You'll love the creamy texture and simple vanilla flavor that's unadulterated by the cornstarch used in so many other pudding recipes. And, of course, there's the delightful little squish of the tapioca, like so many bubbles of happiness.
Do you remember your first-ever taste of toffee? I remember mine distinctly. It was on visiting day at summer camp, and the toffee was a Heath bar, smuggled in by my father against very strict "no food in bunk" rules. I suppose that the rule was only partially broken, because as soon as it was opened, it was devoured. Such flavors! Such texture! One taste of buttery, nutty, coffee, chocolate, sweet, salty, crunchy goodness and I became an addict.
Next time you have a sudden urge to bake, remember this: as long as you have butter, sugar, flour, and salt, you can make one of the most beloved, classic cookies known to mankind. And while the ingredients in shortbread may be few and simple, connoisseurs of the stuff will tell you—not all shortbreads are created equal.
Éclairs have gotten a bad rap lately, having suffered abuse at the hands of many subpar French-themed cafes that sell them despite being long past their prime. No more, I say. It's time for dessert lovers to do right by the éclair and make a batch at home.
Whether you choose to make it because you've got something you need to use up (eggs, milk, stale bread), or just because you love it, bread pudding delivers a whole lot dessert satisfaction with just a small amount of effort.
Coconut macaroons may not be adorable, but, for coconut lovers, they're unadulterated coconut bliss.
Perfect, dainty madeleines are just the thing when you know you're craving something sweet but can't decide between a cookie or a slice of cake.
Professional cake makers have a little secret up their sleeves that they don't want you to know about. Next time you're enjoying a piece of wedding cake and wondering how the baker achieves such perfectly uniform layers of cake, here is one possible answer: The cake layers are actually punched out from single sheets of cake. Some layers may even be pieced together from the scraps left over from punching out other circles or squares.
Pâte sucrée (pronounced pat-sue-cray) is the sweet, crumbly dough that gives tarts a sturdy, tender base for custards, creams, and fruits. When it's made well, pâte sucrée has the crumbly texture of a buttery sable cookie. It tastes like shortbread, but is able to support even the heaviest filling without falling to pieces.
There's a time and a place for biscotti, and when the moment's right it's great to know how to make a batch. They are the perfect pairing for coffee or tea&mdash when you want a little something sweet but you're not quite in the mood for a sugary cookie or other dessert. Biscotti are both easy to package without breaking and extremely shelf stable, making them a thoughtful and pretty homemade gift or cookie jar staple.
Pastry cream is the unsung hero of the dessert world. You may know it best as the filling in your cream puff, the "cream" in a Boston Cream pie, or the "pudding" in banana cream pie. It's especially worshiped by French pastry chefs; I challenge you to order something from a pâtisserie that doesn't contain it. Simply put, pastry cream makes good desserts better with its creamy, oozy richness, by adding flavor and smooth texture to anything it touches.
Pound cake is one of the best dessert delivery systems out there. When I look at pound cake, I see a blank canvas that's begging to be painted with macerated fruits, drizzled with chocolaty syrups, piled with dollops of whipped cream. It has the perfect texture for soaking up juices and sauces, and unlike some other cakes, it doesn't go to mush.
If you're ever in the mood to put together a fancy dessert at home, mousse bombes are a fantastic way to go. They satisfy my craving for many things at once; a little cake, a little frozen mousse, and a surprise bit of fresh fruit, jelly, or nuts. Best of all, they have a gorgeous, smooth shell of chocolate that looks as beautiful as it tastes, giving you the dramatic payoff of a plated dessert with just a little effort.
For Valentine's Day this year, I won't be handing my money over to Hallmark or Hershey's or even Jacques Torres. Instead, I've invested in a gift for myself that will keep on giving to others for years to come: an acrylic bonbon mold and some high-quality, couverture dark chocolate. With these items, I can create chocolate bonbons custom-made to suit my sweetheart's tastes (or my own).
It's been three weeks since I began working on Canelé for my column, and this is what they've reduced me to: crazed, unable to pull myself away, and struggling to put down words that might help you, gentle reader, avoid the madness to which this pastry has driven me. Learn from my dozens of attempts and come see how to makes canelé for yourself.
Make fresh doughnuts, and you will be king or queen for a day. You will bring joy and light where there once was darkness and cases of the Mondays. You will be loved by your adoring, doughnut-eating fans. Come learn how!
Before the proliferation of molten chocolate lava cakes on restaurant dessert menus in the last quarter of the 20th century, there was the chocolate soufflé. Rich and decadent, yet impossibly fluffy with its warm, oozing center, chocolate soufflé is the great grandmother to all of the warm, partially baked chocolate desserts that followed. Learn how to make it right here.
For a number of reasons, spritz are a serious contender for the title of my favorite cookie. They suite my taste exactly; crisp, made primarily of butter, perfectly balanced with a nice hit of vanilla and salt. Best of all, they appeal to the geeky, perfectionist baker in me, because learning to make perfect spritz cookies is a marathon, not a sprint, and I'm still only on mile 13. I love a good challenge in the kitchen.
Orangettes are the ultimate candy for those who love the chocolate and orange flavor combination. They are brilliant in their simplicity, made of nothing but orange peel, sugar, and the best dark chocolate you can get your hands on. They are also relatively easy to make at home, have a long shelf life, and are quite beautiful. They're the perfect project for gifting or squirreling away for a stash.
I love torrone, the pillowy soft nougat candy filled with nuts. Traditional torrone, as the Italians intended it, has almonds, but I prefer the flavor and color of pistachio. Torrone is made with a mild honey, which imparts great flavor on its own, but I like to add additional flavor, either the seeds from a vanilla bean, some vanilla extract, or citrus zest.