Beet Tortellini

By Julia Johnson,
Professional Culinary Arts student

In Level 2 of the professional culinary arts program, we made pasta. I remember being surprised by how simple it was to prepare, and how special it felt to eat. Given a little love and patience, it was remarkable to me what eggs, flour, and olive oil could become.

That day, we made a few different pasta doughs — one basic, that we used to create ravioli and tortellini, and one that we flavored with spinach for a lasagna. While both were delicious, I was especially drawn to the spinach pasta and its speckled vivid green color. Feeling inspired, I asked our chef if other foods could dye pasta dough so brilliantly, to which he replied, “Beets would be nice.”

I have always loved the dramatic color of beets – that deep, magnificent purple hue that seems more fitting of a jewel than of a vegetable. The idea of using them to color a pasta dough made perfect sense.

I went to work on developing a recipe – one that would be simple to prepare, but just as special to eat. The result is a four ingredient pasta dough, dyed a soft pink from pureed beets, and filled with creamy ricotta cheese, toasted almonds, and bright, lemony thyme leaves. The dish is finished with the same ingredients that fill the tortellini, along with a generous drizzle of fruity olive oil. Thank you, Chef Dominique, for the inspiration.

Beet Tortellini recipe

For the pasta dough:

  • 4 medium to large beets, greens removed and peeled [some will be reserved for garnish]
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Yield: 1 1/2 pounds of dough

For the tortellini filling:

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted in a dry pan until golden
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For garnish:

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh thyme leaves
  • flaked or coarse salt
  • sliced almonds, toasted
  • ricotta cheese
  • reserved beets from pasta dough

Cut the peeled beets into large chunks and add to a stockpot. Fill with enough water to cover the beets by 1/2 of an inch. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until beets are tender when pierced with a fork, about 40-45 minutes. Remove beets and reserve the water for cooking the pasta later.

Reserve about half of the beets and set aside [these will be used for garnish when plating]. Place the other half in a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool completely.

Once cool, add ¾ cup of the beet puree, egg, egg yolks, and olive oil to a medium bowl. Whisk gently until everything is completely combined.

Add the flour to a large work surface and form a mound. Make a well in the center, and carefully pour the beet and egg mixture into it (making sure it is completely surrounded by the flour). Using a fork, slowly incorporate the flour into the wet mixture, starting with the inner edges and working outward, until a shaggy, sticky dough starts to form. At this point, knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes, until completely smooth, dusting your work surface lightly with flour if it sticks [be careful not to add too much flour, as it will make the dough too dry]. Once your dough is completely smooth, wrap it tightly in plastic and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 45 minutes.

Once rested, divide the dough into four equal parts. Working with one section of dough at a time, run through a pasta roller, starting on the widest setting. Fold the dough in half, dust lightly in flour, and run through the widest setting once more. Change to the next setting and run the dough through again. Continue to run the dough through each setting one time, dusting the outside of the dough as needed, ending with the lowest, thinnest setting.


Alternatively, if you do not have a pasta roller, you can roll the dough by hand on a floured work surface, moving the dough frequently to avoid sticking, until it is about 1 – 2 millimeters thick. Work with very small portions, and keep in mind that it will take some patience and muscle.

Transfer the rolled dough to a parchment lined sheet pan, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Once you have filled the pan with one layer of dough, cover with another piece of plastic wrap and continue to layer the dough, until you’ve finished rolling.

To form the tortellini, cut the rolled dough into 2 1/2 to 3 inch squares and transfer back to the parchment lined sheet pan. Cover with plastic wrap while you prepare the filling.

Beet Tortellini simple recipe

For the filling: in a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, almonds, thyme, salt and pepper. Place about 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of each square of dough. Working with one square at a time, wet your finger with water and moisten the two adjacent sides of the square. Fold the square in half so that two opposite points meet and form a triangle, making sure to press the dry sides to the moistened sides. Press the sides to seal. Moisten the two far points of the triangle and bring them together, overlapping, to form a tortellini shape. Press together to seal. Repeat with the rest of the tortellini. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to cook to avoid them drying out. About 10 tortellini per person should be enough – any extra tortellini can be frozen on a separate sheet pan until hardened and then kept in a sealed container. Frozen tortellini can be placed directly into boiling water to cook, just add a few extra minutes of cooking time.

