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Room for Dessert
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February 2000  


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Room for Dessert

Read what the New York Times
has to say about Room For Dessert

Recently the San Francisco Examiner gave
Room For Dessert an incredible write-up, which you can read at:
San Francisco Examiner Review


Looking for the Marshmallow Recipe?
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Welcome to my web site. If it's your first time, I hope you come back often, and if you are a regular, thanks for coming back!

David at The Apple FarmI'm back on the road travelling and teaching. This month I will be giving classes at all three Sur La Table's stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as their stores in Seattle and Kirkland, Washington. Afterwards I head down to southern California to Laguna Niguel (near San Diego) and to Westlake Village, as suburb of Los Angeles. Please check my schedule page for more details.

I will also be making radio appearances, as well as an in-store demonstration at Bloomingdales in Los Angeles.

Although it's been almost a month, and I am still a bit bleary from New Year's Eve. We made it a weekend-long celebration at friend John Scharffenberger's house (of the famed Scharffen Berger Chocolate) in Philo, which is in the Anderson Valley, about 2 1/2 hours north of San Francisco. I figured if the world ended, I should at least be surrounded by orchards and vineyards. What a way to go.


David at The Apple Farm
I'm checking out the cider!

If you read Saveur magazine, you may have read the delightful article about The Apple Farm in the March of 1999 issue. The owners of the farm, Sally and Don Schmitt were the original owners of The French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley. Since selling the restaurant to Thomas Keller in 1993, they moved to a viticultural area more remote than the now-booming (and developed) Napa Valley, and took up organic apple farming. They now have 2000 apple trees.

Staying at their farm stand, I hoarded all forms of apple, including apple cider vinegar, apple balsamic vinegar, hard apple cider, dried apple rings, and of course, bags of crisp organic apples.

I must admit that the apple juice really astounded me at the first gulp; I had forgotten how rich and complex apple juice could (and should) be, especially if you're used to the supermarket variety. Sally has been teaching classes at the farm for years, and recently they've built a few additional rooms for their cooking school guests and are now able to take others. Instead of a "Bed & Breakfast" Sally has what she calls a "Bread & Toast" which you're welcome to enjoy anywhere you darn well please. I don't know about you, but my ideal breakfast is a basket of warm toast with homemade jams, butter, and a steaming pot of really strong coffee--not the usual groaning board of waffles, muffins, flavored butters and the like served elsewhere. And sitting amongst an arbor of apples trees sipping coffee in handmade earthenware mugs with Sally and Don is far more nourishing than watching them toil over a hot stove. (I don't like watching people labor over the stove in the morning--folks should relax over coffee while hunched over the newspaper in the morning!)

You can order many of Sally's products, including handmade jams, chutneys, vinegars and other foodstuffs. They're now making an apple balsamic vinegar which has a surprisingly floral aroma (since apples are members of the rose family) and I'm going to try it drizzled over vanilla ice cream. But I truly worship their apple cider syrup; it's cider that has been boiled down to a thick liquid with the consistency of molasses, but with the flavor of tart apples.

Sally and her daughter Karen Bates also teach weekend and Thursday classes throughout the year in their warm and stunning kitchen set amongst the apple orchard. Classes include preserving, picking, and general cooking and baking. For more information about visiting or ordering products, call them at:

The Apple Farm
18501 Greenwood Road
Philo, CA 95466
(707) 895-2333

Need some passion in your life for Valentine's Day?

Passion FruitI mean, passionfruit! Sometimes this perky favorite of mine can be hard-to-find and even the most finicky pastry chef, myself included, knows that frozen passionfruit pulp is an excellent alternative to fresh juice if unavailable. Since there are 2 passionfruit recipes in Room For Dessert, you can order frozen pulp in 1 kg (2.2 pound) packages from http://www.qzina.com.

The 1 kg package keeps beautifully in the freezer and pulp is delicious added to orange juice or sparkling water for a tropical taste that I find unbeatable. You can also make an impromptu batch of my favorite drink, the Tropical Itch, for your next Polynesian party!

If you love food-and you like to travel (and you want to spend a week with me...) you'll be interested in a trip that I'm planning for April 22-30th.

I'm leading a group of twelve people on a personalized tour the bakeries of Paris and the chocolate shops of Belgium.

Chocolate ConfectionsThis fun 8-day tour will be devoted to discovering and savoring the finest confections in the world. We'll get a very exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the Callebaut Chocolate factory in Belgium, where blocks of chocolate are made from roasted imported cocoa beans. I'll take you to some of my favorite chocolate shops in Brussels (we'll have some waffles and french fries too!). While in Brussels, we'll have dinner at the 3-star Comme Chez Soi restaurant, which is world-famous for their impeccable seafood.

After indulging our chocolate passions in Belgium, we'll journey to Paris for an exclusive tour of the Ecole Lenôtre, the famed pastry school and bakery. We'll get a personalized tour and see artisan breads hand-formed and baked, confectioners working their magic with sugar, fantastic edible sculptures of nougatine, and their highly-regarded catering kitchen. I'll also be taking us to some of my favorite bakeries in Paris, as well as some extraordinary chocolate shops.

We'll travel to Normandy to spend a day with cookbook author Susan Herrmann Loomis, author of six books including the French Farmhouse Cookbook. Susan will prepare lunch for us in her restored 15th century house. Afterwards we'll visit Monet's famous kitchen and gardens.

The tour will be limited to twelve guests. For additional information, you can contact Anne Block at takemymom@aol.com or telephone at 323-737-2200. Or visit her web site at http://www.takemymotherplease.com

Chocolate Extract?

