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Recipes from Gail Sokol:
Makes about 24 large mushrooms
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed just until foamy, about 30 seconds. Add the cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium-high until the whites have a soft shape.
- Slowly add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat for about 30 seconds between each addition. Stop the machine and quickly scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Add the vanilla extract and increase the speed to the highest. Beat for 7-8 minutes or until the meringue becomes quite stiff and the sugar has dissolved. Quickly scrape down the sides of the bowl with the rubber spatula to make sure the sugar and vanilla are thoroughly blended in.
- Place a large plain pastry tip on a large pastry bag. Fill the bag with the meringue.
- Pipe about 24 large mushroom caps onto one of the sheet pans. Form each cap by holding the bag at a 90-degree angle to the sheet pan and squeezing out a 1- to 1 1/2-inch round of meringue. Pipe 24 large stems on the second sheet pan, pulling back on the pastry bag to create a peak with each stem formed.
- Using a sieve, dust the mushroom caps and stems with cocoa.
- Bake for 2 hours. Mushrooms should not have any color to them.
- Turn oven heat off, prop oven open, and leave the mushrooms in the oven for another hour. Cool completely.
- Using a small, sharp knife, make a small hole in the center of the underside of each cap, being careful not to go all the way through to the other side. Using a small offset spatula, spread the underside and the hole of one of the caps with a small amount of melted chocolate. Stick a stem gently into the hole of the cap and carefully place back onto the same sheet pan. Attach the remaining caps and stems in the same manner.
- Chill the mushrooms in the refrigerator until the chocolate has hardened.
Free-Form Apple Walnut Tart
Makes one 12-inch-round tart
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon ice water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 egg, lightly beaten (to use as a glaze)
1/4 cup granulated sugar for sprinkling
Apple walnut filling
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3-4 medium crisp apples such as Gala or Granny Smith, peeled, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into tiny pieces
- Make the flaky pastry: In a food processor, pulse both flours and the salt until well combined. Add the cubes of butter and pulse until they becomes the size of peas. Add the ice water and vinegar all at once and pulse about 8 times, or just until the water is incorporated. Pour into a medium bowl and gently gather into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and flatten into a 1-inch thick disk. Chill for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a rough 12- to 14-inch circle. Transfer to a large pizza pan covered with parchment paper.
- Make the apple walnut filling: In a small bowl, combine the walnuts, flour, cinnamon, and granulated sugar. Scatter the nut mixture all over the rolled-out pastry, leaving 2 inches of the edge uncovered. Arrange the apples on top of the nut mixture. Scatter the tiny butter pieces all over the apples.
- Using a pastry brush, brush the border of the pastry with beaten egg. Fold the edges up over the apples, creating a 1 1/2- to 2-inch border, pressing down gently. Brush the edges of the tart with the beaten egg and sprinkle the entire tart, including the border, with the 1/4 cup sugar.
- Bake the tart for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the apples are softened, with their edges just beginning to brown.
- Serve the tart warm, cut into slices, and topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.