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The Last Course by Claudia Fleming (Report Thread)

JoanN Apr 27, 2009 05:45 AM

There are many different threads that reference this book, but none that consolidates people’s reports on the recipes, so I thought I’d start one in the hope that others who have cooked from this book will jump in here. I know quite a few people have made and loved the Guinness Stout Ginger Cake. What else have you made and loved from this book?

I just acquired it recently and tried my first recipe (well, two, actually) for a party this past weekend.

Chocolate Brownie Cookies (page 229)

Someone, somewhere, had recommended these highly. It really is a brownie in cookie form with mini chocolate chips in it. Easy and terrific, although I made them much larger than she recommends (not on purpose; my “heaping teaspoonfuls” were just too heaping). One of her serving suggestions is to make ice-cream sandwiches with them and that sounded like a fun idea for a party so I did that.

Milk Chocolate Malted Ice Cream

Her ice cream recipes call for a dozen egg yolks and I had told myself I just wouldn’t do that. But something possessed me as I was separating the eggs and I did. This recipe has both extra-bittersweet and milk chocolate and contains original (not chocolate-flavored) Ovaltine. Unfortunately, I overcooked the custard and it began to separate. I whisked it, then put it through a strainer, and it froze well but the texture wasn’t as wonderfully creamy as it should have been. Doubt any of my guests noticed, though, since the flavor was good and the combination of dense chocolate and malted milk was just perfect. The ice cream sandwiches were a real hit. Everyone thought they were fun and got quite a kick out them.

 
 
  1. The Dairy Queen Jun 3, 2011 11:41 AM

    Here's a new thread on the Last Course. I don't want anyone to miss it.

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7849...

    ~TDQ

    1. Caitlin McGrath Feb 19, 2010 07:54 PM

      I baked the fabulous Guinness Stout Ginger Cake for holiday gifts in my mini rose bundt pan, which has six one-cup wells. The recipe made the six, plus another in a six-ounce custard cup. This is a good recipe for gifts because it actually improves after a day or two (and stays nice and moist for several), so it doesn't need to be made at the very last minute. I just popped each cake in a small cellophane bag and closed it with a metallic twist tie, letting the shape of the cake be its own decoration.

       
      4 Replies
      1. re: Caitlin McGrath
        The Dairy Queen Feb 20, 2010 01:27 AM

        Love it! Do you have to reduce the basking time when you use the mini-bundt pan?

        ~TDQ

        1. re: The Dairy Queen
          Caitlin McGrath Feb 20, 2010 09:49 AM

          Yes, I reduced the baking time. I don't remember how long they took - maybe 35 minutes, instead of the hour the recipe specifies for the big cake? I just kept an eye on them and started testing once they looked risen and firm.

        2. re: Caitlin McGrath
          rabaja Feb 22, 2010 11:55 AM

          edit: this was in response to CM's post on the little Ginger bundt cakes.

          I am so impressed that they popped out so well!
          Did you butter and flour the pans?
          I usually make this cake in small or large loaves, using both butter and parchment.
          They release well with the straight sided pans, but I've had my share of disasters with the typical bundt pan before.
          Maybe I need to replace my bundt pan(s)?

          These look really good!

          1. re: rabaja
            Caitlin McGrath Feb 22, 2010 12:39 PM

            Previously, I had only made the full-sized cake in a 9-inch springform pan, so no issues with release (the size works well, and gives you something that says "cake" for dinner parties and such).

            In the rose pan, I used a good spritz of baking spray, the oil and flour combo (I think this time it was Baker's Joy, but I've had equal success with various brands), and used a paper towel to make sure it really got into the crevices. The cakes popped out pretty easily, leaving behind a tiny crusting to be washed off the pans, but no cake. I swear by baking spray for bundt-type pans, but people have posted here on CH that a paste made of flour, butter, and shortening and brushed on works very well.

        3. roxlet Sep 19, 2009 10:44 AM

          I just took the Gingerbread made with stout out of the pan, and the whole house is filled with the scent of gingerbread. It looks and smells divine. It's a perfect fall day, and a perfect fall recipe. I will serve it tonight with whipped cream. It is a very easy recipe and the kind I like -- you don't need a mixer so it's very easy with very little washing up required afterwards. If this is as delicious as it smells, I will certainly be adding it to the repertoire!

          3 Replies
          1. re: roxlet
            Caitlin McGrath Sep 19, 2009 07:32 PM

            roxlet, I hope you have some left over to eat in the next few days, because I think it's even better with a bit of age.

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath
              roxlet Sep 20, 2009 01:51 PM

              It was truly wonderful, and each of my guests asked for the recipe, so I gave them some of the left-over cake as well. My husband, who is not much of a cake eater and usually passes on dessert, loved it too. Looking forward to the rest of those leftovers after dinner tonight!

