Lemon Souffle

About 1 teaspoon unsalted butter for the dish
1 cup sugar, plus some for the dish
6 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon minced or grated lemon or orange zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice or Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
Pinch salt

Butter a 2-quart soufflé or other deep baking dish. Sprinkle the dish with sugar, invert it, and tap to remove excess sugar. Set aside and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar until light and very thick; the mixture will fall in a ribbon from the ends of the beaters when it is ready. Beat in the flavorings and set aside.

Beat the egg whites with the salt until they hold soft peaks; continue to beat, gradually adding the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, until they are very stiff but still glossy. Stir a good spoonful of them thoroughly into the egg yolk mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites, using a rubber spatula or your hand.

Transfer to the prepared soufflé dish(es) and bake until the center is nearly set, 25 to 35 minutes (15 to 25 minutes for individual soufflés). Serve immediately.

Sweet Potatoes with Apple Butter

4 pounds sweet potatoes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup apple butter
Salt

Preheat the oven to 350°. Pierce the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and place on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until very tender.

Peel the sweet potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher until creamy, then mash in the butter and apple butter. Season with salt and serve.

Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1/4 cup canola oil
2 1/4 pounds baby brussels sprouts or regular brussels sprouts halved lengthwise
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup Grade A pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup vacuum-packed roasted chestnuts, coarsely chopped (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon walnut oil

Heat the canola oil in a very large skillet until shimmering. Add the brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper, then cook over high heat without stirring until they are browned, about 2 minutes. Add the unsalted butter and brown sugar and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the brown sugar is melted. Add the maple syrup and cook, stirring occasionally, until the brussels sprouts are just crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in the cider vinegar. Add the chestnuts and walnut oil and cook until hot.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the brussels sprouts and chestnuts to a bowl. Boil the cooking liquid over high heat until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Pour the sauce over the brussels sprouts and serve.

Pasticcini di Mandor (Italian Soft Almond Cookies)

Makes 12-16 biscuits

350g ground almonds
150–200g icing sugar, plus more for dusting
Zest of 1-2 unwaxed lemons
2 medium eggs

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground almonds, icing sugar, lemon zest and eggs to form a soft, slightly sticky dough.

Dust your hands with icing sugar, and scoop out a walnut-sized ball of dough. Then gently roll it between your palms. You can also roll it on the work surface as long as it is dusted with icing sugar. Repeat. Put the balls on the baking tray and make an indentation in the centre of each.

As they bake, the biscuits will crack gently. For soft and marzipan-like biscuits bake for 11-12 minutes, for a firmer, chewier biscuit 14-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. They will keep in an airtight tin for a month.

Roast Beef with Root Vegetable Salad

1 pound sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 pound celery root, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 pound golden beets, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
4 large unpeeled garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
One 1 1/2-pound eye of round beef roast, trimmed of visible fat
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons brined green peppercorns, chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of brine
1 teaspoon honey
4 cups baby arugula (about 3 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 425° and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, parsnips, celery root, beets and garlic cloves with 3 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt. Spread the vegetables on the baking sheet and roast on the bottom rack of the oven for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until browned and very tender. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a medium ovenproof skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Season the roast with salt. Add it to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer the roast to a plate and pour off the fat in the skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the skillet and cook, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the pan juices into the large bowl.

Return the meat to the skillet and roast in the oven for 25 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 115° for medium-rare meat. Transfer the roast to a board; season with black pepper.

Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from their skins into the meat juices in the bowl and mash with a fork. Whisk in the vinegar, peppercorns, brine and honey. Add the roasted vegetables to the bowl and toss with the dressing. Add the arugula and toss again.

Carve the roast into thin slices and serve warm or at room temperature with the salad.

Dark Chocolate Pizzelle

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp unsweetened dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract

Add flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a bowl and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, add egg and brown sugar and mix on medium speed until mixture is smooth and has thickened, approx. one minute. Change the mixer speed to low and slowly pour in melted butter and vanilla extract until just combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until just combined, approx. 15 seconds, taking care not to overmix.

Heat your pizzelle iron to your desired leve. Brush the top and bottom of the iron with a small amount of cooking spray to ensure there wouldn’t be any sticking.

