Desserts

175

Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Buttercream

I woke up a few mornings ago and walked down to the little playground down the street from my house with every intention of sitting in the sun for a few minutes with my over-microwaved mug of coffee and the Times travel section- because now I can actually read for pleasure again whaaat? But the moment I sat down, the sky got dark and still. I knew the rain was coming and I should pack up, but I just stayed put, breathing in that summer pre-storm smell. Memorizing the grayish blue tint of everything around me.

I’m happy. For the first time in long time, I catch myself smiling about nothing. This sounds silly, I know. Many people probably have no trouble finding things to smile about on a regular basis. But I’ve been like this for a while. I don’t dwell on the good stuff as much as I gulp it down in the moment. And then I’m left with nothing but emptiness until the next good thing reveals itself. I was a fairly serious little kid, always wanting to be a grownup so I could have important things to think about. At family gatherings the real adults would laugh at me as I sat in the corner reading or looking around while the other kids screamed and ran around in the dirt. I wanted to be grown so badly; surely then no one would think my solemnity was so funny. But since I’ve actually “become” one, (air quotes because let’s be real I don’t pay for my health insurance I’m not an adult yet am I?) I’m beginning to understand why they were so serious, and why they found my behavior so funny. Being older is hard. There aren’t a lot of things to smile about. If I’ve discovered that anything is constant over the last few years, it’s that life is bursts of joy and misery. Peaks and valleys and all that. In the past I’ve rarely savored the good moments, and sometimes find myself wallowing in the not-so-good. And then I get stuck in waiting for something better. I was always waiting. And all that waiting only made me more serious. But I don’t need to live that way anymore. I never needed to, really. But there were circumstances outside of my control encouraging that life. The constant waiting. The looking down instead of up. There’s enough horror in this world without dwelling on the mean reds of my own making.

It is easier, of course, to find dignity in one’s solitude. Loneliness is solitude with a problem. Can blue solve that problem, or can it at least keep me company within in? –No, not exactly. It cannot love me that way; it has no arms. But sometimes I do feel its presence to be a sort of wink– ‘Here you are again,’ it says, ‘and so am I.’           -Maggie Nelson, Bluets

I’ve treated a few posts here in the past as little shoutouts to the good and allusions to the bad going on in my life. This is a good one. I haven’t wanted to sit and smile in a while. Some of those smiles are being shared nationwide and some are just for me. Some are for things not quite fit to talk about here and some are for raspberry buttercream, which you’ll learn about very soon.

But there are things to smile about.

Cake (from the Magnolia Bakery)

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water

Preheat convection oven to 375 degrees F. Butter two 8 or 9-inch cake pans. Place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom of each pan, butter the paper, then dust with flour. Whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs, milk, oil and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add egg mixture into the sugar-flour mixture and whisk until combined. Whisk in boiling water just until combined (the batter will be watery.) 3. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Raspberry Frosting (adapted from My Name is Yeh)

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam + extra for cake assembly

Whip the first four ingredients together until light and fluffy with an electric mixer, then add the jam.

Assembly

seedless raspberry jam
sprinkles

Cool cake layers completely (I like to refrigerate mine wrapped in plastic for at least a few hours if not overnight. This prevents the cake from getting really crumbly when you’re frosting it.) If you want to be a real professional, level off the cake domes using a serrated knife. Line a cake plate with three thin pieces of parchment or waxed paper to catch any frosting drips. Place the bottom cake layer on the plate. Dollop a good amount of frosting on top of the bottom layer and spread it out, then add a thick layer of raspberry jam. Place the second layer of cake on top and press it down gently. Form your crumb coat by spreading a very thin layer of frosting all around the sides and top of the cake with an offset spatula- thin enough so you can still see the cake underneath. Put it back in the fridge for another hour, then frost up the rest of this bad boy however your heart desires. Add sprinkles because sprinkles make everything better. If you want to be impressed and/or up your layer cake game, check this tutorial or this one. Feed this to all your friends because in my opinion pie is better but shhhhh.


