Many versions of this dessert, made by soaking sponge cake in condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream, are too sweet and wet. This one from chef Soledad Correa is perfect, with just a hint of cinnamon.
Pastry chef Jennifer McCoy bristles when other people offer to bring dessert to parties. “What are they thinking?” she says. “That’s mine!” McCoy often brings this raspberry tart, with its creamy filling and pistachio-studded crust. She packs the components separately and assembles the tart just before serving.
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.
“The lemon—poppy seed combo is classic,” says Vinny Dotolo. “When I was a kid, I ate lemon—poppy seed muffins for breakfast and with ice cream for dessert.” Now he turns the pairing into lovely cakes: They have a tender cakey layer on the bottom, a luscious curd-like layer on top and poppy-seed crème fraîche to finish the whole thing off.
Strudel is a classic Austrian pastry made by wrapping layers of paper-thin dough around a variety of fillings. This simplified version, made with store-bought phyllo dough, features a cheesecake-like mixture and tangy rhubarb compote. A crème anglaise served alongside makes it extra-decadent.
Ed Jiloca was working as a line cook when his boss, Cathal Armstrong (an F&W Best New Chef 2006), promoted him to pastry chef. Jiloca taught himself by scouring cookbooks and websites. As these luscious cream puffs prove, he’s become a master. But in his cool, calm pastry kitchen, he sometimes feels nostalgic for his life on the line: “I miss the heat!”
This mousse is a terrific way to end a holiday dinner because it’s appropriately indulgent, but also light and tangy. It uses ginger in three forms—fresh, ground and candied—for layers of heat and flavor.
Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Honey-Glazed Apricots
Kate Neumann describes this cool, delicate dessert as “just fruit and cream, barely sweetened. It has the qualities of custard without the egginess. Greek yogurt makes it wonderfully tangy.” She tops the panna cotta with dried apricots that she’s plumped in wine and honey, often adding a scattering of crunchy, salty toasted almonds or pistachios.