You can skip that trip to the bakery this Easter. We got some of Chicago's best pastry chefs to give us their recipes for seasonal desserts that'll make your Sunday extra sweet. They may require a bit more effort, but we promise that your guests will talk about the results for years to come - once they get over the envy, that is.
Rhubarb Almond Crumble Toni Roberts, C-House
When Executive Pastry Chef Toni Roberts thinks of spring, she thinks of rhubarb. Growing up, the succulent stalks were a staple on her family's Easter table. She loves this recipe because it's simple to prepare and makes the perfect dessert for welcoming the season. Roberts notes that the Moscato wine can be left out of the recipe, but says that it really enhances the flavor of the rhubarb. And, the rest of the bottle can be an excellent accompaniment to enjoy as a nice treat with the finished crumble.
2 1/2 lbs rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp lemon juice (zest and reserve for crumble)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup Moscato
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine rhubarb, sugars, lemon juice, and salt in a large bowl.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and Moscato. Pour over rhubarb mixture and combine.
4. Fill either a 9” x 9” pan or ramekins with the filling. If using ramekins, leave an inch of space between the filling and the rim.
1 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
2 1/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup (3 oz) sliced almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
8 oz cold butter, cubed
1/2 tsp salt
1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low until the butter is smaller than peas.
2. Sprinkle generously over the top of the rhubarb filling. Bake until the filling is bubbly and the tops are golden brown, 30-45 minutes, depending on pan or ramekins used.
3. Allow to cool a bit. Serve with vanilla or almond ice cream.
Brown Butter Carrot Cake
Stephanie Prida, one sixtyblue
When it comes to Easter Sunday, pastry chef Stephanie Prida of one sixtyblue likes to stick with the classics. "This one is a little more special," says Prida of her indulgent dessert, "because it incorporates brown butter and it gives the cake a more toasty flavor." She notes that the brown butter adds a moist consistency, as opposed to your run-of-the-mill carrot cake. And of course, it wouldn't be carrot cake without the classic cream-cheese frosting. If you're not up to the challenge, you can grab a $7 slice of the stuff during one sixtyblue's Easter brunch.
1/2 pound butter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp B. Powder
1 tsp B. soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla paste
2 cup carrots, grated
1. Preheat the oven to 325. Brown butter over low heat and strain. Next, sift the flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
2. In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment combine the sugars, add eggs and vanilla one at a time. Add sifted dry ingredients. Slowly stream in brown butter. Add grated carrots last.
3. Bake in mini loaf pans for 15 minutes.
VANILLA BEAN CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
115 grams butter 225 grams powdered sugar 4 grams vanilla extract 1 vanilla bean 170 grams cream cheese
1. Cream butter and vanilla bean.
2. Add sifted powder sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and cream cheese and beat until mixture is white and fluffy (no cream cheese lumps).
Lavender Scented Panna Cotta
Anna Jarosz, Birch River Grill
You won't need to worry about preheating or over-baking anything with Anna Jarosz's sweet Easter treat. The Birch River Grill pastry chef welcomes spring to the suburbs with fresh lavender and citrus elements, while adding a light sweetness and a clean, refreshing bite to the dessert.
LAVENDER PANNA COTTA
2 sheets gelatin
1 tsp. dried lavender flower
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1. Bloom gelatin. Steep the rest of the ingredients, except buttermilk, together for half an hour.
