Brandy Alexander

Brandy Alexander Tiramisu | La Pêche Fraîche

Though I’d like to be the girl for him
And cross the sea and land for him
On milky skin my tongue is sand until
The ever distant band begins to play

He’s my Brandy Alexander
Always gets me into trouble
But that’s another matter
Brandy Alexander…

—Feist, Brandy Alexander

Brandy Alexander Tiramisu | La Pêche Fraîche

Do you know this song?
If not, go listen now: here’s the weird 2000s video, complete with wacky, sharpie eyebrows and way too many cut shots.

I love Feist; she’s got such a cool, easy vibe going.  Soft and breezy vocals with a touch of soul.
Brandy Alexander is one of my favorites.

Brandy Alexander Tiramisu | La Pêche Fraîche

Where in the dickens have I been?!
The last time you heard from me, I was dusting green powder on a beautiful little cake and shouting for Spring!
I’m back, more than a week later, with my tail between my legs and a more muted color palate, to say the least.

Spring quarter is shaping up to be a tough one, folks.
I’m still wobbly-kneed, trying to get my balance back as I adjust to my new (increased) workload.
I’m also working hard on a project for UChi’s Festival of the Arts (FOTA), the products of which you’ll see soon.  They may or may not include a multitude of layer cakes and a video(!).

On top of the rigorous demands of biochem/other classes, I have to prep for my summer job (that means shopping for pencil skirts, right?) and God, I have realized, I have to go outside this quarter.
Because, despite the fact that I’ve been in the library 24/7 over the last week, it’s been gorgeous in Chicago.
Sunny, not too hot, not too cold.  Magnificent spring weather.
My skin definitely needs the vitamin D this quarter.
(Hey, skin, remember what a revelation Mexico was, just, oh, 2 weeks ago?  Where did you put all my tan?????)

Brandy Alexander Tiramisu | La Pêche Fraîche

Tiramisù is derived from the Italian phrase pick-me-up (literally, tira-mi-sù), and I would agree wholeheartedly with that translation.
Inspired by this one-bowl tiramisu, I set my heart on making mini tiramisus in tiny bowls.

I was inspired by the flavors of a Brandy Alexander, which is made of crème de cacao, cognac, and cream, and are quite similar to traditional tiramisu.

In order to do so, I made the tiniest, twee-est savoiardi, less than an inch long each.
A nip of espresso to dip your ladyfingers in gives a nice bracing ripple of coffee to the dessert.
Each lightly soaked ladyfinger was layered with ultra creamy, egg-yolk rich mascarpone cream spiked with cognac and coffee liqueur, not too sweet and with a touch of salt.
Each layer was dusted generously with cacao powder, giving a necessary whiff of chocolate to each bite.

Tiramisù, if you haven’t indulged recently, is one of the most magnificent desserts ever created.  The ladyfingers soften under the espresso and become cake-like, the mascarpone cream is ridiculously rich and creamy; the alcohol and cacao cut through everything, giving each bite utmost clarity and leaving you drooling for more.

Because I’m sharing a tiramisu recipe, I have to give a health hazard warning:  (no, not the egg yolks… If you’re nervous, you can cook them lightly.  More on that from the Pioneer Woman) please DO NOT breathe in while stuffing your face with this creamy delicacy.  You will inhale cacao and cough for 10 minutes straight while looking ashamed in front of your dinner guests.  Best to hold your breath while you spoon the entire thing into your maw.  Much more elegant.

Brandy Alexander Tiramisu | La Pêche Fraîche

Tiramisu
makes 6 large-ish portions, 8 reasonable

ingredients:
for the lady fingers:
2 eggs, divided
60 grams (1/3 cup) sugar, divided evenly
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
40 grams (1/3 cup) flour
3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

for the mascarpone cream:
225 grams (8 ounces) mascarpone
240 mL (1 cup) cream
4 egg yolks
50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar
30mL (2 tablespoons) cognac
30 mL (2 tablespoons) Kahlua
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

to assemble:
120 mL (1/2 cup) espresso
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cacao powder, for dusting (sub cocoa powder if need be)

directions:
Make the lady fingers: preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and fit a piping bag with a small round tip.
Separate the eggs and beat the egg yolks with half of the sugar, the salt, and the vanilla for 3 minutes.
Add the flour to the yolk mixture and fold it in until it is half mixed in.
Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks with the other half of the sugar.
Once they reach stiff peaks, fold 1/3 of the whites into the yolk/flour mixture.
After the first 1/3 is fully incorporated, fold in the rest of the egg whites until the batter is homogeneous but still very fluffy (don’t mix too hard!).
Fill the piping bag and pipe tiny, 1 inch lines about 1/4 an inch from one another.
Dust completely with confectioner’s sugar
Bake for 7 minutes, until lightly golden, then remove from oven, peel off of parchment, and allow to cool.
To make the mascarpone cream, whip mascarpone and heavy cream until they reach stiff peaks.
Meanwhile, whisk the yolks, sugar, alcohols, vanilla, and salt together until fully homogeneous.
Pour into the whipped cream mixture slowly, and beat until it is all incorporated (the mixture will thin out).
To make the tiramisu, mix espresso and vanilla together and dip the bottom of the lady fingers into the mixture before placing them in serving dishes.
Layer 2 tablespoons of mascarpone cream over the lady fingers, then dust with cacao.
Repeat the layering 3 times for each tiramisu, smoothing the top and dusting generously.
Chill for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight before eating.

