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Sharing the Last Course

[Note: We've split this discussion from a thread entitled Gramercy Tavern Lemon Lavender Pound Cake, found here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/782236 ].

I picked up some plums from the market on Saturday (not the imported ones so mine were bigger) and made this on Sunday from her book also:

Spiced Italian Prune Plum Crisp

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup plus one tablespoon ground walnuts

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

2 1/4 pounds Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered (6 cups


My favorite crisp after "peach and strawberry". This worked out beautifully with no changes but I had to increase baking time to compensate for the bigger plums. Everyone loved the plum/purpley syrup with vanilla ice cream ;) She has the sexiest of desserts, I'll continue to post as I go through her book on the weekends.

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  1. lilgi -- stunning!! Thanks for posting on this and sharing your photo. Gorgeous! I am sure it was delicious. This thread inspiried me to go back through her book and am *way* into it again. Just made her chocolate biscotti this weekend. Another winner. Love this book and want to make everything in it. Should start a separate thread? Am making her doughnuts this week.

    3 Replies
    1. re: apple342

      Apple great idea, and the doughnuts were coming up very soon for me as well. How were the biscotti?

      1. re: apple342

        Hi all, sorry to be slow . . . . whose book is this recipe from?
        Thanks so much!!

        1. re: Breadcrumbs

          The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern, by Claudia Fleming.

      2. For those that don't have the book and want to try these, I believe I can post my own instructions without violating any rules. Moderators will let me know if this is within the rules?

        For the prune crisp above, make sure you have 1/2 cup walnuts toasted before starting (which should yield the required amount ground, after toasted and cooled). Melt the stick of butter in a saucepan and allow to cool to room temp.

        Preheat oven to 375 degrees, butter a shallow 2 quart casserole or similar, quarter and remove the pits from the fruit and do not peel. Place in a bowl with half the sugar (1/4 cup) so that it can macerate while you prepare the crisp. In another bowl mix together the ground walnuts, flour, remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, (I added a pinch of salt). Slowly drizzle in butter, pack down as you mix and loosen with a fork as you go along, packing and loosening, to form pea sized crumbs, no bigger so that the mixture will cook through. Mound the fruit high in the center of baking dish, spread crumble evenly over the top and bake 50 to 55 minutes. Adjust baking time as needed if using larger fruit. I baked mine for about 15 minutes longer. Fruit should be bubbling and crumble should brown on top.

        1. A recap on the Lavender Lemon Pound Cake from the previous thread: I'll post the original ingredients and really, really really recommend the tweaking. It was well worth it, this is a cake that I will make again and again for so many special occasions during the warm season. I've made this as a loaf, doubled the recipe to make a bundt cake, and next I'll make the muffin sized roses since this is a girly girl dessert.

          Pound Cake (1 9x5-inch loaf)
          1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
          1 Tablespoon dried Lavender
          5 large eggs
          1 cup sugar
          1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons cake flour
          1/4 teaspoon salt
          1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
          1 teaspoon vanilla extract

          3 Tablespoons Lavender
          1/2 cup sugar
          1/4 cup strained fresh lemon juice
          1/4 cup water

          Tweaks: The cake is sweet and rich and I increased the salt to 1/2 teaspoon. The zest was increased to 3 heaping Tablespoons (the zest of 3 large lemons). For the syrup I increased the lemon juice to 1/2 cup and reduced the water to 1 Tablespoon, it made a very favorable difference in the flavor.

          If making the larger bundt, double the ingredients with the changes, and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. Make sure the cake is completely drenched after baking or you might find the cake somewhat dry and flavorless (unless you do a fabulous lemony icing like HillJ).

          Directions for Loaf
          Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Melt the butter in a small saucepan with 1 Tablespoon of the lavender. Allow to steep for a few minutes and set aside to cool.

          Cream the eggs together with the sugar on high speed for at least 5 minutes until very light and fluffy. Meanwhile measure out flour in a bowl and whisk together with salt. Stop the mixer, and stir in vanilla and zest to blend. Stir in the flour in three batches. Strain the lavender from the cooled butter into a bowl, and mix the butter vigorously with 1 cup of the batter from the mixer. Fold in the butter/batter mixture into the batter. (I do a slow stir of about a second just to make sure it blends). Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile combine the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a slow boil until the sugar dissolves and remove from heat. Note: If making the bundt, don't forget to double the amount of batter to mix with butter before adding to the batter in the mixer.

          Once the cake is removed from the oven, place on a cooling rack and immediately pierce the top of the cake all over with a skewer. Generously brush on syrup (I used a baster, much quicker). After about 15 minutes invert onto a rack, pierce bottom and sides and continue basting with syrup until most is used. Decorate the top of the loaf with reserved lavender from the syrup. (If making the bundt cake, wait at least 20 minutes before inverting.)

          For those of you with the book, if you see anything wrong with the report or if I'm missing anything please feel free to add to the discussion, since I'm typing late I can get a bit careless.

          1. Not sure which one I'll have planned for this coming weekend but will post as I get closer. The orange cardamom shakes I'm almost certain I'll be doing, along with one other dessert.

            1. I have goodhealthgourmet to thank for not letting me leave the market without purchasing fresh cardamom pods; I used to only use already ground. The application of cardamom here truly elevated the flavors and was not at all intrusive or overwhelming. The creme fraiche was a nice touch, I wouldn't hesitate at all to try this with store-bought oj since so little is used.

              1 tablespoon cardamom pods
              1 cup milk
              1/2 cup sugar
              Zest of 1/2 orange removed with a vegetable peeler
              1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
              1/4 cup creme fraiche
              1/2 cup ice

              Toast the cardamom pods in a shallow pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until fragrant. Crack the pods open to remove the seeds and crush, discarding the outer shell. Bring the milk, sugar, zest, and cardamom to a slow simmer on a low flame for a few minutes and remove from heat. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature, then strain the mixture into a bowl.

              In a blender mix the cooled mixture, oj, ice, and creme fraiche and serve. Yields 2 servings.

              2 Replies
              1. re: lilgi

                i love getting to say "i told you so" when the results are *good* :)

              2. Caramelized Brioche Pudding with Blackberry Cream and Fresh Blackberries

                Okay, not recommending this one, not to mention that I had a really hard time presenting this in a way that looked appealing. I couldn't harmonize the toasty caramel brown and yellow of the brioche together with the blackberries and the deep lavender-colored cream. Imo just as the colors didn't harmonize, neither did the flavors.

                This was nothing more to me than an excellent French Toast, great I think with a generous dusting of confectioners's sugar and some fruit, but personally I didn't care for it with blackberries. She has a few fruit preparations in her book that would marry well, maybe even the preparation of apricots with chamomile, or anything at all with pears, apples or bananas. I saved some of the brioche slices and made the caramelized "French Toast" together with "Caramel Blood Oranges", which was delicious, will also post her basic recipe for Caramel Blood Oranges.

                This is the recipe for the dessert for anyone who feels they want to try this as it was meant to be served. The recipe for her Brioche follows along with the recipe for the Caramel Blood Oranges, and she specifies that any store bought brioche would be fine for this. I personally liked her brioche for the "French Toast" and it's what I will use from now on for this, provided I can make the brioche well in advance.

                2 half pints blackberries
                2 tablespoons granulated sugar
                3/4 cup creme fraiche
                2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, or to taste

                CINNAMON SUGAR*
                1 cup sugar
                1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                *(Note: This was way too much, could easily halve for this recipe)

                BRIOCHE PUDDING
                1/2 cup heavy cream
                1/2 cup milk
                1 large egg
                1 large egg yolk
                3 tablespoons sugar
                1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
                1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
                1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
                6 slices brioche, sliced 3/4 inch thick (see Note)
                6 tablespoons unsalted butter

                Place one half pint of the blackberries with the 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in a bowl to macerate for 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender to make the compote and refrigerate until ready to use. Can made up to 1 day in advance.

                The Blackberry Cream can be made up to 2 hours in advance, prior to serving. Combine in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment the creme fraiche, and only half the compote along with the confectioners' sugar, and beat until medium peaks form. The other half of the compote gets mixed with the remaining half pint of blackberries when ready to serve.

                Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Whisk and combine the ingredients for the pudding in a bowl (except for the slices and butter). You will need a bowl large enough to accommodate 2 slices of brioches at a time. Soak for about 30 seconds on each side, and while soaking on second side sprinkle generously with the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. (I allowed the butter to brown and bubble before adding the slices). Add the slices sugar-face down and check bottoms after a few minutes for caramelization. Before flipping, sprinkle the sides facing up with the sugar and turn over to brown the other sides. Continue until all slices are done using more butter as you go along, and transferring the slices to a baking dish to remain warm in the oven. Serve a slice with a dollop of blackberry cream and fresh blackberries with compote. Yields: 6 servings

                2 Replies
                1. re: lilgi

                  JUST the title of your recipe made me start to drool! wowza!!!! and yet you said that it wasn't good? ;-(.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    I wouldn't hesitate to try maybe with just the blackberries and compote; I felt the cream really didn't belong here, but I also couldn't understand why she was calling it pudding. This will now be my French Toast recipe; caramelizing the sugar-sprinkled batter dipped brioche with butter was indeed very good.

                2. BUTTERY BRIOCHE

                  Yield: 1 loaf
                  2 teaspoons active dry yeast
                  3 tablespoons warm milk (not hotter than 110 degrees F)
                  4 large eggs
                  1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus additional if necessary
                  1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
                  1/2 teaspoon salt
                  6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

                  Pour the warm milk (not hotter than 110 degrees) over the yeast in a bowl. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes, then pour into bowl of electric mixer. Add 1 egg and 1/2 cup flour and stir. Sprinkle 1/2 cup flour over the mixture - do not stir. Cover the bowl with saran and let sit in a warm place until the surface cracks, for 30 to 40 minutes. Using the dough hook attachment on low speed, incorporate the rest of the flour (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons), 2 eggs, the sugar, and the salt. Increase to medium-high and continue blending while the dough wraps itself around the hook and is smooth. Dough should leave the sides of the bowl, if not add slowly 1 to 2 tablespoons flour. Dough should be shiny and sticky. Reduce speed to low.

                  Slowly incorporate the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase speed to medium high and beat for another 3 to 5 minutes. Dough should look smooth and shiny.

                  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface gathering into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place until doubled for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Afterwards press down on the dough, cover again, and refrigerate for 10 to 12 hours or overnight.

                  In a small bowl mix one tablespoon of water with remaining egg. Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Remove the dough from the large bowl, knead for 1 to 2 minutes on a lightly floured surface and gather int a ball. Shape into a log slightly smaller than loaf pan, then transfer the log to the loaf pan. Brush with the egg glaze and place in a warm, draft-free place until doubled for about 2 to 3 hours. Save the glaze to use again after dough has risen.

                  Preheat oven to 350 degrees, brush the loaf with more glaze, and bake until crust is deep golden brown about 45 minutes to an hour. Unmold immediately onto a wire rack and allow to cool.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: lilgi

                    lilgi, the crumb on that brioche is gorgeous! you have a real talent!

                    1. re: alkapal

                      You are too generous Alkapal, thank you!

                      1. re: lilgi

                        not at all! your photos prove your talent!

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Alkapal, I missed this before, thanks again. I'll be writing about this brioche a lot more, further into the thread. This is a real buttery brioche and you can't really see it in the photos. I've made it several times now and I'll explain further how a little more experience with this recipe went a long way, I'll never look back to another brioche recipe.

                    2. re: lilgi

                      Lilgi: When do you add the other eggs?? Two eggs are unaccounted for!

                      1. re: mnosyne

                        The other two eggs get added when you blend in the rest of the dry ingredients when ready to knead the dough. After kneading 15 minutes with the dough hook, slowly incorporate the butter and then knead on high speed for another 5 minutes. The last egg gets used to make the glaze.

                        Sorry for the typo mnosyne, I had contacted the moderators to see if it was possible to make the correction directly into the recipe (and here it is posted twice) and I'm still waiting for a response. It's difficult to see corrections when they're posted with other comments, that's why I waited.

                    3. I was a week late for any more blood oranges and decided to go ahead and make her recipe with just the sweet oranges to make with the French Toast.

                      Caramel Blood Oranges

                      Yield: 6 servings
                      8 small oranges, preferably a mixture of sweet and blood oranges
                      1 cup sugar
                      1 teaspoon light corn syrup
                      Pinch of salt

                      Use the orange segments only and place in a bowl with the juice. I made a few changes here because I felt I had an excess amount of juice after segmenting the oranges, so I strained the segments capturing the juice from the oranges into another bowl.

                      Place 1/2 cup water in a saucepan and add the sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until sugar dissolves, raise the heat and cook the caramel until it turns amber in color, swirling occasionally. Remove from heat and add 1/4 cup water carefully, standing back as it will spatter. (I added 1/4 cup of the fresh oj instead). Bring back to the heat, and simmer for a few minutes on low until smooth. Remove from the heat and add the orange segments. (Undoubtedly this would have been much nicer with the Blood Oranges).

                      1. Coconut Ice Cream

                        This was fantastic. I've posted here in the past that I enjoy ice cream, but am far from being an ice cream lover and thus never had the inclination to make any at home. This was an entirely different experience. The ice cream was rich an flavorful, but not heavy in spite of the inclusion of 8 egg yolks, and for a coconut ice cream, it had just the right amount of sugar, not cloyingly sweet at all. There was a complexity of flavor and a lightness that kept me wanting more; needless to say that on Saturday I kept sneaking back into the freezer. Honestly, this is one ice cream that I wouldn't serve with anything else except the coconut tuiles which I'll be making very soon. I have dinner for a friend planned this week and this would be a perfect ending, and my guest loves coconut. I'll be making the sorbet soon as well.

                        Coconut Ice Cream

                        2 cups milk
                        2 cups heavy cream
                        1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
                        3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
                        8 large egg yolks
                        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                        Pinch of salt

                        Simmer the milk, heavy cream, coconut, and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and set the mixture aside to cool for about 3 hours. Strain the mixture into a bowl and discard the coconut.

                        Whip the egg yolks with the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until the mixture is thick and holds a ribbon when the beaters are lifted, for about 3 minutes. Add the coconut cream mixture, vanilla, and salt and mix to combine. Chill until the mixture is thoroughly cold, at least 3 hours or overnight. Strain again, then transfer to an ice cream maker and proceed according to manufacturers directions. Yields 1 1/2 pints.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: lilgi

                          A photo of my new love. I enjoyed our honeymoon ;)

                          1. re: lilgi

                            I love coconut ice cream, and this one looks so delicious! Rich much? Naw!

                        2. I haven't made these yet but they should be terrific with the coconut ice cream. Will report back as soon as I have the chance to make them. Meanwhile I'm posting the recipe beforehand in case anyone without the recipe wants to try these out with the ice cream:

                          Coconut Tuiles

                          1 1/4 cups sugar
                          2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
                          7 large egg whites, at room temperature
                          2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
                          1/4 cup all-purpose flour

                          In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for only 2 minutes. Gradually add the egg whites and incorporate well , scraping down the sides of the bowl and beater when needed.

                          In another bowl, stir to blend the coconut and the flour. Add this the egg white mixture and blend. Transfer the mixture to another bowl, cover tightly with plastic and chill for 8 hours or overnight.

                          Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with non-stick liners or parchment paper (or use non-stick baking sheets). Drop a heaping teaspoon of batter onto the baking sheet leaving about 3 inches in between. Gently flatten each mound with the back of a spoon dipped in cold milk or water. Each tuile should be very thin, about 4-inch round. Bake until golden brown all over about 15 minutes. (She says alternatively you can spoon the tuile batter into stencils and smooth the top). Rotate the baking sheet after 8 minutes to achieve uniform color.

                          As soon as the tuiles are finished baking, remove from the pans with a spatula or dough scraper and place on a wire rack to cool. If they are stuck to the pans, return them to the oven for 1 minute to loosen.

                          Make sure you use a cooled baking sheet before proceeding with the rest of the batter. Yields 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: lilgi

                            I finally got around to making the tuiles. In her book there's a photo of the"Coconut Tapioca Soup" where I saw what looked like an absolutely 'perfect' rectangular tuile, and tried to imitate as best I could. Of course mine are nothing like hers, but I like the clean lines, sort of a contemporary look (how does she get them so perfect?). I used a foam paper plate to make the stencil, and it helps to moisten the back of a spoon/spatula with some milk or water as suggested, to spread the batter and after it loses some of the chill from setting in the fridge.

                          2. Wow, lilgi, this is a great thread, I wish I had bought this book when I had the chance.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: buttertart

                              Do you believe I had TWO of these books and I just cavalierly gave one to a neighbor? It's going for over $100 on Amazon now.

                              1. The "Lemon Verbena Ice Cream" was outstanding; I've grown very fond of this herb. This is rich and decadent, and you can really appreciate the lemon verbena here. Was really glad I made this.

