Tag Archives: Fort Worth

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}If you’re wondering where the cherries and chocolate cake are in this Black Forest Cake, well, this isn’t your average Black Forest Cake.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Ohhh no. This is my take on a hometown favorite: Black Forest Cake from Swiss Pastry Shop in Fort Worth, Texas. My mom and grandmother used to take my sister and me to lunch at Swiss Pastry Shop several times a year, and while the sausages and German potato salad were delicious, we were all really in it for the cake. In fact, I think most people who go to lunch at Swiss Pastry Shop are in it for the cake.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}There’s a reason the citizens of Fort Worth are so in love with this cake—it’s absurdly good, and unique for that part of the world. Made by layering crisp almond dacquoise (meringue with nuts) and whipped cream, and coated with thin chocolate sprinkles and shaved dark chocolate, this cake is hardly a cake at all. It’s pure bliss! Cold, crisp, super-light, creamy, nutty, chocolaty, naturally gluten-free bliss.

Full disclosure: it’s probably my all-time favorite dessert.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}I’ve thought for years that Swiss Pastry Shop’s Black Forest Cake was unique to them—I mean, I’ve never seen or heard of it anywhere else. Turns out, it’s actually a Swedish cake and unrelated to the cherry-chocolate version, only sharing a name (Schwarzvaldtårta). Who knew?!

(Cambridge Cowgirl and Wikipedia. They knew.)Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Now, I’m not going to pretend that this is a carbon copy of Swiss Pastry Shop’s cake—I cannot figure out how they get their dacquoise so thick!—but it tastes *exactly* right and hit the spot on my birthday a couple weeks ago. I made a teeny-tiny version on a whim, because if I had to turn 35 in a pandemic, there was *going* to be excellent cake. And, well, it just doesn’t get much more excellent than Black Forest Cake.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}I had no plans to put it on the blog (two home bakers have already posted their own versions), but other Black Forest Cake-deprived friends kept asking for it, so I tested and re-tested six times and here we are. Until the day that Swiss Pastry Shop figures out a way to ship, anyway.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake requires some skill and a time commitment, but is not actually difficult to make. Here are some tips for success.

-Don’t make this on a humid day and keep all your equipment squeaky clean. Whipped egg whites are temperamental.
-For the best flavor and texture in your almond dacquoise, grind your own raw almonds. I tested this recipe with both store bought almond meal and almond flour, and while they both work, they don’t hold a candle to fresh ground almonds.
-You don’t have to trim the layers after baking, but it makes them easier to stack and results in a more streamlined finished product.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}
-Use good chocolate sprinkles. The stuff in the ice cream topping section will work, but India Tree Chocolate Vermicelli or hagelslag are the very best. I promise you’ll find ways to use up the leftovers.
-Don’t wait to serve this cake—day-of is ideal. As with many whipped egg white-based things, the dacquoise will weep and degrade over time. If you have leftovers, I have included freezing instructions at the end of the recipe.
-If you want to make a tiny cake, halve the recipe and spread the dacquoise in two 4-inch circles before baking. Alternatively, make one 8-inch layer, then use a 4-inch ring to cut out two layers. Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Whew! Okay, I think that’s all. This one was a labor of love, y’all. Not for yours or mine, but for the love of cake. Really excellent cake.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}
inspired by Fort Worth’s Swiss Pastry Shop
makes one 8-inch cake

Almond Dacquoise:
1 1/4 cups whole raw almonds*
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar (granulated sugar will work)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 large egg whites, room temperature
pinch of salt

Whipped Cream:
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream, very cold
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

For assembly:
1/3-1/2 cup high-quality chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, shaved or finely chopped
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Read the recipe all the way through before beginning. There is a large time commitment (mostly hands-off).

Egg whites will not whip properly if they are not treated well. Do not attempt this on a humid day. Before beginning, please ensure that all equipment used in this recipe is very clean and dry. I like to wipe down the bowl(s), whisk, and mixer attachments with vinegar before starting the recipe. There is no way to salvage this recipe if the egg whites are contaminated with oil, yolk, or even water.

Preheat oven to 250F. Using an 8-inch round pan as a template, use a pencil (or other writing implement) to trace 8-inch circles onto two pieces of parchment. Turn parchment pieces over (pencil-side down) and place on two rimmed baking sheets. Set aside.

Make the almond dacquoise. Place almonds in a food processor and process for 30-45 seconds, until finely ground. Do not over-process (it could veer toward almond butter). Measure out 1 1/2 cups of your homemade almond meal. Stir in the cornstarch. Set aside.

Stir together sugar and cream of tartar. Set aside.

Combine egg whites and salt in a very clean, dry mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer fitted with a very clean, dry whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt on medium speed until very foamy—the whisk should be leaving faint tracks. Turn speed up to medium-high. With the mixer running, add sugar to egg whites 3-4 teaspoons at a time. This will take a few minutes. Mixture should start to look glossy and begin stiffening up. Turn mixer speed up to high and beat continuously until stiff peaks form, about 1-2 minutes.

Add half the almond meal to the egg whites and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to gently fold it in. Repeat with the remaining almond meal.

Divide mixture into the circles on the two prepared pans (you may pipe if desired). Use an offset spatula to gently spread the mixture to the drawn circle edges.

Bake dacquoise for 1 1/2 hours. It will puff and spread. Do not open the oven at any time.