Jewelled

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

 “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the
most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

—Roald Dahl

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

I’m writing this during the first thunderstorm of the season.
The kind of storm with big claps of thunder, early in the morning—great cymbals crashing in the sky—while a grey drizzle settles slowly down into dry winter bones.

The kind of storm after which, later in the day, the sun comes out and the heady scent of rain soaked earth fills the air.
The storm that reminds the trees why they’re budding, that urges grass to turn green.

One deep breath to fill your lungs with springtime.

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Sixty degrees F todayyesterday, and marvelously humid from the rain.  My skin and hair are in happy places.

Little purple crocuses have popped up, seemingly overnight, fanning their petals wide and showing off their bright yellow centers for the world to see.

Back home, spring is the sunny daffodils that grow tall and strong up and down our block; it’s the budding of all the oaks and the giant melt, as the land thaws out, that leaves the waterfalls fuller than any other time of year.
Spring is the chirpy birds that flit around, robins and tiny chickadees and oh!—those cardinals, with nests being built in trees just outside my bedroom window.
Gosh, guys, I do miss having trees that greet me first thing in the morning with a long-branched windy wave.
(I’m afraid home is still blanketed with snow, though.  Oh, Upstate, you fickle lover, you.)

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

I suppose spring means something different to each person (how bad are your allergies?) and is unique in each place.
I wish my spring had more flowers, more time in the sun, and, importantly, more baby goats.
Can I move to Ireland and live on a dairy farm? Please?

Don’t know if I could ever live in an environment that doesn’t have all four seasons.  I could do with a shorter winter, yes, and sure, a more temperate summer than Chicago boasts, but I can’t imagine not experiencing the changing of each season every year.

There’s something about the way our earth turns around the sun, slowly but surely, that makes you feel extra small
and extra alive, doesn’t it?

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Also HAHAHA did you see this article from the New Yorker?
“…Meanwhile, sprinkle each couple’s speech with “we” statements, adding a subtle flavor of competition to the mélange…”
Literal tears were cried while laughing at this one, folks.

Or this prank?  Reminds me of the similar Pepsi/Jeff Gordon one from a few years back
Girl power!

Opinions on the new Amazon Dash Buttons?
While they seem useful, they strike me as a bit unnecessary and seem to make online shopping that much more intrusive.

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Speaking of shopping, at Whole Foods the other day (did I mention the mangoes!?!  My goodness gracious, those were just the most perfect mangoes in the world.), I saw some pretty sprays of purple hyacinths perfuming the flower section.
I snatched them up, brought them home, and placed them in a jar on my desk so that my whole room smells sweet.
Their springy feel and sweet smell sowed little seeds of seasonal inspiration in my mind.
An entire stalk was sacrificed for this cake, because I wanted some flowers for decoration.
No, I am not completely sure whether hyacinths are edible. I picked them off directly after the photos.
#trueconfessions

I also picked up some berries (and asparagus), because I am overly eager for spring produce and I frankly don’t give a damn if they are in season at this exact moment, because they’re too juicy and tempting to resist!

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

While rooting around in my pantry for brown sugar to make muffins, a little tin of matcha powder fell from the heavens and bonked me on the head.

Matcha, bright green and perfect for a springy cake with its grassy undertones!  The Gods were telling me something.
Thus was this cake born.

See matcha previously on this blog in this Chocolate Matcha Mochi cake (so chewy and moist!) or this Matcha Marzipan roll cake (so light and fluffy!).

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche
This is a cake perfect for noshing—little slivers taken repeatedly over the course of a slow afternoon—and goes brilliantly with a hot cup of any sort of tea, green or otherwise.

It’s delightfully dense, like a tightly crumbed, firm poundcake, but avoids the usual pitfall of dryness with a touch of cream, which keeps it moist even on the second day.
The matcha in the cake is not overpowering at all.  It adds a whisper of green tea, a little kick of grassy, springy brightness, but isn’t overwhelmingly bitter.
This is a perfect pound cake, buttery and not-too-sweet; little ruby berries and a dusting of matcha powdered sugar make the perfect accompaniment.

It can be on your table ready to be served in less than 45 minutes, and keeps brilliantly.  The last slice was that much better on the second day, as the cake had lost none of the flavor but become more moist overnight.

I could also see this being served with lashings of chocolate ganache or good honey, with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream.

For now, I kept it springy, simple, and light.

