Perfect Elephant Ears

This little pastry has a different name in every country where it is made. Palm leaves, butterflies, pig’s ears, and elephant ears are the names I know, but there are doubtless many others. Really simplicity itself, they are made by rolling the puff pastry in sugar and causing it to absorb as much sugar as possible during the process. When the “ears” bake, the sugar caramelizes, and that delicate caramel flavor mingles with the butter in the dough.

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Raspberry Meringue Wedge

In the fall of 1986, I was teaching my first career-training intensive baking course at Peter Kump’s New York Cooking school when I learned that Peter’s birthday was a few days away. I asked Gaynor Grant, our registrar, what kind of a cake I should make for Peter, and she told me that he absolutely adored the raspberry meringue cake from Maurice Bonté’s bakery, then the best pastry shop in Manhattan.

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Mozzarella In Carrozza (Mozzarella “In a Carriage”)

This is a fun first course when served with a tomato salad, but it can also stand as a quick light meal on its own when there’s nothing else available but a piece of bread, some mozzarella, and a few eggs. There are countless variations on this recipe, some including a bit of anchovy along with the mozzarella, but this simple version is the best.

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Raspberry Cream Pie

After a few experiments with an all-raspberry pie filling that turned into a watery mess, I decided to use these berries to their best advantage: some slightly cooked and thickened, with the remainder added uncooked. I then layered the fruit between a light pastry cream and a whipped cream topping. Blueberries and blackberries are just as good, and a combination of berries would work well too.

Makes one 9-inch pie, about 8 servings

One 9-inch piecrust made from Flaky Buttery Dough (see below), fully baked


3 half-pint baskets/18 ounces fresh raspberries, picked over but not rinsed, divided use

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest


3/4 cup whole milk

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar, divided use

3 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. For the raspberry filling, combine a third of the berries and the sugar in a nonreactive saucepan and mash them together. Place over low heat and bring it to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk the water and cornstarch together. When the raspberries begin to boil, stir a third of the hot juices into the cornstarch mixture. Return the raspberry mixture to a boil over low heat and quickly stir in the cornstarch mixture. Continue stirring until the juices thicken, return to a boil, and become clear. Stir in the lemon zest off the heat, then scrape the thickened raspberry mixture into a bowl. Press plastic wrap directly against the surface and let the mixture cool.
  2. For the pastry cream, combine the milk, cream, and half the sugar in a small saucepan and whisk to combine. Place over low heat and bring it to a full boil. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the yolks and then add the remaining sugar. Sift the flour over the mixture and whisk it in.
  3. When the milk mixture boils, whisk it into the yolk mixture. Strain the pastry cream back into the pan and place it over medium heat. Use a small, pointed-end whisk to stir constantly, being sure to reach into the corners of the pan, until the cream comes to a full boil and thickens. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, for 30 seconds. Off the heat, whisk in the vanilla.
  4. Scrape the cream into a glass or stainless-steel bowl and press plastic wrap directly against the surface. Chill until cold.
  5. To finish the pie, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla to a soft peak.
  6. Evenly spread the cooled pastry cream in the bottom of the piecrust. Fold the fresh raspberries into the cooled, thickened cooked berries and spread the fruit on top of the pastry cream. Rewhip the cream if necessary and spread it, swirling it with a metal spatula or the back of a large spoon, over the raspberries.
  7. Keep the pie at a cool room temperature until serving time. Refrigerate leftovers.



To maximize flakiness and get as much delicate buttery flavor as possible, you need to use enough butter in a dough. If you remember to chill this dough after mixing it and again after rolling it, you’ll enjoy both a superior texture and flavor. To keep from melting the butter and creating an excessively soft dough, this is best mixed in the food processor.

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

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

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

8 ounces/2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 large eggs

  1. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor; pulse several times at 1-second intervals to mix.
  2. Add the butter and pulse again 3 or 4 times. Use a metal spatula to scrape the side of the bowl and mix the butter pieces throughout the flour.
  3. Pulse again 3 or 4 times.
  4. Using a fork, beat the eggs to break them up, then add to the bowl. Pulse again until the dough almost forms a ball; avoid pulsing too much, or the pieces of butter needed to make the dough flaky will become too small.
  5. Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, carefully remove the blade, and quickly press the dough together.
  6. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, form into thick disks, and wrap each in plastic. Chill for a couple of hours before rolling.


Marbled Chocolate Brioche Loaf

I love swirls of chocolate threading though any kind of a plain cake. This marbled brioche is fairly straightforward to prepare since you mix everything in the food processor. Marbling the plain and chocolate doughs together requires a little patience, but the reward is a beautiful loaf with an alluringly different flavor achieved by adding grated lemon zest and rum to the dough.

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Coach House Bread And Butter Pudding

Back when I was working at Windows on the World, general manager Alan Lewis, never know for his diplomatic ways, walked into the pastry shop one day and said, “Why don’t we have a [expletive] bread pudding on the lunch menu?” After a failed attempt by the assistant pastry chef, I bought a copy of James Beard’s American Cookery. Next morning we tried his recipe for bread and butter pudding from the Coach House, which happened to be right across the street from my first apartment in New York City. We cut into one as soon as they came out of the oven and there was a thick layer of custard topped with a thin layer of buttery toasted bread. This excellent bread and butter pudding is loosely adapted from James Beard’s recipe. At the Coach House, this was always served with a raspberry sauce, but I think it’s best plain.

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Chocolate Meringue “S” Cookies

These are a mainstay of almost every pastry shop in Switzerland. These are a sweet cookie, as anything meringue-based tends to be. In the past I always used unsweetened chocolate to make them, but I once accidentally substituted some premium bittersweet chocolate and the cookies were already in the oven before I realized my mistake. Though still sweet (the sugar in the chocolate didn’t really make them appreciably sweeter), they had a much more complex flavor because of the superior quality of the chocolate. An S shape is traditional for these, but of course you may pipe them in any shape you wish.

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Tortas de Carnitas

Possibly the most interesting sandwiches in the world, Mexican tortas combine boldly seasoned elements in a way that achieves both complexity and a certain delicacy. This recipe is from my very dear friend Roberto Santibañez, chef/owner of Fonda. Friendship aside, my critical side knows that he cooks the best Mexican food outside Mexico, bar none.

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Orange and Almond Tart

Flavorful oranges are available all year long, but this tart is especially welcome in early winter, when there is little fresh fruit besides imports available. Lightly poaching the oranges controls the amount of juice that exudes from them during baking and makes for a neater and more intensely flavored tart. Almost any fruit can be adapted to this type of filling and crust. The upper tart in the photo is made with red-fleshed Cara Cara oranges. Blood oranges would be a flavorful and visually striking choice too. A couple of small and very sweet white or pink grapefruit would make a lovely tart, but don’t use the zest, which is too bitter.

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Spinach and Bacon Tart

Tart fillings made from greens such as spinach are always difficult to salt properly: too much and the tart’s inedible, too little and you risk expiring from boredom after a forkful or two. Adding bacon to this spinach filling helps, because the spinach itself then may be very lightly salted since you’ll have little bursts of salty bacon flavor in every bite.

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