Happy Thanksgiving, readers! Throw out that can of gelatinous goo and step up your cranberry game this year with this recipe for a Cranberry Crackle Tart from Dorie Greenspan's unfussy guide to French baking, Baking Chez Moi.
Cranberry Crackle Tart
Makes 6 servings
When the weather gets cold and Americans in Paris start thinking of Thanksgiving, there are chestnuts galore for stuffing, pecans for pie (although you usually have to shell them) and, if you know where to look, even some fresh cranberries. Cranberries are a little easier to find now than they were when I first started living in France, but they’re still treated like precious exotic fruit and priced just as high. In fact, they’re sold in containers so small the only thing you might be able to do with your stash is to make this tart, which requires just a handful or so of berries.
The tart has three layers, each adding something different to the mix: The crust is sweet and crisp and so purposefully low I think of it as a platter. The thin layer of thick jam is there for flavor, texture and insulation: It’s like a barrier island between the dry base and the moist crown. The topping is a fluff of marshmallowy meringue and fresh cranberries, a mixture of sweet and tart that bakes to a crackle finish. I love the contrasts and the way the surface of the meringue turns crunchy, while underneath it remains soft and snow white.
The tart looks homey, but it’s oddly sophisticated in its own way and not-so-oddly very satisfying, particularly after a hearty meal, like a Thanksgiving feast.
For the filling
Butter a 9-inch pie pan (I use a Pyrex pan) and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Sandwich the dough between two sheets of parchment or wax paper and roll it out until it is a scant 1/8 inch thick. Don’t worry about making a beautiful circle, because you’re going to trim the dough.
Fit the dough into the pie pan, allowing the excess to drape over the sides. Gently press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan and then, using a paring knife, a pizza wheel or a fluted ravioli wheel, trim the dough to about one third down from the rim of the pan. Prick the bottom of the tart shell all over with a fork and freeze for at least 30 minutes. (The leftover dough makes a nice turnover.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Line the crust with a piece of parchment or a buttered piece of aluminum foil and weight it down with rice, dried beans or light pie weights. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, then carefully remove the paper and weights and bake for 8 to 12 minutes more, or until the crust is golden. The crust will have shrunk, but that’s fine. Set the crust on a rack to cool to room temperature.
When you’re ready to fill and bake the tart: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Spoon the jam into the crust and spread it evenly over the bottom. Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium speed just until they turn opaque. With the mixer going, add the sugar in a very slow, steady stream, then keep beating until the whites are shiny and form peaks with pretty, droopy tips; they will look like marshmallow.
Pour the cranberries into the bowl and, using a flexible spatula, fold them into the meringue. Try to distribute the fruit evenly, but don’t try too hard—you want to keep the meringue fluffy. Turn the meringue over the jam and spread it to the edges, making it swirly if you’d like. The jam will sneak up around the sides of the meringue, and that’s fine.
Bake the tart for 1 hour, at which point the top will be light beige and most probably cracked here and there. (If you’d like more color, you can bake it longer or put it under the broiler.) Transfer the tart to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. If you’d like, dust the tart with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
Serving: Just before serving, it’s nice to sprinkle the top of the tart with confectioners’ sugar. In France, I’ve seen some meringue tarts served with whipped cream and some with ice cream. I thought that adding whipped or ice cream would be too much—I was wrong.
Storing: The tart is best served the day it’s made, although it’s still pretty nice a day later. Leave the tart at room temperature, covering only the cut part with a piece of wax paper or plastic film.
Sweet Tart Dough
Makes one 9- to 9½-inch crust
Used by so many French pastry chefs for so many French tarts, this is the dough that I turn to automatically when I’ve got a tart on my mind. Known as pâte sablée, it’s really a sweet cookie dough, the one you’d use to make a tender sablé or shortbread cookie.
I always prebake the crust even if it’s going to get another long bake with the filling, because I like the resulting color, flavor and texture—and the fact that the bottom won’t be soggy.
