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Brioche dough makes a perfect crust for a tart of juicy fruit like apricots, plums, peaches, or even small pears. A thin coating of almond filling helps to keep the crust drier, but the brioche can also absorb most of the fruit juices without becoming soggy. The almond filling here is twice as much as you need; freeze the rest in a plastic container, covered tightly, and use within a few weeks.

Makes one 11- or 12-inch tart, about 12 servings

1/2 batch chilled Brioche Mousseline Dough (see below)

Almond Filling

6 ounces canned almond paste

3 tablespoons sugar

1 large egg

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 1/2 pounds ripe apricots, rinsed, halved or quartered, and pitted

2 tablespoons sugar for the apricots

One 9- or 10-inch tart pan, buttered

  1. Set a rack at the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 400°F.

  2. Set the dough on a floured surface and lightly dust it with flour. Roll it to a disk a little larger than the pan. Fold the dough in half and transfer it to the pan, lining up the fold with the diameter of the pan. Unfold the dough and press it into the pan. Let rest at room temperature while preparing the filling.

  3. For the almond filling, beat the almond paste and sugar on low speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until reduced to fine crumbs. Add the whole egg and beat until the mixture is completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the butter until smooth, then stop and scrape the bowl and beater. Beat in the orange zest, egg yolk, and vanilla. Quickly mix the flour and baking powder together and fold them into the filling by hand using a rubber spatula.

  4. Uncover the dough and press an 8-inch round area in the center of the dough to deflate it, leaving a 1/2-inch thicker rim at the side of the pan all around. Spread the almond filling on the dough—it will be a thin layer. Starting at the outside edge of the crust, arrange the apricots, cut side upward, close to each other. Continue making concentric rows of apricot halves or quarters until you reach the center. Sprinkle the apricots with sugar.

  5. Place the tart in the oven. Decrease the heat to 375°F.

  6. Bake the tart until the crust is well colored and dry and the apricots are softened and juicy, about 45 minutes.

  7. Cool the tart on a rack and serve it warm or at room temperature.

Brioche Mousseline Dough

Softer and stickier than ordinary brioche dough, this is a little difficult to handle but don’t let that stop you from trying it. Flour the palms of your hands rather than the surface or the dough and you’ll have no problems in forming the dough. No matter what size or shape pan you choose, it will look appealing and taste even better.

Makes 2 pounds, enough for 2 tarts

2 tablespoons sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) fine granulated active dry or instant yeast

1/3 cup whole milk, scalded and cooled to 100°F

4 large eggs, at room temperature

3 cups unbleached bread flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

  1. Stir the sugar and yeast together in the bowl for a stand mixer, then whisk in the cooled milk. Let sit for 1 minute, then whisk again. Whisk in the eggs.

  2. Use a large rubber spatula to stir in the flour, making sure not to leave any in the bottom of the bowl or stuck to its sides.

  3. Using the dough hook, beat the dough on the lowest speed until it comes together but isn’t completely smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

  4. Begin mixing again on low-medium speed and sprinkle in the salt. Add the butter in 8 or 10 separate pieces, then let the dough mix until it completely absorbs the butter and becomes smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough doesn’t absorb the butter easily, stop and scrape down the bowl and dough hook every couple of minutes. Once you see the butter is on its way to being completely absorbed, increase the speed to medium for about 1 minute.

  5. Scrape the dough into a buttered bowl, turn it over so that the top is buttered, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough ferment until it doubles in bulk, 1 to 2 hours, depending on the temperature.

  6. Once the dough has fermented, scrape it onto a floured surface and give it a turn: press the dough into a fat disk and fold one side over the center, then fold the other side over both. Roll the dough down from the top to form an uneven sphere. Place the dough back in the bowl (butter the top again if necessary) seam side down and cover it again.

  7. Refrigerate the dough for a couple of hours or until it rises again and then chills down. You can leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight, but you should bake it within 18 hours of beginning to mix it.

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There isn’t much difference between this pie and what we normally call a cobbler, except that this has much more fruit in relation to the crust. The blueberries have no thickeners added to mar their natural flavor and juiciness, so the filling is quite soupy.

