The Last Course – Giveaway & Interview

In 2001, Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern was published by Random House. It wasn’t long before the brilliance of this cookbook was spread far and wide.

For at least a decade, book sleuths have searched library sales, thrift stores, and used bookstores in the hopes of coming across a copy for a bargain. The price to purchase a copy on Amazon or eBay could range from $100 to $300.

At last, Random House has finally reprinted The Last Course. While the cover has changed the book is an exact replica of the original.

I first became aware of Claudia while working in New York for a law firm. John Firestone, a lawyer I worked with, and his family came to our new home on Long Island and gifted me with a copy of this book. Claudia’s mother lived in the same building as his family and was like a grandmother to his children. I put the book on the shelf happy to have it but not knowing of its value and wonder until a few years later when my life became all about cookbooks. Even though I collected them and loved to cook and bake, my work in the field exploded in 2013.

Two years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Claudia at the James Beard Awards Dinner where I was able to taste her famous chocolate caramel tart. Throughout the dinner that evening, I had tasted marvelous bites but the highlight was most definitely Claudia’s tart. Even though she was so busy, she took a few moments for me and cemented my fangirl feelings for the famous pastry chef.

Earlier this month, Julia Moskin published a piece for The New York Times that shares Claudia’s journey, reflects the author’s love of her work, her time with her chef husband, Gerry Hayden, who died in 2015 and what the future holds.

Claudia’s schedule is hectic as one can imagine but she took some time to answer a few questions for our members. I made them quick as to not intrude too much upon her time.

EYB: I don’t think anyone was as excited as cookbook lovers were when we learned that The Last Course was going to be reissued. Why now? And why did the publisher let the original go out of print?

Claudia: I don’t know why the book went out of print but, I was told the demand was great, so it was reprinted!

EYB: Are you a cookbook lover? If so what is your favorite title? How many cookbooks do you own?

Claudia: Yes, indeed!  The current generation of cooks seems to find inspiration from social media.  I still enjoy poring over books.  I own hundreds of cookbooks. It’s mine and Gerry’s collection combined.  I’ve moved four times in the last four years many of my belongings are in storage which includes the cookbook collection.

EYB: As a lover of cookbooks, I find them inspirational and take me away from the world’s problems – how do you feel about how the cookbook industry today? How it seems to thrive while other industries fail? 

Claudia: Food is comfort, reading about food and looking at beautiful photos of food is calming.  A great cookbook makes people feel they can achieve what is on the page. Dorie Greenspan is a genius at this!  Even if you don’t make the recipes, you feel you can, it inspires confidence, who doesn’t want that!! 

EYB: What chef or author do you find inspirational today?


Claudia: After 30 years, both Nancy Silverton and Tom Colicchio continue to inspire me! 

EYB: Any chance there’ll be a North Fork Inn cookbook in the future?

Claudia: No, I don’t see that as possible without Gerry!

EYB: Do you have a sequel to The Last Course in the works?

Claudia: Never say never!

EYB: What is your most requested recipe?

Claudia: The chocolate caramel tart.

EYB: What is your favorite city for its food alone? 

Claudia: Paris!

EYB: What is your favorite thing to cook? Your favorite thing to bake? 

Claudia: Linguine and clam sauce. To bake, fruit crostata.

Special thanks to Random House for allowing us to share the Chocolate caramel tart with our readers and for providing the image from the book. The Last Course is our baking option for December in the EYB Cookbook Club – make the tart – it is incredible!

Chocolate caramel tarts
Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

Chocolate Tart Dough

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Caramel Filling

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp crème fraiche (sour cream or additional heavy cream may be substituted)

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3-1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (you may use semisweet if you prefer)
  • Pinch sea salt, such as fleur de sel

