I have been woefully neglecting this project of mine, to cook through Food52’s Genius Recipes. I just saw that it was early last when when I last cooked anything from this cookbook so I decided to jump into the desserts section. How so, you might ask? By spending the day in the kitchen and inviting some friends over for a dessert tasting. As a bonus, I used the opportunity to test drive recipes for a family reunion coming up.
Note: I’m linking out to recipes if they’ve been published on Food52’s site. If not, no links. Sorry! But please feel free to pick up a copy of Food52’s Genius Recipes online or test drive a copy from your local library.
- River Cafe’s Strawberry Lemon Sorbet: White I think we agreed that everything was good, this was probably the standout of the evening. Bear in mind that it was a muggy summer day but it really was excellent. Sweet and bright, a bit tart. This will absolutely be making an appearance at the family reunion. I’ll be serving chicken tikka masala the first night and will be following up the meal with this. Mango sorbet might be a little more appropriate but I probably don’t necessarily need to stick with a theme the whole night. Anyhoo, this will be a good end to a meal that is a little on the heavier side.
- Sylvia Thompson’s Fresh Ginger Cake with One-Ingredient Sweet Potato Caramel: Sorry no recipe posted for this one. Everyone liked this. One friend commented that she enjoyed how the taste of the quatre épices lingered after swallowing her mouthful. I agreed and wondered if, perhaps, the white pepper was a bit heavy in the spice mixture. I was in the minority there. My mother commented that the cake was very similar to a gingerbread her mother used to make on the farm back in the day. I think the only change I’d make to the recipe would be to use all molasses instead of the molasses-dark corn syrup mix. (I love some blackstrap molasses, y’all!) The sweet potato caramel was something of a revelation. You basically bake sweet potatoes, wring out the liquid, and then reduce it down into a caramel. I stopped reducing it when it was the consistency of a nice sauce and also added a bit of Mexican vanilla. It was rich and flavorful. You’d think it was full of butter and sugar. Bonus: I have plenty of leftover sweet potato mash for future meals.
- Paule Caillat’s Brown Butter Tart Crust filled with Elizabeth Faulkner’s Eggless Lemon Curd: Sorry, no recipe for the curd. But, wow, this was really good. A few people mentioned they tend to leave towards more chocolatey desserts but everyone agreed that this was a winner. There was a ‘genius tip’ to hold back a bit of the dough from the pan and use it while the crust is still warm to spackle any cracks that appear in the crust. No need to bake it again. I did that and I am certainly glad that I did! It worked beautifully. The crust was nice and flaky and the curd was just about perfect. Smooth and tart, it was an excellent summer dessert. Thank you, Paule and Elizabeth.
- Alice Medrich’s New Classic Coconut Macaroons: There were absolutely no failures in the tasting but I’d have to say that this was probably the least favorite among the group. The fault might, quite possibly, be mine though. I’ve never made macaroons before. This was, from what I understand, a more classic preparation that uses sugar and egg whites. A departure from the recipes I’ve seen online for ‘cheater’ versions that call for sweetened condensed milk. I made a variation on upgrade 2.2. I stirred in lime zest but didn’t add the cinnamon. I couldn’t wrap my mind around that flavor combination. Maybe I was being short-sighted.
- Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake: Oooooohhhhh my. This was as advertised. Dense. Rich. Moist. Like a brownie and a chocolate cake had a threesome with some chocolate pudding and this cake was the result. This was also one of the more popular options during the tasting and I think this will also make an appearance at the reunion. My only tweak was to add 1/4 cup Valrhona Dutch Processed Cocoa to the flour mixture. It certainly didn’t hurt anything! To the contrary, I think it took it a step further into the chocolately goodness category.