Lori Longbotham never really had a sweet tooth. In fact, she always loved savory things. Until the mysteries of sweet and tart, and bittersweet grabbed her and wouldn't let her go. It's the contrast she loves, even more than the sweet: Lemon zest. The bitterness of dark chocolate.
Her love affair with lemons began in California where she grew up. The fragrance of the flowers and the fruit have haunted her sense memory ever since she was a little girl. "I can see myself as a Victorian lady walking around carrying a lemon in my hand."
You might call desserts a family affair. Her mom always fixed a terrific dessert for dinner. "There was a Boston cream pie or lemon meringue pie, sitting on the counter. There was something so homey about it. They just made you feel better." Her grandmother grew up on a self-sustaining farm, making her own ice cream. "She made ice cream out of four different kinds of peaches, blended in a certain ratio. It was pure genius," says Lori. "We would all help crank the machine, and when we were finished, we had really accomplished something. It was just like heaven."
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Lori has written for many food and women's magazines, including Gourmet, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living. She has also worked as a caterer and chef and was the Contributing Editor to The Dean and Deluca Cookbook. And she has always maintained an intimate alliance with the dessert world. "My sweetheart is a pastry chef. He has worked in very fine French and Italian places, so he really knows the classic preparations. We talk about desserts. But he never eats them unless he's on vacation. Luckily, we travel a lot. One of the things we do is taste every dessert."
Lori spends a lot of time recipe testing at home in Jackson Heights, New York, so she's always giving desserts to the neighbors. Sometimes they complain that she's trying to make them fat, but mostly she makes them happy. "I have neighbors upstairs who send me cards every time I give them a dessert," she says. "I gave the guy upstairs chocolate chip cookies with big chunks of chocolate. He says, "Lord if this heaven, take me now."
It was Lori's love affair with lemons that helped her realize there were "no lemon cookbooks out there." It is the fact that she, like most of the world, never has the time to hand-crank ice cream like her grandmother, that helped her dream up The Scoop. "We do have time to let ice cream soften a little bit and then put it into some layers," says Lori. "It can give you that same cornball feeling. There's a closeness people feel when they're eating desserts together."