Makes 1 large pie, about 8 servings

Cream Biscuit Crust

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened

1 1/3 cup half-and-half or light cream

Fruit Filling

4 pints blueberries, rinsed and picked over

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Finishing and Serving

Light cream for brushing

1 to 2 teaspoons sugar

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving

  1. For the crust, place the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl and rub in the butter until fine and mealy. Do not allow the mixture to become pasty. Use a fork to stir in the cream—the dough will be very soft. Press the dough together on a floured surface, turn it over on itself several times to make it slightly more elastic, and wrap in plastic. Set aside.

  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F and set a rack in the lower third.

  3. Place the blueberries in a bowl and add all the remaining filling ingredients, except the butter. Toss well to combine and pour into a 10- to 12-cup gratin or other baking dish. Distribute pieces of the butter evenly on the filling.

  4. Press the dough out on a floured surface until it is roughly the size of the baking dish. Lift the dough onto the filling using a thin, flexible cookie sheet. Cut several vent holes in the top. Brush it with some cream and sprinkle it with the sugar.

  5. Bake the pie until the crust is deep golden and the filling is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

  6. To serve the pie, use a large spoon to remove a portion of the biscuit crust onto a soup plate. Pour a couple of large spoonfuls of the filling next to it and add some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Nick Malgieri by Nick Malgieri - 2w ago

Back when I was in high school, my friend Sandy and I would often grab a commuter train in New Jersey and head to Greenwich Village. We spent $3.00 on lunch at Amy’s on University Place, a vegetarian sandwich and salad shop where we always ordered a salad pita and helped ourselves to the added bonus: coolers of free spring water or mint tea. One of the pitas that follow is filled with a standard Greek salad mixture (like the one at Amy’s) while the other has a Turkish-style eggplant salad that I make all summer long. Both salads are also perfect as appetizers or side dishes with pita or other bread.

Salad Pitas

4 pitas, below, warmed right before filling

Greek Salad or Eggplant Salad, below

Cut the top 1 to 2 inches from the pitas and divide the salad equally among them. Serve immediately.

Greek Salad

2 cups 1/2-inch ribbons romaine lettuce

1 large or 2 medium ripe tomatoes, 6 to 8 ounces, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 medium cucumber, 4 to 5 ounces, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced

1/2 small red or green bell pepper, about 2 ounces, cut into thin slices

1/4 medium red onion, about 2 ounces, thinly sliced from stem to root end

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pitted Kalamata or other flavorful black olives

3/4 cup, about 3 ounces, crumbled feta cheese

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice, strained before measuring, or more or less to taste

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the vegetables in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle on the crumbled cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, and pepper. Use a rubber spatula to fold everything together thoroughly. Taste for seasoning—it might need a pinch of salt, but be careful since both the olives and cheese are quite salty.

Eggplant Salad

You can prepare this with eggplant that has been baked whole until it collapses, scraping out the flesh to a colander, rinsing it under running cold water, squeezing it dry, and chopping it by hand, but I prefer the diced eggplant below which is a little chewier.

Baked Eggplant

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium eggplant, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Salad

1 medium clove garlic, peeled and finely grated

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, strained before measuring

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 small cucumber, about 2 ounces, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 small tomato, about 3 ounces, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/2 small red or green bell pepper, about 2 ounces, cut into 1/4-inch dice

3 scallions, white part only, rinsed, trimmed, and finely sliced

  1. To cook the eggplant, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 375˚F. Grease a jelly-roll pan or half-sheet pan with the olive oil, spread out the diced eggplant on it, and sprinkle with the salt. Bake the eggplant until it is cooked through and softened, opening the oven and stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes.

  2. Cool the eggplant on the pan, then scrape it into a medium mixing bowl.

  3. Stir the garlic and lemon juice together and sprinkle over the eggplant, followed by the oil, parsley, and pepper. Use a medium rubber spatula to fold everything together.

  4. Sprinkle on the cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, and scallions, and fold again. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt, pepper, and lemon juice if necessary.

  5. For advance preparation, cover and chill the salad and bring it back to room temperature before serving. After being refrigerated, it may need to be perked up again with a little salt or lemon juice.

