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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Recipes

Towering Layer Cake for the Weekend

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Warning: Test Kitchen Tease snapshots may cause cravings, lip-smacking and an unshakeable desire to cook.

Layer Cakes from Seattle's Dahlia Bakery

© Grace Parisi
Layer Cakes from Seattle's Dahlia Bakery

This week in the Test Kitchen, Food & Wine’s Senior Recipe Developer Grace Parisi tested two unparalleled layer cakes from Seattle’s Dahlia Bakery. Dahlia fills its decadent chocolate cake (top right) with an irresistible bittersweet chocolate mousse and frosts the cake with a creamy hazelnut buttercream. Brown butter yellow cake (far left) provided a rich canvas for white chocolate mousse filling—spiked with a delicate amount of orange liqueur—and bittersweet chocolate frosting. These recipes will be published early next year, but this weekend, you can practice your baking skills on this super-delicious old-fashioned chocolate layer cake from Test Kitchen Supervisor Marcia Kiesel.

Related: Layer Cake Recipes

Thanksgiving Desserts

Thanksgiving Pies and Tarts

Restaurants

Cooking Class With Super Star Chefs

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Pastry chef and Top Chef: Just Desserts judge Johnny Iuzzini.

© Trump Hotel Collection
Jean Georges pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini.

With the finale of Top Chef: Just Desserts last week, pastry fans across the country will miss their weekly fix of handsome judge Johnny Iuzzini. Those considering a major holiday splurge can now get up close with the Jean Georges pastry chef and his powerhouse boss, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, in New York City. The Trump International Hotel & Tower recently launched a $9,999 Culinary Master Course package that includes a three-night stay, a private cooking demo by JGV and a personal pastry class with Iuzzini (plus breakfast at Nougatine and a three-course dinner at Jean Georges). While booking the demo, guests choose themes tied to Vongerichten's restaurants: Jean Georges (French), JoJo (Mediterranean), ABC Kitchen (organic and local), Spice Market (Asian) or Perry Street (New American). For the hands-on pastry session, Iuzzini teaches the basics of cake baking, tuiles, ice creams and sorbets.

An intimate demo with chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

© Trump Hotel Collection
An intimate demo with chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

 

News

Jacques Torres's Dark (Chocolate) Side

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© Jacques Torres Chocolates

Chocolate maestro Jacques Torres will debut his latest Halloween offerings in New York City stores and online today. On a recent tour of the Hudson Street facility, we previewed (and participated in) the creation of chocolaty haunted houses, spiders, Jacques “O” Lanterns and these skulls—not quite creepy enough to scare away chocoholics. Torres also showed off his first batch of bean-to-bar milk chocolate made with beans sourced from the Dominican Republic that are roasted, ground and refined in lower Manhattan. The bars go on sale later this fall.

Related: Chocolaty Recipes from Jacques Torres
Super Spooky Halloween Recipes

Restaurants

Top 5 Trends in Restaurant Desserts

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Since I'm pretty obsessed with finding great desserts, I spend a lot of time examining pastry menus from all over the country. Here are some of the biggest trends turning up on early fall menus.

Upside-Down Cake Recipe

© Tina Rupp
Upside-Down Cake.

1. Black pepper. Salt continues to be popular, but now pastry chefs are experimenting with pepper, which adds a mild heat to desserts like tuiles, sablés and even cheesecake.

2. Brown sugar. Obviously brown sugar is nothing new, but now it's being called out as the title ingredient in pavlovas, tea cakes, pound cakes and cookies. This recipe for simple Iced Brown Sugar Cookies from Baked in Brooklyn is a great way to embrace the trend at home.

3. Chocolate crémeux. The French word just translates to "creamy." The silky, pudding-like dessert seems to be the new darling on pastry menus. For an Italian take on this classic, try this Milk Chocolate Cremoso recipe.

4. Duck fat, lard and foie gras. These fatty faves are adding a savory element to cookies, profiteroles and even s'mores.

5. Upside-down cakes. Pluot, peach, blueberry, black plum, and of course pineapple are some of the fruits starring in this easy cake. The most interesting fruit in rotation has to be tomato, seen at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon. Here's our recipe for the perfect upside-down cake.