Add batter to the center of the bottom grid and repeat for the remaining grids in your iron. As the batter will spread when you close the iron, do not completely cover the pizzelle grid with batter. For a 4-inch pizzells, use 1-1/2 – 2 tsp batter. Adjust to less if you’re looking for smaller pizzelle.

Close the iron and cook until the timer light indicates, about a minute to a minute and a half. Remove pizzelle to cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat for the remaining batter, brushing the pizzelle grids with cooking spray if needed throughout.

Double Chocolate Pizelle

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces very finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the Pizzelle Press on Setting 3 while preparing the batter.

Place flour, cocoa, chopped chocolate, and baking powder in a small bowl and stir with a whisk or fork to combine; reserve.

Place eggs and sugar in a medium bowl and mix on medium speed for 1 minute, until thickened. On low speed, add the melted butter and vanilla in a steady stream and mix until combined, about 15 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 10 to 15 seconds; do not overmix. It may be necessary to lightly brush both the top and bottom grids with a flavorless vegetable oil or melted vegetable shortening before baking.

Use the spoon provided to scoop the dough, about 1-1/2 – 2 teaspoons, and drop onto one of the patterned cookie grids; repeat to make a second cookie. Close the lid and lock. The red indicator light will come on. When the red indicator light goes out and the green indicator light comes on, the pizzelle are ready.

Adjust baking times for softer or crispier cookies, according to personal preference.

Remove pizzelle from the press using a heatproof plastic spatula and place on a rack to cool completely. Warm pizzelle may be wrapped around the dowel provided to form cannoli shells. Completely cooled pizzelle may be dusted with powdered sugar before serving.

Variation: Mocha Almond Pizzelle: Dissolve 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder in 2 tablespoons hot water. Add to batter along with 1/3 cup finely ground almonds. Use 1-1/2 teaspoons each of almond and vanilla extracts in place of 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.

Make 36-40 pizelle.

Notes:

If you are rolling pizelle, roll them immediatelynupon removing them from the press.

Hot pizelle can be molded areound a cylinder or a ramekin to create a cup.

Pizelle can be frozen. Stack in small bundles with a paper towel between them and store in an airtight bag.

If pizelle become soft, place on a cookie sheet in a 300 degree oven for 3-5 minutes.

Pizelle batter can be made 24 hours in advance and refrigerated. Warm batter to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).

Classic Pizzelle

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or anise extract

Preheat the Pizzelle Press on Setting 3 while preparing the batter.

Place flour and baking powder in a small bowl and stir to combine; reserve.

Place eggs and sugar in a medium bowl and mix on medium speed for 1 minute, until thickened. On low speed, add the melted butter and vanilla in a steady stream and mix until combined, about 15 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 10 to 15 seconds; do not over mix.

It may be necessary to lightly brush both the top and bottom grids with a flavorless vegetable oil or melted vegetable shortening before baking. Use the spoon provided to scoop the dough, about 1-1/2 – 2 teaspoons, and drop onto one of the patterned cookie grids; repeat to make a second cookie.

Close the lid and lock. The red indicator light will come on. When the red indicator light goes out and the green indicator light comes on, the pizzelle are ready.

For a lighter colored pizzelle, bake for a shorter time; for darker pizzelle, add a few more seconds. Remove pizzelle from the press using a heatproof plastic spatula and place on a rack to cool completely. Warm pizzelle may be wrapped around the dowel provided to form cannoli shells. Completely cooled pizzelle may be dusted with powdered sugar before serving.

Variations: Marble Pizzelle: Add 2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate to the batter. Bake as directed.

Make 36-40 pizelle.

Notes:

If you are rolling pizelle, roll them immediatelynupon removing them from the press.

Hot pizelle can be molded areound a cylinder or a ramekin to create a cup.

Pizelle can be frozen. Stack in small bundles with a paper towel between them and store in an airtight bag.

If pizelle become soft, place on a cookie sheet in a 300 degree oven for 3-5 minutes.

Pizelle batter can be made 24 hours in advance and refrigerated. Warm batter to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).