I use a fluted tart pan with a removable base. If all you’ve got is a pie plate, don’t let that stop you.
A word on rolling versus pressing: You can roll the crust out and fit it into the tart pan or just press it in. I roll the dough. Rolling gives you a thinner crust than pressing, so if you press, you might occasionally find yourself with a little filling left over.
To make the dough: Put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to blend. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely—you’ll have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk just to break it up and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is incorporated, process in long pulses—about 10 seconds each—until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this clumpy stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change—heads-up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface.
To incorporate the butter more evenly and to catch any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing, separate small amounts of dough from the pile and use the heel of your hand to smear each piece a few inches across the counter. In French this is called fraisage, and it’s the ideal way to finish blending a dough.
To make a rolled-out crust: Shape the dough into a disk and put it between two sheets of parchment or wax paper. Roll the dough out evenly, turning it over frequently and lifting the paper often so that it doesn’t roll into the dough and form creases. Aim for a circle that’s at least 3 inches larger than the base of your tart pan. The dough will be 1/8 to 1/16 inch thick, but it’s the diameter, not the thickness, that counts. Slide the rolled-out dough, still between the papers, onto a baking sheet or cutting board and refrigerate for 2 hours or freeze it for 1 hour. (The dough can be refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 2 months; wrap it airtight to freeze.)
When the dough is thoroughly chilled, put it on the counter and let it rest for about 10 minutes, or until it’s just pliable enough to bend without breaking. Remove the dough from the paper, fit it into a buttered tart pan and trim the excess dough even with the edges of the pan. (If you’d like, you can fold the excess over and make a thicker wall around the sides of the tart.) Prick the crust all over with a fork and freeze for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
To make a press-in crust: Butter the tart pan and press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. You won’t need all of the dough if you want to make a thin crust, but I think it’s nice to make a thickish one so that you can really enjoy the texture. Press the pieces of dough in so that they cling to one another and will knit together when baked, but don’t use a lot of force—working lightly will preserve the crust’s shortbready texture. Prick the crust all over with a fork and freeze for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
When you’re ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil snugly into the crust. If the crust is frozen, you can bake it as is; if not, fill it with dried beans or rice (which you can reuse as weights but won’t be able to cook after they’ve been used this way).
To partially bake the crust: Bake for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil (and weights). If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).
To fully bake the crust: Bake the crust for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil (and weights). If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust for another 7 to 10 minutes, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).
Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the crust fitted into the pan but not baked and then to bake it directly from the freezer—it will have a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.
Bonne Idée—Sweet Tart Dough with Nuts: Reduce the all-purpose flour to 1¼ cups and add ¼ cup almond or hazelnut flour (or very finely ground pecans or pistachios). Proceed as directed.
Fall is here, and that means plenty of fresh apples. Dorie Greenspan shares the perfect apple-centric dessert from her new French cookbook, Baking Chez Moi. This simple cake can be put together quickly for any last-minute holiday gatherings.
Custardy Apple Squares
Makes 8 servings
I think of this as a “back-pocket recipe,” one I can pull out when I need something quick and wonderful, something I can make on the spur of the moment without trekking to the market. The cake is primarily apples (or pears or mangoes, see Bonne Idées) and the batter, which resembles one you’d use for crêpes, has more flavor than you’d imagine the short list of ingredients could deliver and turns thick and custard-like in the oven. Through some magic of chemistry, the apples, which go into the pan in a mishmash, seem to line themselves up and they come out baked through but retaining just enough structure to give you something to bite into. That it can be served minutes out of the oven makes this the perfect last-minute sweet.
I’ve made this with several kinds of apples and the cake has always been good. In general, I go for juicy apples that are not too soft (Gala and Fujis work well), and if I’ve got a few different kinds on hand, I use them all. I slice the apples on a mandoline or Benriner, tools that make fast work of the job, give you thin slices and allow you to use almost all the fruit. When you’re finished slicing an apple on one of these, all you’ve got left is a neat rectangle of core.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Slice the apples using a mandoline, Benriner or a sharp knife, turning the fruit as you reach the core. The slices should be about 1⁄16 -inch thick—elegantly thin, but not so thin that they’re transparent and fragile. Discard the cores.
Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl.
Working in a large bowl with a whisk, beat the eggs, sugar and salt together for about 2 minutes, until the sugar just about dissolves and, more important, the eggs are pale. Whisk in the vanilla, followed by the milk and melted butter. Turn the flour into the bowl and stir with the whisk until the batter is smooth. Add the apples, switch to a flexible spatula and gently fold the apples into the batter, turning everything around until each thin slice is coated in batter. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top as evenly as you can—it will be bumpy; that’s its nature.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown, uniformly puffed— make sure the middle of the cake has risen—and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
Using a long knife, cut the cake into 8 squares (or as many rectangles as you’d like) in the pan (being careful not to damage the pan), or unmold the cake onto a rack, flip it onto a plate and cut into squares. Either way, give the squares a dusting of confectioners’ sugar before serving, if you’d like.
Serving: Most often I serve the squares plain, but whipped cream, crème fraîche or ice cream makes a great partner.
Storing: The cake, which is good a few minutes out of the oven or at room temperature the day it is made, can also be refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days and served chilled.
Bonne Idées: You can add a couple of tablespoons of dark rum, Calvados, applejack or Armagnac or a drop (really just a drop) of pure almond extract to the batter. If you have an orange or a lemon handy, you can grate the zest over the sugar and rub the ingredients together until they’re fragrant. You can also change the fruit. Pears are perfect and a combination of apples and pears even better. Or make the cake with 2 firm mangoes—the texture will be different, but still good—or very thinly sliced quinces. Finally, if you want to make this look a little dressier, you can warm some apple jelly in a microwave and spread a thin layer of it over the top with a pastry brush.
Looking for something to do with the summer's bounty of strawberries? Gabrielle Langholtz, author of The New Greenmarket Cookbook (our August Top Pick in Cookbooks!) has you covered. Featuring 93 recipes from 93 of New York’s top gastronomes and chefs, this book has a recipe for just about any craving or occasion. Langholtz collected this three-part recipe from pastry Chef Pichet Ong, and his panna cotta is the perfect base for bright, fruity compotes.
Lemon Thyme Panna Cotta With Rhubarb Compote and Lemon Thyme Shortbread
You can make just one or two of this recipe’s three components—they’re wonderful alone or in any combination—but each part is so simple, it’s easy to make them all. Pastry Chef Pichet Ong’s yogurt panna cotta is sublime, requiring so little work, you’ll want to make it all year long as a creamy canvas for whatever berries you bring home.
Lemon thyme, whose leaves have little yellow edges and a fragrant citrus flavor, is transformative on lemon-loving mains like scallops or roast chicken, but it’s also bright and beautiful in sweets.
Variation inspiration: You can swap out the thyme for lavender, which is available May through July, for a flavor that’s both fresh and floral.
Lemon Thyme Shortbread
Recipe by Pichet Ong, Pastry Chef, blog.pichetong.com
Make the panna cotta: In a medium saucepan, combine the lemon thyme, milk, cream, sugar and salt over medium heat and bring just to a simmer.
Remove from heat, cover and let steep at room temperature for about 1 hour. Remove and discard the thyme.
In a small bowl, combine the gelatin with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Stir to combine and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, return the milk mixture to a low simmer (do not boil) then add the gelatin mixture and stir well. As soon as the gelatin dissolves, remove from the heat. Whisk in the yogurt and divide into 8 glasses or 4-ounce ramekins. Refrigerate until set, at least 5 hours.
Meanwhile, make the compote: Combine all ingredients except the strawberries in a small saucepan and let sit for 20 minutes to macerate. Cook over low heat until the rhubarb is soft, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, add the sliced strawberries.
