Sweet Magic for Halloween

A childhood recipe from chef Michel Richard's new book, plus a list of recommended dessert wines
Oct 22, 2010

It's time once again for Halloween and all the sweet treats of the season. To help celebrate, we've provided a list of recommended dessert wines, and Chef Michel Richard, chef-owner of Michel Richard Citronelle and Central Michel Richard in Washington, D.C., has shared a recipe from his new book, Sweet Magic: Easy Recipes for Delectable Desserts, to be published November 2, 2010 by Ecco. The book, written with Peter Kaminsky, is personal, humorous and fun, and includes classic French recipes, Richard's fanciful variations on the standards, a section devoted to American desserts, and numerous useful short essays about technique, ingredients and equipment. In lieu of photos, the book contains Richard's own illustrations.

"I was a pastry chef for 25 years," said Richard, who is in the final stages of opening his latest restaurant, Michel by Michel Richard at the Ritz-Carlton in Tyson's Corner, Virginia. "It is my first love. When I was creating this book, I tried to be a home cook in my own home kitchen, and tried to stay away from being a grand chef. You do not need a great tall chef's hat on your head to make these recipes."

Richard's recipe for apple compote tart, below, was inspired by a snack his mother would make when he was a boy in Carignan, in France's Champagne-Ardenne region. In the book's introduction to the recipe, he recalls, "I would come home after school, drop off my books, and grab one of these tarts as I ran to play football." He has modified his mother's version by adding cinnamon and brown sugar, using a brioche crust instead of flaky pastry dough, for extra moistness, and makes a multi-serving tart in place of the single-serving portion of his childhood.

You can enjoy enjoy this tart at a pre- or post-Halloween gathering, and further indulge the adults with a dessert wine from the list below. Happy Halloween!

Apple Compote Tart

Recipes from Sweet Magic: Easy Recipes for Delectable Desserts, by Michel Richard with Peter Kaminsky, to be published Nov. 2 by Ecco

• 1/2 recipe (1 1/4 pounds) brioche dough (recipe below)
• 6 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (6 cups)
• 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
• 1/4 cup water

For the almond topping:
• 1/3 cup sliced almonds
• 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, dark
• 2 egg whites

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. To make the tart, butter the inside of a 10-inch quiche mold or springform pan. Lightly flour a work surface and the top of the dough and roll it out to about a 10-inch circle. Press the dough into the bottom of the pan. Cover the mold and dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rest.

2. Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the apples into a large pot with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Cover and cook slowly on medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking, uncovered, for 5 minutes longer, stirring once or twice. Add the heavy cream and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every once in a while. Transfer the apples to a bowl and cool them on the counter.

3. Pour the cooled apple mixture into the center of the dough circle and spread it carefully, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the perimeter of the dough. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and water. Brush the mixture onto the border. Bake for 10 minutes. The dough will rise up along the edge of the pan as it bakes. While the tart is baking, mix together the almonds, brown sugar, and egg whites to make the topping. Once the tart has baked for 10 minutes, carefully spoon and spread the topping over the apple compote to cover it. Return the tart to the oven and bake it for 15 minutes longer. Cool before serving. Serves 8.

Brioche Dough

• 3 cups high-gluten bread flour
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1 package (or 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
• 1 pinch salt
• 4 eggs
• 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and at room temperature

1. Place the flour in the center of the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pour the sugar, yeast and salt in three different places at the edge where the flour meets the bowl. Break the eggs into a small bowl and place it near the mixer. Pour 2 tablespoons of the water directly on top of the yeast and start the mixer on low. Add the eggs to the mixer one at a time (they will "ploop" out of the bowl individually). When all the eggs are in, increase the speed slightly and slowly add the remaining warm water. When the water is incorporated, increase the speed to medium high and continue beating for 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat for 2 minutes longer, until smooth.

2. Turn off the mixer and drop in all the butter. Start the mixer on low speed to incorporate the butter. Slowly increase the speed to medium, then high, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl after 2 minutes. Continue beating until the dough no longer sticks to the edges of the bowl.

3. Transfer the dough to a bowl large enough to allow it to double in size, cover it loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it overnight. Use it within 3 days. Makes 2 1/2 pounds dough.

