After seasoning a lamb dish spectacularly, my leftover ras el hanout had been languishing forlornly in my pantry.
Remnants of this aromatic and punchy Moroccan spice blend were badly in need of a purpose and home.
Thankfully, the ideal one arrived in the form of “Chewy Ginger Spice Cookies with Ras El Hanout.”
Ras El Hanout is Arabic for “top shelf.” Like liquor at a bar, it connotes the best a mixologist or spice shop owner has to offer.
It’s a blend that can consist of more than a dozen spices, including cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, coriander, peppercorns, paprika, fenugreek, turmeric, fennel seeds, aniseed, and galangal.
I’ve always associated it with savory cooking. But this clever cookie recipe demonstrates just how well it takes to sweet preparations, as well.
Anyone who knows me well knows that pumpkin pie just isn’t my jam on Thanksgiving Day.
But “Cranberry Linzer Tart,” which actually has a jam-like filling most certainly is.
Over the years, I’ve become partial to cranberry desserts for the big holiday. With their vivid color, the berries add an especially festive look. And after a groaning meal, their wonderful tartness refreshes and resets the palate like nothing else.
This recipe is from the archives of Bon Appetit magazine. It was created by food writer Claire Saffitz, author of the cookbook, “Dessert Person” (Clarkson Potter, 2020), and a former contributing editor at the magazine.
As far as pies and tarts go, this one is fairly easy to do. Best yet, you can make not only the dough and filling ahead of time — always a plus when time is short during the holidays — but the entire tart can be baked the day before, then served at room temperature or reheated in the oven for serving.
When I wed years ago, the dress, the setting, and the food were of utmost importance, of course.
But what was absolutely paramount was the cake.
After all, with my enormous sweet tooth known far and wide, my family and friends fully expected a wedding cake to remember.
I am happy to report they were not disappointed in the least.
Just how unforgettable was this moist almond cake adorned with the silkiest Italian meringue? With nary an ounce of shame, many of the guests will attest that they indulged in not one, not two, but even three slices that evening.
Leftover cake? I was lucky to claim just the top tier as my own. Every other piece was devoured.
And if you think I tucked that top away for a year to languish in my freezer, forget about it. I took it to my parents’ house the very next day, where my family, new husband, and I demolished it with gusto. Moreover, when Mother’s Day rolled around the next year, I had the baker who made it recreate it in a smaller size to give to my mom because that’s just how good it is.
One for the ages, if there ever was one, this cake was made by professional baker Nancy Kux, who used to own Nancy’s Fancies in San Carlos. I had sampled quite a few cakes from other bakers. But none had us scraping the box for every last crumb and lick of frosting like hers did.
This is not a light, fluffy, airy cake, but one that has a little more heft to it. It is buttery, tender, and full of almond flavor. It stays moist for quite a while, too, whether you store it in the fridge for a couple of days or freeze for a couple of months. As one wedding guest swooned about its Italian meringue buttercream: “This is better than whipped cream!” Indeed, it is. When enjoyed at room temperature, it softens like butter on the tongue, leaving behind a caress of sweetness.