2. Strain all ingredients from step 2. Add gelatin. Add buttermilk and whisk together.
3. Place in ramekin and let set in cooler for 1-2 hours.
1/4 cup apricot puree
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 sheet gelatin
1. Bloom gelatin. In a sauce pot heat the other ingredients. Add steps 1 and 2 all together.
2. Spoon over cooled panna cotta and place in cooler to set.
Hawaiian Sweet Potato & Golden Beet Tart with Creme Fraiche Carol Wallack and Gerardo Villagomez, sola
Pastry novices may tremble in their non-slip kitchen-safe shoes over this one, but any skilled hand will appreciate the complexity of this Easter treat, created by sola executive chef and owner Carol Wallack and pastry chef Gerardo Villagomez. "I'm always the one who steers towards the savory dessert," says Wallack. And this alternative is no exception with its unique combination of sweet potatoes, golden beets and miso. "I absolutely love it. The beets are local and sweet from Werp Farms in Michigan. They are slow roasted and then candied a little bit more. We use Hawaiian sweet potatoes a lot here at sola and they are the perfect accent. Gerardo makes the creme fraiche in house, and folds in miso for a slightly savory finish."
BEET & SWEET POTATO CONFIT
16 oz. each, Hawaiian sweet potatoes, and golden beets, 1/4-inch dice
For each vegetable:
1 quart water
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick of lemongrass
2 kaffir lime leaves
1. Combine water, sugar, vanilla bean, salt, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves in two separate pots. Boil sweet potatoes and beets separately in mixtures until tender (about 10 minutes each). Drain both, saving liquid from beets. Let vegetables rest in refrigerator for 24 hours.
MISO CREME FRAICHE
10 oz cream
5 oz buttermilk
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 oz white miso
1. Pour cream and buttermilk into a container. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 48 hours. Whisk, and then cool.
2. Once cooled, whip together with ginger powder, sugar, vanilla and white miso.
1 cup liquid from the beet confit
2 oz. white miso
1. Boil together and reduce by half.
ALMOND FLOUR DOUGH
1.4 oz butter, softened
1.6 oz powdered sugar
1.7 oz honey
1.7 oz almond flour
1 oz egg whites
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1. Combine butter, powdered sugar, and honey with a paddle in the mixer. Add whites. Incorporate the dry ingredients.
2. Roll out dough, cut out circles. Bake flat on a silpat until golden, about 12-15 minutes at 300 degrees. Remove from oven, wait about 20 seconds and lift to lay over a small bowl to get a formed shape of the bowl. Let cool.
3. To plate: put a spoon of miso creme fraiche inside the cookie bowl. Spoon beets and sweet potatoes in and add another spoon of the creme fraiche on top. Ladle a spoonful of sauce onto plate around the "bowl." Garnish with a piece of mint and crushed almonds.
Hot Cross Buns
Jove Hubbard, David Burke's Primehouse
Executive pastry chef Jove Hubbard finds his favorite Easter treat in family tradition. "My mother always makes these on Easter," says Hubbard. "She loves to bake, and this reminds me of growing up."
1 cup warm milk (105°–115°F.)
two 1/4-ounce packages (5 tsp) active dry yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 tsp granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks (1/2 cup plus 2 tsp) cold unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 tsp finely grated fresh orange zest
2 tsp finely grated fresh lemon zest
3 tsp superfine granulated sugar
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1. In a small bowl stir together milk, yeast, and 1 tsp granulated sugar. Let mixture stand 5 minutes, or until foamy.
2. In a large bowl sift together flour, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cut butter into bits and with your fingertips or a pastry blender, blend into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal.
3. Lightly beat 1 whole egg with egg yolk. Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in yeast and egg mixture, apricots, raisins, and zests. Stir mixture until a dough is formed.
4. Transfer dough to a floured surface and with floured hands knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
5. Transfer dough to an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Let dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
6. Butter 2 large baking sheets. On a floured surface with floured hands, knead dough briefly and form into two 12-inch-long logs. Cut each log crosswise into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and arrange about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Let buns rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
7. Preheat oven to 400°F. While buns are rising, lightly beat remaining egg with superfine sugar to make an egg glaze. Brush buns with egg glaze. Bake buns in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 12 minutes. Transfer buns to a rack to cool slightly.
8. Mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar. Place in a piping bag and pipe crosses onto the buns. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Dye-ing for more Easter fun? Peep these features:
Easter Egg Hunts
Ethnic Easter Eats