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Matcha Butter Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Matcha Butter Cake
makes 1 6×3 inch cake

ingredients:
for the cake:
170 grams (3/4 cup) butter, soft
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3 eggs
10 mL (2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
30 mL (2 tablespoons) heavy cream
1 tablespoon matcha powder
120 grams (1 cup) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

for decorating:
1/2 teaspoon matcha powder
1/4 cup powdered sugar
fruit and flowers, as desired

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a 6×3 inch pan liberally.
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the sugar and salt and beat on high speed for 5 minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the eggs.
Beat on high for 5 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the cream and vanilla extract; mix only until partially incorporated.
Add in the matcha, flour, and baking powder.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix to ensure homogeneity.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is puffed and springy and a tester comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes; invert onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
To decorate, mix matcha and powdered sugar together very well.
Dust over the top of the cake and decorate with fresh fruit as desired.
Serve in repeated thin slices with hot tea!

Waste Not

Vegan Banana Muffins | La Pêche Fraîche

Or, the infamous “Trash Muffins” of 2015.

Vegan Banana Muffins | La Pêche Fraîche

Let me explain:

 The making of these muffins was prompted upon my discovery of 3 sad, brown bananas that had been discarded into our trash (in a ~new~ trash bag, friends.  Worry not.).
I snatched them up, whispering sweet reassurances of grand destinies, and these (vegan! whole wheat! wholesome!) muffins were born.

Vegan Banana Muffins | La Pêche Fraîche

I am so not ready for life to have begun again.
I wish I were back in spring break mode, chilled out and tanned and full of fresh fruit and contentment.
(Side note: I bought some ataulfo mangoes, which come from Mexico, on sale at Whole Foods the other day and they are the MOST delicious mangoes (ataulfo or otherwise) I have ever tasted.  Talk about transporting me back.)

Now that I’m back at school, anxiety has begun to sink its sharp little claws into my brain.
It’s only the third second day of school, for crying out loud.
But I have constant fears that I’ve forgotten an assignment, or left something somewhere etc. etc.
(I’ve already been at the library for, like, 5 total hours and it’s only day 2!!!!!!!!)
Do I need some sort of intervention?  Maybe…

Vegan Banana Muffins | La Pêche Fraîche

 Anyways, back to the banana muffins.
I used a recipe from the fantastic blog Minimalist Baker.  They looked so crumbly and so delicious.
The catch is that I found them to be not sweet enough.
I only used 3 large bananas, and I felt like they were needing the recommended fourth, or another 1/3-1/2 cup sugar.
They were a bit too bland for my taste.
(This may be due to the fact that I’m used to in-your-face banana bread.  These were very subtle.)

I recommend, if you make the recipe, to add 1/3 cup more sugar, plus all 4 bananas.

Vegan Banana Muffins | La Pêche Fraîche

The crumb topping was divine—sweet and salty and buttery—and the texture of the muffins was great—firm bite, but not rubbery, crumbly but not fall-apart dry, and a slathering of Nutella not only remedied the sweetness issue, but also added Nutella into the mix, hellooooo duh always delicious.

With a few small tweaks, this may become a winner in my book.
Head over to Minimalist Baker (gosh, I love their site) to get the recipe!

Back soon with a very exciting cake! xx

Vegan Banana Muffins | La Pêche Fraîche

Ad Lucem

Fluffy Coconut Cupcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

“One star in the sky leads sailors home.
A butterfly can start a hurricane.
A grain of sand begets a landslide.
You are important, and the universe is empty without you.
Believe me.”

—Abigail Cicero

Fluffy Coconut Cupcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

After a thorough routing from my finals, and a great lack of sleep and bruised tailbone ego, I have made it to spring break.

How lucky!  How blessed and grateful I am!
For I am in Playa del Carmen, México, with my mama.
It is 86 degrees F and we must take breaks from the all-powerful sun to ensure that we do not get fried to little frico crisps like parmesan cheese.  As greedy as I am for the sun, I must remind myself not to sit and bake for too too long.

Taking breaks from the sun.
How different from in grey Chicago…

Fluffy Coconut Cupcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

I’ve been eating heaping tons of fresh fruit (all the sweet pineapple! all the sour guavas! all the fuschia prickly pears!) and enjoying every bite of their sun-infused tropical flavors before I have to head back to cold, fruit-barren, snowy Chicago.
Uchhhhh.

Someone sitting next to me at the pool today kindly informed me that it snowed 4 inches + flurries in the last few days back home.  The thought of having to slog through that to classes again makes me weepy and whiny.
Do I really have to leave the luxury of Mexico to go back?!

(I can already hear my daddy’s resolute “Yes.”)

Fluffy Coconut Cupcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

If you want to infuse wherever you are with a little sunshine, try out one (or a few, or all…) of these bright, summery recipes that I’ve been eyeing:

Pineapple sangria from Jessica—can I have a poolboy please please get me one of these, stat?!

Banana buttermilk bread from Beth—beautiful as always! (Wow, that alliteration.)

Chocolate passionfruit cupcakes (my favorite combination!) from Laura.  Cake is always the best way to celebrate, and congratulations are in order for her!

Key lime pie.  Probably my favorite kind of pie, and this cream-cheesy one looks especially delicious.  Bless you, Zoe.

