Desserts

154

Chocolate Peppermint Thins

Happy 2015! I can’t believe it’s January again. This was an incredibly fast year. I think this is mostly because at school the days and weeks seem to blend together to the point where a new unit of time is created. I have no idea what I ate for dinner two days before, let alone who I was with or what we spoke about or which paper I worked on that night. It’s just “school-time”. Classes seem long, but semesters end unbelievably quickly, leaving me feeling bewildered about whether I’ve actually done anything concrete in the previous months. Yet, time seems smooth there. It’s very different when I come back home. Every corner, cafe, and movie theatre presents itself not in its current place in time and space, but where it existed a year ago. And the year before that. And the year before that. Flashes of conversations come back so vividly it’s really quite frightening. Everything I do (brown garlic for my favorite dinner, walk down the street hoping for snow, drink a gin and tonic) I’ve done before. And I can’t decide if it was better then or now.

I’ve always been that person who needs to know exactly what is coming. I make to-do lists. I plan for things. I write blog posts talking about what I’ve “learned” from the careful plans I’ve made. I very easily could continue along that carefully laid out path this year, but I didn’t apply to grad school, as I originally considered. It’s not because I’m lazy, I swear! I think I really just need to take a break from planning for everything. Embrace the come-what-may, as it were. Maybe it’ll work out terribly and I’ll go right back to planning everything out, and that’s okay. But in the meantime, I will spend the afternoon making cookies and not working on costume sketches like I originally planned, and everything will be fine. In fact, I’ll enjoy it!

Cookies (from the New York Times)

1 c + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
½ tsp kosher salt
1 egg
1 tsp peppermint extract (or if you’re me and went looking for the #1 holiday flavoring on Dec. 23, only to find the rest of the world bought every single bottle of peppermint extract in the tri-state area, peppermint flavor works too)
1 ½ c all-purpose flour
¾ c unsweetened cocoa powder

Chocolate Coating

About 16 oz bittersweet chocolate
¼ – ½ tsp peppermint extract
¼ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp coconut oil
8 to 12 candy canes
¼ – ½ c cocoa nibs

Cream sugar and butter together in a mixer until fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Add salt, egg, peppermint extract and 1 tablespoon water, and mix until smooth. Mix flour and cocoa together, then add to the batter and mix until combined. The dough will be very stiff (and in my opinion it was easier to work with after being left in the fridge for a day to get even stiffer). Heat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon out rounded tablespoons of dough and roll into balls. Place 3 inches apart on baking sheet. Use the bottom of a glass to flatten each ball into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Dust the bottom of the glass with cocoa powder every three cookies or so (which may give the impression that your cookies have burned when they come out of the oven, but this is a trick! don’t buy into it! they’re just fine!) Bake about 15 minutes until the cookies are firm and beginning to crisp. Remove from cookie sheets and let cool on wire racks. Don’t throw away the parchment paper.

When the cookies have cooled completely (several hours or overnight), make the coating. Place the candy canes in a thick freezer bag and use a rolling pin to get out all aggression pulverize them into a mixture of candy-cane dust and little red-and-white bits. Set aside in a cool place. Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over barely simmering water. When smooth, stir in ¼ teaspoon of each extract and the coconut oil. Taste and add more peppermint extract if needed. Keep chocolate warm over the hot water.

The Times recipe recommends fully submerging each cookie one at a time in the chocolate, but when I realized I had 5 dozen cookies and a solid seven minutes yielded three finished cookies, I changed the plan. Place the cookies (still on wire racks) on top of the parchment-covered baking trays. Situate near the warm chocolate. Working one line of cookies at a time, drop tablespoonfuls of chocolate onto the cookies and then smooth flat with an offset spatula. Repeat. After about 15 minutes, when the chocolate has mostly set, sprinkle cookies with candy cane bits and cocoa nibs. Store in the fridge in airtight containers, in layers separated by parchment paper. Try to only eat four at a time.