Duck (or Chicken)-Fat Roasted Vegetables Gremolata

ROASTED VEGETABLES
2 red onions, quartered
1 pound carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
1/2 pound cauliflower or Romanesco, cut into 1 1/2-inch florets (2 cups)
4 ounces brussels sprouts, quartered (1 cup)
3 tablespoons chicken or duck fat, melted (see Note)
Sea salt
Pepper

GREMOLATA
1 cup packed parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Sea salt
Pepper

MAKE THE ROASTED VEGETABLES
Preheat the oven to 425. Toss all of the ingredients on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and deep golden in spots; stir halfway through roasting.

MEANWHILE, MAKE THE GREMOLATA
In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the roasted vegetables on a platter, sprinkle with the gremolata and serve.

Maple-Ginger Roasted Vegetables with Pecans

1 1/2 cups pecans
4 medium carrots (3/4 pound), peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick on the bias
2 large parsnips (1 pound), peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick on the bias
1 medium head cauliflower (2 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch florets
1 small butternut squash (2 pounds)—peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice
1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 425. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Let cool.

In a large bowl, toss the carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, squash and brussels sprouts with the olive oil and nutmeg and season generously with salt and black pepper. Spread the vegetables on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and roast for 30 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown. Scatter the pecans and ginger over the vegetables and drizzle with the maple syrup; toss well. Continue to roast the vegetables for 25 minutes longer, until they are tender and golden. Scrape the vegetables into a bowl and serve hot or at room temperature.

MAKE AHEAD
The roasted vegetables can be kept at room temperature for up to two hours before serving.

Slow Cooker Spiral Cut Ham with Mustard Glaze

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
10 whole cloves
1 (8- to 10-pound) spiral cut ham

Make the glaze: Combine the brown sugar, honey, water, mustard, and cloves in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until the glaze is homogeneous and fragrant from the cloves, about 5 minutes. Remove the cloves with a spoon.

Prepare the ham: Place the ham in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker, making sure you can put the lid on. You may have to turn the ham on its side, or trim a bit off the top if your ham is too large. Gently pull apart the ham’s slices and separate them.

Add the glaze: Pour the glaze over the ham, trying to cover as much of the ham as possible, but not worrying too much, as the glaze will fall back into the slow cooker.

Cook the ham: Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 5 hours. Every hour (or as you remember), baste the ham with the glaze. You can also flip the ham halfway through cooking, if desired.
Serve: The ham is ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 140°F. Serve with the thickened glaze.

Notes
Make ahead: The glaze can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Storage: Store leftover ham in its juices in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Slow Cooker Spiral-Cut Ham

1 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
1 (7-10 pound) bone-in, spiral-cut ham
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
15 whole cloves

In a small bowl, whisk together orange marmalade, Dijon, orange juice and orange zest; set aside.

Place ham into a 6-qt slow cooker. Sprinkle with brown sugar, rubbing in thoroughly on all sides. Place whole cloves throughout and pour orange marmalade mixture over ham.

Cover and cook on low heat for 4-5 hours, basting every hour.

Serve immediately.

Sheet Pan Turkey Dinner

For the Stuffing:

1 pound (1 loaf) sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon minced sage
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored and finely chopped

For the Turkey:
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon minced sage
1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
One 2-pound turkey breast, skin on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Sweet Potatoes:

1 pound (2 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandoline
4 tablespoons brown butter
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced sage
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Green Beans:
12 ounces green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare the stuffing: Preheat the oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with foil. In a large bowl, mix all of the stuffing ingredients until well incorporated. Let soak for 15 minutes, then spread in an even layer over the left half of the baking sheet, making a well in the center for the turkey.

Meanwhile, prepare the turkey: In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter with the sage, thyme and minced garlic. Season the turkey breast well with salt and pepper, then place in the center of the stuffing. Rub the turkey with the butter mixture.

Prepare the sweet potatoes: In a medium bowl, toss all of the sweet potato ingredients together to coat. Spread the sweet potatoes over the top half of the empty right side of the baking sheet. The slices will overlap like a gratin. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the green beans: In a medium bowl, toss together all the green beans ingredients. After 30 minutes, add the green beans to the remaining quarter of the baking sheet, spreading in an even layer to fill the space. Continue to cook until the green beans are tender and the turkey reads 155° on an instant-read thermometer when inserted, another 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove the tray from the oven and tent with foil, then let rest for 15 minutes. Carve the turkey and serve.

