Baked Lady Apples

A true classic, this beautiful dessert is lovely topped with crème fraîche.

Ingredients:
4 Lady apples
½ cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 cup boiling water

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Rinse and dry the apples. Using a sharp paring knife or apple corer, cut out the cores, leaving the bottom ½-inch of the apples intact. (If using a paring knife, first cut out the stem area and then use a small metal spoon to scoop out the seeds). Cut the holes so that they are an inch or so wide.

2. Place the apples in a baking dish and stuff each apple with 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle each with cinnamon.

3. Pour the boiling water into the bottom of the baking dish. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the apples are cooked through and tender, but not overcooked and mushy. When done, remove the apples from the oven and baste them with the juices from the pan. Serve with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream or crème fraîche.

Lemon-Olive Oil Custard

Ready in 10 minutes, this thick, creamy custard makes for a stunningly-simple dessert.

Ingredients:
3 eggs, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup high-quality olive oil

Method:
1. Place all ingredients except for the olive oil in a blender or food processor.

2. Turn the blender on to its highest setting and process for 4 minutes. While continuing to run on high speed, pour in the olive oil and blend well.

3. Transfer mixture to a double boiler (or bowl set over gently-simmering water in a pot) on the stove top, and stir until custard begins to thicken, about 4-5 minutes.

4. Custard can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for longer storage; try it topped with a dusting of powdered sugar and additional lemon zest, or served alongside fresh sugar cookies.

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Prosecco-Poached Pears

This simple poaching method produces a beautifully-light dessert.

Ingredients:
4 Bosc pears
2 cups prosecco
½ cup honey
1 ½ cups water
Pinch of salt

Method:
1. Peel pears (optional); cut each in half lengthwise and remove cores (a melon baller works well for this).
2. In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a simmer. Add the pear halves, and gently poach the pears until they are just tender. Remove pears to a shallow pan. Reduce the poaching liquid under medium high heat until it is a syrup, and then drizzle over the pears.* You can serve the pears immediately while still warm with a scoop of ice cream and their syrup, or they can also be served at room temperature with a small cookie and a dollop of crème fraîche.

* The pears can also be refrigerated at this point. To serve, the pears can be reheated in their syrup, or served chilled.

Persimmon Cake

Persimmon Cake
This homey, warm spice cake is fragrant with nutmeg, ginger and ripe persimmon.

Ingredients:
1 cup persimmon purée*
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup apple juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon each of nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cloves and cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

*To make persimmon purée, make sure to use only very ripe persimmons (they are the texture of an overripe tomato; dark spots are okay). Peel the skin off the persimmons, remove any seeds, and purée in a food processor or blender.

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease baking pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together persimmon purée, sugar, and vegetable oil until uniform. Mix in the eggs, vanilla extract, and apple juice. Gradually add the baking powder, spices, and salt. Fold in the flour until just incorporated.

3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar

Persimmon Cake
This homey, warm spice cake is fragrant with nutmeg, ginger and ripe persimmon.

Ingredients:
1 cup persimmon purée*
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup apple juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon each of nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cloves and cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

*To make persimmon purée, make sure to use only very ripe persimmons (they are the texture of an overripe tomato; dark spots are okay). Peel the skin off the persimmons, remove any seeds, and purée in a food processor or blender.

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease baking pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together persimmon purée, sugar, and vegetable oil until uniform. Mix in the eggs, vanilla extract, and apple juice. Gradually add the baking powder, spices, and salt. Fold in the flour until just incorporated.

3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar before serving.

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