Reconnaissant

Pumpkin Meringue Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.

William Cullen Bryant

Pumpkin Meringue Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

The word for grateful in French, reconnaisant, is derived from the verb reconnaître: to recognize or acknowledge.

To be thankful is to share your appreciation.
I have so, so many thanks to give this holiday season, in spite of the fragility of 2016 in the face of so many tragedies, differences, and disagreements. I feel strongly that acknowledging good and allowing our spirits to be lifted by it is just as important and crucial to progress as discussing what we feel is wrong or problematic.

I choose to feel lucky and count my blessings, because there are so many people around the world who have too few.
I am grateful for my family, for my partner, for friends near and far, for my school and the opportunities afforded to me, for clean water and laundry and a quiet bed to sleep in at night.

My life and heart are full, and yet I keep space enough to hope for peace and unity, for universal rights and equality, and an end to the bombings of hospitals and schools in Aleppo.
I pray for women and girls around the globe, for animals losing their homes and environments, or in zoos, shelters, or abusive homes, and I pray for Mother Earth.

Pumpkin Meringue Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

I thought I’d share a few (mostly food) links that have made me smile, or pause and think, or drool lately. I’m thankful for the food blogging community and the creativity that thrives in it.
Inspiration is good for the soul!

Thalia turned 21! She baked herself a glorious chocolate and hazelnut and praline cake (that frosting, omg bye) and also wrote a beautiful post (with pie) about self-transformation.

Michelle wrote some realness about the election and having work to do. So refreshing when so many have just gone on posting about yummy cakes etc. If you didn’t read her 5th blogiversary post either, definitely check it out for some food for thought about what’s really important about being a blogger.

Cindy’s apple + marionberry marzipan crumble with “chewy bits of almond paste throughout the crisp topping” sounds like the best thing, ever. Definitely want to try this over the winter!

Speaking of things I want to try, Jen made an apple rose tart that is perfection embodied. Those swirly slices! I need to try making fruit roses, especially in a dessert, yum.

Adam Ellis is a cartoonist for Buzzfeed and his instagram is guaranteed to make you laugh. Hehe.

Pumpkin Meringue Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

The frosting on Sam’s hazelnut cake, holy cow. So shiny and chocolaty! I love the idea of using sour cream to add a slight contrast to the sweetness. Plus, the post is part of a campaign for No Kid Hungry, which is doubly awesome.

Erica made a beautiful pear bourbon pie and shared a sad story and her own urgings for us all to acknowledge and work together to move forward after a divisive political season. I completely understand her hesitation to say anything about politics in a space usually reserved for happy musings, but I applaud her for being bold and sharing some of her feelings.

Those seeking comfort and solace should turn to Beeta’s classic chocolate chip cookies, which look pillowy and soft and full of chocolate. I could totally go for a warm cookie and cold milk right about now.

Ellen crying while getting a Medal of Freedom from Obama made me tear up, to be honest. She is so wonderful and this was a momentous honor.

Finally, my pictures are in a Belgian magazine!
You can check out the issue from Creacorner here—spot my Yule Stump cake!

Pumpkin Meringue Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

The pie I’m sharing with you guys today comes together in a flash and doesn’t require any rolling of crusts, which is something that I know many people dread.

Instead, this creamy, spicy, sweet pumpkin pie has a brown butter graham cracker and cinnamon cereal crust (you know your inner child wants to try this) and a thick swirl of torched, marshmallow-y Italian meringue.

This comes together in a flash and doesn’t require any ingredients that aren’t already in your pantry.
It’s not an enormous tart/pie, so it’s good as part of a holiday dessert spread.

Pumpkin Meringue Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I urge you to give your loved ones an extra squeeze and don’t be afraid to share what you’re thankful for this year.