                                3 cups milk
                                1 cup cream
                                1 1/4 cups sugar
                                1 cup packed fresh lemon verbena leaves (about 1 ounce)
                                12 large egg yolks

                                Combine milk, cream, 1 cup of the sugar only and the lemon verbena in a heavy saucepan and set to medium low heat until mixture reaches a simmer. Meanwhile in a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. As soon as yolks are mixed and milk mixture is simmering, remove the mixture from the heat, add a small amount of the milk mixture to warm the egg yolks, and slowly pour the egg yolk mixture into the milk mixture, working quickly and whisking constantly throughout so that the yolks don't curdle. Set the over low heat and continue stirring (she wants you to use a wooden spoon so have one ready if you haven't done so). Mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon when ready. Remove the custard from the heat and pour into a bowl to cool completely. Strain the custard, then chill at least 4 hours before freezing in the ice cream maker.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: lilgi

                                  That is a wonderful flavor for ice cream - try it with white peaches when they're available, a marriage made in heaven.

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      White peaches available! Purchased yesterday; I have some leftover lemon verbena ice cream from last week and it'll be my breakfast on Saturday (cheat day, best day ever). Since I bought the peaches I'll be making the peaches "tartes" Tatin with drizzled with basil syrup tomorrow. Will try the fresh peaches and ice cream in the morning with some of the basil syrup as well (both plain and without).

                                      1. re: lilgi

                                        What time do you want me there? I'll bring the Champagne. ;-)

                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          I can't think of anything more perfect, champagne with this BT, off the charts, and the basil sauce with this was sublime! I had a crappy batch of peaches, maybe too early in the season for the white ones? Still, it was out of this world...

                                          Lemon Verbena Ice Cream, Fresh White Peaches, Basil Sauce, Champagne....omg

                                          1. re: lilgi

                                            I knew you'd love it. Sauternes, maybe?

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              Stop! I might have to have this again soon and I can only fit so much in a day!

                                    2. re: lilgi

                                      Oh my goodness, how in the world did I miss this thread of goodness, lilgi! Thank you for directing me here this morning. You've been very busy and such stunning results. Wow.

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        you must try the ice cream HillJ, I know you will love it!

                                        1. re: lilgi

                                          The minute I lay my hands on lemon verbena, I'm going to give the ice cream a try!

                                    3. Chocolate Brownie Cookies

                                      I'll have to let you try these and "discuss amongst yourselves" if you love them (brownies = dark territory). I thought they were very good, but I still prefer the adapted version of "Dorie's French Chcocolate Brownies":

                                      In Dorie's recipe I sub 1/4 cup of the sugar with dark brown, and increase the vanilla and salt to 1 tsp and 1/4 tsp respectively. I mention it here because Claudia's method here to make the brownie cookies is the same. I'm inspired to make my favorite brownies into cookie form now, so very much looking forward to it.
                                      Also, don't even try these without the 'mini' chocolate chips if you decide to use them, you won't get good results and they'll be big and bumpy when they should have a more delicate look. They might not taste good either (wanna guess how I know ;) photo below. I noticed that in no way does the recipe yield 5 dozen cookies, it may yield 3 dozen if you're not making them that small. Definitely stick to a smaller size on these, they're hard to mound and bigger ones will look unsightly and take longer to cook.

                                      1/4 cup all-purpose flour
                                      1/4 teaspoon baking powder
                                      1/8 teaspoon salt
                                      2 large eggs
                                      2/3 cup sugar
                                      1/2 tablespoon brewed espresso
                                      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                      2 tablespoons unsalted butter
                                      5 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, chopped (see page 215
                                      )2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
                                      3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

                                      Melt the butter, bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler over gently simmering water. Stir to smooth out the chocolate and as soon as it is melted remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

                                      Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs briefly. Add the sugar, espresso, and vanilla and beat for about 15 minutes at high speed. Fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, then fold in the flour and the mini chocolate chips.

                                      Mound heaping teaspoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake until puffed and cracked for 8 to 9 minutes. Cool before removing from baking sheets.


                                      Photo shows her favorite way of serving these cookies; this is one of her signature desserts btw. I haven't made her "Vanilla Ice Cream" yet, I merely used the Blue Bunny I already had to make the sandwiches; will post her recipe for vanilla next, not sure when I'll be making it; she has so many other flavors I'm itching to try first.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: lilgi

                                        these cookies look so fabulous! and i love them made into ice cream sandwiches.

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          I love the idea of freezing a batch of these for those "emergencies" we sometimes have. Easy-peasy ;)

                                      2. For those of you that might want to try the Vanilla Ice Cream soon:

                                        VANILLA ICE CREAM

                                        Yield: about 1 quart

                                        3 cups milk
                                        1 1/4 cups sugar
                                        1 cup heavy cream
                                        1 1/2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise, pulp scraped (see page 180)
                                        12 large egg yolks
                                        1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
                                        Pinch of salt

                                        Combine the milk, 1 cup of the sugar, heavy cream, vanilla pods and pulp in a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium/low heat.

                                        Whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar with the egg yolks, remove the simmering milk mixture from the heat, add a little of the hot mixture to the yolks to warm it whisking constantly and as you pour the egg yolk mixture into the hot milk mixture. Continue whisking constantly as you bring the mixture back to the heat and cook on low until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 5 minutes). Never stop whisking as the mixture cooks. Remove the custard from the heat, pour into a bowl and cool completely. Strain the custard through a fine sieve, then stir in vanilla extract and salt. Cool for at least 4 hours before freezing in the ice cream maker.

                                        1. Embarrassed to post these but must do so for purposes of discussion. Saturday was a terrible day to make this and I have no a/c in my kitchen. I dreaded it, but was already committed.

                                          RASPBERRY-LEMON VERBENA MERINGUE CAKE

                                          VANILLA CAKE
                                          1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
                                          1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, pulp scraped (see page 180)
                                          3 large eggs, at room temperature
                                          1/2 cup sugar
                                          3/4 cup cake flour
                                          1/8 teaspoon salt
                                          1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

                                          LEMON VERBENA RASPBERRIES
                                          1/3 cup sugar
                                          1 large sprig of lemon verbena
                                          2 half-pints raspberries

                                          LEMON VERBENA MERINGUE
                                          2/3 cup milk
                                          1 large sprig of lemon verbena
                                          6 tablespoons sugar
                                          2 large eggs, separated
                                          1 tablespoon cornstarch

                                          Preheat oven to 350 degrees, butter and flour a 9" springform pan.
                                          In a bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Melt the butter in a sauce pan with the vanilla pulp and set aside to cool. Cream the eggs and the sugar using the whisk attachment for at least 5 minutes until very light and thick. Fold in the flour mixture in 3 batches. Remove 1 cup of batter and in a separate bowl incorporate the butter/vanilla mixture with the batter. Fold in the butter/batter to incorporate and pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

                                          Raspberry Filling
                                          In a saucepan, bring 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a simmer with the sprig of verbena. Stir until sugar dissolves and remove from heat. Allow to cool and strain and discard the verbena.

                                          Brush the top of the cooled cake with some of the syrup. Add 2 tablespoons of the syrup to the berries and toss in a bowl. Crush one third of the berries and toss again. Spread the raspberry mixture over the top of the cake.

                                          Separate the eggs. In a saucepan bring 2/3 cup milk to a slow simmer for a few minutes with a sprig of verbena and set aside to cool completely. Strain and discard the verbena. Reserve only 1/2 cup of the milk and discard the rest.

                                          Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine 1/4 cup of the cooled milk mixture in a heavy saucepan with 1 tablespoon of sugar and bring to a slow simmer. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, the cornstarch, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup of the cooled milk mixture. Remove the milk from the heat, and working quickly, add a small amount of the hot milk to the yolks stirring constantly and pouring the yolk right into the saucepan with the milk mixture. Continue stirring and bring the mixture to a boil for 1 minute. Don't stop stirring. Remove from the heat, and working quickly strain through a fine sieve and cover the custard surface with plastic wrap. Immediately start on the meringue, whip the whites to medium peaks with the whisk attachment before adding the sugar. Slowly incorporate 4 tablespoons of the sugar and raise the speed to high until whites are stiff and glossy and hold stiff peaks. Fold in some of the meringue into the hot custard to lighten, then gently fold in the rest.

                                          Use a spatula to spread the meringue over the top of the berries making sure you reach the sides. Bake for about 15 minutes until meringue is set, then carefully broil to brown the top of the meringue for about 30 seconds being careful as it may burn easily. Serve warm.

