Watch Designing a New Dessert from a Forgotten 70-Year-Old Pie Recipe

Watch Designing a New Dessert from a Forgotten 70-Year-Old Pie Recipe

Gage & Tollner has been open since the 1870s.

It’s about 150 years old

and one of the oldest restaurants in Brooklyn.

As executive pastry chef,

I want my desserts to bring in all of that history

but also feel really modern.

We are going to take a long forgotten dessert

that was on the menu like 70 years ago

and breathe some new life into it and recreate it,

make something really special and unique.

[upbeat jazz music]

We have them all chronicled here

from the ’30s all the way through the ’70s.

I like to start back in the ’30s.

On the back,

all popular brands of cigarettes that you could buy here.

Desserts is under pies, pastry and ice cream.

Lemon meringue pie,

something that we still make and love today.

A piece of that was 20 cents.

And there’s something called Fancy Cakes.

I don’t know what that is, but fancy cakes is like,

my entire personality, so there’s something there.

This is from September, 1953.

So catching my eye right away, Nesselrode Pie, 35 cents.

It’s a custard pie.

And traditionally it was done with chestnuts,

candied fruits, meringue, whipped cream, cherries,

and chocolate shavings on top.

Carl Nesselrode was a count and a diplomat to Russia,

and this guy loved to entertain and he loved dessert

and like, really, really opulent spreads.

So there was this whole category of desserts

that became known as Nesselrode desserts.

I really think that this is the perfect dessert

for me to recreate.

We always have a sundae on the menu here

and I see all of these elements transformed

into a really amazing sundae.

[upbeat jazz music]

I am gonna start by sketching out the original pie first.

And this is one of my favorite things to do,

I love this.

Typical all butter crust.

Your custardy layer,

preserved maraschino or Luxardo cherries,


Also, there’s booze in there.

I’m gonna say it’s rum.

That is the Nesselrode Pie circa 1950.

Now I’m gonna look at the pie

and figure out where all of these elements are gonna go

in the sundae.

Two flavors of ice cream in my sundaes because why not?

So three scoops.

Playing off of this custard,

we’re gonna have a rum ice cream.

And the other, with the cherries,

and we’ll add some glace fruits in there.

So now for a saucy element, I wanna take the chestnuts

and create like a cognac chestnut caramel

and then we’ll do some bits of the glaceed fruit

and maybe have it just a little pie crust hat.

I think this is our Nesselrode Sundae!

We have a lot of work to do.

First things first, let’s make the ice cream

since that’s gonna take the longest.

So let’s go downstairs.

Come on.

I gotta get my shmatta on.

We’re gonna do just like a plain ice cream base.

It’s going to give us like a canvas

for these new flavors that we wanna make.

So I’ve got whole milk,

heavy cream, egg yolks, which I separated already.

The reason why I think this recreation

of the custard pie into a sundae is gonna work

is because ice cream, the way we do it here with eggs,

technically is a custard.

So that transformation is gonna make a lot of sense.

I do the egg yolks and the sugar separately.

If you add the egg yolks right away,

you’re gonna get like a gross scrambled egg situation.

While the milk and the cream mixture

kind of comes up to a simmer,

I’m gonna add the egg yolks to the other half of the sugar.

We get local eggs.

In this economy, we’re getting local eggs.

Wanna whisk this up really, really well.

Start to dissolve some of that sugar.

All right, this has been on for about 20 minutes.

I’m gonna add some vanilla.

I’m gonna add some of the hot liquid

into the yolks and the sugar, whisk it really well,

and then add that back into the pot.

That is going to prevent scrambling.

I can feel the custard getting thick

so I’m gonna quickly strain it.


I’m gonna divvy this up, chill it,

and we’re gonna get to churning.

Okay, let’s go get our cooled ice cream base.

So these have been chilling and now they’re ready to churn.

I’m gonna do the rum ice cream first

and I’m gonna add two ounces of dark rum.

Alcohol doesn’t freeze.

If you add too much,

your ice cream base is just never gonna get there.

But also it prevents ice crystals from forming

in the ice cream so you’re gonna get like a super smooth,

beautiful ice cream.

This machine is gonna churn the ice cream

while it freezes it.

We’re gonna kind of babysit it.

I don’t want it to over churn.

If your ice cream over churns,

it basically starts to turn into butter

and it’s really gross.

Oh yeah!

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

And into the freezer.

So I’m gonna get this all cleaned out.

Dirty ice cream water.


Okay, we are ready for round two.

This is the plain base

that we’re gonna fold all of our cherries

and glace fruits into.

So in the original dessert,

the cherries and the fruits

would be suspended in the custard.

