Share on Facebook

6 of Johnny Iuzzini’s Most Decadent Desserts

Making these restaurant-quality desserts at home is easy with the help of James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini.

Michael Spain-Smith

Chocolate Soufflés with Raspberries

Ingredients:
Butter, for greasing the ramekins
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for the ramekins (36g)
1/2 cup fresh raspberries (70g)
4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), chopped (128g)
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped (30g)
4 large egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
2/3 cup whole milk (160g)
1 tablespoon cornstarch (8g)
2 large egg yolks
Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter four-6-ounce ramekins and coat them in granulated sugar, knocking out the excess. Put 4 or 5 raspberries into the bottom of each ramekin, press on them lightly to collapse the cavity in each berry, and set the dishes in a large roasting pan.

Fill a saucepan half full of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Put both chocolates into a heatproof bowl, set it over the simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water, and stir until just melted. Remove from the heat and let stand until just warm. Put the egg whites, 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar, and the cream of tartar into a standing mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment and turn the speed on to low.

In a medium saucepan, whisk the milk and cornstarch together over medium-low heat. Whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. While stirring with a small rubber spatula, slowly pour the hot liquid into the center of the chocolate, a little at a time, stirring in the center of the bowl until the milk is incorporated before adding more (1). Don’t be alarmed if the chocolate clumps a bit or looks like it is separating.Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and sprinkle in another tablespoon of the granulated sugar.

Add the egg yolks to the chocolate mixture (2) and stir from the center out until combined and completely smooth and emulsified. Slowly sprinkle the remaining tablespoon granulated sugar into the whipping whites and whip until they hold soft, fully peaks (3). Add about a quarter of the whites to the chocolate mixture (4) and stir gently until mixed well. (You lose the air in these whites, but it is necessary to bring the textures together.) Add the remaining whites to the bowl and fold, turning the bowl (5), until just combined and no egg white streaks remain.

Ladle the batter evenly into the prepared ramekins (6). Run your thumb around the top rim of each dish to pull batter away from the rim and promote even baking (7). Fill the roasting pan with hot water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins (8). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the soufflés are risen and set. The top and sides should look dry, but the soufflé should still be wet in the center. Remove from the oven, carefully lift the soufflés out of the water bath, wipe the ramekin bottoms dry with a towel, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, and serve immediately.

Michael Spain-Smith

Butternut-Maple Blondies

Ingredients:
One 2-pound butternut squash, halved and seeded (907g)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced, plus more for the pan (170g)
2 to 3 tablespoons Demerara sugar, for the pan
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar (232g)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (34g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5g)
2 cups all-purpose flour (250g)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (6g)
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin (1.5g)
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger (1.5g)
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (2g)
6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped (170g)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put the squash halves on it, cut side down. Roast until the flesh is fork-tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the skins into a food processor and purée until smooth. Transfer the squash to a saucepan and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes to remove excess moisture. Remove from the heat, measure 1 cup for the blondies, and reserve the remaining purée for another use.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×11-inch baking dish or cake pan with butter and coat it generously with the Demerara sugar, tapping out the excess. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, toss the 3/4 cup butter and the brown sugar together with your hands until the butter is coated. Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until lightened and no clumps of butter remain. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula between additions. Add the syrup and vanilla and mix well.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cumin, ginger, and mace together; sprinkle the salt over the top. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients, a little at a time, mixing until just combined. Add the cooled squash and mix until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in two third of the white chocolate pieces. Evenly spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining chocolate pieces evenly over the top. Bake on the center rack until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a rack before cutting into 12 equal-sized pieces.

Michael Spain-Smith

Caramel Apple and Sweet Potato Bread Pudding

Ingredients for caramel:
Vegetable oil cooking spray
3/4 cup sugar (150g)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (2g)
3 tablespoons water (45g)
1 tablespoon honey (20g)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced (42g)

For the pudding:
1 medium sweet potato (about 12 ounces), peeled (340g)
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and cored
2 tablespoons sugar (24g)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (14g)
2 cups half-and-half (480g)
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (72g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5g)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (2g)
4 ounces day-old Brioche or egg bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and lightly toasted (about 10 cups) (113g)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray eight 4-ounce ramekins with cooking spray and put them in a large baking dish. To make the caramel, put the sugar, salt, and water in a small saucepan and make a wet caramel, cooking the mixture until the sugar is a deep golden brown. Remove from the heat and add the honey and butter, stirring until well combined. Set aside to cool until warm but still pourable. Divide the warm caramel evenly among the ramekins (about 1 tablespoon in each), swirling each ramekin to completely coat the bottom of each.

To make the pudding, cut the sweet potato and apple into 1/2-inch cubes, keeping them separate. In a medium skillet, cook the sugar over medium heat, swirling the pan but not stirring, until it dissolves and turns golden brown. Add the butter and stir to combine and dissolve any sugar crystals. Add the sweet potato cubes and cook, stirring gently, for about 6 minutes, until just tender when pierced with a knife but still holding their shape. Add the apples, stir gently, and continue cooking for 4 minutes, until the apples soften slightly. Remove from the heat and let stand until cool. Put an even, single layer of potatoes and apples into each ramekin, covering the bottom. Reserve the remaining potatoes and apples.

Meanwhile, in another saucepan, heat the half-and-half over medium heat until hot and the edges are just beginning to bubble. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, syrup, vanilla, and salt together in a mixing bowl. While whisking, pour about a third of the hot half-and-half mixture into the eggs and whisk well until very smooth and combined. Whisk in the remaining hot half-and-half mixture until combined. Let the custard stand until room temperature.