                                          A few things: the first thing I noticed was that only 2 eggs were being used for the meringue topping, in a 9-inch spring form pan? The sponge cake underneath was about 1/2 inch thick (just slightly more). I loved the combination of flavors and with enough time and the right conditions this is a stunning dessert, but I felt that the whole recipe had to be doubled (except for the raspberry filling which needed only one more half pint). This is another dessert I feel worthy to try again with adjustments. Even an 8" pan would have been more appropriate.

                                          1. Raspberry-Lemon Meringue Cake (for the post above):

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: lilgi

                                              That sounds lovely in any case. Wonderful combination of flavors.

                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                I agree, loved using this herb and will be using it lots more.

                                            2. RASPBERRY SORBET

                                              This was delicious and easy to make. We served it with the Raspberry-Lemon Verbena Meringue cake above:

                                              6 cups fresh raspberries
                                              1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

                                              Toss together the raspberries and 6 tablespoons of the sugar. Let rest for about an hour, meanwhile prepare a simple syrup in a saucepan and combine the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup water and simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

                                              Place the berries in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing on the solids to extract more of the liquid. Discard the strained solids, blend the puree with the cooled syrup and chill for at least 3 hours before using the ice cream maker.

                                              1. BUTTERY BRIOCHE

                                                Yield: 1 loaf
                                                2 teaspoons active dry yeast
                                                3 tablespoons warm milk (not hotter than 110 degrees F)
                                                4 large eggs
                                                1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus additional if necessary
                                                1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
                                                1/2 teaspoon salt
                                                6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

                                                *Note: I now use 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon salt

                                                Pour the warm milk (not hotter than 110 degrees) over the yeast in a bowl. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes, then pour into bowl of electric mixer. Add 1 egg and 1/2 cup flour and stir. Sprinkle 1/2 cup flour over the mixture - do not stir. Cover the bowl with saran and let sit in a warm place until the surface cracks, for 30 to 40 minutes. Using the dough hook attachment on low speed, incorporate the rest of the flour (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons), 2 eggs, the sugar, and the salt. Increase to medium-high and continue blending while the dough wraps itself around the hook and is smooth. Dough should leave the sides of the bowl, if not add slowly 1 to 2 tablespoons flour. Dough should be shiny and sticky. Reduce speed to low.

                                                Slowly incorporate the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase speed to medium high and beat for another 3 to 5 minutes. Dough should look smooth and shiny.

                                                Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface gathering into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place until doubled for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Afterwards press down on the dough, cover again, and refrigerate for 10 to 12 hours or overnight.

                                                In a small bowl mix one tablespoon of water with remaining egg. Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Remove the dough from the large bowl, knead for 1 to 2 minutes on a lightly floured surface and gather int a ball. Shape into a log slightly smaller than loaf pan, then transfer the log to the loaf pan. Brush with the egg glaze and place in a warm, draft-free place until doubled for about 2 to 3 hours. Save the glaze to use again after dough has risen.

                                                Preheat oven to 350 degrees, brush the loaf with more glaze, and bake until crust is deep golden brown about 45 minutes to an hour. Unmold immediately onto a wire rack and allow to cool.

                                                I posted this recipe again because there were a few things worth mentioning here.

                                                At first I was confused with the title, didn't think mine was all that buttery. But I recalled adding additional flour to the mixture because most brioche recipes call for a higher ratio of flour to butter. I didn't add that much, just what I thought was enough to make the dough easier to work with so we are only talking about a few tablespoons, which is even suggested by her in the directions.

                                                I went back to make this again, and the difference in results was phenomenal. I loved this so much that I've already made it 3 times in different forms and will never go back to another recipe.

                                                When following her directions (in my conditions), I did not add any more than 1 additional tablespoon of flour before incorporating the butter. I strongly urge if tempted to do so don't, and the dough will pool somewhat at the bottom of the bowl. I left it alone and resisted any urges I might have had. The dough will be greasy and somewhat sticky upon handling, not only that, the mass was much smaller than the first time I made it I thought for sure it would fail. It turned out to be the best brioche I've ever made with a beautiful color, rise, feathery softness, and flavor. I will post pictures soon, this is my new love.

                                                One thing that I'm very curious about is that Thomas Keller's pastry chef subs about half the ap flour with cake flour. I'm curious about doing this but I'm already afraid of altering this recipe. Hopefully someone can fill me in as to what to expect if I decide to do so; afraid to change the way it is right now.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: lilgi

                                                  I promised I'd post the new pictures. This week I made the loaf again but using the dough balls packed into the loaf pan (you can see the operator error (hole) from doing this, I'll do a braid next time).

                                                  You can notice a much softer and feathery texture here, much more like a croissant. Next week I'll do either the traditional crown or the smaller ones. I can't help myself, been making this every week now (someone..please..stop me).

                                                  Edit to recipe above: Back to original 1/2 teaspoon salt but kept the sugar increase at 2 tablespoons.

                                                  1. re: lilgi

                                                    I had to repost these; They should make it possible for you to add to your missing photos from the corresponding post.

                                                    1. re: lilgi

                                                      This is my 8", I have 2 6"- pans (my favorite size) and 10 4"-pans. When I worked in the city I used to stand outside Bridge Kitchenware for the sales - whenever there was a sale a huge line would form outside the store since they had a limit to how many can enter the store; the prices were great so it was worth it. I think you can order on line from them now but not sure if its the same value.

                                                      1. re: lilgi

                                                        lilgi, this is lovely - we're on our way to a family reunion but the Buttery Brioche will be my first bread to bake for Brioche Aux Fruits when we're home again in August. thanks for posting the recipe and your great pix.

                                                        1. re: Cynsa

                                                          Cynsa, I've been making this every weekend since I tried her recipe in all sizes. Have fun at your reunion and please let me know how it turns out for you when you try it :)

                                                  2. re: lilgi

                                                    Regarding the cake/pastry flour inquiry I got my answer here


                                                    Loved this article, and Claudia's recipe would be wonderful with bread flour, but I'm still extremely possessive of this one and hesitate to change it (maybe one of these days).


                                                    eta: There's another article that mentions Herme's use of bread flour which was not mentioned in the challenge because I think he used the same flour to compare all 3; this is the separate article


                                                    1. re: lilgi

                                                      Correction to recipe above; first paragraph is missing the addition of 2 more eggs, right after incorporating the rest of the flour, sugar and salt. The last egg is used for the glaze.

                                                    2. Wow! You've done all of this baking since Mother's Day? I wish I had half the baking talent. Are you systematically baking your way through this book (which I own, YAY!, though I paid a premium for it--not as much as $1

                                                      2C though--) or is this just a brief interlude of baking excitement?

                                                      Since this thread is turning into a fantastic resource for The Last Course, I'm going to link JoanN's The Last Course thread here, too, and vice versa, to make it easy to find both threads. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6152...


                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        Dairy Queen, I was inspired by the Lemon Lavender cake but also because of her style which is simple with a twist, so her flavors are exciting to me in their simplicity. Another dessert that I think is perfect for Mother's Day (in the future) is "Rhubarb Rose Cobbler" which I will also be trying out tomorrow as well.

                                                        On a different thread someone else inspired me to try a diet where one cheat day a week is allowed (for me that's Saturday). Not only is it working beautifully, but I really go out of my way now to try different things, so I'm enjoying this project.

                                                        I'll be doing the peach "tartes" Tatin tomorrow as well and decided to try Dorie's "Inside Out Puff Pastry" with it so we'll see how that goes. I bought my book regular price a long time ago but I've only recently started really getting into baking again (furiously baking, as opposed to leisurely :))

                                                        1. re: lilgi

                                                          Sounds delicious. I can't wait to read all about it! I might even drag out my own copy of this book one of these days!


                                                      2. Peach Tartes Tatin

                                                        The instructions on this one couldn't be worse. This is not the kind of dessert you want to have with guests, and it's almost impossible to rely on good execution based on this recipe. First you're instructed to caramelize in a saucepan to a deep amber? I cooked it as soon as it reached medium, not dark. Cooking beyond this point the caramel thickens and soon becomes bitter (tricky), but you're instructed to cook the deep caramel in a 400 degree oven afterwards for an hour? After the initial cooking of 15 minutes (foil on), I removed the foil and cooked for only 20 minutes more. The caramel was thickening, but was already becoming too dark. The peaches had caramelized enough at this point, but there was some liquid to deal with upon inverting the muffin pan; best to do this on a cookie sheet. It was a mess. I'll stick to a traditional tart, not sure if this one is worth fixing. I also found this cloyingly sweet, but I didn't have a great batch of peaches either, my batch lacked flavor.