To cook: bring a large stockpot of water to a boil over high heat (you can include the reserved beet water for additional color and flavor). Season with salt. Add the tortellini and cook until just al dente [about 2 – 3 minutes]. Tortellini will float as they finish cooking. Drain and toss immediately with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

To plate: arrange the tortellini on a plate and drizzle with additional extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, coarse salt, and toasted almonds. Serve each plate with a spoonful of ricotta cheese and the reserved cooked beets.

– Julia
Blog // Instagram

Curry Guru // Indian Berry Sorbet recipe

By Swarna Koneru
Professional Culinary Arts student

I was born and brought up in the southern part of India. In 2007 I came to the US, like many others, to live the American dream. I got my Masters Degree in Computer Engineering in NY, followed by working as a System Analyst and a Product Owner/Manager in the corporate world.

Growing up as a pampered kid, I was never really into cooking. Occasionally, I tried the recipes from the Sunday magazines, but that was it. I still remember my first cooking fiasco. I was asked to make Indian puffed bread, which was to be deep-fried, and I dipped all 5 of my fingers along with the dough into the piping hot oil.


Cooking was an accidentally discovered passion after I got married. I was running out of options to feed my vegetarian husband and I quickly got bored with what I cooked. That’s when I started exploring other cuisines, cooking techniques, and experimenting with hundreds of new ingredients. I needed a place to document all these recipes and experiments, so I created my blog.


I found cooking to be therapeutic. In the midst of managing house chores, two extremely energetic dogs and a hectic IT job, cooking is what kept me grounded and relieved me of my stress. I found myself immersing in cooking whenever I was sad, stressed out or angry. The gratification I got from a good dish took all the stress away.


I wanted to get even more involved in the culinary world. The way I see it, every recipe speaks a story about a culture, a cultivation style or a lifestyle, about a specific country, a region, or a civilization. In America, we experience a very evolved and diverse culture. Food evolves the same way as we humans evolve and build new civilizations. I want to be at the forefront of that food evolution. Right now, I’m taking a break from work to explore the opportunities for becoming an Entrepreneur in the culinary world.


I bake a lot and I wanted to strengthen my culinary skills in addition to my pastry skills. I just finished Level 2 of the Culinary program at ICC, and I already feel so much more equipped with the basics that help me experiment and evolve with new recipes. The Chefs, the curriculum, the techniques and, most of all, the experience have been very rewarding at ICC.

For my newest recipe, an Indian Berry Sorbet, I combined the concepts of sorbet I learnt at school with Black Jamun, a fruit from India. As a kid, I used to sneak into someone’s backyard to get these fruits and eat them with salt. It grows during the rainy seasons and you get all muddy trying to pick this fruit. Rich in antioxidants, sweet, sour and sharp, it’s used to make syrup for Gola, an Indian version of shaved ice.

Indian Berry Sorbet



  • 2 12 oz packets of frozen or fresh Black Jamun (makes about 10 oz puree, can be found in Indian stores)
  • 1 cup simple syrup
  • pinch black salt
  • pinch black pepper powder
  • juice of 1 small lemon

ice-cream machine


  1. The night before, place the ice-cream machine bowl in the freezer.
  2. Squeeze the jamun with your hands and extract all the seeds. Puree and strain the pulp through a sieve. You should get about 10 oz. puree.
  3. Add the simple syrup, black salt, pepper powder and lemon juice to the puree and mix well. The amount of sugar you need in a recipe can be determined by placing a raw egg in the mixture: if the egg floats as much as shown in the picture (below), it is the right density. If it floats only a little you may need to add more syrup. I was taught this concept by my favorite chef at school!
  4. Chill well, add it to the ice-cream machine and make sorbet.


Additional Tips:

  • Refreeze it for a firmer sorbet and scoop to serve.
  • You can adjust the lemon juice and sugar level to your taste.
  • If you do not have an ice cream maker, you can: a) freeze the liquid, then scrape it into a shaved ice, or b) pulse it in a cold food processor and refreeze it, repeat this process a couple of times so that the mixture obtains a smooth sorbet texture and is not icy.

Nagelkaas Cocktail Cookie

By Maureen Naff,
ICC’s Professional Pastry Arts student,
Third Place Winner of the ICC 2015 Cookie Games

Yield: 48 cookies


  • 200g almond flour
  • 200g well-aged Gouda, finely grated
  • 50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 40g confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin, to taste
  • Sanding sugar infused with whole cloves


  1. Paddle butter and sugar till fluffy. Add cheese and spices till well mixed.
  2. Add the almond flour till just mixed, then turn out on surface and work by hand into a flattened round.*
  3. Wrap and chill dough for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Roll dough on lightly floured surface (approx. 1/4″ thick) and cut to desired shapes, small rounds work well.
  5. Prior to baking, sprinkle with clove-infused sanding sugar. As the saltiness of the cheese will vary, bake a test cookie. If you find it needs salt, mix some Kosher salt into the sanding sugar. (A thin craquelin in place of the sanding sugar also works well, adding the perfect sweetness.)
  6. Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Do not over bake. Remove immediately from pan and cool on rack.