Pita

Pita, the Middle Eastern bread that bakes to a hollow disk with a “pocket,” is as easy to prepare as it is fascinating to watch as it inflates in the oven. This recipe comes from my friends Jennifer Morris and Hosni Emam and was featured at Habibi and Habibi Café, their two Egyptian restaurants in Hong Kong. Habibi was also the place where I made my public belly-dancing debut. On my first trip to Asia, Jennifer had met me at the airport, we stopped to drop off my luggage at their apartment, then headed to Habibi for dinner. Midway through the excellent meal of meze and roast lamb, the music started and three beautifully costumed dancers started moving through the restaurant and dancing, weaving around the tables. One dancer stopped at our table and beckoned me to join her. I decided to be a sport, so, jetlagged and exhausted, I stood up and tried to emulate her movements, my own belly decorously covered by a baggy polo shirt. Fortunately the dancer moved on to find another victim after only a couple of minutes, and I was able to finish my meal peacefully. It was an unusual beginning for what tuned out to be a fabulous visit.

Makes twelve 6-inch round pitas

3 3/4 cups bread flour

1 1/4 cups room temperature tap water, about 75°F

2 1/4 teaspoons fine granulated active dry or instant yeast

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt

One baking stone or one large cookie sheet or inverted jelly-roll pan

  1. Whisk the water and yeast together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Wait 30 seconds, whisk again, then whisk in the oil. Use a large rubber spatula to stir in the flour a little at a time until it is completely absorbed.

  2. Mix with the dough hook on low speed until the dough is smooth, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

  3. Start the mixer on medium speed and sprinkle in the salt. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes. Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and turn it over so that the top is oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough ferment until it is almost doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.

  4. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and use a bench scraper to divide it into 12 equal pieces, each about 65 grams. To round each piece of dough, move one to a flour-free place in front of you. Cup your right hand over the piece of dough so that the top of your palm just beyond your fingers is touching the dough. Press the piece of dough and move your hand in a circular motion at the same time. If you’re pressing hard enough you’ll be able to feel the dough turning into a sphere. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Cover the pieces of dough as they are rounded. After they’re all rounded, let them rest for 10 minutes.

  5. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven, place a baking stone, heavy cookie sheet (or two), or an inverted jelly-roll pan on the rack and preheat to 500˚F.

  6. Place a rounded piece of dough on a lightly floured work surface, flour it, and use the palm of your hand to press it to a fat disk. Use a small rolling pin to roll over the dough, without rolling over the end in the same direction and turning it frequently, to a 6-inch disk. Set the rolled dough aside, covered. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Do not stack the dough.

  7. Once all the pitas have been formed, bake them starting with the first ones you rolled. Open the oven and quickly slide as many as will fit on the stone or pan. Bake the pitas until they are nicely inflated and look like little spheres, about 3 minutes. Use a wide spatula to remove them from the oven and let them cool on a rack where they’ll deflate but shouldn’t stick back together. Continue baking the remaining pitas the same way.

  8. If using the same day, store the cooled pitas in a plastic bag. Wrap and freeze for longer storage. Defrost and reheat at 400˚F for a minute or two before serving.

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Nick Malgieri by Nick Malgieri - 3w ago

This type of a tart—a cookie dough crust, covered with a thin layer of pastry cream and an assortment of glazed fruit—has been the mainstay of elegant pastry shops in Paris and many other places for the better part of a century. In the past, the fruit was carefully arranged in concentric rows in the crust and was then painted with a simple glaze. Nowadays, the arrangement has gone out the window and the fruit is mixed together with the glaze fruit-salad style, making a tart that is more casual, and manages to pack in a lot more fruit. You want to use berries, kiwi (more for color than anything else), diced pineapple, and maybe some mango. Avoid fruit that would discolor on standing such as apples, pears, or peaches, or anything that would be excessively juicy, such as melon. Aside from that you can make your own assortment of fruit. This is essentially a summer tart, best when all the fruit and berries are in season and at the height of flavor.