Make the lemon thyme shortbread: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, blend together the lemon thyme leaves, lemon zest, butter, sugar, vanilla and salt just until thoroughly combined. Add the flour and mix until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a rectangle, about 1-inch thick, and cover with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough into a large rectangle, about ½-inch thick.
Using a knife, cut rectangular cookies about 3½ inches long by 1 inch wide.
Transfer cookies onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Bake the chilled cookies until the edges turn golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Garnish each panna cotta with 2 tablespoons of compote and serve alongside the shortbread.
Although there's a diverse array of recipes inside Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts, Jeni Britton Bauer's ice creams are the foundation. Try this rich and creamy Salty Vanilla Frozen Custard for a more sophisticated take on an old favorite.
Oh, and remember that recipe for Blueberry Cobbler we shared at the beginning of the month? This ice cream makes the perfect pairing if you prefer your desserts à la mode.
Salty Vanilla Frozen Custard
Makes about 1 quart
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk, the egg yolks and cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside.
Whisk the cream cheese, salt and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually add about 2 cups of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture, one ladleful at a time, stirring well after each addition. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, just until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve if necessary.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Remove the frozen canister from the freezer, assemble your ice cream machine and turn it on. Pour the custard base into the canister and spin until thick and creamy.
Pack the custard into a storage container. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Salty Goat’s-Milk Chocolate Frozen Custard
In the Cook step, reduce whole milk to 2 cups and add ¾ cup evaporated goat’s milk to the saucepan with the cream, sugar and corn syrup. After you cook the egg yolks, add 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% or more cacao) and stir until completely melted.
How are you celebrating Independence Day tomorrow, readers? I'm sure most of you will be enjoying food and fireworks with friends and family, so today we're sharing a recipe for a dessert that's almost as American as apple pie: blueberry cobbler! Jeni Britton Bauer, owner of the quickly growing Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, expands upon her ice cream offerings with plenty of unique new flavors, but her recipes for baked goods, sundaes, parfaits and frozen layered cakes in Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts are the real show-stoppers here.
Makes 9 servings
Butter an 8-by-8-inch baking pan. Combine the blueberries with the sugar, salt and lemon juice in a medium bowl, tossing to coat.
Add to the prepared pan. Spoon the batter over the fruit, making 9 equal biscuits.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Bake the cobber for 35 minutes, until the tops of the biscuits are golden and the berries are bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
Sweet Cream Shortcakes
Makes 9 to 12 servings
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Butter a quarter sheet pan.
Put the flour and cold butter in a food processor and pulse 15 times. Add the cream and pulse until the dough comes together into a shaggy mess.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press it together. Fold the dough in half, then fold it over itself two or three times, just until it is no longer clumpy. Spread the dough onto the pan—it spreads easily, so you can use your hands.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a rack.
Chocolate enthusiasts take note: Our cooking columnist describes Alice Medrich's cookbook, Seriously Bitter Sweet: The Ultimate Dessert Maker’s Guide to Chocolate, as "the perfect love letter to this dark, dense, divinely delicious delicacy." This recipe for Bittersweet Decadence Cookies yields soft, ultra-rich cookies and can be modified to use up to 72% chocolate.
Bittersweet Decadence Cookies
Makes 36 cookies
Ultra-chocolatey and richer than sin, slightly crunchy on the outside with a divinely soft center, these are not delicate or subtle, but the jolt of bittersweet is irresistible. I reorganized and revised the original recipe from one in a newspaper—to make the cookies more chocolatey and intense—by reducing the sugar and butter. Now I’ve revised it again so that I can make it with higher-percentage chocolates without compromising that perfect contrast of textures. For the best cookies of all, chop your own chocolate for the chunks, or use a premium brand of chocolate chunks rather than ordinary chocolate chips. You can choose a chocolate for the chunks that contrasts in sweetness with the chocolate in the cookie batter.
Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets (see Note) with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together thoroughly; set aside.
