Just Desserts, Puddings Galore

desOur family goes in for puddings for special occasions and Sunday lunches. We don’t have them every day, so when we do, we want it all: comforting over-indulgence at its best – no refined twiddles of patisserie here, though we don’t do the steamed, stodgy stuff either. We have a number of recipes that are firm family favourites and have to be considered and a waiting list of recipes from cookbooks to try – so puddings oust the main course as the focus of debate and decision-making.

The occasion dictates the main course – roast lamb for Easter, turkey and gammon for Christmas, no dilemmas there. Selecting just a few puddings from the family repertoire, though, is an agonising process. Christmas and New Year close together eases the dilemma…what we don’t have for Christmas, we can do for New Year’s Eve, but on other occasions leaving out a particular favourite recipe is too hard. We often end up with a selection of four puddings (though, before you are too horrified, we are usually feeding twelve or more people) and as a result feel stuffed to the gills afterwards,

Tiramisu A Cause for Celebration

24At many Italian tables, a meal is often finished with fresh fruit rather than dessert. The addition of dessert to a meal often marks a special occasion. It stands to reason that this may be why Italian desserts are notable for presenting lavish arrangements of indulgent ingredients and truly unforgettable flavour combinations. Italian dessert making is representative of all Italian cuisine in the respect that it heeds to one distinct rule, that is to create dishes that provide pleasure above all else. The most popular fare among Italian desserts is undoubtedly tiramisu, a widely loved layered dessert that most certainly fulfills the criteria for a pleasurably dining experience. Tiramisu is an elegant and rich Italian dessert that is made by combing lady finger biscuits, espresso, mascarpone cheese, eggs, sugar, Marsala wine, rum and cocoa powder. Through the grouping of these diverse ingredients, an intense yet refined dish emerges. The delicate flavour of layers of mascarpone and Italian custard are contrasted with the robust presence of espresso and sharpness of cocoa powder. These flavours come together, bringing forth a velvety

Healthier Ways to Eat Dessert

23Sticking with a healthy eating plan is hard work. There is no way around that, but for many it means giving up the foods that they love the most. But, you don’t have to do that! If you are limiting yourself so much that healthy eating becomes more of a hindrance than a help, then your good habits won’t last long. So what does this mean? You can still eat dessert– and enjoy it! Learn some smart substitutions to make your dessert a healthy part of your day.

The key to including dessert is to enjoy that sweet treat without overloading on calories, fat, and sugar. Desserts can often make it hard to maintain a healthy weight. But who wants to give up their favorite foods? Willpower is hard to fight against. As with many things in life, moderation is key, so you’ll need to stop yourself before you overindulge. Try sensible portions; you can eat 1 slice of pie and still be in your calorie range for the day.

Not every chocolate cake or banana

Take Pizza, Points wait for dessert

22It’s been a long time since I really cared about a Super Bowl. Sure, I’ve wagered on a few, run my share of “squares” boards and even rooted against a few Packers teams. This year, I only have to hate the Colts.

As it turns out, I haven’t cared this much about a Super Bowl in, well, 21 years. I don’t care who’s singing at halftime, as long as that person doesn’t bring another barrage of decency from the FCC. I think odds are 50/50 that Prince keeps his pants on.

If you are one of the millions who couldn’t score tickets, because you weren’t willing to sell ad space on your pregnant belly or harass a Bears player who made you a promise in jest on your cable-access show, then get yourself an HDTV.

If I were watching at home, I would have spent the entire week lining up snacks. Then at halftime I would order the sausage, mushrooms, onions and pepperoni pizza (SMOP).

Shop Specializes in Diet Conscious Dessert

21With less than a month left before summer officially draws to a close, the arrival of a new frozen dessert chain is giving Chicagoans a low-fat alternative to traditional ice cream.

Treats Frozen Desserts, with locations in Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Glencoe, sells creamy ice milk in flavors as exotic as white chocolate macadamia nut, green tea, coffee Cognac and caramel fudge eclair. In addition to chocolate and vanilla, offered on a daily basis, another four of the 65 flavors are sold on a rotation.

FOR THE RECORD – Additional material published Sept. 5, 2003.
In the Aug. 27 issue of Good Eating and the Sept. 3 RedEye edition, articles on Treats Frozen Desserts failed to note that the Glencoe location, one of three in the area, has not yet opened. The two Chicago stores are operating.

