Because if I don’t mention this today I believe my husband will pop out of lurkdom and tsk-tsk me publicly for it, let me own up to one thing: I snore. Just kidding! I emphatically do not snore, not even when I have had wine with dinner and a lingering head cold and it would have been completely understandable. Not even then.
Exactly a year ago, I decided on a whim to make gingerbread cookies. I could do that back then; I had a little “baa”-ing baby trying to roll over in the living room and then he’d go no further! He’d be exactly where I left him! I mean, I still have a “baa”-ing baby but only if you prompt him with “And the sheep says?” and he is never, ever where last I left him. I digress.
What normal people often do is take a recipe for something floury, buttery and indulgent and try to make it healthier. Maybe they use less butter. They might dial back the sugar. But more often than not they swap in a little whole wheat or alternative grain flour and at least make something with more nutrients.
As if I needed any further evidence that I was meant to live in Paris, it is my firm belief (though based only in fantasy) that at any time of the year over there, I will have unfettered access to things made with chestnuts, one of my favorite foods that only get a lukewarm reception in this country. Sure, we roast them on “open fires” in December (in our smoking jackets, of course, while our dog brings us the evening paper) but the rest of the year, they’re relegated to nostalgia. Even in New York City, I rarely see such delights as chestnut paste, which I attempted to smuggle back into the country after our last trip, not realizing that airport security would consider it a liquid and force me to throw it away (I still get a little weepy when I remember this). And don’t even get me started on our woeful absence of marrons glace, or candied chestnuts. Okay, fine, get me started.
Is there an unsaid rule that bar cookies have to be heavy and gooey? Two weeks ago, we picked up a cup of coffee on our way to the park so that the little monkey could continue his path of destruction outside our apartment, and I fell for something in the bakery case called peach shortbread, cut into bars. But instead of being thick and intense, it was delicate, light and barely sweet — a thin layer of shortbread, even thinner slices of peach and the faintest sprinkling of streusel on top. I knew I had to share it.
I know what you’re thinking, “Really, Deb? Tarts again?” And I realize that it might seem that I’m in a tart rut, what with those rustic rhubarb tarts and the distinctly tart-looking strawberry brown butter bettys and now these strawberry ricotta tarts. But you see, they’re all very different animals parading under the guise of tart-dom and really — because I am allowed to choose favorites, did you know that? — these are the best ones yet.