Place the 8 ounces (225 grams) of chocolate and the butter in a large stainless steel bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water and stir frequently just until melted and smooth. Remove the chocolate from the skillet and set it aside. Leave the heat on under the skillet.
In a large heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together thoroughly. Set the bowl in the skillet and stir until the mixture is lukewarm to the touch. Stir the egg mixture into the warm (not hot) chocolate. Stir in the flour mixture, then the nuts and chocolate chunks.
Drop slightly rounded tablespoons of batter 1½ inches apart onto the lined cookie sheets. Bake until the surface of the cookies looks dry and set but the center is still gooey, 12 to 14 minutes. Slide the cookies, still on the parchment, onto racks, or set the pans on the racks. Let cool completely. Store in a tightly sealed container.
Note: I am fussy about cookie sheets. These cookies will have the best flavor and texture if they are baked on sheets lined with parchment paper, which insulates them just enough but still allows the cookies to be a little crusty on the outside and soft within. Cushioned pans and silicone liners make the texture of the cookies too uniform for my taste. Pans with dark surfaces (even if they are nonstick) tend to scorch rich chocolate cookie bottoms before the centers are cooked.
To use higher-percentage chocolate to make cookies that are increasingly bittersweet, without sacrificing the texture or the pretty gloss on the surface of the cookies, adjust the recipe as follows.
To use 61% to 64% chocolate:
Use 7 ounces (200 grams) chocolate. Increase the sugar to ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (110 grams).
To use 66% chocolate:
Use 6½ ounces (185 grams) chocolate. Increase the butter to 3 tablespoons (45 grams) and the sugar to ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams).
To use 70% to 72% chocolate:
Use 5½ ounces (155 grams) chocolate. Increase the butter to 3 tablespoons (45 grams) and the sugar to ¾ cup (150 grams).
For the chunks, use any chocolate you like, the same as or different from the batter. No alterations are necessary.
In the spirit of Valentine's Day, we're sharing a recipe for a beautiful, rich and chocolately dessert that is so good, you won't even mind that it's not heart-shaped. This Warm Mocha Tart comes from Alice Medrich's swoon-worthy cookbook, Seriously Bitter Sweet: The Ultimate Dessert Maker's Guide to Chocolate, which has more than 150 decadent recipes. Who needs flowers?
Warm Mocha Tart
Serves 8 to 10
Two weeks of nonstop shortbread testing produced an unorthodox surprise: perfect shortbread made with melted butter. That shortbread became an exquisitely crunchy and flavorful base for lemon bars, a crust for cheesecake and, ultimately, my favorite sweet tart crust. I even bake brownie batter on top of it. This remarkable crust barely shrinks in the pan, so there is no need to weight or even prick it before baking. To ensure that the bottom remains crunchy, bake the crust fully, to a deep golden brown, before pouring in the filling.
At the same time I was playing with the new tart crust, I was experimenting with different cocoas, tasting and comparing natural and Dutch-process in all kinds of recipes. Voilà, rich warm cocoa custard in the simplest crust.
9½-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom
For the Crust
For the Filling
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. To make the tart crust: Mix the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add the flour and mix just until well blended. Don’t worry if the dough seems too soft. Press all of the dough very thinly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown.
4. Meanwhile, make the filling: Place the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and cream in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture is blended and smooth and begins to simmer around the edges. Remove from the heat and stir in the espresso powder and vanilla.
5. Just before the crust is ready, whisk the egg thoroughly into the hot chocolate mixture.
6. Pour the filling into the hot crust and turn off the oven. Leave the tart in the oven until it quivers like tender Jell-O in the center when the pan is nudged, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a rack.
7. Serve the tart warm or at room temperature.
Espresso Walnut Tart: The same tart in a walnut cookie crust produces a subtler but still delicious effect. You could also make it with toasted skinned hazelnuts—then I would omit the espresso powder.