So I love the idea that like the custard

is in ice cream form now

and then we’re folding in all of those fruits

and the booze.

Ice cream is frozen.

I can tell, this is all frosty.

I’ve got my Luxardo cherries, I have my glace fruits.

So I’m gonna get out like maybe half of this.

Add some of the mix ins, get out the rest of this.


So we’re gonna add a little more of the fruits.

So today I find that you’ll see these

in fruitcake around the holidays.

Our Luxardo cherries.

All right, let’s go in the freezer to set.

I’m gonna grab a few other things we need

to do the R and D upstairs.

Okay, let’s go upstairs.

Come on.

[upbeat jazzy music]

If you look at the original pie

it had like chestnuts, chestnut puree, booze of all kinds.

So I just wanna sort of replicate that

but then turn it into a sauce for our sundae.

So first thing I wanna do

is scale out what I need for the caramel.

The cream, and I’m gonna add to that butter.

I’m gonna just eyeball that.

I like to heat the dairy a little bit

so that when I add it to the caramelized sugar,

it doesn’t seize up as much.

I’m gonna do the same weight of sugar

that I did for the cream.

I’m gonna add a tiny bit of water to this.

I don’t know, maybe that’s like a third cup

and consistency of wet sand.

That’s what you want.

Oh, the other thing you always wanna add to your caramel

is just a really good pinch of salts

’cause salt makes caramel more delicious.

My cream is hot, I’m just gonna take it off the heat

and I’m gonna get the sugar on and get that going.

So I’m gonna put this on high heat,

let it caramelize and do its thing.

While I’m waiting for it to caramelize,

I’m gonna chop up my chestnuts.

These are imported and they’ve already been prepared

so I don’t have to like roast chestnuts

on an open fire for you, even though that would be lovely.

It’s not that time of year.

So in the original pie there would be like a chestnut puree

kind of swirled through the custard

and also some chestnuts for texture.

So it’s kind of cool to like reimagine this

as like the saucy element of the sundae.

In the original dessert,

there’s alcohol throughout, so rum, cognac, brandy

that kind of thing.

So I also wanna make sure

that that is incorporated throughout our sundae

to kind of pay homage to that

and also because it’s delicious.

I don’t think there’s gonna

be enough alcohol in this to make it anybody tipsy

but I think we’re definitely gonna get the sweetness

and the caramel notes from the alcohol

and some of the fruity, sugary elements.

So I think this is gonna be perfect.

So we’ve got a very light caramel going on,

just a little darker

And here we go.

Ugh, that smells amazing!

That smells boozy and delicious.

I’m gonna add the warm cream and butter.

If you caramelize sugar and don’t add any fat to it,

it’ll be like a hard crack candy caramel.

This is a caramel sauce.

We’re gonna let it thicken a little bit on the heat.

I’m also now gonna add all of our chestnuts.

The caramel as it thickens

is just gonna like coat all of those chestnuts

and they’re gonna be just like suspended

in this gorgeous cognac caramel.

I am going to pour it into this pan.

This’ll just increase the surface area

and it’s gonna cool really fast.

All right, so I’m gonna get this out of the way,

just let it cool.

And then we’re gonna work on our pie crust garnish

that I’ve envisioned as like this little hat

this little like chapeau on the sundae.

[upbeat jazzy music]

It’s Nesselrode Pie.

It’s gotta have a pie crust

and pie crust makes a perfect garnish

because you can like sort of dunk it in the ice cream

and it’s just very cute and it’s textural

and buttery and flaky.

So pie crust, all butter, little bit of bench flour.

We make pie dough here all the time.

After you’ve rolled out your crust originally

and you’ve cut it into a circle

or whatever shape you’re doing,

all of that trim and scrap, you gather it back together.

That’s your re-roll.

And I love the re-roll

because it gets like these super flaky layers.

I like the idea of this being a circle

to mimic the top of a pie.

Doing like two of each size.

I think this is gonna be too small

but I kind of wanna see it anyway.

We’re gonna create like a little vent on top

like if you were using this as a pie top

so that way like the steam has somewhere to escape

and you don’t get like an explosion of pie filling

but like that is gonna look so cute.

These look great.

Pie crust you always wanna bake

when it’s really, really nice and cold

to get those beautiful flaky layers

and you’ll get like a beautiful rise on it.

So I’m gonna put these in the freezer.

Our little pie crusts are chilling.

Let’s make some meringue.

We’re gonna make a French meringue

in the original Nesselrode Pie,

the meringue was whipped and then folded into the custard.

Here I’m kind of reimagining it

as this like fluffy whipped topping

with whipped cream folded through.

We’ll see if that works to kind of like top off our sundae.

Egg whites going in

and we’re just gonna start to whip them.