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Book Review, Desserts

172

Greek Yogurt Sorbet [from Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner] (GF)

Upon my arrival home from college, I was greeted by a pile of mail. Amid the mountain of credit card offers and magazine subscription renewal queries I found a copy of Janet Fletcher’s Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. !!! Now, this certainly is not a graduation card with a check, nor is it a new pair of shoes, but mannnn was I psyched! Okay, yes, I get just as giddy opening up a new cookbook as I most others do opening up a box a already-made culinary treats, but this book was especially exciting. The only people who truly get how passionately I feel about yogurt are probably my roommates and/or anyone who saw me walking into the theatre building for the past four months. I reallly dig yogurt. Not sure why. It’s kind of a weird substance. But no joke, it made up at least 65% of my diet this last semester of college. Because when one has to get from class on one side of campus at 11:55 to a production meeting on the other side at noon there isn’t really time to sit down and eat -let alone chew- one’s midday meal. It was not at all uncommon for most of the department to see me carrying my standard three tote bags and giant coat and mug of coffee and to-go cup of yogurt on a regular basis. It was a way to live. Not so sure if I can say I miss that…. But I’m getting off topic. You can imagine my joy upon opening Janet’s book for the first time; I’m only bummed I didn’t have it sooner.

The beautifully photographed book is broken down into sections, sweet and savory; including appetizers, meats, soups, veggies, desserts, and drinks– and you thought yogurt was just a breakfast food, huh? Not at all so. There’s even a chapter dedicated completely to DIY yogurt: standard yogurt, Greek yogurt, and yogurt cheese (which is totally a thing- who knew? not I!) Be wary, this does involve buying cultures and creating an incubation situation, but don’t worry, there are extensive instructions and resources detailed in the book. While I have yet to experiment with homemade yogurt myself, since obtaining this book I feel much more comfortable about tackling such a challenge..someday. Maybe. What I’m really looking forward to are the many savory recipes. I didn’t make one for this particular review post, as I was really in the mood for frozen yogurt (and Red Mango is a whole eight minute drive away- the horror!) But I’m really excited about getting into fettuccine with fried onions under a yogurt poppyseed sauce and radish tzatziki with pita chips. Aaaand I’m definitely going to make the warm chickpeas with pine nuts and yogurt sauce as soon as it’s no longer 95 degrees out. In terms of sweets, I’m very intrigued by the Greek yogurt panna cotta- mostly because I’ve never had panna cotta and I am very curious to know if I’d like it. I am, however, certain I’ll love the yogurt pudding with saffron, cardamom, and toasted nuts, so I think that’s going to have to be dessert (or let’s be real, breakfast) very very soon.

In the meantime, let’s have some yogurt sorbet. Which is essentially just frozen yogurt, but has a snazzier name. This was so simple I shouldn’t even include instructions. As long as you have an ice cream maker, you’ll be so set with this. Remember to buy whole-milk plain yogurt, that low-fat/nonfat/1% stuff is fine and good for breakfast if that’s your thang, but for the purposes of this recipe just embrace the added creaminess!

some other things I’m excited about:

Anthony Bourdain did an episode of Parts Unknown in Jersey yessss watch it now. But if you don’t have time/are morally against tv, Eater also put together a comprehensive list of one-liners from the episode, which is almost as good.

Chris Taylor -yes, that Chris Taylor– wrote a cookbook?? and it actually looks really good!

Molly Yeh made cookie salad and that’s all we ever needed, amirite?

It’s over now, but Negroni Week is a really great idea and maybe you should make one yourself and donate your own dollar to a charity of choice!

Amy’s is opening up a DRIVE-THRU.

One of the most original and informative food blog posts I’ve read in a very long while..Josh is making me reevaluate my stance on people who refer to themselves as “bros.”

Who remembers the Rainforest Cafe? Well, the creator of that gem is taking a whack at a Puff the Magic Dragon-themed eatery. I’m just as confused as I am truly jazzed.

Greek Yogurt Sorbet (from Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, serves 6)

4 cups whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, sieved to remove all lumps
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I scraped in a vanilla bean because I like the speckles)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I used vanilla salt, for funzies)

Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl. Chill well, then transfer to an ice cream maker (I use this one) and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a lidded storage container (or loaf pan with some plastic wrap) and freeze for at least 1 hour to firm. If it freezes for longer than a few hours and is too hard to scoop, let it sit at room temperature for ten minutes or so and you should be good to go!

Janet recommends serving this with broiled peaches or apricots that have been drizzled in brown sugar and butter, which sounds a m a z i n g, but I went with fresh apricots and mint because it felt a little more summery. I bet it would be out of this world with a berry compote! It also would only help pies, brownies, and other fruit desserts.

NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!


