Chocolate and Other Valentine's Day Confections; Pigs' Heads; Chinese New Year

Hosted by
Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Philippe Maury designed the 14-foot chocolate fountain at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

Josh Karpf is a food-obsessed explorer. He talked about cooking a pig's head. You can find more of his obsessions at

Food maven Arthur Schwartz is the author of Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food, published by Stuart, Tabori and Chang.

Egg Cream

  • 2 Tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 6 ozs whole milk
  • 6 ozs soda water
Mix syrup and milk in a tall glass. Add soda water, and serve with a straw. Serve in a highball glass.

Abby Dodge is an editor-at-large at Fine Cooking magazine. She is also the author of The Weekend Baker: Irresistible Recipes, Simple Techniques, and Stress Free Strategies for Busy People, published by Norton & Company.

Nutty Cinnamon Elephant Ears
Makes 22 cookies

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, 9 1/2 inches square (I like Pepperidge Farm brand)
  • 3 Tablespoons (1 1/2 ozs/43 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (6 ozs/170 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (2 ozs/57 gs) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ozs/43 gs) finely chopped walnuts or pecans (no need to toast)
  1. Remove 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry from the box, set it on a lightly floured surface, and cover it with plastic wrap so that it doesn't dry out. Do not unfold it at this point. Wrap the remaining sheet in plastic wrap and return it to the freezer for another use. Let the covered puff pastry sit on the countertop until thawed and just pliable, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners (I like the Silpat).
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Stir in the vanilla and set aside to cool slightly. In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar, confectioners' sugar, and cinnamon. Stir until well blended. Measure out about 2/3 cup (5 1/4 ozs/149 gs) of the sugar mixture into a small bowl, and stir the chopped nuts into it; set aside.
  4. Sprinkle some of the remaining sugar mixture on a work surface. Unfold the thawed puff pastry on top of the sugar mixture. Generously sprinkle some of the sugar mixture on top of the puff pastry, and spread it with your hand to cover the dough to the edges. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough, sprinkling the top and bottom with more of the sugar mixture to prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface, into a 10x18-inch (25x45 cm) rectangle.
  5. Brush the cooled melted butter evenly over the top surface of the dough. Sprinkle the reserved nut mixture (and any sugar mixture remaining from rolling) over the dough. Spread the sugar with your hand to cover the dough evenly. Starting at a narrow end, roll up the dough, jellyroll style, to the center. Then, starting at the opposite edge, roll up the dough so that the 2 rolls meet in the center. Turn the roll upside down so that the scrolls face down. (At this point, the rolled dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, or on a countertop for about 1 hour, before continuing with the recipe.)
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into slices 2/3 inch (1.75cm) thick. Arrange the slices about 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time (make sure to use a cooled sheet for the second batch) until the cookies are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer the sheet to a rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Using a spatula, lift the cookies from the sheet onto a rack and let cool completely.
Storage: Layer the baked and cooled cookies between parchment or waxed paper in an airtight container. They can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Copyright Abigail Johnson Dodge, The Weekend Baker, w.w. norton & company, 2005

10-Minute Mocha Pots de Creme
Makes four 1/2 cup servings

  • 1 cup (8 flluid ozs /233 ml) heavy cream
  • 4 ozs (113 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules (any type, even decaf, will do)
  • 2 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Go withs: Sweetened Whipped Cream and chocolate shavings for garnish

  1. Have ready 4 small ramekins or classic pot de creme pots (those are the little cups with the lids) just slightly larger than 1/2 cup each. (The vessels do not need to be ovenproof, as this is a no-bake recipe. You can even use teacups, so use your prettiest options.)
  2. In a small saucepan or the microwave, heat the cream just until boiling. Meanwhile, dump the chopped chocolate, sugar, and espresso powder or coffee granules into a blender. When the cream is just boiling, pour it into the blender. Pop the lid on and blend on medium-high speed until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is frothy and smooth. Add the liqueur and vanilla and process until blended, about 10 seconds.
  3. Using a spoon, skim off the foam from the top of the custard and discard. Pour the chocolate cream into the cups or ramekins, dividing it evenly. Top with lids (if you're using proper porcelain pots de creme pots) or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a few chocolate shavings, if desired.
Storage: Cover the cups with plastic wrap (no need to press the plastic directly onto the pudding; they won't form a skin) or lids and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Flavor variations: Substitute an equal amount of bourbon or dark rum for the coffee liqueur. You can also substitute a licorice, orange, or raspberry flavored liqueur, but make sure to omit the instant espresso powder or coffee granules when you use these.

