DESSERTS FROM MY KITCHEN
BY LESLEY STOWE
Are you familiar with Raincoast Crisps? They are the thin cracker made with nuts, seeds and other tasty items that Oprah put on her 2012 collection of Favorite Things. Lesley Stowe, the developer of these crunchy morsels, has published a cookbook, Desserts From My Kitchen, which would be a perfect addition to anyone’s bookshelf, as well as a great holiday gift. Why buy dessert when you can easily impress with sweets such as lime-pecan crisps, chocolate, caramel and espresso biscotti, fig and hazelnut crostata, a gorgeous Tuscan sabayon cake topped with white-chocolate curls, a single-layer Beijing chocolate spice cake, and bittersweet, chocolate-croissant bread pudding with mascarpone and cranberry coulis. The chapter on Holiday Favorites has recipes we all love, such as shortbread cookies, cranberry rugalach, and chocolate praline Yule log. Here’s one to try this holiday season:
WHITE-CHOCOLATE BRIOCHE PUDDING WITH PORT AND DRIED CHERRY SAUCE
This isn’t your average, stodgy bread pudding; this version brings comfort food to a whole new level. A base of rich brioche mixed with white chocolate and drizzled with a dried-cherry sauce. Even those who say they don’t like white chocolate will love this dessert.
1 loaf brioche or challah
½ cup granulated sugar
7 large free-range egg yolks
2 large free-range eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups heavy or whipping (35%) cream
1 cup 2% milk
10 oz white chocolate, chopped
PORT AND DRIED CHERRY SAUCE
2 cups port
¾ cup sugar
1 2-inch (5 cm) piece cinnamon stick
½ cup dried cherries
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Butter a 13-by-9- inch (33 by 23 cm) gratin dish.
2. Make pudding: Trim off ends of the brioche and reserve for other use. Slice remaining loaf into 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick slices (you should have six or seven slices). Cut slices diagonally into triangles. Place on a baking sheet and toast in preheated oven for 2 to 3 minutes, turning once, or until lightly golden on both sides. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet. When cool, arrange in prepared gratin dish with pointed ends standing up.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, egg yolks, eggs, and vanilla.
4. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, bring cream and milk just to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Set aside for 2 to 3 minutes, until chocolate melts. Whisk until well combined.
5. Pour ½ cup (60 ml) of the milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Add remaining milk mixture and whisk to combine. Slowly pour mixture over brioche in gratin dish.
6. Set water to boil. Place gratin dish in a slightly larger baking pan. Pour enough boiling water into the larger pan to come one-third of the way up the side of the gratin dish. Cover with foil, crimping tightly around the edge of the baking pan. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set and slightly golden. If it isn’t golden, remove foil and bake a few minutes longer to allow the top to brown slightly. Remove from oven. Transfer gratin dish from pan of water to wire rack to cool. (Cake can be served warm or at room temperature).
7. Make sauce: Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine port, sugar, and cinnamon and simmer until reduced by half. Discard cinnamon and add cherries. Simmer until cherries are soft. Remove pan from heat and transfer warm sauce to a serving bowl to serve alongside brioche pudding. Will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several months.
TIP: This dessert can be made the day before up to the end of step 6 and refrigerated overnight. Make sure you remove it from the fridge 1 hour before baking, as it should be brought to room temperature first. Alternatively, allow an extra 15 to 20 minutes of baking time.
Reprinted with permission from Lesley Stowe’s DESSERTS FROM MY KITCHEN: FROM THE CREATOR OF RAINCOAST CRISPS [Barlow Book Publishing] which is available via Amazon, and is available in bookstores throughout the U.S.
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