This creamy, fruity dessert tastes like it took hours to make but it is very simple. I don’t usually peel the pears. This is the perfect dish for those leftover liqueurs that are filling your drinks cupboard. In a pinch, you can add some pear or cranberry juice.
Esther Tabert is a second-year student at Stratford Chefs School with a strong interest in food writing and styling. Her recipe appealed to me because it was a sweet take on her mother’s love of chamomile tea. “For as long as I can remember,” Tabert recalls, “my mom has stopped her work at 3 p.m. every day to have chamomile tea and an almond cookie. This dessert is inspired by those tea breaks.”
Panna cotta, a simple jelled, flavoured cream, is an easy and exceptional dessert. It will add a touch of grace to any dinner party – or you can savour it at 3 p.m. with a cup of tea! For a variation, you can use other flavoured teas, such as Earl Grey. You may also want to infuse your honey with lavender or rosewater. If you would like larger servings, divide mixture into four.
Use ancho chili powder if possible (it has a hint of chocolate in it), but any chili will bring out the chocolate flavor in these truffles. These also freeze well and can be eaten directly out of the freezer whenever you have a chocolate moment.
Claudia Egger has an outstanding Toronto bakery called Frangipane, where she makes superb French pastries. Candied bacon is the flavour of the month right now, but I actually like candied orange peel with this tart, too. The candied bacon has a short shelf life, as the sugar tends to run after a few hours. Make it ahead and, if it seems soggy, crisp in the oven for a few minutes before crumbling it over the tart. There will be leftover dough, which you can use to make a few good cookies. Although I baked this tart in a long rectangular pan, it works just as well in a round 8- or 9-inch one. Egger’s dramatic recipe serves 8, but it keeps well and even freezes.
Budino, pudding in Italian, is rich, dense and delicious. The dessert looks spectacular in tiny glasses, small soufflé dishes or espresso cups. The milk chocolate texture is slightly different from the dark, making this both a taste and texture delight.
When I was in Wolfville, N.S. for Devour, the food-film festival I had lunch every day at the Slow Dough Bakery, which serves excellent homey sandwiches and the most mouth-wateringly perfect home baking. The owner, Elizabeth Charlton, a former opera singer with the Canadian Opera Company, moved to the charming, food-focused town outside Halifax several years ago. She worked as a pastry chef in restaurants before selling her goods at local markets, which she says “is just another form of performing.” Charlton finds other similarities between the two professions. “Both require lots of discipline,” she says. “It takes a very concentrated effort in order for the product to be good.” Charlton later opened her dream bakery, where her breads rise slowly over 24 hours (hence the name). Her Christmas dessert, a variation of a butter tart, incorporates both fresh and dried cranberries as well as chopped nuts. The easy pastry recipe, which is well worth making, is a traditional pâte sucrée, the French sweet tart pastry. You can drizzle the finished tart with melted white chocolate, but it’s also wonderful without it.