Put the brioche cubes and the reserved potatoes and apples into a mixing bowl and pour the custard over them. Toss lightly and let them stand for a few minutes to absorb the custard. Using a large spoon, pour enough custard into the bottom of each ramekin to cover the sweet potato and apple cubes. Divide the soaked bread cubes among the ramekins and evenly pour any custard left in the bowl over each.

Fill the baking dish with hot water until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the custard is set and the top feels firm to the touch. Remove the pan from the oven and let the bread puddings cool completely in the water bath. Remove the puddings from the water bath and serve or refrigerate for up to 2 days before serving. To serve, preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Run a knife around the outer edges of the ramekins to loosen the puddings. Set the ramekins on a baking sheet and warm them in the oven for 10 minutes to loosen the caramel. Invert the bread pudding onto serving plates and serve warm.

Michael Spain-Smith

Spiced Apple and Pistachio Streusel Muffins

Ingredients for the streusel:
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (109g)
1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped (70g)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (50g)
2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar (28g)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (2g)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (1g)
4 tablespoons (1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (57g)

Ingredients for the muffins:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced (113g)
1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature (60g)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5g)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (5g)
2 cups all-purpose flour (250g)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (6g)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (3g)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (1g)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (1g)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (2g)
2 medium Granny Smith apples

To make the streusel, put the flour, pistachios, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl and stif well to combine. Drizzle the butter over the mixture and use your fingers to squeeze it into pea-sized clumps. Spread the mixture out on a small plate or pan and freeze it while you make the muffin batter. To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line three 6-portion standard muffin tins with paper liners.

In a standing mixer bowl, toss teh butter and granulated sugar together until the butter is coated. Attach the bowl and paddle to the mixer and beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until a sugar paste forms and there are no visible clumps of butter. Whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly drizzle in the egg mixture. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg together; sprinkle the salt over the top. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter; mix until just incorporated.

Cut the apples away from the core in to 4 quarters. Set a box grater over a plate and grate the apples, skin side out, until all of the flesh is grated, leaving just some o the peel; discard the peels. Immediately fold the grated apples into the batter. Divide the batter evenly among the lined muffin tin cups. Remove the streusel from the freezer and loosen it with your fingers. Evenly sprinkle the streusel mixture over the muffin batter in the pans. Bake in the center of the oven until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool the muffins in the pan. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Michael Spain-Smith

Banana-Walnut Sheet Cake

Ingredients:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced, plus more for the pan (113g)
1 cup sugar (200g)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup mashed banana (from about 3 whole) (250g)
1/4 cup whole-milk yogurt, at room temperature (60g)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (10g)
2 cups all-purpose flour (250g)
1 teaspoon baking powder (4g)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (3g)
2 teaspoons ground cardamom (4g)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (2g)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (4g)
1 cup walnut pieces, toasted and coarsely chopped (119g)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 11×17-inch sheet pan with 1-inch-high sides with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Butter the sides of the pan.

Put the butter and the sugar into a standing mixer bowl and toss with your fingers to coat the butter. Attach the bowl and paddle to the mixer and beat the butter and sugar on medium-low speed for about 5 minutes, until a light paste forms, with no visible butter lumps. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula between additions. Stir the mashed banana, yogurt and vanilla together and, with the motor running on low speed, slowly add to the butter mixture; mix until combined.

Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and ginger into a bowl; sprinkle the salt evenly over the top. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, scraping down the bowl as necessary and mixing until just combined.

Spread the butter evenly into the sheet pan and smooth the top with a large offset spatula. Evenly scatter the walnuts over the top of the cake. Run the tip of the spatula or your finger around the edges of the pan to push the batter away from the edge about 1/2 inch to prevent the cake from sticking to the sides of the pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until light golden brown and firm and springy to the touch.

Use a small knife to release any sides of the cake that are stuck to the pan. Use a large spatula to lift a corner of the cake off the pan and very carefully pull the cake (along with the baking mat or parchment) onto a large rack to cool completely.

Michael Spain-Smith

Cherry Crisp

Ingredients for the crumble topping:
1/3 cup sliced almonds (35g)
1/3 cup rolled oats (35g)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (78g)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (2g)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (2g)
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced (85g)
1/4 cup raw (turbinado) sugar (80g)

Ingredients for the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil (15g)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (14g)
1 pound thawed and drained frozen sour cherries (454g)
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar (40g)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (15g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5g)
1 pound fresh Bing cherries, halved and pitted (454g)
1 tablespoon cornstarch (9g)
Leaves from  4 sprigs fresh thyme

To make the crumble topping, put the almonds and oats into a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the flour, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and chili powder and stir to combine. Add the butter and turbinado sugar and, using your fingers mix the butter into the flour mixture until well combined and large clumps form. Spread the crumble out into the bowl and freeze while you make the filling or for up to 1 day.

To make the filling, in a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the sour cherries and confectioners’ sugar and cook for about 5 minutes, until the juice thickens and reduces slightly. Add the vinegar, vanilla, and fresh cherries and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let stand until room temperature. When the filling is completely cool, stir in the cornstarch and thyme leaves until the cornstarch is dissolved.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Using a slotted spoon, divide the cherry mixture among size 6-ounce ramekins or scoop into a 1-quart baking dish. A little juice is okay, but you don’t want cherries to be too soupy. Scatter the frozen crumble mixture evenly over the tops of the dishes and put them on a baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crumble topping is golden brown. Let the crisps stand for at least 10 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.

Michael Spain-Smith

Sugar Rush

To see more, pick up Sugar Rush.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest