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More Gourmet Recipes  

My Sweet! (February 6, 2015)

Olive Oil–Rosemary Bundt Cake
Molasses-Buttermilk Corn Bread with Maple-White Dog Whoop and Candied Bacon
Luby's Chocolate Icebox Pie
Orange-Almond Bread Pudding
Nocciola Baci

Valentine's Day is almost here; instead of the usual flowers and chocolates, why not give your true love a special, homemade sweet! Just in is a collection of fabulous new dessert cookbooks, each one more decadent than that last. You'll find simple, complex, savory and sweet... and you'll want to make every single one!

Sweet on Texas is crammed with lovable confections from the Lone Star state, and it covers the whole, big ole place in four culinary regions! Where East Texas meets the South you've got yer sweet, spongy dolled-up sweet potato pound cake; up in Hill Country is a luscious lemon-lime tart sporting the tallest meringue ever; down south by the border are these "moreish" churros buenos; and way west you'll dig into the Perini Ranch strawberry shortcakes! If this isn't quite enough, the anecdotes and tall tales with lyrical descriptions of the countryside will keep you entertained while your dessert bakes!

Ah, we love this book... Sugar Cube, full of recipes from a tiny, pink food cart that has Portlanders lining up for Twisted Toll House Cookies, Black and White Sesame Brittle, and an ethereal Black Cow Panna Cotta syruped with root beer drizzle. The Sugar Cube is where the Highway to heaven cupcakes, decadent coffee-spiked chocolate cake, are frosted with thick ganache, drizzled with salty caramel, and speared with crunchy potato chips. Got your interest? Inside the eponymous book, we found 50 "Deliciously Twisted Treats" from the sweetest little food cart on the planet.

Portlandia anyone? You can't get closer to heaven that this!

Pastry chef, beloved food blogger and author of Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes, David Lebovitz is known for creating desserts with bold and high-impact flavor, not fussy complicated presentations. Lucky for us, as this translates into sweets that bakers of all skill levels can master, and who wouldn't want to master a few desserts such as the one described by David as "screaming chocolate intensity." Food writer Deborah Madison says about David's work, "Bring any of David's desserts forward at the close of a meal, and you'll have a hard time remaining humble under showers of praise. But what I especially like about David's book, aside from the results his recipes promise, is David himself – that he and his desserts are so approachable, relaxed and friendly!" Thanks, Deborah, you've said it all!

Meringue is big, it's gorgeous and it's full of all those desserts that you wanted to do one day... but where to start? Just open it up and you'll start planning to do them all. Authors Linda K. Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner explain it all for you, from the history of meringues to the science of how the combination of egg whites, sugar, a pinch of cream of tartar or a dash of vinegar and air is so simple, yet so divine! Meringue can be spooned onto pies, piped into any number of beautiful shapes, baked, poached, whipped into silky frostings or folded into cakes. It can be combined with ground nuts, chocolate or any number of flavorings, or made into vessels for Chantilly cream and berries! And that's just the beginning...

All the classics are here; if you love desserts, you'll have to own Meringue.

Still need to make a main dish for your sweetheart too, but you're running out of time? Turn to my Valentine Express article!

Tony's note on matching wines and desserts:
Make sure the wine is sweeter than the dessert.

On today's menu:

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Olive Oil–Rosemary Bundt Cake

Olive Oil–Rosemary Bundt Cake

Cake Simple author Christie Matheson says "I love using savory flavors in desserts. They add depth and interest, and provide a fantastic counterpoint to the sweetness. Olive oil and rosemary, both classic elements of Mediterranean cooking, are delicious together, and the cornmeal in this cake evokes the idea of a classic polenta (in moist and delicious cake form)."

Don't try and resist. You need to make this cake now... and try the others soon. Thanks, Christie!

Serves 8–10

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus melted butter for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 3/4 cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1¼ cups sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary leaves

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the inside of a 10 cup Bundt pan with the melted butter and dust it lightly with flour. (Use a pastry brush to help distribute the flour and tap out any excess.)

Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and the salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sugar on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat ion the egg yolks, one at a time.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the olive oil and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Add the flour mixture and the rosemary and beat until just incorporated-do not over mix!

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for about 40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for about 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, invert the cake onto the rack and let it cool for another 30 minutes. Drizzle the warm cake over lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle it with a little sugar and a pinch of salt. Serve warm or at room temperature. The cake will keep in an air tight container at room temperature for up to two days.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Sauternes, Icewine



Molasses-Buttermilk Corn Bread with Maple-White Dog Whoop and Candied Bacon

Molasses-Buttermilk Corn Bread with Maple-White Dog Whoop and Candied Bacon

Whoa... WHAT?

