So, Valentine's Day is this week, and at some point I usually make a dinner the BF really loves. [Ed. note: Hey we're going out too! Cripes, now we'll get letters.] The main course is a no-brainer: prime ribeye. [Ed. note: Changing reservation to a more expensive place.] For dessert, want to make a treat that we both swoon over. Well aware that chocolate and Valentine's Day are synonymous, it's just not always the case in our house. Now, the BF likes chocolate but, unlike me, he really has to be in the mood for something super-rich chocolatey. He actually can say no to chocolate—I know, gasp! [Ed. note: Watches hate mail pile up.]
This pot de crème is like a turbo-charged version of butterscotch pudding. A decadent custard that's silky, butterscotchy, caramelly, salty-sweet, with deep notes of brown sugar. Squarely in the BF's wheelhouse, and I definitely don't feel like we have to have chocolate every night. Got to spice things up sometimes, right?
Truthfully, this is a solid go-to dessert for guests as it takes no time at all to prep (talking about ten minutes) and looks-tastes pedantically fancy. As easy and straightforward as the directions are, the only vexing part is dirtying two pots and two mixing bowls. It's worth it.
An added bonus, can halve the recipe so it just makes two small ramekins.
This recipe is adapted from Molly of Orangette, who describes these pots de crème as "Cold and rich and almost hyperbolically creamy, the custard yields under the spoon the way a good down pillow does under your head: with a welcoming, slippery whoosh. The gates to heaven have never opened so easily."
She is not lying.
Adapted from: Orangette
Number of servings: 4
PS: A year ago I broke out the Paderno Brand 3-Blade Spiralizer for some kohlrabi "noodles" with bacon, carmelized onion and shaved parmesan (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/kohlrabi-noodles-bacon-caramelized-onion-shaved-parmesan).
PPS: For those of you muttering to yourselves through clenched teeth, "Fake vegetable noodles? Forget that and this butterscotch deal, I want chocolate," let's revisit this chocolate oblivion truffle torte (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/chocolate-oblivion-truffle-torte).
Birthday cakes. Everyone from 1-100 (and up!) should get a homemade one on their special day, and my BF is no exception. I always try to top the previous year's dessert, and for him it usually involves apples and/or caramel of some kind.
This year is no different, and oy this is a delicious cake. Adapted from my favorite baker boys of Baked Explorations, this is pure fall: moist, dense, lightly spiced, covered in caramel buttercream, and then drizzled with more caramel.
Oh, did I mention that the BF is a Batman fan? [Ed. note: You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?]
The recipe below is for an 8-inch 3-layer cake, but for my small family I make the smallest amount possible (in that case a 6-inch 3-layer cake, which is exactly one half of the recipe). I use Williams Sonoma salted caramel that was on hand, and made my own applesauce from my own recipe (I prefer the addition of boiled apple cider for an intense cider flavor), but feel free to save time and use store bought applesauce and/or caramel. No shame in that.
The list of ingredients may seem daunting, and yes there are many steps, but fear not, it is actually not as daunting as it seems. It's a cake you'll want in your fall rotation, perfect for a loved one whose birthday falls in the October-November time frame.
Adapted from: Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito
Number of servings: makes one 8-inch, 3-layer cake
November, 1995. It was my BF's birthday (he was not the BF at that time), and I remember making this first-ever attempt at baking a cheesecake. [Ed. note: To quote Private Hudson from Aliens, "Game over, man. Game over."]
Yes. This is the one. Try not to stick your fork through the screen–I dare you.
This delicious caramel bomb made repeat appearances that Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas, and at different times every year after that. My mamala begged me to make it every year for the holidays, and this year I'm making it for a client's Halloween party.
The body of the cheesecake is incredibly creamy (not dense), with a touch of orange juice and a good amount of sour cream. There is a perfect crust-to-filling ratio, and the caramel apple topping is to die for (the caramel stays soft and does not stick to your teeth and harden).
Keep in mind, this makes a large cheesecake (10 inches diameter). Perfect for any get together, my favorite is to offer this at Thanksgiving.
Funny story/cautionary tale: two years ago I made this for my BF again and cut the ingredients in half to make a smaller 8-inch cake (was also going to give half to a neighbor). Just as I was presenting the entire cake to him on a platter, I dropped it. The platter broke, little shards of glass flaked all over and into the cheesecake–unsalvageable.
We stared at the floor for the longest time. Curse words seethed through clenched teeth. Tears were shed. I will not lie, this is not a 30-minute dessert. There is preparation and time involved. (Really, you have to start making this the day before you plan on serving it.) However, the process is very straightforward and the end result is so worth the effort.
Just be careful with those glass platters!
Adapted from: Bon Appetit (September 1995)
Number of servings: 16
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.