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Who's Cooking: Arielle Merson, Plainview

Arielle Merson of Plainview says her pot de

Arielle Merson of Plainview says her pot de crème is always a crowd-pleaser. "This was my signature dish when my kids were growing up," she says. "I used to make it for Teacher Appreciation Day. People absolutely loved it. Every time I made it, they went crazy. Credit: Barbara Alper

Arielle Merson, a painter, lives in Plainview.

How long have you been cooking?

My whole life. I have my original cookbook from when I was a child, "Learn to Cook." It came in a yellow cover and it's 60 years old, but my mother got it for me when I was very little. My brother and I used to make dinners for my parents with the recipes.

How does being an artist influence your cooking?

I think the artist in me, my love for mixing colors, has brought me to trying it with food. It's also tremendous for setting tables, decorating for the evening, for setting out my food in a nice display. Art adds a lot to my cooking.

Do you like to entertain?

I love to entertain. I have two daughters, and I did both of their engagement parties, one for 120 people, the other for 90. I did almost all the cooking and baking myself. Soups, appetizers, main courses, desserts, chocolate fountains. I have a huge wall unit that's packed with dishes. I had every serving piece I needed for my daughters' parties. For a party that size, you have to be organized. I make out a guest list. Then I figure out the menu. Then I do a shopping list. Then I make a schedule of what days I'm making what items. So each day I know what I'm doing. I'll take any excuse to make a party. I'm going to build a deck this summer and then do barbecues.

Do your daughters cook?

They both cook and they're both very artistic. One started her own party-planning business. The other daughter is an architect. My grandmother cooked. My mom and one of her sisters cooked. It's been handed down.

Is this recipe special to you?

I read cookbooks like other people read novels. I read recipes, and then immediately I start to change them. So I'm not sure where the original idea came from. This was my signature dish when my kids were growing up. I used to make it for teacher appreciation day. People absolutely loved it. Every time I made it, they went crazy. This was the one recipe I wouldn't give away. But I'm more than happy at this point to share. It's so easy, you can't go wrong.

How hot does the milk have to be when you add it to the blender?

Heat the milk in the microwave to just about scald it. The reason for doing that is you want to cook the egg to a certain degree.


Merson also uses this mixture as a pie filling.

3 cups semisweet chocolate morsels

1 cup very hot milk

1 jumbo egg

1 jumbo egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon Kahlua

Whipped cream for serving

1. Place chocolate morsels in a blender and blend on high until reduced to a powder. Add milk and blend until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

2. Add egg, egg yolk, vanilla and Kahlua and blend for 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Pour into individual dessert glasses, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 1 week. Serve with whipped cream on top. Makes 6 to 10 servings depending on the size of the glasses.

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