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Decadent Desserts 101

organic dessert,organic chocolate,vegan chocolate,organic cooking,organic baking,vegan cooking,vegan baking

As much as I love to cook, lately I just haven’t had time.

BUT with a few tips from Culinary Curator extraordinaire, Catherine DeOrio, I’ll be whipping up some deliciously decadent desserts for my next swanky soiree.

All you need in your kitchen for elegant desserts-on-demand are 5 simple ingredients:

  • Nuts – salted cashews, toasted almonds, pecans, walnuts, whatever you want
  • Raw Sugar – way better than the over-processed white stuff with a nice little crunch
  • Chocolate – choose your favorite. you can easily find fair-trade, organic, and even vegan options
  • Heavy Cream – don’t bother looking for low-fat versions. you don’t need to use that much
  • Puff Pastry - I’m happy to let Sara Lee do the heavy lifting with the frozen puff pastry dough.
  • Although I’m not a fan of any food-in-a-box, it’s a great cheat and totally acceptable when the finished product comes out looking as fabulous – and tasting as DELISH – as these yummy little suckers.

    Sweet breadsticks
    12 breadsticks


    • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
    • 1/2 cup salted cashews, toasted and finely chopped
    • 1/3 cup raw sugar
    • 4 ounces milk or dark chocolate, melted
    • Butter, melted


    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl mix the sugar and nuts together.
    2. Unfold pastry puff dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, thin dough to ¼-inch thick. Cut in half. Lightly brush one side with melted butter.
    3. Sprinkle entire surface with sugar-nut mixture, pressing it into dough.
    4. Lightly brush other half of dough with melted butter and place over other side, butter side down. Using rolling pin, seal pieces together.
    5. Brush the top of pastry with melted butter and lightly sprinkle with sugar if desired. Cut into 12 strips
    6. Take a strip and twist. Transfer to a silpat mat or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Press ends into baking sheet to prevent breadsticks from untwisting during baking. Chill for 15 minutes before baking.
    7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Let cool.
    8. Drizzle melted chocolate across breadsticks.

    Flaky chocolate nut turnovers
    12-14 mini turnovers


    • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
    • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted, and a little extra for garnish
    • 1/2 (2 ounces) cup dark chocolate, finely chopped


    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Place almonds in food processor and run until it turns into a smooth paste, approximately 3-5 minutes.
    3. Transfer almond paste to a small bowl. Add chocolate and work ingredients together with your fingers until well combined.
    4. On a lightly floured surface, unfold puff pastry dough.
    5. Using biscuit cutter, cut out 12-14 circles. Using a rolling pin, roll into an oval shape.
    6. Place 1 teaspoon of mixture on one side of each dough oval. Fold the dough over it and seal the edges using the tines of a fork. An egg wash can be used here to seal if desired.
    7. Pierce top with fork. Brush with egg wash if a glossy finish is desired.
    8. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown, transfer to wire rack to cool.
    9. Melt chocolate and drizzle over top of each turnover. Sprinkle with chopped, toasted almonds.

    Creamy chocolate-praline filled vol-au-vents
    2 dozen


    • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
    • 6 ounces dark chocolate (53-65% cacao), finely chopped
    • 2 cups whipped cream

    Hazelnut praline

    • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, skinned and toasted
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons water

    For hazelnut praline:

    1. Place all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
    2. Boil until amber in color. Do not stir once it comes to a boil.
    3. Pour out onto a silpat mat-lined baking sheet.
    4. Let cool completely before handling.

    To assemble:

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Unfold puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface and lightly smooth puff pastry dough with a rolling pin.
    3. Cut out 24 circles with biscuit cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat baking mat or parchment paper.
    4. Using a paring knife, score a smaller circle within it to create a border (be careful not to cut through the dough). Prick center of circle with fork.
    5. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
    6. Make praline. While the praline cools, bake shells until golden brown, approximately 12-15 minutes. Let cool.
    7. Press down centers if they puffed during baking.
    8. Melt chocolate, reserve 2 tablespoons for drizzling.
    9. Add chopped praline to melted chocolate and stir to combine.
    10. Spoon a small amount of chocolate praline in pastry shell, top with whipped cream, drizzle with chocolate and sprinkle with crushed praline.

    Chocolate almond bark
    3/4 pounds


    • 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
    • 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted


    1. In a double boiler set-up, melt one-third of the chocolate. Add in 1/3 increments until chocolate is smooth and evenly melted.
    2. Stir in almonds, being sure that all are thoroughly covered in chocolate.
    3. Pour onto a silpat mat or wax paper-lined baking sheet.
    4. Spread and smooth until about ¼-inch thick.
    5. Chill until set, approximately 20-30 minutes.
    6. Break into pieces.

    Nutty napoleons
    12 servings

    Nutty napoleons

    • 1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
    • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, skinned, toasted and chopped
    • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
    • 2 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped

    Sweetened cream filling

    • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
    • 4 Tablespoons sugar

    Hazelnut chocolate spread

    • 3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
    • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped.
    • 2 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped


    For sweetened cream filling:

    1. Chill metal bowl, whisk attachment in freezer.
    2. Mix sugar into cream and let sit in refrigerator to allow it to dissolve. Stir again before transferring to mixing bowl.
    3. Whisk cream until soft peaks form. Transfer to pastry bag.

    For hazelnut chocolate spread:

    1. Place hazelnuts in the bowl of food processor and run until a creamy paste forms.
    2. In a double boiler, melt the chocolates and mix until smooth.
    3. Remove from heat and stir in hazelnut paste until combined.
    4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until thickened but spreadable, approximately 25 minutes.

    To assemble pastry:

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Make chocolate hazelnut spread.
    3. While chocolate hazelnut spread cools, unfold puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 12 equal rectangles and transfer to a parchment paper or silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Let cool. Cut each in half crosswise, creating a top and bottom.
    4. Take bottom of pastry and spread with chocolate hazelnut mixture.
    5. Create the next layer by piping on a generous amount of cream filling.
    6. Top with pastry. Melt chocolate and drizzle both milk and dark chocolate over the top.
    7. Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts over top.

    One Response to “Decadent Desserts 101”

    1. Jennifer Says:

      DROOL!!! Divine!

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