RECOMMENDED DESSERT WINES

Note: The following list is a selection of wines from recently rated releases.

KLEIN CONSTANTIA Vin de Constance Constantia 2005 Score: 94 | $50
Pure orange peel, tangerine, persimmon and clementine flavors are laced with hints of green tea, candied lime peel and honeysuckle. Rich, but racy and mouthwatering. The gorgeous amber color and a caressing mouthfeel just add to the pleasure. Lovely precision. Should age nicely. Drink now through 2023. 3,004 cases made. —J.M.

THE ROYAL TOKAJI WINE CO. Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos Red Label 2006 Score: 94 | $39 / 500ml
Superclean and defined, delivering beeswax, apricot, clementine and saline mineral notes that converge on the racy finish. Refined in both texture and profile, with harmony and a long aftertaste. Drink now through 2030. 5,637 cases made. —B.S.

DE BORTOLI Sémillon New South Wales Noble One Botrytis 2007 Score: 90 | $32 / 375ml
Very sweet and rich, a spicy overlay adding a refreshing edge to the ripe pear, spice and cream aromas and flavors, finishing with intensity. Drink now through 2016. 4,000 cases made. —H.S.

FROST BITTEN Riesling Columbia Valley Ice 2008 Score: 90 | $12 / 375ml
Rich, sweet, opulent and distinctive for its pineapple, honey and almond aromas and flavors, remaining relatively light and lively as the finish extends impressively. Drink now through 2013. 3,456 cases made. —H.S.

JONESY Port Australia Rare Aged NV Score: 90 | $11
Round and moderately sweet, with chocolaty notes to the cherry and dried fig flavors that linger on the refined finish. Drink now. 8,500 cases made. —H.S.

DOMAINE CAZES Muscat de Rivesaltes 2007 Score: 89 | $25
A very creamy dessert white, with ripe peach, apricot and pear flavors that are mouthfilling. Finishes light on its feet, with cinnamon and nutmeg. Drink now through 2015. 7,000 cases made. —K.M.

LOEL Commandaria Alasia NV Score: 89 | $18
Rich, sweet supple red with mincemeat, dark fig and plenty of glazed citrus flavors reminiscent of tawny Port. Finishes with good grip and plenty of spicy notes. Drink now through 2015. 50,000 cases made. —K.M.

CAVE DES PRODUCTEURS DE VOUVRAY Vouvray Moelleux 2007 Score: 89 | $17
A superracy, fresh style, with mouthwatering lime, green apple and melon flavors offset nicely by almost bracing acidity. The long finish has excellent cut and drive. Drink now through 2012. 5,000 cases made. —J.M.

REIF ESTATE Vidal Niagara River Icewine 2007 Score: 89 | $47 / 375ml
A hint of apple cider and petrol are not out of bounds, with apricot, candied lemon and maple flavors prevailing. This is concentrated, with the sweetness offset by lively acidity. Fine length. Drink now through 2018. 2,500 cases made. —B.S.

BACALHÔA Moscatel Península de Setúbal 2003 Score: 88 | $15
Sweet, with glazed apricot, candied citrus and butterscotch flavors. Spicy and rich on the plush finish. Drink now through 2020. 35,000 cases made. —K.M.

VIÑA MORANDÉ Sauvignon Blanc Casablanca Valley Late Harvest 2008 Score: 88 | $13 / 375ml
This is well done, with sweet, juicy apricot, maple, date and dried orange peel notes on an unctuous, friendly frame. Drink now. 8,582 cases made. —J.M.

D. KOURTAKIS Muscat Samos Kourtaki NV Score: 87 | $13
Sweet white, with peach and apricot flavors that are flanked by some ripe ruby grapefruit accents. Finished is filled with notes of clove on the light finish. Drink now. 300,000 cases made. —K.M.

OFFLEY Late Bottled Port 2005 Score: 87 | $20
Aromatic, featuring light raspberry jam and fresh nuts. Full-bodied, with medium sweetness and a pretty berry and nutty aftertaste. Round and soft, a long, thick style. Drink now. 13,300 cases made. —J.S.

Cooking Holidays / Celebrations Halloween Autumn Sweet Wines Recipes

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