What Diet? 4 Decadent Dessert Recipes From NYC Pastry Masters

It's almost New Year's Eve and diets, diets, diets, blah, blah, blah—we get it. For most, the season is about getting in shape, and hey, we take part in it, too. But for just a moment, let's remember how cold it is outside, and how nice it feels to cut into something sweet and warm. So, to aid in your sugary indulgence (you know you were going to anyway), we're bringing you four decadent dessert recipes straight from NYC's best. Serve up the Dulce de Leche-filled donuts at your next seasonal gathering or bring the Salty Turtle Tarte to your friend's for Christmas Eve. Need a family bonding activity? Look no further than spending time together, mastering the French Buche de Noel. Trying to spice up a date? Expand your palate with a perfect Persimmon Pudding. Our rule? When you make it, you earn it.
Click through for four ridiculously delicious reasons to go mmm, mmm, good.
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The Salty Turtle Tart

I 8 NY ,Jonathan Meyer and Will Griffin

A beloved staple of the Brooklyn Flea, I 8 NY, a product of dynamic duo of two West Coast kitchen renegades, Jonathan Meyer and Will Griffin, has been serving up tasty sandwiches, swoon worthy sweets, and refreshing sides since June 2011.

According to Jonathan and Will, "this is our take on trail mix. We're both from the West Coast. We grew up on trail mix and granola and only later discovered 'European' food. Now we reach back to the flavors of where we come from and try to spin them in a new way. It's spicy, salty, sweet, and delicious."

While they're on hiatus from the Brooklyn Flea, check out their website, I8NYfood.com for a list of upcoming winter dinners that are not to be missed.

To make the crust:

*1 cup flour

*1 tablespoon sugar

*1 tablespoon water

*8 tablespoons butter

*½ teaspoon salt

*½ teaspoon lemon zest

*¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and work into dry mixture with your fingers until uniformly crumbled. Add water and vanilla extract, mix until a ball is formed. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. When chilled, pull dough from refrigerator, roll out to a uniform thickness of 1/8 inch and press into a removable-bottom fluted tart pan. Chill for 1-2 hours, then bake at 375°F for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

To make the caramel:

*1 1⁄2 cups sugar

*3 tablespoons light corn syrup

*1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt

*6 tablespoons unsalted butter

*7 tablespoons cream

*6 tablespoons ginger juice

To Garnish:

*1 cup roasted, salted almonds (use the Marcona variety if you can get your hands on them)

In a medium sized saucepan (pick one with a little extra room), combine salt, sugar, corn syrup and ginger juice and slowly heat the mixture. Do not disturb the mixture during this process as you may compromise the caramel. Heat until a candy thermometer reads 340°F. At this point, remove the caramel from the heat and whisk in the cream and butter. Careful, at this stage as the mixture with bubble up. Immediately afterwards, throw the almonds into the caramel and carefully pour into your chilled tart shell. Refrigerate until set, 1-2 hours.

3. Add the ginger: Once caramel has set, sprinkle an even layer of diced crystallized ginger on top.

4. Make the ganache: Heat 8oz of heavy cream to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Pour the hot cream over 8oz of dark chocolate (70% cocoa) chopped into small chunks. Let sit for 1 minute and stir to form a smooth mixture. Pour ganache over chilled caramel layer. Smooth surface of tart with a spatula. Let cool in refrigerator until firm.

To serve:

Use a hot knife to cut slices of chilled tart. Serve with pieces of candied ginger, toasted almonds, a sprinkle of coarse sea salt, and chunks of dark chocolate.

Photo: Courtesy of Katherine Wells
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Dulce de Leche Sufganiyot
(Mexican Donuts with Dulce de Leche Filling)

From Toloache Restaurant's Chef Julian Medina

Chef Julian Medina of Toloache Restaurant revamps the donut with this upscale dulce de leche confection that will make its jelly- filled relative want to change its identity forever. These elegant, fluffy yet crispy pillows of donut bliss ooze with rich caramel the minute they dance out of the fryer.

Makes 24 Donuts

To make the dulce de leche filling:

*3 cans of evaporated milk

1. Fill a large pot with water halfway and bring to a hard boil.

2. Place the three unopened cans of evaporated milk in the boiling water; allow water to continue on a hard boil for 3 hours.

3. After three hours, remove cans from the water. Open the cans and pour the dulce de leche into a pastry bag with a small tip. Keep dulce de leche at room temperature until ready to use.

