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Ben Franklin & Lisa

Oct 25, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose


I've always thought that september should be the beginning of the year instead of january. january is the quietist month after all the holiday hubbub, but in september new york wakes up from summer hibernation and is at its most event-full!

the top two baking related events for me this september were the beginning of an extensive celebration of ben franklin's 300th birthday in philly and the d.c. launch of my dear friend and colleague lisa yockelson's long awaited, exquisitely written, and magnificently published cookbook: "ChocolateChocolate." it seemed perfectly appropriate that lisa's event came on the heels of the ben franklin one as ben franklin is the muse of writers of all books. after all, where would be without his invention--the printing press!

the benjamin franklin event was held in the franklin institute science museum where many of the city's top bakers prepared desserts that will be featured on their menus during the year long celebration, with themes designed to honor him. only five of them, however, actually entered the official birthday cake contest. the winner was assistant pastry chef jennifer macdonald from the fountain restaurant at the four seasons hotel philadelphia who prepared a cake modeled after benjamin franklin's desk with realistically tinted wood-grained rolled fondant as the wood and feather pen, and green blown sugar apples so perfectly executed that two of the judges (dorie greenspan and i) thought they were real apples. the third judge, roland mesnier, former white house pastry chef, wasn't fooled for an instant as he himself is master of the rare art of blown sugar.

the following week was a longer car trip to d.c. for lisa yockelson's book launch. as a fellow baker, cookbook writer, and kindred spirit, lisa and I are in lively competition over who can do the most helpful and lovely things for the other! while many cookbook authors, especially those in the same field, are possessive of their editors, lisa , in an act of extreme generosity introduced me to her beloved editor--pam chirls of wiley. lisa knew of my dream to do a beautiful four color comprehensive cake book published with the quality of her chocolate book (few publisher do this kind of book), and she also suspected that we would work wonderfully together.

to surprise her, and support her new book, I joined pam chirls for a weekend of celebration, beginning friday night with a quiet late dinner in a neighborhood restaurant near georgetown where we had a gab-fest of bake and book-talk, and culminating with a grand party thrown by her friend and designer, Frank Babb Randolph, in his beautiful townhouse. saturday night's celebration dinner was at the mini bar of jose andres's café atlantico where we were presented with a seemingly endless array of mini courses each more stunning to the senses than the next.

another highlight of the weekend was a saturday afternoon book signing at the french linen store yves delorme in bethesda, md. as lisa has incorporated many of their exquisite linens into the photographs of her new book. recipes from the book were prepared for the guests but hidden behind the back of the store was a special stash of brownies lisa herself had prepared for her special friends visiting from out of town. these brownies will explain better than words why she is called "diva of deep dark and fudgy."

here's the recipe for bittersweet chocolate brownies.


thank you so much for your quick reply and information, Nidia


Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Nidia
02/21/2012 10:40 AM

Hi Nidia,
We just simply stir in the nuts. If the nuts, fruit, or an ingredient needs to be coated, we would specify that in the instructions. But if you have a doubt, you can also check for the recipe in the Errata/Corrections section under Categories.


I made the Barcelona Brownies, great recipe, thanks Rose.
I just have a question..do I have to stir the peacns or almonds in a little bit of flour before add to the mix? thank you


Hi Jeannette, financiers are a French "mini-cake" and they are shaped like tiny rectangles. Here's a link for a silicone financier mold:

I suspect a "mini-loaf" pan might work as well. Try a Google search for "financier mold" and "financier pan" -- you'll get slightly different results for each one.

Happy Baking!


9Ydd3u Hello! I'm Samuel Smith, i'm from Switqerland i and find your site really brilliant!


it should say whether or not it is alkalized aka dutch-processed. if so you can use it as you would droste. if not you should call dean and delucca and ask for more info. on the product.


erma farrell
erma farrell
11/ 7/2007 06:09 PM

I was given a 14 oz. tin of Dean & De Luca BENSDORP COCOA last Christmas. What is the shelf life for this cocoa? Since this tin does not have any recipes printed on the tin, can I use the ones on a DROSTE box. I have that product in my cabinet and use it all the time. Love it.


Jeaanette Miers
Jeaanette Miers
11/10/2006 03:51 PM

I love Brownies.
What is a financier mold. I'm going out to buy one; or maybe I have one already.


Becky: thank you so much! i hate the idea of passing on mis-information so really appreciate the correction!


Becky Heydemann
Becky Heydemann
11/16/2005 08:03 AM

Hi! While I greatly admire Mr. Franklin's many achivements, he only improved the printing press, it was invented many years earlier (around 150) in Germany. And the Chinese had moveable type back in the 1100's.
But the picture remided me of the best event in April-The edible book teas held on April 1st all over the world. Look them up and get some fun ideas.
Becky Heydemann-
Love the books, Rose-thanks for all the hard work!



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