These delightful nut bars, inspired by a recipe from Ken Oringer's mother-in-law, are both gooey and crisp. Oringer sometimes adds a pinch of curry powder to the caramel because, he says, "I like for people to bite into these and wonder what the spice is. I love that element of surprise."
"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.
Grapefruit juice in the pound cake and lemon juice in the glaze give this sweet, tender cake an especially citrusy taste. Be sure to use cake flour rather than self-rising to ensure a feather-light texture.
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.
Cream Cheese Cookies with Blueberries and Lime Glaze
For cream cheese lovers, these tangy cookies pack a double dose—in the cookie dough and in the puckery lime glaze. Dried blueberries add sweetness and chew. Cooking the cream cheese before adding it to the dough eliminates some of the moisture that could otherwise make these cookies too soft. If your blueberries are too dry, plump them in hot water for five minutes, then dry them well before adding to the dough.
Kristin Donnelly is devoted to her mother's one-bowl Bundt cake because of its clove and cinnamon spices and its simplicity. As an exchange student in France, she even paid top dollar for chocolate chips and applesauce at an American market to make it for her host family. Today she adds a kick of black pepper to the batter and serves each slice with a cool-sour dollop of crème fraîche.