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Breakfasts, Desserts

171

No-Bake Seedy Mocha Coconut Slice (V, GF)

First post back in my trusty Jersey kitchen! I’ve missed it so. The weirdly yellow speckled floors. The full-sized food processor. THE DISHWASHER. I can’t even describe how many times in the past few days I’ve started washing things by hand and then remembered I can just toss it in a thing that will clean the dishes for me!! No more waking up to a sink full of things I was too lazy to clean the night before. Truly a miracle.

As much as I love having certain things back, it sure is weird being in a real house again for the long haul. I realize like four times a day l have yet to turn off all my alarms telling me about work shifts at the museum and production meetings at the theatre. I can’t remember where I left my bag or shoes or iPod or sunglasses because I can’t just throw them into the same corner of my apartment every time I come home anymore (my roommates totally loved me, can you tell?) I’m taking a big risk if I leave my computer plugged in unattended because a certain member of the household likes to sharpen his fangs on electrical cords when no one is watching. On the other hand, it’s a dream come true to be able to jump in the car and be five minutes away from Whole Foods. It’s actually going to become a problem soon. I like grocery shopping way too much, don’t judge meeee. I’m also growing quite fond of this whole waking up to a pot of coffee already brewed thing. And having a big tv instead of my tiny laptop to re-watch all of Mad Men explore important documentary films. I’ll start my summer job soon enough, but until then I’ve really been getting into having nothing to do. And I’ll continue being a big fan for maybe another week, then I’ll start to go insane and probably begin crafting again. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Let’s talk about food. Specifically this recipe. It originated from a recipe by my all-time favorite vegan blogger Ashlae of Oh, Ladycakes. While rummaging in the fridge for dates, I found a container of prunes. And because I’ve been trying real hard to broaden my food-horizons lately I ate one. I was not a fan. Que sera, sera. However, the texture was very promising, as in it resembled a perfectly moist date. Lo and behold, pruney date crust is slammin’! And while I’m not too fond of them on their own, when blended with super sweet dates and nuts and coffee and chocolate, they add a whole new world of flavor. So don’t knock it til you try it, trust me! The greatest thing about this treat is that it’s totally substantial enough to be breakfast, but decadent enough to have for dessert (with a healthy dollop of whipped cream, duh.) PS- if you have a nut allergy, omit the almonds and almond milk; bump up the oats to 1 1/4 cup, the pepitas to 1/4 cup, and swap the almond milk for the water your dates/prunes have been soaking in! Also thx to Emily for being my hand model extraordinaire~

Slice (adapted from Ashlae Warner, via eHow)

1 cup raw almonds
3 tablespoons pepitas
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon coffee grounds
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
heavy pinch vanilla sea salt (or just normal, I won’t tell)
12 deglet noor dates
3 prunes
2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
1/4 cup almond milk (or date water)
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional)

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons maple syrup

shredded coconut, chopped almonds, cocoa nibs, crystalized ginger, dried chopped fruit, etc. (for topping)

Make the crust: Place the dates and prunes in a bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside for at least ten minutes. Drain, reserving the water to replace almond milk in this recipe (or for adding further deliciousness to a smoothie!) Blend the almonds, pepitas, coconut, oats, coffee, cocoa powder, and salt in a food processor until it turns into a fairly fine meal. Add the dates, prunes, cocoa nibs, and extract (if using) and blend until combined. Add the almond milk or date water and pulse until the mixture forms large crumbs. Press the mixture into an 8 or 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (or if you’re me and just moved all your kitchen equipment from one home to another, use whatever you have hanging around that vaguely resembles said tart pan; in this case, a spring form pan. See, they’re not just for cheesecakes!) and put it in the freezer to make it bake.

Make the topping: Whisk together the coconut oil and cocoa powder until smooth, it will resemble melted chocolate. Add the maple syrup and whisk well. (Spoiler alert: this is the BEST and easiest vegan chocolate frosting if you’re ever in a pinch.)

Put it all together: Take the crust out of the freezer. Working quickly, spread the topping over the crust with an offset spatula and sprinkle with additional desired toppings! Good luck getting this to last over two days, but Ashlae assures us it will keep in the freezer for up to 6 weeks!