Treats president Philip Auerbach got his inspiration from Manhattan’s popular Tasti-D-Lite and CremaLita chains. “I wanted to create a healthy and

Split Decision Curbs Appetite For Dessert

20Dear Miss Manners – I dine quite often with friendly acquaintances (i.e., business associates, office mates, customers, and so forth). While most often my dinner companions decline dessert, I tend to like something sweet after a nice restaurant meal.

When my order is served, the wait person brings not just one spoon, but several, making a ceremonious presentation of laying out each one before me.

Am I wrong to be offended by this practice?

I don’t want to share my dessert. I am usually hungry enough to eat all of it. Not to mention that I really don’t want their germs on my food. Plus, if they had wanted dessert they would have ordered it in the first place.

How can I give the spoons back to the waiter without insulting my dinner mates? I don’t want them to share my dessert – sorry.

Gentle Reader – It is always risky for a service person to exceed instructions, although Miss Manners

All In A Dither Over Dessert

19Dear Miss Manners-What should one do when invited for an evening of bridge that ends with dessert and coffee, if one is watching one`s weight?

Should one accept the dessert and push it around with the fork on the plate after eating one bite? Decline the dessert? Eat the dessert?

Friends have said it insults the hostess if I decline. When I am the hostess, I feel far more insulted if someone accepts and then leaves the dessert on the plate.

I love the bridge and conversation, but I don`t want to have to diet for the next three days because of it.

Gentle reader-Miss Manners would not dream of saying anything so fresh as “Get a life,“ but you people simply have to find something more significant to feel insulted over.

If you don`t plan to eat dessert, decline it with thanks. If the hostess looks emotionally wiped out by this, you can try to coax her back to normality with: “But I`d love

Desserts a Sweet Time at Joffrey Family Dinner

18The Women’s Board of the Joffrey Ballet presented its 16th annual Nutcracker Family Dinner on Dec.8 at the Standard Club. Five hundred and seventy-five guests enjoyed a matinee of Robert Joffrey’s take on Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” at the Auditorium Theatre before being whisked to the club in festive trolleys for a family-friendly event.

Activity stations offered face painting, customized graffiti T-shirts, holiday manicures, and cookie and cupcake decorating; Allegro Dance Boutique provided ballet pointe shoes for kids to decorate; and The Great Frankini, Frank Glab, dazzled children with magic tricks.

Holiday decor by Kehoe Designs transformed the club with fanciful candy sculptures and Magnolia Bakery cupcakes on tabletops. Pierre Lockett, Joffrey’s director of community engagement, welcomed guests to a dinner that began with dessert in a nod to the event’s “Land of Sweets” theme. Lockett introduced Ballet Master Gerard Charles and acknowledged “Nutcracker” dancers Jeraldine Mendoza and Alberto Velazquez. Children from “The Nutcracker” cast engaged the audience in a singalong that featured the “Jingle

How to Design a Dessert

17Designing a dessert or lovely layer cake is as simple as, well, putting together a great salad from the croutons-to-carrot offerings on a salad bar.

“It’s almost intuitive,” says cookbook author Alice Medrich. “You think about the textures and the flavors and what dressing would go with it.”

Except for that salad dressing element, that’s pretty much how Medrich creates a new dessert.

“It’s just like you’re putting a puzzle together that you’re going to eat and going to look at,” says Medrich, whose latest book is “Seriously Bitter Sweet: The Ultimate Dessert Maker’s Guide to Chocolate” (Artisan, $25.95). “I love to build a dessert so it is gorgeous just from the elements in it.”

Those elements? She thinks about texture, from the type of cake used to alternative layers (maybe a crunchy meringue), fillings and finishes; chooses flavors that complement or contrast (a tart fruit curd or a filling incorporating creme fraiche); and considers whipped cream: “It just focuses the attention on whatever flavor is next to

Tuscan Treasure Serves a Dessert to Get Passionate About

16I hadn’t been to Coco Pazzo since chef Tony Priolo left in 2008 to open Piccolo Sogno. But after an impressive weekend dinner, as part of my Chicago Restaurant Week travels, I can confidently say that, under chef and partner Chris Macchia, the restaurant is in very good hands.

This has always been one of my top five Italian restaurants, a white-tablecloth Tuscan treasure inside a converted River North loft. Not the cheapest dining option, to be sure, but the value has always been there. And during Restaurant Week, when Coco Pazzo is offering three-course lunches for $22 and three-course dinners for $33, the value is practically irresistible.

