Nick Malgieri Wed, 25 Mar 2015 13:21:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Crumbly Biscotti Mon, 23 Mar 2015 21:15:06 +0000 A reader has asked: My biscotti crumble terribly when I cut them. What am I doing wrong?


A: Overbaking the logs of dough during the first baking can make the slices crumble as you are cutting them. Also, even if the logs of dough are perfectly baked, they will crumble if they are sliced while still warm, so be patient. The logs crumble when you use a dull knife, too.

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Best Bananas Tue, 17 Mar 2015 01:45:23 +0000 A reader has asked: I recently made a banana cake and it was tasteless. Do you think the bananas I used weren’t flavorful enough?
A: To impart a good flavor to a cake batter, bananas must be very ripe—somewhat soft with the skin evenly dotted with small black spots. Also, I’ve found that it’s better to mash the bananas than puree them. The slight chunkiness of the mashed bananas is more flavorful.

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Dried Apricot Pie Sat, 14 Mar 2015 18:54:38 +0000 dried apricot pie

This pie is directly modeled on old-fashioned recipes for Pennsylvania Dutch raisin pie. To my taste, dried apricots are so much more appealing than raisins for an entire pie filling—their flavor has a welcome touch of tartness that raisins lack.

Makes one 9-inch pie, about 8 servings


One 9-inch pie pan lined with Sweet Pastry Dough (see below), plus dough for a lattice top


1 pound/3 cups dried apricots, cut into 1/2-inch dice (see Note)

3 cups water

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon almond extract


Milk for brushing

1 to 2 teaspoons sugar


  1. Combine the apricots and water in a nonreactive saucepan and bring the mixture to a full boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the apricots stand until cooled, about 2 hours.
  2. Transfer the apricots and liquid to a bowl. Set a strainer over the saucepan in which the apricots soaked and drain the apricots well, letting the liquid fall back into the pan. Return the apricots to the bowl.
  3. Combine the sugar and flour and whisk the mixture into the apricot liquid. Place the pan on low heat and, stirring constantly, bring the juices to a full boil; decrease heat and let simmer for 2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the lemon zest , butter, and almond extract. Pour the juices over the plumped apricots in the bowl and let cool.
  4. When you’re ready to assemble and bake the pie, set a rack at the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 375°F.
  5. Roll half the dough on a floured surface and line a 9-inch pie pan; trim the edge of the dough even with the rim of the pan.
  6. Pour the filling into the piecrust and roll the remaining dough to a 9-inch square and cut it into 1/2-inch strips.       Arrange a lattice top on the filling, severing the ends of the strips at the rim of the pan. Brush the lattice with milk and sprinkle it with sugar.
  7. Place the pie in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 350°F. Bake until the crust is baked through and the filling is actively simmering, about 45 minutes.
  8. Cool the pie on a rack and serve it slightly warm or at room temperature.


NOTE: For ease in cutting the apricots, snip them with lightly oiled scissors or use an oiled knife.



Substitute a combination of equal amounts dried plums (prunes) and apricots in the filling above. Or if you’re a real raisin lover, try a combination of dark and golden raisins instead of the apricots. Omit the almond extract and substitute 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.




This is the same recipe as my sweet dough from BAKE! and several other books. It’s a recipe I’ve been using successfully for over thirty years and have taught to thousands of people. I thought of doing something different just for the sake of having something new but then decided that the ease of preparation and handling, plus the tender quality of this dough after baking, can’t be improved upon. Below are the food processor instructions, and after the recipe, you’ll find instructions for working by hand and for using a stand mixer.

Makes enough for 2 single-crusted pies or tarts or 1 double-crusted pie


2 cups/270 grams unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)

1/3 cup/65 grams sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

8 tablespoons/1 stick/112 grams unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 12 pieces

2 large eggs


  1. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse several times at 1-second intervals to mix.
  2. Add the butter cubes and pulse again until the butter is finely mixed throughout the dry ingredients and no visible pieces of butter remain.
  3. Use a fork to beat the eggs enough to break them up, and add them to the bowl. Pulse again until the dough almost forms a ball; avoid pulsing too much or the dough might become too soft.
  4. Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead it together 3 or 4 times to make it smooth.
  5. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, form them into disks, and wrap each one in plastic. Chill the dough for a couple of hours before rolling.


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Mace by Any Other Name Tue, 10 Mar 2015 02:22:41 +0000 A reader has asked: I’m trying to make an old Spanish recipe, but one of the ingredients has me stumped. It translates literally as “flower of nutmeg.” Any idea what this might be?
A: I can only guess that it must be mace, the lacy outer covering of the nutmeg, removed and sold separately in both whole and ground forms.