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Breakfasts, Desserts

170

Basic Chia Pudding (V, GF)


I’ve been training myself recently to like foods I’ve been weirded out by in the past. So far I’ve succeeded with mushrooms, the outside (but not insides) of zucchini and tomatoes. Jello too- though does it count if I only consume it when raspberry flavored and mixed with vodka in shot form? Aheh. It’s all because of the texture. I’m not really about gelatinous things, but I’m working on it. Next on the list: chia seeds. How do you feel about these bad boys? I’m okay with them as egg replacers in vegan baking for sure, and recently have come around to throwing a tablespoon or so in my morning oatmeal and granola bowls, where the food gets eaten before the seeds fully gel. Since it’s a huge thing all over the blogosphere, I figured I kinda had to give chia pudding a try. So I did. And I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. I made it unsweetened first, just to experiment. That was pretty bleh by itself, but very good in oatmeal and smoothies. However, when drowned in maple syrup and nuts/seeds I was a big fan, as it was fairly comparable to rice pudding. But really, what isn’t good with syrup? I also discovered that it’s totally a thing to blend it up, which is much more attractive to me (see above re: texture issues.) I think I’ll try that next time, along with the chocolate. I definitely still have some experimenting to do in this category, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out these things:

This is everything.

I had a rice burger the other night from a Korean food truck- literally two sticky rice patties filled with spicy pork, kimchi, and veggies wrapped up tightly in an aluminum foil blanket. It was sweet and spicy with a side of sweet potato chips and oh my goooodness it was slammin. From what I can gather on the internet, it’s called a “bob burger,” (no, not because of the tv show..) as rice is 밥 in Korean and was then Romanized as “bab” or “bob.” Is this correct? Someone inform me! Anyway, I could’ve eaten about twelve of them and will be devoting a great deal of my time to making my own in the future. I’m a big, big fan of burgers one can eat with a fork.

Ikea has PLANS for our future and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I can’t wait to be back home -in 8 days (?!!!??)- purely so I can take full advantage of this quiz all the time.

New Anthony Bourdain cookbook coming soon !!!! sadosidjahuisdoisdpd I’m only a little excited

Wes Anderson designed a cafe, because apparently Milan wasn’t already trendy enough?

PS- Happy Mother’s Day to any Moms reading today!

PPS- I made a Twitter, because one of my post-grad goals is to understand all the social media things. Someone help me learn how to do this!

Chia Pudding (serves 2-4) 

scant 1/3 cup chia seeds
1 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup, honey, agave, etc. (optional)

Whisk up all the ingredients and pour into a jar/your desired vessel. Place in the fridge for at least several hours, preferably overnight so the seeds fully gel (I know- ick) and achieves pudding consistency. Top with nuts, dried/fresh fruit, and maybe even some coconut whipped cream!


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Desserts

167

Four & Twenty Blackbirds Grapefruit Custard Pie

Attention, everyone: spring may actually be on it’s way. Which means that the time for picnics and beers outside is so soon. One might even say it’s nigh. However, it also means that the winter dessert season is coming to a close. We’re moving away from the pumpkin-spiced, the powdered sugar-dusted, the holly-garnished. We’re entering the land of fresh berries and cream and torn basil, grilled peaches and balsamic. POPSICLES. Using your shorts for a napkin because you’re eating on a lawn and couldn’t possibly spend a minute not lying on a blanket in the sun. Yes, I am in fact very excited. But before I get too into spring and summer (!!) recipes, let’s take a sec and enjoy the last licks of winter with a good custard pie. One with grapefruit. And Campari.

I know what most of you are thinking. Grapefruit custard? Is that even a thing? Well, I’m here to tell you it is. A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Four & Twenty Blackbirds cookbook. If you’re living under a rock or perhaps an underground apocalypse cult (can you guess what’s on my Netflix account lately?) and have not yet heard of Four & Twenty Blackbirds, they’re a sister team turned pie shop empire in Brooklyn and they really get it when it comes to pie. Pie is so much more than apple or strawberry rhubarb. It’s a blank pastry canvas for any kind of experimentation. Please tell me how one could put an unlikely combination of equally tasty ingredients in a buttery crust sleeping bag and not yield a truly wondrous dessert experience. That’s what these Blackbird ladies do: mint, bourbon, and chocolate pie; apple rose pie; salty honey pie; I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. Experiment with your pie, people- it’ll be well worth the flour on your nose and beet-stained fingernails.

So, I give you the Four & Twenty Blackbirds grapefruit custard pie, coming from the winter pie section of the book. Which is a genius idea, because as tasty as paprika peach pie sounds, it’s kinda tricky to find a nice peach in say, February. So you just flip a few pages and see that citrus is the way to go. If I make this one again, I want to try it with blood orange. Can you imagine the color? I know. In the meantime, find yourself a copy of this book and get cracking!