 

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Desserts

149

DIY Funfetti Cake

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I used to love the November time change. Getting up for high school was always a challenge, especially at six in the morning in the dark. Knowing that all I had to look forward to was maybe not failing a math quiz or watching one of those fantastic The Universe videos in Physics class was not as exciting as it may seem. So, obviously, the prospect of having an “extra” hour of sleep was always craved- looked forward to, even. But something changed this year. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I would get snips of this in previous three years, that restlessness with the time change  -maybe for the fifteen seconds between pouring out my first cup of coffee from the institutional coffee vats (which really do look like a slightly more Bauhaus-inspired version of this) in the brighter light and it becoming ice cold because it had been brewed hours earlier- but there’s something about a florescently lit stark white space that smelled vaguely like the previous night’s marinara sauce and burnt toast that didn’t scream “calm”.

I actually really have been enjoying waking up to the last bits of night in sky and the air. It’s cold and quiet and there’s a really beautiful blue tint to the light. I’m always the first one awake in the apartment and it’s so peaceful; I walk downstairs in my slippers, measure rounded tablespoonfuls of coffee, and open the big curtain that covers the window-wall. The hints of daylight begin to stream in and I listen to my coffee drip down, usually while emptying the dish rack. By the time the coffee is brewed, the sun just starts poking out and I sit in the dark living room with a steaming mug. I don’t turn any lights on. I just breathe deeply and sit. It’s shocking the wonders I’ve found this does. So I’ve been ever-thankful for this new space I can call my own (or at least, 25% my own, I do have apart-mates)

Ever since we changed the clocks (fell back?) the light is different. The sun is bright, too bright for how early it’s supposed to be. I feel like I’m running late for no reason; it seems strange to be eating a bowl of oatmeal in broad daylight. Today’s sunset is set to happen at 4:31 pm. I keep reminding myself we only have 39 more sunsets until the days begin to get longer. Of course, then I remember that by December 21 I will have finished my penultimate semester of college, so maybe I’ll put that thought on the back burner for now. In the meantime, I’ll try my best to just enjoy the daylight while it lasts, even if it’s happening earlier than I’d like. PS- I made this cake for my lovely friend Kelsey’s birthday a few weeks ago, but I guess we can pretend I used it to celebrate mine too, as I just turned 22 over the weekend! Aaaah!

Cake (from My Name is Yeh and Food52)

1 c unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 c sugar

4 large egg whites

2 tbsp vanilla extract (Molly Yeh recommends imitation for that real boxed-cake effect!)

6 tbsp vegetable oil 2

2 1/2 c cake flour

2 1/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 c whole milk

2/3 c plus 1 tbsp sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans and line them with cut out circles of parchment paper. Lightly spray the parchment (I like canola spray). With an electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy (several minutes). Add the egg whites, one at a time, mixing well after each one. Add the vanilla and oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With your mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk. Once you have a smooth batter, fold in 2/3 cup of sprinkles. Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Pour the remaining tablespoon of sprinkles over the top and bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Check at about 25 minutes- they may need a minute or two more. Cool in the pans for a few minutes, then flip them onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

I used my recipe, see this post!

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Desserts

147

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies 

+ a fall wish list

I received a very important text from Emily a few weeks ago. She needed pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Well, I’m nothing if not a fan of helping a girl in need of dessert, so obviously I went out and bought a two cans of pumpkin- a batch for her and a batch for me, duh. Spoilers: I didn’t eat the whole second batch myself. I shared some with my roommates in exchange for some cookie-hand modeling (scroll down), and then brought the rest to Vassar to share with my boyfriend. He thinks a serving of cookies = an entire tray, which makes me happy. So anyway, as I walked to the grocery store it dawned on me: I’m wearing a sweater and it might actually be fall right now. So that was weird. And since college for me tends to be a bubble/black hole where all aspects of the real world are only enjoyed through tiny windows (did you know the holiday season actually starts before finals are over?) I made up my mind right then and there to pay more attention to life outside of school. Is anyone else sensing a pattern to my posts lately? If you can guess it I’ll mail you one of these cookies. So, whenever I decide to do something it always starts with a list. I like making lists. And in an effort to actually follow through I’m going to post it on the blog so I have witnesses…even if the only witness is the internet.

