There are few, if any, memories from this lifetime that compare with this moment. With social distancing as a clear means to taper the spread of the new coronavirus, it’s more important than ever to stay home. Our balance must be to nourish ourselves and our loved ones—and to extend gratitude and generosity to others, even and especially when we’re physically away from our community. In that spirit, we spoke to four phenomenal pastry chefs about their most comforting recipes.

When you pop your desserts into the oven, think of the vibrant communities of independent businesses that feed people in every community. For these cherished local establishments—the bakery you visit every Sunday, the wine bar where you meet with friends, the restaurant where you celebrate each birthday—the tunnel looks long, even if there’s a light at the end of it. Add a few more tasks to your recipe list in their honor: Reach out to your local representative about supporting restaurants with bailout legislation, donate to funds for restaurant workers in your community, as well as to local food banks. Buy takeout, gift cards, and swag from your favorite establishments to boost their revenue.

Indoor isolation creates the illusion that we’re on our own, but we’re always together, especially when we’re bringing comfort to the world in small ways. And there’s still a lot to look forward to, starting with something sweet for you and yours.

Marvelous Vanilla Caramel Merveilleux (Gluten Free)

“Before I became a professional pastry chef, I taught myself how to properly make meringues at home. The magical process of creating such an ethereal delight out of simply egg whites and sugar was the first time I thought I might end up in the pastry business. If you haven’t made meringue before, just read the recipe carefully and make sure your bowl and egg whites are perfectly clean without any fat or egg yolk on either. This recipe is not hard or complicated, but it does take a few steps and some patience and time, which we all have plenty of now!” – Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery, Boston, Massachusetts

Joanne Chang’s marvelous vanilla caramel merveilleuxPhoto: Courtesy of Joanne Chang

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