This classic British loaf cake is incredibly moist because it's made with olive oil instead of butter, which also gives the batter a rich golden color. The addition of poppy seeds makes it a perfect alternative to your morning muffin, while the lemon drizzle dresses up the cake for company.
Dulce de Leche, Coconut and Chocolate Chip Magic Bars
This is Grace Parisi's sophisticated version of magic bars, that chocolate-coconut bake-sale favorite. Browning the butter gives the crust a nutty flavor; cooking it in a metal baking dish makes it extra crisp. In a touch inspired by pastry chefs' favorite new ingredient, Grace adds bacon to the filling.
This dessert from pastry chef Colleen Grapes, a tribute to the chocolate-covered pretzel, hits just the right salty-sweet note. Grapes mixes crushed pretzels with flour, butter, sugar and egg to make a crunchy crust, pours in a luxurious milk-chocolate filling, then sprinkles on more crushed pretzels as a garnish.
Zoe Nathan has the zany, freewheeling air of a person on a permanent sugar high. "It's a huge pastry playground," she boasts of her bakery. Her salted-caramel squares are just as bold, with tender caramel atop a dense, buttery crust. "I've always loved salt and sugar," she says. "As a kid, I'd dip my fries in milk shakes."
Sherry Yard, the pastry chef at Spago in Beverly Hills, California, loved strawberry shortcake as a kid, even though her mother made it with "plain old pound cake," she says. Since then, Yard has improved the recipe with a (formerly) secret trio of ingredients—high-quality white chocolate in the batter, crème fraîche and heavy cream in the icing—which make this all-American dessert especially rich and moist.
Grace Parisi brilliantly layers chocolate cookies with a quick mix of cream cheese, chocolate syrup and a little water. The cookies soften as the cake chills overnight for a perfectly moist, chocolaty “cheater’s” cheesecake.
Cal Peternell likes teaching recipes that are extremely versatile, like this one. The cake is wonderful when it's made with almost any type of fruit, from figs and blood oranges to pineapple. Peternell usually uses sweet Meyer lemons from his neighbor's tree. Regular lemons are tasty too and add a bitter note that's a lovely contrast to the gooey brown-sugar topping.
"This crust is not what you'd expect," Marco Canora says. "Instead of being crunchy, it's puffy and cakey." The dough is terrific for impromptu baking, because it doesn't need to be chilled before it's rolled out. For the filling, Canora recommends using peaches that are ripe but still firm, as drippy fruit will make the soft crust soggy.
Sam German created the mild, dark baking chocolate called Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate in 1852; in the late 1950s, a Dallas newspaper published a recipe for German's Chocolate Cake. The dessert took the South by storm and has been a staple ever since.
Thumbprint cookies—made by pressing a small round of dough with the thumb to form an indentation—are great for filling with chocolate or jam. These thumbprints have a creamy, minty white-chocolate filling. Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito often mix chopped Andes mint candies into the batter, but any kind of mint-flavored chocolate works well.
A stuffed cookie is like a sandwich cookie, only with more cream on the inside—it's fatter, fuller and (if you're the kind of person who twists apart the cookies to get to the cream) better. Jessica Sullivan, the pastry chef at Boulevard restaurant in San Francisco, makes hers with nutty chocolate-chip cookies and silky chocolate ganache.