                                                        The highlight of this treat for me (besides the basil sauce) was the inside-out puff pastry by Dorie; it was delicious, the pastry was better than the dessert. The basil sauce is CRAZY good, and is recommended with this, but I enjoyed it so much more in a different application I mentioned upthread. Btw, the pastry looks pale since I was hesitant to leave everything in for even 1 minute longer but I think I made the right decision; this whole thing looked like it was headed for disaster.

                                                        PEACH TARTES TATIN

                                                        6 servings

                                                        1 teaspoon light corn syrup

                                                        3/4 cup sugar

                                                        4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-inch pieces

                                                        3 large peaches, unpeeled, halved and pitted

                                                        8 ounces puff pastry, preferably all-butter, thawed if necessary

                                                        1 (2 2 1/2-inch muffin pan)

                                                        Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. To make the caramel, add 3 tablespoons water to a medium saucepan and mix with the light cornsyrup. Add the sugar and raise the heat to medium/high without stirring (swirl occasionally). Remove from heat after about 7 minutes when mixture has reached medium amber color. Add the softened butter and stir for a few minutes until smooth.

                                                        Pour the caramel mixture in equal amounts into 6 greased wells. Add the halved peaches, cut side down, cover the muffin pan with foil and poke holes all over. Place the muffin pan on a cookie sheet to prevent caramel spills from bubbling over. Cook covered for 15 minutes, then remove foil and cook for another 45 minutes.

                                                        Meanwhile roll out the necessary amount of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface, place on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Using a cookie/biscuit cutter slightly larger than the diameter of the wells, cut 6 rounds and place directly over the peaches in the wells. Press the edges of the pastry to seal them against the muffin cups. Bake until the puff pastry is golden brown. Peaches should be fork tender and not mushy. Allow the pan to cool for about an hour before inverting onto a serving dish. These can be made up to 12 hours in advance; allow them to cool completely then preheat at 300 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes or until hot.

                                                        8 Replies
                                                        1. re: lilgi

                                                          "The highlight of this treat for me (besides the basil sauce) was the inside-out puff pastry by Dorie"

                                                          Bit confused here. Was this just a typo? Did you mean "Claudia"? I'm curious mainly becuase Dorie herself, in "Baking: From My Home to Yours," recommends using Dufour. Even she doesn't bother to make her own. Is that the brand you used?

                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                            Joan, I had decided to use Dorie's "Inside Out Puff Pastry" recipe from Paris Sweets, merely because I was in the mood to try it and needed puff pastry for this recipe. I enjoyed making it and it was merely the price of a pound of good butter, I think half the price of Dufour, but regardless I enjoyed making it and will use it again. I have 2 pounds left over and the recipe only required 1/5th of the dough; I'm really looking forward to using the rest of it soon.

                                                            1. re: lilgi

                                                              Ah, I see. Is that the Pierre Herme recipe? I've read about it but never tried it. Supposedly it's much easier to make than the traditional puff pastry. Is that true? Haven't made my own puff pastry in decades, but I may have to try that.

                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                I loved making it and in a sense it is much easier; you're basically starting what is very much like a larger block of butter enclosing a smaller drier/powdery block of flour. I was apprehensive with the butter block at first not knowing what to expect, and this is the block that maintains constant contact with your surface, hands and rolling pin. As long as you work somewhat quickly (without the dough losing too much chill) and you maintain your boards, hands and rolling pin well floured this was really easy and fun to do. By the time I was finished with the last turn the dough had transformed into a thing of beauty; I was really enthusiastic with the results on this one. If you don't have this one I'll post it for you, I thought it was fairly easy, even moreso if you know what to expect.

                                                                1. re: lilgi

                                                                  Wow. I love The Last Course and this thread is great. I didn't know about the Inside Out puff pastry and will definitely have to try it. The Duforts (sp) is getting pricey. It's been eons since I made my own and this method is new to me.

                                                                  I found a blog with a step by step approach to the Greenspan Inside Out recipe.

                                                                  Can you take a look at this and see if there's anything you would do differently?


                                                                  1. re: karykat

                                                                    You'll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make. I looked at the blog and I was surprised to see that she had used foil and plastic wrap since I never used either. Further down I noticed her rolling pin; I owned one just like that years ago and after working with it once I gave it away. I could never work with a wood rolling pin but I know that many use one successfully. But to sum things up I think that working directly on my granite counter with a marble rolling pin played a huge part in making this easy and keeps the butter cooler. Dorie's instructions to "press the rolling pin against the dough to form parallel indentations" really helps loosen the dough quickly allowing me to roll faster. When you've completed your last turns you'll see how beautifully this dough rolls out; if you're tempted to do a few more turns as the blogger suggests go for it. I'll be making this again soon and will definitely do the same. Please let us know how this goes for you!

                                                                    1. re: lilgi

                                                                      Thanks for these tips.

                                                                      I don't have a marble rolling pin. Maybe I need one? What else do you think it's good for? Regular pie crust, I suppose. Other really good uses?

                                                                      Someone (you, the blogger, Dorie?) said to put the rolling pin in the fridge before using it. I'll definitely do that.

                                                                      Thanks again for your great thread!

                                                                      1. re: karykat

                                                                        Great idea to chill the rolling pin. Sur la Table has a marble one for $25 and Williams-Sonoma has one for $80. I'm drooling over the one at WS (I like that the roll is wider and thinner) but if you're curious to how it handles, why not try a cheaper one first. On Amazon you can probably get a better deal as well.

                                                                        I don't think you need one Karykat, especially if what you're using works for you. I think the reason why I recognized a difference right away is because I started with marble whereas most probably start with wood. I think the reason for my mentioning was 'to me' this blogger looked like she might have struggled in the beginning, first starting with foil and then ending with plastic. I used neither and my first package was neatly formed, but I'm wondering if it wouldn't be nicer to use wax paper instead to make the first package, since the outside is almost pure butter and I mostly pat that into place. It would probably keep things neater, but then again I didn't have a large clean-up either; the 'mess' was very well contained to the small area I was working with.

                                                                        Good luck with it and thanks for linking the blog, I've only made a couple of things from Paris Sweets but I'll be looking at it more this year, I'll be reading her comments.

                                                        2. Rhubarb Rose Cobbler

                                                          This one far exceeded my expectations. I didn't expect the flavors here to be as outstanding as they were; the sweet crunchiness of the biscuits with the sweet tartness of the rhubarb with traces of rose. I thought this combo was exceptional. This will replace my favorite coffee cake (Big Crumb by Melissa Clark); I love that recipe and coffee cake has its place, but I much prefer this preparation with rhubarb. The rose cream really put this over the top.

                                                          This one didn't go without a hitch; my instincts told me to leave out the liquid from the rhubarb and I decided to use it because I felt the rhubarb would lose some of the sweetness. This was a mistake and added to the rhubarb becoming mushy. Even without the liquid the rhubarb has to cook for 45 minutes or the biscuits won't brown. The only thing I can think of to improve this would be to cut larger pieces, macerate for not more than 10 to 15 minutes and omit the liquid; maybe increase the temperature to 375 so the biscuits can cook quicker. Also, the liquid didn't thicken even with 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch.

                                                          Otherwise this was delicious and the flavors were outstanding and absolutely worth the effort, with the rose cream it's tdf.

                                                          RHUBARB ROSE COBBLER WITH CREAM

                                                          COBBLER DOUGH

                                                          1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

                                                          3 1/2 tablespoons sugar

                                                          1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

                                                          1/8 teaspoon salt

                                                          6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

                                                          2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream

                                                          1 teaspoon turbinado (raw) sugar

                                                          RHUBARB FILLING

                                                          2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 cups)

                                                          1 cup sugar

                                                          2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

                                                          1/2 teaspoon rose water

                                                          1-inch piece of vanilla bean, split lengthwise, pulp scraped (see page 180)

                                                          ROSE CREAM

                                                          1 cup creme fraiche

                                                          1/4 cup rose preserves

                                                          Prepare the cobbler: In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, then slowly incorporate the softened butter; mixture will start to come together. Add 2/3 cup of the heavy cream and mix; dough will be moist and clean the sides of the bowl. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and form 8 to 10 thick rounds (flatten the dough balls with the palm of your hand). Chill for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours.

                                                          Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the rhubarb int 1/2 inch pieces and toss in a bowl with the sugar and cornstarch. In a separate bowl. mix together the rosewater with the scraped vanilla pulp and add to the rhubarb. Toss well and allow to sit for 20 minutes.

                                                          Place the rhubarb mixture in a shallow 2 1/2 quart casserole dish and place the cobbler rounds on top about 1-inch apart. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the remaining tablespoon of heavy cream and sprinkle tops generously with the turbinado sugar. Bake until the cobbler biscuits are golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes.

