Thursday, January 3, 2008

Baker's Profile

Elizabeth Falkner

Elizabeth Falkner

What’s the secret of creating sensational desserts that combine unusual flavors and look as fabulous as they taste?

“Cook with confidence,” is Elizabeth Falkner’s prompt response. “It’s important to stretch your limits to learn new things or try something familiar with a few new flavors and textures.”

The San Francisco Bay Area pastry chef, restaurant owner (Citizen Cake, Citizen Cupcake, and Orson) and cookbook author practices what she preaches. The recipes in her just-published cookbook, Demolition Desserts (Ten Speed Press, Berkeley), are anything but timid, and their names—Tiramisushi, Sammysnaps, Lemania Cupcakes—are as bold, creative, and playful as their execution.

One way to boost your confidence, says Elizabeth, is by using quality ingredients like C&H Pure Cane Sugar. “I’ve cooked with both cane and beet sugars, but I prefer cane,” she confides.

Next, master a few professional tricks. In her chapter on cupcakes, Elizabeth shares a secret she says results in “rock-star cupcakes with attitude.” First, load a plastic squirt bottle with a filling such as pastry cream or Elizabeth’s Toffee Filling. (Cookware stores sell the bottles; an eight-ounce size works best.) Next, place it in a shallow warm-water bath to soften the filling. Snip the bottle tip to create a quarter-inch opening and gently poke the bottle into the top of a cooled cupcake. Gently squeeze until you feel the cupcake plump up with filling and take on weight. Finish by generously frosting the cupcake to cover the hole.

Once you’ve practiced a few times, you’re ready to follow Elizabeth’s advice and create your own creative combination. Ideas can come from anywhere. “I’m inspired by so many things,” Elizabeth says, “from new combinations of sweet or savory flavors to music, art, and architecture.”

Now go out and confidently create something delicious!

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