Also, some links to change your day:

3-D printed ice cubes because technology is..not (?) unbelievably intriguing/scary..

stop everything you can hard-boil eggs IN THE OVEN 

charoset ice cream! charoset ice cream!!! too bad it’s only available in Israel..guess I should just make my own, even though I did kinda miss my Passover window

Pie (from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book)

For the crust (9-inch pie)
1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into½-inch pieces
½ cup cold water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ cup ice
*
one egg white

For the filling
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs 1 large egg yolk
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (~2 grapefruits)
3 tablespoons Campari liqueur
1 cup heavy cream
Dash orange-flavored cocktail bitters (optional)

Assembly
Make the crust: Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the butter and toss lightly in the flour mixture using until coated. With a pastry blender or cold fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture (work quickly!) until the majority of  pieces of butter remaining are pea-size (a few larger pieces are okay; it’s better not to overblend). Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a large measuring cup or small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture to the flour mixture, and mix it in with fingers/bench scraper/spatula until fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, using the bench scraper or fingers to mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining. Bring any extra bits of dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture if necessary (I didn’t find this needed) to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight.

Make the custard: In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, salt and melted butter. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, blending well after each addition. Whisk in the grapefruit juice, Campari, heavy cream, and bitters, if using.

Prebake the crust: Roll out the crust on a well-floured work surface to about 1/8-inch thickness. Roll the crust onto the rolling pin and onto a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the crust any way your heart desires (go down the rabbit hole) and refrigerate crust for at lease 30 minutes. Use a fork to prick all around the bottom and sides, then move the crust to the freezer. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Whisk together the egg white and and one teaspoon of water and set aside (this will act as a moisture-proof bottom/side sealant.) When the crust is frozen solid (~10 minutes,) line lightly with foil and fill with pie weights/beans (I use dried chickpeas.) Place the pan on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the crust’s edges are set but not brown. Remove the crust with the baking sheet and lift out the foil/weights. Let cool for a moment or two, then use a pastry brush to coat the bottom and sides of the crust with the egg wash. Return the pan and baking sheet to the oven and bake for another 3 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheet.

Put it all together: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Make sure the the prebaked pie shell is still on the baking sheet. Strain the filling through a fine-mesh sieve directly into the pie shell (or strain into a separate bowl and then pour it into the shell.) Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 50-55 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees when the edges start to set (~30-35 minutes through baking.) The pie is finished when the edges are set and puffed slightly and the center is no longer liquid but still wobbly. (Don’t overbake! The custard can separate if heated for too long; it will continue to cook and set after the pie is removed from the oven.) Allow the pie to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours (good luck.) Serve at room temperature or cool with a coffee (the only time the coffee + grapefruit combo is not awful) or a get crazy decadent and make yourself a negroni to embrace the Campari in the pie. The pie will keep refrigerated for 2 days or at room temperature for 1 day.

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Desserts

166

Honey Hazelnut Brownies (GF)

 

If I were one of the seven deadly sins, I’d be gluttony. Growing up, I was 100% never the kid who got distracted by TV or a gameboy or playing outside during dinnertime. I’ve always been all about the food. Still am, if you didn’t already get that. It doesn’t really matter what the food is. Be it a plate of raw-vegan-paleo-something or a sleeve of Thin Mints, I really don’t care. I will want to finish whatever I can find. That’s why I make an effort to surround myself with good food. It doesn’t have to be spinach, but it does have to have some kind of body/mind health benefit. So that’s a way of saying that while I do eat a great many brownies, they aren’t filled with milk chocolate (pffff) or 3 cups of bleached sugar or anything like that.

I’m sure there are others like me out there- those who love to eat all the things, but still care about what they put inside themselves. That’s why I’m sharing (another) recipe for good-for-you brownies. It’s similar, but just different enough to be a completely unique brownie experience. My favorite part of this recipe was hands-down the coconut oil. It made the brownies smell so good. Even after they’d cooled and were hanging out in the fridge- spoiler alert, when these bad boys are cold, they’re even better. But maybe that’s just me. This was also the first time I’ve sweetened brownies with honey and I must say, it’s my new favorite thing. There’s something about using honey instead of regular sugar in a dessert that makes it more interesting. You know the thing you’re eating is sweet, but it’s not a usual kind of sweet. You must mull over the complexities of your dessert by having another brownie. And then another. It’s basically homework. I may or may not have crumbled them over several bowls of pistachio gelato during my analysis of honey vs sugar dessert. It was very important work.

