Pile of Leaves Dessert and More...

I call this a "pick-apart" dessert. It's great fun with kids or even adults after a family meal. By way of describing this dessert, I'll show you in a few steps how it was assembled.

First I start with a baked cookie base which has been completely coated in dark chocolate.

Next, I broke apart several chocolate french macaroon shells. Then I applied a random series of chocolate ganache and hazelnut nougat cream 'shots' or dabs using a pastry bag.

Next I stuck the macaroon shards in a scattered way into the dabs of cream.

Finally, and with reckless abandon, I 'raked' the various Spekulatius (Almond Spice Cookies) leaf cookies on to the macaroon shards, using my pastry bag and various creams to fix them in place. The leaves were cut and baked ahead of time using various leaf-shaped cookie cutters. The idea was to have a big variety of leaves (and acorn cookies, as well) to make the leaf pile as interesting as possible.

The final result is a whimsical dessert that is eaten by picking it apart in a fun competition between friends and family.

Just be careful that a sudden wind doesn't scatter all the sweet treats away before everyone can get their fair share.

Assembling this dessert is really easy once you have all the component parts at hand...of course, that's the difficult part. Eating your way through the leaf pile is pure creative destruction.

Two other treats we have this Halloween weekend are:

a Pumpkin/Pecan Cupcake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Spekulatius bone cookie on top,

and a chocolate cupcake with a mocca/chocolate ganache frosting and a stylish marzipan tombstone.

You just have to love Halloween. Even at the bakery, it seems anything goes. I hope you've enjoyed some of the things we made for this all-American holiday. Now get those costumes ready for Monday night!


Pumpkin Mousse

Once again we offer something new for this Fall weekend- Pumpkin Mousse. This dessert is spicy and fruity, rich, yet light. Built on a cookie base with chocolate cake, the whipped cream mousse is made with pumpkin purée, ginger-spiced apples and dried cranberries marinated in rum. We use our own secret recipe of roasted spices to kick the flavor up a notch. A Spekulatius leaf cookie adds an elegant finish with its spicy crunch. The mousse comes in single serving sizes and in a small torte size to feed six folks.

And don't forget that we still have Spekultius Leaf Cookies in plain and chocolate, and in oak leaf shape and maple leave shape.

Also with the same spicy dough we have our Halloween 'Fraidy Cats and Spooky Ghost Cookies.

See you this Saturday at Bakery Normand. And remember to support all local craftsmen. Contrary to what Thomas Friedman has claimed, the world is not flat; it's just incredibly large and complicated. Think small, think simple, think local.

More for Halloween

Maybe they won't scare your pants off, but our Spooky Ghost and 'Fraidy Cat Spekulatius Cookies will tickle your taste buds and turn that frightful frown into a lip smacking smile.

Come in and get them while they last, because like autumn leaves, they'll be gone with the first chill winds of November.

And don't forget that we will be making our Autumn Pumpkin/Pecan Cakes through the month of October.

Special Breads for Saturday

Saturday is a great day at Bakery Normand for a few specialty breads made only on that day. Please stop by tomorrow for:

Sesame Semolina

Walnut Pain au Levain

Olive Bread

Vollkorn Bread

Witch's Hats, Ghosts and Pumpkins

Admittedly, Halloween isn't only for kids, and Bakery Normand is getting ready for some treats without the tricks.

Let's start with something that is fun and very delicious...our Witch's or Wizard's Hats. (You decide which.)

We start with a cookie base and artfully fashion a conical pile of sweet pâté on top of it. The pâté is made from yellow and chocolate cake scraps, butter cream, toasted/ground filberts, raisins, cocoa powder and rum. Basically, we are talking about an enhanced mixture of leftovers. But what a fabulous leftover filling this is! Next the 'hats' are coated with dark chocolate.

Once the chocolate shell has firmed up, we apply marzipan cutouts of moons and stars to the hats.

And just like magic you have a wizard or witch's hat. Come in soon to try them out before they...disappear...poof...

Now moving on the another treat, one that can also be eaten, but is more often admired untouched...Bakery Normand's Halloween Marzipan Ghosts and Pumpkins.

These fun vignettes are 100% edible constructions. Built on a chocolate covered cookie base, the figures are hand sculpted from marzipan. Additional details, such as the bare trees and the picket fences, are made from piped chocolate.

The pumpkin posse is hanging out before the full marzipan moon, looking for trouble, that doesn't involve a smashing good time

The ghost family is also looking for some haunting action. But while the parents are working together to create some fright, youngster is acting out as usual, and hasn't yet figured out that he's not suppose to be so...friendly.

We'll keep you posted on any other Halloween treats as we get closer to the holiday.

Autumn Cake

Our new cake for this Autumn weekend is a Pumpkin-Pecan Quick Bread with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. Nestled on top of the cake are hand-made marzipan pumpkins and miniature Spekulatius leaf cookies. The cake batter is made of white, wheat flour, brown sugar, olive oil, pumpkin purée, toasted pecans, eggs, spices, and finely minced orange peel. The frosting used real Vermont maple syrup and reduced fat cream cheese.

