Here are two dessert recipes for the holidays.

One comes from wind-zapped, volcanic isles known as the Azores, which are circled by the raging Atlantic Ocean – by way of California; the other is from California’s San Francisco – by way of the ancient, stone walled city of Beaune in Burgundy, France.

I took the photos below, which are not nearly as gorgeous as those from cookbooks. But if you make the effort on the first recipe and pull through, you’ll be so delighted with the result that you too may pull out a camera and start snapping.

Unfortunately the cookbook I purchased during a visit to the Azores is now packed away in some storage area (these pictures were taken a few years ago). Instead, I’ll refer you to the recipe of Nancy Grossi. She concocted these ‘espece’ cookies in California’s Healdsburg wine country, based on the recipe of her Azorean relative. Click here for Nancy’s recipe.

After putting in this much effort, you need to invite friends over to share

In the above photo you see that perched next to these cookies is a bottle of Pico Lajido wine. This sweet liqueur is made from fortified verdelho grapes grown on the island of Pico, which is dominated by a (sometimes) snow ringed, conical volcanic peak. The grapevines of the Azores are so unusual that less than a decade past they received UNESCO World Heritage designation, which I wrote about a few years ago.

You too, will be proud enough of these to want to take a picture

Below is the second recipe, which a friend and I learned at a cooking class while vacationing in Burgundy. The cook is an American – Marjorie Taylor – who runs the Cook’s Atelier cooking school in Beaune, France. Her recipe for lemon cream tarts is adapted from a book of recipes based on those from a San Francisco bakery. The book is titled Tartine, by Elisabeth M. Prueitt.

Lemon Creme Tart - Beaune, France
Fresh from the market or orchard

The recipe involves first making a sweet dough, and then a lemon cream.

While putting in effort to make these tarts, you may want to open a bottle of bubbly. Try a 100 percent Pinot Meunier Champagne or sparkling wine, because it is fruit forward, often with aromas of bread dough, as well as red or citrus fruits – which will complement the dish you’re making (and the ingredients you’ll be sampling). You may want to try the sparkling wine Domaine Chandon Carneros 2011 (about $30). If you want to splurge with friends and are cooking for a special festive day, you may want to open a bottle of 2008 Chartogne-Taillet ‘Les Allies’ Extra Brut Champagne ($70 – $85). Then again, you might want to save that bottle for the opening of your entire meal.

After you finish a decent dinner (perhaps of asparagus and giant ravioli, shown below), you’ll be ready to tuck into your dessert masterpiece.

Beaune dinner cooking class
Livin’ large

Enjoy the holiday upcoming holiday season.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Spent a holiday weekend in Beaune with my wife a few years back. I gotta say I remember the wine more than the food! Maybe I should have ordered lemon cream tarts.

    1. Can relate to that, James. And the more wine I had, the less food remembered! But we did visit some excellent restaurants.The nice thing about Beaune is that is has quite a few tourists, but they are mostly from Europe, so the quantity appears manageable for the relatively small city. Burgundy is such a relaxed place…

  2. Tom; they both so sound very tempting – especially with the bubbly suggestion! Fascinating article about the wines of the Azores as well, thanks for linking to that. I barely know where they are, let alone that they have a unique wine industry. One to bookmark!

    1. The Azores are amazing – and the wine is quite good. They used to export it to England and to the Russian leaders centuries ago. The islands are a very inexpensive place to visit, with a landscape that looks like a blend of Ireland with Hawaii in places. You probably need no suggestions for getting a hold of decent bubbly in your sunny portion of the world Chrissie, but glad you enjoyed the piece!

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