Well, the hands are on the mend (and THANK GOD, seriously) which means that next week I am going to be able to post some of my own work again – hooray!

But since it’s Friday, I am going to share one of my new favorite things- this cookbook. New Flavors For Desserts (authored by Raquel Pelzel, published by Williams-Sonoma) was given to me for Christmas by my mom, who knows how I love to bake.Which is to say, adjusting classics to give them a something extra and unexpected. So, it was really cool to receive this book full of inspiration, not to mention delicious desserts. They are even arranged according to season, which is perfect. That said, my other thought involving this book was, I need to step up my game.

Anyway, I have only just made my first dessert from New Flavors – the goat cheese lemon cheesecake. It was fantastic. The crust is made from almond biscotti (or in my case, almonds, vanilla wafers and almond extract) and is filled by a mixture of neufchatel cheese, chevre and sour cream which is, itself, topped with lemon curd. So rich you can only eat a slice a little bigger than your pinky finger. This cake prompted one of my friends to say, “Will you move in with me? No really, you could just move in and make this all the time.” When I make it again someday, I will be sure to use a chevre with a stronger flavor. I had gotten a commercial one, thinking it would be a little cheaper with the quantity I needed. Then I realized that 1/4 lb isnt really as much as it sounds (it’s only 4 oz, after all) and I should have just gotten the really good local stuff.

Because the cheesecake recipe is really long, I am going to share instead the recipe pictured on the cover, which I haven’t tried yet, but couldn’t possibly be bad. Regardless, this book is worth finding at your local book store or library. I mean, rosemary pound cake with port-soaked dried fruits? Raspberry Earl Grey tart? Passion fruit cupcakes with coconut frosting? Apricot and almond galette? Mmm-hmm! So, without further ado…


1/3 c sliced almonds
3 firm Bosc pears
1/3 c honey
4 fresh bay leaves
3 tbsp, cut into 6 pieces, butter
2 tbsp amaretto
1 1/2 c Greek-style plain yogurt

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant and lightly browned, 5-6 minutes. Pour onto a plate to cool. Leave the oven on.

Halve the pears lengthwise. Cut out the fibrous sections connecting the stems to the cores, then trim off the stems. Using a melon baller, scoop out the cores.

In a Dutch oven, combine the honey and bay leaves and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the honey is fragrant and turns a rich amber color, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place the butter pieces in the pot with the honey, spacing them evenly. Using tongs, carefully place a pear half, cut side down on top of each piece of butter. [And here it occurs to me that Pelzel’s Dutch oven is much, much bigger than mine.] Cover the pot and roast the pears in the oven for 10 minutes. using a long-handled spoon, gently turn the pears over and baste with the honey mixture. Drizzle the pears with the amaretto and continue to roast, uncovered, until golden brown and a paring knife slips easily into the centers, 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the pears cool slightly in the honey mixture, about 30 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk the yogurt until smooth. To serve, place each pear half in a bowl, dollop with yogurt and sprinkle with toasted almonds. Drizzle with some honey mixture from the pot and serve right away.