Speaking of overindulgence, Heinz and Kraft are merging to form one giant superfood company (but not this kind of superfood. More like this kind.) What does this mean? That Kraft singles will now come with ketchup packets so we can finally always be ready to make a proper grilled cheese??! One can only hope..

Brownies

1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp cocoa nibs
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk the wet ingredients until smooth and set aside. Whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, then add to the wet ingredients and combine. Fold in the chopped chocolate, cocoa nibs, and hazelnuts. Bake 20-25 minutes.

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Breakfasts, Desserts, Snacks

165

Almond Fig Oat Bars (V)

I’ve realized recently that no matter what time I actually get up (and it’s usually a full two hours before I actually need to be anywhere,) I spend way too much time casually drinking coffee. I’ll even admit to waking up a half hour earlier than those two hours simply to have the time to sit and sip for a while. But even on those mornings when I give myself more time, I’m still scrambling to throw everything in my bag and wrap my comically large scarf around my face at 8:53, with just a few minutes to run halfway across campus for class at 9. So obviously that whole lunch thing often gets forgotten. I’ve mentioned it before, if you can recall. My newest mission: to fill my freezer with so many granola bars all I’ll have to do is reach and grab a few, even during the pre-coffee moments before my eyes begin to focus. Sounds like a foolproof plan, amirite? Since my fridge is already crowded with homemade larabars, I’m getting anxious to change up the routine.

So basically this post is a way of admitting I’m way too into searching for granola bar recipes. There are SO MANY things happening with this particular kind of food on the internet it’s nearly impossible not to find myself with eighteen different tabs open trying to make sure I pay proper attention to each and every recipe/photo aaaahh. But chaos aside, there are probably about a hundred billion different granola bar recipes out there and with you guys as my witness I will make them all. It may take a few years, but I will do it.

Here are just a few of the bars I’ve been eyeing:

these superfood granola bars (because deciding to mail order dried green healthy things is infinitely more appealing when said healthy things come in the form of chocolate.)

quinoa and cherries are one of my favorite combos so I’m v into these seedy cherry granola bars.

I’ve never had sesame snaps (probably because I don’t live in Canada like the author of this post), but these sesame snap granola bars have a lot of tahini in them so I am a happy camper.

homemade kind bars > paying $1.99 each for the real thing at the campus center, stomach growling for all to hear

I already make these 5 Ingredient Granola Bars (really it’s more like 8-12 ingredients, what with all the pepitas, cocoa nibs, and dried cranberries I add) on a regular basis. You should too. The Minimalist Baker seriously gets it when it comes to granola.

then I got into a much healthier corner of the blogosphere with sweet potato buckwheat bars (I’m more nervous about this, but usually the best food things come in strange packages)

Until I can get to the store to buy all the nuts + seeds, here’s a fun fig bar recipe~

Almond Fig Bars (adapted from Healthy Happy Life)

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
good pinch sea salt
1/2 cup warm water + 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk (use the drinkin’ stuff in a carton, make your own, or use a well-shaken can)
1 large banana (the riper the better)
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
coconut oil (for greasing pan)

1 cup dried figs
2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
juice of one orange

topping options: toasted oats, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, chopped nuts, cocoa nibs etc

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Thickly grease a baking sheet with a tablespoon or two coconut oil. Combine the water and flaxseeds, stirring briskly. Set aside to thicken for a few minutes. Combine the rest of the dry ingredients and spices, then fold in the wet ingredients, including the seed water (AKA the flax egg – I know, yum) Add an extra splash of coconut milk if the batter seems too thick to pour. Thinly slice the figs and toss them in the maple syrup and orange juice. Pour the batter into the baking sheet and drop the figs on top, pour any excess liquid right over the figs. Sprinkle with desired topping and bake 20-25 minutes! I found these to be realllly great warm topped with coconut whipped cream. That’s not really a breakfast or to go option, but do what you can with this information.

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Mocha Whiskey Mousse Pie for
Pi[e] Day 2015 (aka the Pi Day of the Century)

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Happy Pi Day!! Honestly, this is probably my favorite of the food themed holidays. It’s a close race between pies and chocolate but I think pie may have a little edge. This year is extra special because it’s 2015, meaning the date is 3/14/15, and π = 3.1415 (the next few digits are 926, so I could be extra insane and make sure I’m eating a bite of pie at exactly 9:26 AM and PM, but we’ll see.) Since it’s so important that pie be consumed on this high holy day, I’ve been thinking about what exactly I’d be making for quite a while. As much as I wish it were summer, so I could make a really good fruit pie with all the fresh peaches + berries, we can’t always get what we want. So I settled (and by settled, I mean I was perfectly happy to select) chocolate and cherry preserves. As long as these decadent things exist, life will be pretty good. So grab a fork and cup of coffee and dig in! Also read this article real quick.

