By Dorie Greenspan
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - 2006
The best biscotti recipe I've ever had. Unlike "traditional" or "purist" biscotti, which have no fat in them except for what is found in the egg yolks, these use butter. This means that they are tender enough to be able to eat without dunking into your coffee. If you want to eat it without drenching it, you won't break your teeth. Dorie mentions several variations. I always add lemon zest to mine, following her directions. It's a subtle lemon flavour, but I would never leave it out. Occasionally I add pistachios instead of the sliced almonds or a mixture of the two, totalling the original volume called for of almonds. These freeze really well- and I often serve them with crème brûlée, for a textural contrast.
By Joanne Chang, Christie Matheson
Chronicle Books - 2010
This is a straightforward banana bread recipe. It's easy to put together, and using canola oil instead of butter means that it will stay moist for days (if it doesn't get eaten). It really does improve the next day- both in flavour and texture, so if you can restrain yourself from eating it warm from the oven, you'll be rewarded for your patience with a fantastic banana bread the next day.
The only reason I gave it 4* instead of 5* is because it uses an electric mixer, and I have another recipe for banana bread that I make by hand with a whisk much more easily.
1) be sure that your bananas are really ripe (lots of black spots on the skin).
2) The nuts should be toasted, as directed, but you could substitute pecans if you prefer them to walnuts (I did).
3) I used sour cream instead of crème fraîche and it worked well
4) I suggest doubling the recipe and making 2 loaves and freezing one- it freezes very well (as described in the recipe).
The best "crispy rice treat" recipe I've made. The flavour of the browned butter (with vanilla bean seeds) really brings this humble childhood treat to another level. And the little bit of kosher salt helps to make it a little less sweet without being salty. Everyone who's sampled these has commented on how good they are- even people who claim not to like sweets.
Super-easy, but the instructions for browning butter are useful if you've never made it before. The author says that "if you lean in and listen, it will sound like an audience of people politely clapping their hands (in anticipation of these treats!)". Accurate and funny.
Nice crumb on the cake texture, and the frosting is not overly sweet. The directions are very detailed to ensure your success. The only change I made was to toast the coconut for garnishing, just a personal preference for toasted sweetened coconut instead of untoasted. You could also substitute unsweetened toasted coconut for the garnish if you prefer even a little less sweet.
A very impressive cake, but since it has butter in the frosting, it's important to serve at room temperature for the best texture and flavour (cold butter straight from the fridge is not as nice, and the cake will seem dry- at room temperature it's moist enough)
By Fran Bigelow, Helene Siegel
Broadway - 2004
I have been making this torte since I bought the book in 2005. It was the first recipe I tried from this fantastic book- since it said it was recommended for beginners since there are no eggs to separate and very little that can go wrong. I agree- it is one of the easiest cakes I've ever made. There are so few ingredients, nothing to sift, no beating the eggs to any kind of soft peak or stiff peak. Straightforward chocolate, almond and orange flavours. This pairs well with sherry, and pedro-ximenez style dessert wines. It is not too sweet to overpower a wine paired with it. After making it at a hotel, a restaurant, and at home, it's still my first choice for an easy cake to put together even on a weeknight.
One note, however: the pairing of chocolate and orange is one that people either love or hate. Many men have commented that they liked it, but that the orange was just a little too intense for them. No women have made this comment. If you like chocolate and orange, you will like this cake. If you don't like the combination, then avoid this recipe or leave out the orange zest. I've experimented with lemon zest in place of the orange zest and it works very well.
Also- when adding the orange (or lemon) zest: please note that you will extract the maximum flavour from the citrus zest if you follow Dorie Greenspan's tip of rubbing the zest into the sugar with your fingers before proceeding with the recipe. It's a great tip that I use in any recipe I make that uses citrus zest.
Cafe Fernando (blog) also reviewed this recipe on their website with an alternative glaze by Rose Beranbaum (excellent).