Chocolate Chile Pound Cakes

IMG_1847

Tweaking a Daniel Boulud recipe is a little bit like rewriting the lyrics to a Bob Dylan song. It’s a brazen thing to do.

But when I made that Smoky Beef Chili for Diana’s birthday (and, by the way, not enough of you liked that recipe on Facebook and Twitter; I think it’s because chili is hard to make beautiful…a fact confirmed to me by a food stylist I met the other day) I had leftover homemade chili powder. So the dessert recipe I meant to make–Daniel Boulud’s Chocolate-Ginger Pound Cake–instantly became Daniel Boulud’s Chocolate Chile Pound Cake. Don’t tell Daniel Boulud.

Continue Reading

Crème Caramel

IMG_1694

Ok, enough with this healthy stuff. Bring on dessert.

Very well! For a long time I’ve been curious about Crème Caramel but too wimpy to make it. It starts by making caramel, something I’ve done many times, but then you pour the caramel into ramekins, make a custard with eggs and milk and vanilla bean, pour it on top and cook everything in a water bath. The scary part comes later, after you refrigerate it, when your guests are there and it’s time to unmold… what if it doesn’t come out? What if the caramel didn’t melt and remained a hard block? What if your custard is too wet? Or, worse, overcooked? When it comes to Crème Caramel it’s easy to be afraid.

Continue Reading

Double-The-Cream-Cheese Cheesecake

IMG_6846

A few weeks ago, I posted this picture of a cheesecake that I ate at Craig’s aunt and uncle’s for Easter brunch and several readers wrote me and asked for the recipe. I wrote Craig’s aunt Liz who put me in touch with Andrea, who made the cake. The secret? “This recipe has twice as much cream cheese as the original recipe called for.” I love that about this recipe because if you’re going to eat something decadent like cheesecake, you may as well make the most decadent cheesecake you can possibly make. This is that cheesecake. Thanks, Andrea, for the recipe.

Continue Reading

Ligurian Lemon Cake with Raspberries

IMG_1335

When I went to Paris in 2005, the warm croissants certainly set my heart aflutter, as did the cracklingly fresh baguettes and the dainty, delicate macarons. But the moment my heart almost stopped beating from the shock of deliciousness was the moment I tasted my first Pierre Hermé dessert, a dessert called H. Mogador that contained, “Biscuit au citron, gelee de fruit de la passion, ganache chocolat au lait et fruit de la passion.” It was basically a chocolate popsicle filled with passionfruit, one of my favorite flavors; I didn’t eat it, I inhaled it (watch me on video here). That dessert was the first thing I thought of when years later–this year, in fact–I found Pierre Hermé’s dessert cookbook (which he wrote along with Dorie Greenspan) at the used book store on my street. I immediately snatched it up.

Continue Reading

Reese’s Criminally Drunk Blondies

Hello your honor,

My name is Reese Witherspoon–Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon. I am so embarrassed to be standing in front of you today after having been arrested for disorderly conduct in Atlanta; almost as embarrassed as I was at the premiere of This Means War. What: you didn’t see that movie? Join the club. Anyway, please don’t consider this bribery–oops I said the “B” word–but I baked you a batch of my famous blondies. Get it? Because I’m a blondie? (Well not in my mugshot.)

Continue Reading

Chocolate Cranberry Oat Cookies So Good They’ll Stop Your Kid From Crying

IMG_1318

Parents of three year-olds, I salute you!

We have house guests this week, our friend Celia and her three year old daughter, Johanna. And while I’d been told that the terrible twos are nothing compared to the terrible threes, that really had no significance for me since I don’t have children, I just have a cat and she’s 14. But Johanna is three and very adorable and fun (last night she tried to read me a bedtime story and confessed, midway through, “I don’t quite know how to read”) but also prone to screaming tantrums. And when she arrived at our door on Saturday, she was in the middle of a fierce one. “She just woke up from a nap,” explained Celia. Thankfully, I had cookies on hand to sooth the savage beast.

Continue Reading

Date and Coffee Sponge Cake With A Coffee Glaze

IMG_1092

Speaking of British food people, did you know that Daniel Day-Lewis’s sister is a cookbook writer over there? Her name is Tamasin Day-Lewis and hey, look, she’s on Twitter. I picked up her book Supper For A Song when I visited Kitchen Arts & Letters in New York; I’ve really enjoyed flipping through it, so on the day I made that chicken tagine I decided to put her book to the test for dessert. You never know if a cookbook purchase has been worthwhile until you cook from it. Would this one measure up? Click ahead to find out.

Continue Reading

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

IMG_0919

The question often comes up: “Do you like baking more than savory cooking? Or the other way around?”

I always give a thoughtful, complicated answer but there’s a much easier way to address the question: look to your right, scroll down. See where it says Recipes By Category? Look at the numbers. 36 salads. 22 soups. And (drumroll) 153 desserts. Um, so yes, I really like baking and, more importantly, I really like dessert, both making it and eating it.

Continue Reading