Tag Archives: The Commissary

The Commissary’s Carrot Cake Recipe

Carrot Cake—The Commissary’s legendary dessert. Though years ago it was deemed too mundane to serve at old Frog and dropped from the menu, the recipe was resurrected and refined when The Commissary opened.

Customers immediately latched on to this special version, which boasts one of the richest fillings imaginable. It sandwiches layers of moist, spicy cake laden with raisins and pecans, which are then covered with a tangy cream cheese frosting and finished with the gilded crunch of toasted coconut.

Com­missary Carrot Cake, in fact, has become so synonymous with the restaurant that when we went to change our logo, a sprightly bunch of carrots seemed a natural motif. A mixed greens salad (which leaves plenty of room) and Carrot Cake were an often-seen Commissary luncheon choice, and the bakery long ago lost count of all the “Carrot” wedding cakes it has sent out. (And then there was the Carrot Cake Ice Cream!)

Many of us, too, will never forget the trays and trays and trays of giant Carrot Cake sheet cakes produced for the various Phila­delphia outdoor restaurant festivals, and how, at one festival, after selling out of 2,500 pieces, we were begged by the crowd still mobbing our booth to sell them the crumbs.

Do Ahead This cake is most easily made if you start it at least a day ahead, since the filling, for one thing, is best left to chill overnight. In fact, the different components can all be made even several days in advance and stored separately until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Pecan Cream Filling

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Carrot Cake

1 1/4 cups corn oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
4 cups grated carrots (about a 1-pound bag)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces soft unsalted butter
8 ounces soft cream cheese
1-pound box of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Assembly

4 ounces shredded, sweetened coconut (1 1/2 cups)
1 Make the filling: In a heavy saucepan, blend well the sugar, flour, and salt. Gradually stir in the cream. Add the butter. Cook and stir the mixture over low heat until the butter has melted, then let simmer 20-30 minutes until golden brown in color, stirring occasionally. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in the nuts and vanilla. Let cool completely and then refrigerate, preferably overnight. If too thick to spread, bring to room temperature before using.
2 Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Have ready a greased and floured 10″ tube cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn oil and sugar. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift half the dry ingredients into the sugar-oil mixture and blend. Alternately sift in the rest of the dry ingredients while adding the eggs, one by one. Combine well. Add the carrots, raisins, and pecans. Pour into the prepared tube pan and bake for 70 minutes. Cool upright in the pan on a cooling rack. If you are not using the cake that day, it can be removed from the pan, wrapped well in plastic wrap and stored at room temper­ature.
3 Make the frosting: Cream the butter well. Add the cream cheese and beat until blended. Sift in the sugar and add the vanilla. If too soft to spread, chill a bit. Refrigerate if not using imme­diately, but bring to a spreadable temperature before using.
4 Assemble the cake. Preheat the oven to 300°. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until it colors lightly. Toss the coconut occasionally while it is baking so that it browns evenly. Cool completely. Have the filling and frosting at a spreadable consistency. Loosen the cake in its pan and invert onto a serving plate. With a long serrated knife, carefully split the cake into 3 horizontal layers. Spread the filling between the layers. Spread the frosting over the top and sides. Pat the toasted coconut onto the sides of the cake. If desired, reserve 1/2 cup of the frosting and color half with green food coloring and half with orange. Then decorate the top of the cake with green and orange icing piped through a 1/16” wide, plain pastry tube to resemble little carrots. Serve the cake at room temperature.

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Irish Whiskey Cake with Walnuts and Raisins Recipe

Irish Whiskey Cake with Walnuts and Raisins
We used to sell this hearty cake chock full of raisins and nuts at the Commissary restaurant. It will cut better if you make it a day or two before you plan to serve it. Since it’s glazed instead of frosted, a whole cake wrapped in plastic wrap and tied with a ribbon makes a grand present. You will need an Angel Food tube pan.

make ahead Cake can be made up to three days ahead and stored, well-wrapped, at room temperature. It can also be frozen for up to a month.