Six 4- to 4 1/2-inch tart crusts made from Cookie Dough, recipe follows

Pastry Cream

1 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup sugar

 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

 4 egg yolks

 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Topping and Glaze

About 5 cups of assorted fruit and berries, such as rinsed and dried blueberries; picked over but unwashed raspberries; rinsed, drained, hulled, and halved small strawberries; peeled, halved and sliced kiwis; peeled and cored pineapple cut into 3/4-inch dice; peeled and diced mango

3/4 cup apricot preserves

  1. For the pastry cream, bring the milk, cream, and half the sugar to a simmer. In a bowl, whisk the remaining sugar with the flour, then whisk in the yolks. Whisk a third of the simmering milk mixture into the yolk mixture. Return the milk to a simmer and whisk in the yolk mixture, whisking constantly until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Allow to boil, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Scrape the cream into a glass bowl and press plastic wrap against the surface. Chill until cold.

  2. After the pastry cream is completely cold and you are ready to assemble the tart, layer a little of each fruit at a time in a large bowl, repeating the layers until you have used all the fruit—this method will cut down on mixing and bruising the fruit too much later on.

  3. To make the glaze, combine the preserves and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl and stir well to mix. Strain into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over low heat, stirring occasionally. Let the glaze reduce to about 2/3 its original volume, then pour it into a shallow bowl and let it cool for 10 minutes.

  4. Carefully spread 1/6 of the chilled pastry cream in each tart crust. Don’t whisk or beat the pastry cream or it might liquefy. Just scrape it into the crust and use a small metal offset spatula to spread it evenly.

  5. Drizzle the cooled glaze over the fruit and use a large rubber spatula to gently toss the fruit and coat with glaze. Scrape the glazed fruit over the pastry cream neatly, making sure it comes all the way to the edge of the crust and mounds evenly in the center.

  6. Unmold the tarts and slide them from the pan bases to a platter.

Serving: This dessert doesn’t need anything else to embellish it.

Storage: Try to assemble the tart as close as possible to the time you intend to serve them, though they can certainly wait a few hours at a cool room temperature. If you do want to assemble these at the last minute, keep the fruit separate so that the berries don’t stain the other fruit. Leave the glaze in the pan and just reheat it gently. Then all you’ll have to do is to spread the pastry cream in the crusts, mix the fruit with the glaze, and arrange the fruit in the tart shells.

Cookie Dough Tart Crust

2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted after measuring

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract, optional

2 large egg yolks

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  1. Beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on lowest speed until well mixed, then increase to medium speed and beat until lightened, about 3 minutes. Beat in the extracts, then the egg yolks, one at a time, beating smooth after each addition. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl and beater and beat in the flour on lowest speed. Scrape the dough to a lightly floured work surface and gently knead the dough together 3 or 4 times to make it smooth. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and wrap in plastic. Chill the dough for a couple of hours before rolling.

  2. Soften one of the pieces of dough at room temperature for about 15 minutes, then roll and line the tart pan, severing the excess dough at the rim of the pan. Repeat with remaining dough. Pierce the bottom of the crusts all over with a fork and chill them. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 375˚F.

  3. Place the tart crusts in the oven and bake until set and golden, about 15 to 20 minutes, checking often to burst any bubbles that might form.

  4. Cool the crusts on a rack.

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Nick Malgieri by Nick Malgieri - 1M ago

I owe the trick of imparting extra flavor to the cookies by using honey-roasted peanuts to my friend and mentor Maida Heatter. They add so much to the flavor of these cookies that I I can’t imagine preparing them with anything else. These are a little tricky to bake because they need to spread out and come to a boil on the pan. Watch them carefully and don’t bake more than 2 pans at a time, and you’ll be fine. Baking these on silicone baking mats makes the process much easier.

Makes about 36 cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup honey

1 large egg

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/3 cups honey-roasted peanuts, finely chopped, but not ground

2 cookie sheets or jelly-roll pans lined with silicone mats or buttered foil

  1. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.

  2. Stir the flour and baking soda together and set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, honey, and egg together until just mixed to avoid making a foamy mixture. Then whisk in the butter.

  4. Use a large rubber spatula to stir in the flour mixture and the chopped peanuts.

  5. Drop tablespoon-size pieces of the batter onto the prepared pans, keeping them about 4 inches apart on all sides. Moisten a fingertip with water and flatten each mound of batter.