*Alternative: Form dough into tight log no larger than 1 1/2″ in diameter and chill. Brush chilled log very lightly with egg wash, roll on flavored sanding sugar, slice and bake.

Try mixing in finely-chopped dry fruit like apricots, figs or cranberries, or dipping an edge of the baked cookie into tempered dark chocolate. Serve as part of a cheese plate or simply nibble with a cold, crisp cider.

ICC's Pastry Chef-Instructor Jurgen David and "The Cookie Games" winner Maureen Naff during their baking demonstration of Nagelkaas Cocktail Cookie at Bloomingdale's.
Above, ICC’s Pastry Chef-Instructor Jurgen David and “The Cookie Games” winner Maureen Naff during their baking demonstration of Nagelkaas Cocktail Cookie at Bloomingdale’s.

Chocolate Cardamom Buttons

By Savita Bhat
First Place Winner of the ICC 2015 Cookie Games

This cookie is a mix of my love for Indian desserts that have a hint of cardamom and my other love for chocolate.

Yield: 50 -2 inch cookies


  • 7 oz./200 g. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5.3 oz/150 g. butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 5 oz./140 g. molasses
  • 20 g white vinegar
  • 3 c. + 1 tablespoon bread flour
  • ¾ c. cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • Additional raw/ turbinado sugar, for dredging
  • 7 oz/200 g. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 7 oz/200 g. heavy cream

Chocolate Cardamom Cookie Recipe


  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a pot of simmering water. When fully melted, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Slowly, pour in the molasses, vinegar and melted chocolate.
  5. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and spices in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the butter minute and mix until combined.
  6. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill until firm.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Scoop the chilled dough into roughly 50-2 teaspoon portions. Roll dough into rounds.
  9. Dredge each piece of dough in raw/turbinado sugar and place onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet about 2-inches apart. Press down on each cookie to slightly flatten them (using the bottom of a glass) and create a small, round indent in the center of each cookie with a finger.
  10. Bake cookies in the preheated oven until sugar crust cracks on surface and cookies are firm in the middle, about 8-10 minutes.
  11. Remove cookies from oven and let cool on the sheet pan.
  12. For the ganache: in a small saucepan, bring the cream to a heavy boil. Place the chocolate in a bowl and pour the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes and then gently whisk until combined. Let sit at room temperature until needed.
  13. Once the cookies are cooled, place room temperature ganache in a piping bag fitted with a #2 plain tip and pipe small button of ganache in the center of each cookie.

Bloomingdales cooking demo by International Culinary Center

Play with your food: Apple Slab Pie

By Nick Wuest,
ICC Pastry Arts student

(read more about Nick)
Follow Nick on Instagram

“Why pastry?”

I’ve been asked that question quite a bit these past few weeks. It’s a question I’ve thought about a lot before this recent influx of inquiries. I’ve touched on some reasons here but it’s still hard to quantify clearly. Imagine trying to explain why your favorite color is what it is. I’m sure many have a reason but for most people it just is.

So why pastry?

Lately we’ve been going over plating desserts and something that comes up often in class is the idea of finding your “voice.” I think that’s a good place to start. If you’ve been following along I think my “voice” is clear but still hard to explain, which is just how I like it. A while back I came across a French literary concept known as “jouissance.” Without turning this into a blog on literary theory let me briefly explain. Jouissance is the sense of enjoyment and pleasure that occurs when an experience falls outside of the cultural norm. Basically it’s the “oh wow” moment you feel when you see a pirate ship made entirely of chocolate. It’s the sentiment that keeps the heart of “Play With Your Food” beating.

So. Why pastry? (We’re getting there!)

As I learned how to cook I learned two things. The first is that pastry has a ton of rules. The scientific foundation required is immense. The second is that all of those rules can be bent or broken and in doing so the “oh wow” moment is achieved. With some creative thinking anything is possible! Seriously, right now I’m working on a fully functional farm wagon showpiece that moves.

