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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

The Thinker Series

Inside the Baker's Studio: Gorgeous Italian Desserts

Pastry Chef Caitlin Freeman's Food Art

Photo © Erin Kunkel

Caitlin Freeman, pastry chef at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, creates stunning desserts for F&W's April issue inspired by Italian paintings and sculpture.

"I love its simplicity,” says Caitlin Freeman, describing how a 1919 Modigliani portrait inspired her to create a nectarine Pavlova—a dessert she came up with specifically for F&W’s Italian issue. As head pastry chef at the Blue Bottle Coffee Bar at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Freeman is surrounded by 20th- and 21st-century masterpieces, all of which spark ideas for recipes. (The best appear in her book Modern Art Desserts, due out this month.) But creating desserts inspired by Italian art from any era posed a different challenge: How to narrow the choices? Freeman says she began the process by asking herself a basic question: What do I like to look at the most? Antonio Canova’s 1793 marble sculpture of Cupid and Psyche turned into a white eclair. An 1892 portrait by Juana Romani took new form as a macaron with lemon curd on a ruffled gold plate (“As you can see, I became obsessed with ruff collars!”). VIEW ART DESSERTS SLIDESHOW »

Expert Guide

Christina Tosi Dreams of Unsung Ways to Eat Chocolate

Christina Tosi Dreams of Chocolate

Photo © David Malosh/ Art © James Maikowski.

Boxed candies can be supremely delicious and sexy. But to impress the truly chocolate-obsessed Valentine on Thursday—and provide shopping alternatives for stumped procrastinators—Momofuku Milk Bar’s sugar mastermind, Christina Tosi, reveals some of the more creative ways to enjoy chocolate.

1. Pair with fruits and vegetables. “Chocolate is a great way to hide the ‘healthy’ in your next tomato cake, beet, celery root or potato concoction, or zucchini bread!”

2. Serve with cheese. “Dark chocolate is great with any grassy cheese, and a great surprise on a cheese platter. You can even make a killer fudge sauce/spread with some grassy goat milk, to sit on your next cheese platter.”

3. Burn it. “Did you know that burning white chocolate slowly makes the most delicious, sweet brown butter bits?” Now you do.

4. Eat it on toast. “Or in toast! With passion fruit curd and a cup of coffee.”

5. Smoke it. “My first run in with this was working as a pastry cook for Sam Mason and chef Wylie Dufresne at WD-50 in New York. We turned smoked chocolate into a killer ice cream.”

Follow writer Jasmin Sun on Twitter @jasminsun.

Related: Christina Tosi's 7 Craziest Cookie Ingredients
F&W Editor Picks: Best Chocolates
DIY Chocolates Candies

Grace in the Kitchen

Three Easy Pieces

© Con Poulos

The chocolate cookies soften as the cake chills overnight for a perfectly
moist, “cheater’s” cheesecake. // © Con Poulos

Food & Wine's senior recipe developer, Grace Parisi, is a Test Kitchen superstar. In this series, she shares some of her favorite recipes to make right now.

I've had such a blast working on these three-ingredient recipes. I really liked the challenge—it forces me to think in a clear and direct way, which is kind of great in the kitchen, especially when your pantry or wallet is limited. This icebox cake was superfun because the ingredients are completely accessible and not at all elevated: cream cheese, Hershey's chocolate syrup and Nabisco's Original Chocolate Wafers. The texture is like a very light chocolate cheesecake, but it looks more like a five-layer chocolate-buttercream cake.

My first test was with mascarpone instead of cream cheese, but it was a bit problematic because the particular brand of mascarpone I used (though delicious!) always breaks when whipped. Cream cheese is much more sturdy, almost too sturdy, so I had to thin it with a little water (I'd have used milk, but that would have put me over the three-ingredient limit). The chocolate syrup needed to be a thin, pourable kind. Though I'd have prefered a bittersweet hot fudge sauce, I really needed the viscosity and sweetness of the Hershey's. After sitting in the fridge overnight, it came together beautifully and was way more than the sum of its parts. Now all I can think of are all the cool variations: passionfruit juice, cream cheese and Nilla wafers; raspberry jam, cream cheese and chocolate wafers; apricot preserves, cream cheese and gingersnaps; espresso shots, cream cheese and chocolate wafers...Crazy! SEE RECIPE »

Related: More Chilled Chocolate Desserts
Amazing Cheesecake Recipes
Brilliant Three-Ingredient Recipes


Most Wanted Recipe

Gale Gand's Chocolate Blackout Cake

Gale Gand's Chocolate Blackout Cake
Chocolate Blackout Cake

Photo © Ryan Liebe.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of F&W’s Best New Chef awards, one of our biggest stars shares one of her most requested recipes.

Gale Gand was named a Best New Chef 1994 while at Trio in Evanston, Illinois. She is now a chef-in-residence at Elawa Farm in nearby Lake Forest, as well as a partner at Tru in Chicago.

Over the course of her memorable baking career, Gale Gand has fielded requests for hundreds of recipes. But the most persistent pleas are for her chocolate blackout cake. She made it for the first time in 1996, when a customer asked her to re-create the recipe from the iconic Brooklyn bakery Ebinger’s, which went out of business in the ’70s. But Gand had never tasted the cake, and the recipe was a secret. So she began researching descriptions. “This was pre-Google; it wasn’t easy,” she says. After multiple tests, Gand arrived at a version she was happy with—layers of tender chocolate cake stuffed with chocolaty filling. “Now, it’s almost an underground thing. Someone will call and say, ‘I hear you do a blackout cake,’ and I’ll say, ‘Who sent you?’” RECIPE: Chocolate Blackout Cake

Related: 50 Chocolate Desserts
22 Chocolate Cakes
Best Hot Chocolate in the U.S.