Related: 30 Beautiful Desserts
Delicious Chocolate Desserts
Fabulous Apple Dessert Recipes

 

Baking

Mail-Order French Pastries

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The October issue celebrates France. Here, new U.S. shops and mail-order sources that let you taste exceptional French desserts the easy way.

 

Creme Brulee in a Jar

© Kate Mathis
Creme Brulee in a Jar

CRÈME BRÛLÉE

Dessert in a Jar: Petaluma, California–based Rob Waddell sells the silky dessert in three flavors. You'll need to blowtorch the top to get a restaurant-style crackly crust. ($40 for six 4-oz jars; sweetcremebrulee.foodzie.com).

MILLE-FEUILLE

Delicate Pastry: The layers of cream and puff pastry are too fragile to ship, so a visit to Olivier Dessyn's NYC shop is the best way to try his signature sweet. (552 Laguardia Pl.; millefeuille-nyc.com).

French Macarons

© Kate Mathis
Mail-Order Patisserie: Macarons

MACARONS

Champion Cookie: F&W editors tried macarons from seven bakeries and liked the ones from NYC's Macaron Café best: crisp but chewy almond-flavored cookies sandwiching intense fillings. Our favorite flavor: caramel. (From $15 for six; macaroncafe.com).

Pâtisserie Legend: Paris's Maison Ladurée, the pâtisserie credited with creating macarons in the early 20th century, finally opened an outpost in New York City, its first in the US. (864 Madison Ave.; laduree.fr).


CANNELÉS

Bordeaux-Born Cake: Gil Ortale has built his Philadelphia bakery business around a French regional sweet: the cannelé, a caramelized, fluted miniature cake with a custardy interior. ($25 per dozen; marketdaycanele.com).

Related:
The Best Paris Bakeries
Amazing French Dessert Recipes
A Vermont Bakery's Perfect French Tarts and Desserts

Baking

5 Ways to Ruin a Cake

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Here, Baked co-owner Matt Lewis explains how you can do wrong by his number-one passion in our new blog series called What Not to Do.

Malt-Ball Cake by Baked

© Tina Rupp
Malt-Ball Cake by Baked.

This is my relationship with cake: Cake is kind of my obsession, and I probably eat too much of it. I much prefer cake to cupcakes (the frosting/sponge/filling ratio is more to my liking), and I prefer cake for breakfast as opposed to a post-dinner sugar binge (cake goes extremely well with that first hit of coffee). I will eat almost any type of cake—but I really like dark-chocolate versions. As much as I want to love every cake, though, it's not always easy. Sometimes we do things to cake that we normally wouldn't do to things we love. Here, five ways to ruin a cake:

1. Put toilet-paper rolls in it. The disturbing trend of treating cake as a Michael's craft experiment is kind of gross and completely unappetizing. Do people actually eat cakes filled with chicken wire? Would the food world rise up if this trend started hitting other foodstuffs (i.e., salmon molded into the shape of your favorite cat, or pork chops twisted into a Prada purse)? Leave cake alone.

2. Experiment with food coloring. Perhaps I worry too much, but I think ingesting a cake that is neon red is not good for you—and I really do think some food colorings/gels add a slightly weird chemical-ish taste to cakes and icings (especially in large quantities). I love some of the natural brands, like India Tree, and I really appreciate the lighter shades that less food coloring imparts—they just seem more eatable.

3. Fetishize frosting. Bad cake cannot be covered up, and good cake should not get lost in mounds of frosting. Frosting should complement a cake, not overpower it in sweetness or in weight. By the way, icing shots are gross (think of salsa shots). Let's not encourage this trend.

4. Bake it to clean out the pantry. This goes for almost any recipe. Make sure you use fresh ingredients—baking soda and baking powder lose their potency over time, and old spices are ineffective and will impart an "off" taste. Also, if you are making a chocolate cake, make sure to start with a really good chocolate, since it is the star of the show.

5. Roast it. Most ovens are off by a few degrees at best, and wildly inaccurate at worst. Buy a cheapo oven thermometer to gauge your true oven temperature and adjust accordingly. Oven temperature is key to good baking. Overly hot ovens can cause cakes to be crispy on the outside and goopy on the inside, while your cake might not rise properly in a cooler oven.