It’s that freedom of creation that drove me to pastry even before I fully understood what was happening. I’ve traded the Legos of my childhood (and early teen years that I’m totally not embarrassed about at all) for pots of 320F sugar. Play-Doh is now sugar paste and modeling chocolate. Finger paint is still paint, only now I won’t get yelled at for eating it.

I know I’m new to the industry but I really believe that you need to still be a kid somewhere inside to push it in pastry arts. That youthful exuberance in the face of discovery and breaking from tradition is crucial.

So here’s a traditional recipe for Apple Slab Pie!

Here’s the deal. It’s apple season. I love apple pie. It’s one of the only traditions I refuse to mess with much since you can’t really fix something that is already perfect. But you can make it brownie shaped for maximum face cramming.

Special Equipment:

Stand mixer with paddle

Pistachio Pate Brisee Dough

  • 360g all-purpose flour
  • 125g cake flour
  • 50g pistachio flour (grind shelled roasted pistachios until very fine)
  • 21g sugar
  • 8g salt
  • 339g butter, cold ~1/2” pieces
  • ice water

Combine all of the dry ingredients and the butter in the stand mixer and paddle everything to cut the butter until the mixture is sandy.


Slowly add the water until a loose dough just forms. Mix for a few seconds to fully hydrate, then add more water if it’s still too dry. It should be loose, moist, and crumbly. Once there, turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and bring it together by hand.


Divide the dough in half and shape two rectangles. Wrap both in plastic and chill 20 minutes (during filling prep), or up to 3 days.

Apple Filling

  • 6-8 apples, firm flesh (Granny, Golden Delicious, Snapdragon, etc), 1” pcs x 3/8” thick
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 60g sugar
  • 25g brown sugar
  • 1T cornstarch
  • 3½t cinnamon
  • ¼t ground ginger
  • pinch of allspice
  • pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and macerate while you shape the dough.

Assemble and Bake

  • 50g maple sugar
  • apple cider
  • apple juice
  • 65g powdered sugar
  • 240g heavy cream
  • 50g powdered sugar
  • 30-50g maple syrup
  • bourbon

Lightly grease a half sheet pan and line it with parchment. Heat oven to 450F.

Roll one piece of dough 19×14, place it in the pan and dock it.


Strain the filling (save the juices!) and evenly spread it over the dough in the pan.

Roll the second piece of dough 19×14, place it on top and tuck the seam under into the pan. Brush the top with heavy cream and sprinkle with the maple sugar. Cut vent holes in the top.


Place the pie in the oven and immediately lower the heat to 375F. Bake 60-75 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the crust is a shade past light golden brown.

As the pie nears its proper doneness prepare the glaze and the whipped cream.

For the glaze, combine the juice from the filling with a splash of apple cider and apple juice. Reduce it by about half. Whisk 65g powdered sugar with 1Tbsp of the reduction. Adjust the consistency with more sugar and/or reduction until it is just thin enough to apply with a brush.

For the whipped cream, whisk the cream and powdered sugar to soft peaks. Add about 30g of maple syrup and a splash of bourbon. Taste and add more syrup if needed. Whisk to stiff peaks. Keep chilled.

Once done, glaze the pie and cool it in the pan on a rack.


Slice the pie any way you like and serve with the whipped cream.


As of this writing I have 13 days of school left. Which means I have one entry left in me. For one last time, stick around!

Stay hungry,


Braised Herb Chicken

By Julia Johnson,
Professional Culinary Arts student

Around this time of year, when the air begins to turn crisp, I always find myself craving richer, heartier flavors to replace the brighter, fresher notes of summer. So, when we were given the task of preparing a chicken “our way” in class last week, braising was the first thing that came to mind. The process is simple, yet multi-layered, which yields a complexity and depth that is hard to achieve with other cooking methods.

It wasn’t going to be the most innovative or groundbreaking dish of the class – of that I was sure – but to me there’s something to be said for a classically prepared, braised chicken. The nostalgia it invokes, the familiar and comforting flavors – it can be a really powerful experience. After all, it must be considered a classic for a reason.

This dish is flavored by little more than the chicken’s own succulent juices, yet the flavors are layered and rich. The skin is browned and crisp from a quick sear, and the meat is juicy and tender from cooking in the braising liquid. An herbaceous tarragon aioli served alongside adds a nice contrasting brightness. It’s a delicious meal to curl up with on a chilly fall day. I hope you enjoy!

