Episode One: Tools, Ingredients and One Very Simple Dessert
a home movies mini-series that's... sweet enough
Hello and welcome to Home Movies Tuesday! If you’ve found your way over by some miracle but are not yet subscribed, here, let me help you with that:
Hello and Buongiorno from too-cold California. Today is the day Home Movies returns from our little hiatus, back to grace your YouTube algorithm and delight your Tuesday. It’s also Director Dan’s birthday! Happy birthday, Dan. We love you!
This week and the next four weeks will be focused on my newest bundle of joy, the latest cookbook to join the collection: SWEET ENOUGH: DESSERTS FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T DO DESSERT. That is an unofficial subtitle, but it felt right for this moment.
First up, Episode One: Equipment, Tools, Ingredients and a recipe that’s so easy it didn’t really deserve its own video but so delicious that we had to include it anyway. Think of this as your primer episode, your BEFORE YOU BEGIN episode.
Thank you to Chef Restaurant Supply in The Big Apple, Manhattan, New York City, for allowing us to film. Go visit them and buy all the cake pans and a few things you don’t need, as a treat!
Stay tuned next week for Episode Two: “Anyone Can Bake,” featuring someone who, sadly, can not bake (but is charming).
The nice thing about dessert is that it doesn’t have to be a production; the offer itself can be enough. A little sweet something. A square of chocolate. A bowl of tangerines. A tiny cup of crushed raspberries swirled into thick sour cream.
This “recipe” (it’s not really a recipe) might be the best illustration of what I mean by being a dessert for people who don’t bake. It’s also for people who don’t cook, who may have never cooked, who have never thought of cooking. That said, it’s also a dessert for people who love dessert, who make dessert every chance they get, who could never imagine a meal without dessert. It’s truly for everyone, and the short ingredient list belies how transcendent the combination truly is. To me, this dessert is extremely romantic, sexy, sultry in the way that its casualness gives way to something very desirable, almost by accident. That’s hot.
Enhanced with just the smallest amount of sugar to encourage the juices to flow forth, raspberries really are the full package for this: tart, juicy, textured with seeds in a way that is welcomed and delightful. But a similar energy could be achieved with any fruit that speaks to you at the moment, raw, roasted, whatever you like: crushed peaches seasoned with a bit of lime juice, a spoonful of tart apricot jam, or bits of Slow-Roasted Rhubarb are all good ideas to get your mind racing.
Serve in the summer, after a wine-drunk lunch on a blanket or after midnight at a late-night Saturday dinner party. It’s a true all-occasion, any-season delight (the sugar added allows you to get away with less-than-naturally-exquisite fruit, another reason this dessert is perfect and practical).
Put some raspberries in a bowl and sprinkle them with just a little bit of sugar, a light dusting (you can always add more if they need it, but I doubt they do). Use a fork and smash them—not until they’re an unrecognizable mash, just gently broken down and crushed. Wait a few minutes to release their juicy potential.
Spoon a little bit of sour cream (unsweetened) into a serving cup, mug, or bowl. Top with a little bit of the crushed raspberries. Repeat this one or two more times, depending on how large your vessel is. You can swirl this together after it’s been layered, or leave it parfait-style.
I still subscribe to the general “you don’t need fancy equipment to make good food” theory I’ve been peddling for years, and desserts are no exception. Will a stand mixer make your life easier? Yes, but if you’re never going to bake, I won’t tell you you need to have one. Plenty of other desserts to make in this book that don’t require you to plug anything in. Here are a list of some basic tools that will come in handy:
9” removable bottomed tart pan. My favorite pan? Good for baking cakes, too.
9” springform pan. Also my favorite pan? Perfect for A Very Tall Quiche.
8”, 9”, or 10” cake pan. All sizes are useful, but stick with 9” if you’re only going to buy one. This is also, as you may have guessed, my favorite pan.
9”x 4”, 1 lb. capacity loaf pan. I feel passionately about the size here.
Regular, basic, long-handled (but not too long) stainless steel whisk.
Regular, basic, long-handled (but not too long) wooden spoon.
Wooden rolling pin. Any shape will work, but I prefer a smaller, dowel shape. If this isn’t in the cards, use a wine bottle (or any smooth, long, sturdy glass bottle).
Kitchen scale. Please, just buy one! All recipes across all editions of Sweet Enough include metric measurements. This could be your new life as a baker!
GIR silicone spatula. I like that it’s all one piece, no removable head or wooden handle to wash separately. Will last a lifetime if you don’t stick it in a blender or light it on fire.
I’m pretty brand agnostic when it comes to my baking ingredients, but here’s a list of what’s currently in my pantry (not including what’s in my fridge, like butter, eggs, buttermilk, cottage cheese, etc.). I’m also going to assume you have most if not all of these things already, but if not:
Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal ofc).
All-purpose flour (King Arthur remains the gold standard, not to be confused with the brand Gold Medal, which is also good?). I don’t keep cake, pastry or bread flour at home. This may be upsetting to some serious bakers, but luckily, that’s not me.
Granulated sugar (Domino, C&H if I were on the West Coast).
Sugar In The Raw, unless you’re feeling like you need the real Turbinado Sugar.
Light brown sugar: (Domino, C&H if I were on the West Coast).
Powdered sugar: (Domino, C&H if I were on the West Coast).
Alison: I'm so happy for you! Your work has brought me so much joy. Cooking is more fun than ever thanks to what I've learned from you. And your videos are the best -- and freaking hilarious. You have a tremendous gift. Best wishes on your tour. I'm hoping to see you in L.A.. Great venue, BTW. Big Little Lies vibes. You'll kill it! Be well. Be safe. Be happy.
I am so excited for your new book - I can barely stand it!
There is a very old (West Coast) commercial for a retailer, "Mervyn's." The commercial features a lady in her hair in rollers with a scarf over her head, looking in the window, quietly whispering..."Open, Open, Open..."
That's how I feel about your next book. Yes, I pre-ordered it the second it was announced. I am that woman in the commercial! So many Congratulations!...