This fall I will:

carve pumpkins with my roommates (are they roommates if we don’t share a bedroom? housemates? apartmates?)

make pumpkin spice lattés from scratch in the hopes it gets me to actually like pumpkin spice lattés

drink mulled cider or wine outside while wearing a birkenstocks + socks (fashion show fashion show)

go running/walk at least twice a week in an effort to spend more time outside and less on homework because last year I did the opposite and am fairly certain it led to the solid two months of debilitating migraines

dress up as Betty Draper for Halloween

find someone who has a dress I can borrow in order to be Betty Draper for Halloween (or should I just wear my prom dress from high school…tbt?)

have a Friendsgiving in my apartment before we all leave

try out this vegan pumpkin pie on my relatives and see if they notice

learn to make challah in an effort to somehow stay connected to part of my heritage even though I completely missed Rosh Hashanah

Can I do at least 2/3 of this? We shall see!

Cookies (adapted slightly from Food52)

c whole wheat flour

tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

c unbleached cane sugar

1/2 c vegetable oil

c canned pumpkin

1 tsp vanilla extract

large egg

c bittersweet chocolate chips, roughly chopped

coarsely ground pepper (optional, but it shouldn’t be)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the first seven ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, pumpkin, vanilla and egg. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined, then stir in the chocolate chips. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about an inch between the cookies. Sprinkle with pepper if desired (do it do it do it peer pressure do it). Bake for about 12 minutes. They’re always going to be pretty soft, but a minute or two more certainly won’t hurt them if you’re not sure. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for about five minutes, then finish cooling completely on cooling wracks.

Also, quick facts about these cookies: 1) the texture is extremely similar to that of a soft and fluffy whoopie pie. Which means you should probably whip up a quick batch of cream cheese frosting and get sandwiching! Or crumble them over vanilla/maple/butter pecan ice cream. OR layer them with whipped cream, pepitas, and crushed gingersnaps to make a trifle! 2) I made my first tray of cookies without the pepper, then I had a moment of inspiration and decided I would just go for it, and they came out INCREDIBLE. Put pepper on all your pumpkin/ginger/snickerdoodle cookies right before you bake them. And while you’re reaching for the condiments put salt on your chocolate chip cookies before you bake those. You won’t be sorry.

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Desserts, Snacks

144

No-Added-Sugar Brownies (GF)

My original beginning to this post was the following: Wait! Don’t run away! You saw “no added sugar” and “brownies” in the same phrase and immediately got upset, right? I’m sorry, I swear this recipe is worth it!

And then I changed my mind. Why was I defending the things I made for my blog like there was something wrong with them? Why was I saying sorry for something I believe in? Earlier this year in a class we were discussing apologies, first in the context of theater, and then just in general. During the conversation one of my friends made a comment that’s stuck with me. She said women apologize significantly more than men. This is a fact, guys. (Also, read this and watch the commercial; even though it’s for shampoo and is naturally a little overdone it’s kind of important.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about this and am really curious as to why it’s such a phenomenon. Why are women always apologizing? There’s nothing in our genetic makeup that scientifically says those of us with two X chromosomes will be more inclined to ask for one’s pardon before entering a room or asking a question, let alone asserting something they believe. This is something that has occurred through the bizarre way women are “expected” to interact with others. I realized I do this a lot. I say sorry to my professors before making a comment in class that might not be completely correct. I say sorry to my boyfriend for asking him something that might come off as needy or despondent. I say sorry to my roommate for asking her to clean up grease she splattered over the stove all four of us share. I say sorry to my friend for asking to borrow a bobby pin. Why do I apologize so much? These are not instances where you jab someone in the ribs with your umbrella on a crowded subway or spill a bowl of soup on the person behind you in line at the deli. For those moments of accident or plain ol’ human error we should probably apologize. In fact, I’d be pretty bummed if I tripped over your bag in the doorway and you didn’t say sorry. But I am through with apologizing for feeling the way I feel or doing the things I do. If I want to eat foods that are “good” for me, I will do so. And if I want to eat foods that are “bad” for me, I’ll do that, too! I don’t want to feel like I have to say sorry for eating almonds while you eat a Snickers bar. I wouldn’t ask you to apologize or defend your choice to me. Snickers bars are awesome, I just don’t feel like having one today.

And right now, I’m going to share with you a recipe for brownies that have no added sugar (or just a tad if you add chocolate chips, that is), egg yolk, or grain. They’re full of good fats and protein. They’re clean and they make my body feel good, but they are still just as chocolatey as the other fifteen brownie recipes I have in my rotation. I’ve never felt as healthy as I have since I started making a conscious effort to eat good food. And that’s my choice- hey, it’s my life, right? If you want to have this for dessert, you do it. And don’t you dare apologize. If you want to eat this for dessert, go ahead! But please don’t say sorry. If you agree to do this, I promise I’ll try to live my life the same way.

Brownies (adapted from Health Magazine)

1/2 c raw almonds (use sliced if you want a smooth brownies, whole if you want a little crunch)

1 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder

1 c packed pitted dates (soaked in hot water for 10 minutes)

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch sea salt

1/4 c unsweetened almond milk

2 tbsp coconut oil (solid)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 egg whites

2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and coat with baking spray. In a food processor grind almonds (if using who, cocoa powder, chocolate, baking soda, and salt. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Place the dates, vanilla, and coconut oil in the food processor (stay tuned for a very exciting how-to post on date butter!) and blend until smooth. Resist urge to dip finger into results. Add almond mixture and blend together. Pour into a bowl. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with a whisk or hand mixer until medium peaks form. Fold into original mixture along with chocolate chips. Spread into the baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes (they firm up on the outside very quickly, and will likely not be done after ten minutes even though they look like they are). Let cool completely before slicing and munching!

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Desserts

140

No-Bake Chocolate Cherry Tart (V, GF)

Well, I’ve been back at school for a few weeks now and it’s finally started to feel real. I think it’s living in a new space that’s making everything feel like a blur. I’m in less of a school-with-a-side-of-life space and in more of an I-live-here-but-oh-also-homework world. I’m not sure how to feel about it. Like, if I can’t sleep and I want to make brownies at one in the morning I totally can, but I do still have to finish the readings for class on Tuesday. It’s even weirder to think about the fact that a year from now I probably won’t be here at all. I’m quickly realizing that once you say you’re a senior in college a short play is presented:

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: So you’re a senior?

Me: Yes.

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: Wow, that’s so exciting!

Me: It is, but y-

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: What’re you going to do when you graduate?

Me: Well, I-

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: Grad school?

Me: Um, at this point-

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: Oh! Are you like, looking for places where you can work that involve the thing you majored?

Me: I’m not quite-

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: Well, I’m sure you’ll figure it out!

Every. Single. Time. If it hadn’t happened to me more than thrice in one week with almost the exact same conversation I wouldn’t feel so strongly about writing this down, but it has. It’s almost as though everyone who’s older/younger than college seniors has banded together to rehearse this. I would be very impressed that mankind has finally found something to agree on if it weren’t so freaking terrifying. After this summer I’ve realized I have NO IDEA what I want to do when I graduate, other than not be in school for a while. I wonder where I’ll be, where my friends will be. Maybe I’ll be living in some cool new city and working at a fun job? Relatively unlikely. But we’ll see. I know the places I’d like to see and the people I’d like to spend time with, but in terms of what I’ll be *doing*? No idea. In the meantime I’ll be eating a lot of chocolate.

Tart (from Oh, Ladycakes with a few adjustments)

Crust

1 c rolled oats

1 c raw almonds

Pinch sea salt

6 medjool dates, pitted

2-3 tbsp non-dairy milk (I used light coconut milk)

Filling

1/2 c unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder

1/4 c coconut oil, melted

1/4 c maple syrup

2 c cherries, pitted and quartered

Line the bottom of an 8-9″ tart pan with parchment paper and spray with oil. In a food processor fitted blend the oats, almonds, and salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and blend just until combined. Add two tbsp of the milk and blend until the dough is crumbly but sticks together when pressed between your fingers. If it doesn’t seem to be as moist as it could be add the third tbsp (I only used two because I was nervous about the crust getting too tough but alas, it was still extremely crumbly. Oh well, it still tasted good!) Once you’ve reached the desired consistency, press dough into the prepared tart pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the cocoa powder and one tbsp of the coconut oil. Stir relatively smooth then add the syrup. Then whisk in remaining coconut oil and pour into the crust. Top with the cherries, then transfer to the refrigerator for at least an hour. I don’t think this needs anything to accompany it except maybe a cup of tea or glass of sparkling wine!

 

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Desserts

137

Chocolate Avocado Pudding (V, GF)

I’m back at Smith for my senior year (!!!!), currently sitting in my apartment listening to the fan whir. It’s hot. Really, hot. Too hot for New England in September. And obviously this living situation does not include air conditioning. But it’s okay, because I’m not in my old prison cell box dorm room. I’m in my very own living room! It’s so exciting not to have to be confined to a dorm. I’ve already christened my oven with chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and I didn’t poison anyone, so I think I’ve got this covered. It feels like real life. Kinda. I do still have to go to class and do homework. That part isn’t so great. But I think this will be a good year in terms of eating, and that’s better than nothing. Anyway, I’ve finally found a spare moment to sit down with my computer and blog, so blog I shall! In all honesty, I did make this recipe at home in Jersey with my full-sized food processor and a dishwasher. And the next few posts will likely be other things I made at home before leaving as well. However, I can assure you, there will be a great many posts from my new digs. Just wait!

(Also in case anyone was wondering sometimes in Senior Capstone classes the professor tells you your homework is to bring in cookies. So that’s probably good luck, right?)

Pudding (adapted from A Beautiful Mess; makes 3-6 servings, depending on how hungry you are)

2 ripe avocados

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or any non dairy milk you like)

3 tbsp honey/agave/sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the milk and sweetener in a pot over low heat, melting together until combined. Remove from heat and let cool. Skin and pit the avocados, then place in a food processor with the cocoa powder. Blend until smooth. Add the milk mixture and blend until REALLY smooth. Spoon into serving cups and chill until you’re ready to eat! I recommend topping with coconut whipped cream and fresh berries!

 

 

 

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Desserts

135

Strawberry Cherry Crostata

I thought I’d share a piece of very important piece information with you all today: red fruit is perfect. If I had to only eat one kind of food for the rest of my life it would be red fruit. Cherries, raspberries, strawberries, dried cranberries, gala apples, goji berries- you get it. Yes, there are moments where I find myself enjoying other colors of fruit (I peel a banana from the bottom, I rub the fuzzy outsides of kiwis at the grocery store) but I never really can mindlessly munch on these other colors as I can with red fruit. Honestly, I’m a little scared that this school year when I have to buy all my groceries as opposed to relying on the dining hall, my fridge is going to be 83% red fruit. More honestly, this does not scare me at all. Especially when that red fruit becomes the inside of a crostata. Emily and I recently spent an afternoon making this fantastic thing and I can’t describe how incredible it was. We put it in the oven around noon. We sampled our first slices around 1. By 4, it was more than halfway gone. And we hadn’t even shared it with anyone yet. I simply never get tired of fresh fruit and buttery crust. This might be the reason I prefer pie to cake. As much as I hate myself for saying this, I can get sick of too much cake. It’s just too rich for 3+ slices. But pie. I could eat a whole pie with a fork accidentally. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve done it. And never felt nearly as bad as I should’ve that no one else got a slice. As I’ve said recently, you never know when you’re going to need to make a pie or tart, so it’s best to keep doughs in the freezer for when inspiration strikes. Same goes for crostata. Just fyi- crostata is an Italian baked tart that is essentially open faced rustic pie without a pan. It’s very similar to a French galette. But I am Italian after all, so why not embrace it? Okay, let’s bake!

 

Crust (tweaked ever so slightly from Joy the Baker)

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 c unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

1/2 c plus 1 tablespoon cold buttermilk

 

Filling

1 1/2 c sliced strawberries

1 c sliced cherries

2 tbsp granulated sugar

3 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

pinch of salt

1 large egg, beaten granulated

raw sugar

Pulse together flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse seven or eight times until the butter is the size of small peas. Pour in the buttermilk and pulse a few times until the flour is just moistened. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. After its been in the fridge for about half an hour, make the filling!

In a medium bowl, stir together strawberries, cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Cover and set aside (room temperature or refrigerated) until your crust is done chilling. In a small bowl, beat the egg and set aside.

Preheat the oven 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper. On a well-floured surface, roll the disk out to a 1/4-inch thick large round disk (it’s okay if it’s not perfect- in fact, that’s better!) Roll the disk onto the rolling pin and unroll it on the baking tray. Pour the fruit mixture into the center of the square- leave at least 1 1/2-inches of crust on all sides.  Brush the edges of the disk with some of the beaten egg. Fold the crust up and around the fruit, neatly tucking in the edges. Brush the top of the crust with the rest of the beaten egg, then sprinkle generously with raw sugar. Bake 25-30 minutes. Devour with a fork directly on the tray!

 

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132

Chocolate Almond Cake (GF)

According to David Lebovitz, this recipe is considered a “snack cake” in France. Which in my world means I can eat it for breakfast. And let me tell you, chocolate + almond + cake + morning coffee – anywhere to be at a specific time = happy morning. These late July mornings in particular have been calling me to eat cake for breakfast, specifically because of how I’ve been waking up. I’ll explain: on more than one occasion this summer, my sister and I have lugged our old air mattress onto the screen porch in our backyard. We’ve then fallen asleep listening to the crickets and the rustling of summer plants in the breeze and sometimes the dull roar of VERY low flying planes (because apparently we live in an airport now?). But no matter how hot the following day gets, when we wake up on the porch it’s always that great kind of summer chilly where you absolutely need a comforter and big wool socks even though your PJs are a tank top and shorts. What could possibly be better than to heat up a piece of chocolate cake and a mug of coffee and devour both on said porch under said comforter?? Nothing. Nothing could be better. Except maybe relocating the coffeepot to the porch permanently. This summer has definitely been one of the mildest I can remember. And this very likely could be indicative of climate change- which at this point will probably require everyone needing SPF 5000 to leave the house in daylight while also wearing snowsuits from the blizzards that happen every hour (#science, everyone. You heard it here first). But honestly, if it leads to more brisk summer mornings I think I’d be okay with it.

JUST KIDDING. Okay let’s have some cake!

 

Cake (adapted from davidlebovitz.com)

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 c unsalted butter, cubed

4 eggs, separated

1/2 c raw sugar

1/3 c plain  yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

1 c almond flour (but rly you can use any nut flour you’d like)

dusting of powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

In a large, heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter until smooth (stirring with a wooden spoon) then remove from the heat and let cool a bit.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, half of the sugar, yogurt, vanilla, and salt. Then whisk them into the melted chocolate. Stir in the flour.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or by hand with a whisk) whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually whip in the other half of the sugar until the whites form firm peaks. Fold one-third of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining chocolate mixture just until it’s completely combined. Pour the batter into the pan and level the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (the outer edges of the cake will feel set, but the center should still be soft). Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the cake pan. Dust with powdered sugar.

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131

Blueberry Lemon Curd Tart

There is nothing quite like the simple pleasure of biting into a fresh fruit tart in the middle of summer. Your hand gets sticky from the lemon curd, blueberries slide down to stain your shorts, but who needs napkins? You’re just going to get covered again when you go in for a second slice in about 45 seconds. This is a recipe that will ultimately lead the the kind of pleasure I’m describing. If you’re  not using a premade crust it takes a nice chunk of time to put the whole thing together (the crust needs to be fully baked before any lemony-blueberry goodness can set up shop inside) but I can assure you it’s well worth the wait. I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m very lazy. But I try to push that attribute under the rug when it comes to making pie and tart crusts; homemade crust is just better. There’s no way to describe it. However, I know there are times when one doesn’t have the entire afternoon to wait around for a disk of butter and flour to chill to the perfect temperature so here’s my tip. Find one day where you have many free hours (or maybe that night when you couldn’t sleep and ended up watching half a season of Mad Men on Netflix..) and make a bunch of crusts. Label them with dates, then stick ’em in the freezer for future use. They’ll be perfectly preserved! Then you’ll be all set when the cry for fresh pies ring out on a lazy summer Sunday. You’re welcome, earth! Just FIY, this recipe would be just as good if raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or even bananas were used in place of the blueberries. Blueberries aren’t my favorite fruit, but my father has gotten into the habit of bringing home two cartons of them home literally four times a week. Check my fridge if you think I’m kidding. It looks like a million tiny Violet Beauregardes are taking over the fruit shelf. Not great. Now, were he bringing raspberries or peaches I’d probably be greeting him at the door every day with a mini confetti cannon, but beggars can’t be choosers, so here we are! It was still pretty darn delicious.

Crust (from Williams Sonoma Essentials of Baking)

1 1/4 c. flour

1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. butter, cut into pieces

2 egg  yolks

1 tbsp. heavy cream

In a food processor, combine flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt, pulsing one or two times to mix. Add the butter pieces and pulse 7 or 8 times until the mixture forms coarse crumbs (size of small peas, you know the drill). In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks, then stir in the cream. With the motor running on the food processor, add the egg mixture and process just until the dough comes together, but does not form a ball. On a work surface, shape the dough into a six-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to overnight.

Remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap it, and bring it to a lightly flour-dusted work surface. Rolling from the center out, roll the dough into a 13-inch round that is a little less than 1/4-inch thick (let’s not talk about how my cookbook told me it should be 3/16-inch thick and I had a mild panic attack because I couldn’t find a ruler and apparently forgot for a moment how to do second grade math. It’s fine guys.) Remember to flip and turn your disk, adding more dustings of flour to the rolling pin and work surface, as you roll it out to prevent sticking and cursing and starting over again.

First things first, check to make sure your tart pan has a removable bottom. Now get a bunch of neon post-its and write “MY TART PAN HAS A REMOVABLE BOTTOM IF YOU TOUCH IT WITHOUT REMEMBERING THIS YOU WILL LIKELY BURN YOURSELF AND RUIN A NICE CRUST YOU DO NOT WANT THIS ON YOUR CONSCIENCE BEWARE”. Now you’re ready. To get your disk of dough onto your tart pan, carefully roll the dough around the rolling pin. Unroll the dough. Lifting the dough and ease it into the curves of the pan. Trim off the overhang and press it into the sides to create a double thick crust edge. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

