Sixteen at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago
401 North Wabash Avenue

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Maple Pecan Tart ("Log Cabin Tart")

For pastry dough:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 tsp. salt
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. sugar
3 to 4 Tbs ice water

For filling:
4 egg yolks
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups pure maple syrup (Grade B)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 cups pecan halves, lightly toasted

Blend together flour, butter, sugar and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle 2 Tablespoons ice water along with the egg yolks evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated- add more liquid if needed. Gently knead, but do not over-mix. Chill at least 1 hour before rolling. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin to a large round circle. Press into the bottom of a 12" tart mold or a 9" pie pan. Trim edges and crimp. Chill shell 30 minutes. Prick the bottom with a fork and pre-bake shell at 350F until light golden brown- about 10-15 minutes. Whisk together yolks and salt in a bowl until blended, then whisk in syrup and lemon juice. Stir in pecans and pour filling into pie shell, spreading nuts evenly. Cover edge of shell with a pie shield or foil and bake just until filling is set, 20 to 30 minutes (time will be dependent on the thickness of your filling). Cool to warm or room temperature on rack.

Black Forest Whoopie Pies

For cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
10 1/2 oz dark chocolate (preferably 64%), melted and cooled

For ganache:
2 Tbs unsalted butter, room temp
2/3 cup heavy cream
7 oz dark chocolate (preferably 64%), melted
Brandied cherries

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, then add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Mix in cocoa, baking soda, and melted chocolate after adding flour (dough will be stiff). Form dough into a 12-inch log (2 inches in diameter) on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll up dough in plastic wrap. Chill dough on a baking sheet until firm, at least 4 hours. Preheat oven to 350F. Cut 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick slices from log with a heavy knife, arranging slices about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake cookies 12 to 15 minutes total. Cool before filling. Heat cream in a small heavy saucepan over low heat until just about to boil. Slowly add hot cream to melted chocolate, making sure to stir well will each addition, until all the cream in incorporated. Whisk in butter. Cover and let set in a cool place for at least 4 hours (or overnight). To assemble: Pipe chocolate ganache onto each cookie round. Place a brandied cherry in the center and then top with another cookie. Dip in chocolate if desired.

Pistachio and Cranberry Parfait

For Pistachio Crème:
4 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin from 2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
1/4 cup pistachio paste

For Cranberry Cherry Compote:
juice from 1 lime
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup frozen tart cherries
1/2 cup dried cranberries (about 3 ounces)
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup cherry jelly (about one 10-ounce jar)
Pinch of coarse kosher salt

In small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cream. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 1 minute. In a medium saucepan over moderate heat, whisk together milk and sugar. Scrape in seeds from vanilla beans; add beans. Heat, whisking occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in cream mixture and pistachio paste. Strain through fine-mesh sieve, discarding vanilla beans. Pour into cordial or decorative glasses, filling slightly less than half way. Chill.
For compote:
Bring cranberry juice to boil in large saucepan. Add fresh cranberries, cherries, dried cranberries, cinnamon stick; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes. Add cherry jelly. Simmer until jelly is melted, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lime juice and coarse salt. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill at least 4 hours.
To assemble:
Spoon cooled compote onto set pistachio crème. Cover with crushed cookies and chopped green pistachios.


Make items ahead! Cookie dough can be frozen up to one month in advance, which will save you so much time. All you have to do is defrost the dough before baking. For example, with the whoopie pie recipe, make the dough in advance, and then bake the day you want to serve them. That way, they will be super fresh when you fill them with the marshmallows for a fresh and tasty bite.

Pies and tarts -- especially items like apple and pumpkin pie -- are usually best on the second day. The overnight "resting" period allows the cornstarch to gel in fruit pies and the eggs to full set in a custard base pie. Make sure to rest pumpkin pies in the fridge, and apple, pecan, and other fruit-filled pies at room temperature.

Save time by utilizing the same product on different items. Desserts like the whoopie pies can also be filled with buttercream, and then you can take the same buttercream, add a few drops of flavor extract and pipe it on mini cupcakes, which can be baked and frozen ahead of time. This way, you have two delicious desserts that only required one frosting preparation.

Quality ingredients equals quality product. Using high-quality ingredients for your recipes (ex. real butter, heavy cream, high grade chocolate, etc) because it will pay off in flavor in the end. The holidays are the season for indulgence, so don't hold back!