Braised Herb Chicken with Potatoes, Haricot Vert + Tarragon Aioli


Yield: serves 4

For the chicken, potatoes, and sauce:

  • 1 3 – 4 pound chicken, quartered
  • coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into medium-sized mirepoix
  • 1 pound fingerling or other waxy potatoes, cut into medium-sized mirepoix
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock

For the haricot vert:

  • 10 ounces haricot vert, ends trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the tarragon aioli:

  • 1 garlic clove
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup mixed oil (half extra virgin olive oil, half vegetable oil)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Arrange the pieces of chicken on a sheet pan and season generously all over with salt. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes (preferably, a few hours or up to overnight). Remove from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking. Pat dry with paper towels.

In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, tarragon, parsley, and mustard with a fork until well incorporated. Rub the butter mixture all over the chicken pieces, including under the skin on the breasts. Season the pieces with freshly cracked black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Add the vegetable oil to a large cast iron or oven-safe skillet and preheat over high heat until hot. Turn the heat down slightly to medium-high. Add the two thigh pieces skin side down. Sear, without moving, until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Flip and sear on other side for about 3 minutes longer. Remove from skillet and set aside. Repeat process with two breast pieces.

Once breasts have finished searing, return the thighs to the skillet (all pieces should be skin side up). Arrange onions and potatoes around the chicken (if possible, try to get everything in 1 layer). Add the crushed garlic and the chicken stock.

Transfer skillet to the preheated oven and braise the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (depending on the size of your chicken, this will take anywhere from 25 – 40 minutes).

While the chicken is braising, prepare the aioli: peel and finely mince the garlic clove. Add a pinch of salt and crush into a paste with your knife. Add to a medium-size bowl and add mustard, lemon juice, and egg yolk. Whisk to combine. While continuously whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil. Finish by mixing in chopped tarragon, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Once chicken is done, remove the skillet from the oven. Remove the chicken from the skillet, cover with foil, and set aside to rest. Place the skillet over high heat and bring remaining stock to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove the potatoes from the stock and set aside with the chicken. Continue to simmer the stock until reduced and thick, about 15 additional minutes. Remove from heat and strain, if desired (leave sauce unstrained for a more rustic presentation).

Lastly, prepare the haricot vert: bring a stock pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Add haricot vert and cook until barely tender, about 1-2 minutes. Shock in ice water and drain on paper towels. Melt butter in a sauté pan and add the minced shallot. Sweat the shallot over medium heat until fragrant and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add the blanched haricot vert. Saute, tossing to coat in butter, until finished cooking, about 3-4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


To plate: cut each quarter piece of chicken in two. Remove thigh bones. Plate 1 piece of dark meat and 1 piece of white meat per plate (making sure to include 1 bone per plate). Add potatoes and haricot vert. Drizzle sauce over the chicken and potatoes and serve tarragon aioli on the side.

– Julia
Blog // Instagram

Seared Scallops with Grapefruit Beurre Blanc

By Deniece Vella
2013 Professional Culinary Arts Graduate

With this elegant sauce, scallops that could make a very mediocre dish are instantly transformed into a restaurant-style dish.

Seared Scallops with Grapefruit Beurre Blanc

Serves 4

For the Grapefruit Beurre Banc

    1 shallot, diced
    ½ cup white wine
    ¼ cup white wine vinegar
    ¼ cup fresh grapefruit juice
    ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
    1 cup very cold unsalted butter, chopped into 1 inch cubes
    1 tablespoon cream
    Kosher salt

For the Scallops:

    16 bay scallops
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 sprig thyme
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. For the sauce, combine the shallot, white wine, white wine vinegar, grapefruit juice and lemon juice in a pot. Over high heat, reduce this mixture until about 2 tablespoons of syrupy liquid remain. Now over low heat, vigorously whisk in 1 cube of cold butter at a time. It will take about 5-8 minutes to incorporate all the butter. Finish by whisking in the cream and season with kosher salt. Keep warm before serving.

2. To cook the scallops, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Season the scallops with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the scallops to the hot skillet and allow them to brown on one side, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes. Flip the scallops and add the butter and thyme. Cook for another 2 minutes. Discard the thyme.

3. Serve seared scallops alongside beurre blanc sauce.


Play with you food: Spiced Creamsicle Macarons

By Nick Wuest,
ICC Pastry Arts student

(read more about Nick)
Follow Nick on Instagram

To quote “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, “WOO!”