You’ve now reached the second to last step in your Crust-Quest: Prebaking. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line your chilled crust with heavy aluminum foil, being careful to gently press the foil into all the nooks and crannies of the crust. Fill with dried beans, uncooked rice, or pie weights (I use dried chickpeas). Dry out the crust by baking for 15 minutes. Check to see if it’s ready by carefully lifting the foil. If it sticks, continue to bake for 2 minutes at a time, checking the foil. When it no longer sticks, remove from the oven REMEMBERING THE REMOVABLE BOTTOM. Remove the weights by gathering the foil and carefully moving it up and out. Now you’re ready to fully bake. Reduce oven temperature to 350 and put the crust back in the oven and bake until golden, about 10 minutes. If the edges are getting very dark but the center is still not done, cover the edges with small pieces of aluminum foil or crust shieldsIf the crust begins to form giant bubbles, prick them with a sharp knife and gently press down with a metal measuring cup. When it’s done, remove from the oven REMEMBERING THE REMOVABLE BOTTOM and place on a wire cooling wrack. Make the filling as the crust cools.

To unmold the crust, place the fully cooled crust on a large inverted bowl and carefully slide the outer ring off. I like to leave the bottom of the tart pan on as a reinforcer, but you can do as you will and bravely use an offset spatula to separate the pan bottom from the crust

Filling (from foodnetwork.com)

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. lemon juice

6 tbsp. butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 tbsp. lemon zest

3 eggs, beaten

about a pint of fresh blueberries

In the top of a double boiler, heat all the ingredients until they thicken to a custard and bubbles form on the surface, about 10-15 minutes. When the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, remove from heat and strain through a mesh sieve. Let it cool until you’re ready to assemble the tart. To assemble the tart, pour the filling into the cooled crust and arrange the blueberries in a pretty pattern or simply dump berries on to embrace Normcore in your tart. Chill until you’re ready to serve!

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Desserts

130

Almond Chocolate Mousse (V, GF)

These recipes come from Oh, Ladycakes, a really incredible baking blog. Not only are the photos absolutely beautiful, everything made for the blog is vegan! While I am not a vegan, I really love exploring vegan baking. It’s like being a mad scientist only you end up with dessert and not turning yourself into a giant lizard or something. Vegans really know their stuff in terms of good alternative fats, as butter, eggs, and cream are personae non gratae in their kitchens. Here’s something I’ve learned: baking tips from bloggers are sometimes wrong. Sometimes home cooks get lucky when following their hearts in terms of making changes to recipes, then when someone else tries to duplicate said recipe it just doesn’t work. Here’s another thing I’ve learned: vegan bloggers are often exempt from this list. They HAVE to be. For example, when making ice cream, if a proper alternative to egg yolks is not established, there will be no ice cream. And then the vegan will probably be sad, as one often gets when one cannot have ice cream. So if you ask me, trust the vegans. They may not eat bacon or eggs, but they know their stuff in the kitchen.

Mousse (makes 4-6 servings depending on how big; altered slightly from Oh, Ladycakes)

6 oz dark chocolate (65% or higher)

3/4 c. unsweetened almond milk

Coconut Whipped Cream

Fill a large mixing bowl halfway with ice cubes and set aside. Place four-six small jars near your workspace. Add the chocolate to the top of a double boiler (or a heat safe bowl) over and inch or two of boiling water and melt completely. Once it’s melted, remove from heat and set the double boiler insert over the bowl of ice. Add the milk and stir with a spatula until mostly combined (don’t forget to scrape the bottom and edges of the bowl too!). Using a hand mixer on medium-low speed, beat the mixture for 3-5 minutes. It will get very bubbly, and then then rippled lines will start to appear as the mixture thickens. Once all you can see are lines, mix for an additional 10 seconds then immediately pour the mousse into the jars. (If you overmixed and the mousse is too firm to pour into jars, simply return the bowl to the double boiler, melt the mixture completely, and begin again!) Tap each jar on the counter to remove any air bubbles, top with lid, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until set.

Top with coconut whipped cream (scroll down) and cherries, toasted coconut flakes, chocolate shavings, sprinkles, fresh berries, whatever you like!

 

 

 

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