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Love To Cook, Hate To Bake?

May 19th, 2012 by Alice Medrich

My eighth book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts is just out. You might be thinking, “what, another dessert book, can’t she give it a rest?”
What’s new, fun, and interesting about Sinfully? 
After seven books, I’ve shifted my perspective from baker to cook. I’ve always noticed that people who love (and are good at) baking think and learn differently than people who love (and are good at) cooking.  How many fantastic Top Chef candidates get knocked out of the competition because they can’t make a good dessert?  How many good home cooks put out fabulous, seemingly effortless meals with a store-bought dessert finale? Maybe this is you. Maybe you find baking too finicky or constraining. Maybe you like to taste and adjust as you cook; maybe you hate to follow a recipe exactly, or don’t like to measure precisely.  Maybe your cakes and cookies are more like doorstops and paperweights…
All cooks need simple sensational little desserts up their sleeves: clever easy things to do with fruit or ice cream, or a lightening quick gingerbread, a great little sauce, compote, or pudding, or a easier-than-it-looks soufflé.  We all need recipes that are simple but not simple minded, terrific but not time consuming, compelling but not complicated.
My editor (a very stylish cook who hates to bake) delights in saying that Sinfully is the dessert book with no pastry bags, pastry brushes, rolling pins, offset spatulas, or baking skills!
Visit my brand new and beautiful website (see previous post!) at http://alicemedrich.com/ to learn more about the book or check out my touring schedule. Maybe I will see you this week in Petaluma, San Diego, Westlake Village, New York (in late summer), or elsewhere in the Fall. 

Sinfully Easy

January 11th, 2012 by Alice Medrich

Everyone needs a sinfully easy dessert list.  What would be on yours?
I was invited to a dinner party set for the day after I would return from a trip. When I offered to bring dessert my hosts were okay with that. When I said it would be something super quick and easy, they were okay with that too.  I made Bittersweet Chocolate Soufflés and EVERYONE was extremely okay with that! The soufflés—always effortlessly impressive—were fantastic, even though the oven was accidentally turned off during the first half of the baking. Talk about sinfully easy and forgiving!
The recipe is from my book, Bittersweet, but you’ll find loads more sinfully easy desserts in a new book coming this May:
 Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts: Quicker Smarter Recipes by Alice Medrich.

Sinfully Easy is loaded with recipes that don’t require baking and plenty of easy ideas for dessert that—unlike the chocolate soufflé—actually sound like they are quick and easy.  You’ll find fun things to do with vanilla ice cream or fresh cheeses or strawberries; modern fruit desserts, new granitas, ice creams made without an ice cream machine, creamy dreamy puddings etc. But you will also find recipes— for soufflés and tarts and pies and even a torte or two— that you might not expect in a book meant for cooks in a hurry, cooks with small kitchens, beginners, or self proclaimed bake-ophobes, not to mention great cooks who just don’t like to make dessert!  
I know I’m stubborn.  I am certain that if people knew how easy it is to make say, sour cream Soufflés laced with chocolate, or a chocolate tweed torte, or a lemon or blueberry tart, they would add it to their personal “Sinfully Easy” dessert list along with all of the more obvious things. The recipes in Sinfully Easy are simple but clear and complete enough so that anyone can be successful making them, and none require a rolling pin, pastry brush, loads of counter space, or a million steps.  No rocket science, just great desserts.  I revised and streamlined some favorite recipes too: Did you know that you could make a classic Queen of Sheba Torte in one bowl without separating the eggs? Did you know that you could mix a delicious plain vanilla butter cake, or Fresh Ginger Gingerbread, or even an incredibly buttery spicy Linzer Torte in a food processor?  I do and you can.
Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts comes out in May.  Meanwhile try the chocolate soufflésthat I made while jet lagged and add them to your sinfully easy dessert list.

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE SOUFFLES
Adapted from Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate

Ingredients:
Butter and sugar for the ramekins

8 ounces bittersweet 70% chocolate

1 tablespoon (.5 ounce) unsalted butter

1/3 cup milk

3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

1 large egg white, at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/3 cup (2.3 ounces) sugar

Lightly sweetened whipped cream, whipped crème fraiche, or a combination

Special Equipment:

Seven to eight 4-5 oz ramekins

If you are baking the soufflés right away, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Butter the ramekins lightly but thoroughly and coat them with sugar (see tip).

Place chocolate, butter, and milk in a large stainless steel bowl set in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove the bowl from the water bath and whisk in the egg yolks. (Don’t worry if the mixture stiffens slightly or is less than perfectly smooth at this point). Set aside.

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean dry mixer bowl at medium speed until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Gradually sprinkle in the sugar and continue to beat, at high speed, until egg whites are stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it and then fold in the remaining egg whites. 

Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared ramekins, filling each 3/4 or more full. (Soufflés may be prepared to this point, covered, and refrigerated up to two days. Bake directly from the refrigerator)

Place the soufflés on a cookie sheet. Bake until they rise and crack on top and a wooden skewer plunged into the center emerges slightly moist and gooey, 14-16 minutes.  Remove from the oven, sieve a little powdered sugar over the top and serve the soufflés immediately. Pass a bowl of whipped cream to top the soufflés.

Serves 7 to 8.

Tip: The best way to sugar the cups is to butter all of them first, then add a couple tablespoons (a handful) of sugar to one ramekin. Shake and turn the ramekin sideways and then rotate it until coated.  Pour excess sugar into the next cup, tapping it to dislodge loose sugar.  Repeat with the remaining ramekins.  Add more sugar if necessary.