Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

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So that dinner I made for my friend Alex’s birthday (the one with the soup) began a few days earlier when I e-mailed Alex a very important question: “Dear Alex,” I wrote, “what are your Top 5 favorite desserts of all time?”

Alex wrote back: “Hmmm…top five favorite desserts…I’ll do this w/o thinking too much: pecan pie, warm cake with cream cheese frosting, strawberry rhubarb pie, chocolate lava cake, lemon cake.” Seeing as she did this stream-of-consciousness style, I had to trust that the first dessert she named was truly her favorite. Which is why I ended up making what turned out to be (in my opinion at least) the greatest pecan pie ever.

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Strawberry Shortcake

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“Whoah,” you’re probably thinking, “am I on drugs? What’s going on here? That picture, it’s so good, so professional, so unlike any picture I’ve ever seen on this blog before. What gives?!”

I’ll tell you what gives: I didn’t take that picture! (Collective gasp.) No, that picture was taken by my new best friend for the next year or so. Say hello to Elizabeth Leitzell (here’s the link to her website), the new snapshot photographer who’ll be coming along with me taking pictures of me cooking with famous chefs for the cookbook I’m writing for Artisan. Last week, I cooked a dinner for her and my book intern Tyla Fowler (the blogger behind Without a Microwave) as a gesture of good will before the cookbook work begins.

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Tartufo at Lupa

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The Brown Bonnet from Carvel Ice Cream was a staple of my childhood. It’s hard to believe it now, but our family would ride our bikes together to the Carvel on Long Beach Road in Oceanside, Long Island, where I grew up. We’d dismount, mosey inside and place our orders and my parents’ orders were always the same: a brown bonnet for my dad, a brown bonnet for my mom. What’s a brown bonnet? Essentially: soft-serve ice cream dipped in a chocolate glaze that instantly hardens. You can get it at the Mr. Softee truck in New York; there it’s just called a chocolate-dip. Wherever you get it, there’s something immensely satisfying about ice cream in a chocolate shell. And after years of brown bonnets and chocolate-dips at Mr. Softee, I thought I knew everything there was to know about the magical combo of chocolate on the outside and ice cream on the inside—that is, until I had the tartufo at Lupa.

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