Pumpkin Meringue Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

Pumpkin Meringue Tart
makes 1 8- or 9-inch tart or pie

ingredients:
for the crust:
300 grams (2 1/4 cups) crushed graham crackers and/or cinnamon cereal
25 grams (2 tablespoons) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
100 grams (7 tablespoons) butter, melted or browned

for the filling:
150 grams (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
pinch nutmeg
40 grams (1/3 cup) dry milk powder (Note: you can sub 7 ounces evaporated milk for the dry milk powder and water)
120 grams (1/2 cup) water
75 grams (5 ounces, 1 small can) evaporated milk
420 grams (15 ounces, 1 regular can) pumpkin purée
2 eggs

for the meringue:
2 egg whites
100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
60 grams (1/4 cup) water

directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Make the crust: crush the graham crackers and cereal into crumbs, then pour into a bowl.
Stir the sugar and salt into the crumbs, then pour the brown butter over and stir until the mixture will stick together when pressed.
Pour into an 8- or 9-inch tart or pie pan and press into an even layer.
Place the pan on a sheet pan lined with parchment.
Bake for 10 minutes, until fragrant.
Meanwhile, whisk sugar, spices, and dry milk powder together.
Add the evaporated milk and water while whisking, then stir in the pumpkin until homogeneous.
Whisk in the eggs, scraping the bottom of the bowl to ensure that everything has been incorporated.
Pour into the hot crust and place back in the oven.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 and bake for 20-30 more minutes, or until the center just barely jiggles when you shake the pan a little bit.
Allow to cool completely.
Make the meringue: place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Place sugar and water in a small pot over medium heat, fitted with a candy thermometer.
Begin to whisk egg whites while syrup heats up.
Once syrup reaches 245 degrees F, the egg whites should be at semi-stiff peaks.
Pour the hot syrup into the meringue while beating at high speed.
Whip until the meringue is glossy and cooled to body temp.
Spread the meringue over the pumpkin pie and torch it as desired.

Suprème

Brûléed Citrus and Lime Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

Cosine, secant, tangent, sine,
Three point one four one five nine,
Square root, cube root, BTU,
Sequence, series, limits too. Rah.

—Unofficial UChicago football cheer

(See here for a fantastically written article about a very nerdy tradition at my school, which is the nerdiest of the nerdy)

Brûléed Citrus and Lime Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

(Themistocles, Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War,
X squared, Y squared, H2SO4.
Who for? What for? Who we gonna yell for?
Go, Maroons.

Logarithm, biorhythm, entropy, kinetics,
MPC, GNP, bioenergetics!
Maximize and integrate, titrate and equilibrate—
Go, Maroons.)

Brûléed Citrus and Lime Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

Happy Pi Day!
3.14, and I’m posting this at 1:59 so we get 3.14159.
(Last year, 3/14/15, at 9:26:53, the date was 10 digits of Pi!)

Pretty much every baking/food blogger is sharing a pie today.  It’s only right, right?
Shamefully, I’ve never shared a pie on Pi day.
I haven’t shared many pies at all, truth be told.  Which is weird, because I really like making and eating pie.
My last pie was made at Thanksgiving, and it was this insane apple, poached pear, butterscotch, and cheddar cheese beaut.  It was even shared on Buzzfeed (woot!) but has since faded into the recesses of my mind/tastebuds/blog archives.

If you want real (and regularly scheduled) pie envy, go see Michelle, who has undertaken a pie a month for 2016. Color me inspired! Her pies are gorgeous and her photography of late has been b o m b.
High fives, Michelle! Keep being the most impressive, please and thank you!

Brûléed Citrus and Lime Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

The pie I’m sharing today is definitely worthy of reviving the pie portion of my site.
It’s a creamy, custardy lime pie, full of sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks in a crunchy, buttery, toasty graham cracker crust topped with brûléed suprèmes of white and ruby red grapefruit and a navel orange.

It’s mostly the classic key lime pie (less the key limes) from the back of the sweetened condensed milk can, with the addition of a non store-bought graham crust and a heap of torched, bittersweet citrus segments.
The creamy filling contrasts brilliantly with the slightly bitter, sour fruit and the sweet, wheat-y crust.
Key lime pie has always—and will always—be in my personal favorite top 3 pie flavors.

I dropped this off at N’s fraternity house, and it was demolished. According to one ~taste tester~, my good friend Colton, it was “unreal” and “like an addiction,” as in, none of them could stop eating it, even if they tried.
Not only does this make me very happy, but it’s also a good indication of how yummy this combination is!

Brûléed Citrus and Lime Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

One last note about this pie…
In spite of the title of this post, there is no need to suprème your fruit. Seriously.

Unless you’re thinking to yourself: “YES. this is what I went to culinary school for 2 years for!  My time to shine!” or
“what’s the big deal about suprèming? I do it every Sunday for my weekly goat cheese, blood orange, and arugula salad!”
then it’s probably not worth it.
Slice up your peeled fruits like this, or cut ’em like this.