                                                          Prepare the rose cream; in a mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment bring the cream to soft peaks, add the rose preserves and raise the speed to bring the cream to stiff peaks. Can be refrigerated up to 8 hours. Serve the cobbler warm with the rose cream; this is best served within an hour, but can be baked ahead and reheated at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes.

                                                          1. After meeting "Basil Syrup" my life has changed; I'm a completely different woman now

                                                            HERB (CILANTRO, MINT, BASIL) SYRUP

                                                            1/4 cup fresh cilantro, mint or basil leaves (packed)

                                                            1/3 cup light corn syrup

                                                            bowl of ice water

                                                            Place the leaves in a small sauce pan with boiling water for 15 seconds, strain, and immediately plunge the leaves in ice water. Remove and dry with paper towels, and process in a blender or food processor with the corn syrup. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, then strain the syrup through a sieve, pressing down and discarding the solids. Will keep for up to a day.

                                                            (HillJ, I'm going to try this in iced tea. "Elf" came to mind as he's pouring everything he adores on spaghetti; I think I see quite a bit of basil syrup in my future...)

                                                            14 Replies
                                                                1. re: lilgi

                                                                  What a great way to jump start the day, lilgi. Inspirational.
                                                                  (Loved the iced tea idea! Keep em coming.)

                                                                2. re: lilgi

                                                                  That's pretty much the base for a basil sorbet I once served as a palate cleanser during a fancy-shmancy multi-course meal. You might give it a try. It was a huge hit with my guests.

                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                    I'll try anything with basil syrup and sorbet sounds delicious. I'd love to give it a try, can you share your recipe?

                                                                    1. re: lilgi

                                                                      Well, this is a little embarrassing. I can find my notes of the menu for that dinner (December of 1986, by the way, with the basil sorbet served between the lobster in pastry pockets and the herb-wrapped filet of beef), but no indication where the recipe came from. And it must be an older book, since it's not coming up on my EYB search either. This is going to bug me, and if I get an inspiration in the middle of the night and end up finding it, I'll be sure to let you know.

                                                                      In the meantime, though, you know there's a basil ice cream in "The Last Course," and there's one in Kate Zuckerman's "The Sweet Life" as well. It's just that a very small bit of basil sorbet was so perfect (if perfectly pretentious; but hey! it was 1986) during that meal.

                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                        Thanks for bringing that to my attention, I totally missed that. Sorbet sounds just as nice as the ice cream. What I love most about basil is that hint of licorice, I think that's why it lends itself perfectly in a sweet preparation. The syrup that might be troublesome for some is the one with cilantro and it's included in one of her signature desserts "dessert caviar" which includes several sorbets and the coconut tapioca soup. I'm saving this one for August when the weather gets really hot ;)

                                                                        1. re: lilgi

                                                                          That tapioca soup was always high on my list of her recipes to try. Unfortunately, for me, I only make dessert when company is coming--and that hasn't been as often recently as it used to be. Been living vicariously, though, through your wonderfully enjoyable reports. And you've given me lots more to add to my to-try list.

                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                            Thanks so much Joan, I appreciate that. I'm more of a scientific cook (relying a little bit on instinct with physics and cooking) rather than an artistic/creative one, so I worry sometimes that I might come across too analytical with the process. I do try to sound lively so I don't come across like rainman ;)

                                                                        2. re: JoanN

                                                                          There's a basil ice cream in The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz, as well. I had the coconut tapioca soup with passionfruit sorbet, cilantro syrup, etc. at Gramercy Tavern when Fleming was pastry chef, and the flavors all worked very well together. I was skeptical about cilantro syrup until I had the dessert.

                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                            Caitlin were you apprehensive with cilantro syrup because you're among those that don't have the "gene"? I know I'd love it but I love cilantro, and I only guessed that this one might not go over well with everyone.

                                                                            1. re: lilgi

                                                                              No, I am a cilantro fan, it just sounded odd in a dessert, but it worked very well in concert with the other flavors.

                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                Can't wait to try the dessert, but I'll wait till August. The basil ice cream is next on my list.

                                                                          2. re: JoanN

                                                                            This may not be the recipe you had as the book was published in the UK but in 'Ices: The Definitive Guide' by Caroline Liddell and Robin Weir there is a basil sorbet. Actually I just realized the book was first published in 1993 so that couldn't have been the recipe for your 1986 dinner party.

                                                                            It is a really good ices book though, worth checking out. They just had a new book out at the end of last year - 'Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati' - which a couple of weeks ago won the UK Guild of Food Writers Award for Best Cookery Book of the year.

                                                                    2. I'd mentioned on a different thread that I'm making the Lemon Lavender pound cake for a girl's graduation as an added dessert, and I'll be making other dessert platters for the party as well. I decided on the Lemon Lavender Rose cupcakes instead (I have to order the pan, this is the link: http://www.amazon.com/Nordic-Ware-Cas...), my tweaked version of Dorie's adapted French Chocolate Brownies from the NYTimes, dusted with powdered sugar and cut into small rectangles (these cut beautifully), and the two desserts posted below: Soft Apple Cakes from "Paris Sweets" and the Blueberry Cream Cheese Tarts, from the Last Course; these are so stunning they remind me of jewelry. Chocolate, Roses, Fruit, and Jewelry; she is thrilled to pieces :) And these can all be prepared ahead with the only the blueberry cream cheese tarts to be filled and topped the day of.

                                                                      Below is the recipe, reworded from Claudia's book and my notes are here if you decide to try this one. I'm posting the picture for the Soft Apple Cakes as well and have no idea what the real thing is supposed to look like but these came out adorable this way; I'll post that recipe which is from a different book if anyone wants it.

                                                                      Making the tart shells: My observation was that this dough cannot be rolled out and fitted into tart shells with the recipe as is; it is way too buttery and warms up to the touch. I followed a different method by simply patting the dough into the shell and forming a small ledge around the sides at the top. The most important thing about these is to try to keep the dough not more than 1/8 inch thick so it must be patted rather thin. The small ledge at the top gives the tarts a neat, clean look when you invert the pan on wax paper and flatten slightly; this removes the fingerprints/handling marks that are inevitable with this soft dough. To make the dough perfect (or close) you need to freeze the molds with the dough after patting them into the pan, so this part needs to be done in steps. After the dough has set in the freezer for about an hour you can invert them (removing them from the freezer one at a time), press down lightly on waxed paper to flatten ledge, use an exacto knife to cut neatly around and then turn over to use the knife on the inside perimeter of the ledge, cutting into neat corners as you go along. You might have a round smooth utensil that you can use to further smooth the dough at the base of the pan as you go along, but it's important not to let the dough warm up or you'll lose firmness and it becomes harder to work with. Refreeze for at least an hour before baking the tart shells.

                                                                      Try not to make these thicker than what they should be; they must cook longer and it will be like biting into a rich spicy cake, except that the crust is so rich one bite will do you in. Alternatively you could probably use another crust, but this one is easy to work with and you'll get a neat appearance once past the learning curve. Don't forget to prick the dough all over before baking. Btw, after these cool a bit they can be removed very easily from the pans, either gently invert or carefully nudge them out with a pin or the sharp tip of a knife.

                                                                      Pastry Cream: When you cook the custard, you need to make sure that it is thick enough; it mustn't be too runny. If you notice after straining, refrigerating, and whisking, that the custard needs to be thicker, you can fix it by adding more cream cheese heated in some cream with some sugar and straining through, or you can fix it right before assembling, by not adding the whipped cream into the custard as the final step; you can add the custard to the whipped cream in reverse (whipped cream sweetened first with powdered sugar, not unsweetened as the recipe specifies) in small batches, and add enough without letting the whipped cream deflate. Do this as you go along and fill the tart shells.

                                                                      Topping: Better not to use a spoon to transfer the blueberries, especially if you're using the mini rectangular tart shells because you'll carry over too much of the syrup for a small tart. A toothpick will work much better placing them gently and neatly one at a time since you only need a few to decorate the tops.


                                                                      BLUEBERRY CREAM CHEESE TARTS WITH GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST

                                                                      GRAHAM CRACKER TART SHELLS
                                                                      1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
                                                                      1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
                                                                      1/4 cup granulated sugar
                                                                      1/4 cup honey
                                                                      2 cups all-purpose flour
                                                                      1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
                                                                      1 teaspoon salt
                                                                      1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

                                                                      CREAM CHEESE PASTRY CREAM
                                                                      1 cup milk
                                                                      5 tablespoons sugar
                                                                      4 large egg yolks
                                                                      2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
                                                                      3/4 cup (6 ounces) cream cheese, cut into cubes and softened
                                                                      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                                                      1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

                                                                      BLUEBERRY TOPPING
                                                                      2 1/2 cups blueberries
                                                                      1 tablespoon sugar

                                                                      Graham Cracker Shells:
                                                                      Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment for about 1 minute. Mix in honey.

