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Butterscotch, lemon are flavor stars
If you can't make up your mind whether you prefer butterscotch or lemon as you contemplate a baking project, take advantage of two new books and organize multiple samplings for yourself and a tasting panel.
"The Butterscotch Lover's Cookbook" by Diana Dalsass (Buttercup Press, $17.95 paperback) features about 60 recipes, glowing color photos and a mail-order source guide.
Dalsass, she tells us in her introduction, was challenged to do a butterscotch cookbook by being reminded of legions of people who love butterscotch and whose needs weren't being met. As much as she loved the flavor, she doubted there would be enough recipes. She proved herself wrong.
She researched this "rather amazing food that tastes far more wonderful than the sum of its parts," although surprisingly it is made of only two primary ingredients, butter and brown sugar.
Cooking advice based on her research is included in the book along with recipes such as this easy one for butterscotch pudding.
"Once you try this homemade version, you may never be able to eat pudding from a boxed mix again. This is smooth and creamy, with a wonderful butterscotch flavor," she says.
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons crushed butterscotch candy
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a medium saucepan, stir together the brown sugar and cornstarch, breaking up any lumps with the back of the spoon. Add about 1/2 cup of milk and stir to dissolve the sugar and cornstarch. Add the remaining milk, butter, and butterscotch candy.
Cook the mixture over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches a full boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour the pudding into a serving dish or 4 individual dessert bowls. Chill before serving.
Makes 4 servings.
"Lemon sweets are the divas of desserts," Lori Longbotham writes in the introduction to "Luscious Lemon Desserts" (Chronicle, $19.95). They sing and dance on the palate, she explains.
Lemons, she says, "work wonders in savory dishes, but they truly shine in desserts." She's collected about 70 recipes so that you can "turn that notorious old sourpuss, the lemon, into the sweetest thing you've ever tasted."
The book opens with cooking advice and tips, and then come the recipes -- among them "the perfect lemon tart." Besides being perfect, Longbotham says, it's also really easy to make.
"After prebaking the crust, look for any cracks that the filling could seep through. Make a paste with about 1 teaspoon of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of water, and smear it over the cracks with your fingers to seal them."
The recipe uses about 4 lemons.
The Perfect Lemon Tart
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 pinches of salt
6 large eggs
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Have ready an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the zest, and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk together the flour, 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Pour in the butter mixture in a fine stream, stirring with a fork, and continue stirring until the dough begins to come together when a small bit is pressed between your fingers. Transfer the mixture to the tart pan and press it with your fingertips evenly up the side and into the bottom. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is light golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack while making the filling.
Process the remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar and the remaining 1 tablespoon of zest in a food processor until the zest is finely ground.
Whisk together the eggs, the sugar and zest mixture, the lemon juice and another pinch of salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
Beat the cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed in a medium bowl just until it forms soft peaks. Whisk the cream into the egg mixture just until blended.
Place a baking sheet in the oven, place the crust on the baking sheet, and pour the filling into the still warm crust. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is just set in the center. Let the pie cool on a wire rack.
Just before serving, generously sift confectioners' sugar over the tart. Cut into wedges and serve.
Makes 10 servings.