Marble cakes are homey and festive at the same time. A marble cake looks slick when you slice into it and reveal the delicate pattern of the two batters swirled together. Rather than dividing the base batter in half, I like to remove about a third of it and add the chocolate.
Once when visiting Maida in Miami Beach we fell to talking about pies. "They're the hardest thing of any to get right, don't you think?" Maida asked me. True perfectionist that she is, Maida meant that to get the pastry dough to a golden flakiness and the filling to just the right stage between runny and set required a lot of work. She then told me that a young friend had just asked her to teach her to make an apple pie, and that she had thought about it for a while and decided to make a big free-standing pastry that partially enclosed a cinnamon and brown sugar-scented cooked apple filling. This pie is inspired by hers.
This tart is a baked ganache (a simple mixture of chocolate and cream), scented with orange zest and rum, topped with chopped walnuts, in a sweet walnut pastry crust. A final drizzle of chocolate makes a simple decoration.
Although fig bars are standard American fare, fig-filled cookies are also very traditional in Sicily, where they are called cucidati. I've decided to merge the two and make a fig bar that is shaped like the industrially-made one, but has some typical Sicilian seasonings in it for extra flavor.
This intriguing recipe comes from my friend Fritz Blank, chef-owner of the now-defunct Deux Cheminées, one of Philadelphia's loveliest restaurants. I like to use pure or light (rather than extra virgin) olive oil to prepare it. This is a great dessert to make if you're expecting a crowd; it makes 2 cakes with one batter that's easily mixed. The best part is that they can be made days in advance, wrapped, and frozen, so you don't have to fuss any more than defrosting the cakes and making some whipped cream before you serve them.
Back when Sweets first launched, we kicked off these special weeks profiling sweets mavens and their recipes with the very talented Nick Malgieri. With the fall season here, we decided to bring Nick back on Sweets to spotlight some of his more autumnal treats.
Pairing buckwheat with chocolate may seem odd until you try it. Both are smoky, earthy, velvety and strong, making them perfectly suited for the others' company. I like to have a gluten-free chocolate option in my repertoire that's not the clichéd torte, which can be too heavy for a lot of occasions.
Labne and I were introduced over 10 years ago and her effervescence has never waned. Thick, buxom, confident, tart, generous and obliging. This is the yogurt all yogurts dream of being one day. Even if you despise cheesecake, as I tend to, I beg of you to try this version.
I have been having a long-term not-so-secret love affair with citrus. Mandarinquats, Meyer lemons, Minneola tangelos, Persian limes, Kalamansi, orange blossoms, Oro Blancos, cocktail grapefruits—they're all my lovers and I fear I cannot choose just one.
It seems odd to say that one of my favorite aspects of this ice cream is its bitterness—its 1-2 punch of double bitterness created by the burning of the honey and the long steeping of a tannic roasted tea—but it's true. Somehow by being a ridiculously smooth and silky butterfat-enveloped ice cream it all calms in your mouth. My First Assistant sums it up by saying it tastes of bubble tea without the large black tapioca pearls. Whichever way you spin it, it's a delicious ice cream flavor you can't stop eating once you start. And it's refined-sugar free. Sugar refined by humans, that is.
I have a thing for foresty flavors. If a tea is described as mossy; if pine needles are infused into a custard; if gnomes built their homes and hung their tall red felt hats there, I'm in. While making a California Bay Laurel leaf pastry cream and blueberry compote for a filled doughnut, I discovered the blueberry's affinity with piney flavors. At Peels, where I'm the pastry chef, we offer seasonal herb, fruit and vegetable monthly-changing sweet and savory scones. Cornmeal offers great textural juxtaposition, as well as an obvious seasonal pairing. On the East Coast there's no better berry to dedicate late summer bakery offerings to than our prized blueberries.
Internet folk may know Shuna Lydon as the voice behind eggbeater, a long-running and beautifully written blog full of musings on the craft of baking and the life of a pastry chef. California folk may remember her as pastry chef at Yountville's Bouchon, before a number of other kitchens on both sides of the Bay; New Yorkers may know her as the pastry chef at Peels, where we're pretty crazy about her muffins and sweets. So we're thrilled that she'll be sharing five recipes with us this week—as a baker and a blogger, who could be better?
While we've been talking sweets all week, I couldn't resist throwing in one baking recipe that's just a little more savory. Serve these hot from the oven for breakfast, with a bit of melted butter brushed on top.
This is a simplified version of one of our most popular desserts, but it's still just as decadent. We mold it in baba au rhum-shaped flexible molds which unmold very easily when frozen solid, and have the perfect built-in spot to hold hot fudge or caramel.
These really chocolaty cupcakes require no frosting, in my opinion, but a small swipe of cream cheese frosting is definitely a tasty thing. I'd top them with chopped walnuts if I frosted them. The crunchy walnuts will add a nice textural contrast and counterbalance the sweetness of the frosting well.
I think this is a perfect recipe to make in the summer. It requires very little time in the kitchen, and it's deceiving—it looks so plain and simple, but the flavor of it absolutely pops. The granita needs no garnish, but it is a perfect accompaniment to perfectly ripe nectarines or raspberries.
I wanted to share a recipe that makes use of what is beautiful and delicious at the farmers' market right now. The blueberries have that perfect balance of sweet and tart. We've combined blueberries and yogurt for a refreshing treat that you don't need to heat up your kitchen to enjoy. I think a scoop of this is amazing solo, but a little granola gives it a great textural contrast (and possibly an excuse to eat it for breakfast!).
Gramercy Tavern pastry chef Nancy Olson was raised on a farm in Napoleon, North Dakota—so that explains her affinity and passion for classic homey American desserts. And her time at the Culinary Institute of America and in fine New York restaurant kitchens explains her technical skill. She still found herself gravitating to the honey, honest desserts she grew up eating—only now at the Gramercy Tavern, where she has been for the last five years, she infuses them with a contemporary sensibility, a dedication to seasonality, and a kind of guileless sophistication that reflects both her North Dakota roots and the city of New York, where she now lives and works.
Hands down, panna cotta is my favorite dessert. (Just ask any server at Craft what the pastry chef recommends and their response will be panna cotta.) In this recipe, the sweet milk chocolate is nicely paired with the tartness of raspberries and the complexity of saba.
When I make a crisp, I make a very large crisp—mostly because it's such a crowd pleaser that unless you have way more than you need, you'll never have leftovers. And those leftovers make a fantastic breakfast!