Copyright Abigail Johnson Dodge, The Weekend Baker, w.w. norton & company, 2005

Stovetop Apple-Cranberry Crumble
Makes 8 servings

For the filling:

  • 3 Tablespoons (1 1/2 ozs/43 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
  • 2 lbs (907 gs) apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (I like Golden Delicious, but any firm, medium-tart apple will do.)
  • 3/4 cup (2 1/2 ozs/71 gs) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup (4 ozs/113 gs) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of table salt
Tor the topping:
  • 3 Tablespoons (1 1/2 ozs/85 gs) unsalted butter, cut into three pieces
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, or more if needed
  • 2 cups crunchy, lightly sweetened granola
  • 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
Go-withs: vanilla or cinnamon ice cream, or sweetened whipped cream for garnish (optional)
  1. To Make The Filling: Put the butter in a 10 to 11 inch (25-28 cm) skillet with 2 inch (5 cm) high sides and set over medium high heat. When the butter is melted, add the apples, cranberries, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and salt. Toss until well blended. Continue cooking over medium-high heat, shaking the pan or gently stirring the contents with a wooden spoon, until the sugar is melted and the apples just begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid or a double layer of foil and reduce the heat to low. Continue to simmer, shaking the pan often, until the apples are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 12 minutes longer.
  2. To Make The Topping: Meanwhile, put the butter in a separate medium skillet and set over medium heat. When the butter is melted, stir in the 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and add the granola. Cook, stirring constantly, until the granola is hot and evenly coated with the butter and cinnamon. Taste the granola and add more cinnamon if needed. Drizzle the maple syrup over the granola and cook, stirring, until hot and well blended, about 2 minutes. Set aside and keep warm until the filling is ready.
  3. When the apples are tender, uncover the pan. If the apples have released a ton of juice (more than about 1 cup/8 fl ozs/233 ml), increase the heat to high and boil briefly to reduce the liquid. Slide the skillet from the heat and scatter the topping over the filling. Serve the crisp straight from the skillet hot, warm, or at room temperature. Accompany with a scoop of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.
Copyright Abigail Johnson Dodge, The Weekend Baker, w.w. norton & company, 2005

Mort Rosenblum is the author of the newly released Chocolate : A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light, published by North Point Press. He spoke about Michael Recchiuti Confections and Maison du Chocolat.

Carl Chu is the author of The Chinese Food Finder: Los Angeles. He also has New York and San Francisco versions.

To celebrate the Lantern Festival, or the first full moon after New Year, celebrants eat glutinous rice balls, golf-ball sized boiled treats filled with pork or peanuts. Carl spoke about Jin Jiang Restaurant (626-308-9238) at 301 W Valley Blvd #109 in Alhambra. For eastern Chinese cuisine, King's Palace (626-282-9566) at 250 W Valley Blvd #M in San Gabriel.

To make your own glutinous rice balls:


  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 parts peanut powder or ground black sesame
  • 1 part sugar
  • 1 part oil
  1. Mix together glutinous rice flour and water to form dough with a Playdough-like consistency. Set aside.
  2. Mix filling ingredients in a separate bowl. The mixture should be moist enough to hold together and not fall apart under pressure. Shape the filling into marble-sized balls. Set aside.
  3. Shape the dough into flat disks, about 1/8-inch thick and the size of an old one-dollar coin.
  4. Wrap the dough firmly around the filling. Try not to have air pockets inside. Shape again into ball form. When finished, it should resemble a ping-pong ball.
  5. Boil the rice balls in plain water. Try not to cook too many at once or they will stick together. You can flavor the cooking liquid with honey, mandarin oranges, raisins, and a sprinkling of salted osmanthus flowers.
  6. In either case, serve the rice balls in the cooking liquid as a dessert soup.
  1. Glutinous rice flour comes in green-colored bags. In Asian markets you will find another type of rice flour, which comes in red-colored bags. Don't use those.
  2. Peanut powder and ground black sesame can be purchased in Chinese supermarkets.
  3. Salted osmanthus flowers come in small jars and can be purchased in Chinese supermarkets.