Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell are affectionately known around my kitchen as the Fabulous Beekman Boys. They’re the goat farmer winners of Amazing Race season 21 and, more importantly, the founders with flawless taste of Beekman 1802, a lifestyle brand with a vintage-modern aesthetic based around their 60-acre farm in Sharon Springs, New York.
I interviewed Brent about their second cookbook, the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Desserts Cookbook: 100 Delicious Heritage Recipes from the Farm and Garden. The book landed on shelves this fall and has quickly earned accolades, including a top spot on Bakepedia’s Best Baking Books of 2013 and Amazon.com Editor’s Picks for Best Gift Books of the Year.
Just like the focus of their best-selling Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook, the newest one features solely sweets and stories passed down through generations.
“After our first cookbook, we had so many people asking for more desserts recipes and whenever we posted them on our website they were always the most shared,” said Ridge.
“There are no better recipes that illustrate the heirloom quality than a dessert recipe. They get made over and over again and there’s always that special one that someone makes for every Thanksgiving, Easter or Fourth of July.”
In order for a recipe to develop such complex layers of nostalgia, it must meet three standards: It must be delicious, it must be relatively simple to make, and the ingredients must be readily available to everyone.
Over one hundred gorgeous photos taken by Paulette Tavormina capture the delightful confections and beautiful backdrop that is the Beekman farm. Page introductions beget giggles and sighs of endearment.
Recipes are even divided into seasons and arranged so that readers can take advantage of the freshest ingredients at that time of year. The winter section features a superb selection of naturally gluten-free recipes like Vanilla Panna Cotta Surprise, Winter Kabocha Squash Pie (without the crust), Chocolate-Espresso Soup with Marshmallows, Lemon Curd, Snow Cream with Sweetened Condensed Milk, Sugarplums, Orange-Chocolate Pots de Crème, Candied Citrus Zest and Mushroom Meringues.
The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook is available in hardcover and e-book. Readers are encouraged to tinker with the recipes and share them on the Beekman Facebook page or keep it old school by adding their own handwritten notes and recipes to the pages of the book.
“Each family has their own recipes that they treasure so we put in space for that. We want this book to become a placeholder, the book that you pull off the shelf over and over again, whether you are making or adapting one of ours or because you know that’s where you keep your own,” said Ridge.
I plan to revisit the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Desserts Cookbook again in the spring to highlight that season’s gluten-friendly recipes and transform one that is not. Don’t forget to keep up with what is happening on the farm by visiting beekman1802.com.
Deciding to make a gluten-free version of something gluten-full from the book, I settled on page 25’s Salty Nougat Fudge Brownies. I riffed on it, subbing the salted roasted peanuts for homemade salted roasted pecans and swapping the Snickers nougat for a Skor toffee bar. (Hey, Brent did say we could tinker!) Another great discovery from this Beekman baking adventure was finding Domata Gluten-Free Flour. I stumbled across it at the market and it’s a recipe-ready cup for cup exchange since the xanthan gum is already added. Perfect brownies!
Salted Pecan and Toffee Brownies (Serves 12)
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large eggs
½ c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. simple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. gluten-free flour, such as Domata Gluten-Free Recipe Ready Flour
½ c. salted roasted pecans, coarsely chopped
2 Skor bars, coarsely chopped
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8” square baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving a few inches on the sides so you can pull out the brownies. Butter the bottom of the paper lining.
-Melt chocolate and butter together in a Pyrex dish over boiling water.
-Whisk eggs, sugars, syrup, remaining liquids and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the chocolate mixture and flour, alternating a little each time. Fold in nuts and candy. Transfer to baking pan.
-Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until edges are set and toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan then serve.
(Recipe adapted from the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Desserts Cookbook’s Salty Nougat Fudge Brownies.)