Photo via

Not long after my last post I did a trail at Marc Forgione’s American Cut that immediately turned into a job. I did my first two shifts as a pastry cook last week and could not be happier. It’s still a bit insane to me to compare my current situation with where I was a year ago as I weighed the decision to leave a great job for this career. So to the ICC and chefs that have taught me so much and prepared me so well I say thank you, thank you, thank you.

Despite the extra shot of crazy I just injected into my life I couldn’t stay off the blog for too long. This is a simple recipe and I know it uses techniques I’ve already demonstrated, for that I apologize. Just think of it as a warm-up for the coming weeks.

Special Equipment

  • Stand mixer with whisk
  • Instant read or candy thermometer
  • Silicone baking mat or parchment paper
  • Chinois (fine mesh strainer)

Vanilla Macaron Cookies (589g)

  • 150g almond flour
  • 150g confectioners sugar (10x or sifted)
  • 120g egg whites, divided 80g/40g
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 167g sugar

Combine the almond flour and confectioners sugar in a food processor and pulse until fine. Transfer to a large bowl.

Wet the sugar in a small saucepan until it resembles wet sand. Heat to a boil, once boiling begin whipping 80g of egg whites with the tartar and salt. When the sugar hits 240F and the eggs are foamy stream the syrup into the bowl. Continue to whip at medium-high to stiff peaks. In the meantime combine 40g of egg whites with the dry mixture to form a thick and slightly sandy paste.


Fold a small amount of meringue into the paste to lighten it then gently fold the rest in. Continue to fold the batter until it falls in a slow “stubborn” (by this I mean at times it won’t fall) ribbon from the spatula and develops a glossy surface when not disturbed.

Pipe rounds in the desired size on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Bang the pan on the counter to even out the rounds. Place them in a drafty area and let them sit until a filmy crust develops. Preheat the oven to 325F.


Bake the macarons for 10-14 minutes until barely golden around the bottom edge. Cool them in the pan completely.

Spiced Orange Ganache

  • 85g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 35g semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 55g unsalted butter, small cubes
  • 125g heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp orange zest
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp Cointreau

Combine the chocolates and butter in a heatproof bowl.

Bring the cream, zest, and spices to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and steep for 10 minutes. Return to a boil and strain through a chinois over the chocolate, let it sit for 5 minutes. Add the Cointreau.

Gently stir with a small rubber spatula from the center until the mixture begins to emulsify then continue to stir until it is completely combined. Cool the mixture at room temperature until firm (like pudding).



Make a macaron sandwich, taste said sandwich. If it tastes good, keep it up. If it doesn’t, use more or less ganache. Got it? Good.


I have a mental thing I’ve picked up since starting school. It’s weird, but pastry chefs are weird. I’m weird. If you can’t see that by now then you aren’t very observant. Each day before beginning my work I repeat in my head one of my favorite movie lines, “Gentlemen, what are your intentions?”, said by Tom Hanks in Apollo 13. If I can’t answer it with a clear idea then I know I need to rethink my day until I can.

At this moment it is my intention to continue to write as often as possible while working. Service is hard. Long hours, hot kitchen, no chairs. I do get to eat the ice cream though, so I still feel like I’m coming out ahead. I have no idea what this will do to the content of this blog since I’m basically losing a night of production for weekend projects.

As much as I had to learn how to do this (fairly) well back in June I find myself having to learn it all over again. I’m excited to find the balance and to also relate things I learn as a professional. I hope you stick around.

Stay hungry,


Play with your food: Ode To (Late) Summer

By Nick Wuest,
ICC Pastry Arts student
(read more about Nick)

Did you miss me? To say I’ve been busy would be an understatement.

Two weeks ago I did this:

Pirate Ship Chocolate Showpiece

Then a few days later I did this:

James Beard Foundation International Culinary CenterJames Beard House Dinner

And a few days after that I did this:

World Wrestling Entertainment cake

I’m more than halfway through my pastry program at ICC and find myself pushing even harder to find a ceiling I’m beginning to think does not exist. Projects have gotten very ambitious and thus more time-consuming. So whether you missed me or not, I missed you and writing for this blog.

With Labor Day coming up along with the one-year anniversary of my Frozen S’mores I decided to reinvent them as a plated dessert. It’s early apple season, and Union Square is packed with beautiful apples just hours off the tree.

Union Square Market Apples

Combining those, some bourbon, and the S’more, I think of this plate as a farewell to summer on the last BBQ holiday of the season and a welcome to the dawning fall. And in the spirit of summer we get to blow stuff up one more time.

