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Mother’s Day is May 13, and around the country, kids of all ages order flowers, buy cards and make brunch reservations to celebrate Mom. If this trio of traditional offerings sounds an awful lot like your personal plans, it’s time to break this overdone habit. This year, ditch your humdrum routine and really get Mom humming with happiness when you serve her one of these delicious desserts, made with love by you—with a little help from your hens.
My kids often argue about who gets to “help” me make this dessert. I’m usually lucky if I still have half of it left to spoon into serving glasses. This makes 4 to 6 servings; because of my helpers, I usually double the recipe. This is especially delicious served warm sprinkled with nutmeg and cinnamon.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 2/3 cup sugar, beating until thoroughly combined. Slowly add the flour, mixing well to combine. Set aside. In a large pot, combine the milk, cream and vanilla. Add the 1 1/2 cups sugar; blend well. Bring the milk mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring continually to prevent scorching. Take 1/4 cup of the milk mixture and quickly add it to the egg-yolk mixture, whisking quickly to incorporate it. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of the milk mixture. Once all the milk is fully incorporated, add the egg-yolk mixture to the pot of boiling milk and whisk continually until the custard thickens. Remove from heat. Spoon into serving cups; serve warm or chilled.
The first time I made this tart, I foolishly made six tartlets. The disputes that broke out over those tartlets were remarkable. After that, I’ve always made one large, sliceable tart. I top mine with fresh strawberries, but any berry works. Serves 6 to 8.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, mixing until fully incorporated. Slowly add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a stiff dough forms. Gather into a ball; wrap with plastic wrap and chill for one hour. Roll out into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Fit into a 9-inch tart tin; trim the edges to be even with the top of the tin. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until tart shell is golden throughout. If the edges start to brown, cover with tin foil. Cool completely on wire rack, then carefully remove from tart tin.
In a chilled metal bowl, whisk the cream and sugar together until stiff and glossy. Gently fold into the custard with a rubber spatula until fully combined. Fill a piping bag with the cream (use a gallon storage bag if you don’t have a piping bag; just snip off one corner). Pipe the cream into the cooled tart crust. Make sure the tart crust is fully cooled or the cream will melt.
Hull and slice the strawberries. In a small saucepan, heat the jelly over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it liquefies but does not boil. Let cool, then add strawberries and toss until the berries are well coated. Arrange on top of tart. Chill until ready to serve.
This is my go-to dessert for special occasions during warm-weather days. It looks absolutely elegant and tastes even better. Serves 4 to 6.
Trace the outside of a 9-inch round cake pan on a sheet of parchment paper with a pencil. Place the parchment paper pencil-side down on a baking sheet; the traced circle should still be visible. Preheat the oven to 185 degrees F. In a large metal bowl, beat the egg whites and salt together until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and cornstarch, then continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form. Gently fold in the vanilla. Spoon 3/4 of the meringue mixture into the traced circle. Use a knife or an offset spatula to smooth it into a flat disk. Fill a pastry bag (or a gallon storage bag if you don’t have a piping bag; just snip off one corner) with the remaining meringue. Pipe meringue “kisses” along the outer edge of the meringue disk. Bake the meringue for 1 1/2 hours. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue inside for another hour. Allow the meringue shell to cool completely, then place on a cake stand or serving plate.
While the meringue shell cools, heat the raspberry jam in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it liquefies but does not boil. Let cool, then add the berries and toss until the berries are well coated.
In a chilled metal bowl, whisk the cream and sugar together until stiff and glossy. Fill the meringue shell with the whipped cream. Top with the berries. Serve immediately.