10 of the Most Difficult Recipes to Make at Home
I'm always up for a challenge when it comes to cooking a dish with many, many steps. But, sometimes my confidence gets the best of me and I end up miserably failing at cooking whatever it is I decided to make.
Photo by Molly Dunn Making layered cakes with three types of frosting is not easy at all.
For years, I had my eye on this layered Bon Appetit magazine cover recipe, Devil's Food cake with a beautiful white fluffy peppermint frosting, silky dark chocolate ganache and smooth white chocolate cream. My mother collects magazines, so during Thanksgiving and Christmas I frequently read through them searching for the perfect recipe to make. A couple Christmases ago, I decided to try this one. As I attempted to assemble the dessert, everything went wrong. My ganache was too runny, the frosting was not thick enough and my cakes were too delicate; I ended up supporting the leaning tower of three cake layers with chopsticks, hoping and praying it would not collapse on my kitchen counter. I should have read the recipe more before I began making it because I was way in over my head.
Despite my failed efforts at making a cover-worthy recipe, I still don't back down from challenges, I just use better resources to figure out what I am doing. So, for all of you risk-takers and over-achievers, here are the ten most difficult recipes to make at home with some references to help you not only finish the dish, but make it a tasty one, too.
10. Salt-Crusted Fish
Photo by Molly Dunn The salt crust must be packed tightly, otherwise the fish will be like a salt lick.
Having a chef make salt-crusted fish for you at a restaurant is a splendid treat. Despite an entire fish being covered in salt like someone being buried in sand at the beach, the plated result is not overly salted. But, if you don't pack the salt and egg white mixture tight enough, you risk salt crystals leaking into the fish as it cooks and when you break into the shell, creating an almost unbearable flavor. Ease your stress by having your butcher clean and gut your fish, then check out this video from Fine Cooking for a demonstration on preparing the salt dome and properly covering the entire fish.
9. Baked Alaska
If you thought making an ice cream cake was hard, try making Baked Alaska. This dessert not only requires you to form a mold of ice cream around a cake, but you must also cover it with a meringue, then bake it in the oven. After several hours of assembling and freezing, you pour a liquor over the baked meringue and ignite with a flame. Cold desserts on fire are pretty sweet.
Photo by Molly Dunn Macarons are some of the most difficult pastries to make.
Not only are macarons challenging to perfectly execute, but if you make them in a city with so much humidity, like Houston, you're going to have a much more difficult time. Even if the weather is perfect, things can easily go awry. Every step is crucial -- from combining the egg whites with the sugar and almond flour and piping the mixture onto a cookie sheet to baking and cooling the pastries for the appropriate time. Bakers strive to create the perfect macaron and some have yet to accomplish that feat. Watch this video from Fine Cooking which demonstrates how to make the classic French dessert.
I don't know about you, but making breakfast for a family of four, or more, is a daunting task -- my mom and I always had a difficult time even working as a team. Props to every short order cook because I can never seem to find a way to put breakfast on the table at the same time or at the same temperature for each person. Pancakes never come out perfectly and they require constant tending; French toast makes a mess and you have to be careful not to cover your counter in eggs; you always burn some toast (even though it's the easiest task); and don't even try to make eggs for everyone, unless they all agree on scrambled. You're using practically every appliance in your kitchen at the same time. Just talking about it stresses me out.