Steak Diane

2 6-ounce beef fillets, cut from the tenderloin (filet mignon), preferably not too lean
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot or onion
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
Lemon juice to taste, optional
Chopped fresh chives or parsley leaves for garnish

Flatten fillets a bit with the palm of your hand, the back of a skillet or a small mallet; they should be about 1 inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and a lot of pepper. In small skillet, preferably one just large enough to hold fillets, combine oil and tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. When butter foam melts, sear steaks on both sides, just until browned, no more than 2 minutes a side. Remove to platter.

Wipe pan clean with towel; add remaining butter over medium heat, with shallot or onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in mustard, Worcestershire and cream. Add some salt and a fair amount of pepper. Stir once or twice, then taste and adjust seasoning.

Keeping mixture at a steady simmer, return meat and accumulated juices to pan. Cook, turning two or three times, until meat is done to your liking (125 degrees internal temperature for medium-rare). Remove to a plate, and add lemon juice, if using, salt and pepper to the sauce as needed. Spoon sauce over meat, garnish with chives or parsley, and serve.

Cheese Ball

4 tablespoons good-quality salted butter
1 cup shredded sharp, flavorful cheese, in any combination that might include Gruyère, Cheddar or blue cheese
3 ounces fresh goat cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped scallions
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped, salted roasted pecans
1 heaping tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley

Allow the butter and cheeses to come to room temperature. They should sit out of the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Put everything except the pecans and parsley in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. It should take about 4 minutes.

Plop the mixture onto a piece of waxed paper and gently form into a ball. Place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or until firm enough to work with.

Mix the pecans and parsley together on a large plate or a cutting board, then roll the cheese ball in the mixture. Cover any surfaces with a sprinkling of the mixture and pat into the sides until you have an evenly coated ball.

Wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate. When ready to serve, let the ball sit out for at least a half hour to soften. Serve with good plain crackers or small toasts.

Torta Caprese (Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake)

125 grams (4.4 oz) blanched almonds (or almond meal)
125 grams (4.4 oz) good quality dark chocolate (I use 70% cocoa)
125 grams (4.4 oz or 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, chopped
125 grams (4.4 oz or 1/2 cup) sugar
3 large eggs, separated and left to come to room temperature
Powdered sugar for dusting

Grease and line a 20 cm or 8 inch round cake tin with baking paper (a springform tin or one with a removable base is best for this delicate cake) and preheat oven to 160ºC or 320ºF.

If using whole blanched almonds, blitz them to a very fine, sandy texture in a food processor. Set aside.

Place the chocolate, broken up, in a metal or glass bowl set over a bain marie (double broiler, or a pot of simmering water). When melted, remove the bowl from the heat and add the butter, stirring with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula to help it melt. Then add the sugar and the almond meal.

Once the mixture is no longer hot, add the egg yolks and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. If adding any further ingredients (orange zest, rum, etc), stir them in now.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with beaters to soft, fluffy peaks. Fold the whites gently through the chocolate and almond batter.

Pour the batter into the cake tin, smooth over the top and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the top appears dry and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs attached (not wet batter). It is important not to overcook this cake so that it retains its wonderful moist consistency.

Let cool completely in the tin before handling. Dust with powdered sugar and, if desired, some lightly whipped cream. This cake keeps well for several days and is even better the next day.

Classic Plum Torte (and 5 Variations)

3/4 to 1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt (optional)
2 eggs
24 halves pitted purple plums
Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.

Spoon the batter into a springform pan of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter.

Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.

Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream.

To freeze, double-wrap the torte in foil, place in a plastic bag and seal. To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.

Variations:

1. Replace the plums with almost any seasonal fruit: apricots, halved and pitted; cranberries or any summer berry; sliced apples, nectarines, peaches and pears. Canned and frozen fruit can stand in for fresh. Reader comments:
–Made this for the first time using 4 cups of blueberries and raspberries (mixed). It was perfect!

–I’ve been using a version of this for years as a cranberry holiday bread.

–I have made this with about a quart of drained canned fruit of any type, as well as frozen. I can plums, peaches and pears in season, and if a jar fails to seal, you can bake this cake with it rather than reprocess the jar.

