There was always one dessert at culinary school that would hit the table and be devoured in seconds. It was a Basque cake. And it is the perfect Christmas dessert.
The inspiration for this dish came from a family tradition we have of making wassail, a traditional warm spiced cider punch from England. While hot chocolate is probably the most common winter drink, this cider is a whole new kind of cozy. It’s made with apple cider, three other fruit juices, and lots of cinnamon sticks. As it cooks, the flavors blend and the whole kitchen begins to smell of warm spice.
I like my ice cream rich and creamy. And homemade, too. Nothing compares to the fresh taste and smooth texture you get by making it yourself. And my favorite part, you can eat the decadent warm custard (to make sure it tastes okay, of course) before freezing it.
This has to be one of my favorite desserts I’ve come up with so far. It’s got a little bit of everything…something smooth, creamy and decadent, something light and floral, and something sweet and crunchy. Plus a little salty kick to tie everything together. What’s not to love?
The best part about cooking is that there are no rules. Yes, there are techniques and steps to follow in order to make specific things… But when it comes to flavors, the boundaries are limitless.
I’ve been loving the combo of dark chocolate and nuts, so I wanted to create something that incorporates them both. There’s just something about creamy, smooth chocolate with a little nutty crunch. Instead of making a traditional cookie, I’m keeping it on the light side. Meringue basically consists of egg whites that are beaten until thick. There’s so much you can do with meringue, but I like to just dollop little mounds onto a baking sheet and bake them until crisp. A perfect, somewhat lighter treat if you are craving something sweet.
Cookies and hot chocolate are essentials around the holidays. Even people who don’t cook often can still be found in the kitchen at Christmastime making their favorite assortment of cookies. And hot chocolate? Well, that’s just a given. Nothing’s better than warming up with a tall mug of steamy, homemade hot chocolate. I’ve even found that cookies taste better dunked in hot chocolate than regular milk…at least these cookies do.
With autumn in full swing, it’s finally time for some pumpkin! I went on a splurge and incorporated all of my favorite flavors of fall into one dessert. Never a huge fan of traditional pumpkin pie, I love finding other ways of incorporating pumpkin into my meals – roasted pumpkin soup, pumpkin cheesecake, or maybe using the seeds in a pesto. This pumpkin cornbread pudding I’ve created is definitely up there on the list.
Over a summer vacation to the Bahamas, I ate at Chef Todd English’s Olives. The menu offers rustic Mediterranean cuisine: flatbreads, fresh pasta, a raw seafood bar, etc. While the entire meal was delicious, the highlight for me was dessert. I can never pass up anything with Nutella in it, so when the first item on the dessert list was a Nutella cheesecake, I put down the menu and was ready to order. It was so good that I came back for seconds at the end of the trip.
Hot summer days call for cool refreshing desserts. Nothing too decadent, just light and simple sweet treats that leave you feeling satisfied. I like to use fresh fruits and citrus to create tangy combinations: strawberry + orange and blueberry + lemon are two of my favorites.