  6. Bake the cookies for about 5 minutes, then place the pan from the lower rack on the upper one and vice versa, turning the pans back to front at the same time. If you know that your oven gives strong bottom heat, stack the pan on the lower rack stacked on top of a second one for insulation. Continue baking for another 5 minutes, or until the cookies have spread and are evenly golden.

  7. Remove the pans from the oven and slide the silicone mats onto racks to cool. As soon as you can pry the cookies off the mats, rinse the mats and bake more cookies.

Storage: Keep the cookies between sheets of wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.

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Nick Malgieri by Nick Malgieri - 1M ago

Here’s a recipe you can literally have on the table less than an hour after you start making it. I love to use really sweet height-of-the-season strawberries for this, but don’t hesitate to try it with other fruit or berries such as peaches, mixed berries, or even fresh figs.

Makes one 8-inch shortcake, 6 to 8 servings

Shortcake Biscuit

2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

1 large egg

2/3 cup buttermilk, light cream, or half-and-half

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Berries

4 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, for buttering the split biscuit

One 8-inch round pan 2 inches deep, buttered and the bottom lined with a disk of parchment or buttered wax paper cut to fit

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 450˚F.

  2. Combine the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, or until the butter is finely mixed into the dry ingredients.

  3. Whisk the egg and buttermilk together and add to the food processor. Pulse repeatedly until a very soft dough forms.

  4. Carefully remove the blade from the bowl and use a metal spatula to scrape away any dough stuck to it. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and use a small metal offset spatula to spread it evenly. For individual shortcakes, place eight 3- to 4-inch mounds of dough on a parchment paper-lined, jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle the top of the dough(s) with the remaining tablespoon sugar.

  5. Bake the shortcake until it is well risen, deep golden, and firm in the center when pressed with a fingertip, 15 to 20 minutes, 10 to 15 minutes for individual ones.

  6. While the biscuit is baking, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla by hand or by machine with the whip attachment on medium speed. Set aside in the refrigerator.

  7. Gently stir the berries and sugar together and keep at room temperature.

  8. When the shortcake is ready, unmold it onto a rack and let it cool for a few minutes. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut through it horizontally to make 2 layers. Place the first layer on a platter and spread with the softened butter. Top with half the berries and their juices and half the whipped cream. Add the other layer, cut side down, and top with the remaining berries and juices and cream. For individual shortcakes, split the biscuits in half horizontally and place the bottom halves on dessert plates. Top each half with 1/8 of the berry mixture and 1/8 of the whipped cream. Place the remaining halves on top. Serve immediately.

Serving: Cut the shortcake into wedges at the table. Use a spoon to put a little of the stray berries and cream next to each portion.

Storage: For advance preparation, whip the cream and macerate the berries earlier the same day and keep them refrigerated. You can also prepare the biscuit up to adding the butter, just leaving the liquid to be added. But the biscuit must be baked immediately after mixing and served warm from the oven. While I wouldn’t throw away leftovers, they certainly aren’t as good after they have cooled off. Wrap and refrigerate leftovers and eat at midnight or later while standing in front of the refrigerator.

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Nick Malgieri by Nick Malgieri - 1M ago

Slightly reminiscent of a French gâteau breton, this dense cake is perfect with a glass of sweet wine or a cup of tea. As a dessert, it would need to be dressed up with some fruit or berries.

Makes one 9-inch tube or Bundt cake, about 16 slices

2 1/2 cups blanched almonds, very lightly toasted

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

5 large eggs, at room temperature

One 9-inch (10-cup) tube or Bundt pan, buttered, coated with fine dry bread crumbs, and sprayed with vegetable cooking spray

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 325˚F.

  2. Combine the almonds and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse repeatedly until the mixture is a fine powder. Invert the work bowl to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

  3. Add the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon to the bowl and mix on lowest speed for 1 minute.

  4. Add the butter and mix until absorbed.

  5. Add the lemon zest and 2 eggs and mix until absorbed. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Add another 2 eggs and repeat, beating for 1 minute after they are incorporated. Add the last egg and repeat.