2. Experiment with spices, herbs and extracts: vanilla extract, almond extract, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, rosemary, orange or lemon zest. Reader comments:

–I add about a half teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract to the batter. This cake is so easy and good. I even memorized the recipe — except my memorization was imperfect and I baked the cake with the fruit on the bottom by accident. It still was delicious!

–I added a teaspoon of finely minced fresh rosemary to the batter… nice, subtle flavor.

3. Play with the flours. You can add almond or cornmeal flour to the all-purpose flour, or swap in gluten-free flour blends, with excellent results. (Melissa Clark made a version with whole wheat flour.) Reader comments:

Made this with gluten-free flour and it turned out Perfectly! Everyone loved it.

I substituted 1/2 cup almond meal and 1/2 cup brown rice flour for 1 cup of wheat flour. I also added parchment paper over the greased bottom of the spring pan. It was delicious served warm.

Made this last night after tasting the one made by our daughter. Used raspberries and blackberries, one basket each, instead of plums, and 1/3 cup cornmeal and 2/3 cup flour. Fantastic!!! The cornmeal adds a very sophisticated “Italian” character to it, very slight crunch, and amazing flavor.

4. Double, triple, even quadruple it. The batter scales up like a dream, and the baked cake freezes well. Reader comments:

This is one of my favorite recipes and has been for many years. In addition to plums, I’ve used blueberries, peaches, apples and various combinations of more than one fruit. It also freezes great. I line the baking dish with aluminum foil and once baked and cooled slightly, turn the baking dish upside down on a plate, peel off the foil, then turn it right-side up on another plate.

Double the recipe and it fits nicely in 13-by-9-inch disposable aluminum pans.

5. Change up the pan. The torte can be baked in any dish provided it’s approximately 8 to 10 inches in diameter and oven-safe.

Make it in any Pyrex, casserole, anything.

Used my pie plate because my springform pan was nowhere to be found.

A 9-inch pan gives greater height and moisture to the tart than a 10-inch pan.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Makes 6–8 servings

1 1/2 cup dark muscovado sugar, packed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tesspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup (about 14) Medjool dates, chopped

+ heavy cream, for serving

Heat the oven to 375°F.

Put 1/2 cup of sugar and the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, using your fingers to get any lumps out of the sugar.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter (I melt mine in the microwave). In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, milk, egg, and vanilla extract.

Stir the liquid into the flour and sugar with a wooden spoon or a spatula, and mix until smooth. Stir in the dates. Tip the mix into a buttered 1 1/2-quart dish, and place on a sheet tray with a lip to catch any sticky toffee that bubbles over.

Dot the top with the remaining butter and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Pour 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of boiling water over the whole thing. Bake for 45 minutes, and watch it bubble.

Serve hot with loads of cream.

Rosemary Shortbread

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon plus 1 pinch kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted cold butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 to 2 teaspoons rosemary, chestnut or other dark, full-flavored honey (optional)

This dough is already enhanced with rosemary, but nuts, seeds, citrus zest, spices, vanilla or minced dried fruit — or a combination of some of these — all make fine additions. Scale it up, scale it down. Add more salt, or use less. As long as you maintain the butter-flour ratio (one stick of butter for every cup of flour), you are free to play around.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, rosemary and salt. Add butter, and honey if desired, and pulse to fine crumbs. Pulse a few more times until some crumbs start to come together, but don’t overprocess. Dough should not be smooth.

Press dough into an ungreased 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan or 9-inch pie pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes for 9-inch pan, 45 to 50 minutes for 8-inch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.

Basic Chocolate Cookies (for Shaping)

24 Tbs. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. coarse sugar, or as needed

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. In another bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until blended.

Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces, pat each into a flat disk and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 disk for at least 1 hour to use now, and store the remaining 2 disks for future use (see note above).

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a work surface, place the disk between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and roll out about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 2-inch star-shaped (or other) cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Transfer them to the prepared sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart. Gather the scraps, reroll and cut out more cookies. Sprinkle the cookies with the coarse sugar.

Bake the cookies until the edges are crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool briefly on the sheets, then transfer the cookies to the racks and let cool completely. Makes about 40 cookies; makes 3 cookie dough disks total.

Can be used to make star cookies or for ice cream sandwiches.