Topping

Coarse sea salt, such as fleur de sel, optional

Instructions

  1. To make the tart dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar about 1 minute. Add the cocoa and beat until incorporated. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat until smooth. Sift in the flour and beat on low speed until just combined. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form it into a disk. Wrap and chill until firm, about 1 hour, or up to 3 days.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the tart dough to 3/16-inch thick. Using a 2-1/2 inch round cutter, cut out 24 rounds of dough and press them into mini-muffin tins or 2 dozen 2-inch tart pans, trimming away any excess dough; prick the dough all over with a fork. Chill the tart shells for 20 minutes.
  3. Line the tart shells with foil or parchment and fill (to the top) with dried beans, rice, or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer or until the pastry looks dry, set, and is lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Remove cooled shells from tart pans and transfer to a serving plate.
  4. To prepare the filling: Place the water in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and corn syrup. Cook the mixture over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally until you have a dark amber caramel, about 10 minutes.
  5. Carefully whisk in the butter, cream, and crème fraiche stirring until smooth. The caramel will hiss and bubble up so stand back. The caramel can be made up to 5 days ahead and refrigerated. Divide the caramel among the tart shells while still warm or reheat the caramel in the microwave or over low heat until it is pourable. Let tarts rest until the caramel is set, at least 20 minutes.
  6. To make the ganache: In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Place the chocolate in a bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate; add a pinch of sea salt, and let sit for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Pour some of the ganache into each of the tarts while it is still warm. Let the chocolate set at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving. Chill if you are transporting these tarts any distance. Sprinkle top with additional coarse sea salt if desired.

VARIATION: For a large tart, line a 10-inch tart pan with the pastry dough, then prick, weight, and bake as directed, adding five to ten minutes to the baking time. When the tart shell is cool, spoon in the warm caramel filling. Allow the caramel to set before pouring the warm ganache onto the tart.

Thanks to the publisher for providing three copies of the above-referenced title in our giveaway open to EYB Members in the US. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won’t be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post and this forum post. Once you log in and enter your member name you will be directed to the next entry option – the blog comment. After that, there are additional options that you can complete for more entries. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on January 24th, 2020.

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126 Comments

  • fujirw  on  November 23, 2019

    nectarine blueberry cobbler!

  • Dannausc  on  November 23, 2019

    Blueberry cream cheese tart

  • AlexH  on  November 23, 2019

    The Graham Cracker Crust recipe — as cookies! I’ve made this recipe as cookies before and they are exquisite!

  • mcrimmins  on  November 23, 2019

    Lemon Macaroons

  • ravensfan  on  November 23, 2019

    Crème fraîche panna cotta

  • mrskitcatb  on  November 23, 2019

    Apple-butter crepes!

  • LaurenE  on  November 23, 2019

    Blueberry cream cheese tart

  • Shelmar  on  November 23, 2019

    Espresso shortbread

  • BakerMN86  on  November 23, 2019

    Sour cherry sorbet sounds fabulous!

  • DarcyVaughn  on  November 23, 2019

    Pine-nut tart with rosemary

  • CookieMomster12  on  November 23, 2019

    What a wonderful cookbook, I can’t wait to check out all the lovely recipes.

  • demomcook  on  November 23, 2019

    Lemon macaroons

  • jr0717  on  November 24, 2019

    The White Chocolate-Espresso Tart

  • LeMinou  on  November 24, 2019

    Blueberry cream cheese tart

  • riley  on  November 24, 2019

    Saffron rice pudding

  • we10mom  on  November 24, 2019

    Lemon Macaroons!

  • dbranigan27  on  November 24, 2019

    I would like to try the Cashew-chocolate chip crisps .

  • Sleeth  on  November 24, 2019

    So many delicious looking deserts. I would start with the Earl Grey Ice Cream recipe.

  • skaleko  on  November 24, 2019

    The chocolate and vanilla malted creme brulee!

  • matag  on  November 24, 2019

    Almond brown-butter cakes

  • Ecngreg5  on  November 24, 2019

    Cherry cheesecake tart with red wine glaze!

  • Siegal  on  November 24, 2019

    Apple butter crepes

  • hillsboroks  on  November 24, 2019

    I love the Spiced Italian prune plum crisp!

  • goodfruit  on  November 24, 2019

    Buttermilk Ice Cream with accompaniments

  • mph993  on  November 25, 2019

    Maple flan in a walnut crust!

  • vglong29  on  November 25, 2019

    Macadamia-nut brittle

  • hbakke  on  November 25, 2019

    Almond brown-butter cakes

  • Rachellefp  on  November 25, 2019

    Id like to try Chocolate Caramel Tarte – 2 items my hubby loves!!!