Kir Jensen in Sugar Cube comments that for Southerners, corn bread is a starch. It's dry and savory and great for sopping up all those dinner juices. And while we may be Southern, like Jensen we grew up on sweet, tender muffins from the Jiffy box! So Jensen figured it was no stretch to turn corn bread into dessert. She makes a super-moist version with brown butter and baking spices, then tops it all with sweet, smoky, candied bacon and a dollop of whipped cream spiked with maple syrup and unaged "white dog" whiskey from House Spirits, one of Portland's best small-batch distillers!

Well, if you're like us and you can't get this hooch, swap it for a bourbon or whiskey you already have on hand, or skip it and go for a 1/4 tsp vanilla. Really? We'll go for the booze.

Makes 8 servings

    Corn Bread:
  • Bacon grease, lard or butter for greasing the pan
  • 1/4 vanilla bean
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup medium-fine yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour1 Tbsp plus 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground Saigon cinnamon (sold as Vietnamese cinnamon in supermarkets)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    Maple-white Dog Whoop
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 Tbsp plus 1½ tsp white dog whiskey
  • Candied Bacon Crunch (recipe follows)

To Make the Corn Bread:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch cast-iron skillet or cake pan with bacon grease. Set aside. Split the piece of vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife and add to a small sauté pan. (Make sure the pan is shiny metal, not dark, nonstick or cast iron or you won't be able to see why dark the butter solids get.) Add the pod and 6 Tbsp of the butter and cook over medium heat until the solids drop to the bottom of the pan and turn a nutty brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a Medium Mixing Bowl:
Whisk together the buttermilk, egg, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and molasses. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined. Stir in the browned butter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown and the top springs back when pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the top of the corn bread with the remaining butter.

To Make the Maple-White Dog Whoop:
In the bowl of a sand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a handheld mixer, whip the cream and maple syrup together on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Whisk in the whiskey (if using) 1 Tbsp at a time. With the mixer on high, continue whipping until medium-stiff peaks form. (The cream can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)

Place a slice of warm corn bread on a plate, top with a dollop of maple whipped, and garnish with the candied bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Candied Bacon Crunch:

  • 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 3/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 5 slices (about 1/3 pound) thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon

If the words "candied," "bacon" and "crunch" don't clue you in. let me warn you that this stuff is seriously addictive. You will not be able to stop nibbling it so you might want to make extra. You don't have to save it for dessert, either, it would be perfect next to your eggs at breakfast if you don't chop it up.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place a metal oven-safe rack (like a cooling rack for cookies) on top.

In a small bowl, mix together the maple syrup, mustard and pepper. Dip the bacon in the maple mixture, coating both sides liberally and arrange on the rack in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip the bacon over; baste once more during the last 5 minutes of baking. The bacon will take on a rich caramelized color and a lacquered sheen.

If you want to tear the bacon into pieces, let it cool completely first. Or you can cut each slice in half and serve.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Late Harvest Riesling



Luby's Chocolate Icebox Pie

Luby's Chocolate Icebox Pie

Nothing says Texas quite like the name "Luby's." The first cafeteria opened in San Antonio in 1947 and, as author Denise Gee tells us in Sweet on Texas, spread like gossip after church! The cafeteria has been a Sunday dinner mainstay for millions of families, and part of the allure is its dessert offerings, with this icebox pie often being one of them. Icebox pie has long been a favorite on the sizzling Lone Star State ‘cause you don't have to heat up the kitchen to make it, and you gotta open the face-cooling icebox to fetch it!

  • 2½ cups milk
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 7 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 9-inch prebaked pie shell
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar, or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Garnish: Chocolate curls or shavings (see note)

To Make the Pie:
In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of the milk, the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil over medium heat.

In a medium bowl, mix the cornstarch with 6 Tbsp water until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup milk. Whisk in the egg yolks and vanilla until well blended.

Add the cornstarch-egg mixture, gradually, to the milk mixture in the saucepan, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes or until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Add the marshmallows and stir until they are melted and the mixture is smooth.

Pour into the pie shell. Press plastic wrap directly onto the filling (to prevent a "skin" from forming while cooling) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To Make the Whipped Cream:
In a chilled metal bowl, whip the cream (with cold beaters) with the sugar and vanilla on high for 2½ to 3½ minutes until soft peaks form: keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Remove the plastic wrap from the pie and top the pie with the whipped cream. Garnish if desired. The pie should keep, tented with plastic wrap or foil (or better yet, with a high-dome cover) in the refrigerator for about 4 days.

NOTE: To make chocolate curls, use a potato peeler to shave strips from a solid chocolate bar.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Beaumes de Venise, Tawny Port



Orange-Almond Bread Pudding

Orange-Almond Bread Pudding

Oh, David Lebovitz, you've done it again... a classic dessert designed to use leftover bread, and you've elevated this simple combination to ethereal heights! No wonder, trained as a baker in France and Belgium, Lebovitz worked for 12 years in the pastry department at Chez Panisse; his first book Room for Dessert was an IACP award nominee. He writes, blogs and leads culinary tours from his home in Paris. We're booking a flight now...

Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Grated zest of 4 oranges, preferably organic
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 Tbsp orange-flavoured liqueur, such as Grand Manier or Cointreau
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 7 ounces almond paste, crumbled
  • 1 loaf firm-textured white bread cut into 1/2 inch slices

In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, cream, orange zest, and the 1/2 cup sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 1 hour.

Reheat the milk-cream mixture until it's quite warm. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then gradually whisk in the arm milk cream mixture, whisking constantly as you pour to prevent the eggs from cooking. Whisk in the vanilla and almond extracts, orange liqueur and cinnamon. Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer into a bowl or large pitcher. Set aside.

Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish or soufflé mold.

In a small bowl, beat together the egg white and almond paste until smooth. Spread a spoonful of almond paste over one side of each bread slice. Layer the bread slices in the prepared baking dish, almonds paste side down. (If you are using a round or oval dish, halve each slice of bread diagonally to form triangles, then make layers of triangles arranged in a pinwheel pattern). Pour the milk-egg yolk mixture over the bread and gently press the bread down, submerging the layers in the liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator the pudding for a least 1 hour or up to overnight, pressing down the bread from time to time so that it becomes completely saturated.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Sprinkle the top of the pudding very liberally with sugar. Set the baking dish in a larger roasting pan and pour warm water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake until the bread pudding is puffed in the center and the top is rich golden brown, about 1 hour. Let cool until warm.

Serving: Bread pudding is best served warm. It's good all by itself but it's great with a ladleful of a rich caramel or butterscotch sauce.

Storage: The unbaked pudding should be chilled for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day before baking. Once baked, it can be refrigerated overnight and rewarmed in a low oven, covered with aluminum foil.

Variation: To make a chocolate-studded bread pudding, add 10 ounces coarsely chopped dark or milk chocolate, distributing some in the bottom of the baking dish and between the layers of brad as you arrange them in the dish.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Coteaux du Layon, Cream Sherry



Nocciola Baci

Nocciola Baci

Warning. This is an obscene recipe... meringue and Nutella... Leave it to the Italians to create something as decadent as baci – chocolate kisses filled with hazelnut cream and a hazelnut center. As a homage to this Perugian treat, Linda Jackson and Jennifer Gardner created these delicious meringue cookies: ah, hazelnut meringue on one side and chocolate-hazelnut meringue on the other; these sandwich cookies are held together with a creamy layer of Chocolate-Hazelnut Filling! Bellissimo! Snort!

  • Meringues
  • 1½ cups blanched, chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Chocolate-Hazelnut filling
  • 1/3 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (such as Nutella), room temperature
  • 1/2 Tbsp sifted powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 200°F.

In a food processor, pulse hazelnuts until finely ground. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar, increasing speed to medium-high until soft peaks form. Add salt then gradually add superfine sugar, followed by powdered sugar, about a Tbsp at a time, beating on high until peaks are stiff and glossy. Add hazelnuts and mix just until incorporated.

With a rubber spatula, divide the meringue mixture roughly in half in the mixing bowl. Use half the mixture to make plain hazelnut cookies by dropping well-rounded teaspoons onto another parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 90 minutes. Remove from the oven immediately so that the cookies will remain a little bit chewy in the center. Cool completely before removing from baking sheets.

Chocolate-hazelnut filling:
In a small bowl, mix the chocolate-hazelnut spread and powdered sugar until incorporated.

To assemble baci cookies:
Gently spread about 1/2 tsp of the Chocolate-Hazelnut filling onto the bottom flat side of one chocolate-hazelnut cookie, then place the flat side of a hazelnut cookie on top, gently pressing the two together. Repeat with the remaining cookies and filling. Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container with pieces of wax paper separating the layers of cookies.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Late Bottled Vintage Port, Samos Muscat



We wish to thank the following for permission to publish material and photographs:

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, and Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver, for:

  • Sweet on Texas by Denise Gee. Text © 2012 Denise Gee. Photographs © 2012 Robert M. Peacock.
  • Cake Simple by Christie Matheson. Text © 2011 Christie Matheson. Photographs © Alex Farnum.
  • The Sugar Cube by Kir Jensen. Text © 2012 Kir Jensen. Photographs © Lisa Warninger.


Gibbs Smith, Layton, Utah, and Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver, for Meringue, by Linda K. Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner. Text © 2012 Linda K. Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner. Photographs © 2012 Alexandra DeFurio.


Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, for Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes, by David Lebovitz. © 2010 David Lebovitz. Photographs © 2010, 2012 Maren Caruso. Ten Speed Press is an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc., New York.


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Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Helen Hatton and Ron Morris at Le Caveau des Gourmets in Gigondas




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