Special Equipment:

  • Stand mixer with whisk and paddle
  • Ice cream maker
  • Food processor
  • Cedar sheets, soaked for 20m before use
  • Propane torch

The recipes for the graham crumble and the ice cream can be found in the original Frozen S’more post so I won’t waste space retyping it here.


This formula is from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. I simply scaled it up 25% and baked it in a different mold than the “bouchon” created by the bakery.

  • 178g unsalted butter, divided 100g/78g
  • 63g all-purpose flour
  • 63g Dutch unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8t salt
  • 95g whole egg
  • 203g sugar
  • 1/2tsp vanilla paste
  • 141g semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sift the flour and cocoa powder, set aside.

Melt 100g butter, place the rest in a heat proof bowl. Pour the hot butter into the bowl and allow it all to mostly melt with a few small pieces remaining.

In the stand mixer whisk egg, sugar, and vanilla to combine well. Alternate adding the butter and dry ingredients until all are fully combined, scarping the bowl as needed to ensure proper mixing. Fold in the chocolate chips. Cover the batter and let it rest for 90 min in a cool spot (don’t chill it). At this point the batter can be chilled for up to 2 days but must be brought back to room temperature before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Lightly grease the molds/pans with melted butter and pipe the batter in. Bake the brownies 20-30 min until a tester comes out clean (test more than one spot in case you touch a melted chip). Cool the brownies for 10 min in the mold, then unmold and cool completely on a rack.

Keep the brownies wrapped airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days.


  • 3 apples, firm for cooking, peeled, ½” thick rings with the core removed
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 40g sugar
  • 25g bourbon

Heat the butter in a pan (preferably over an open flame). Add the apples in an even layer and cook, turning once for about 4 min until the butter starts to brown. Add the sugar to each side and cook for another 2 min. Remove the pan from the heat, add the bourbon all at once. Tip the pan over the flame to ignite the steam and flambé the apples until the flames recede. (If you don’t have access to an open flame use a long lighter to ignite the bourbon).

Remove the apples from the pan to another plate and use as soon as possible.


Wrap the brownie in a cedar sheet, and while holding it with a pair of tongs hit it with the torch to warm it slightly and impart some smoke flavor. Unwrap the brownie and place it on the plate. Fill the trench with crumble. Arrange a warm apple slice next to it and spoon a quenelle of ice cream on top of the apple slice.

Smore plated dessert

I have to say it’s good to be back. Those two weeks away from writing felt like an eternity. Thanks for reading.

Stay hungry.


Play with your food: Macarons and Memories

By Nick Wuest,
ICC Pastry Arts student
(read more about Nick)

I take my immaturity very seriously. It is the deepest well of inspiration I can tap. So many of my creations begin with the same sentiment – “Do you remember?”

Here’s an example:

A friend of mine is very allergic to nuts and therefore missed out on the bounty of macarons I brought home during the Petits Fours unit. I felt awful as he sat aside while everyone, myself included, got to enjoy my progression from ok to really good to “beat that Chef Torres.” I promised him that the weekend project would be nut free macarons just for him.

Pretty standard so far right? Here’s where my train of thought rolls onto some bumpy track. One day riding the (actual) train home I thought “hey I want Salisbury steak one day soon,” which lead to “man remember how terrible (i.e.: delicious) those frozen TV dinner ones were?” which led to “remember how good it was when the corn got into the brownie?” Right there I dove for my notebook and wrote “sweet corn-chocolate mac!!”

That night (I can’t read or write on the train for more than a minute or two) I wrote what would become Sweet Corn Macarons with Brown Butter Chocolate Ganache.

That was all I planned on making this week since I SHOULD BE STUDYING FOR MIDTERMS but after visiting a craft market on Saturday and picking up some very fresh jams from my favorite local brand I called an audible and, writing the recipe in my head on the way home, added Coconut Macarons with Orange Ganache and Pineapple Jam to my agenda. They taste exactly like an Orange Flintstone’s Push-Up. Do they even make those anymore? This information is vital to the course of my week.

Finished 2

Special Equipment

  • Stand mixer with whisk
  • Candy or instant read thermometer
  • 4 half-sheet pans
  • Silicone baking mat(s) or parchment paper

Let these be a lesson in entertaining even the dumbest ideas.

Both cookies use the same mixing method (Italian Meringue) for its added stability. I have a double oven at home and can accommodate 4 pans at once. If you don’t then just make one then the other. Whatever you do don’t save any batter, as it will deflate. Pipe the entire bag then do the next one when you’re ready.