Wine Wednesday

After-Dinner Wines

Ray Isle, Food & Wine's Executive Wine Editor

Courtesy of Kathryn Rathke

Sometimes it’s nice to sit back after dinner and sip something sweet purely on its own. F&W's Ray Isle names his favorite after-dinner wines.>>

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Grace in the Kitchen

Decadent Candy Cookie

© Christina Holmes

A buttery shortbread crust forms the base for these chewy, chocolaty bars.
© Christina Holmes

Food & Wine's senior recipe developer, Grace Parisi, is a Test Kitchen superstar. In this series, she shares some of her favorite recipes to make right now.

These have to be one of my favorite chocolate bar cookies. The crust is buttery and crunchy and the topping is fudgy and chewy and completely indulgent. I have to admit, though, that the method is not entirely my own. We tested a homey baking book many months ago that had you combine chocolate (it used semisweet chocolate chips) with sweetened condensed milk to create a sort of quick fudge. It then got combined with something else, so you lost a little of its specialness. For my bars, the fudgy filling takes center stage. I used bittersweet chocolate (the darker the better, I think!) and spread the fudge over a buttery shortbread crust. The mixture is then topped with a pecan streusel and baked. When cooled sufficiently, these cut into the most perfect little bars. I love the high ratio of chocolate to crust—the opposite of a more delicate chocolate-dipped cookie. Most cookies scream for milk, but I have coffee with these because the warmth of the coffee melts the filling, making it ridiculously decadent. SEE RECIPE »

Related: Best Chocolate Desserts
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Best Hot Chocolate in the U.S.

F&W Best List

America's Most Indulgent Pies

Before you have to stick to your New Year's resolution, here are some suggestions on where to find super insane pies. Read More >>

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Grace in the Kitchen

Cakey Cookie

Pumpkin Spookies // © David Malosh

These soft, lightly spiced cake-like cookies are studded with minced
candied ginger and topped with a buttery sugar glaze. / © David Malosh

Food & Wine's senior recipe developer, Grace Parisi, is a Test Kitchen superstar. In this series, she shares some of her favorite recipes to make right now.

I don’t usually go for soft, cakey cookies. I much prefer crispy, chewy ones, like gingersnaps, chocolate chip or biscotti. But these soft, pillowy pumpkin cookies are irresistible. They’re like pumpkin muffin tops, only more delicate, with a healthy dose of chopped crystallized ginger for texture and spice.

I developed this recipe as part of a Halloween story, but make them all year long, provided my supermarket carries canned pumpkin. I’ve tried several brands—organic and mass market—and must admit that Libby’s is the best of all of them. It has a bright pumpkin flavor (not murky or watery, like some of the organic ones) and appealing texture and color. And in baking, the results are always consistent. These are very homey little cakelets, but at last weekend’s dinner party, I served them for dessert with hot toddies made with whiskey, lemon juice, honey and gingersnap liqueur. The kids had hot cider with cinnamon candy stick stirrers. All good. SEE RECIPE »

Related: More Holiday Cookies
Pumpkin Recipes
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Grace in the Kitchen

Creepy But Sweet

Chocolate Mice // © David Malosh

These icky-cute mice feature three kinds of chocolate: semisweet in the
creamy, cakey center and white and bittersweet in the crisp chocolate shell.
© David Malosh

Food & Wine's senior recipe developer, Grace Parisi, is a Test Kitchen superstar. In this series, she shares some of her favorite recipes to make right now.

More than Christmas, more than 4th of July, more even than my birthday, I love Halloween! It wasn’t always this way. I think I had to have kids to fully embrace the total fun-ness of it all. Plus, license to consume more sweets in 24 hours than a person should have in an entire month doesn’t pass without great appreciation. In an effort to keep my kids from over-over-overindulging, I sometimes swipe bits here and there, but they’re so maniacal about cataloging their loot that they know exactly what’s there and what’s not. “Hey! Who took one of my Take 5 bars?” A friend of mine (more clever? or more piggy?) laid down the law with her daughter from the very beginning. “You pick half of what you collected and we give the other half to those less fortunate.” Hmmm... When I throw Halloween parties, I always include these chocolate mice along with loads of other sweets and savories. They’re so cute, and kind of gross if you put them all over other foods. When it’s not Halloween, they can be formed into balls for adorable cake-pop truffles. SEE RECIPE »

Related: More Spooky Halloween Desserts
Frightening Halloween Recipes
Fantastic Chocolate Desserts

Chef Intel

Christina Tosi's 7 Craziest Cookie Ingredients

Christina Tosi // © Jasmin Sun

Christina Tosi at the Milk Bar Commissary in Williamsburg. // © Jasmin Sun

Whether she’s dealing Crack Pie, or throwing everything from toffee and pretzels to coffee grounds and potato chips into her best-selling Compost Cookies, Momofuku Milk Bar chef-owner Christina Tosi is infamous for her madcap take on dessert. "You know when they’re burning fields of something? It tasted exactly like how that smells.” »

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.