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Indulgent Desserts

Dining

Reflections magazine: What’s your training in desserts and pastries?

Jennifer Buethe: I have no formal training in desserts or pastry. At my first job, the pastry chef was pregnant and getting ready to go on maternity leave—and so someone had to take over the desserts. I was volunteered and did a horrible job in the beginning. I burned a lot of cakes, overcooked a lot of anglaise and ruined multiple batches of tiramisu. She taught me to bake by look, touch, taste and to not always blindly follow recipes. And that made all the difference—not only was I successful with her recipes—but it made it possible for me to create new recipes.

RM: What desserts do you find underrated?

JB: It’s hard to say. Everyone has favorite desserts, or comfort desserts—it’s all about personal preference. I love trying new things. But not everyone is as adventurous, so you need to keep around a couple old favorites for everyone. But that’s not to say you can’t do your own spin on them. 

RM: What’s the most important thing to think about when creating a good dessert?

JB: When coming up with a new dessert, balance in texture and flavor is the most important thing. I like intense flavors, so building and layering flavors as well as pairing complementary flavors together is the fun part. To make it a successful dessert, you also have to have multiple textures so that is stays interesting.

RM: What are your favorite wines, beers or cocktails to pair with sweets? 

JB: When we work on the winemaker dinners, I enjoy pairing all the courses, but pairing the desserts is the most challenging. Sweets can easily overpower the flavor of a wine. So you really have to match the dessert to the fruits you taste in the wines. Beers are a lot easier to pair desserts with because beer in general is more food friendly. As for cocktails, they are a dessert in themselves, so I don’t try and match them.

Lemon Curd

Buethe was sweet enough to share one of her coveted dessert recipes. She chose the Lemon Curd because it is easy enough for even culinary novices and tasty enough to be a real crowd-pleaser. 

Ingredients:

• Sugar, 3 cups

• Cornstarch, 1/3 cup

• Water, 1 ½ cups

• Salt, ¼ teaspoon

• Lemon juice, 3 ¾ cups

• Egg yolks, 1 cup

• Lemon zest, 1 teaspoon

• Butter, ¼ pound

Procedure:

• In a saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch together. 

• Add water, salt, lemon juice to the sugar mixture. 

• Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring the whole time. 

• Reduce the heat. Slowly whisk the yolks into the hot liquid. 

• Bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring the whole time. 

• Turn off the heat, and whisk in the lemon zest and butter. 

• Cool completely before serving. Serve with fresh berries and whipped cream.  

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