Emily Luchetti
Author Four-Star Desserts
(HarperCollins), San Francisco, CA

For family holidays we often have two desserts -- one chocolate and one whatever else we are in the mood for. Our favorite chocolate desserts are Famous Chocolate Wafers layered with Whipped Cream and Chocolate Pound Cake with Ice Cream and Warm Caramel Sauce (see recipe). A non-chocolate favorite is Autumn Harvest Tart (see recipe).

Autumn Harvest Tart

Serves 6 to 8

Streusel Topping

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Fruit Filling
  • 1 apple
  • 1 small orange
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 prebaked 9 1/2 inch tart shell

Streusel Topping

In a food processor, combine the butter, granulated and dark brown sugars, flour, and cinnamon. Using quick on-off turns, process the mixture until the butter is the size of small pease. Refrigerate until card.

Fruit Filling

Peel, core, chop the apple into 1/4-inch pieces. Halve the orange and lemon and remove the ends and seeds. Chop the pulp and skin into 1/4-inch pieces.

In a medium saucepan combine the chopped apple, orange, and lemon with the apricots, currants, golden raisins, brandy, sugar, and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the fruit is soft and the liquid is absorbed about 15 minutes. cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the fruit in the pre-baked tart shell. Sprinkle the reserved streusel over the fruit. Bake until the streusel is browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve the tart warm or at room temperature.

Ahead-of-time notes: The streusel and the fruit filling can be made a day in advance and refrigerated. The tart should be assembled, baked and eaten on the same day.

Chocolate Hazelnut Poundcake with Warm Caramel Sauce

(Serves 10)

Chocolate Hazelnut Poundcake

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) soft sweet butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 ounces hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and
  • coarsely chopped
  • A 9-inch bundt pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Butter the bundt pan.

Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Put the butter and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. With the paddle attachment, cream on medium high speed for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Continuing to mix, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Add the vanilla extract.

Combine the buttermilk and the water. Fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk mixture. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes. A skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean.

Cook the cake and then invert to unmold it.

Warm Caramel Sauce

Yields 4 cups

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

Combine the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Dissolve the sugar in the water over low heat. Increase the heat to high and cook until the caramel is a golden amber color.

Remove the caramel from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream, a few tablespoons at a time. Be very careful, as the mixture with bubble as you add the cream.

Serve the sauce warm or refrigerator for later use.

This will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. To reheat, warm over a double boiler.

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION: Exercise and only eat desserts that taste great and are worth every calorie.

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