To make the donuts:

*8 ounces all purpose flour

*1 1/2 tablespoon powdered milk

*1 1/2 tablespoon dry yeast

*1 teaspoon salt

*1 ounce shortening

*1 egg

*2 ounces sugar

*7 ounces water

*1 quart vegetable oil

1. Combine flour, dry milk, salt, shortening, eggs, and sugar in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the water and stir until the mixture thickens to form the dough.

2. Gently shape dough by hand into one-inch balls.

3. Pour the vegetable oil in a large pot and bring to a medium-low boil. Drop the balls of dough into the vegetable oil and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. When the donuts are ready, take them out of the oil and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

To assemble and serve:

1. With a pairing knife, make an incision into the center of each donut. Fill each donut with the Dulce de Leche using the pastry bag.

2. Place 2 donuts per plate and sprinkle with Confectionary Sugar.

Photo: Courtesy of Toloache
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Persimmon Pudding with Quark, Dried Plums, and Candied Kumquats

From Craft Restaurant's Pastry Chef, Jenny McCoy

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Wipe that whole, "visions of sugar plums" from your holiday rhetoric, and write in persimmons. Trust us. Craft Restaurant's head pastry chef, Jenny McCoy, is spreading the holiday cheer with this knock-out recipe for persimmon pudding. In short, a revamp of the merry season's best flavors, hitting the sweet spots that have been missing from your holiday dessert table.

To make the persimmon pudding:

*4 ripe Fuyu persimmons

*¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons brandy

*1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*2 large eggs

*1 ¾ cups granulated sugar

*2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

*4 teaspoons baking soda

*2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

*½ teaspoons fine sea salt

*¾ cup whole milk

*12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted

*1 ¾ cups (14 ounces) quark

*1 recipe Dried Plums and Candied Kumquats (see below)

1. Position a rack in the bottom third of oven and preheat to 325F. Lightly grease eight 4”x2 ½” mini loaf pans (or one 9”x5” loaf pan) with non-stick cooking spray; place in a 9”x13” baking dish.

2. Slice tops from 5 persimmons, discard, and roughly chop fruit into 1-inch pieces. Puree chopped persimmon in blender with brandy and vanilla extract on high speed until completely smooth. Transfer puree to a large bowl and whisk in eggs and sugar until evenly combined. Slowly whisk in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add milk, little by little, whisking constantly until smooth. Finish with melted butter, whisking until evenly combined.

3. Divide mixture into prepared pans, filling about three-quarters full, and tightly cover with aluminum foil. Fill baking dish with approximately ¾-inch of water, cover tightly with another sheet of aluminum foil, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, rotating pan halfway throughout the baking time.

4. Remove from oven and carefully remove aluminum foil from baking dish, taking care to avoid steam. Remove aluminum foil from pans—cake should be set and spring back to the touch. Let cool in water bath until room temperature. Invert cake onto serving platter, lightly cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 6 hours to overnight.

5. When ready to serve, stir quark to soften and spread over tops of cakes. Decoratively spoon Dried Plums and Candied Kumquats over top, spoon plum poaching liquid around cake, and serve immediately.

To make the dried plums and candied kumquats:

*1 cup dried plums, quartered

*¾ cup port

*1 ¼ cup granulated sugar, divided

*1 cinnamon stick

*4 star anise

*½ teaspoon ground vanilla bean

*¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

*Pinch freshly ground black pepper

*1 cup kumquats, cut in half and seeded

1. In a small pot, combine plums, port, ¼ cup sugar, cinnamon, star anise, vanilla, salt, and pepper. Simmer over low heat until plums soften and liquid thickens, about 12 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and star anise, drain excess liquid from fruit into a small bowl, and set both aside to cool.

2. In another small pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the kumquats, return to a boil, and blanch for one minute; drain, discarding water. Repeat this step one more time. Then, bring remaining cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil, add twice-blanched kumquats and reduce heat to a simmer. Let cook until fruit begins to look a bit translucent. Remove from heat and let cool in syrup. Drain excess liquid from fruit and discard.

3. Just before serving, gently toss plums and kumquats to evenly combine.

Photo: Courtesy of Craft
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Buche de Noel

Benoit Restaurant, Pastry Chef Jerome Husson

Don't tell us. The last time you attempted at making a buche de noel yule log, it tasted so horrible, you might as well have thrown it in the fire. You're not alone. This holiday season, sweeten the deal and follow Jerome Husson's, head pastry chef to Alain Ducasse’s French bistro, Benoit, step-by-step recipe to create the perfect buche de noel that's so rich and delicious, you'll have a hard time stepping away from that chocolate mousse.