                                                                      Sift together flours, salt, and cinnamon, and add to butter mixture in 2 batches. Mix just until combined, scrape out onto plastic wrap, and form into a disk. Refrigerate for about an hour and/or up to 2 days.

                                                                      Roll out refrigerated dough into approximate 13x 16-rectangle (about 1/8-inch) thick. Use a 3-inch cookie cutter to cut out 16 circles and press them into greased mini-muffin pans or 2-inch tart pans. (Or you can use mini rectangular tart tins.) Prick the dough a few times with a fork and chill for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake until golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before removing from molds (tart shells can be made up to 1 day ahead and frozen for p to 3 months).

                                                                      Pastry Cream:
                                                                      Heat 3/4 cup milk and 3 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the cornstarch, and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup milk into the yolk mixture. Remove the slow simmering milk from the heat, add a little to the yolks to warm and slowly add egg yolks into the hot milk mixture whisking constantly throughout the entire time. Continue whisking and bring the custard back to a slow boil for about 1 to 2 minutes until mixture thickens. As soon as mixture is thick, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and cream cheese. Strain mixture through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth, cover the surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent a skin, and refrigerate until ready to use. When ready to fill the tart shells, whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold into the refrigerated pastry cream mixture.

                                                                      Blueberry Topping:
                                                                      Mix 1 cup of the blueberries with the sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over a low flame. Cook until berries have popped and broken down releasing most of their juices, approximately 5 minutes. Strain the cooked berries in a sieve and discard the solids. Mix the remaining berries with the berry syrup. This should be done shortly before serving as you want the berries to stay plump and not macerate before topping the whipped cream.

                                                                      Spoon some of the pastry cream into each of the shells and top with the blueberries. Serve soon after assembling. Recipe can also be adapted for larger tart shells.

                                                                      1. This was really good as is, but couldn't help think it could use an extra flavor in the mix. I enjoyed a 'very' large quantity of this today - joy! I took a photo in a white bowl so you can see the gorgeous green color.

                                                                        BASIL ICE CREAM

                                                                        2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (about 2 ounces)
                                                                        1/4 cup simple syrup (page 261)
                                                                        3 cups milk
                                                                        1 cup heavy cream
                                                                        1 cup sugar
                                                                        12 large egg yolks
                                                                        1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
                                                                        Pinch of salt

                                                                        1 bowl ice water

                                                                        Rinse basil well and plunge into boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water. Drain on paper towels and pat leaves dry. Puree in a food processor with the simple syrup and set aside.

                                                                        Bring the milk, cream, and 3/4 cup of the sugar to a slow simmer in a heavy saucepan. Meanwhile mix egg yolks with remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Remove mixture from heat, add a bit of the hot mixture to the yolks to warm and whisk the egg yolks slowly into the hot milk mixture. Continue whisking as you bring the mixture back to the heat and simmer just until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and stir in basil puree. Allow to cool to room temperature. Strain into a bowl through a fine sieve, stir in the vanilla and salt and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before adding to the ice cream maker.

                                                                        1. I have a busy month ahead with 2 graduation cakes and dessert platters in the next couple of weeks. I'll be back to report on more desserts after July 4th weekend ;D

                                                                          1. Roasted Pineapple with Pink Peppercorns

                                                                            We enjoyed this spooned over a slice of vanilla pound cake.

                                                                            1 cup sugar
                                                                            1 teaspoon light corn syrup
                                                                            1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 rings
                                                                            1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, pulp scraped (see page 180)
                                                                            1 bay leaf
                                                                            4 tablespoons unsalted butter
                                                                            2 tablespoons dark rum (preferably Meyers's)
                                                                            1 tablespoon pink peppercorns
                                                                            Pinch of salt

                                                                            Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet combine 1/4 cup water with the sugar and light corn syrup. Begin by heating on a low setting and increase to med/high until mixture turns amber in color, swirling the skillet occasionally. Add the vanilla pod and pulp, bay leaf, then pineapple to the skillet and place in preheated oven, basting juices every 10 minutes about 40 minutes.

                                                                            Remove skillet from oven and transfer pineapple with a slotted spoon to a warmed platter. Tent with foil. Whisk in the butter, rum peppercorns, and salt to the caramel in the skillet and spoon over warm pineapple or briefly reheat the pineapple with the skillet mixture before serving.

                                                                            1. Passion Fruit-Pineapple Sorbet

                                                                              1 cup peeled, cubed pineapple
                                                                              1 cup sugar
                                                                              1 1/3 cups unsweetened passion fruit juice or puree

                                                                              Combine the pineapple in a blender/food processor with 1/4 cup of the sugar and puree until smooth. Let the mixture rest for an hour.

                                                                              In a small saucepan combine 3/4 cup of the sugar with 1 cup of water and simmer over medium heat. Simmer for a couple of minutes until sugar dissolves and set aside to cool. Strain the pineapple mixture through a medium sieve. Measure out 2/3 of the pineapple puree and refrigerate or discard the rest. In a separate bowl whisk together to combine the cooled syrup, puree and passion fruit juice. Cover and refrigerate mixture until completely cool, then freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: lilgi

                                                                                Did you make this, lilgi? What did you think of it? Did you use fresh pineapple for this and for the Roasted Pineapple with Pink Peppercorns? The pineapples I've been getting the past few years have been so bad, I'd hesitate using them. And where in the world did you find unsweetened passion fruit juice? Wouldn't know where to begin.

                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                  Kalustyan's at least used to carry passion fruit purée in their refrigerator case in the back - it's very expensive, though.

                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                    Joan, I'm not far from you and I bought my fresh pineapples at Fairway in Pelham (I live close by). They were on sale and better than decent I thought. The pineapple dessert was delicious and the flavors went well together, but best served immediately. We had some leftover and it took on a different character after refrigerating and reheating the next day. And the pink peppercorns added so much flavor, like a very delicate floral spice and not at all pungent which is what I thought initially.

                                                                                    I wish I could tell you what brand passion fruit juice I used, I froze much of it in ice cube trays after I used some of it to make a curd for buttercream (I made a few graduation cakes with it).
                                                                                    Next time I go shopping I'll doublecheck to see what I got.

                                                                                    I made both, I thought the sorbet was good but I prefer ice cream/gelato so I'm not a good judge. Everyone else here loved it. I have yet to make the coconut sorbet but already made the ice cream twice.

                                                                                    1. re: lilgi

                                                                                      I always buy fresh pineapple at Stew Leonards in Yonkers. It's peeled and cut into rings and always very sweet. I'm near the Pelham Fairway too, lilgi, but I haven't bought pineapples there yet.

                                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                                        Fairway is a few blocks away in my neighborhood and had a ton of pineapples recently. I prefer buying fresh pineapple when I can as opposed to packaged fresh because I like them to linger in my kitchen for a day or two. I seem to have less time for shopping nowadays and it's been quite a while since I've been to Stews.

                                                                                2. Tarragon-Macerated Strawberry Shortcakes with Tarragon Cream

                                                                                  My favorite savory use for tarragon hands down is with lobster, either flavoring drawn butter, or in a tomato cream sauce with lobster in a pasta dish. The combination here of tarragon with strawberries is outstanding and the slight licorice flavor brought a simple dessert like strawberry shortcake to a completely different level. This is another recipe that I'll be using quite often (along with the brioche, coconut ice cream, and the lavender lemon rosettes which I have added to my repertoire), as it is budget friendly, easy to make, and most ingredients are readily available. Most of the dessert can be prepared one day in advance; I felt the whipped cream and the biscuits could be prepared hours before serving, as well as the macerated strawberries although she doesn't indicate this.

                                                                                  I hope a few of you try this one, I served this to a friend of mine and it was like Christmas for her, and "the fam" wanted more. This is the same biscuit recipe used in the rhubarb-rose cobbler which I'll revisit with some tweaking (totally worth it it was delicious), and in that recipe the biscuits get baked over the rhubarb filling.

