Mascarpone is an Italian cheese that's superrich, delicate and creamy. Here, it's simply blended with confectioners' sugar to create a sublime, snow-white frosting. For the best results, try to buy mascarpone that's very fresh.
Carrot cake, that 1970s favorite, has a new audience at luxe restaurants like Manhattan's Le Bernardin. At the Urban Farmer in Portland, Oregon, pastry chef Jodi Elliot prepares the ultimate version: moist and not too sweet.
In the sixth grade, Lisa Ritter prepared Mexican hot chocolate as part of a social studies project. Years later, she wanted to re-create that sweet-spicy sensation in a layer cake, so she developed a cinnamon-flavored sponge cake and subtly spicy buttercream frosting made with ancho chile powder and cayenne pepper. "This recipe makes great cupcakes, too," Ritter says.