And if you want to be transported to Méx sans fruit, try Sam’s droolworthy pepita/honey/orange caramels or Kylie’s chocolate and cinnamon donut muffins.
Either way, make extra 4 me plz.

Fluffy Coconut Cupcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Do you think me lazy for posting lists two posts in a row?
Then you thought right, friend.
Between finals and vacation, I’m checked out.
Link love lists it is!

At least the last one was more about clothing and cosmetics, and this one is all about food.

#dealwitit

Fluffy Coconut Cupcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Anyways, to add another item that you could make to take your tastebuds away to the tropics…

These adorable cupcakes double coconut vanilla.
The coconut flavor is super subtle, with just a tiny, non-offensive hint playing in the foreground of each bite.

The cake itself is supremely soft and moist, thanks to the coconut oil infused batter—the crumb is tight and each bite is meltingly tender.  You could toss in 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, unsweetened or sweetened, to up the coconuttiness.

The frosting, piled high in great swirly mountains, is very fluffy and very buttery, with a hint of coconut murmuring through it.  Vanilla and cream and a pinch of salt claim the loudest notes, but the coconut oil woven through plays off them in a delicate balance that becomes addictive after the first taste.
More is more, here.  Trust me.

I added a fresh strawberry for a bright note, but topping these off with another fruit or a shower of toasted coconut or lashings of ganache, white or dark, would be equally wondrous.
The subtlety of these cupcakes goes with anything.

Fluffy Coconut Cupcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Anyways, I’m off to edit GoPro videos (yes!!  I got one!! And we love it!) and then to slather myself in aloe and then climb into a soft, fluffy, hotel bed.
Hopefully I will have soft, fluffy dreams about cupcakes with clouds of coconut frosting.

Hasta pronto! x

Fluffy Coconut Cupcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Double Coconut Vanilla Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes

ingredients:
for the cakes:
175 grams (1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) flour
1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
70 grams (5 tablespoons) butter, soft
45 grams (3 tablespoons) coconut oil, solid
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
120 mL (1/2 cup) milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

for the frosting:
180 grams (12 tablespoons) butter, soft
30 grams (2 tablespoons) coconut oil, solid
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
500 grams (4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
60 mL (4 tablespoons) heavy cream, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

directions:
First, make the cakes: preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 12 muffin cups with liners.
Whisk flour and baking powder together.
Place butter and coconut oil and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high for 2 minutes.
Stream in the sugar and beat on high for 5 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add in each of the eggs.
Beat on high for 5 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add in the milk and vanilla.
Mix until partially mixed in, then add the flour mixture.
Beat on high for 30 seconds, until fully homogeneous.
Scoop in 1/3 cup portions into the muffin tin.
Bake for 18 minutes, until fluffy and a tester comes out with just a few crumbs.
Allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the frosting: beat butter, coconut oil, and salt together for 10 minutes, until super fluffy and light.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and sift in the powdered sugar.
Mix in halfway, then stream in the heavy cream.
Beat on high for 1 more minute.
Pipe onto cooled cupcakes as desired, and top with toasted coconut or fresh fruit!

Pure Comfort

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

“What’s comin’ will come
and we’ll meet it when it does.”

—Hagrid

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Because peanut butter is like a big hug.
And because I need a big hug (it’s finals, oh yes it is).

My brain is too fried to tell you about the hell that are finals here at good old UChicago.

Instead, I’m going to share with you some things I’ve been loving lately; things that are so nice they wrap me up in a big hug all on their own.

First of all, these soft silk camisoles from J. Crew. I have three of them, and wear them under sweaters or blazers with pants or skirts or whatever I so please.
Ridiculously versatile, unbelievably soft and well-made.
Love them.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Secondly, I purchased these konjac face sponges from Sephora on a whim, because they intrigued me, and because I never feel like washing with just my fingers gets my face completely clean after a long night.
They’re magical—they puff up and become soft and supple, and they are gentle but effective at removing dirt and grime.

Speaking of clean and fresh, my Pinterest “Space Inspiration” board is leaving me with white-washed dreams, full of greenery and subway tile.  I could get lost in any of those homes.

This butternut mac and “tease” is all I want in my life.
It looks so, so good—like WOW.

I’ve been making baked sweet potato fries as a quick meal lately—a bunch of sweet potato, cut super thin and rolled in lots and lots of coconut or olive oil with a heavy sprinkling of salt, tossed onto a foil lined baking sheet in the oven for 15 minutes at 450.
After you’re done, turn the oven to 350 and bake kale chips while you eat your sweet potatoes.
Double yum!

And since today’s recipe involves PB, I have to link to Mandy’s jaw dropping sticky rice balls in green tea—stuffed with runny peanut butter!  Now I’m craving sticky tang-yuan, too.
(Or mochi.  We had killer mochi ice cream at Sunda the other day.  I could live off of mochi, no lie.)

