5-star Easy-Bake Oven Pastry Chefs

For today’s edition of the Press Herald, columnist Meredith Goad handed out Easy-Bake Ovens to the pastry chefs at Hugo’s, Five Fifty-Five and Fore Street. Chefs Kim Rodgers, Addie Davis and Brant Dadaleares were challenged to create a great dessert using the purple toy from Hasbro instead of their usual professional grade equipment.

“That’s perfect for custard,” Dadaleares said. So the chef made six custards, topped them with some turbinado sugar and torched them. (It took 15 to 20 minutes for each custard to bake.) He chose the three best, and layered them with vanilla rice pudding, caramelized Rice Krispies, candied pecans, port-poached pears and cherries. He topped his Easy-Bake napoleon with sweetened whipped cream.

Dadaleares also made a persimmon pudding with the oven. It worked, he said, “but I liked the flavor combinations of this (the napoleon) a little bit more.”

Today’s Food & Wine section also includes a column by local wine expert Joe Appel on Champagne and sparkling wine.

If you want to drink a truly expressive nonvintage Champagne, one to make your eyes widen and your heart race, you need to work for it. And it will cost you (though not much more than generic big-house Champagne will). Some of the best available in Maine are Gimmonet, Egly-Ouriet, Aubry, Beaudoin, Vilmart & Cie, and Maillart.