Check my pi day post from last year for more treats, but also definitely pay attention to what the rest of the internet food world created:

last year’s Mini Cherry-Blueberry Pies (Ashlae makes a lot of pie, she’s a goddess)

Food52 has all the suggestions for savory as well as sweet pies

This Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie from Smitten Kitchen is obviously breakfast, yes?

Buzzfeed has a lot of suggestions, although I’m wary of a pie milkshake..

NPR has featured recipes in addition to a math-y video with v dramatic music (it’s currently playing as I type and it’s making everything feel like a fight sequence in an action movie.) Also I’m not sure what’s going on with their “pizza pie”, but it’s not what I was expecting

Just reading the words Blackberry Balsamic Pie with Sea Salt Walnut Crumble made my day, so you bet I took note of this one for the summer (actually, I “pinned” it..do you hate me?)

I actually originally intended to make a Crack Pie today, but that dream got away from me, so just salivate over the recipe!

This project is called 31 Days of Pie, and while it did not overlap with pi day, I think you understand why it’s on this list

If you’re in New York today, there are some pie shops celebrating with discounts and specials! Four & Twenty Blackbirds is also running a 3 slices for $14 deal~

Also if you want to eat pie for all the meals today, look at these adorable little savory hand pies, this Guinness Beef Pot Pie, and this whole list..but especially that artichoke, kale, and ricotta pie yes yes yes

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch Waitress and eat the following recipe straight out of the pie pan!

Pie (inspired by Oh, Ladycakes)

2 cups pretzels
5 cinnamon graham crackers
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6-8 tablespoons solid coconut oil

1 batch chocolate mousse
2 tablespoons whiskey
2 tablespoons espresso

1/4 cup cherry preserves (or berries, if you can find good ones this time o’year!)
1-2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
chopped walnuts and cashews
shredded coconut
1 batch coconut whipped cream

For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a removable bottom tart pan (I use canola spray) Combine pretzels, graham crackers, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor and grind until they reach flour-like crumbs. Add the coconut oil and pulse until crust resembles wet sand. Press into tart pan with your fingers, then use the bottom of a measuring cup to really press it all in. Bake 7-10 minutes, checking for the last three minutes to make sure it’s not burning. Remove from oven and set on a baking sheet (in case anyone happens to move your pie, we won’t have no surprises re: removable bottom pan/pie all over floor/etc) to cool.

For the filling: Make the mousse according to these directions, swapping out 4 tablespoons of almond milk with the espresso and whiskey. Or you can use the normal recipe, live your life as you please. Pour mousse into pie crust and refrigerate.

For the topping: Spoon the preserves over the chocolate layer of the pie. Sprinkle one tablespoon of cocoa nibs over the preserves. If you’re good at planning ahead, make a batch of coconut whipped cream, adding a tablespoon or two of whiskey, because yolo and such (I am on spring break after all..) and spread a thick layer over the chocolate. Stud the top with more cocoa nibs, chopped nuts, and coconut. Ready your forks and toast to pi day!

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Chocolate Truffles (GF)

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend a truffle making workshop at Roni-Sue’s Chocolates (thanks, Katie!!) where I learned all about the art of fancy chocolate making. Over homemade hot cocoa we learned all about owner Rhonda Kave’s 25-year-long hobby turned successful business. In addition to the truffles we sampled, Rhonda also gave us a little lesson about the different parts of the cocoa pod (she gets hers from Belize, where she spends a lot of time with cocoa farmers). We rubbed the skin off a roasted cocoa bean (think espresso bean, but richer), poked at cocoa nibs, and those of us who were brave enough to sample unsweetened chocolate munched a little bit- not a bite for the Hershey’s Milk-minded, let me tell you. We then got to take over the kitchen and learn to make our own chocolate ganache, which eventually became truffles! This was a really fantastic experience.  It was clear that Rhonda enjoyed her previous career as a professional women’s activist, but her dream was always to work in chocolate. Now, she gets to incorporate chocolate with social activism and community engagement, and it doesn’t seem like she’ll stop anytime soon. She’s a cool lady, read more about Rhonda here.