A delight for the eye and for the palette, this dessert would be a show stopper for any weekend occasion.

Also made from the same cake and frosting, but in a smaller bundt pan variation, is our spooky precursor to the Halloween season-the Pumpkin-Pecan Bundt Cake with Ghost rising from the center.

Do you dare?

More Good Things for Fall

Our extra large tin brioche pans have mellowed with the years of use and abuse at the bakery. We love the fact that they have acquired the aged patina of antique bake ware, even though we bought them new in the 1970's while working in Germany. Of historical note, for those of you who can't remember a time when Germany was not a united country, is the "Made in W.Germany" stamp embossed in the bottom of the pan- that would be the West Germany of the Cold War Era.

We use these brioche pans to make our Brioche Normande, inspired by the flat-topped brioche loaves of baker Jacques Leterrier in the village of Le Vast in Normandy.

Our 300 gram loaf, at 5 times the weight of our normal brioche buns, is great for slicing; spread generously with butter and your favorite jam. Serve with tea or coffee for an inspired mid-afternoon break. One customer has told us how he used the loaf as the 'bowl' for a turkey pot pie. If we can persuade him to share his recipe and method,we'll pass it one to you later. And if you have a favorite use for these jumbo brioche loaves, feel free to share it with us using "Comments" or our email contact at bakerynormand@gmail.com.

Here's something new and unique~Rosemary/Honey Shortbread. These rich buttery pastries are a contrasting blend of savory and sweet. As with all shortbreads, they are made from a few simple ingredients that equal more than the sum of their parts. To butter, flour and sugar we add chopped rosemary leaves and honey for an after dinner treat that will both puzzle and delight your taste buds.

And finally, a tip-of-the-hat to Rayla, our afternoon saleswoman, for her fun and artistic sign for this season's Hermit Bars.

Great work!

The Spice Season Has Arrived

The recent, extended period of warm, wet and humid weather has made a lie of the calendar. It really is Fall though, and soon it will hopefully start to feel like Fall. The days are already growing shorter and the trees are slowly yielding their green canopies for the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows that we in New England expect from Autumn. For bakers there is no better time than Fall. Actually going to bed early after the sun has gone down makes us feel like we aren't really missing out on something. And the cool, dry weather is especially great for baking all yeasted products. All the work is good and being productive in the kitchen doesn't drain our energy. The kitchen is once again a pleasant, humane environment, the oppressive heat and humidity of the Summer a fading memory.

Fall is also a precursor to the coming holiday season, and nothing characterizes that more than the introduction of  spices into our baking program. Today we started making two spicy Fall products that will be familiar to many of our regular customers.

The first are Spekulatius Leaves. We use our own maple and oak leaf cookie cutters, created by bending tin metal bands around the shape of found leaves. The dough we use for these cookies is a Spekulatius dough, a plain version and a chocolate version; it is a thin shortcrust dough made with butter, brown sugar, almond flour, eggs, milk and spices (cardamon, cloves and nutmeg.) The chocolate dough uses cocoa powder. There is no leavening used in our version of this traditional cookie. The cookies are baked on a bed of sliced almonds, which lends an interesting and signature character to the bottom of each cookie.

Spekulatius cookies are traditionally found in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. In the Netherlands they are called Speculaas, in Germany they are called Speculatius and even in France they are called spéculoos. In the USA we associate the flavor, texture and the shape of this cookie with the ubiquitous Dutch Windmill Cookie. Mostly baked in Europe from St. Nicholas Day (December 5th) until the end of the holiday season, Spekulatius cookies have become so popular that they are available now in some places year round. Usually Spekulatius cookies are imprinted with a design, mostly of people, but also of buildings such as farmhouses or windmills. For our Fall cookies we leave the imprinting aside and let the leaves' shape convey the message. Later, during the Christmas season, we make the imprinted version of Spekulatius. The use of hand-carved, wooden molds to achieve the imprinted result is a fascinating process, one that we will blog about as the season progresses. So stay tuned for that and for photos of the unique wooden molds we use.

Our second spicy product is familiar to many-the Hermit Cookie.

I have no idea of the origin of this bar cookie, but it shares some of the textures and spicy flavors of German or Swiss Lebkuchen. It is a decidedly American invention, but probably one that was conceived by European immigrants using the local ingredients available to them to recreate a favorite baked good from the old country. These cakey bars are moist and chewy, rich in flavor and spicy sweetness. We use unbleached, all-purpose flour, sugar, molasses, baking soda, salt, eggs, butter, margarine, raisins and almonds. Our choice of spices for this version of the Hermit is allspice and cinnamon.

Baked in long bars, they are cut into single serving portions immediately after baking.

Come in and get them while they last. Each serving is large enough to share.

Store Information

Bakery Normand
192 Main Street
Northampton, MA 01060


Tuesday to Saturday, 7:30am-5:30pm

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