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Renaissance Pillows

This is an adaptation of a hand-written recipe by painter Mary Cassatt. The Pittsburgh-born artist made the soft caramels for company when she and Edgar Degas entertained in Paris. Cassatt's recipe books have not survived, and this is the only recipe attributed to her.

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup honey
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup cocoa powder (for dusting)

Lightly oil a marble or granite surface or cookie sheet. Do not use Teflon or similarly coated cookie sheet. Set aside until needed.

With a large-hole, hand-held grater, grate the chocolate into a medium-size bowl or pie tin.

Combine the grated chocolate and remaining ingredients (except for the cocoa) in a medium-size, heavy sauce pan. Blend the ingredients with a large metal kitchen spoon.

Stirring occasionally, heat to a boil over moderately high heat and continue cooking until the mixture reaches 238 degrees.

Carefully pour out the hot mixture onto the oiled surface -- do not spread -- and allow to cool.

Using a pastry scraper, gather into a ball and dust lightly with cocoa powder. Roll into a log about 1 inch thick. Dust again with cocoa, place on a cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm or overnight.

Unwrap and slice into 1-inch-wide pieces. The slice will give each piece a pillow shape. Place in cookie tin or candy box and cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Place in individual candy papers or foil cups. Makes about 48 pieces.

Adapted from a recipe by Mary Cassatt

Thursday, May 24, 2001

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