Cake
1 pound walnuts, coarsely broken
1 pound golden raisins
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup Irish whiskey

Glaze
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 cup Irish whiskey, divided

1 Grease and flour a 10-inch angel food tube pan. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 275°.
2 In a large bowl, combine walnuts, raisins and flour and toss them together. Using a mixer, cream butter, sugar, egg yolks, salt, baking soda and whiskey until fluffy. Pour this mixture into the nut mixture and mix to combine. Wash the mixer and the beaters in hot soapy water before the next step because the egg whites won’t expand well if there is grease on the bowl or beaters.
3 Put egg whites into the clean bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Add a third of the egg whites into the cake batter and stir to lighten. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 1 hour and then cover the top with foil so it won’t brown too much while it continues baking for another hour or so. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs, but it shouldn’t be wet. This time may vary some, depending on your oven. Let the cake cool completely before glazing and unmolding it.
4 To make the glaze, combine sugar, water and ½ cup whiskey in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Cool to the temperature of bath water and add the remaining whiskey.
5 Leaving the cake in its pan, use a pastry brush to brush the top of the cake with the glaze. Let it soak in for a few minutes and brush on another layer.
6 Loosen the sides of the cake by running a long spatula or knife around the edges, including the center hole. Invert cake onto a serving dish and apply the remaining glaze to the top and sides of the cake. This may take 10 minutes or so because the cake won’t absorb the glaze all at once. Wrap the cake securely in plastic and let it stand in the refrigerator or at room temperature for a day or two before serving.

Variations For a chocolate variation, substitute ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa for ¾ cup flour. You can also make a rum cake with pecans and apricots, for example, by substituting pecans for walnuts, dried apricots for all or part of the raisins, and dark rum for the whiskey.

Serves 16-20

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The Commissary’s Strawberry Heart Tarts Recipe

Strawberry Heart Tarts from The Frog Commissary Cookbook

One day just prior to the opening of The Commissary, Anne found herself pondering the questions of what new desserts to open the restaurant with and what to do with all the heart-shaped gelatin molds lying about Frog after one Valentine’s Day bout with coeur à la crème. On a whim, she draped pastry dough over the backs of the molds and baked them. The Heart Tart was born! The muses then went to work on the filling; chocolate, pastry cream, and strawberries converged. The Commissary opened serving 12 a day; then came a catering order for 70, and the Heart Tarts were off and running. The process soon had to be streamlined to meet the demand—pastry cream became cream cheese filling, and a machine was purchased to mix huge batches of dough.  A dessert truly original to The Commissary, the Heart Tart has claimed a legion of followers who adore its combination of crisp crust, toothsome chocolate lining, rich cream filling, and crowning of glazed jumbo berries. Anne’s husband, Chris, is one of those fans, and in her wedding vows, Anne promised him “unlimited Heart Tarts.”

The tart’s elegant appearance belies its ease of prepara­tion, especially once you have the heart-shaped gelatin molds in hand. The pastry takes just seconds in a food processor, and when baked, the shells can be kept on hand in the freezer (don’t remove from the mold when freezing them), ever ready to dazzle unexpected guests or brighten a midweek dinner. The filling will easily keep a week in the refrigerator, and the chocolate and berries are very simple last-minute additions.

Tart Shells
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons cold water

Cream Cheese Filling
8 ounces softened cream cheese
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Assembly
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 pints of strawberries
1/3  cup sieved or seedless raspberry jam

1 Make the shells: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, butter, and shortening. Whiz for several seconds until crumbly. Add the water and whiz until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 1/2 hour. (It can also be held in the refrigerator for up to 4 days but bring it to room temperature before using.)
2 To roll and bake the shells, preheat the oven to 350°. Bring the dough to a workable temperature and divide into 6 equal portions. On a floured surface, roll each portion of dough into a circle large enough to drape over the back of one of the gelatin molds. Trim off any excess and prick the molded dough several times with a fork. Set the 6 molds dough-side-up on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until pale gold and crisp. Cool the shells completely while still on the molds.
3 Make the filling: In a mixer or food processor, combine all the ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
4 Assemble tarts: Fill the tarts as close to serving time as possible. If you are not serving them immediately, do at least keep them well chilled. Remove the shells from their molds and set upright. Melt the chocolate in a small pan over simmering water, then divide it among the 6 shells and spread evenly over the bottom of each. Let the chocolate cool 10 minutes before filling. Divide the cream cheese filling among the 6 shells. Stem the strawberries and toss gently with the jam to coat. Top each tart with 5-8 berries (depending on their size) stem-end-down.