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Anyways, for the peanut butter sweets included in this post:
These cookies are really tiny little cakelets—like whoopie pies, but eensy-meensy.
Each little cookie sandwich is a soft and fluffy dream.
The base is a rich, chocolate butter cake with a fine crumb and the perfect amount of dark cocoa flavor—there’s just enough of it surrounding the cloud of peanut butter frosting to make you take another bite, and then another cookie.
The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is timeless—talk about a comfort combo.
There’s plenty of salty-sweet action going on in these cookies, and a they strike the perfect balance between fluffy rich cake and fluffier, salty-sweet frosting.

Plus, I love that they’re only two-bites big.
It gives you an excuse to eat 5.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Some notes:

I used an oversized French pastry tip to get the starburst pattern on my frosting dollops.
This is by far my favorite pastry tip right now—you’ll see it in action on some cupcakes very soon!

I got my cookies to be perfectly even by using a small round cookie cutter to trim the edges of each cookie as it emerged from the oven.  You don’t need to do so if you don’t want to—just match up your cookies by approximate size and wonkiness.

The peanut butter frosting has a nearly equal ratio of butter to PB—you need to whip this mixture up wildly in order for it to be totally fluffy and amazing, so just set a timer and let your mixer do the work.  And don’t forget the salt!

The consistency of the frosting, due to all that PB, is really dependent on what type of peanut butter you use.  Be ready to add in an extra few tablespoons of powdered sugar or heavy cream, since your PB might be runnier or thicker than mine was.
(Oh, and if you use natural peanut butter?  Please don’t forget to stir, or you’ll have an oily mess on your hands!)

I need to go finish writing a paper and begin studying for Genetics, so wish me luck and send me positive vibrations and brainwaves.
I’ll pay you back in cupcakes next week.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Mini Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake Cookies
cookie portion adapted from Saveur
makes 24 cookie sandwiches

ingredients:
for the cakes:
8 tablespoons butter, very soft
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
3/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup milk

for the peanut butter frosting:
6 tablespoons butter, very soft
5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups (or as needed) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cream

directions:
Make the cookies: preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
Add in the sugar and beat for 2 more minutes.
Add in the egg and vanilla and beat for 4 full minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the cocoa powder.
Beat on high speed for 30 seconds.
Scrape the bowl; add in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda; only stir until half combined.
With the mixer running on low, stream in the milk.
Once fully incorporated, beat on high speed for 15 seconds to ensure homogeneity.
Scoop out portions of the batter with a 2 teaspoon (or whatever size you want) scoop.
Make sure to leave plenty of room between cookies.
Bake for 11 minutes.
Immediately after removing from oven, use a small round cookie cutter to clean up the sides if you desire.
Allow to cool while you make the frosting.
To make the frosting, place butter and peanut butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high for 5 minutes (set a timer!).
Sift in the powdered sugar, add the cream, and stir slowly until fully incorporated.
If the icing is too runny (the consistency is dependent on your peanut butter), add in up to 3/4 cup more powdered sugar.
If it is too stiff, add in up to 3 more tablespoons of cream.
To frost the cookies, flip half over onto their backs and, using a pastry bag filled with the peanut butter frosting or just a butter knife, dollop a generous amount of frosting on each cookie.
Place the top cookie on the sandwich and enjoy!

An Occasion

Dairy-free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

“In his blue gardens,
men and girls came and went like moths
among the whisperings
and the champagne
and the stars.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 3

Dairy-free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

“Every Friday
five crates of oranges and lemons
arrived from a fruiterer in New York—
every Monday
these same oranges and lemons
left his back door in a pyramid of pulpless halves.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 3

Dairy-free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Gosh, it seems like ages ago now, but Valentine’s day was only a month ago.
(I know, I know, we’re already gearing up for the next holiday, but this cake is from February, so deal with it.)

It’s warm here, and the shiverings of winter seem far away, now that we’re enjoying balmy 50 degree weather.
50 degrees!  Hallelujah.

You can see (dead) grass and hopeful little snow drops poking their dainty white petals out of the grey brown earth.
I heard a bird the other day singing its heart out, beak wide open and chest puffed up (exactly how I look while singing in the shower).  Shocking how we take birdsong for granted.

My daddy just visited me and brightened the gray skies.
We had dinner at Sunda (amazing! really amazing! those brussels sprouts… omg…) on Friday, Indian takeout from a Nepalese/Indian place on Saturday (having those leftovers for lunch today, yum.  Naan. Naaaan.), and an absolutely exquisite meal on Sunday at the Green Zebra, which is hands down one of Chicago’s best restaurants.  
We agreed that we have never had a bad dish from Green Zebra, in all the times we’ve been.
In fact, the food has only gotten better. (Cannot highly recommend enough! Get there if you can!)

Dairy-free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

In two weeks time, I’ll be in Mexico with my mama.
I am so excited! We’re going to have lots of mother-daughter time on the beach and spa (hint. hint.) and possibly hike a bit!  We are going to read ALL THE BOOKS.

I’m thinking of buying a GoPro for the trip/just to have (read: cute sorority videos!)—I’ve been looking at the (discontinued) Hero 3+ Black edition, but it’s pricy ($300-$400 with a monopod and SD card added).
Have any of you loved your experiences with GoPros?
Have you found them worth the money?
Heeeellllppp. I really really really really want one, but I want to feel like my purchase is justified.

Dairy-free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

So why did I start this post with Great Gatsby and champagne and Valentine’s day?

Because at the end of Valentine’s day, after having split a bottle of very, very nice champagne, N and I fell asleep and I awoke to find I had an oxymoron come true mournfully sitting on my counter—leftover champagne.
I needed to do something delicious with the leftover Veuve other than letting it sadly fizzle out before pouring it down the drain, so I made a cake that N could partake in, too.

Dairy-free lemon and champagne pound cake, with a dense, tight crumb delightfully laced with bright lemon and fruity champagne.
This cake had the best pound cake texture I have ever tasted or seen or cut in my life.  So smooth and dense.
It’s topped with a boozy champagne and lemon glaze, as well as a thick, drippy vanilla glaze that’s sweet and salty all at once.

It’s quick and easy to make, and makes for perfect afternoon slices with tea.  It’s a cake made for noshing—thin slice after thin slice.
The glazes are finger-licking good, and there’s nothing quite like the mouthfeel of a good pound cake, toothsome and dense.

Dairy-free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Dairy-Free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake
makes 1 10-cup bundt cake

for the cake:
225 grams (16 tablespoons) Earth Balance buttery sticks or other dairy-free margarine
400 grams (2 cups) sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1 lemon (about 45 mL=3 tablespoons)
360 grams (3 cups) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup champagne (I used Veuve Cliquot, but the quality is not of great importance here)

for the lemon-champagne glaze:
juice of 1 lemon (45 mL=3 tablespoons)
30 mL (2 tablespoons) champagne
tiny pinch salt
125 grams (1 cup) (or as needed) powdered sugar, sifted

for the vanilla icing:
3-4 tablespoons almond milk or coconut cream (or heavy cream, if not dairy-free)
125 grams (1 cup) (or as needed) powdered sugar, sifted
pinch salt
splash vanilla extract

directions:
Make the cake: grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan very well and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat margarine on high speed for 3 minutes until very fluffy.
Add the sugar and salt and beat for another full 3 minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add in the eggs one at a time while the mixer is running; after all are added, increase speed and beat for 5 full minutes.
Add in the vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix slightly.
Dump the flour on top of the batter and the baking powder and baking soda on top of the flour.
Begin to mix slowly; after the flour is halfway worked in, begin adding the champagne in a steady stream.
Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds, or until just homogeneous.
Scrape the bowl and mix for 15 more seconds.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
To make the lemon-champagne glaze, whisk lemon juice, champagne, and salt together, then sift the powdered sugar over while whisking vigorously to prevent lumps.
Add more powdered sugar if the glaze is too thin, then pour over the cake, being sure to cover the entire surface.
To make the vanilla glaze, whisk milk/cream, vanilla, and salt together, then sift the powdered sugar over.
If the glaze is too thin, again add more powdered sugar (and maybe a small pinch of salt).
Spread/pour the vanilla glaze over the lemon/champagne glaze and allow to set before cutting cake.

B.I.G.

Funfetti cake with chocolate caramel buttercream | La Pêche Fraîche

“Birthdays was the worst days,
now we sip champagne when we thirsty…”

Juicy, Biggie Smalls

Funfetti cake with chocolate caramel buttercream | La Pêche Fraîche

Happy belated to the BEST BIG EVER!
Guys, it was Hana’s 21st birthday this past week (what! I know. I am a child) and we had too much a lot of fun!
When people ask me why I love my sorority so much, I immediately think of Hana.
Honestly, our friendship has been a really important part of my year.  I can’t imagine being in Theta without her.
She is the perfect big and impressively puts up with me being her spawn—I am so grateful.

Speaking of Theta, THANK YOU to all who donated or raised awareness for CASA.
Mr. University was yesterday and it was a raging success.
WE RAISED $46,000 for CASA, which means we absolutely smashed our original goal of $25,000.
I am so happy and so so thankful to all of our donors.
It was a ton of work but there’s no better feeling than working hard and having a success that will truly make a difference for a great cause like CASA.

Funfetti cake with chocolate caramel buttercream | La Pêche Fraîche

 For Hana’s birthday, despite having just made 200 cupcakes (lol), I just had to make her a cake for the dinner we had with her close friends.

I chose a funfetti base, with lots and lots of sprinkles; it’s dense with a tight crumb and a light vanilla flavor.
The cake was frosted with silky chocolate-caramel buttercream, with a hit of salt and cocoa.
Finally, I had to finish the cake with tons of sprinkles, because a 21st birthday calls for fun and sprinkles=fun. Duh.

This was a perfect little 2-layer 6-inch cake, but would scale very well; I really like this vanilla cake recipe and it may just be my new go-to.  The only way to know for sure is more testing.
And more eating.  What a burden that will be!

