East End Sweets: 3 New Desserts at Nick & Toni’s
May 22, 2012 | East End Eats
There’s no better place to kick-start our weekly “East End Sweets” series than Nick & Toni's, an East Hampton classic. Pastry chef Jessica Craig keeps the dessert menu fresh with a constant rotation of seasonal desserts, many of which are made with organic fruits and herbs plucked from the restaurant’s own backyard garden. Come mid-June, look for strawberry and rhubarb confections to grace the menu. On a recent morning, we visited Craig’s pastry kitchen to find out what she’s working on now.
Banana Hazelnut Brioche Tart
Meet the banana hazelnut brioche tart, a dessert that appeals to both the sweet and savory sides of the palate. Buttery and house-made, the brioche tart is baked with bananas and topped with more bananas, a twirl of salted caramel sauce, and sweet pancetta brittle. The result is warm, salty, and sweet. Craig dreamed up the dessert while experimenting with ingredients to make snack for herself.
Chocolate Grappa Cake
There’s a heady dose of grappa baked directly into this dense chocolate cake. Served warm with an additional glug of grappa and a sprinkling of candied almonds, the dessert has a sweet crunch and puts all other liquor-infused cakes to shame. For the finishing touches, Craig adds an orb of silky mascarpone gelato, a showering of crushed cacao nibs, and a caramelized chocolate lace cookie. Where to start? Break up the cookie and sink your spoon straight in, capturing a bit of everything in one bite.
Butterscotch Panna Cotta
Craig’s butterscotch panna cotta appears relatively simple, but the flavors are intense and luxurious. Chef starts with a loose, almost pudding-like, butterscotch panna cotta and caps it with a pool of dark chocolate ganache and a dusting of local Amagansett Sea Salt. And those two little cookies—spiced chocolate, crumbly, and crisp, with coarse sugar—are no afterthought. Serious chocolate fans would also do well to try Craig’s legendary tartufo—a permanent dessert menu fixture.
—KATHY YL CHAN