There are two desserts that I’m sort of obsessed with, though I rarely eat them: upside down cake and bread pudding.
I like them both for different reasons. But I guess what they share in common is that heaviness and density that means your belly is going to be nice and bloated, along with a gooey stickiness that I find absolutely irresistible.
So it’s been with excitement and envy that I’ve been stumbling upon great reading and recipes for all things sticky and sweet lately.
First, there were the posts by Dorie Greenspan and David Leibovitz (can I please have their lives??) about kouign amann. No, this pastry/cake (depending how you want to look at it) is neither upside down nor a pudding. But it has same gooeyness that covers your tongue and sticks to your teeth and the same heft that feels like a happy bullet in your gut. All kouign amann is is pastry dough, baked with copious amounts of butter and sugar so that the butter and sugar do their chemical magic and caramelize and congeal and make it sweet and sticky.
I tried my first kouign amann in Nantes last month (the pastry originates in Brittany). Actually, it was a mini version called a kouignette. This candy store where I got it had all kinds of flavors from chocolate to apple, coconut to caramel. As I had anticipated and hoped, it was sugary, sweet and sticky. But sadly, it lacked the omigod factor.
What I’m looking for is something like Molly Killeen’s St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake that Melissa Clark wrote about last week. “A treacly mix of corn syrup, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla”?? Yes, please! Or this week’s Minimalist ode to a maple pear upside down cake: “Then pour this syrup over the cake, making it tender, sweet and gooey.” It’s almost enough to make you forsake the macarons and pains aux raisins. Almost. But not quite.