  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cake until it is well risen and deep golden and the point of a thin knife inserted between the side of the pan and the central tube emerges clean, 45 to 50 minutes.

  7. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes, then unbuckle the side of the pan and slide the cake from the pan base to a rack to cool.

Serving: This is best as a tea cake. Serve thin slices; a spoonful of lemon curd to accompany it wouldn’t be bad, either.

Storage: Keep the baked cake under a cake dome or wrapped in plastic at room temperature. Double wrap and freeze for longer storage. Defrost and bring back to room temperature before serving.

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In the fall of 1986, I was teaching my first career-training intensive baking course at Peter Kump’s New York Cooking school when I learned that Peter’s birthday was a few days away. I asked Gaynor Grant, our registrar, what kind of a cake I should make for Peter, and she told me that he absolutely adored the raspberry meringue cake from Maurice Bonté’s bakery, then the best pastry shop in Manhattan. So I took a walk over after class and with the pretext of buying a few pounds of cake yeast, which they were always happy to sell to us, I asked Mme. Bonté about the unusual triangular cake covered with chunks of broken meringue so that the bright pink buttercream beneath showed through, the two narrow corners festooned with thin multi-colored curling ribbons. Yes, it was all meringue layers, and yes, it was raspberry buttercream, were her answers. Leaving with the three pounds of yeast (she charged only a dollar a pound!), I returned to the school to start preparations, happy that the recipe had cost me so little. I was very flattered when Peter refused to believe we hadn’t bought the cake from Bonté.

Makes one 9 x 9 x 13-inch triangular cake, about 16 to 20 servings

Two 9-inch square meringue layers, plus the rest of the meringue piped into a rectangle on another pan, baked and cooled (see below)

1 batch raspberry meringue buttercream (see below)

  1. Trim each of the meringue layers to an even 9-inch square, then carefully cut through each diagonally with a sawing motion to make 4 triangles—only 3 will be used to assemble the cake.

  2. Use a chef’s knife to chop the least even of the 4 triangles and the extra rectangle into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces.

  3. Cut a cardboard that will fit under one of the layers and use a dab of the buttercream to secure a layer in place, flat (bottom) side down. Spread the layer with a third of the buttercream.

  4. Place the second triangle on the buttercream, flat side down, and spread with another third of the buttercream.

  5. Place the last layer on top, again flat side down, and gently press into place. Spread the entire outside of the triangle with the remaining buttercream.

  6. Press the broken meringue chunks against the buttercream all over the top and sides of the triangle.

SERVING: Cut slices from either narrow end of the cake inward. Once the slices are very long, cut the remaining cake in half in the length to make more manageable slices.

STORAGE: Keep the cake refrigerated, but bring it to room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before serving. Wrap and refrigerate leftovers and bring to room temperature again before serving.

Baked Meringue Layers

4 large egg whites

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar or strained lemon juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups sugar, divided use

Three cookie sheets or jellyroll pans lined with parchment and one 20-inch pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tube (Ateco #806)

  1. Half fill a saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Decrease the heat so that the water boils gently.

  2. Combine the egg whites, salt, vinegar, vanilla, and 2/3 cup (half of) the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk by hand just to mix.

  3. Set the bowl over the pan of simmering water and whisk constantly but slowly to keep the mixture in motion, but not to incorporate air, until the egg whites are hot, about 140˚F, and the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes.

  4. Place the bowl on a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on medium-high speed until cooled and increased in volume.

  5. Once you can touch the bowl and feel that it has completely cooled, decrease the speed to medium and add the remaining sugar about 2 tablespoons at a time, continuing to whip until all the sugar has been added.

  6. Use a dark pencil to trace two 9-inch squares onto pieces of parchment, then invert the paper. The size and shape of the rectangle you’ll make with the remaining meringue is not as important.

  7. Fold back one third of the pastry bag and stand it in a jar or large measuring cup to fill. Spoon in one third to one half the meringue, unfold the bag and twist the top of the bag closed behind the meringue.