              1. re: roxlet
                n
                newfoodie Sep 24, 2009 01:50 PM

                I always think of that Gingerbread cake as a special Holiday recipe, but now I do think it would work all Fall long. That's a good reason to make some soon!

          2. emily Apr 30, 2009 08:26 PM

            I've made a few things from this book (forgive me if I don't get the names exactly right):

            Blueberry Cream Cheese Tart -- excellent, but don't try making it with out of season blueberries. Great filling.

            Orange Espresso Gelee Parfaits -- very good. Will make again.

            Brownie Cookies -- I thought these were good, but not different enough from other similar recipes. Guests loved them, though.

            Caramel Ice Cream -- too rich. I prefer David Lebovitz's recipe.

            Orange Cardamom Smoothies -- yum! I love the flavor combo. I make an easier riff on this using yogurt, orange juice, a bit of sugar, creme fraiche, nutmeg and ice. Delicious.

            Pecan Sandies -- didn't really work for me. Not a lot of flavor and not sweet enough.

            1. t
              The Turtle Bay Dove Apr 30, 2009 03:23 PM

              Great thread! I definitely need to make more from this book. I am one of the many who have made and loved the Guinness Stout Ginger Cake . . . many times. I also once made the Saffron Rice Pudding with sour cherries which was fantastic. I can't believe it - but I think that's all I've made from here! Definitely time to try some of these other suggestions.

              ETA: I've had the rhubarb-rose cobbler when a friend made it - and we were all not that impressed by it. And I *love* rhubarb.

              1 Reply
              1. re: The Turtle Bay Dove
                emily Apr 30, 2009 08:34 PM

                I believe I've made the rhubarb-rose cobbler, as well, and, like you, didn't care for it all that much.

              2. o
                Old Spice Apr 29, 2009 10:55 PM

                Wonderful cookbook! I hope that your recent acquisition means that it's back in print. Could never understand why this gem lapsed.

                Now I'm going to have to make those chocolate cookies, which have been on my "to do" list for ages.

                One reason that this book is such a success for me..."success" meaning that I really do use the book and the desserts always get great to rave reviews from people...is that Fleming takes what are essentially familiar dishes and then puts an interesting spin on them. Not enough spin to render them unrecognizable or overdone, but enough to wake up one's tastebuds and maybe even raise a few eyebrows, in a good way.

                Strawberry shortcake with tarragon-macerated berries and a bit more of the herb in the whipped cream is a good example. The tarragon doesn't insult this classic dessert, which it could have in less deft hands; instead it gives just a little jolt of "something different" that goes over quite well.

                Like others, I've made the pistachio brittle. It's almost exactly the same as my mom's peanut brittle recipe, but I like the pistachios much better than peanuts.

                My two favorite desserts in the world may well be her Fig Tart and the Cherry Napoleons. Not only are they delicious, but they look gorgeous. Great "company" presentations. The tart consists of a cooked fig jam, topped with uncooked figs. I like to make a little extra jam filling to use for biscuits.

                Can also recommend the Plum Crumble, with plums or any fruit you like. It's a really good topping. Ditto the Baked Apples.

                The pecan sandies have almost become a kitchen staple; seems like I make them that often anyway.

                Will be nice to hear what others have made and liked.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Old Spice
                  k
                  karykat Apr 30, 2009 09:09 AM

                  Thanks for these thoughts. You are making and loving recipes I haven't tried yet from the book and have overlooked. So I wlll definitely be taking a look at those.

                2. free sample addict aka Tracy L Apr 28, 2009 11:20 PM

                  Great photos. I love making the pine nut rosemary tart. The combination of rosemary and caramel is my idea of aromatherapy and of course the flavor combination is very good. Someone pointed out in another post that is a rif on pecan pie, but I think the two are very different.

                  1. mirage Apr 28, 2009 05:27 AM

                    I've only made a few things beyond the wonderful gingerbread cake, which I've made many times:

                    I made those Chocolate Brownie Cookies, but didn't fill them (that looks fantastic, BTW) and we absolutely loved them. Now I've GOT to fill them with ice cream!!!

                    Cornmeal Nut Biscotti, p. 140 - I made these so long ago, I don't remember what we didn't like about them, just that we didn't like them. But, truthfully, there have only been a few biscotti recipes that we've loved.

                    The Cashew-Chocolate Crisps, p.141, on the other hand, were very good! Brittle and crispy and tasty.

                    Pistachio-Nut Brittle, p. 142, is a delicious take on brittle.

                    The Caramel Ice Cream, p. 193, is quite good - extremely RICH.

                    Creme Fraiche Panna Cotta, p. 206, is delicious. Mine collapsed, so it didn't look as pretty as the picture, but tasted great.

