What We’re Reading: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook

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What We're Reading: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook

Some recipes occupy a special place in our collections. They are the ones we go back to again and again, whether because we remember just how our grandmothers used to make them for childhood birthday parties, or because making them together has become a tradition in itself. And never are these sensory memories stronger than with desserts.


What We're Reading: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook

These are the recipes you’ll find in The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook, the latest book from Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell (aka the Beekman Boys), and also our pick for the October Cookbook Club. They share desserts that are close to their hearts, which have been passed down through the years and become cornerstones of all gatherings. From Gingerbread Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches to Plum Upside-Down Cake, the recipes are inspired by the seasons. And they’re intended to become part of your repertoire, too; the pages provide space for handwritten notes, so you can make each recipe your own.


Here, we ask Brent and Josh all about the inspiration behind the book, their best baking tips, and their go-to heritage recipes. They also share one of their favorite dessert recipes from the book. Read on, and scroll down to learn more about our Cookbook Club!


Why a book about desserts? What’s unique or special about focusing on sweets? 

The desserts recipes we create for Beekman1802.com are some of the most well-loved and shared, so for our second book we wanted to give people exactly what they were craving. We also know that a lot of people are intimidated by desserts, so we wanted to create a book that would have every classic dessert in it (albeit with a Beekman twist) so that if this was the only dessert book you ever bought, you’d be covered.


You’ve described heirloom recipes as ones with sentimental value. What are some sentimental recipes from your childhoods and memories associated with them?

“Heirloom recipes” are those that have been made so many times in your family that they’ve developed their own stories and mythology. One of our favorite recipes in the book is the Oatmeal Cream Pie cookies with the fresh ginger filling. Inspired by Brent’s Aunt Hazel, these cookies have long been the prize of school bake sales and church fundraisers, so we are excited to pass along that source of wealth to anyone who needs it.


This cookbook is organized by seasons. What do you think is the best season for baking, and why?

Is there a bad season for baking? We think not! Recipes have seasonality. We just don’t crave a boozy fruitcake in the middle of summer, and that crisp sorbet doesn’t refresh the palate quite the same in February as it does in the heat of July.


What are some desserts from the book that you make most often? 

Our Beekman Brownies (with a secret ingredient you’ll only learn if you get the book!) are our most requested contribution to local events. And Josh’s pie crust is a great tool to have in your back pocket. If you can make a pie crust you can do so many things with it!


What are your top 3 baking tips for beginners?

1.  If the recipe calls for cold butter, keep it as cold as possible. If your batter or dough begins warming up, put it back in the refrigerator to chill before putting in the oven.

2. Baking is a science. It really requires no skill at all other than being able to follow a recipe EXACTLY. Baking can be an art, but only if you’ve first mastered the science.

3.  If you like baking then make sure you have at least one person around who likes eating. They are a constant source of inspiration.


What about ingredients — what are a few key ones that are especially important?

Other than sugar and flour, baking powder is key. A lot of people will have baking powder sitting around in their refrigerator or pantry for a long time. You really need to check the expiration date. Expired baking powder is single biggest cause of baking failures!


You’ve included space for people to write recipe notes and additions. How do you hope people use the book at home?

We love cookbooks and have over 300 of them in our pantry — some of which we’ve never cooked a single recipe from. We really want our books to be USED. We want them to get stained and soiled, and we want you to write in them. When the next generation of your family inherits the book, those scribbles are going to mean something. That’s what makes it an heirloom book!


What We're Reading: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook

Pancake Cake with Maple Cream Frosting


Serves 6


We admit that we have had cake for breakfast before. Who hasn’t? But how about breakfast for dessert? This recipe came about when we accidentally made too much pancake batter on Sunday morning. It’s our take on a thousand-layer cake. The pancakes can be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated. The cake can be assembled up to 2 hours ahead. Not feeling like dessert? Prepare the pancakes using only 2 tablespoons of sugar and have them for breakfast.



1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned into cup and leveled off)

1/3 cup rye or whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups milk

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract



11 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt

5 tablespoons maple syrup, preferably Grade B

3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted


To make the pancakes: In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, rye flour, cornmeal, granulated and brown sugars, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, whole eggs, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla.


Coat 8-inch skillet with some melted butter and heat over medium-low heat. Pour 1/2 cup of the batter into the pan and cook for 11/2 minutes, or until large bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake. Carefully flip the pancake over and cook for 1 minute longer, or until the underside is just cooked through. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter to make 6 pancakes an let cool to room temperature.


To make the filling: In a bowl, with and electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and yogurt until smooth. Beat in 4 tablespoons of the maple syrup and the confectioners’ sugar until well combined.


To assemble the cake: Spread each pancake with one-sixth of the filling (about 5 tablespoons). Place one of the pancakes on a platter and stack the remaining pancakes on top. Drizzle the remaining 1 table-spoon maple syrup over the top of the cake.


Love collecting cookbooks? Enjoy trying new recipes? Join us for a monthly Cookbook Club class. Led by our talented culinary experts, these exclusive cooking classes showcase recipes from a different cookbook each month.

  • Each 1½ – to 2-hour class features cooking tips and techniques and a three-course tasting menu from the book’s best recipes, prepared while you watch.
  • Class fee of $75 includes the cookbook with signed bookplate.
  • Participants receive a 10% discount on store purchases the day of the class.
  • Available monthly at select stores; class times vary by store location.
  • Space is limited and reservations are required. Call a participating store to register.

4 comments about “What We’re Reading: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook

  1. Lisa Miles

    Great baking tips. Also, I’ve made the Oatmeal Cream Pies w/Ginger Filling from this book. They are SO GOOD. I cannot even begin to tell you.


    I bought the book and have read it, cover-to-cover twice. First let me say that it is an excellent work, from the stories and narratives to the lovely collection of recipes. I am going to enjoy baking many of the recipes that are in the book; some of the recipes closely mirror some that my grandmother made and for which there was no real written recipe (she could cook and bake from memory). I learned how to cook and bake at her very capable side, and for the most part, I took notes and wrote things down, but some things I never did. In wanting to recreate some of my grandmother’s beautiful baked goods, this book is a meaningful and capable reminder, and provides a pattern for me to follow and from which to grow. Thank you for such a beautiful book!

  3. Karen McShea

    Only because I love to “take things up a notch” I would add crumbled bacon to every layer!


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