour cream. Drizzle in the coffee and mix until smooth. The batter will be thin, like heavy cream.

Pour the batter into the jars, filling them halfway. Bake until the tops of the cakes are firm to the touch, about 25 minutes.*

To make the topping, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then add the brown sugar and 1?2 cup water and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar until combined, then return to the heat and bring to a boil. Stir in the nuts.

Pour the praline topping over the cakes to cover, working quickly, because the praline hardens quickly as it cools. Let the cakes cool completely if they aren’t already, before screwing on jar lids.**


*The cakes can be made ahead, cooled, covered, and kept at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
**The finished cakes will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature.

vanilla charlotte
Makes one 8-inch charlotte, or 6 to 8 servings

No one makes charlottes anymore, which means they're destined for a comeback. A charlotte is a dessert formed in a high, straight-walled mold lined with ladyfingers, cake, or sliced bread and filled with either cooked fruit, such as apples, or a vanilla Bavarian cream like the one I'm using here. Made in one large mold (you can find charlotte molds in good cookware shops), it's a regal-looking dessert that makes an unusual yet light ending for a special occasion.

You'll Need

• Charlotte mold, 8-inch springfoam pan, or souffle dish
• Parchment paper
• Instant-read thermometer, optional


• 1 (7-ounce) package store-bought ladyfingers
• 2 (1/2 pint) containers raspberries
• 4 cups whole milk
• 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 12 large egg yolks
• 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
• White chocolate curls (see below)
• Powdered sugar

If you have a charlotte mold you do not need to line it. Otherwise, line an 8-inch springform pan or souffle dish with parchment paper using a circle for the bottom and a strip 4 inches wide around the sides. Dab a little softened butter or a spritz of nonstick cooking spray in the pan to anchor the paper. Generously spray or grease the parchment or charlotte mold. Stand the ladyfingers up around the insides of the pan.

Pick over the raspberries, setting aside the best ones, a little less than 1/2 pint, to make a circle around the edge of the finished charlotte.

Have ready near your cooktop a large bowl. Fill the bowl three-quarters full with ice and cover the ice with water.

Bring the milk and vanilla bean to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and let the vanilla steep in the milk for 10 minutes.

Gradually sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small bowl and set aside for the gelatin to soften.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the granulated sugar for about 1 minute to combine and then gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking continuously. Return the mixture to the saucepan and, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat until the sauce has thickened and is 180°F on an instant-read thermometer, being careful not to overcook it or it will break. (If you don't have a thermometer, test the mixture by dipping a wooden spoon into it, and then running your finger down the back of the spoon. If the stripe remains intact, the mixture is ready; if the edges blur, the mixture is not cooked enough yet.)

Immediately stir the softened gelatin into the custard until it's dissolved and then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Put the bowl of custard into the bowl of ice water and stir frequently until the custard starts to cool and thicken.

Fold in the less-than-perfect berries (don't worry if the berries break up a bit) and then pour the custard into the pan lined with the ladyfingers. Spread the top of the custard to smooth it. Cover the charlotte with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours.*

To serve, trim the ladyfingers even with the top of the custard. Put a serving platter upside down over the pan and quickly invert it. Remove the mold and parchment. Arrange the reserved raspberries around the edge of the charlotte and pile white chocolate curls in the center. Dust with powdered sugar and cut into wedges for serving.

Making Chocolate Curls
To make beautiful chocolate curls for decorating desserts, the two keys are to use a block of chocolate and have it at barely above room temperature. If it's too cold it will break into shards as you peel it. At the restaurant we leave the chocolate block near or over a warm oven. At home you could warm it with a hair dryer set on low, or try wrapping it in a tea towel and warming it with the heat of your hands. Use a vegetable peeler and pull across the side of the block so the chocolate comes off in curls. Place them on a plate and refrigerate until you need them.

* The charlotte will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1St Edition edition (October 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307238520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307238528
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #742,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By LLM VINE VOICE on October 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just bought this book and made a recipe right away. I tried the Golden Cake with Fudge Frosting. The cake and the frosting were delicious. However, I would suggest that you reduce the amount of almond extract to maybe half of what is called for. The cake had a overwhelming almond taste. Not bad, just overwhelming.

The setup of the book was helpful. When you turn to the table of contents, the recipes are organized according to the kind of chocolate called for ie; semi sweet, white ect. The Vanilla side is organized by either beans or extract.

There is also a brief history of chocolate and vanilla included. There are picture of some of the recipes in the middle of the book.

As far as the level of expertise needed, I would rate this easy.

I am happy with my purchase.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`chocolate and vanilla' by Chicago star pastry chef and Food Network maven, Gale Gand, with co-author credits for Lisa Weiss is a gimmick book on at least two levels. Ms. Gand is the co-owner of Tru (along with former husband, executive chef Rick Tramonto), one of the most highly honored restaurants in Chicago. But unlike her business partner Rick's cookbooks, which aspire to the heights of sophistication reached by Thomas Keller and fellow Chicagoan, Charlie Trotter, Ms. Gand's books all tend to be very light, with recipes almost always oriented to simply having fun in the kitchen. This also sets her books apart from the excellent cookbooks by other leading pastry chefs such as `The Sweet Life' by Chanterelle pastry chef, Kate Zuckerman and `The Secrets of Baking' by Spago pastry chef, Sherry Yard.

This is above all, a gimmick book, which is rare in cookbooks for adults. The most obvious manifestation of the book's surprise approach is that it is not really a book about chocolate and vanilla together, but two completely separate books, one about vanilla and the other about chocolate. The two are bound together between the same covers, but the book on the one subject is printed upside down and backwards against the text of the other text. This is initially surprising, since vanilla and chocolate together is one of the most dramatic arguments for the notion of `terroir' in the whole culinary world. As Ms. Gand points out in her independent introductions to the two products, both are native to central America, including what is now southern Mexico, and, the pre-Columbian cultures actually used the two together in their `hot chocolate' preparations, along with another famous New World product, chiles.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Johanna Parker on March 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Tonight I tried my fourth recipe in this book. Not one of them was I proud to serve.

They've tasted fine, but not great. Tonight's cake might as well have been from a box... in fact, a box cake might have been better.

I was very excited to get this book. I looked for it in local book stores and then ended up buying it sight-unseen because of the good review from Martha Stewart and the gimicky set-up.

Don't make my mistake, buy another book!
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kitchen Krazy Mama on May 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very excited about this purchase and jumped right in as soon as I received the book. I was most intriqued by the vanilla caramel recipe. I tried that recipe many, many times trying to figure out why it wouldn't come out right. I never figured it out. After going through ten pounds of sugar trying I gave up. I'm hesitant to try other recipes because of what happened with the first one I tried.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By michael h boyd on February 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I just made the chocolate-almond upside-down cake from this book. A runny disaster ensued after meticulously following the recipe. In a foul mood, I searched the web to see if I could find any information on this recipe and yes, indeed, it was on It seems that it came out wonderfully when following the recipe as it is on that site since the baking time is correctly listed as 45-55 minutes instead of the 25-35 as listed in the book. I would love to be able to find the author's address and send her a bill for the ruined ingredients.

Before making any other recipes from her book I guess I will have to check the web first to see if there are any corrections I need to know.If you put your name on a cookbook that should mean something.
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