Matt Lewis is the co-owner (with Renato Poliafito) of Baked in Red Hook, Brooklyn. He doesn't eat enough leafy greens. Oh, and he co-wrote two cookbooks: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking and Baked Explorations. He is currently very behind on his third book, due out in October 2012.

Related: Malt-Ball Cake Recipe by Baked
More Wonderful Cake Recipes

Baking

Greenspan’s CookieBar Launches Delivery

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© Courtesy of CookieBar.
WANTED: Joshua Greenspan spotted trafficking in deliciousness.

Author and baker extraordinaire Dorie Greenspan, with son Joshua, just started New York delivery for CookieBar, their pop-up series and online bakery service. Testing production on a seriously small scale, Joshua personally messengered orders in Manhattan last Friday and will continue in the coming weeks.

Just four signature flavors are available, but anyone who’s tried the crumbly, butter-rich pucks at one of the temporary shops in the last two years will be eager to order two dozen at a time—the approximate minimum. “We did favorites: World Peace; Espresso Chocolate Chip, really chocolate shard—it has pieces of hand-chopped chocolate in it; Sugar-Topped Sablés; and Coconut Limes,” says Dorie. World Peace Cookies are all Valrhona chocolaty and touched with fleur de sel, while the other flavors are tall, with smooth, browned edges that come from being baked in metal rounds. Here, Dorie and Josh delve into the real-world details of an artisanal food business and what legendary artist already scored one of the cookie deliveries. 

What’s the delivery process?
J: The minimum order is $48, but generally people have been ordering two-dozen cookies. They're $2 each, or $2.75 for World Peace.

D: And there's a $5 delivery charge, but you don't have to tip the deliveryman.

J: There was only one delivery where I actually had to go up four flights of stairs and knock on somebody's door and personally hand them a bag, so I'm not too worried about it.

D: You did have a delivery to a famous artist and you got to tour his studio.

Which artist?
D: LeRoy Neiman—he just had his 90th birthday. He did, and still does, a lot of sports paintings. I remember as a kid when the Olympics would show and he would do live paintings. They would say, “OK, back to LeRoy.” Somebody ordered cookies for him as a gift, so Joshua got to tour the studio and see 50 years of paint on the floor.

How did you work out packaging for such beautifully crumbly cookies?
J: What we learned is that we are still looking for packaging. We're looking at custom boxes.

D: You're straddling the need to protect the cookies and the fact that you want people to open the box and say, “Wow!” You also don't want people to open the box and see crumbs. We have these gorgeous designs for the most fabulous boxes you've ever seen, and no one says they're buildable.

Any pop-ups in the works?
D: We'll be at the NYC Wine & Food Festival at SWEET to benefit Share Our Strength on September 30.

J: The hope is that we'll also have something pop-up in September, maybe during Fashion Week, and at least one or two more times before the end of the year.

Many people dream of opening a food business. What’s it like so far?
D: There were so many times I thought, I'll just open a little cookie business. For anyone who bakes, it really is a dream, and then at some point you think, this is crazy. I won't do this. Then you have a kid, and the kid says, “You know, Ma, I always give your cookies to my friends, and they think you should open a shop.” And you think, I'm old enough to know better. We'll get the kinks out, but between the dream and actually getting the cookies out, it's a whole lot of practical stuff. It's good to have help, though. Thank you, Joshua.

(Orders for this week have to be placed today.)

Related: F&W's Best Cookie Recipes

Wine

Wines for Junk Food

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Yes, we all ought to be eating our locally-sourced, free-range, antibiotic-free, Mangalitsa porkchops or whatever, but sometimes, you know, you just want a Frito. Particularly if you’re doing something like watching a ball game on TV, or taking a break from hurling a Frisbee around a park. However, just because your cravings currently extend to chips, chicharrones, or Chung King noodles from a can doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a tasty glass of wine alongside. Here are a few off-the-wall (or off-the-convenience-store-rack) pairing suggestions.
 
Potato Chips
Or French fries, or Tater Tots—basically any kind of fried potato object with lots of salt. Go crazy: drink Champagne. The stuff was made for salty fried foods, whether the Champenoise want to admit it or not. (If real Champagne is too pricey, head to Spain for Cava.)
 
