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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Drunk on Dessert

Happy Thursday! My computer malfunctioned last night, so my post never made it live. *Dramatic sigh* But fear not, for today I shall try again! In honor of my parents' visit to wine country, I bring you a few ideas for desserts that celebrate the joyousness that

Darkest Chocolate Cake with Red Wine Glaze
Mast Brothers Chocolate

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cacao), chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Glaze and Assembly
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cacao), finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine (such as Pinot Noir)
Special equipment
  • A 9" springform pan
For cake: 
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly butter and flour pan. Heat chocolate, sugar, and 1 cup butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (bowl should not touch water), stirring, until chocolate is almost completely melted, about 3 minutes; remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted. Let cool completely.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, add eggs to chocolate mixture 1 at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Beat until mixture has a mousse-like consistency. Reduce speed to low and add salt and 1/3 cup flour; mix until smooth. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top.
  3. Bake cake until top is firm and edges are slightly darkened, 55–65 minutes (rely on visual cues; a tester inserted into cake's center will come out clean before cake is truly done). Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool completely in pan before turning out.
For glaze and assembly: 
  1. Heat chocolate, butter, and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (bowl should not touch water), stirring, until chocolate and butter are melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk in powdered sugar.
  2. Meanwhile, bring wine just to a boil in a small saucepan.
  3. Remove chocolate mixture from heat and whisk in wine; let cool until slightly thickened and a rubber spatula leaves a trail in mixture when stirring, 8–10 minutes.
  4. Set cake on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour glaze over cake and spread it across the top and over the edges with an offset spatula. Let cake stand at room temperature until glaze is set, 2–3 hours.
DO AHEAD: Cake can be made and glazed 2 days ahead. Chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Pumpkin Custard Tart with Red Wine-Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Michael Laiskonis
  • 1/2 cup whole almonds with skin (2 1/2 oz), toasted
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch each of ground ginger, cardamom, cloves, white pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
Pumpkin Filling
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon mild molasses
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, mace, cloves, and freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (15 oz) or fresh pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
Accompaniment: red-wine caramel sauce
Special equipment: a 10- by 1-inch fluted round tart pan with removable bottom; pie weights or raw rice
Make dough:
  1. Pulse almonds, flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a food processor until nuts are very finely ground.
  2. Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in egg. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing at low speed just until a dough forms. Form dough into a disk and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 2 hours.
  3. Whisk together brown sugar, eggs, molasses, salt, and spices. Whisk in pumpkin, then cream.
Assemble and bake tart:
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round. (Dough will be sticky, so rotate frequently and dust surface with flour as needed.) Slide bottom of tart pan under dough and set into rim of tart pan. Press dough against side of pan and trim excess. (Dough cracks easily but can be patched.)
  3. Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in lower third of oven until dough is set and pale golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights, then add custard, spreading evenly. Sprinkle top with pine nuts and bake until filling is set, 30 to 35 minutes. (If edge of crust is browning too quickly, cover edge with foil or a piecrust shield.) Cool completely in pan on a rack.
  4. Remove rim of tart pan, leaving tart on pan bottom, and transfer to a platter
Cooks' Note: Dough and filling can be made 2 days ahead and chilled separately, covered.

Feta Cheesecake with Wine-Poached Dates
Eric Estrella


  • 10 ounces feta (preferably French), crumbled (2 cups)
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 22 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • 3 white peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 24 Medjool dates, pitted (8 ounces)
  • 4 sheets of phyllo dough
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Spray a 9-by-13-by-2-inch glass baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Line the dish with aluminum foil, making sure to press it into the corners; spray the foil.
  2. In a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the feta with 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and the flour at medium-low speed until creamy. Add the cream cheese and beat until blended. Add the whole eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well between additions; scrape down the side of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the heavy cream. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  3. Set the dish in a large roasting pan. Add enough warm water to the pan to reach halfway up the side of the dish. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for about 1 hour, until firm and set. Transfer the baking dish to a rack and let the cheesecake cool to room temperature. Chill the cheesecake in the freezer until very firm, but not frozen solid, 3 to 4 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the red wine with the vanilla bean and seeds, peppercorns, lemon juice and the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Add the dates and simmer until plump, about 10 minutes. Transfer the dates to a bowl and boil the liquid until it has reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Let the syrup cool completely, then strain it over the dates.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°. Brush one sheet of the phyllo dough with melted butter. Cover with a second sheet and brush with butter. Repeat with the remaining 2 phyllo sheets, buttering between them. Cut the layered phyllo into 3-inch squares (you should have 24). Transfer the squares to a large baking sheet. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper and top with baking sheet to keep the phyllo flat. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden and crisp. Remove the top baking sheet and let the phyllo squares cool.
  6. Invert the chilled cheesecake onto a cutting board and peel off the foil. Using a hot, moist knife, cut the cake into twelve 3-inch squares. Set a cheesecake square on each of 12 phyllo squares and top with the remaining squares. Transfer the cheesecakes to plates. Drizzle some of the red wine syrup around each plate and garnish with the dates.
MAKE AHEAD The cheesecake can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. The dates can be stored in their syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The baked phyllo squares can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days; crisp them again in the oven before serving, if necessary.

Happy baking!

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