                                                                                  Shortcake Biscuits*
                                                                                  *I recommend making larger biscuits for individual portions, and it's what I'll be doing next time around; one dough recipe to yield about 4 instead of 8 would be the size that I'd go with, and of course doubling if you need more portions. This biscuit recipe is simple and delicious.
                                                                                  In a large mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment stir the dry ingredients to combine, then add the butter and mix until the flour resembles coarse meal. (You can pulse the dry ingredients first and add the butter with small pulses in a food processor as well.) Add the heavy cream and mix/pulse just until the dough starts to bind. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and with your hands form a 6-inch square block. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (I prepared the dough one day in advance).

                                                                                  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a cookie/biscuit cutter cut the dough block into 9 pieces (or less if you are using larger biscuits), transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking pan and brush with the remaining tablespoon of heavy cream and sprinkling each with the raw sugar. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until biscuits start to color slightly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

                                                                                  Tarragon Cream and Tarragon-Macerated Strawberries
                                                                                  Most of the small plastic herb packages available at the market will yield enough for this recipe; you need 1/2 ounce for the cream and the other remaining half to macerate with the strawberries.

                                                                                  In a small, heavy sauce pan bring some water to a boil and add the 1/2 ounce of the tarragon leaves for about 30 seconds. Quickly remove with a slotted spoon and plunge the leaves into a bowl of ice water. Drain with paper towels squeezing out excess moisture; place in a blender or food processor with the corn syrup and puree. Let puree stand for at least 30 minutes (this step can also be done one day in advance).

                                                                                  Slice the strawberries and combine with the sugar (I try getting more slices from one strawberry so that the sugar sweetens more surface and it's easier to get more strawberries on the biscuit this way rather than halving them). Bruise the tarragon sprigs (leave them whole so that you can remove them) with your hands or the edge of a knife until it starts releasing most of its scent and blend with the strawberries. Let the mixture stand for about 20 minutes, then discard the tarragon sprigs.

                                                                                  Strain the puree through a fine sieve discarding the solids.Whip the cream in a standing mixer until soft peak stage, add powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time to incorporate, and add tarragon syrup. Continue whipping until mixture holds stiff peaks.

                                                                                  To serve: halve the biscuits, spread some of the strawberry mixture on the bottom half an top with the whipped cream.

                                                                                  (I think it looks nice to prop the top piece on its edge against the bottom biscuit, sort of like a vee showing more of the strawberries and filling. Just an idea that I'll be trying next time around since the tarragon cream above the strawberries is gorgeous).

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: lilgi

                                                                                    I just wanted to note that Claudia's biscuits are smaller and thicker in her photo because my square was slightly larger than 6 inches. As nice as hers look I still like the idea of going with a bigger biscuit (using her 6 x 6-square so you don't compromise the thickness). Hers are charming and perfectly small, but for my liking too teeny.

                                                                                  2. Son recovering from knee surgery Friday, so lots of baking done over the weekend including Peach-Strawberry Crumble, Brownie "rosettes" (love that pan!), and Gina De Palma's Zucchini Olive Oil bundt cake which was overly sweet and cinnamony so won't be making that one again.

                                                                                    As soon as I saw the figs I was waiting for on Thursday I made sure I got them and knew they wouldn't last at Fairway till Saturday (I scooped up some of the last ones). Finally made Claudia's fig tart which and will report back with recipe hopefully later on today.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: lilgi

                                                                                      Fig-Cornmeal Tart

                                                                                      This is a beautiful tart; filling and crust were delicious and I would double the crust recipe as indicated below. I made sure to reserve the best figs from the bunch for the top and divided the fruit into thirds.

                                                                                      CORNMEAL CRUST*
                                                                                      1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
                                                                                      3 tablespoons fine yellow cornmeal
                                                                                      Pinch of salt
                                                                                      1 large egg yolk
                                                                                      1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
                                                                                      1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                                                                      6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
                                                                                      3 tablespoons sugar
                                                                                      1 teaspoon grated orange zest

                                                                                      FIG FILLING
                                                                                      3 pints green figs, trimmed
                                                                                      1/3 cup fresh orange juice
                                                                                      1/3 cup armagnac
                                                                                      1/3 cup sugar
                                                                                      1/2 vanilla bean split lengthwise, pulp scraped (see page 180)
                                                                                      1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
                                                                                      1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
                                                                                      2 tablespoons unsalted butter

                                                                                      Place the butter, sugar, and orange zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix until just combined for about 1 minute. In a smaller bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal and salt, and in another separate bowl mix the flour, cornmeal, and salt. Add the egg yolk mixture to the mixture in mixing bowl and blend until just combined. Stir in the flour mixture in 2 batches. *(In this recipe she wants you to form a disk with the dough, cover with plastic and refrigerate for an hour to later roll into a 12-inch disk and fit into the tart pan. It was much easier to pat the dry crumbly mixture evenly into the pan and I found it necessary to double the crust for a thicker crust to complement the fig jam. I froze the dough in the tart pan for an hour before proceeding).

                                                                                      Place the prepared pan in a preheated oven at 325 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes or until slightly golden. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, prepare the fig jam. Cube 2 pints of the figs for the jam reserving 1 pint to decorate the tart. Place the cubed figs in a saucepan along with the orange juice, Armagnac, sugar, vanilla bean and pulp, nutmeg, and orange zest (I also added a pinch of salt). Simmer over medium-low heat for about an hour and a half or until mixture is thick and jam-like. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Remove the vanilla pod and set aside to cool.

                                                                                      After mixture has cooled to room temperature and right before serving, spread the filling in the tart pan and decorate the top with the quartered figs.

                                                                                      1. re: lilgi

                                                                                        My fig tree is laden. How was this recipe?

                                                                                        1. re: roxlet

                                                                                          Anyone that loves fresh figs should love it, I recommend doubling the crust recipe and using most of it. It did remind me of fig newtons which is what she was aiming for; the filling and crust together delicious.

                                                                                    2. I hope you don't mind me hijacking your thread, lilgi, but it inspired me to get a copy of the book (well, a Christmas present from the boy who was shocked at the price of a second-hand recipe book!) and I cooked from it for the first time last night.

                                                                                      Maple-glazed winter squash and apple compote

                                                                                      This was delicious overall but I did completely screw up the caramelised apples so the final product wasn't exactly to the recipe. However the correct caramelisation would have added a depth and a contrast of texture which would only have been an improvement, I think.

                                                                                      3/4 cup maple syrup
                                                                                      1.5 cinnamon sticks
                                                                                      2 cloves
                                                                                      2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed (i.e. 2 cups after being cubed)
                                                                                      3/4 cup sugar
                                                                                      1 cup Granny Smith apples, peeled and cubed

                                                                                      Claudia says 3/4" dice for the squash and 1/2" dice for the apples; I'd go a bit smaller as I didn't think it looked that elegant with the larger chunks.

                                                                                      Put the syrip, cinnamon and cloves in a pan with 3/4 cup water, bring to the boil and reduce for 7 mins til slightly thickened. Add the squash and simmer until cooked and tender. Remove from the syrup and set aside, and reduce the syrup for another 7 mins. Strain, set aside.

                                                                                      Heat a skillet and melt 1/4 cup sugar, shaking the pan. Add another 1/4 cup, melt, add the final 1/4 cup. Heat until it reaches a rich golden brown colour. Add the apple chunks in one layer and turn off the heat. Don't stir! Baste occasionally as the apples heat and release their juices. To serve, add the apple and squash to the remaining maple syrup and heat through. Serve warm or at room temp.

                                                                                      Served with Yoghurt Sorbet (4 cups yoghurt, strain through cheesecloth overnight, mix with 1.5 cups simple syrup, put in ice-cream maker) which was nicely tangy and light, and a cornmeal pound cake. I didn't use Claudia's recipe for this as 6 eggs and 2.5 sticks of butter seemed a bit much; instead I adapted Nigella's madeira cake by replacing 1/3 of the flour with cornmeal.

                                                                                      I'm looking forward to spring and summer so I can try all the fruity recipes!

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: gembellina

                                                                                        Thanks for sharing Gembellina! Please report back on whatever else you try. I'd like to start reporting again towards the summer, but since I did so many of the fruits last year (and you will soon as well) I'll probably stick to some of the spiced and/or chocolate desserts since I usually become too busy to experiment during the holidays.

                                                                                        1. re: gembellina

                                                                                          gembellina and lilgi -- I appreciate all reviews from this book. Bake on!

                                                                                        2. Hi, For the Tarts, can I substitute honey for sugar, this is the sweetest I can get. Would it not affect the final taste?

                                                                                          1. lilgi,

                                                                                            I know your post is rather old (2011) but if you happen to check in anytime soon I would love to know the source for your favorite peach and strawberry crisp. It sounds even better than the plum one!