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Blanched Almonds Tue, 03 Mar 2015 00:31:50 +0000 A reader has asked: What are blanched almonds? Are they different from regular almonds?
A: Blanched almonds have had their brown skins removed. If you need blanched almonds and only have brown ones—called “natural” or “unblanched” almonds—you can blanch them yourself. Just put the almonds in a pan and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil, then drain the almonds. Rub them in a towel and go over them one by one to remove the skin, which should slip right off. Dry out the almonds on a jelly roll pan in a 300˚F oven for about 10 minutes, then let them cool before proceeding with the recipe.

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Artichauts a la Barigoule/Provencal Artichoke Hearts Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:01:55 +0000 Artichauts a la Barigoule

Artichauts a la Barigoule

I grew up on artichokes and once I left the nest I was always eager to learn more ways of cooking and enjoying them.  I first tasted this version of braised and marinated artichoke hearts in the early 70s when I worked for several summer seasons in Monte Carlo.  I always make them as soon as I can find some baby artichokes which I did the other day at the great vegetable store in the Chelsea Market.  I only bought a couple of pounds, so I made roughly half the version in the recipe below.

3/4 cup olive oil

1 large white onion, peeled, root left intact, and quartered

4 large cloves garlic, halved

4 to 5 pounds medium baby artichokes



3 ribs celery

1 carrot

1/2 small bunch thyme

2 sprigs winter savory or basil

12 sprigs parsley

3 bay leaves


1 tablespoon fleur de sel

1 cup dry white wine

4 cups water

Start oil, onion and garlic over very low heat while paring artichokes. Add bouquet after about 10 minutes.


Pare artichokes: Cut off stem end. Cut 2/3 leaves away.


Peel away outer leaves and leaves on stem.


Halve and remove choke w/ melon ball scoop.


Add pared artichokes to pan and stir. Add salt, wine, water.

Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and cook about 1 hour, or until artichokes are tender.


Remove bouquet and cool to room temperature in covered pan.Chill if not serving the same day.

Serve at room temperature: Drain, dress w/ a little fresh oil and chopped parsley (and basil if available).

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Overly Dense Pound Cake Tue, 24 Feb 2015 00:28:22 +0000 A reader has asked: I often make the same pound cake recipe, but this time the resulting cake was heavy and much more dense than usual. I beat the butter until it was soft—should I have done something else?
A: I’ve found that starting with very soft butter and beating the butter and sugar for a long time make a light pound cake. If you have forgotten to take the butter out to soften, try softening it in 5-second increments in the microwave —just be sure that the butter doesn’t melt.

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BLOOD ORANGE MARMALADE Mon, 23 Feb 2015 17:36:22 +0000 IMG_0857

I was astounded a couple of weeks ago to find some very inexpensive blood oranges.  Instead of devouring them as I did with the first couple of bags I bought, last week I decided to make some marmalade from them.  Making marmalade from any kind of citrus is easy:  Weight the fruit and cut it up, saving any trimmings and seeds to tie in a piece of cheesecloth.  Add double the weight in water and bring to a boil; simmer 1 hour.  Cool overnight.  Next day, weigh the fruit and water mixture and add an equal weight of sugar.  Cook to 222 degrees and pack in sterilized jars…  That’s it!  Here’s a more elaborated version with a few hints for making the process easier.


2 pounds blood oranges, preferably organic, rinsed well (I had just short of 2 pounds so I added a lemon)

2 quarts water

Sugar to equal the weight of the cooked fruit and water the next day (mine was 3.5 pounds)


Sterilized canning jars with 2-piece lids or sterilized lids and recycled jars

Trim the ends from the oranges; halve them or quarter them if large.  If they are seedy, cut away the central piece of pith and pop out the seeds.  Put any trimmings and seeds into a bowl lined with cheesecloth.

Use a very sharp stainless steel paring knife to cut the oranges paper thin as in the photo:


Put the sliced fruit into a 7-quart enameled iron Dutch oven.  Add the water and tie up the cheesecloth w the seeds in it and add (photo above).

Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer:


Cook for an hour, then cover and leave overnight.

Next morning, weigh the fruit and water and stir in an equal weight of sugar:


Bring to a boil on high heat, then decrease heat slightly so that the mixture boils gently:


Don’t bother skimming until the marmalade is completely cooked.  Stir occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Cook to 222 degrees on an instant-read thermometer – it will take a little more then 30 minutes.  Slide the thermometer through a hole in a slotted spoon so that you can hold it over the boiling mixture without scalding the back of your hand:


Slide the pan off the hot burner, let the marmalade top boiling, then use a shallow ladle to skim any foam from the surface:


Set a shallow bowl near the pan of marmalade and place a sterilized jar in the bowl; set a jar funnel atop the jar and fill gradually to 1/4-inch of the top:


Cover with a sterilized lid and hold the hot jar using a pot holder to tighten the lid.

Cool the jars.  As these have not been pressure canned in boiling water, the marmalade should be stored refrigerated.