Doughnuts
Look, I don’t drink wine with doughnuts, but that doesn’t mean there’s not some madman out there cruising the streets at midnight, wondering what the heck will go with his bagful of Krispy Kremes. If you’re that person, the answer is sparkling wine that’s sweet. (Note: The same holds true for wedding cake, too.) Sugary pastries and cakes make dry sparkling wine taste like lemon juice. Go for ademi-sec Champagne, or the American equivalent thereof.
 
Slim Jims
Don’t even ask what these things are made from, but if you’re eating them and craving a glass of wine—or really if you’re eating any kind of dry sausage, beef jerky or charcuterie—go red. In fact, go red and Mediterranean. Spicy Sicilian Nero d’Avolas, ripe red blends from France’s Languedoc-Roussillon, and Monstrells from Spain’s southeastern coast are all great possibilities.
 
Spaghetti-Os
Seems like red wine would be the answer, but when’s the last time you had Spaghetti-Os? Those things are sweet. So a crisp white wine is actually going to be the better pairing, for instance a Vermentino or Soavefrom Italy (because, um, Spaghetti-Os are Italian. Er, right?) It’s the same rule-of-pairing-thumb that applies to Asian dishes that have a bit of sweetness, akin to squeezing lime juice on pad thai; match them with a white that has good acidity.
 
Deep-Fried Mars Bar
It’s a Scottish thing. Not really ideal for wine. I’d say if you’re self-destructive enough to eat deep-fried candy bars, go ahead and break out the Johnnie Walker with them. What have you got to lose, really?
 
Related Links:
 
15 Rules for Great Wine and Food Pairing
 

Entertaining

World’s Wackiest Ice Creams

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© Courtesy of Dennis and Cheryl Reas
Ice cream cheeseburger

Hurray for summer cookouts! You can have an all-out grilling marathon, eat unlimited amounts of potato salad and even more ice cream. But wait – there are some frozen desserts you might think twice about before serving. We’re not saying they’re not tasty (though some of them sure sound disgusting). We’re just saying keep the mint chocolate chip handy, just in case.

Ice cream cheeseburger, Florida. Here’s why you go to the Florida state fair: because you find something amazing like the ice cream cheeseburger, from Carousel foods. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a cheeseburger, topped with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes and, you guessed it, a giant scoop of fried ice cream.

Cicada ice cream, Missouri. Sadly, Sparky’s no longer sells this ice cream (the Columbia, MO, health department is weird about desserts with bugs, apparently). But just in case they bring it back, here’s what you get: cicadas that were caught in employees backyards, then boiled and coated with sugar and chocolate and folded into brown sugar ice cream. 

Lobster Ice Cream, Maine. At Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium, in Bar Harbor, the owners mix chunks of local Maine lobster into their butter ice cream. It’s one of their most popular items for shipping. Really.

Ice cream cone ramen, Tokyo. Kikuya ramen shop precisely cuts a soft serve vanilla ice cream cone in half then sets it on top of a bowl of varying flavors of ramen, including one with classic soy sauce broth (they thoughtfully serve the noodles chilled to keep the ice cream from melting too fast).

Government cheese ice cream, San Francisco. Humphry Slocombe routinely wins best ice cream polls in the Bay Area and around the country. So we have to believe that their flavors, which include prosciutto and foie gras, are good. But we’re just not sure about a government cheese version.

Beef Tongue Ice Cream, Tokyo. In our book, Ice Cream City wins the award for all-around most disturbing flavors. Among their best sellers: beef tongue (which was apparently created for meat lovers), whale and oyster. 

Related Links:

Best Ice Cream Spots in the U.S

America's Wacky Fair Foods

America's Weirdest Regional Foods

Desserts

Chocolate Ice Pops from DC's Fleurir

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chocolate ice pop, fleurir, dc

© Fleurir

The Washington, DC-based chocolate company Fleurir is known for its truffles and clever, regionally inspired bars (The Great Plains Bar is made with crispy, salty bread crumbs;  The Northeast Bar is studded with maple-pecan toffee). But because they opened their beautiful little Georgetown shop in June, chocolate's slow season, they created something new to combat DC’s melting heat: an artisanal version of Fudgesicles. They swear that giving hot and cranky people these cold, chocolatey pops makes things at least 63% better.

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