                    There are so many other recipes I've marked to try: That Brandied Fig Ice Cream, Macadamia Tart, Pinenut Tart, Butterscotch Custard w/Coconut Cream, Coconut Ice cream, Coconut Tuiles ..... but I don't make desserts very often and there are so many cookbooks!

                    Thank you for starting this thread.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: mirage
                      k
                      karykat Apr 28, 2009 11:54 AM

                      How did you like the chocolate brownie cookies? The picture looks fantastic. Are they fudgy or more cakey? (I like the fudgy kind.)

                      1. re: karykat
                        JoanN Apr 28, 2009 12:10 PM

                        Not mirage, but I'll answer for me. Fudgy. Definitely. And very slightly crisp on the outside (at least, before they were frozen). I liked them a lot. And they were marvelous as an ice cream cookie. But they were very rich and next time I make them I'll be sure to make them small, as she says they should be.

                        1. re: JoanN
                          k
                          karykat Apr 28, 2009 05:58 PM

                          They kind of look like the tops of regular brownies with that kind of crinkly texture.

                          Glad to hear they're fudgy. Another thing to add to the to-do list for this book.

                      2. re: mirage
                        junglekitte Apr 28, 2009 03:03 PM

                        I second the pistachio brittle....it was delicious! I also made the chocolate-caramel tarts and they were heavenly (but the crust was a bit difficult to work with if i remember correctly)

                      3. k
                        karykat Apr 27, 2009 12:51 PM

                        I've made a few things from this book myself and had a few more. One recipe that is a staple for me is the Buttermilk Panna Cotta. I haven't made it with the rose gelee but have made it with fruit or different sauces. It's really easy and not as rich as some panna cottas since it has buttermilk and not all cream.

                        I've made the almond brown-butter cakes a few times too. Also very easy and good. Basically a financier recipe.

                        Her maple baked apples are a winter staple for us. I substituted dried barberries for some of the other dried fruit because it adds some tartness. The sauce that the apples bake in is a combination of apple cider or juice and maple syrup. It really works well and I've used it for other fruit too.

                        I had a number of other things at some classes Claudia Fleming taught at a cooking school here. One standout for me was the rose meringues which she served with strawberries and marscapone cream. Also the marcapone cream-filled cannoli with raspberries. She used an interesting technique for that: she made a raspberry compote that involved raspberries with sugar that were strained. That compote was then tossed with fresh raspberries. The word she used to describe them was "jewel-like" -- which it was. The raspberries just glistened with the compote on them. A detail that really made it stand out. I also liked some shortcakes which were served with strawberries and tarragon. She makes good use of herbs in some interesting ways.

                        There are so many things on my list to try. Including all the desserts with concord grapes. A coconut tapioca soup with fruit. The chestnut souffles. (I am crazy for chestnuts.) And take a look at the espresso orange panna cotta parfaits with coffee gelee on page 186. The picture is gorgeous.

                        Everything has just a little different twist and she really cooks with the seasons. This is my very favorite dessert book. Eventually I want to get to her bed and breakfast on the east coast. Where I will eat nothing but desserts!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: karykat
                          JoanN Apr 27, 2009 03:07 PM

                          I prepare desserts almost exclusively for dinner parties so it's going to take me a long time to get around to trying some of these. The tapioca soup is on my list as well. And I, too, adore chestnuts. The souffle had passed me right by. Glad you mentioned it.

                        2. The Dairy Queen Apr 27, 2009 10:09 AM

                          Wow! Those do look amazing. If I weren't so behind on, well, EVERYTHING, in life right now, I'd go make those. I think we should all follow JoanN's lead and retire so we can bake and shop more. :) .

                          So, the dozen egg yolks--were you glad you did?

                          ~TDQ

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                            JoanN Apr 27, 2009 10:16 AM

                            The jury's out on the dozen yolks. Pretty over the top, isn't it? Next time I make one of her recipes I'll try half a dozen or eight and see if I can tell the difference. I figured, since most of this ice cream would not be sitting in my freezer tempting me, that I might as well give it a try just once. I mean, there had to be a reason she was one of the top pastry chefs at one of the top NYC restaurants, right?

                            1. re: JoanN
                              The Dairy Queen Apr 27, 2009 10:18 AM

                              Yes, agreed on every point! It will be interesting to see how a version with 6 or 8 compares...

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                JoanN Apr 27, 2009 11:22 AM

                                Ha! Just checking in on Bloglines and saw this in a Smitten Kitchen post from last Thursday. She was posting about Claudia Fleming's Buttermilk Ice Cream.

                                "I’m going to share with you a little secret: You don’t need to use all of these egg yolks. Oh sure, you can and the results will blow your ice cream-loving mind. However, let’s say you find that you only have six or eight egg yolks on hand, this will also do. The ice cream will be less rich, but still incredibly more rich than anything you can buy at any store."