(400g – enough for 25 1 ½” diameter sandwiches)

  • 85g corn flour
  • 110g powdered sugar
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 25g water
  • 75g egg whites
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 30° syrup for brushing
  • sea salt flakes for garnishing


(380g – enough for 25 1” diameter sandwiches)

  • 20g coconut flour
  • 160g powdered sugar
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 25g water
  • 75g egg whites
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt

Pulse the flour and powdered sugar in a food processor very fine, sift and set aside.

Combine 100g granulated sugar and 25g water in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Combine the egg whites, tartar, and salt in stand mixer. When the sugar begins to boil begin whisking the eggs at medium. Cook the sugar without stirring to 240F then very carefully stream it down the mixer bowl into the egg foam. Whip at medium-high to stiff peaks.


Fold the sifted dry ingredients into the meringue in two additions until the batter reaches the proper consistency. This is a bit tricky to describe but when scooped with a spatula it will fall back into the bowl in a semi-fluid almost lava-like stream with a break or two. It’s not ready if it plops back in like a jam and it’s over mixed if it streams like a batter.

Pipe 50 rounds of each batter on a silicone lined sheet pan(s) about 1 ½” apart. Firmly tap the pans on a hard surface to evenly spread the rounds into flat circles. Place them in an area with a good draft and let them dry out until a skin forms on the surface that barely gives when lightly touched.


*If you don’t let it dry enough the surface won’t be strong enough to hold in the burst of steam and the top will crack. If they look like this then it wasn’t dry enough. Be sure to turn the trays to make sure they dry evenly.


While the macarons are drying, preheat the oven to 325°F and make the ganaches and syrup.



  • 75 dark chocolate, fine chop
  • pinch of salt
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 50g heavy cream

Place the chocolate and salt in a heatproof bowl. Cook the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until golden brown and aromatic, add the cream and bring to just below a simmer (right as steam starts to rise). Pour the hot liquid over the chocolate, wait 30 seconds, stir from the center out to combine. Pour into an uncut piping bag (with no tip), flatten out, and chill until ready to use.



  • 3/4 tsp powdered gelatin
  • 3/4 Tsp cold water
  • 130g white chocolate
  • 1 drop orange food coloring gel
  • 100g heavy cream

Bloom the gelatin in the cold water and set aside. Place the chocolate and food coloring in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to just below a simmer and pour it over the chocolate, sit 30 seconds while you microwave the gelatin about 15 seconds to melt. Add the gelatin to the chocolate and stir from the center out to combine. Fill another uncut piping bag the same as above and chill it until you’re ready.


(115g) – “30°” simply means 130% sugar to water

  • 65g granulated sugar
  • 50g water

Bring the sugar and water to a boil to dissolve. Remove from heat, keep at room temperature.


65g pineapple jam with small fruit solids in it

When the macarons have developed a proper skin bake them for 8-12 minutes, rotating halfway, until they are well risen and barely browned along the edges. Remove them from the oven, brush the corn ones with 30° syrup and sprinkle them with salt flakes, cool them in the pan on a rack.


Once cooled, carefully free them from the baking mat and pair up like cookies.

For the Corn/Chocolate ones, pipe a thin layer of ganache just inside the border of one cookie, place another on top and apply very gentle pressure along the edges to push the ganache to the edge and even out the cookie.

For the Coconut/Orange ones, pipe a ring of ganache around the border of a cookie then place a small amount of jam inside of it. Don’t press this sandwich as hard as the corn, these cookies are super delicate and the jam will spread too far.


Once finished, keep them chilled until ready to serve. Macarons get better with age and what is a slightly crispy cookie on day one will become an incredibly soft and chewy one by day 3 as it absorbs the moisture in the filling.

Finished 3Finished 1

When I was a kid (an actual kid, not a 28 year old one) I had a chemistry set that I was never really allowed to play with. Seriously, what kind of children’s chem set comes with highly toxic chemicals? I always wondered at the secrets inside of those little bottles. Now creation and discovery are processes I get to experience every day. “What would happen if?” “I wonder how this will taste.” “What in the world caused it to do that?!”

Honing my skills has opened up that chem set in a manner of speaking since fresh fruit tastes much better than hydrochloric acid. Every market visit is like getting to sift through those bottles and see what their contents can do.

Whenever someone asks where an idea like these macarons comes from, my usual response is a shrug and something along the lines of “I just thought it would be cool so I tried it.” It’s a simplification of the torrent of memories and fun ideas I try to bring to life each week.

Thanks for reading! Stay hungry,


See also: