Dessert Recipes

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Cast-Iron Cornmeal Cake with Buttermilk Cream

Pouring the batter into a hot skillet ensures a perfectly cooked, dark golden–bottomed crust with a fluffy, golden interior. To check for doneness, rely on the visual cues for browning—a cake tester will come out clean before the cake is cooked through.
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Buttermilk Panna Cotta

The key to a perfect panna cotta is the right ratio of gelatin to dairy. Lisa Donovan uses just enough to set each dessert while maintaining a creamy, luscious texture. Using vanilla bean paste adds beautiful flecks to each panna cotta, but vanilla extract will work well, too.
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Buttermilk Cream

Whole buttermilk adds a cultured tang to classic sweetened whipped cream. A touch of sugar and salt balance the light and airy topping; adjust them to taste. Serve this easy dessert-topper with Lisa Donovan's cast-iron cornmeal cake.
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Cannabis-Infused Citrus-Caramel Blondies

Editor’s Note: This recipe has been modified from the version developed by Sarah Simmons to include cannabutter instead of regular butter. You’ll find the original non-cannabis recipe here. Sarah Simmons came up with these moist, chewy blondies when she was left with extra caramel after an event. The little bit of orange zest is lovely with the sweet-salty caramel. Slideshow: Delicious Dessert Bars
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More Desserts

Coconut Cake Roll with Salted Coconut Chips

When I was a child, my family would go to my paternal grandparents’ humble farmhouse outside Grenada, Mississippi, every Christmas Eve for a celebration with my father’s three siblings and their families. We would eat snacks early in the evening (cocktail weenies in a sauce made from grape jelly and mustard were my grandfather’s favorite), move on to a traditional dinner with turkey and ham as the centerpieces, and then open presents by the fire, where each kid would at some point become momentarily hypnotized by the brilliant hues the flames took on as we tossed in the colorful wrapping paper. Almost as exciting as the exchange of presents, though—and far more pervasive in my memory—was the annual gift of my grandmother’s coconut cake. She’d present it with great aplomb somewhere during the flurry of gift-opening. It was always a three-tiered affair, which she would have stashed away in the extra fridge in the storage room behind the kitchen, so that no one could steal a sneak peek. It was glorious—a towering stack covered in pristine white coconut flakes, with layers so delicate that each slice would fall apart before the serrated knife got through it. Didn’t matter; we all adored it. Her secret to the tender, moist layers was the “poke cake” method: When the cake layers came out of the oven, she poked holes all over them and then spread sweetened condensed milk over the top to soak in. The effect was decadent, rich, and absolutely irresistible. Now that I’m grown up, Christmas gatherings are smaller, nine-person affairs that include my own family of four, my parents, and my brother, his wife, and their son. Towering layer cakes are just a bit too much for our small group, so I’ve created a more manageable homage to my grandmother’s coconut cake. It’s a coconut cake roll, which to me is just as special and oooh- and ahhh-inspiring as the layer cake upon which it’s based. I’m pretty sure my grandmother’s cake included some coconut extract, but my version uses coconut products with no artificial flavors. Mine is also a poke cake, but with sweetened condensed coconut milk (a game-changing ingredient) adding richness to a simple sheet cake with a whiff of nutty essence from coconut water. The frosting includes a combination of butter and coconut cream, and lightly salted toasted coconut chips are pressed in for a gorgeous finish and equally beautiful taste. It took me several tries to nail the texture and flavor that I remember from my childhood, but when I made this final version, I knew I had it right. One bite brought back a flurry of Christmas Eve memories—the letter board my brother got one year, my fancy fur hat and patent leather hat box, and Grandmama, every bit as stately as her cake and beaming with pride at what she’d made.
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Bimuelos with Apple-Rose Syrup

I grew up eating potato latkes on Hanukkah and was later introduced (quite happily) to sufganiyot—the jelly-filled Hanukkah doughnuts brought to Israel by Polish-Jewish immigrants. Sufganiyot have become something of an obsession there, spilling out of bakery display windows in the weeks around the holidays. But there is another, lesser-known Hanukkah treat called bimuelos, which I think deserve equal adulation. Bimuelos stem from Sephardi cuisine, meaning the Jewish foods that originated in Spain and Portugal. The word (also sometimes spelled bunuelos) is a catchall term for a variety of fried goodies. But for Sephardi Jews, they typically refer to these sweet and rustic little fritters that are akin in size to doughnut holes. On Hanukkah, people traditionally eat fried foods to honor the holiday’s miracle of lights. As the story goes, when a small Judean army called the Maccabees recaptured the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from the ancient Greeks, they found the space in disarray with only enough olive oil to light the Temple’s great menorah for one night. Miraculously, however, the oil lasted for eight nights. Eight nights of light then equals eight nights of fried deliciousness today. Like latkes and sufganiyot, bimuelos are fried. The nuggets of yeasted dough puff up in the oil and emerge light and airy with a hint of crackle as you bite into them. They are traditionally served either sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar or drizzled with a simple sugar syrup, which is the hallmark of so many Sephardi and Middle Eastern desserts. In this version I add a little cinnamon to the dough itself and use apple cider as the base of the syrup. As the cider reduces on the stove it grows fragrant and syrupy, and then, to gild the lily, I splash a bit of rose water into the syrup. The floral notes are subtle but powerful, transforming the Hanukkah doughnut from ordinary to extraordinary. Tips for bimuelo success: If you deep fry foods with any regularity (really even once or twice a year), go ahead and invest in a deep-fry thermometer. Most cost under $20 and ensure that the oil is just the right temperature to sizzle without scorching.   Simple syrup absorbs best into baked goods when one part of the equation is cool and the other is hot. Since the bimuelos should be eaten as soon as possible after frying, make sure the syrup has had time to cool or chill before starting to fry.
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Champagne Jellies

Justin Chapple makes these Champagne jellies on New Year's Eve, but they're festive enough for any time of the year. After all, when is a bad time for a little Champagne?