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Dorie Greenspan on Desserts, Baking, and Restaurants in Paris

Phenomenal baker, cookbook author and bon vivant, Dorie Greenspan, shares her favorite dessert recipes, cooking tools and Paris restaurants with Facebook fans.

Desserts and Baking

Hi Dorie, what’s your favorite cheesecake to make and/or eat?
I’m a fan of the old-fashioned tall New York-style cheesecake—the one that’s baked.

Do you have a favorite recipe for Galette des Rois?
The recipe that I’ve been using for years is the one in Paris Sweets. It’s very classic: two rounds of good puff pastry filled with almond cream—the same cream I use as the base for baked fruit tarts, except I give it an extra shot of rum.

Are there any "must have" baking tools?
No baker should be without: oven thermometer, accurate measuring cups and spoons, a kitchen scale, a great rolling pin and heavy-duty baking sheets.

What suggestions do you have for pairing the wines with specific chocolates and cake flavors?
I find that chocolate is not so easy to pair with wine. I’ve had luck pairing it with Mas Amiel, Banyuls and fruity, Syrah-based wines. When I made the chocolate-cayenne cookies for Food & Wine, they paired them with Lambrusco and I thought that was genius.

Hi Dorie, a friend asked me to make cookies using beer. Any advice?
I’ve never made cookies with beer. Hmmm. I don’t know if this is doable, but I’m wondering if you shouldn’t boil the beer down to a syrup to concentrate its flavor and then use the syrup in your cookies. I’d love to know what you come up with.

What are some of your favorite cookies that won’t go stale quickly?
When it comes to cookies that are good keepers, I think you can go two almost opposite ways: go for biscotti or other ’dry’ cookies, cookies that you can ’refresh’ by popping them in the oven for a few minutes, if necessary; or you can go for buttery cookies like shortbreads, always good keepers.

What is the most attractive dessert you regularly make and how do you go about the decorating process?
I make very simple desserts and it’s rare that I decorate them. This past weekend, I made an open-faced free-form apple tart, a galette, and the beautifully browned apples were all the decoration the tart had. Similarly, I’ll make cookies and depend on their shape for decoration (or a dusting of sparkle sugar) or make a cake in a great shape and let the graphic form be the decoration.

What’s the one thing in your kitchen you could not live without—be it a utensil, ingredient, appliance, or otherwise?
I’ve got a kitchen—okay three kitchens—filled with lots and lots of gear, but the tools I come back to over and over again are very basic: my measuring equipment, my baking pans, my Dutch ovens, and, of course, my stand mixer. I’d never want to be without my mixer.

My meringues are a bit marshmallow-like in the center, how do I get them to have a consistent texture throughout?
I know your problem and feel your pain. I think you should bake them at a very low temperature for a long period—you’re really drying them out, not baking them—and then prop the oven door open for the last 1/2 hour to let out any steam in the oven.

What are the most important skills for a baker?
I think it’s important to understand blending—when butter, sugar and eggs are properly mixed—to be able to make and roll out a dough, to know how things should bake. The best part about learning the skills for baking or cooking is that they’re obtained by practice and practice in this arena is very delicious.

Dining in Paris

Hi Dorie, what inexpensive hidden food gems have you found in Paris?
I find the supermarkets in Paris jam-packed with little gems and my favorite place to shop for food to take home for myself or to give as gifts is G. Detou-great salts and peppers, caramel chips made with salted butter and terrific sardines.

What is your favorite pâtisserie in Paris?
It’s not possible to name just one—impossible! But my favorite is Pierre Herme. I also really, really like the new Gontran Cherrier, particularly for simple cakes and breads, Hugo and Victor—their pastries have a fabulous look, as does their shop—and Pâtisserie des Rêves.

Dorie’s Cookbooks

Hi Dorie! I am working my way through your baking book. I have loved everything so far, especially the French Lemon Creme Tart and World Peace Cookies. Are you working on any new books?
I am thrilled that you’re working—I prefer to think that your playing—your way through Baking From My Home to Yours. I, too, love the Lemon Cream (I’ve got a bowl of it awaiting tarthood in my fridge now) and the World Peace Cookies. I am working on a new book about baking in France. It’ll be out in Fall 2013!

I just received your book Around my French Table. I love it! What are some of your favorite recipes?
Yay—I’m so glad you’re liking the book! Now, with winter here, some of my favorites are Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good, Hachis Parmentier, My Go-to-Beef Daube, Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake and the Endives, Apple and Grape dish. I hope you find your own favorites.

Staying Healthy and More Dorie

How do you stay so healthy and trim with all of your scrumptious recipes?
So funny—I practice what I call Bake (or Cook) and Release: I bake, taste and give away a lot of what I make. Since I can be baking four or five things a day, it’s impossible for me to keep everything. And besides, giving things away makes my neighbors so happy :)

If you were to dive into another culinary culture, what would it be?
What an interesting question. I haven’t considered this before, but I think were I to dive, as you say, I’d dive into the foods of Southeast Asia. Maybe. Hmmm. A good question to dream on.

I grew-up in your neck of the woods in Connecticut and would love to know if there are any can’t-miss places you frequent while home. Cheese at Fromage? Meat from Cliff’s? I’m still in search of a great bakery too— any recent finds?
I love Fromage and yes, I buy meat from Cliff’s as well as from Bennie’s Market. I’m terrible to ask about bakeries, since I bake everything at home, except the great baguettes that I buy at Pip’s, the really good restaurant at the Copper Beech Inn. I love River Tavern, Alforno and Brasserie Pip’s, Bishop’s Orchards and the fabulous Star Fish Market in Guilford. And Ashlawn Farm coffee and the Farmer’s Markets at Ashlawn and Chester. This is making me a little homesick.

Video: Desserts

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