Sunday, June 23, 2013

Blueberry Financiers

Everyone told me that once I moved to Florida, I would never want to bake again. “Much too hot, especially in the summer” they warned. “You won’t want to do anything,” they would say with a knowing nod. Well, ok, I thought, I’ll just watch reruns of The Golden Girls and wait patiently for death – that’ll be my new raison

d’être. Plenty of folks in that club down in Florida, right? Well, happily, life (and baking) seems to continue in the Sunshine State. In fact, because almost every day is sunny and beautiful, I no longer feel compelled to rush out and “enjoy the day” while it’s fine, as I did in New York, instead of puttering around in my kitchen

dreaming up new recipes. And since my kitchen is a comfortably regulated 76 degrees F. at all times, I never even notice that it’s hot. Unless of course, I venture out to buy groceries or run an errand. Yesterday I even went for a power walk at midday (I’m still practically a tourist, so I’m allowed to make a few mistakes now

and then). Thanks to the wonder of A.C., I am also able to continue my habit of drinking hot tea everyday, preferably with a home-baked cookie or treat. Financiers, the small French almond and butter tea cake, are among my favorite tea-time sweets. This recipe comes from my friend and pastry idol François Payard

of Payard Patisserie in NYC, and it’s worth saving. Made with almond flour and fragrant browned butter, these little cakes are tender and flavorful. Here I topped each cake with a couple of fresh blueberries, but you can used raspberries or thin slices of plum or peach, if you like. If you don’t have a financer mold (and most people don’t), use mini-muffin pans. They even sell them down here...:)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lavender and Honey Parfait

Lavender is one of those flavors that scares people, and rightly so. Use too much, and your dessert ends up tasting like a bar of your Grandmother’s soap. But when it’s used correctly, lavender adds a subtle touch of summer-in-Provence and an unforgettable flavor. It’s a natural paired with honey and cream, as in this  

delicate frozen parfait, a French classic. I used a dried food-grade lavender (I got mine from, but you can also use fresh lavender from your garden. You can top the parfait with sliced strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries, but I think I like blueberries best. If you prefer, you can also freeze this

dessert in a plastic wrap-lined loaf pan. Just unmold it and serve it sliced with the berries on top.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Watermelon Daiquiris

Taking advantage of the abundance of fresh fruit is one of the perks of summer. Fresh berries, melons and stone fruits naturally lend themselves to a variety of desserts, but they also make wonderful cocktails – and nothing puts dinner guests 

in a better mood than being greeted with a special cocktail (with or without alcohol) made with fresh fruit. Though this blog is mostly focused on desserts, occasionally I get a little side-tracked and spotlight something served before the 

main course instead of after. Yesterday I found some adorable miniature seedless watermelons in my local supermarket, and just couldn’t resist their pull. Because of their high water content and natural sweetness, watermelons make 

particularly delicious cocktails. And because the flavors watermelon and lime pair so well, a watermelon daiquiri is one of my favorite summer drinks. Freezing the watermelon ensures an ice-cold drink, while adding a little Cointreau adds a subtle

floral note. This daiquiri is perfectly balanced, with a strong rum kick. Be careful, these babies will sneak up on you.