Lunch options include a colorful, almost dainty salad of raw fennel, blood orange, pomegranate and pecorino cheese, and a wild boar ragu, over soft polenta, that is pure rusticity. At dinner, we began with two large hunks of grilled ciabatta piled high with tiny pieces of braised octopus in a spicy tomato sauce. The temptation is to tackle

Matzo Provides Sweet Ending in Passover Desserts

15Matzo is a symbol of Passover because those crisp squares of unleavened bread speak of a millennia-old flight from Egypt so sudden there was no time for dough to rise. Matzo can be delicious — I love smearing it with softened butter for a snack — but matzo poses a challenge too. Besides placing it in a position of honor on the Seder table, what can you do with matzo over the eight days when foods made with grains and certain other ingredients are prohibited? There’s always dessert, at least for those whose faith traditions allow cooking with matzo.

“I use matzo for a lot of things. Mostly cakes,” says Estee Kafra, the Toronto-based author of “Cooking Inspired” (Feldheim, $35.99) and the woman behind KosherScoop.com, a recipe website. There are hundreds of cake recipes using ground matzo meal, she notes. But there’s also chocolate-covered matzo adorned with nuts or matzo spread with a favorite jam. Kafra even makes a granola using smashed up matzo, dried fruit and nuts.

Chocolate And Raspberry Cake an Elegant Dessert

14Paul Lowe, the kitchen craft and cooking maven, has penned a new book, “Sweet Paul Eat and Make” (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). If you’re not familiar with his online or quarterly print magazine, Sweet Paul, you’ll be taken with this treasure trove of recipes like Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Raspberries, Pasta with Chunky Pesto, and Maple Roasted Granola. The book includes craft projects such as making jam jar vases and different kinds of votives. It’s a fun book to read. It’s organized by time of day, and its recipes are both creative and readily approachable.

This cake is a perfect example. It’s an elegant dessert made to impress without a lot of fuss. It has a deep, rich flavor that is not too sweet. As Lowe explains, the raspberries “sink slightly into the cake while it bakes, creating pockets of intense flavor.”

When I made this for a dinner party, I found the instructions easy to follow. Yes, it has lots of butter, but that’s what makes it so

Matzo Provides Sweet Ending in Passover Desserts

March 2, 2015 Photograph of a chocolate matzah layer cake photographed at the home of Florence Steinberger. MICHAEL SEARS/MSEARS@JOURNALSENTINEL.COMMatzo is a symbol of Passover because those crisp squares of unleavened bread speak of a millennia-old flight from Egypt so sudden there was no time for dough to rise. Matzo can be delicious — I love smearing it with softened butter for a snack — but matzo poses a challenge too. Besides placing it in a position of honor on the Seder table, what can you do with matzo over the eight days when foods made with grains and certain other ingredients are prohibited? There’s always dessert, at least for those whose faith traditions allow cooking with matzo.

“I use matzo for a lot of things. Mostly cakes,” says Estee Kafra, the Toronto-based author of “Cooking Inspired” (Feldheim, $35.99) and the woman behind KosherScoop.com, a recipe website. There are hundreds of cake recipes using ground matzo meal, she notes.

But there’s also chocolate-covered matzo adorned with nuts

Strawberry Banana Crumble

12One of the great things about strawberries is how well they pair with other fruits. One of my favorite combinations is strawberry and banana. It’s perfect for smoothies, yogurt and even ice cream. I figured, why not put these two together and make it into an irresistible crumble? What a good idea that was. It is delicious. And the topping … I could eat it by the bowlful.

I washed my strawberries, hulled them and cut them into quarters lengthwise. This keeps them mostly intact as they bubble away in the oven. I decided to use my smallest cast iron skillet for this rustic dessert. I love the way it heats up and keeps things warm once removed from the oven. My whole family loved this dessert.

It’s the perfect ending to a summer meal such as fried chicken. Vanilla ice cream is an absolute must on top of this dessert, especially when warm.

Strawberry-Banana Crumble :

Serves 8.

  • 4 cups hulled and

Destinations And Their Desserts

11Most destinations have at least one signature dessert – that one confection that they do so well, you can taste history in every bite. It’s impossible to list all of the world’s best desserts, but here is a shortlist of six cities and their famous sweet treats. Dig in:

Turkish Delight in İstanbul

‘Original shop that created Turkish delight’ by rg-fotos. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence

Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir was the most famous of all Ottoman confectioners. He came to İstanbul from the mountain town of Kastamonu in 1777 and opened a shop in the Old City where he concocted delicious boiled sweets and the translucent jellied jewels known to Turks as lokum – and to the rest of the world as Turkish Delight. Today, locals still buy their lokum from branches of the business he began over two centuries ago.