Yield 6 individual heart-shaped tarts

* Grand Marnier is a pricey item to buy just for Heart Tarts. It’s the best, but you may substitute other sweet orange-accented liqueurs such as Cointreau or Triple Sec.

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The Commissary’s Strawberry Heart Tarts

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner and, for many, another “snow day,” it’s a good day to plan to make Strawberry Heart Tarts. Tart shells may be made and lined with chocolate in advance, and filed just before serving. Heart Tarts make for a luscious Valentine’s dessert or make a batch and deliver a special Valentine’s gift to those you love. If you are unable to find heart-shaped gelatin molds, buy two Coeur a la Creme molds and make the tart shells two-at-a-time. They bake very quickly.

Strawberry Heart Tarts from The Frog Commissary Cookbook

One day just prior to the opening of The Commissary, Anne found herself pondering the questions of what new desserts to open the restaurant with and what to do with all the heart-shaped gelatin molds lying about Frog after one Valentine’s Day bout with coeur à la crème. On a whim, she draped pastry dough over the backs of the molds and baked them. The Heart Tart was born! The muses then went to work on the filling; chocolate, pastry cream, and strawberries converged. The Commissary opened serving 12 a day; then came a catering order for 70, and the Heart Tarts were off and running. The process soon had to be streamlined to meet the demand—pastry cream became cream cheese filling, and a machine was purchased to mix huge batches of dough.  A dessert truly original to The Commissary, the Heart Tart has claimed a legion of followers who adore its combination of crisp crust, toothsome chocolate lining, rich cream filling, and crowning of glazed jumbo berries. Anne’s husband, Chris, is one of those fans, and in her wedding vows, Anne promised him “unlimited Heart Tarts.”

The tart’s elegant appearance belies its ease of prepara­tion, especially once you have the heart-shaped gelatin molds in hand. The pastry takes just seconds in a food processor, and when baked, the shells can be kept on hand in the freezer (don’t remove from the mold when freezing them), ever ready to dazzle unexpected guests or brighten a midweek dinner. The filling will easily keep a week in the refrigerator, and the chocolate and berries are very simple last-minute additions.

Tart Shells
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons cold water

Cream Cheese Filling
8 ounces softened cream cheese
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Assembly
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 pints of strawberries
1/3  cup sieved or seedless raspberry jam

1 Make the shells: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, butter, and shortening. Whiz for several seconds until crumbly. Add the water and whiz until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 1/2 hour. (It can also be held in the refrigerator for up to 4 days but bring it to room temperature before using.)
2 To roll and bake the shells, preheat the oven to 350°. Bring the dough to a workable temperature and divide into 6 equal portions. On a floured surface, roll each portion of dough into a circle large enough to drape over the back of one of the gelatin molds. Trim off any excess and prick the molded dough several times with a fork. Set the 6 molds dough-side-up on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until pale gold and crisp. Cool the shells completely while still on the molds.
3 Make the filling: In a mixer or food processor, combine all the ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
4 Assemble tarts: Fill the tarts as close to serving time as possible. If you are not serving them immediately, do at least keep them well chilled. Remove the shells from their molds and set upright. Melt the chocolate in a small pan over simmering water, then divide it among the 6 shells and spread evenly over the bottom of each. Let the chocolate cool 10 minutes before filling. Divide the cream cheese filling among the 6 shells. Stem the strawberries and toss gently with the jam to coat. Top each tart with 5-8 berries (depending on their size) stem-end-down.

Yield 6 individual heart-shaped tarts

* Grand Marnier is a pricey item to buy just for Heart Tarts. It’s the best, but you may substitute other sweet orange-accented liqueurs such as Cointreau or Triple Sec.

More Frog Commissary Recipes
Classic recipes like Strawberry Heart Tarts are featured in The Frog Commissary Cookbook are included in At Home Online, At Home’s companion website. Book owners may print the recipe from there. You may also purchase The Frog Commissary Cookbook at www.athomebysteveposes.com.

Thank you for visiting.

Steve
Your Home Entertaining Coach

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