  • kmn4  on  November 25, 2019

    Lavender-lemon pound cake

  • sarahawker  on  November 25, 2019

    Smitten Kitchen Every Day

  • sarahawker  on  November 25, 2019

    Orange-cornmeal shortbread

  • MiMi60  on  November 25, 2019

    Lavender crème brûlée

  • Arrivaderla  on  November 25, 2019

    Sour cherry sorbet – divine

  • sequoia55  on  November 26, 2019

    Orange-cornmeal shortbread

  • lhudson  on  November 26, 2019

    chocolate caramel tart

  • Ozma81  on  November 26, 2019

    Chocolate Caramel Tart

  • PeavineBlues  on  November 26, 2019

    Citrus tuiles

  • dadekian  on  November 26, 2019

    Guinness stout ginger cake sounds perfect

  • MarciK  on  November 27, 2019

    I had a hard time picking only one, but I finally decided on
    Chocolate and vanilla malted crème brûlée

  • Sfgordon  on  November 27, 2019

    Almond brown-butter cakes

  • thetinkhams  on  November 29, 2019

    Blueberry-cream cheese tarts with graham cracker crust

  • moralla  on  November 30, 2019

    cherry cheesecake tarts

  • thecharlah  on  November 30, 2019

    Apricot-muscat soup

  • abrownb1  on  November 30, 2019

    Maple baked apples

  • debbiehb  on  November 30, 2019

    Cantaloupe sorbet

  • roxlet  on  November 30, 2019

    The chocolate caramel tart

  • GranChris  on  December 1, 2019

    The Chocolate caramel tarts.

  • mpdeb98  on  December 1, 2019

    Tarragon-macerated strawberry shortcakes with tarragon cream

  • twcyu  on  December 1, 2019

    Espresso Shortbread

  • lleonard05  on  December 1, 2019

    Blueberry-cream cheese tarts with graham cracker crust – sounds delicious!

  • dboldin  on  December 1, 2019

    Caramelized brioche pudding with blackberry cream and fresh blackberries

  • Lora724  on  December 1, 2019

    Tarragon-macerated strawberry shortcakes with tarragon cream sounds delish!

  • SKortas  on  December 3, 2019

    I would try the Cherry Cheesecake Tart with a Red Wine Glaze

  • Blackeyedsusans  on  December 3, 2019

    White chocolate expresso tart

  • MeganGarcia  on  December 3, 2019

    Sour cherry sorbet

  • rchesser  on  December 3, 2019

    Chocolate Caramel Tart

  • JessHeilman  on  December 4, 2019

    Blueberry cream cheese tart.

  • NaomiH  on  December 6, 2019

    Pecan sandies

  • t.t  on  December 14, 2019

    Peach tartes Tatins

  • Cakebaker  on  December 15, 2019

    As Nectarines are in season here now I would love to try the Nectarine, blueberry cobbler….

  • RickPearson54  on  December 15, 2019

    lemon macaroons

  • percussion03  on  December 15, 2019

    Earl grey caramel

  • kimbolarson  on  December 16, 2019

    Hazelnut parfaits.

  • chefthomas  on  December 19, 2019

    Raspberry sorbet

  • ToPieFor  on  December 21, 2019

    The Chocolate Caramel Tart!

  • hrk  on  December 23, 2019

    Orange-cornmeal shortbread

  • Laura1  on  December 24, 2019

    Pine-nut tart with rosemary

  • clairew137  on  December 26, 2019

    Blueberry cream cheese tart

  • sedm3949  on  December 27, 2019

    The grape focaccia is one of my favorites of all time!

  • Jennylunte97  on  December 27, 2019

    Nectarine blueberry cobbler!

  • BMeyer  on  December 27, 2019

    chocolate caramel tart

  • Vanderpham  on  December 27, 2019

    Chocolate caramel tarts

  • UrsEva  on  December 29, 2019

    I would love to make Saffron rice pudding

  • jezpurr  on  January 2, 2020

    Espresso-orange panna cotta parfaits with coffee gelée!!!^_^

  • Bebhionn  on  January 3, 2020

    Guiness ginger cake

  • Ren23  on  January 3, 2020

    The chocolate and vanilla malted creme brulee.

  • traculart  on  January 3, 2020

    My daughter worked at Union Square Hospitality when Claudia worked @Gramercy Tavern, this book would be a great addition to my collection.