If, like me, you’ve seen this technique done on T.V. but have never had any formal knife skill training and are still silly enough to want to try it, please buy extra citrus fruits.
Because it’s kind of a pain and you’ll probably mash a lot of segments along the way. I know I did.

No matter how the citrus is arranged on top of the pie, it will be delicious and beautiful.  Just a word of warning advice.

Brûléed Citrus and Lime Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

Brûléed Citrus and Lime Pie
makes 1 9-inch pie

ingredients:
300 grams (2 cups) graham cracker crumbs
112 grams (4 ounces, 1 stick) butter, melted
pinch salt
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar

for the filling and topping:
400 grams (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
135 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) lime juice (I used 2 limes and 1 lemon)
5 egg yolks

1 white grapefruit
1 ruby red grapefruit
1 navel orange
turbinado sugar, optional

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and ready a 9-inch pie dish.
Stir graham cracker crumbs, butter, salt, and sugar together until sandy and coarse.
Firmly press into pan using your fingers and a measuring cup.
Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, then remove and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, whisk the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and egg yolks together vigorously until a smooth and homogenous mixture forms.
Pour into cooling pie crust and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool completely, at least 1 hour + some time in the fridge.
In the meantime, suprème your grapefruits and orange and arrange on a plate the way you want them.
When the pie is cool, lightly dry each slice of citrus with a paper towel and arrange on top of the pie.
Sprinkle some turbinado sugar on top (liberally) and brûlée with a blow torch.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Day by Day

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes | La Pêche Fraîche

“The way you live your days is the way you live your life.”

—Annie Dillard

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes | La Pêche Fraîche

I am trying to use my days to make my life into whatever the hell I’m pretty sure I think I want my life to be like.

I have a bad habit of looking too far in the future.  Of being too fastidious and anxious of a planner.  Sound familiar?
(“Wherever you are, be all there.”
—Jim Elliot)

Ahem. Remember what I said about reading more?
I’ve been reading more… online, though.
Needless to say, that wasn’t what I previously had in mind.

I have other habits on my kill list.
I’m determined.
Just you wait and see!

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes | La Pêche Fraîche

How long do they say breaking or forming a habit takes?  22 days?

I feel like that is completely achievable.
Of course, I am speaking naïvely from the outset of any of these break-ups or formations.

I have been writing in a little journal every night for the past month and half.  It’s a pipeline for random emotional anguish and rambling, bumbling thoughts from the day–perfect for when no one can be bothered to listen to me spout off for ages at 11pm!
Now that I’ve begun to develop this habit, I have the right mind to treat myself to a fancier journal, with creamy pages and a beautiful cover design.
Yes!—I am thinking of Rifle Paper Co.
How can one not fall in love with every pattern?  Anna creates the most mesmerizing designs.  I am in love.
You should follow her on Instagram, if you don’t already, for sneak peeks into future holiday cards and collections!
(Who here thinks I can motivate myself enough to invest in a 2016 planner?  I am notoriously bad at keeping planners intact and updated…)

I am trying to develop a habit (if it can be called that) of sleeping more.  That is, instagramming less at night.
I mean, really, someone give me a shout-out who also finds themselves idling away for HOURS on the discover tab.
I need an intervention!
My goal is to not touch my instagram/snapchat/facebook after 10pm.
I want to reserve time before bed only to check my email and send out my nightly volley of “goodnight; I love you; *kissy face**kissy face**kissy face*” texts.
(I say this as I write this post at 1AM on a weeknight, phone beside me…)

Don’t get me wrong. My bed is great as is.  That’s not what’s stopping me from sleeping.
In fact, as long as I have a pillow and a non-burlap set of sheets, I’m set.  But that hasn’t stopped me from drooling over certain Pinterest bedrooms…
Do you follow me on Pinterest yet (well, why not?!)?
I’ve been particularly active and I’m quite proud of the little spaces I have cultivated.
I’m always looking for more boards to follow though—which are your favorites?

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes | La Pêche Fraîche

And now, to preach about sweets, which is why we’ve all found ourselves here in the first place:

Take advantage of Summer, friends, while her bounty is still plentiful!
Even non-farmer’s market, non-woodland (I’m looking at you, Dominique Ansel) strawberries and berries and other summer fruits are amazing right now.

