Sbrisolona

Like the recent recipe for Caramelized Almond Cake, I’ve been anxious to make Sbirolona, a crunchy Italian torta that sort of defies description. I don’t know any other dessert or pastry like it. The first time I had it, it was already broken into pieces, piled in a covered glass jar at a bakery. I didn’t know what to make of the craggy pieces I was nibbling…

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A few years ago, a favorite bakery in Paris near where I lived was offering brownies. The baker gave me one to taste and although I was happy they were expanding their repertoire outside of their borders (actually, many French pastries are influenced from other cultures), the plain, somewhat dry brownies weren’t doing it for me. They didn’t understand that a brownie is best when…

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I’ve seen (and eaten!) cakes topped with caramelized almonds in several countries in the world, but never took a try at one myself. I love anything covered with crunchy, nutty, caramel (Including the famed Chez Panisse almond tart), and after dreaming about the many variations of this that I’ve tried, the time seemed right to finally tackle making one myself. I tried a few similar…

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Before getting ready to fly back to France after the recent holiday, friends invited me to join them on a trip to Havana. I couldn’t make it, but the next best thing is taking the bus to Philadelphia, I’m also juggling urgings to go to Los Angeles, New Caledonia, Mexico City, Vietnam, Florence, Honolulu, Miami, Florence, Oaxaca, Bulgaria, Iran, Gascony, Lyon, Rome, Chicago, Chiang Mai, Sicily, Toronto,…

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From the outside, Compagnie Générale de Biscuiterie is a low-slung place, resembling a workshop of some sort, rather than a pâtisserie, located on the way up to Sacré Cœur, in Montmartre. I made the trek up there to check it out because I was interested in the one thing the low-key place makes: cookies. The French use the word “cookies” primarily to refer to chocolate…

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When I picked up Bitters, a book celebrating the history and culture of using bitters in cocktails, I was immediately hooked on the subject. I am always drawn to books that not only tackle a single subject, but do it so well. The book sparked additional interest when I made the Pith Helmet from the book, an enticing mixture of gin, cucumbers, Pimm’s, lemon, basil, black pepper,…

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Like many others, I’m a fan of Ina Garten. Growing up, her mother didn’t want her in the kitchen and she never considered cooking as a profession. After marrying her husband Jeffrey, though, he suggested she quit her government job and follow her passion, which turned out to be cooking and baking, something she discovered after buying a specialty foods store, even though she had no experience…

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One dessert I don’t make often enough are baked apples, known in France as Pommes rôti au four, or Pommes au four – oven-roasted apples. We have great apples in France, which I like to buy from the local grower at my market. But Americans also have a long history with lovely apples and when I was growing up, we lived near a cider mill and…

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Before my first trip to Mexico a number of years ago, I didn’t know Mexico was a country known for its ice cream (helado), let alone an array of other delicious sweets. I wandered through panaderias (bakeries) with the metal tray and tongs they gave me, picking out my own cakes and confections. I fell especially hard for the little disks of mazapán de cacahuate (peanut paste), caramelized flans…

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