  • Karla123  on  January 3, 2020

    Passion fruit-pineapple sorbet…a perfect pairing!

  • Shelley.b  on  January 4, 2020

    Espresso shortbread

  • Cathyschuh  on  January 4, 2020

    blueberry cream cheese tart

  • KitKatCat  on  January 4, 2020

    Strawberry sorbet

  • lbguerrant  on  January 5, 2020

    Nectarine blueberry cobbler

  • herby  on  January 7, 2020

    Chocolate Caramel Tart

  • littleminxgirl  on  January 7, 2020

    The lemon macaroons would be my first recipe to try

  • dusya4  on  January 9, 2020

    Maple glazed bananas with waffles

  • cellenly  on  January 10, 2020

    Espresso shortbread

  • Lemmki  on  January 10, 2020

    Lemon-lime soufflé tart

  • kimfiona  on  January 10, 2020

    I would like to try the raspberry sorbet

  • jaburg  on  January 10, 2020

    Chocolate Caramel Tart!

  • maggz19671  on  January 10, 2020

    Lemon macaroons

  • ang709  on  January 10, 2020

    sour cherry sorbet

  • Mannl  on  January 10, 2020

    Raspberry sorbet

  • dprice  on  January 10, 2020

    Chocolate caramel tarts

  • pjschepp  on  January 11, 2020

    Blackberry Napoleons with orange shortbread wafers

  • RSW  on  January 11, 2020

    Spiced Italian prune plum crisp

  • meghanbridget  on  January 11, 2020

    Hazelnut torte!

  • rltalbert  on  January 11, 2020

    Milk chocolate malted ice cream

  • CookieMomster12  on  January 11, 2020

    I’d like to try the Apple Butter Crepes and then the Pecan sandies

  • banba1  on  January 11, 2020

    The Chocolate caramel tarts, of course! they look amazing (and I adore caramel)

  • FrenchCreekBaker  on  January 11, 2020

    caramelized brioche pudding with blackberry cream and fresh blackberries

  • mikejunew  on  January 11, 2020

    Vanilla shortbread

  • kftown  on  January 12, 2020

    lavender lemon pound cake

  • curls  on  January 12, 2020

    Spiced Italian prune plum crisp

  • dan031082  on  January 12, 2020

    Coconut sorbet

  • Redmoose31  on  January 13, 2020

    Spiced-quince butter cake

  • gypsychai  on  January 13, 2020

    The lemon macaroons sound delicious!

  • Shana.  on  January 14, 2020

    Blueberry cream cheese tart

  • mfsimmons  on  January 15, 2020

    Grape focaccia with rosemary!

  • UrsEva  on  January 16, 2020

    Saffron rice pudding sounds divine !

  • lisa59  on  January 16, 2020

    The Lemon Macaroons!

  • AshtasticAwesome  on  January 16, 2020

    One of the many sorbets! They sound delicious.

  • vhfvhf  on  January 16, 2020

    Chocolate Caramel Tart!

  • dbf123  on  January 16, 2020

    They all sound fantastic, but I am a sucker for prune plums so the 1st dessert I would make is the Spiced Italian prune plum crisp!

  • Nandan  on  January 18, 2020

    Peach tartes Tatins

  • afri  on  January 18, 2020

    *the* chocolate caramel tart. i mean, probably the whole book, but seriously. The thing is iconic!

  • lisambb  on  January 18, 2020

    Sour cherry sorbet

  • orchidlady01  on  January 19, 2020

    Hazelnut torte

  • Linda04101  on  January 19, 2020

    Spiced Italian Prune Plum Crisp

  • Patrickn  on  January 19, 2020

    Chocolate caramel tarts

  • virjeania  on  January 20, 2020

    Raspberry sorbet

  • ktcupcake  on  January 23, 2020

    Cornmeal crepes with orange-butter sauce

  • kbrigham  on  January 23, 2020

    Lavender creme brulee!

  • Ryderpond  on  January 23, 2020

    borrowed the first edition from the library and can’t wait to have my own copy!

  • sandz4321  on  January 23, 2020

    Raspberry-lemon verbena meringue cake

  • ktwalla  on  January 23, 2020

    Raspberry Lemon Verbena Meringue Cake

  • lfillmore  on  January 23, 2020

    Pecan sandies

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