Marissa Lippert’s grandmother Beatrice, who she called Grandma Bebe, was the type of host many of us aspire to be. She always kept sweets in the freezer, “just in case” someone came over, Marissa told us at our live storytelling event Village Schmaltzy.
That someone was often Marissa, who lived nearby and as a little kid would sleepover on many nights, staying up to watch Golden Girls and baking in Grandma Bebe’s mustard yellow galley kitchen outside of Washington D.C. Together, they would make dark chocolate walnut brownies, coconut macaroons, and an apple kuchen with a coconut base that was a cult family favorite.
The kuchen recipe may have come with Bebe’s parents who immigrated from Austria and Hungary. Bebe’s father was in the wholesale butter and egg business “and there’s a lot of butter in the kuchen,” she jokes. When Bebe passed away when Marissa was 8-years-old, her mother took on the recipe, making it often for family meals. “It was a nice way of keeping her memory,” Marissa says.
Like the women in her family before her, Marissa held tightly to the recipe. When she opened her cafe and catering company Nourish Kitchen + Table in Greenwich Village, she wanted the space to feel like a kitchen for the community. For her, that meant nourishing food and keeping Grandma Bebe close by with her baked goods recipes on the menu. With a background in nutrition, Marissa updated the kuchen a bit, replacing the boxed coconut cake for her own recipe, adding pastry cream, and letting the seasons dictate the fruit that sits atop. In the spring it’s often sour cherry-pistachio and in the summer, blueberry-peach with rose pastry cream. But in the fall she returns to the fruit Bebe used and makes it with apples — adding a bit of brightness with cranberries.
With Grandma Bebe’s recipes on the menu at Nourish, Marissa explains: “She’s there — she’s kind of constantly with me.”
Marissa also provided a bonus recipe for Hanukkah — her sweet potato latkes with sriracha creme fraiche.
Marissa shared a story about her Grandma Bebe's Kuchen at our live storytelling event Village Schmaltzy on November 6.