Desserts Required was recently featured in a a PB Post article that Liz Balmaseda wrote. Here is the complete article. A link to the online article can be found at the bottom of this blog post.
By Liz Balmaseda, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
But only after she first looks back.
“To me, the New Year is about retrospection. It’s a time for reflection about where I’m at, where my family is at. It’s a more inward time than the January 1 New Year,” says Cohen, at her Palm Beach Gardens home one afternoon last week.
She stands amid the heady aromas rising from her oven, where one of her favorite apple confections bakes to a golden finish in a large springform pan. This is her cookie-baked apple pie, a dessert that’s as much of a cake as it is a pie as it is a giant filled butter cookie. It’s a double-crusted beauty filled with chunks of fresh Golden Delicious apples.
Cohen has no fewer than 54 photos of this cake/pie/cookie and its assembly process on DessertsRequired.com, the blog she started about 10 months ago from her fragrant kitchen.
It’s comfort dishes like this, tried and true and delicious, that best reflect the way she loves to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.
This time of the year brings back vivid memories of her Cleveland childhood and Sunday school lessons about the holiday’s cherished symbols.
“I remember we’d cut up apples and dip them into honey. Seeing the bright red apples dipped into the golden color of the honey is an image that’s always stayed with me,” says Cohen, who moved to Palm Beach County 29 years ago.
This year, as most, she’ll host the break-fast meal after Yom Kippur, putting out a spread that will likely include “overnight” French toast and that buttery apple cookie-pie.
For New Year’s dinner, she and family will join friends for traditional favorites. She’s a big fan of exotic chicken dishes, like the sweet-savory Chicken Marbella recipe (with prunes, olives and a hint of oregano) from one of her favorite Silver Palate cookbooks, or Ina Garten’s cheesy spinach gratin, or the creamy cauliflower custard she found in a 1957 cookbook.
There are so many recipes to consider now, at year’s end. What the final menus will look like depend on the kitchen muses. But one thing will remain the same: the soulful moment when all are asked to recall their favorite Rosh Hashanah memory.
“Whether they’re young or 90 years old, they each have something special to say,” says Cohen, whose family worships at Beth David, a Conservative synagogue in Palm Beach Gardens.
The blogger looks ahead to a delicious year of baking. With her two older sons – Joshua, 21, and Nathaniel, 20 – in college, she’ll share her kitchen with 17-year-old daughter Shoshana, who bakes yummy cupcakes and “makes the best omelets I’ve ever tasted,” and 6-year-old son Samuel.
As for her fifth child, the blog, it has grown into a repository of baking snapshots, family stories and, of course, recipes. And with every computer tip from her daughter and tidbit from friends and family, the blog has prepared her beautifully for the New Year.
“A year ago, I didn’t even know what a blog was. When I asked about it, it sounded like something I might want to try. So I did,” says Cohen, who worked with a web designer in Israel to get the blog up and running. “I do post a lot of baking photos. I found it’s not so hard to do. And I love it.”
Cooked Baked Apple Pie
Recipe adapted from Nick Malgieri’s Perfect Pastry: Create Fantastic Desserts by Mastering the Basic Techniques.
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves: 10 to 12
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 golden delicious apples
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of ¼ of a lemon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2½ cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 egg yolk, beaten
1. You will need one 10” springform pan plus the bottom of a second 10” springform pan or a 10” cake round (that will be used to shape and transfer the top crust.)
2. Butter the 10” springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the paper. Set aside.
3. For the filling:
4. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan. Peel and core the apples and slice in large wedges (there will be 8 wedges per apple). Sauté the apples, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon over medium heat, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring periodically. Uncover and continue to cook the apples until they are soft and the juices in the pan have evaporated. Cool completely.
5. Preheat the oven to 350°. Adjust the rack to the lowest level.
For the crust:
1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl once. Add the egg yolks and beat until well blended. Mix in the vanilla. Add 2½ cups flour and mix on low speed until all of the flour is mixed in. Do not overbeat.
2. Take one half of the dough and form a large disk (about 8” in diameter). Place this in the bottom of the parchment-lined springform pan. Push the dough evenly in the pan so that it covers the bottom and goes up the side 1¼ ”.
3. Your hands will be buttery at this point. Wipe one of your hands over the bottom of the extra springform bottom then dust 2 tablespoons of flour over it. The grease from the butter will keep the flour where you need it.
4. Take the second half of the dough and form a disk almost the size of the springform bottom. Place it on the springform bottom and push it evenly out to the edge. Set aside.
5. Spoon the filling onto the bottom crust and spread evenly around.
6. Using a large metal spatula to guide the dough, transfer the top half of the dough onto the cake. It will slide off so be sure to do this over the cake and move your arm back so that the crust can be placed evenly on the cake. Pinch the sides down so that the seam is sealed.
7. Brush the top of the cake with the egg yolk. You may take a fork and score it if you like (like a plaid look). Place the springform on a piece of aluminum foil and bake on the lowest rack of the oven at 350° for 50 minutes. Check to be sure that the top is not getting too dark. If it is, cover lightly with a piece of aluminum foil. Remove after 50 minutes and cool on a cooling rack.
To serve: Once you have unlatched the springform pan, take a small metal spatula and put it between the cake and the side of the pan to make sure that none of the cake sticks. Release the side completely. To remove the bottom of the springform, cover a 10” cardboard round with plastic wrap. Place this over the top of the cake and gently turn it over. Take off the bottom of the pan and remove the piece of parchment paper. Turn back onto a cakeboard round or serving plate.
Betsy Cohen’s kitchen notes:
“This pie is incredible warmed with or without ice cream, which is why I prefer to place the Cookie Baked Apple Pie on a cakeboard round vs. serving plate. When I make this early in the day and want to serve it warm for dessert, I place the cardboard round in the oven I have used to cook dinner once the oven is turned off. Five to ten minutes later, I have a warm, delicious cake for my family and friends. As many serving plates are not meant for the oven, the cardboard round is the best option. Once the Cookie Baked Apple Pie comes out of the warmed oven, I place the cardboard round onto a serving plate.
“The apple filling may be made a day ahead and refrigerated overnight. Cool before transferring the filling to a bowl and then place plastic wrap directly on top of the filling to prevent moisture from setting in.
“The pie freezes beautifully.”