  8. Hold the bag at a 45-degree angle to the pan with the tube touching the surface of the paper. Start at the far side of your pattern and, while squeezing, pull the bag toward the side closer to you. Repeat, making a series of lines with the meringue that are almost touching (they’ll puff a little and join while baking). Squeeze out a few blobs of meringue the same height as your layers, which you’ll be able to press to determine the degree of doneness later on.

  9. Repeat to create the second 9-inch square and then the rectangle.

  10. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 200˚F. Bake meringue until it is almost completely dry, which can take up to 2 hours, watching carefully that the meringue takes on no or as little color as possible. After 1 1/2 hours, press one of the extra pieces of meringue. There should only be 1/2 inch in the center that is still soft.

  11. Cool the meringues on the pans on racks.

Raspberry Buttercream

4 large egg whites

Pinch of salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft

1/2 cup thick, cooled raspberry purée

1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur or eau de vie, optional

  1. Half fill a saucepan over which your mixer bowl will fit without having more than a couple of inches in the pan. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat and decrease the heat so that the water boils gently.

  2. Whisk the egg whites, salt, and sugar together by hand in the bowl of an electric mixer. Place over the boiling water and whisk constantly but not furiously until the egg whites are hot (about 140˚F) and the sugar is dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes. Test a little by withdrawing the whisk and letting a little of the mixture flow onto a fingertip; it should be a smooth liquid with no sugar grit.

  3. Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until the meringue is very risen in volume and beginning to cool. The outside of the bowl should feel just slightly warm.

  4. Switch to the paddle attachment and beat on lowest speed until the meringue is completely cooled and the bowl no longer feels at all warm. This is critical – if you add the butter when the meringue is still warm it will melt and ruin the buttercream.

  5. Add the butter in 6 or 8 additions immediately following each other, still mixing on lowest speed. Scrape the bowl and beater and increase the speed to medium; beat the buttercream until it is smooth, thick and shiny, about 5 minutes. Don’t be concerned if the buttercream appears separated a little while after adding the butter; it’s normal.

  6. Once the buttercream is perfectly smooth, add the raspberry purée and liqueur, if using, a little at a time, beating smooth again after each addition.

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Nick Malgieri by Nick Malgieri - 2M ago

The official name of this in Italian is Pastiera Napoletana, though many Italian Americans also refer to it as Pizza di Grano, or grain pie. It’s a sweet crust filled with ricotta, pastry cream, and cooked wheat berries, and scented with orange flower water. If you live near an Italian grocery story, they will always have wheat berries around Easter – you just need to ask for wheat or grain. Or you can buy it in a health food store. Take care when you purchase the wheat: The wheat berries you need to buy are white, not brown or red. White wheat berries cook relatively quickly, whereas the unhulled darker ones take forever to cook. If no wheat berries are available, substitute an equal amount of long-grain rice or pearl barley, either of which work equally well.

One 9-inch pie, 8 to 10 servings

Wheat Berries

1/2 cup hulled white wheat berries

1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) cold water

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pastry Cream

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup milk

Filling

Pastry Cream, above

1 cup (about 8 ounces) whole-milk ricotta

1/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon orange flower water

1/3 cup candied orange peel, cut into 1/4-inch dice

Wheat Berries, above

1 batch Pasta Frolla, below, half lining a 9-inch pie pan, unbaked, the other half rolled into a 9-inch square and chilled,

Ground cinnamon for sprinkling

  1. Early in the day you intend to bake the pie, combine the wheat berries with the cold water and the salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then decrease the heat to low and allow the wheat to simmer gently until it is tender and cooked though, about 1 hour. Drain the cooked wheat berries and transfer them to a bowl to cool.

  2. Set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.

  3. For the pastry cream, whisk the egg and yolk in a bowl and whisk in the sugar and flour. Whisk in the milk and scrape the mixture into a small saucepan. Place over low heat and stir constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a gentle boil. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for a few seconds after the cream reaches the boil.

  4. Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl. Immediately whisk in the ricotta until smooth. Whisk in the sugar, then the eggs one at a time. Stir in the orange flower water, candied orange peel, and the wheat.

  5. Scrape the filling into the prepare crust and sprinkle some cinnamon over the filling. Paint the edge of the crust with water.

  6. Remove the chilled square of dough from the refrigerator and use a serrated cutting wheel to cut it into 3/4-inch wide strips. Arrange 5 of the strip parallel to and equidistant from each other on the filling, letting the excess dough hang over the edge of the pie. Place the 5 remaining strips in exactly the same manner, but at a 45-degree angle to the first ones.

  7. Gently press the ends of the strips to adhere to the edge of the bottom crust, then use a bench scraper or the back of a knife to sever the excess dough at the rim of the pan.

  8. Bake the pie until the filling is set and slightly puffed and the crust is baked through, about 40 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Serving: Serve wedges of the pie; it needs no accompaniment.

Storage: Keep the pastiera at a cool room temperature on the day it is baked. Wrap and refrigerate leftovers, then bring to room temperature before serving again.

Pasta Frolla

This is Italy’s most typical pastry dough, used for both sweet and savory pies.

2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold

2 large eggs

  1. Combine dry ingredients in bowl of food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse several times to mix.

  2. Cut butter into 8 pieces and distribute evenly over dry ingredients in work bowl. Pulse until very finely powdered.

  3. Add eggs and continue to pulse until dough forms a ball.

  4. Remove dough, press into a thick cylinder, wrap, and chill until firm before rolling.


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Nick Malgieri by Nick Malgieri - 2M ago

This delicate meringue cake is named in honor of the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova (1882 – 1931). Pavlova performed in Perth for only one season, in 1929, to stellar reviews. A few years later the pastry chef at the hotel where she had stayed, the Esplanade, created this meringue and cream cake and named it after her, both because it is light and because it resembles a tutu. Today a “Pav,” as it is generally referred to in Australia, is that country’s national dessert par excellence. I tasted many different versions in Australia, though none as good as the one below made by my dear friend in Melbourne, food stylist Maureen McKeon.

In Australia the fruit for toping is usually passion fruit pulp or a combination of passion fruit pulp and bananas. Maureen also suggests using sliced strawberries or mixed berries in summer. A Pavlova also makes a great Passover dessert for a dairy meal if you use potato starch.

Makes one 10-inch cake, about 16 servings

Meringue Layer

1 cup (about 7 or 8 large) egg whites, at room temperature

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 tablespoon potato starch or cornstarch

Topping

2 cups heavy whipping cream

About 1 1/2 to 2 cups fruit: passion fruit pulp, or other fruit (see above)

One cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan lined with parchment

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 325˚F. Trace a 10-inch circle with dark pencil on the parchment paper, and turn it over. Lightly butter the paper and sprinkle with a thin coating of starch. You should still be able to see the traced circle.

  2. Pour the egg whites, salt, vinegar, and vanilla into the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip on medium speed with the whisk attachment until the egg whites are white, opaque, and beginning to hold a very soft peak. Increase the speed to medium high and whip in 2 cups of the sugar one tablespoon at a time, whipping for 20 to 30 seconds after each addition.

  3. After all the sugar has been added the meringue should stand in very stiff peaks.

  4. Remove the bowl from the mixer and quickly mix the remaining 1/2 cup of the sugar with the starch. Fold the mixture into the meringue.

  5. Scrape the meringue out onto the prepared pan and spread it, using a medium offset spatula, into a thick straight-sided and straight-topped disk about 2 inches tall. Try to spread the meringue as evenly and symmetrically as possible, because there is no opportunity to trim it after it has baked.

  6. Bake the meringue disk for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 225˚F and bake an additional 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven and open the door. Cool the meringue disk in the turned-off oven. For advance preparation, keep the meringue disk loosely covered with plastic at a dry room temperature. Humid weather will soften it to a gooey mess.

  7. To finish the Pavlova, slide the cooled meringue disk from the paper to a platter. Whip the cream and spread it evenly on the top of the meringue disk. Neatly top the whipped cream with the chosen fruit. Some of the fruit will invariably fall down the side of the dessert.

Serving: Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the Pavlova into wedges.

Storage: As you might suspect, this doesn’t keep well. Don’t throw away leftovers, but keeping them in the refrigerator will soften the meringue. If you are going to prepare the meringue disk in advance, top it with the cream and fruit at the last minute, just before you are going to serve it.

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