Please note: Start making the cake at least two days in advance. A büche mold is used here, 50cm long or 20” x 3”(6 cups volume).

To make the vanilla mousse:

*1¼ cup heavy cream

*1 tablespoon granulated sugar

*1 vanilla pod

*1 gelatin sheet

*1/4 cups (2oz) white chocolate pistols (or chopped)

1. Soften the gelatin sheet in cold water. Cut the vanilla bean in half. Bring the cream, sugar, and scraped vanilla bean to a boil.

2. Squeeze out the excess water from the softened gelatin and incorporate it into the hot cream. Pour the cream mixture into a fine mesh strainer over the white chocolate. Mix together with a spatula until it becomes homogenous.

3. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap and let the mixture set in the fridge for 24 hours before usage.

4. Once set, place the mixture in a stand mixer and whisk until it becomes a firm consistency. Do not over mix.

To make the chocolate mousse:

2 ¾ cups (4 ½ oz) dark chocolate (64%) pistols (or chopped)

2 cups heavy cream

½ cup water

6 fresh egg yolks

1 tablespoon glucose syrup (or light corn syrup)

¾ cup milk powder, fat free

1. Whip the cream into stiff peaks. Melt the chocolate and be sure to keep it warm.

2. Set up a double boiler to a medium boil to prepare the sabayon: put water, yolks, glucose and milk powder in a bowl. Whisk constantly over boiling water until mixture thickens and reaches 180ºF.

3. Pour into a stand mixer and whisk until it has risen and cooled. The mixture must become pale and frothy. Incorporate 1/3 of the whipped cream in the melted chocolate to make a ganache. The ganache must be smooth and homogeneous and reach 100ºF. When the ganache is ready, incorporate the sabayon. Then add the remaining whipped cream.

To make the chocolate glaze:

*1½ cup water

*1¾ cup granulated sugar

*1 cup heavy cream

*1 cup cocoa powder

*16 gelatin sheets

1. Soften the gelatin sheet in cold water.

2. In a saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Add the cream and continue at a medium boil for 2 minutes. Whisk in the cocoa powder and continue to boil for 2 minutes.

3. Squeeze out the gelatin sheets, removing excess water. Remove the cream mixture from the flame and add the softened gelatin sheets. Pour through a fine meshed strainer into a bowl. Keep mixture in the fridge until it is ready to be used. Warm to a liquid consistency over a double boiler or briefly in the microwave before glazing the büche.

To make the almond dacquoise:

*2 ¼ cup almond flour

*2 ½ cup confectionary sugar

*8 egg whites, fresh

*1 cup granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 ºF and set rack in the middle of the oven.

2. Whip the egg whites, adding the granulated sugar until it forms medium peaks, creating a meringue. Do not over whip.

3. In a separate bowl, sift confectionary sugar with the almond powder. Delicately incorporate the sifted powders into the meringue.

4. Spray a 24” x 16” sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Evenly spread mixture onto the sheet pan and place in the oven. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until slightly golden. Invert the almond dacquoise on a cooling rack. Make sure it is cool before assembling the büche.

To assemble:

There will be six layers in the assembly. You will be cutting the dacquoise sheet according to the büche mold dimensions. Chef Jerome Husson uses a 20”x3” mold (6 cups). If you decide to use a slightly smaller one, cut the dacquoise to the smaller dimensions and use less of the chocolate and vanilla mousse.

1. The first layer will be the almond dacquoise, flush against the inside of the büche mold.

2. Create the second layer using a third of the chocolate mousse. Spread the mousse along the bottom of the cake lined mold.

3. On top of the chocolate mousse layer, make the third layer using all the vanilla mousse.

4. For the fourth layer, cut a strip from the remaining almond dacquoise. The width and the length of the strip will be the inside of the current layer. Lay this flat on top of the vanilla mousse layer.

5. For the fifth layer, spread remaining chocolate mousse on top of the dacquoise layer.

6. For the sixth and final layer, cut another strip of the remaining dacquoise to finish the büche. Set aside in a freezer for twenty-four hours.

7. Put the mold under warm water to more easily remove from the mold. Be careful to not wet the büche.

8. Carefully invert on a rack.

9. Pour the warm chocolate glaze over the cake.

10. Decorate as you wish. At Benoit, Chef Jerome Husson uses silver dragée, 24-karat gold leaf, chocolate truffles and chocolate fans.

Photo: Courtesy of Benoit

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