Spiced Pear, Pomegranate, and Butterscotch Upside-Down Cake

PHOTOS AND STORY BY PAOLA THOMAS If you’ve ever wondered what autumn on a plate might taste like, then you just might want to try this riff on a classic upside-down cake. Thick slices of juicy pear, poached in pomegranate juice to add a tart undertone, meld with a rich butterscotch glaze to form a fudgy-sweet topping for a soft, moist cake, fragrant with autumnal spices. Served warm from the oven with a sprinkling of crunchy pomegranate seeds and a scoop of creamy mascarpone, this cake is as cozy and comforting as a hand-knitted sweater and is the perfect treat to follow an afternoon of leaf raking, pumpkin carving, or just watching the raindrops race down the windowpane. Serves: 8| Active time: 35...

Bananas Foster

Recipe makes four servings. Preparation time is 15 minutes. Recipe 8 tablespoons salted butter 3/4 cup lightly packed light-brown sugar 1/4 cup crème de banana liquor 4 medium-size ripe bananas, sliced in half lengthwise 1.5 ounces of brandy to flame 4 to 8 scoops vanilla bean ice cream (frozen yogurt and non-dairy ice cream substitutes work, too. Try a berry sorbet for a twist on the traditional.) Four chilled serving bowls Instructions In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir until golden brown, add banana liqueur and sugar, and mix well. Lay bananas, flat side down, in pan. Heat for three minutes or until banana is tender. Add brandy around the edge of the pan. If cooking over gas, tip the pan into the flame to ignite the...

Creamy Parsnip Tart

Parsnips may be unexpected in the pastry kitchen, but their natural sweetness and creamy quality when cooked recommend them for the job. The inspiration for this elegant dessert came from a similar treatment of carrots, which got me thinking … if parsnips can stand in for carrots in a classic favorite like carrot cake, why not a tart? Makes one 10-inch tart, to serve 8 to 10 Start to finish: about 5 hours, including baking and chilling Recipe: 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 2 tablespoons light brown sugar 2 tablespoons honey 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 10 ounces parsnips, peeled and sliced in 1/4-inch thick coins (about 1 1/2 cups) 2/3 cup heavy cream 3 cloves 1...

Dark-Chocolate Panna Cotta with Candied Blood-Orange Slices

Serves 6 | 30 minutes active time, 6 hours to refrigerate A decadent finish to your holiday dinner, this creamy luscious dark-chocolate dessert is rich and satisfying, yet not overly sweet. Simple to make, this make-ahead dessert can be brought out right after dinner, already dished up, with no hassle (but with lots of applause). Panna Cotta 2 cups heavy whipping cream 1 cup half-and-half 1/8–1/4 cup sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla or Kahlua liqueur generous pinch salt 1 cup quality bittersweet chocolate chips 1 package gelatin 1/4 cup fresh blood-orange juice (or regular orange works too) Candied Blood-Orange Slices 1 blood orange, thinly sliced (or use a regular orange) 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup water Steps In a medium pot, gently heat whipping cream and half-and-half over medium heat. Add sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir often...

Roasted Black Plum Balsamic Ice Cream

Egg-free ice cream is a traditional American-style method that is less complex to make than custard-based ice cream, especially since you don’t have to worry about properly tempering eggs to prevent curdling....

Rye Currant Caraway Shortbread

In these classically rich, crunchy shortbreads, potent rye flavor gets a familiar boost from toasted caraway, creating a cookie that teeters on a savory edge. Try making them with whole freshly milled rye flour, available at Tabor Bread. INGREDIENTS: 2 tsp toasted caraway seeds, divided 1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar 2 tsp vanilla extract 2 cups rye flour 1 tsp salt 1/2  tsp baking powder 1/3  cup currants STEPS: 1. In a food processor or coffee grinder, grind 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds. Set aside. 2. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and stir. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add it to the butter mixture, mixing until just combined. Stir in the...

Gin Spiked Mint-Fennel Sorbet

This dessert is reminiscent of a cocktail and is the epitome of refreshing on a hot summer night. Basil can be substituted for the mint. INGREDIENTS: 2 bulbs fennel 1 1/2 cups sugar 3 bunches mint, leaves plucked from stems 4 limes, juiced 1/2 tsp sea salt 1/2 cup gin 1 egg white STEPS: 1. Chop fennel. Place in a nonreactive pot and add 4 cups of water. Cover and simmer until very tender, approximately 30 minutes. Cool completely. 2. Combine 1 1/2 cups water with sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Cool simple syrup completely. 3. Purée the fennel with the water it was cooking in, 2 cups simple syrup, mint, lime juice, salt, gin, and egg white in a blender for 1 minute. Strain through a cheesecloth. Chill in...

Huckleberry Black Pepper Sorbet

This sorbet is a winner, using the spices from black pepper to bring out the earthiness of the huckleberries. ...

Rhubarb Polenta Cake with Orange and Cardamom

  RECIPE AND PHOTOS PAOLA THOMAS This month’s cake—an adaption of a traditional Italian torta di polenta—celebrates the citrus fruits and nuts of winter, while incorporating rhubarb as the first welcome harbinger of spring. This is not a fancy-pants, special-occasion cake, all dressed up and ready for the ball, but in taste and texture, it might be my favorite of all the cakes we’ve developed this past year. This is the perfect companion on a dreary afternoon, when you’re curled up with a good book and a mug of tea. Its damp, buttery richness is offset by tart rhubarb, the tang of orange, and the pleasing texture of polenta. Sometimes the magic is all in the eating. If spring has not yet sprung in...