- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2004

Whatever the score and whatever the mood or the weather, good desserts improve the quality of life for most people.

The two following recipes are for new versions of a chocolate pie with an orange tang and a walnut-spice cookie, developed by Karen Barker, acclaimed pastry chef, cookbook author and co-owner of the Magnolia Grill in Durham, N.C.

Chocolate fudge pie

The preparation time is 30 minutes, and the cooking time is 30 minutes.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut into pieces

5 ounces (10 tablespoons) butter

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

13/4 cups sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup flour

¼ cup orange juice (see note)

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

1 refrigerated unbaked pie crust, pressed into 9-inch pie pan

Powdered sugar and whipped cream for serving

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (see note).

Melt unsweetened chocolate and butter in top of a double boiler. Combine eggs, egg yolk, sugar, salt, vanilla and flour. Whisk to combine. Whisk in orange juice, orange marmalade and reserved chocolate mixture. Pour mixture into prepared pie crust. Bake for 25 minutes or until puffed, set and slightly crusty on top. Cool completely before serving. Sprinkle the pie with powdered sugar, and serve with whipped cream. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Note: This pie bakes at an unusually high temperature to create its ultra-creamy interior and contrasting crusty exterior. Substitute Grand Marnier for the orange juice, if preferred.

Spicy walnut butterballs

The preparation time is 15 minutes, and the cooking time is 15 minutes.

8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1½ cups powdered sugar, sifted and divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1¼ teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground clove

½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup lightly toasted, skinned, fine-chopped walnuts

Cream the butter with 3/4 cup of the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla, flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper and nutmeg, and mix until well-combined, scraping the bowl once or twice. Add the walnuts, and mix just until combined. Chill the dough for about 1 hour, until it’s firm but malleable.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll pieces of the dough into walnut-size rounds (about 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie), and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for about 14 to 16 minutes, until the bottoms of the cookies are lightly golden brown; the tops will be set but still fairly pale in color. Remove cookies from oven, and immediately coat them with half of the remaining powered sugar. Allow them to cool completely, then coat them again with the remaining powdered sugar.

If not serving immediately, you should reroll them in additional sifted powdered sugar just before serving. Makes 2½-dozen cookies.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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