I used mine to make des petits gâteaux au fromage et aux fraises.
Soft and fluffy little baked cheesecakes, laced with strawberry jam so that you get a hint of sweet fruitiness inside the cake itself.
The base is the butteriest graham cracker crust, with plenty of salt and brown sugar.
Each mini cake is topped with a tangy, creamy sour cream topping and a perfect half strawberry for a summer punch.

I love cheesecake. There is no denying that. But, arguably, I love mini cheesecakes even more.
So poppable! So party-friendly! And sooo easy. No cracks, no problems.
Let there be cheesecake.  Amen.

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Summer strawberries, previously:
Center stage, in a lemon-black pepper-strawberry tart.
Crowning jewels on a Victoria sponge, with goat cheese and tous les fruits rouges.
Embellishments on the fluffiest of coconut cupcakes, cutting through the sugar and adding a bite of freshness.
Playing the perfect foil to the most magnificent matcha butter cake; adding a pop of color and fruitiness to a simple, dang delicious pastry.

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes | La Pêche Fraîche
Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes

makes 6 mini cheesecakes
ingredients:
for the crust:
5 sheets of graham crackers, broken up into crumbs
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar

for the cheesecake:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons of high-quality strawberry preserves, warmed in the microwave for 15 seconds

for the topping:
2 tablespoons sour cream
2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 large strawberries, halved

directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line 6 cupcake wells with paper liners.
Stir the melted butter, salt, and brown sugar into the graham cracker crumbs; mixture should hold its shape when pressed together.
Press a tablespoon of crust into each cupcake liner, pressing firmly to pack it down.
Make sure the cream cheese is completely at room temperature (I let mine sit out overnight), then whisk briskly while pouring in the sugar.
Whisk vigorously to completely incorporate the egg.
Pour the warmed strawberry preserves into the mixture and stir gently to combine.
Place 2-3 tablespoons of filling into each cupcake liner.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, then let cool completely.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To top the cheesecakes, whisk the sour cream and powdered sugar together until it loosens up.
Dollop over the cheesecakes, and top with a half strawberry.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.

More Better

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 Hello, hello, hello!  Long time no post, I know, I know.

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I was in Chicago visiting N since last Friday–it was a lovely, restorative, relaxing, and much needed weekend with him.
Today, it’s back to the real world.
Oh, just kidding, because today marks the beginning of Grassroots!
(I know, I’m leading quite the lazy, cushy life over here.  Don’t judge me too much; it’s Summer, after all.)

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I am working, albeit at a turtle’s pace, on furnishing and decorating my apartment in Chicago. (À la IKEA.)
I put together a sweet little white wicker chair and painted a TARVA dresser a beautiful pale celadon-y grey.
It needs some gold knobs and it will be done.

I’m totally excited to build a little home with my best friends.
Feelin’ all grown-up and shit, ya know.
I will undoubtedly share photos here. (Exciting, I know: a college student’s apartment!  Don’t hold your breath!!!!!!)

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Anyways, it’s Summer full-swing in the Northern Hemisphere.
Summer = fresh fruit, BBQ, red white and blue, yadda yadda yadda.
Summer really = S’MORES.

Today, I have a flat s’mores tart for you.
It’s got a relatively even ratio of crust:filling, making it super rich and decadent.

All the flavors and textures are here: lovely graham crust made from real graham crackers, with a hint of cinnamon and a slight crunch, sweet, creamy milk chocolate ganache with a hint of deep cocoa, and puffy, browned marshmallows to round it out.

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This tart is like a giant s’more, upgraded a bit with some extra butter and cream (of course).

Okay, I am late and S is waiting for me in the driveway to head to Trumansburg to start the grassroots festivities, so I’m signing off.

I’ll be back soon with a no-bake treat and another tart.
Xx

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{Happy Grassroots to all my Ithacan readers!
Have a safe, fun, and enjoyable weekend!}

IMG_1259_01
Flat S’mores Tart
makes 1 9-inch tart

ingredients:
for the crust:
2 sleeves (18 whole) graham crackers
1/2 cup flour
10 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 egg yolk
scant teaspoon kosher salt
pinch cinnamon

for the milk chocolate ganache:
5 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon corn syrup, optional
1 cup heavy cream

to finish:
mini marshmallows, or large marshmallows torn into pieces, or meringue, etc. etc.

directions:
Make the crust: preheat oven to 350 degrees F and ready a 9- or 10- inch springform pan.
Blitz the graham crackers into fine crumbs in a food processor; they should be the texture of fine flour (this may take a while).
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment for 3 minutes to soften.
While beating on high speed, slowly stream in the sugar; beat for 4 minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the egg yolk, kosher salt, and cinnamon.
Beat for 3 more minutes, then scrape the bowl once more.
Add in the flour and stir until combined; scrape the bowl.
Start adding the graham cracker flour 1/2 cup at a time, while mixing on low speed.
You will likely need all of the graham crackers, but keep an eye on the dough; when finished, it should clump together easily but not be so dry that it cracks when you press it together.
Press the dough into the bottom of your springform, keeping it mostly flat with a small rim to prevent the ganache from leaking out.
Prick all over with a fork and bake for 20 minutes, until firm and golden–the crust should be very fragrant.
Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the ganache.
Place the chopped chocolate, kosher salt, and corn syrup in a bowl and heat gently until 1/3 of the chocolate is melted—do this in short bursts in a microwave or over a double boiler.
Remove the chocolate from heat.
Heat up the cream until boiling; pour over chocolate and let sit for 3 minutes, undisturbed.
Begin to whisk the chocolate mixture slowly at first, then speeding up until the ganache comes together and is shiny and smooth.
Pour over the cooling crust and place in the fridge until set, about 4 hours (you can leave it in there overnight).
To assemble, place marshmallows all over the tart and place under a broiler for 2 minutes, keeping a careful eye to ensure that the marshmallows don’t burn.
Enjoy in fat wedges on a summer night!

Far to Fall

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Peanut butter Pollock.

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Thank god for no-bake recipes.

When you don’t have a kitchen (just a microwave and a fridge and a bureau for counter space), you have limitations.

i.e. I’ve been washing dishes in the bathroom.  Which only has push-button faucets, which means every 8 seconds, the water turns off and I have to hold down the handle again.  As if washing dishes could be MORE torturous.

Also, no oven.  Or stove.  Which means that recipes cannot only be no-bake, but no-cook.

Also, it’s finals week.  Which means, I ain’t got time.  For anything.  Other than crying and Game of Thrones, of course.

Stop looking at me like that.

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These bars are dead simple, and deadly delicious.
Just 6 ingredients, and they can be whipped up in just a few minutes.

It’s really hard to go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate.  But PB, chocolate, and graham crackers?
It is LITERALLY impossible.  It cannot be done.

For example: graham crackers sandwiched with peanut butter and chocolate.  Impossible to do wrong.

The best part of these bar cookies, aside from their no-bake conception, is the fact that the graham cracker crumbs stay crunchy in the melted butter/PB base, which creates an airiness and crunchiness that is incredibly difficult to resist.

Actually, impossible to resist.  Cut these small, because that means you can eat a million and one of them.

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Peanut Butter Graham Bars (no bake)
makes 1 8×8 or 9×9 inch pan of bars

ingredients:
8 tablespoons butter, melted
scant 1 cup smooth peanut butter
big pinch salt
1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 sheets of crackers)
1 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
1 teaspoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped dark chocolate plus 1 tablespoon white chocolate, optional
1 tablespoon peanut butter plus 2 teaspoons chopped white chocolate, optional

directions:
Butter a 9×9 or 8×8 square pan.
Melt the peanut butter and butter together in a microwave; stir until smooth.
Stir in the salt, confectioner’s sugar, and graham cracker crumbs.
Press into the pan firmly; refrigerate until set.
Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate with the second measure of butter; pour over cooled and set peanut butter base and smooth out; rap on the counter a few times to release air bubbles.
Refrigerate until set.
To decorate, melt the dark chocolate together with the white chocolate; stir until smooth.
Melt the peanut butter with the white chocolate; stir until smooth.
Splatter and drip the two mixtures over the set bars; allow to cool for 15 minutes before slicing to ensure that topping is set.

