Recipes are short and sweet


Finding dessert bliss with few ingredients

May 29, 2002|By Larry Bingham | Larry Bingham,SUN STAFF

The thing I like most about Rozanne Gold's new cookbook, Desserts 1-2-3: Deliciously Simple Three-Ingredient Desserts, is not her knack for tapping into our harried lifestyles and paring down the grocery list. Nor is the thing I like most her skill -- and she is brilliant here -- at giving her seemingly simple concoctions highfalutin names that mask their humble origins: Melon Tartare With Raspberry Coulis; Pineapple Carpaccio With Roasted Grapes, Cinnamon Jus; Rhubarb Compote With Candied Ginger, Maple Snow.

The thing I like best about this cookbook (Stewart, Tabori & Chang Inc., 2002, $30) is its purity, the way it relies on the flavors at the core of its pairings. Take the Fresh Lime Mousse. It has three ingredients: lime, sugar and eggs. The result is a stark tartness that is all but lost in a comparable piece of Key lime pie sunk with a dollop of whipped cream. Pecan-Fudge Terrine is another example. Simplicity is its strongest suit.

This is the final course to Gold's "1-2-3" cookbook series (Healthy 1-2-3, Entertaining 1-2-3, Recipes 1-2-3), so there's one chapter here devoted to chocolate, one to fruit, one to ice creams and frozen desserts. In between are recipes to make souffles, cakes, brownies, custards, flans, cookies, tarts and tortes.

But don't let Gold, a three-time winner of the James Beard Award and "diva of simplicity," beguile you into thinking that three ingredients necessarily means easy preparation. The lime mousse took eight tedious minutes of whisking on the stove and another five for cooling. The Pecan-Fudge Terrine was a breeze, however. Its only downfall was the small slab it produced; soon after it was made, it was gone.

Pecan-Fudge Terrine

Makes 16 squares or 20 slices

1/2 heaping cup coarsely chopped pecans

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Place pecans in a small nonstick skillet and add a large pinch of salt (salt is one of what Gold calls a "free ingredient" - she doesn't count it among her three). Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until nuts are toasted. Set aside to cool.

Put condensed milk in a small saucepan. Heat until it just comes to a boil and add chocolate. Immediately lower heat and stir until blended. Continue to cook, over low heat, stirring constantly, about 1 minute, until chocolate has completely melted.

Stir in pecans and cook a few seconds. Pour the warm mixture into a 7-inch-by-7-inch square pan. Or line a 3-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap so that it hangs over the pan and pour in the mixture. It will not come up to the top of the pan. Fold the plastic wrap over chocolate and press firmly to smooth the top. Refrigerate until cold.

Let sit at room temperature 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into squares or slices.

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