Funfetti cake with chocolate caramel buttercream | La Pêche Fraîche

Mini Funfetti Cake with Choco-Caramel Frosting
makes 1 2-layer 6-inch cake
cake portion adapted from Sweetapolita

ingredients:
for the cake:
113 grams (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, soft
200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
2 eggs
45 mL (3 tablespoons) heavy cream
60 mL (5 tablespoons) water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
175 grams (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) flour
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sprinkles of choice

for the frosting:
113 grams (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, soft
pinch of kosher salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons caramel sauce (I used this recipe)
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons heavy cream

to finish:
lots and lots of sprinkles

directions:
Make the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour 2 6-inch pans.
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 2 minutes.
Add in the sugar and beat for 2 minutes.
Add in the eggs and beat for 4 full minutes.
Stir the heavy cream, water, and vanilla extract together.
Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
Add the wet and dry ingredients to the batter, starting and ending with dry.
Scrape the bowl and beat on high for 30 seconds to ensure homogeneity.
Very carefully stir in the sprinkles, being sure not to swirl too much (the colors will bleed).
Portion out the batter into prepared pans and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden and springy to the touch.
Allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting, place the butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 3 minutes.
While mixing, stream in the chocolate and then the caramel sauce; beat for 2 more minutes.
Add in the powdered sugar slowly while beating, then stream in the heavy cream and beat on high speed for 1 more minute.
Fill and frost the sides of the cake only.
Place a ton of sprinkles in a dish and roll the cake in the sprinkles, using the top and bottom to roll it around.
Then, frost the top (carefully) and pat sprinkles all over it.
Stick candles in it and enjoy!

CASA x Theta!

CASA Cupcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

 The mission of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association, together with its state and local members, is to support and promote court-appointed volunteer advocacy so that every abused or neglected child can be safe, establish permanence and have the opportunity to thrive.

CASA Cupcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Why on earth, you might ask, would a single girl, in the middle of midterm season, undertake the making of 200 cupcakes for a seemingly random Thursday night event?

I’ll tell you: because I love my sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta.
It’s the sisterhood that I never had growing up as the only girl in my family.  It’s the best friends I could have ever asked for, and the most steady, supportive sounding board I could have imagined.

I’ll tell you why else: because I love our philanthropy, CASA.
Having grown up in such a steady, loving family, I cannot fathom what it’s like to experience truly being alone; to not have a rock to cling to in hard times; to have to fend for yourself before you’re all grown up.

CASA Cupcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Court Appointed Special Advocates provides mentors and advocates for at-risk, underprivileged children in the court system.

Volunteers become a child’s anchor as they are thrown into the milieu of the foster system.
CASA helps kids who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to thrive and flourish with an adult’s love and guidance.
If you’re curious, read more about CASA and the work they’re doing for underprivileged children here.

Seriously, guys—how important and special is that?

Theta’s goal this year is to raise $25,000 for CASA of Cooke County.  The pre-event tonight is a fun way to raise awareness and garner attention to our fantastic philanthropy.

CASA Cupcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Making cupcakes, logically, is one of the best ways I could think of to help with tonight’s pre-event.
200 cupcakes doesn’t seem like so many when you’re doing it to raise money for a good cause.

The flavors pictured here are:
vanilla sprinkle
chocolate nutella
salted caramel
red velvet

I donated 2 cakes to the raffle prizes, so tonight, two people will win the cakes of their dreams!

CASA Cupcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

If you’re interested in donating (even 1 dollar makes a huge difference, but don’t feel pressured), the link is here:
Donate to Theta x CASA!

CASA Cupcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

I used this recipe for chocolate cupcakes and this recipe for nutella buttercream.
This recipe for red velvet cupcakes (I winged the cream cheese frosting).
And finally, this recipe for the vanilla and funfetti cupcakes.
Caramel from here.

xx

Left Footed

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread | La Pêche Fraîche

 Left foot, right foot, breathe.

-Pat Summit

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread | La Pêche Fraîche

Midterm season.  Run.
Trip, clumsy, with leaden feet and wearied mind.
Make it through with 3 hours of sleep and 37 pages of painstaking notes.  Promise yourself a nap, forget to take one.
(Did you even remember to take your vitamins? Tsk.)

Lose—at the end of the simultaneously hellish and fabulous weekend—your last assignment, nearly finished (one question left!) to the perilous brink of Autosave in Word.
Redo the four page lab, tears in your eyes and hate in your heart, and fall into bed—alas— at 2 am.

Monday: forget how to function; forget how to swim; forget how to run and jump and write your name.
Remember, and breathe; remember, and breathe.

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread | La Pêche Fraîche
I am currently embarking on an (insane) journey to get 200 cupcakes made and delivered to a philanthropy pre-event that my sorority is hosting this Thursday.

I baked 100+ today.  Tomorrow will be the rest and frosting.

I’ve never seen this many cupcakes before in my life.  It’s pretty intense over here guys—I have no space in my kitchen—and the cupcake towers have gone vertical and are only climbing.
From Alexa: “it’s like Japan!”