An unsolicited package recently arrived on my doorstep. After I carefully inspected and unwrapped it, I found burrowed under several layers of padding a small amber bottle of pure chocolate extract, something I had seen in passing at 'specialty' stores (I hate the word 'gourmet' as it tends to mean aloof, snooty and foreboding). The funny thing was, it was sent to me by a fellow who I had gone to college with and had seen my book! He majored in politics, I majored in filmmaking. The world is truly a small place.

As it turns out, the chocolate extract was a product of the Star Kay White company which has been making extracts since 1890. Chocolate extract is made in a similar manner as vanilla extract; the cocoa beans are steeped in a mixture of alcohol and water. Instead of using it in lieu of chocolate in a recipe, its lusty cocoa aroma is best suited for flavoring chocolate desserts as well as whipped cream, meringues and custards. According to the company, when cocoa is typically processed for chocolate, some of the 'top-notes' of the flavor are lost. By adding a few teaspoons of chocolate extract, you're desserts should have a richer, more full chocolate flavor.

I can indeed attest to the persuasive aroma of this chocolate extract; I spilled some on my T-shirt and I spent the rest of the day inhaling the most wonderful chocolate fragrance imaginable! If you love chocolate you might try dabbing a little behind your ears like perfume... Or infusing some of your favorite hand lotion.... Or adding a few drops to the pool of wax of a lit candle to scent your room deliciously with chocolate!

Although it sounded a bit funny to me at first, I've taken a shine to this product. Star Kay White pure Chocolate Extract is available at Dean and DeLuca and Williams-Sonoma stores. You can also call the company at (914) 268-2600 for ordering information.

And remember, when you see it on Martha, you heard it here first!

Be sure to check out my schedule page for upcoming events, My schedule changes frequently. (Sometimes too frequently!)

If you'd like to be notified when the site is updated and of special events, type your Email address into the subscriber field under the menu bar to the left. For privacy, your Email address is never given away.

In some recent classes, I've made marshmallows as part of a tasty Rocky Road that I made using roasted peanuts, bittersweet chocolate and ground cocoa nibs. Although I often demonstrate marshmallows that don't use egg whites, I've decided after a few sleepless nights that I like these fluffy marshmallows the best of all!

This recipe is based on one that I learned while studying confectionary in Paris at the Ecole Lenôtre. In France, 'guimauve' or marshmallows are often tinted with colorings or made with added flavors. I prefer mine white and vanilla-y.

Depending on how big you cut 'em...this recipe makes a lot!

2 envelopes powdered gelatin

1/2 cup + 1/3 cup cold water

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

4 egg whites

pinch of salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

about 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 cup cornstarch, sifted together


1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the 1/2 cup of cold water to dissolve and soften.

2. In a saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, mix the sugar and corn syrup with 1/3 cup of water. Place over medium-to-high heat.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, pour in the egg whites and beat on low speed until frothy. Add the pinch of salt.

4. When the syrup reaches between 210 and 220 degrees, increase the speed of the mixer and beat the whites until they are thick and fluffy (do not overbeat).

5. When the syrup reaches 245 degrees, while the mixer is whipping, pour the syrup into the whites. Pour so that the syrup does not fall on the whip, otherwise much of the syrup will splatter onto the sides of the bowl, not into the egg whites.

6. Scrape the gelatin and water into the pan that you used for the syrup and swirl it to dissolve (it should be hot enough from the syrup to dissolve it). Pour the liquified gelatin into the whites as they are whipping. Add the vanilla and continue to whip for 5 minutes.

7. Dust with a sifter a 11x 17 (approximately) baking sheet evenly and completely with cornstarch mixture. Use a spatula to spread the marshmallows in a layer on the pan. Allow to dry for at least 4 hours or overnight, uncovered.

8. Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the marshmallows into pieces and toss in the powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture. Put the marshmallows in a colander or strainer and shake off the excess cornstarch mixture.


Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

To make Rocky Road;
Toss 3-4 cups of marshmallows and 1 1/2 cups of roasted peanuts in 1 1/4 pounds of tempered chocolate and spread on a baking sheet lined with plastic film. Cool briefly and cut into rectangles.

If you don't want to temper your chocolate, store the Rocky Road in the refrigerator until ready to eat.


Some copies of Room For Dessert have a slight printing error.

The Coconut Tapioca Pudding on page 69 should have 1 egg instead of 3. The recipe will work fine with 3 eggs, but the pudding will be a bit more runny than I like it.
It's corrected in the second printing.

Also please let me know how you like the site, what you would like to see, and if you have baking questions, use the question and answer page.


About David

I've been making desserts for over 20 years, both in restaurants such as Chez Panisse and at home. I've had little professional training, instead, I've learned most of what I know from actually doing it. I've made the mistakes, learned the hard way, and realized that it's not fancy techniques or expensive equipment that will make better and tastier desserts, but knowing what you like, developing some basic skills, and learning to taste with your mouth, as well as all of your senses.

I believe that good desserts start with the best ingredients. When I invent a dessert, I begin with perfect ingredients. I may have dark bittersweet chocolate... tart, juicy berries... amber-colored, burnished caramel... glossy, roasted espresso beans... then I think of a dessert that will best highlight these flavors. A chocolate cake should be the essence of great chocolate, a peach shortcake should feature utterly-ripe, juicy peaches tossed in a gentle sprinkle of sugar to coax out all their sweet flavor, a fruit sorbet should taste just about like biting into the ripe fruit itself.

In my book, Room For Dessert, I present to home cooks some of my favorite desserts Many are classics, some are new, and a good deal of them I developed while working for over 12 years at the renowned Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California.

My goal is to encourage you to bake. I don't want to spend a week in the kitchen, so most of what I do is easy to prepare... with excellent results! As always, I'm still learning too. Every time I crack an egg, slice open a plum, or melt chocolate, I learn something.

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