Recipes: Desserts to serve with wine

Glazed pecans, marzipan polenta, chocolate velvet, spanish almond cookies, orange cornmeal cake, pine nut and ricotta tart with fig preserves

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GLAZED PECANS

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  • 2 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 egg white, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Generous pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Line cookie sheet with "release" aluminum foil.

Combine egg white, sugar and spices in a bowl. Add pecans and stir to coat. Spread nuts on cookie sheet, separating to make a single layer. Roast for 30 minutes.

-- Elizabeth Downer



MARZIPAN POLENTA CAKE

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  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) almond paste
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Confectioners' sugar or berries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12-cup muffin tin. Stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Break up the almond paste with your fingers into pea-size pieces. Place the almond paste and sugar in the bowl. With an electric beater, beat at medium speed until the mixture is uniform, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and vanilla to the bowl and beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth, another 2 minutes or so.

One by one, beat in the whole eggs and the egg yolks until the mixture is very smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Clean off the beaters. Stir the flour mixture in by hand.

Evenly divide the batter among the 12 buttered muffin cups. Bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before unmolding, then turn out.

Sprinkle with sugar and/or garnish with berries.

To make as a cake for slicing, butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan or line with parchment paper and butter the paper and pan. Mix the batter as directed then bake the cake until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the sides have begun to shrink away from the pan, about 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, then unmold. Makes 1 large or 12 small cakes.

-- lovenbake.com



CHOCOLATE VELVET MOUSSE WITH, SHHHH, OLIVE OIL

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  • 6 ounces very good sweet dark chocolate (such as Lindt or Callebaut), chopped
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted after measuring
  • 1/4 cup double-espresso coffee, at room temperature or 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons Chambord or Cointreau
  • 3/4 cup fruity-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • Raspberries, optional

Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave or in a saucepan over very low heat. Let cool to lukewarm.

In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the coffee and liqueur just to combine. Then stir in the melted chocolate. Add the olive oil and mix well.

Thoroughly wash the beaters so that they are free of grease. In another medium bowl, beat the egg whites until almost stiff. Gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and whisk until patches of white disappear. Repeat whisking in the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture, 1/3 at a time, until patches of white disappear. Do not overmix.

Transfer the mousse into a pretty bowl or individual dessert dishes, cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. Serve cold with raspberries, if you wish. Makes 6 servings.

-- Teresa Barrenechea, Spain



SPANISH ALMOND COOKIES

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  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup lightly flavored extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/8 teaspoon aniseed, crushed (optional)
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with a few drops water
  • 1/4 cup almond halves
  • Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, combine eggs and sugar, beat in the olive oil then add lemon peel and aniseed. Stir in the dry ingredients until well-mixed, making a soft dough. Chill the dough 1 hour or longer.

Roll the cold dough into 1 1/4-inch balls or ovoids and flatten them slightly. Place on an ungreased baking sheet or on parchment paper.

Brush the tops of the cookies with beaten egg yolk, press an almond half in the center of each and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until cookies are lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Makes about 40 cookies.

-- Janet Mendel



ORANGE CORNMEAL CAKE

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For an even crunchier topping, use sanding or coarse brown sugar in place of granulated sugar when you sprinkle sugar over the batter. Pick up a few packets of brown sugar from the coffee shop. Serve plain as a snacking cake, as a breakfast cake or for dessert with sections of Clementines, oranges or tangerines. The combination of wine and olive oil produces a subtle, fruity taste.

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup for topping
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or orange juice)
  • 1 1/4 cups white or whole wheat flour (spooned into cup and leveled)
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan or springform pan with oil; line bottom with a round of waxed or parchment paper, and brush paper with oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, 1 cup sugar and wine until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and orange zest. until well-combined. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and whisk gently until just mixed.

Pour batter into prepared pan; sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1/3 cup sugar (topping will be thick). If using coarse sugar, use only 2 tablespoons for "sparkle."

Bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool in pan 20 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake; invert cake gently onto a plate, and remove parchment paper. Re-invert cake onto a rack to cool completely. Keeps well at room temperature. Makes 8 to 10 sliver servings.

-- Marlene Parrish



PINE NUT AND RICOTTA TART WITH FIG PRESERVES

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For the pastry

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling

  • 2 cups fresh ricotta, preferably sheep's milk
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
  • Fig preserves (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 10-inch deep quiche or 9-inch springform pan.

To make the pastry: In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the olive oil; let cool. Put the flour in a medium bowl and make a well in the center. Put the egg, yolks, sugar, salt, vanilla and butter mixture in the well. Working from the center, gradually stir in the flour, bit by bit, until the liquid in the well is too thick to stir. Work the remaining flour in with your hands, then turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

To make the filling: Combine the ricotta, pine nuts, sugar, lemon zest and juice, and eggs in a medium bowl and mix until smooth and creamy.

To assemble: Divide the dough in half. Roll out half of the dough on a sheet of waxed paper to a 12-inch circle. Then place the baking pan on the dough and trace around the outer edge with the tip of a knife. Gently pull away the extra dough and set it off to the side. Now pick up the dough circle, using the waxed paper as an aid, and flip it into the bottom of a 10-inch quiche or 9-inch springform pan for a perfect fit. Using your fingers press pieces of the "set aside" dough up the sides of the pan about 1 inch high.

Spread the ricotta mixture evenly in the pan.

Roll out the top crust in the same way, again tracing the bottom of the pan on the dough. Flip that piece of dough directly onto the filling.

Brush the entire top of the dough with the egg wash.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Allow the cheesecake to cool completely before serving. Pass slightly warmed fig preserves as a topping or side sauce. A glass of wine is a must.

Makes about 8 to 10 servings.

-- Adapted from "Molto Mario," by Mario Batali (Ecco, 2005)



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