5 Dessert Tips for a Merry Christmas


Matcha Pistachio Biscotti (adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Chocolate Biscotti recipe)

Merry Christmas, everyone! Yes, I know I've been absent for awhile. But I have reasons. I even missed blogging about Thanksgiving, though I did tumbl about it.

Here are some tasties I made for this year's Christmas. In New York, I feel compelled to be hard-driving career woman. When I'm in the suburbs, all I want to do is bake and craft! It is a type of madness.

It's easy to please the Tom family with your desserts, as long as you abide by a few easy rules.

Rule #1) Use sugar at your own risk. A dessert mustn't be too sweet, or else you will hear this all night: Ho Dim! HO DIM! (too sweet!) One year, Julian brought a Momofuku Milk Bar banana cake to Thanksgiving, and my family went into sugar shock. I usually take sugar down by a third. The matcha pistachio cookies above are flavor-packed, addictive, and so unassumingly sweet that someone even asked if I put sugar them in at all (yes, I did).


Pignoli Cookies (adapted from Lidia Bastianach)

Rule #2: Increase your nuts by a third. Nuts are expensive. They are tasty. They are not sweet. When you use a lot of them, that means you love your family -- especially pine nuts which are shockingly expensive, but will buy you enough points to last a whole year.


Pear chocolate strudel (adapted from Waitrose)

Rule #3: Don't forget your cousin Jen and her husband David, who are allergic to nuts! I'm no jerk. This pear chocolate strudel also performs a magic trick, in which it plays the role of the chocolate dessert and the healthiest dessert -- at the same time!


Orange Curd Tart (adapted from Tartine)

Rule #4: Dessert should close the meal with a light touch, not a slam. Everyone is STUFFED at the end of Christmas dinner. I learned long ago that making super-decadent desserts does no one any favors. People will eat it to be polite, moan about how dense it it, then leave a sad, barely-eaten dessert behind. Better to make a dessert that people will not regret, one that has the right amount of lift and luxury, like this Orange Curd Tart, perked up with fresh-squeezed oranges, plenty of lemon zest, and a slip of shortbread as a crust.


All of our main dishes, plus two sides I made: fennel orange salad, balsamic glazed asparagus.


The ornaments list all the courses of the night

Rule #5: Know when to stop. We had 16 adults (and two babies) at Christmas. I could make desserts all day, but if no one eats them, then I will officially be a dessert robot. So, what I tend to do is divert my obsessiveness. This year, I spellbound myself with kirigami, the art of cut paper. I started with a menu written on the ornaments on a 3D tree. Then I moved to the Tower of Babel, a village, and then the Capitol Building which was well beyond my tools and patience.

I do miss blogging, but as I said in this blog post, I'm still figuring out the purpose of www.jessicatom.com. I am still fighting the good fight with the book. I am still tweeting the tweets. I am still reading (now, a non-fiction interlude of Steve Jobs). I've also become even more of a makeup maniac. Thanks for sticking around and hope you have a spectacular holiday. And if you have any ideas for blog directions, please let me know in the comments!