Wait. Did I just hear a crash coming from my kitchen?!
(I kid.  Cupcake Tokyo will live to see another morning.)

Lots of delicious flavors—nutella, funfetti, red velvet, caramel, etc. so if you’re from UChicago and reading this, come to the pre-event on Thursday and eat one for free!!

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread | La Pêche Fraîche

So, I’m keeping this brief here because I am tired and need to read the ever-engaging textbook from my Genetics class.

These little buttery cookies are a perfect rendition of a classic shortbread.  They’re dipped in chocolate and pecans to make them extra special, but to be honest, they don’t really need it.
The rich dough needs little accompaniment: it’s a beloved classic for a reason, friends.

Still, it is awfully, terribly hard to resist a buttery, slightly crumbly cookie dipped in deep, dark chocolate with a smattering of crunchy pecans.

I brought these to a superbowl party (not exactly football fare, but whatever) and they were gone within 10 minutes.
Always a good sign.

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread | La Pêche Fraîche

Even though I’ve shared this quote before, it’s one of my favorites:

“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim.”

—Tyler Knott Gregson

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread | La Pêche Fraîche

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread
makes 30 cookies

ingredients:
3 cups (360 grams) flour
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250 grams) butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
vanilla sugar, optional
4 ounces melted dark chocolate
chopped nuts, optional

directions:
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high for 3 minutes.
Add the sugar and salt and beat for 3 more minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the egg; beat for 5 more minutes.
Add the vanilla extract and the flour and slowly mix until homogeneous.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4-1/2 an inch and cut out desired shapes; press the tops in a little vanilla sugar if desired.
Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and into the freezer.
Freeze for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, then bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden.
Allow cookies to cool completely, then dip half of each cookie in melted dark chocolate.
Top with nuts while the chocolate is still wet, then place in the fridge for 5 minutes to set.

Softie

Lofthouse Cookie Clones | La Pêche Fraîche

In the end, these things matter most:
how well did you love, how fully did you live, how deeply did you learn to let go?

-Siddhartha Gautama

Lofthouse Cookie Clones | La Pêche Fraîche

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Here, this sweet little photo story about capturing life’s little moments on film is a perfect way to start your day.
“People are just lost in their own world when they’re kissing.”

Or, in the vein of the links I shared in my last post, here’s the app for the 36 questions to fall in love.  Brilliant.

Lofthouse Cookie Clones | La Pêche Fraîche

I wasn’t going to share these here, but they turned out so darn fluffy and cute that I had to pull out my camera and snap a few shots.

Plus, they’re pink.
To share them right after Valentine’s would be a shame.
So are these cookies, pink and fluffy and heart-winning, on Valentine’s morning.
Still have time to bake for your sweetie?  Make these, they’re fast and buttery and therefore universally loved.

Lofthouse Cookie Clones | La Pêche Fraîche

These Lofthouse-like cookies are buttery and rich, with slightly crispy edges and soft, fluffy centers; they’re topped with a veritable cloud of thick frosting and a smattering of sprinkles.
The cookie itself is soft vanilla, and it is topped with the creamiest, dreamiest pink American buttercream frosting–the epitome of soft and vanilla!
A light hand of sprinkles finishes them off.
These are classic and simple and delicious.

Lofthouse Cookie Clones | La Pêche Fraîche

Sending love, bisous, and positive vibrations to all my readers every day, but especially today.

xx

Lofthouse Cookie Clones | La Pêche Fraîche

Lofthouse Cookie Clones
cookies portion adapted from Cooking Classy
makes 15-16 large cookies

ingredients:
300 grams (2 1/2 cups) flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
170 grams (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, soft
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg plus 1 egg white
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

for the frosting:
225 grams (1 cup) butter, soft
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
drop red food coloring
sprinkles, optional, for decorating

directions:
Make the cookies: whisk flour, cornstarch, and baking powder together; set aside.
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed until very soft, pale, and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add in the sugar and salt and beat for 3 more minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the egg and egg white; beat for a full 4 minutes, streaming the vanilla in while mixing.
Scrape the bowl and beat on high speed for 30 seconds to ensure homogeneity.
Add in the flour mixture all at once, then mix on very low speed, increasing the speed as the mixture becomes cohesive.
Once the batter is thick and homogeneous, stop mixing.
Scoop out 1/3 cup size scoops with an ice cream scoop; place on parchment lined sheets.
Using a glass dipped in flour, very lightly press down on the cookies to flatten.
Chill the cookies for at least 15 minutes in your freezer, or 30 minutes in your fridge.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake each sheet of cookies for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly on the sheet and completely on a rack.
To make the frosting, place the soft butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Beat on high speed for 5 minutes, until pale and fluffy.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin slowly adding the powdered sugar while mixing on low speed.
Once the sugar is all mixed in, stream in half of the heavy cream and the food coloring.
If it reaches a fluffy, smooth consistency with half of the cream, stop.
If not, stream in the rest of the cream and beat on high speed until incorporated.
Frost the cookies very generously, finishing with sprinkles.