2010 Chefs’ Challenge – Desserts

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The Chef: Wendy Roberts (El Centro College, Dallas)

As a native Texan, Wendy Roberts loves anything with pecans in it, and started thinking how great pecans and cranberries go together. Cranberries made her think of her favorite cocktail–a Cape Cod (vodka with cranberry and lime) and presto! This tart was born.

Cranberry Pecan Lime Tart

Serves 12


1 1/2 sticks (6 oz.) butter or margarine, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1 large egg yolk

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour


4 large eggs

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/3 cup molasses

2 Tbs. lime vodka

1/2 tsp. salt

3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries

1/8 tsp. grated lime zest

1. To make Crust: Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Add flour 1 cup at a time, beating until just combined and dough comes together. Press onto bottom and sides of 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom, and freeze 2 hours, or overnight.

2. To make Filling: Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat eggs in large bowl. Whisk in brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, vodka, and salt. Beat in melted butter, then fold in pecans, cranberries, and lime zest with spatula. Spread filling in tart Crust.

3. Bake tart 35 to 45 minutes, or until filling is set and crust is golden-brown. Cool in pan before unmolding and serving.

The Chef: Leah Matthews (Johnson and Wales University, Providence, R.I.)

The “Aha!” moment for this recipe came when Leah Matthews thought, if carrot cake is frosted with cream cheese frosting, why not combine the cake and cream cheese to make a cheesecake? A handful of leftover gingersnaps adds zing to the crust.

Carrot Cake-Inspired Cheesecake Bars

Makes 30 bars


2 cups Graham cracker crumbs

2 cups crushed gingersnaps

1 Tbs. sugar

2/3 cup melted butter


4 8-oz. pkg. low-fat cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 medium carrots, finely grated (1 1/2 cups)

1 cup low-fat sour cream

1 Tbs. grated orange zest

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

1 Tbs. vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1. To make Crust: Preheat oven to 325°F. Coat 13- x 9-inch pan with cooking spray. Stir together Graham cracker crumbs, crushed ginger snaps, and sugar in large bowl. Stir in melted butter. Press mixture onto bottom and sides of prepared baking pan. Bake 10 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Set aside.

2. To make Filling: Beat together cream cheese, sugar, carrots, sour cream, orange zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg until smooth. Add flour, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla, then beat in eggs one at a time.

3. Spread cream cheese mixture over Crust, and set pan inside larger roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with 1/2 inch hot water, then bake cheesecake 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from water bath, and cool on wire rack. Chill 1 hour or overnight, then cut into 30 bars.

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