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Nov 11, 2008 01:24 PM

A recipe you have made that was worth the effort?

Hello chowhounds. I am in a dinner group and was assigned to make Martha Stewart's chocolate pumpkin tart. It was extremely time consuming, caused me 1st degree burns that if they were 3 inches higher on my arms would look like I was suicidal, made me curse and cry and, I feel, should have been accompanied by both a bottle of wine and a ticket to Bellevue.

At the dinner I was anticipating eating a chocolate pumpkin bliss and that all the anguish would be worth it but, after tasting it, it was just good. Everyone there liked it, but they RAVED about the mashed potatoes and the cabbage that both took so much less effort.

I don't mind going the extra mile for a dessert, spending lots on ingredients, or learning new techniques, but this was so not worth it.

Do you have an involved recipe that is actually Bellevue worthy?

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  1. One winter's day I decided to make homemade tamales. It was a huge effort since I had to first prepare the pork meat filling, Then, I made the tamale dough, with masa harina purchased from a real Mexican grocery. It literally took me about 5 hours to finish making all the tamales. I feel it was worth it. Yes, tamales aren't fancy, and might not earn respect from some, but it was satisfying to make something from scratch.

    1. thomas keller's pig trotters with sauce gribiche

      very time consuming and so worth it!

      1. Marcella Hazan's Ragu alla Bolonese is worth it!

        I use sherry instead of dry white wine and I use a 5 oz can of evvaporated milk instead of a cup of whole milk. Delicious!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Ora

          I second this. I've been making it for years and people swoon when i serve it.

          1. re: lulubelle

            agree as well...easy but long ( 4 1/2 hours on the stove). The best bologese i've ever tasted.

        2. Grammercy Tavern Gingerbread is worth the effort IMO.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Joebob

            But it's not much effort - such an easy recipe to pu together for a big payoff.

          2. As soon as I read your post title I thought of this dessert. Engadiner Nusstorte. Actually, I got the recipe when I was a teenager and called it Enga ding Nut Torte. My recipe is slightly different than this one I found online and when I get home from work, I will post it as well. Because I was an inexperienced chef at the time, this was challenging because you had to make pastry, use a springform and make caramel. My original recipe uses slivered blanched almonds in addition to the walnuts. It is delicious and worth the work.


            • 350 g flour
            • 250 g butter
            • 200 g sugar
            • 1 pinch salt
            • 1 lemon, rind of
            • 1 egg
            • 500 g sugar
            • 500 g walnuts
            • 500 g cream
            • 50 g tbsps honey
            • 1 egg yolk
            1. Cream butter and sugar.
            2. Mix flour, rind, salt and egg on high speed until a dough is formed.
            3. Divide the dough into 1/3 and 2/3 parts, wrap well in foil and chill for minimum 1/2 hour.
            4. In the meantime, heat the sugar for the filling until it caramelises to a very light brown.
            5. Heat the cream (can be in microwave) and add it to the caramel, stirring rapidly.
            6. Add the honey, heat until it reaches a rolling boil.
            7. Add nuts and stir well. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
            8. Mix well and allow to cool.
            9. Roll out the larger of the pastry dough rolls and fit into a greased 24cm springform pan to cover the base and sides.
            10. Pour in the cooled filling.
            11. Roll out the remaining dough to form a lid for the cake. Put on top of the filling and join the edges well.
            12. Paint the top of the cake lightly with whisked egg yolk.
            13. Cook the cake at about 180 degrees centigrade for 50-60 minutes.
            14. Take the cake out of the oven and allow to cool. Do not remove outside of tin until cool! The cake should be totally cold before serving- I put mine in the fridge on the base, and only take it off the base once it's cold and the filling has set. Otherwise if the filling is still hot the bottom will sag when you pick it up.

            6 Replies
            1. re: janetms383

              Most Germanic pastries are well worth the effort. For my birthday dinner, I made my own dobostorte: 7 ultra-thin layer of sponge cake interlaced with chocolate buttercream, decorated with crushed nuts and topped with a delicate layer of crunchy caramel. The oohs were nice, but the flavor really made it well-worth the effort.

              1. re: JungMann

                Someone after my own heart. Never made this, but would love a hunk right now :-)
                My father's family immigrated from Austria and I guess it's just in the blood

                1. re: janetms383

                  You should try it! I had been missing them ever since I left my Konditorei back home and it was far easier than I expected. The achievement, once you display the beautiful thing, is a big boost to your houndish self-esteem.

                2. re: JungMann

                  Along those lines, the 18 varieties of Christmas cookies we make. I counted.

                  Several of those are candidates for payoff/massive effort ratio:

                  The pfeffernusse, which have to be individually cut out, small rounds, hundreds from one recipe. Then lay them all out raw on baking trays. Then they sit in a cold oven overnight. Then they all get turned over. Then a dab of flavorful liquid (kirsch, coffee, or tabasco) is dabbed on the damp spot. Then they are baked. After cooling, they live in a tin in the basement with a sliced apple for several weeks. Only THEN can you eat them. But they're good.

                  The other candidate are vanilla sticks which seem to be unique to Columbus, Ohio. You make a meringue with powdered sugar, about twice the sugar ratio of most meringues, so it's f***ing impossible to beat by hand. Take out half, then mix a lot of ground almonds with the other half. Grinding the almonds was originally done by hand, too. Thank G-d for kitchenaid. Then you roll out the nut 'dough', and cut into strips. Then frost with the remaining meringue. Then bake. Then shower to get rid of the sticky dried meringue snot that you are wearing from the elbows down. Then the cookies get the cut apple treatment too.

                  Yes, they are German treats.

                  1. re: Louise

                    Louise, could you pretty please post the recipe for the vanilla sticks? Your description made me giggle--I'd like to experience the sticky nightmare! And they sound like they might be gluten free, and I need more GF treats! :o)

                    1. re: Vetter

                      Vetter, I actually found some recipes online that sound like ours. One is here:


                      I would add the note, after you add the powdered sugar, keep beating til stiff again. You will be using part of the meringue for icing so it needs to hold its shape. If it's runny, it won't work, save yourself the frustration.

                      Second note, you may want to cut the recipe in half as it makes a lot.

                      Third note, they are certainly eatable right out of the oven but do try softening them in a tin for several weeks with several slices of apple. Place the apple in a small bowl and set inside the tin on top of the cookies. It's Grandma's trick and it really works.

                      Another note, powdered/confectioner's sugar often has a small amount of cornstarch added, I'm not sure why. Don't know whether it would be an issue for you but something to be aware of.