I rarely find myself in the presence of people who truly enjoy what they do. It gave me quite a bit of hope. If you’ve been reading any of my recent posts, you’ve noticed my not-so-subtle hints about having literally no concrete post-grad plans. But it’s okay. Because I know what I like to do. And no, it’s not watching Netflix- though I’m sure that was your first guess, so good one! I really like making and styling food. Obviously, I’d love to figure out a way to make this blog a career, but the stars would have to align to make that happen. Or maybe I could run into a Saveur editor and convince them to feature me in the Food Blog Awards. But I dream. In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to the clean slate that is coming in May. And yes, I am going to continue to refer to this in a positive way probably until three days before graduation. Then we’ll let the panic attacks roll in. But maybe I’ll get lucky like Rhonda and find a way to do what I love. Here’s hoping!

Among the truffles we sampled: Raspberry (flavored with freeze-dried raspberry powder); Strawberry-Rhubarb with Marzipan and Apricot kernel; Eggnog Ganache with Rum in a White Chocolate Shell. Needless to say it was quite the afternoon. I’m featuring Roni-Sue’s basic truffle recipe today, but maybe I’ll experiment a little in the future and share that here as well! I feel like a Campari and orange truffle could be very interesting, don’t you?

Truffles (yield: approx 50 pcs)

7 oz dark chocolate (preferably 70%) – you can use chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
2 pinches pink salt (or sea salt)
1 1/4 c heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter, softened (optional- it just adds richness!)

Topping options:
Flaky sea salt
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Cocoa nibs
Crushed nuts
Crushed candy canes
Crushed gingersnaps
Chili powder
Ground cinnamon

Place chocolate, salt, and butter (if using) in a heat-safe bowl. Bring cream to boil in a small saucepan over medium high heat, then pour over chocolate. Let sit for about a minute, then whisk until smooth. Refrigerate uncovered until firm, about 1 hour. Spoon 2 level teaspoons-full of the chocolate mixture onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper, then return to refrigerator 15 minutes. With your hands, roll the mounds into balls, then roll or sprinkle with desired toppings! Chill until set, about half an hour.

 

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Tahini Cookies

Tahini is currently my favorite condiment. It’s very similar to melted peanut butter in texture, but much stronger and not sweet, so one jar seems like it will last forever. If I find myself unable to make peanut sauce at dinnertime because I finished the jar of Jif last night in bed with a spoon (it’s happened before), it’s okay, I can just swap in tahini and a little honey/maple syrup and there will be virtually no difference. This entire past semester I’ve used it every chance I can get. I make this dressing in bulk for salad days; I’ve made several adaptations of this meal at least tri-weekly (minus the goji berries because when I drop $39.95 at Whole Foods it’s going to be on fancy cheese/pink salt, srynotsry) because it’s so simple and chopping things is soothing. I also realized this recipe of mine got instantly better the moment I put a spoonful of tahini in the dressing. I got super excited when I saw Molly Yeh put tahini in *wait for it* hot chocolateYes. It’s amazing. And I thought two tablespoons of Nutella was pushing my luck with hot chocolate- SO glad I was wrong.

In other news, I joined the YMCA in my town for the past month so I could continue to run as winter progresses. Although apparently Jersey thought 47 degrees was okay for late December, so I obviously would’ve been fine outside. At least the past several days have been freezing, so I will make the final days the membership worth it. Emily even taught me how to use the weight room! Which was a funny joke Now I’m totally an athlete!! As if. I think I look much more graceful (a relative term) while running outside. The track is so tiny it’s actually pretty hilarious. I think 33 laps = 1 mile..geesh. I feel like a dog chasing its tail, which must present me as an incredibly coordinated individual. But it’s all worth it when I get to come home and eat cookies. However, this may be the last batch of the seemingly endless collection of holiday cookies to emerge from my kitchen this season. What a sad revelation. I think I should probably make more to tide me over for the next week, don’t you?

Cookies (from Bon Appétit)

1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c pine nuts
1/3 c powdered sugar
1/3 c tahini
1/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp black sesame seeds
2 tbsp raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring often. Place all ingredients except sesame seeds and raw sugar in a food processor. Pulse until a smooth dough forms a ball around the blade. Mix sesame seeds and raw sugar in a small bowl. Form the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sesame seed/sugar mixture. Place cookies on parchment-lines baking trays about 2 inches apart from each other, flattening slightly. Bake 20-25 minutes.

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