Over the past year, I sampled Coconut Cream Pies across the Northwest restaurant/bakery landscape and kicked around the tenants of the perfect custard cream pie with dear friend and culinary maven, Rosalyn Rourke. One thing led to another, as the saying goes, and the next thing I knew, on Roz’s insistence, I was hunting down a Lindt Excellence White Coconut Bar. After one taste, the Coconut Cream Pie turned into Rosalyn’s Coconut White Chocolate Dream Pie. After all, her appreciation for white chocolate and coconut was the inspiration.
It never fails. When the temperature drops like a rock and snow is in the air, I start craving gingerbread cake. It’s one of those ultra-comforting sweets that has so sparked bakers’ creativity over the years that it now boasts hundreds of variations. Maybe thousands. Look at the lineup of gingerbread cakes on TasteSpotting.
However, for gingerbread inspiration this year, I had only to open the new Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Café cookbook by Harvard educated mathematician turned professional baker, Joanne Chang. I scored the cookbook earlier this fall while at the South End location of Joanne’s Flour Bakery in Boston.
You’ve heard the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Well, it was definitely the impetus for this Thanksgiving dessert, as I was torn between pleasing my stepdad, Mike, who loves White Chocolate Cheesecake and my daughter’s boyfriend, Chris, who expressed a desire for Peanut Butter Cheesecake (which I quickly swapped for pumpkin in honor of the holiday.)
The combination of the two flavors was even better than I expected, with the white chocolate lending the pumpkin a measure of sophistication.
Last week, I received a copy of Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz. I began immediately to flag the pages (a sure sign that I may actually cook from a book) but then paused on page 90, at a recipe titled, Apple-Red Wine Tart. David, what a great idea!
I poach pears and apples in red wine and a variety of spices nearly every fall, but it never occurred to me to expand the concept into a tart. How lovely that would that be. I actually went as far as buying a bottle of inexpensive, but hopefully decent, merlot to try the recipe when another mental pause occurred.
What if I macerated the apples in reduced apple cider, instead of wine? I knew from past cooking adventures, such as Spiced Apple Cider Caramel Sauce, that reducing and then caramelizing apple cider produces the most sublime nectar imaginable. I wondered if I could combine this idea with my Caramelized Pear & Anise Tart (not yet posted). And this superb tart is the result of all that wondering and David’s inspiring new cookbook.
When October hits the Pacific Northwest and the Cascade foothills begin to turn iridescent shades of crimson, honey, and gold, I develop an intense craving for anything and everything pumpkin. This year, I’ve already created a new pumpkin bisque and salad, so I decided it was time to focus on something sweet. But I wasn’t up for anything too complicated or time-consuming, so the tea bread category sprang quickly to mind.
Every year when fresh cranberries hit the markets, I immediately stock up, and then almost as immediately, make this delectable tart. OK, to tell the truth, I am in the markets a few weeks early, whining to whoever will listen, or muttering to myself even, about the absence of cranberries. “Shouldn’t they be in by [...]