More, More, More

All the s’mores!
I am so greedy.
Today, I said goodbye “see you later” to one of my best friends, S.
Yes, the S for whose birthday I made a s’mores cake.
What are the chances that this post would be about s’mores?
I didn’t engineer it this way, it just happened to be so.
It was meant to be.
I’m greedy because now is not enough.
The years I have spent with my friends, growing and fighting and partying and loving, are not enough.
I want more.  I want more time.
More chances to show them how much I love them,
how much I appreciate them and all they do and all their quirks.
I want more, more, more.
I want to drink up all of their love, all of my love, all of the times we have spent together, to soak in it and revel in it and I’m worried I haven’t done enough of that.
It is so bittersweet, this time in our lives.
We are both leaving and being left.
We are starting a new part of our lives.  It’s terrifying.
I’m not ready.
I don’t want to be ready.
I’m scared.
I took these s’mores to a farewell BBQ with just a few of my closest friends.
The marshmallows were soggy because it rained all day.  I was pissed.
But whatever, that’s not what matters.
I love these people.  That’s something I’ll never lose, and something I’ll never get enough of.
I don’t have many words today, so I will share pictures.
 
Marshmallows here.
Graham crackers here.
Love below.

Brace Yo’self

Treat Brace yo’self.
 
Forgive me.  This one is a mouthful, in all senses of the word.
I guess I might as well start out by telling you what you’re looking at, because otherwise I fear you may feel unsure of my sanity.
Gird your loins.
This is a vanilla bean marshmallow, Greek yogurt cheesecake with a peanut butter base, torched marshmallows, and homemade potato chips.
 
These flavors called to me as I stared at a big ole pile of homemade vanilla bean marshmallows and graham crackers that I had leftover from a picnic yesterday (I’ll share some pictures etc. in the next few days.).
I keep a running note of minute-to-minute, day-to-day, random inspirations on my phone.
It includes eclectic and esoteric things like “honey nut” and “coconut kumquat” to, lo and behold, “homemade potato chips with peanut butter- cupcakes?
So obviously, this is not cupcakes.  But those two flavors are featured in this cake.
Victory!
Savory, fatty peanut butter combines with silky cheesecake and soft, puffy marshmallows, only to be highlighted with über crispy, salty chips.
This cheesecake is a no-bake deal.  You can whip it together in 20 minutes.
It has to chill for a while, but that’s down time.
You could run errands or walk your dog or clean your kitchen (none of which I did), or drink milky green tea while watching the last two episodes of Food Network Star (cue glazed eyes), and feign sleep when someone discovers you, which I may or may not have done.
Anyways, you have some time.  A minimum of 2 hours.  So plan ahead.
The nice thing about this is that you can make this way ahead and let it hang out in the fridge before unmolding and decorating it.
I would say a full day ahead would be totally fine.
You don’t want to put the chips on too early, you little eager beaver you, because they will get soggy and limp.
Soggy and limp are not two of the adjectives I ever want to hear describing any cheesecake.
Ever.
So chill with the chips until you’re ready to serve.
This thang is not so rich as one might think: there is no butter, only a smidgen of cream, it’s made with 0% Greek yogurt, light sour cream, and neufchâtel.
It slices very well and is light and creamy.
The textures are out of this world… I can only think of adjectives to describe this cheesecake.
I have trouble forming full, coherent sentences.
Crispy, salty, fatty, soft, creamy, silky, sweet, savory, and just a touch bitter (torched mallows).
One last thing: let’s be honest,  you don’t have to make your own marshmallows and potato chips to make this cake.
(I garnished with regular mini marshmallows!)
Go out and buy a package of mini mallows and some Cape Cod potato chips and go to town.
You’ll thank me later.
(You can add in vanilla bean or extract if you use regular marshmallows.)
Also, I realize this post was all about food and kind of one note.
Never fear, I’ll be back before you even want me to be, bitchin’ and whinin’ about my life as per usual.