The flagship store of Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir is located near the Spice Bazaar. There are also stores on İstiklal Caddesi and in the produce market at Kadıköy. A more recent family dynasty

Why You Always Have Room For Dessert

10Most of us can testify to it. After two or three heaping portions of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and Waldorf salad you’re bursting at the seams. You’re so sated that you had to discretely place a crumpled napkin over that uneaten turkey wing on your plate.

But when panna cotta or the plum pudding arrives at the table you miraculously have room for that too.

This wondrous dessert miracle has now been given a physiological explanation.

The sugar in sweet foods stimulates a reflex that expands your stomach, writes senior researcher Arnold Berstad and assistant doctor Jørgen Valeur from Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital in the latest issue  of The Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association.

“If you eat dessert after you’re actually feeling stuffed you’re tricking your normal sensation of being full,” they argue.

Your stomach is flexible

The stomach is a flexible organ. When you consume a large meal the walls of the upper section of the stomach relax to make room for the food.

How Sugar and Fat Trick the Brain into Wanting More Food

9Matthew Brien has struggled with overeating for the past 20 years. At age 24, he stood at 5′10′′ and weighed a trim 135 pounds. Today the licensed massage therapist tips the scales at 230 pounds and finds it particularly difficult to resist bread, pasta, soda, cookies and ice cream—especially those dense pints stuffed with almonds and chocolate chunks. He has tried various weight-loss programs that limit food portions, but he can never keep it up for long. “It’s almost subconscious,” he says. “Dinner is done? Okay, I am going to have dessert. Maybe someone else can have just two scoops of ice cream, but I am going to have the whole damn [container]. I can’t shut those feelings down.”

Eating for the sake of pleasure, rather than survival, is nothing new. But only in the past several years have researchers come to understand deeply how certain foods—particularly fats and sweets—actually change brain chemistry in a way that drives some people to overconsume.

Scientists have a relatively new name for such cravings: hedonic hunger,

Sweet Revolution Dessert

8Just a year ago, I gave up sweets. I was in a restaurant in San Francisco, and, for the first time that I can recall, when the waiter said, “Dessert?,” in that conspiratorial, perky way waiters have, I said . . . nothing. And then the next night, at another place, I did it again.

The usual reasons that move men and women as they age moved me: I was self-conscious about gaining weight, crossing into the world where you slowly become doughier and wake up as a middle-aged man with a paunch. So I decided to stop eating desserts, to see if that would help. Like all diets, both the reducing kind and the religious kind, mine had an element of logic (lose those calories neatly, and at once!) and an element of magic, too (give up the thing you like best and you will appease the gods of aging). I love desserts. I think of my mother and I taste desserts. My mother, though a scientist with an academic career, made a different dessert

Best Desserts in Town

7There’s no denying that desserts play a huge part in Turkish culture. Quite literally anywhere you look around the city, you’re bound to find a tempting treat beckoning you to just taste it. But how do you know where to go for the ultimate in desserts – whether they’re the syrupy, calorie-laden sweets this country’s famous for or their more international counterparts? We asked Mert Alkaya, whose passion for great dessert has turned him into a veritable expert on the best that Istanbul has to offer

Seval Pastanesi

Osmanlı acıbadem

I prefer to think of the 54-yearold Seval Pastanesi in Çengelköy as the ‘temple of desserts’. They’re unbeatable when it comes to Osmanlı acıbadem, or bitter almond cookie. This is only one of the desserts at Seval Pastanesi that are made with 300-year-old recipes from a work titled ‘Aşçıların Sığınağı’ (‘The Cooks’ Bunker’), pulled out of an Ottoman archive that Prof. Dr. Artun Ünsal shared with Seval Pastanesi.


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Turkish Sweets Are the Essence of a Nation

6On a recent trip to Istanbul, I crossed the Bosporus by ferry, watching dusk fall over historic Sultanahmet and silhouette the skinny minarets that frame Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. To my right, illuminated in the distance, loomed modern skyscrapers. Sea gulls swirled overhead amid emerging stars, diving for bits of bagel-like simit tossed to them from the deck.

It was a grand and dreamy vista. But for me, Istanbul was summed up less by that iconic ferry view than in the saucer of baklava I ate on the other side.

Purchased at the esteemed bakery Karakoy Gulluoglu, it was exquisite, tinted green with pistachios and smeared with thick clotted buffalo cream called kaymak.

But it was also more than that: a square the size of four mosaic tiles that joined Turkic, Byzantine, Islamic and Persian influences, with myriad layers recalling the city’s long history and the mingling (and sometimes clashing) of cultures from empire to republic. Even in times of conflict, food has always been a relatively safe