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Diner Desserts

by Tish Boyle (Chronicle Books)

Diner Desserts



You know the craving. It's the one that hits around midnight on Saturday...chocolate cream pie; buttermilk doughnut; rich chocolate shake. Time to head to the diner. Or coffee shop. Or doughnut stand.

Tish Boyle wants to cut your travel time. To create her collection in Diner Desserts, you need do nothing more than shuffle to your kitchen in your slippers. Boyle's recipes take you behind the counter and under the cake keeper to reveal everything you need to know about diner delicacies.

Ever wonder, for instance, what goes into the perfect, classic black and white cookie? Heavy cream and vanilla extract is the key to the divine white icing and heavy cream and light corn syrup to the shiny chocolate glaze in Boyle's top-notch recipe. She also scents her cookie dough with orange zest and has just the right balance of flour, baking powder, baking soda and egg to make the cookies puffy and light.

To emulate that really rich double-chocolate milk shake you may have ordered, you'll be adding homemade chocolate syrup made from semisweet chocolate and whole milk, more whole milk and lots of chocolate ice cream and pouring the thickly blended concoction into glasses you whip out from your freezer.

Pies are heavenly, from sky-high lemon meringue to apple with cheddar cheese crust. It's no wonder; they're the stuff of dreams. "Sometimes, when I'm really hungry, I daydream about a paradise of pies: I'm in a diner famous for its homemade pies," writes Boyle. "Hundreds of fruit pies, freshly baked and fragrant, cool on racks behind the lunch counter. Cream and meringue pies, piled high with cloudlike toppings, fill the refrigerated display case. Winged waitresses with beehive hairdos and sensible white shoes flit about. One takes my order: A large piece of pie, please, and a cup of coffee."

You can tell New Yorker Boyle hangs out at diners. Her impressive background hints, however, that it wasn't always so. She's the fancy-schmancy food editor of Chocolatier and Pastry Art & Design magazines who is a graduate of the prestigious Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris. But it's just that expertise that makes her confident enough to know that a great dessert can just as easily show up in an ice cream dish as a soufflé dish.

You, too, will probably not need more proof than her butterscotch, hot fudge (that also includes a warm walnut sauce), or s'more sundaes or triple-threat banana split (homemade strawberry, chocolate and butterscotch sauces and three flavors of ice cream).

When you're creating your own sauces, pie crusts or cake batters, though, it's going to take you a bit longer than flagging down a waitress and placing an order. But it's worth following Boyle's instructions if you are interested in learning to prepare ideal, homemade versions of your favorite diner delights.

Classic Black and White Cookies
Hot Fudge–Walnut Sauce Sundae

(Updated: 11/11/08 SB)

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