Reduce the butter to 6 tablespoons (85 grams) and add 2 teaspoons brandy and 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (or a heaping teaspoon instant coffee powder or crystals) with the sugar, salt, and vanilla. In a food processor, pulverize ⅓ cup (35 grams) walnut pieces with ¾ cup (105 grams) flour until fine. Substitute this mixture for the flour. Proceed as directed.
Either natural or Dutch-process cocoa works well here. The former has a livelier, more complex, fruity flavor, while the latter has a cozy old-fashioned flavor reminiscent of chocolate pudding. You choose.
This delicious dessert, from one of our top March cookbooks, needs little introduction—if the title doesn't get you, the photo certainly will.
This is what I call company dessert—you know, one of those recipes you are always looking for that is guaranteed to get plenty of oohs and aahs when guests see it and even more compliments when they taste it. It is a heavenly, light dessert with a wonderful pomegranate sauce, divine with a really good cup of coffee.
Now, let’s talk presentation. You want to time bringing out the cake. Wait until all the dishes have been cleared away and you have a nice stack of plates ready for the cake on the table. Make a big entrance, carrying the cake from the kitchen to the dining room. Cut one slice and then drizzle a little extra sauce on the serving, and ask the person next to you to pass it along. The wonderful aroma of the ginger in the cake will fill the air as it is passed to the person at the end of the table. It’s a great way to build the anticipation of that first bite of such a delicious cake!
To save time, you can use store-bought meringues—it doesn’t matter if they are powdery and dry. You’ll need about 10 meringues that are approximately 3 1 ?2 inches in diameter.
For the meringues
For the cake
2 tablespoons strong instant coffee granules, such as espresso
1 tablespoon boiling water
3 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons superfine sugar
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur, such as Tia Maria or Kahlua
3 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 cup salted pecans, finely chopped
For the pomegranate sauce
¼ cup seedless raspberry preserves
1 cup pomegranate juice (store-bought or fresh)
Juice of 1 lime
1 heaping tablespoon arrowroot powder, mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
Seeds of 2 pomegranates
To make the meringues, preheat the oven to 225°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and rub the paper with a trace of sunflower oil, or line the sheet with a silicone baking mat. Set the baking sheet aside.
Whisk the egg whites until they are very stiff and dry. Then slowly add the granulated sugar bit by bit, whisking until the egg whites regain their former stiffness. Fold in the superfine sugar with a large metal spoon. Spoon the mixture onto the lined baking sheet, and bake until crisp, about 3 hours. Remove, and break the meringues into pieces.
Mix the instant coffee with the boiling water, and then refrigerate until well chilled.
Whip the cream to the soft-peak stage, and mix in the sugar, coffee liqueur, and the chilled coffee. Fold in the broken meringues, the crystallized ginger, and the corn syrup. Line the bottom and sides of a loaf pan with parchment paper. Evenly distribute the chopped pecans on the bottom.
Spoon the whipped cream mixture on top of the pecans. Cover with foil and freeze for at least 24 hours.
To make the sauce, combine the raspberry preserves and the pomegranate juice in a small pan over low heat, and cook until the preserves have melted. Add the lime juice and bring to a boil. Then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the arrowroot mixture. Put the pan back on the heat and simmer gently, whisking, for a couple of minutes. Then let the sauce cool. When it has cooled completely, add the pomegranate seeds.
To remove the frozen cake from the pan, allow the cake to sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a serving platter.
Slice into ¾-inch slices, drizzle with the pomegranate sauce, and serve.
Reprinted from the book P. Allen Smith’s Seasonal Recipes from the Garden by P. Allen Smith. Copyright © 2010 by P. Allen Smith. Photographs copyright © 2010 by Ben Fink. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.
Here's another delicious cookie recipe in honor of this week's contest, from Very Merry Cookie Party—a unique book that gives tips and tricks for staging a successful cookie exchange party along with classic recipes. These beautiful cookies are especially fun to make with children.
Use fruit-flavored Life Savers, sour balls, or similar hard candies for the “stained glass.” It is fun to make your own design for the ornaments. For example, if you want to make a holly leaf or a dove, draw the shape on a piece of cardboard—about 3 inches in diameter is a good size—and cut it out. Edge the gingerbread strips around the design on the cookie sheet. Continue until all the gingerbread has been used.
To crush the candies, use a food processor or place the candies between 2 pieces of waxed paper and crush with a rolling pin.
Cookie Exchange Tip
To make this cookie into a tree ornament, attach a loop made from the dough to the top of eth cookie before baking. After the cookie is baked, thread a piece of ribbon through the loop and tie the ribbon in a bow. To make these ornaments at a party, prepare the cardboard patterns in advance.
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Add the sugar and molasses and beat for 2 minutes. Beat in the water. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture until a soft dough forms.
3. Gather the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil.
5. Divide the dough into thirds. Divide each third into 10 equal pieces. Using your palms, roll each piece on a lightly floured work surface into a rope 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. Gently trace the design of your choice onto the prepared cookie sheets (a wooden spoon handle or chopstick works well for tracing on foil). Outline each design with a rope of dough, pressing the ends together to seal securely.
6. Sprinkle the inside of each design with the crushed candies, dividing the candies evenly among the outlined designs and creating an even layer.
7. Bake in the center of the oven or until the edges of the cookies are golden and the candy has melted, 6 to 9 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets on wire racks until the candy hardens, about 5 minutes. Gently peel the foil away from the cookies and transfer to the racks to cool completely.
Recipe reprinted from Very Merry Cookie Party (Chronicle), copyright 2010, with permission from the publisher. All rights reserved. Read our review of the book.
Here’s another delicious cookie recipe in honor of this week’s contest, from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy (isn't that the greatest title for a cookie cookbook?) by Alice Medrich. These thin, chocolate-y, crispy cookies are a surefire hit.
Makes fifteen 5-inch cookies
A theatrical departure from mainstream chocolate chip cookies, these are large and decidedly flat. They shatter dramatically when you bite them, releasing loads of caramel brown sugar flavor and bursts of bittersweet chocolate. I created this recipe for the original Scharffen Berger Chocolate Factory Store in Berkeley. These cookies will not spread as they should in a convection oven, so make them only if you have a conventional oven.
1 1/3 cups (6 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (1.5 ounces) quick rolled oats
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (2 ounces) light corn syrup
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, or
1 generous cup chocolate chips or chunks
Cookie sheets, lined with foil, dull side up
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Combine the flour and baking soda in a small bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk or fork.
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, oats, sugars, corn syrup, milk, and salt. Mix in the flour mixture. If the batter is warm from the butter, let it cool before adding the chocolate. Stir in the chocolate chunks. If possible, let the dough rest for at least several hours at room temperature or (better still) overnight in the fridge. The rest makes for an especially crisp and extra-flavorful cookie!
Divide the dough into 15 equal pieces (each a scant 1/4 cup or about 1.75 ounces). Lay out 3 sheets of aluminum foil, cut to fit your cookie sheets, on the counter. Arrange 5 pieces of dough (4 in a square and 1 in the center) well apart on each sheet of foil, remembering that the cookies will spread to 5 inches. Flatten each piece of dough until it is about 3K inches in diameter. Slide two of the sheets onto baking sheets.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cookies are thin and very brown. If they are too pale, they will not be crisp. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Slide the foil with cookies onto racks to cool completely before removing the cookies from the foil.
Repeat with the third batch—you can even slide the next foil and cookie dough onto a hot baking sheet as long as you put the pan in the oven immediately. Cool the cookies completely before stacking or storing. May be kept in an airtight container for at least 3 days.
Excerpted from CHEWY GOOEY CRISPY CRUNCHY by Alice Medrich (Artisan Books).
Copyright 2010. Deborah Jones, photographer. Read our review of the book.