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Proofing Yeast Tue, 17 Feb 2015 00:25:22 +0000 A reader has asked: What is meant by proofing yeast? I have a bread recipe that instructs to mix the yeast and water with some of the sugar and allow it to proof—what is supposed to happen?


A: Proofing means letting the yeast start to bubble before proceeding with the rest of the steps in the recipe.

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RIGO JANCSI: CHOCOLATE RIGO SQUARES Wed, 11 Feb 2015 14:50:36 +0000 rigo jancsi

I only know this originally Hungarian cake in its Viennese form. In Vienna, it is made from two thin layers of chocolate cake with a whipped chocolate cream filling and a shiny chocolate glaze—definitely a dessert for an important party. The good news is that it can be made entirely in advance. Do wait to cut it shortly before serving, however, or the cake layers will dry out.

Twenty to twenty-four 2-inch cubes


6 large eggs, separated

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup sugar, divided

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted with 1/4 cup water

1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)



1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 tablespoons butter

16 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces



1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

One 12 x 16-inch or 18-inch half-sheet pan or jellyroll pan, bottom and sides buttered and lined with buttered parchment or foil


  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. For the cake batter, put the 6 yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk in 1/4 cup of the sugar by hand. Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip the mixture on medium-high speed until the yolks and sugar are light and thickened. If you only have one mixer bowl and whisk, scrape the yolk mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Wash the bowl and whisk in hot, soapy water, rinse and dry them.
  3. Put the 6 egg whites and salt in a clean dry mixer bowl. Place on the mixer with the whisk attachment and whip the whites on medium speed until they are very white, opaque, and beginning to hold a very soft peak. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a stream. Continue whipping the whites until they hold a firm peak.
  4. Stir the chocolate into the yolk mixture, immediately followed by about 1/4 of the whipped egg whites. Sift over and fold in the flour, and then fold in the remaining egg whites.
  5. Scrape the batter onto the prepared pan and use a medium offset spatula to spread the batter evenly.
  6. Bake the cake layer until it is risen (it will not rise very high) and firm when pressed with a fingertip, about 15 to 20 minutes . Slide the paper from the pan to a rack to cool the cake.
  7. For the filling, bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally to make sure the corn syrup doesn’t fall to the bottom and burn. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and chocolate. Gently shake the pan to make sure the butter and chocolate are completely submerged and wait 2 minutes for them to melt. Whisk the filling smooth and pour it into a bowl. Refrigerate the filling until it is about 80 degrees, or until it is of spreading consistency. Don’t leave the filling in the refrigerator indefinitely, or it will become too hard to whip.
  8. To assemble the cake, slide the paper with the cake still stuck to it to a cutting board and cut through both the paper and the cake with a sharp serrated knife to make two 12 x 9-inch rectangles. Slide one off the cutting board. Run a long, thin knife or spatula between the paper and the cake that remains on the cutting board to loosen it, but leave the paper under the cake. (This will make the cubes of finished cake easier to remove later on.)
  9. Scrape the cooled filling into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat it with the paddle on medium speed until it is lightened to a milk chocolate color. Don’t overbeat, or the filling will separate.
  10. Immediately use a medium offset spatula to spread the whipped filling evenly over the cake layer on the cutting board.
  11. Invert the remaining cake layer, still stuck to the paper for easy handling, to a cookie sheet with no sides or to a stiff rectangular piece of cardboard. Gently slide the cake layer into place over the filling. Carefully peel off the paper.
  12. Place a stiff cardboard or cookie sheet on the cake and gently press to make sure the top layer of cake adheres well to the filling.
  13. Refrigerate the cake while preparing the glaze.
  14. For the glaze, bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Gently shake the pan to make sure all the chocolate is submerged and wait 2 minutes for it to melt. Whisk the glaze just until smooth, but avoid whisking too much or the glaze will be riddled with bubbles. Let the glaze cool until it is just slightly warm to the touch, about 100 to 105 degrees.
  15. After the glaze has cooled, remove the cake from the refrigerator and pour the glaze over it. Quickly spread the glaze evenly with a medium offset spatula. Don’t worry about any glaze that drips down the sides of the cake, as it will be trimmed away later on.
  16. Refrigerate the cake again for at least 1 hour, or until a short time before you intend to serve it, to set the glaze.       Glaze the cake on the same day you intend to serve it for maximum sheen.
  17. Rinse a long, sharp serrated knife in hot water, then wipe it clean with a cloth. Use the knife to trim the sides of the cake evenly, rinsing and wiping between each cut. Cut the cake into 2-inch squares.

Serving: Lift the cubes of cake off the paper with an offset cake server or spatula and line them up symmetrically on a platter. Serve alone or with a little unsweetened whipped cream.

Storage: Keep the cake refrigerated, but bring it to room temperature for an hour or so, depending on the room temperature, before serving. Cover leftovers with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature again before serving.

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