Sweet tooth need a fix Try an elegant dessert

Whether it’s apples and honey for a sweet New Year, tossing candy at the b’nai mitzvah boy or girl on the bimah, European grandparents who sipped tea through a sugar cube or incorporating fruit and brown sugar into our savory dishes, Jews find many different ways to integrate sweets into most every facet of our lives.

These days, with healthy eating habits on everyone’s mind, a dessert party is even more of a celebration — and what better way to do so than by baking for happy occasions? Desserts can be displayed elegantly on a linen-laid table with crystal and candelabra, or equally breathtaking on a floral tablecloth accented with fresh flowers

Engagements, Shabbats, afternoon teas, b’nai mitzvahs, brit milahs and baby namings are a few occasions where dessert buffets are most welcome. Whether paired with coffee, champagne or sherry, these treats make for delicious accompaniments to life’s pleasurable moments.

Ruby’s Favorite Chocolate Caramel Tart | Serves 12-14

1 11-inch pastry shell, baked
For the caramel layer:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
4 oz. unsalted butter
1/2 cup cream
For the chocolate layer:
1/2 cup cream
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Heat the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Cook until the sugar melts and begins to turn dark brown. Pour in the butter and the cream. The mixture will bubble up — don’t panic, this is part of the process. Whisk until the caramel is smooth. Fill the pastry shell with the caramel and allow the caramel to set in a cool place for 1 hour.
Make the chocolate layer by bringing the 1/2 cup of cream to a boil. Remove the cream from the heat, and stir in the chopped chocolate. Continue stirring until smooth. Pour the chocolate over the caramel tart and spread gently until smooth. Allow to set for at least 2 hours before serving.

Apple Cranberry Crisp | Serves 8-10

1 cup cranberries
3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs. flour
1 Tbs. vanilla
1/3 cup white flour
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
6 Tbs. unsalted butter or margarine, melted
Toss together the fruit, sugar, 2 Tbs. flour and vanilla. Place the fruit in a baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, nutmeg, butter and walnuts. Mix until crumbly and spread over the fruit. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes, until the fruit is tender and the topping crisp. Serve warm.

New York Cheesecake | Serves 12-14

For the crust:
2 cups graham cracker or zwieback crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
4 oz. melted unsalted butter
For the filling:
1 lb. cream cheese
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
For the topping:
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the crust combine the crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press them into the bottom and up the sides on a 10-inch springform pan.
For the filling beat the cream cheese until very smooth and fluffy. Beat in the eggs until the mixture is smooth. Beat in the sour cream, sugar and vanilla until the batter is perfectly smooth. Pour batter into the springform pan, and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off, and leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven.
For the topping, stir sour cream, sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Spoon topping over top of the cheesecake. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 5 minutes. Cool cheesecake completely, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve well chilled.

Rebecca Ets-Hokin is a certified culinary professional. Visit her Web site at www.GoRebecca.com. She can be reached at Rebecca@GoRebecca.com.