Turn off oven, leaving the dacquoise inside for another 1 1/2 hours (or up to overnight). Remove layers from oven and let cool completely. At this point, layers may be gently, tightly wrapped in plastic and stored in a dry place for a few days.

To trim layers, gently place an 8-inch round cake pan on top of one layer. Use a sharp knife to slice off edges—the top will fall slightly during this process, so don’t be alarmed. Repeat with remaining layer.

Make the whipped cream. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form.

Assemble the cake. Place one layer of dacquoise on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread a thick layer of whipped cream over it and then gently place the second layer of dacquoise on top. “Frost” cake on the top and sides with remaining whipped cream (you may have some leftover). Refrigerate cake for 15 minutes.

Line a surface with a piece of parchment and place the cake (on stand) on top. Use your hand to gently apply chocolate sprinkles to the sides of the cake. Scatter shaved/chopped chocolate over the top of the cake. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top.

Refrigerate cake for a couple of hours before slicing and serving. Slices will not be perfectly clean. Holding the exposed edge with a bench scraper (or a clean hand) seems to help.

Cake may be kept in the refrigerator for up to a day. The dacquoise will deteriorate over time.

Leftover cake may be sliced, placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet and frozen. Triple-wrap frozen slices with plastic wrap and freeze for up to a month.

Note:

You may use 1 1/2 cups store bought almond meal or almond flour in place of the whole raw almonds. Stir the cornstarch into it and proceed from “Stir together sugar and cream of tartar.”

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}

Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}While many of my food memories of my childhood in Texas revolve around Tex-Mex and barbecue, I also have a place in my heart for Lebanese food. My dad began going to a Lebanese restaurant called Hedary’s in the 1970s and, over time, got my mom, my sisters, and myself hooked on their mezze, lahem meshwi, and steaming hot pillows of fresh pita. And tabouleh. And the rice pudding. And the sodas that came in short, round glass bottles.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}For years, Hedary’s (“heh-dah-rees”) was our restaurant of choice for weekend dinners and special occasions alike, and as we grew up and moved away, a must-go whenever one (or all) of us came back to Fort Worth to visit. That is, until they closed the original location near my parents’ neighborhood a couple years back.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Our unanimous family-favorite Hedary’s entree was Frarej, a roast chicken dish made with tons of lemon and garlic and served with tender potatoes, tomatoes and onions. It somehow towed the line between light and bright and deeply comforting and was always the centerpiece of our extensive order.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej appears to be specific to the Hedary family—I’ve never seen it on any other Lebanese menu, the owners of my beloved Sahadi’s have never heard of it (nor have my Lebanese friends), and a quick internet search turns up only recipes by people like me who are trying to recapture the magic of this dish from a now-closed restaurant in a strip mall in Fort Worth, Texas.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}My older sister started making a version Frarej at home when she was in graduate school and has honed it over the years. She gave me her recipe when I wanted to impress a new boyfriend* a few years ago and since then, I have slowly made adjustments—not many though—until I achieved a Frarej I could make and eat any day of the week.

*I’m the sort of person who will try to seduce you with garlic. This is why I’m single. Although, to be fair, that boyfriend stuck around for a few years so…?Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Start by chopping (or pressing) 8-10 cloves of fresh garlic. Mix that with 1/3 cup of olive oil, 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper, and pour it all over a bunch of sliced Yukon gold potatoes and onion wedges.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Let that roast for 15 minutes at 500F (yes, 500F) before stirring in some tomato wedges and topping it all off with some bone-in skin-on chicken thighs that you’ve given the lightest coating of olive oil. Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Throw that back in a 500F oven (again, yes, that hot) and let it go for 45 minutes, occasionally spooning accumulated liquid over the chicken, but otherwise leaving it alone. You’ll know it’s ready when the chicken is gorgeous and golden and the potatoes are tender. Your kitchen should also smell ahhh-mazing. Lemony and garlicky and chickeny—amazing.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej will be good the day it’s made—what could possibly be bad about juicy roast chicken, lemony potatoes, sweet onions and tangy tomatoes?—but the leftovers are where it’s at. I turned down a dinner invitation a couple weeks ago just because I wanted to eat the Frarej leftovers* in my fridge. The vegetables absorb all the lemony, chickeny fattiness and are just so…effing…delicious.

*This is actually why I’m single.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}

Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}
inspired by Hedary’s Restaurant, adapted from E1’s recipe
makes 4-6 servings

2 small Spanish onions, sliced into 8 wedges each
1 1/2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes, sliced in quarters
2/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 3-4 large lemons)
1/3 cup olive oil + more for coating chicken
8-10 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
3 pounds skin-on chicken thighs (about 6-8 thighs)
4 large or 5-6 small Roma tomatoes, sliced in quarters
chopped Italian parsley, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 500F.

Toss onions and potatoes together on a large rimmed sheet pan.

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a liquid measuring cup or small mixing bowl. Stir together with a fork (it won’t emulsify). Pour mixture over potatoes and onions and toss together with your hands. Bake for 15 minutes.

Pat chicken thighs dry. Rub them all over with olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Remove onions and potatoes from the oven. Stir in tomato wedges. Carefully nestle chicken thighs over the top.

Roast for 40-45 minutes, spooning a little of the accumulated liquid over chicken every 15 minutes. It’s ready when chicken is golden and cooked through, and vegetables are tender and browning in places. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. They will get more and more delicious as time goes on.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}