We’re incorporating a lot of air.

That’s pretty stiff.

Look at that.

So I think we are ready to start adding the sugar.

You wanna add it little by little

because if you add it too quickly,

it’s just gonna deflate the whole thing.

Look how fluffy and like beautiful this is getting.

I’m gonna let this go for like about a minute.

Make sure all of those sugar crystals are dissolved.

All right, look at this.

It looks like me.

It’s my child.

I don’t know if this is gonna work.

I have this big thing of Luxardo cherries

which are delicious.

I’m just gonna try to get out a bunch of the juice.

So the cherries were pretty standard ingredient

in Nesselrode Pie, the original,

kind of studded in the custard throughout.

All right, so let’s see what happens.

I love this!

Oh my god!

This is gorgeous!

Yes, look at this beautiful!

Ah, we love it!

Ballet slipper pink.

It’s so pretty!

I’m gonna let this hang out.

Can always re-whip it a little bit if I need to

but I wanna get the pie crust tops in the oven

since that’s like the last thing that needs to happen

before we can assemble this beauty.

And I like to do egg wash

because it’s gonna make them really shiny and beautiful

but also it’s going to create a surface

for this demerara sugar to stick to.

Pie crests are chilled.

They’re cute, they’re beautiful, they are frozen solid.

And I’m just gonna paint the egg wash on each one

and we’re gonna get these in the oven.

I have the oven at 400 for about 10 minutes.

I want them really, really golden brown.

While those bake, I love this meringue.

I’m just gonna switch this out

and whip some cream unsweetened

because this is super super sugary

and I want a little bit of balance.

Whipped cream is just cream with air in it.

That looks good.

Let’s see what it’s like when the two of these get together.

So I kind of wanna gently fold it in.

I don’t wanna beat the air out of it

I just wanna gently combine it.

Oh my God, it’s like this swirly, cloudy, pale pink.

It’s absolutely stunning.

I wanna go to sleep on it.

It’s a pillow.

I’m gonna keep this cold so it doesn’t fall.

Our pie tops are ready.

Oh my god, they’re so cute!

They puffed up so much, but I kind of love it.

I’m gonna let them cool.

This is because of the re-rolls,

that is this like flaky flakiness.

It’s so beautiful.

We are ready.

This is our initial vision of the Nesselrode Sundae

adapted from the Nesselrode Pie.

First thing we’re gonna do is get a cold frosty cup

a little bit of caramel in the bottom

’cause that way when you go to take a bite and you dip down,

you get caramel on the top and on the bottom.

The chestnuts originally would’ve been

in that custard in the pie.

And this is just reimagined

into the most luxurious caramel sauce ever.

The ice cream that we churned has chilled.

It’s set, the texture looks amazing.

And this is our cherry and glace fruit.

Oh my God, it looks so beautiful!

All those chunks of fruit and cherries

that would’ve been in the custard,

now they’re in our ice cream.

Maybe I’m gonna do two scoops of each.

Why not?

This is the rum.

Look at that texture.

It is so smooth.

Now we’re gonna do more caramel because more caramel, right?

And look at all like the texture in there.

It’s not just a sauce.

It has like all of these bits of the buttery chestnuts.

We have some more of the glace fruits

and now our whipped topping,

cherry meringue and whipped cream.

I am in love.

Chocolate shavings, little cherry on top.

Pie crust chapeau.

She is done!

This is beautiful, ooey gooey Nesselrode Sundae, baby.

I’m just gonna dig in

and I wanna get a little bit of everything in each bite.

[Caroline laughs]

It’s so good.

It’s like super creamy, a little bit boozy.

It’s got a ton of texture,

buttery, nutty,

light, and fluffy on top.

I feel like I have meringue all over my face.

You guys have to dry this!

Okay, so this is the vision.

The glace fruit ice cream

and the meringue topping with the caramel

are my favorite parts. It’s so good.

It’s very sweet, but it should be, you know, it’s dessert.

It tastes a little bit like Fruity Pebbles, maybe.

[Caroline] Mm! Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Fruity Pebbles vibes.

It’s very Gage & Tollner, right?

[Taste Tester] Yes.

[Caroline] I think it really fits little right?

I like the weird little fruit in it.

[Caroline] They’re so good, right?


The Nesselrode Sundae is a success.

I hope our friend Carl Nesselrode is proud

and not turning over in his grave.

What we did today,

like this is the absolute best part of my job

from like doing the research, to doing these crazy sketches,

to playing with all of these ingredients

and finding things and creating something new

is the thing that I love the most about my job.

And maybe you’ll come to Gage & Tollner

and you’ll see this on the menu soon!

[gentle music]