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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Butter Rosettes

These are fragile and buttery and easy to pipe because the dough is rather firm. The dough is also fine for putting through a cookie press if you have one. These cookies don’t need to be finished off with anything before or after baking, but you can dust them lightly with cocoa powder, sprinkle them with sprinkles, or place a quarter of a candied cherry, an almond slice, or a chocolate chip (flat side up) in the center of each before baking.

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