                                Guess that settles it. As if it needed settling.

                                1. re: JoanN
                                  The Dairy Queen Apr 27, 2009 11:30 AM

                                  I'm glad you tried it with all twelve. Sometimes, you have to just go for it. It's not as if you eat ice cream that rich every day!

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: JoanN
                                    oakjoan Apr 27, 2009 12:48 PM

                                    JoanN: I'm wondering if you experienced a buildup of fat on roof of your mouth. I just don't like that overly rich stuff, and usually de-fat ice cream by subbing some regular milk or even 1%.

                                    Did you notice anything like that when eating your ice cream?

                                    1. re: oakjoan
                                      JoanN Apr 27, 2009 02:12 PM

                                      Nope. Maybe all the chocolate in the brownie cookies kept me from noticing? ;-)

                                      1. re: oakjoan
                                        kattyeyes Apr 27, 2009 03:39 PM

                                        I'm so glad to read you've "skinnied" your ice cream down. I've just started playing with the machine over the past (almost) year and was wondering how much I could get away with in terms of trimming cream and # of yolks. Don't get me wrong, I *LOVE* overly rich stuff, but am trying to behave myself in terms of cholesterol.

                                        1. re: kattyeyes
                                          n
                                          newfoodie Apr 28, 2009 08:08 AM

                                          Yes, I just bought an ice cream maker yesterday(!) and a copy of The Perfect Scoop. I am tempted to scale down the amount of cream in all of the recipes, glad to know others have tried it already with success.

                                          1. re: newfoodie
                                            kattyeyes Apr 28, 2009 08:13 AM

                                            Welcome to the ice cream making club! I just posted a link of frozen treat recipes (found it while on Cooking Light). There are skinnied-down recipes there, too...along with the full-fat for when we feel like indulging. ;)

                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6155...

                                            Am hoping more folks will chime in to talk about frozen treats now that it's getting warmer.

                                            1. re: newfoodie
                                              Caitlin McGrath Apr 28, 2009 01:46 PM

                                              newfoodie, The Perfect Scoop was Dessert Cookbook of the Month last summer, plus there were some long and helpful earlier threads on it here. Links to all of them are contained in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/538450

                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                n
                                                newfoodie Apr 29, 2009 07:12 AM

                                                Thank you Caitlin! I can't wait to look it over.

                                2. kattyeyes Apr 27, 2009 07:32 AM

                                  I love the stack of ice cream sandwiches in your photo. The cookies look similar to another chocolate favorite of mine--the chocolate krinkle cookie. Do you know the ones I mean?

                                  Are you a mint person, by chance? Your cookies would be killer with fresh mint ice cream. Of course, it's too soon for that in my yard, but come summertime, I will be thinking about it again. We made it for the first time last year and I still remember it fondly.

                                  Yesterday was a perfect day for ice cream sandwiches--esp. homemade ones.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: kattyeyes
                                    JoanN Apr 27, 2009 07:42 AM

                                    No, not familiar with the chocolate krinkle cookies. Are they like brownies?

                                    I'm not a big fan of mint, but my grandsons are and I'll bet they'd adore these with mint ice cream. Great idea.

                                    1. re: JoanN
                                      kattyeyes Apr 27, 2009 07:49 AM

                                      I guess you could say they're like brownies in that they're fudgy. And I misspelled them, too--crinkle--sorry. I haven't had one in a long time, but I had even clipped a Penzey's recipe for them as I always loved them. Is your recipe similar?

                                      Here's a recipe and description from Joy of Baking:
                                      http://www.joyofbaking.com/ChocolateC...

                                  2. Gio Apr 27, 2009 07:20 AM

                                    OMG Joan... those look absolutely scrumptious! How on earth do you find the time?

                                    I'm thinking I could probably make those cookies, even though I've pretty much given up baking. That is if DH agrees to become an aide in the attempt. Cooking is one thing, baking quite another. I wonder if I can find the recipe on-line.....

                                    Edit::
                                    Is this it?
                                    http://www.bonappetit.com/magazine/2009/04/triple_chocolate_walnut_brownie_cookies

                                    Here a link to more recipes:
                                    http://www.bonappetit.com/search/quer...

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Gio
                                      JoanN Apr 27, 2009 07:39 AM

                                      That's why I retired, Gio. So I would have the time to shop and cook. ;-)

                                      No, that's not the same recipe, although it sure does look like a good one. Here's the recipe I made:

                                      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                      1. re: JoanN
                                        Gio Apr 27, 2009 09:12 AM

                                        Good for you -
                                        The recipe you made is indeed something I'll be making. Thank you for the link!

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