The Best Brownies of Your Life

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Here they are, the brownies I’ve always wanted and never found. I didn’t know my brownie life was lacking; for years, I’d been melting chocolate in a double boiler along with some butter to make the Martha Stewart version. Those were always good. So were all the other brownie recipes I attempted with a similar technique: melt chocolate and butter, stir in sugar, eggs, flour, and voila, brownies. The resulting brownies were always enjoyable–fudgy, flat–but never reminiscent of the brownies that made me love brownies in the first place. Until I came upon this recipe.

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Cocoa Puffed Chocolate Mousse

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In my first book, I told the story of the chocolate rose. In case you missed it: my mom once gave me a chocolate rose to give the girl across the street for Valentine’s Day. I nervously carried it over, rang the doorbell, and ended up giving the rose to her sister to pass on and never heard anything about it ever again. The girl didn’t acknowledge my chocolate rose. If she had, would I be married to a woman today? Judging by my recent Spotify Broadway mix, I’m thinking “no.” But I also think I would’ve been more successful with the girl across the street if I’d brought this Cocoa Puffed Chocolate Mousse instead.

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Brittany Cake Aux Pruneaux

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The Neverending Story was one of my favorite childhood movies. I loved the back and forth between Sebastian eating his peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the attic of his school and young Atreyu on his white horse (well, not for long…Artax!) journeying to kill The Nothing. Mostly, though, I loved the idea of this dusty old book, discovered in a hidden-away book shop, that teleports our young hero to another world. I felt the same way, the other day, making a dessert from a cookbook I bought at Bonnie Slotnick’s in the West Village.

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

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The other night I was very cold so I made a hot chocolate. My method for a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants hot chocolate is pretty simple: I warm milk, whisk in unsweetened cocoa powder and a bit of sugar. I taste and allow it to thicken a bit at a simmer. Then, at the last minute, I add a quarter of a Ghiardelli Bittersweet Chocolate bar. Suddenly it’s like you’re drinking a hot melted chocolate pudding and everything’s wonderful. Now imagine sprinkling in some cayenne pepper and cinnamon and turning that hot chocolate into a cookie. Say what? Allow me to explain.

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Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving Pear Cobbler

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Talk about waiting until the last minute…

Most food blogs and websites have inundated you with Thanksgiving recipes for WEEKS and here I am, the day before Thanksgiving, offering you up a recipe for cobbler. But maybe you’re still figuring out dessert? And maybe you haven’t heard about Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving book yet? If the latter is true, you better hurry out and score yourself a copy. What the former New York Times restaurant critic has written is pretty much the essential Thanksgiving cookbook. It’s full of good advice and smart, straight-forward recipes for turkey (roasted, brined, deep-fried, smoked), cranberry sauce, the works. My eye, of course, went straight to dessert where a pear cobbler caught my fancy. And last weekend I served it for dessert at a dinner party, to lots of acclaim.

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Drunk Blondies

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Repeat after me: Butter. Chocolate. Pecans. Coconut. Bourbon.

Again: Butter. Chocolate. Pecans. Coconut. Bourbon.

On Saturday night, we joined our friends Brendan and Danny for a screening of “Sunset Blvd.” at the Hollywood Forever cemetery. (You can read all about that in this week’s newsletter.) I was assigned the task of bringing a salad and a dessert. The salad was cous cous with roasted broccoli; let’s not dwell on that. Instead, let’s talk about the dessert… a dessert that featured (everyone!) butter, chocolate, pecans, coconut and Bourbon. A dessert so addictive no one could stop eating it.

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Blackberry Buttermilk Snacking Cake

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Here in L.A. it’s harder to get in touch with my old New York self, the self who used to make an afternoon snacking cake. If you say the words “afternoon snacking cake” here in L.A. you will be shot by the body police, buried in a mountain of silicone, and never heard from again.

So I made sure to close all the blinds when I set out to make this cake from the most recent Food & Wine; a cake perfect for nibbling in the late afternoon or for breakfast or with tea in the morning.

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Key Lime Pie

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It’s Father’s Day this weekend and no dessert makes me think more of my dad than Key Lime Pie.

The association isn’t based on any particular memory; it’s based on a series of memories of dinners at steakhouses or seafood restaurants where my mom would be taking too long tearing apart her lobster, my dad would look impatiently at his watch, until finally he could order his decaf coffee and a slice of Key Lime Pie.

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