Crazed Cheesecake
(Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Greek Yogurt Cheesecake with Potato Chips and PB Crust)
makes one 6×3 inch cheesecake or one 9×2 inch cheesecake
ingredients:
3 ounces graham crackers (I used homemade, you could easily sub more Nutter Butters)
3 ounces (about 6 cookies) Nutter Butter or other peanut butter sandwich cookies (leave the filling in)
2 ounces (heaping 2 tablespoons) peanut butter
16 ounces cream cheese (I used half neufchâtel)
150 grams (3/4 cup) sugar
8 ounces (1 cup) 0% Greek yogurt
3 ounces (1/3 cup) light or full-fat sour cream
2 ounces (1/4 cup) cream
2 teaspoons gelatin
7 ounces marshmallows, melted and still warm (about 1 cup when melted)
Garnish: toasted marshmallows, potato chips
directions:
Lightly grease your springform pan (either a 6×3 or 9×2).
In the bowl of a food processor, process your cookies and crackers, leaving the filling in the peanut butter cookies.
Meanwhile, melt the peanut butter in a microwave or over a stove.
Pour the still-fluid PB into the food processor and pulse until the mixture sticks together when pressed.
Press into the bottom of your pan and place in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.
Whip the cream cheese with a stand or hand mixer until it is light and fluffy.
Add in the sugar and whip for 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over the top of 2 tablespoons of cold water and set aside for 5 minutes.
To the cream cheese, add the yogurt and sour cream and beat until combined; scrape the sides of the bowl.
After the gelatin has softened for 5 minutes, add it to the cream and microwave on high until it melts, about 20 seconds.
Add the cream mixture to the cream cheese mixture and beat on high.
Scrape in the still-warm marshmallows (you may need to reheat them a bit to get them nice and liquidy) and beat on high until everything comes together.
The batter will seem a little liquidy; this is fine.
Pour the mixture into the prepared crust/pan and place in the refrigerator to set, about 2 hours.
Once the cake is set, garnish how you like.
It cuts best with a clean knife, so wipe in between cuts.

Skywire

“There must be a better way to get a pole across the Grand Canyon…”
Did you guys watch the Skywire special on Discovery a few weeks back?
The one where a man walked across the Grand Canyon with a giant pole on a tightrope without a harness wearing slippers?
I watched it with a bunch of friends.
It really was attention-capturing.  We watched for 45 minutes without realizing there hadn’t been commercials.
I had a bet with one of my friends that they would cut off camera if he fell.
 My friend insisted that they would show it at least once- his reasoning was that they replayed Kevin Ware’s horrific leg injury twice, so falling 1500 feet to one’s death would be aired.
I was just glad we never settled the bet.  Ick.
Anyhow, that’s a bit off topic.  I was just reminded of that special because of this ice cream.  
It’s called “Graham Canyon,” because it’s a copycat, as far as I can tell, for BYU Creamery’s flavor of the same name.
People describe Graham Canyon (no, I’ve never had it, but the descriptions sounded so good that I had to try and make my own) as caramel-y, with dark chocolate covered honeycomb candy and a graham swirl.
My version is a graham ice cream, with graham ganache mixed in (unfortunately it didn’t swirl the way I wanted it to, but the graham cracker flavor was already prominent), along with honeycomb candy, both robed in chocolate and plain.
The non-chocolate coated honeycomb melts into the ice cream, creating a toffee flavor that pairs really well with the graham.
 
That said, this ice cream is still an endeavor to make, with lots of components.
However, it’s similar to store bought ice creams in that it has a rich flavor and lots of mix-ins.
I’m becoming more and more interested in trying to make ice creams like Ben and Jerry’s- inventive and flavorful… Stay tuned!
 
P.S. I’m thoroughly enjoying myself at a super hippie local music festival, Grassroots, for the weekend.
It’s hot as… all get out.
It’s wonderful.
Happy groots weekend to all!
Stay cool!  Eat ice cream!

“Graham Canyon” Ice Cream
ingredients:
1 batch graham ice cream, recipe below
1 batch graham ganache, recipe below
1 batch honeycomb candy, divided, recipe below
1 cup melted dark chocolate, mixed with 1 teaspoon coconut oil
directions:
Churn the graham ice cream in your ice cream maker.
Meanwhile, break the honeycomb into small bits.
Take approximately 1/3 of the honeycomb- (choose the bite sized pieces rather than the crumbs) and stir it into the dark chocolate.
Fish the bits out of the chocolate with a fork and place on a plate- chill until chocolate is set.
Take approximately 1/4 of the original amount of honeycomb (this measure should be mostly crumbs and tiny pieces) and mix it into the ice cream while it churns.
Once the ice cream is done churning, swirl the graham ganache into it.
Stir in the chocolate covered honeycomb and freeze until solid.
Enjoy!

Graham Crackers
adapted from smitten kitchen
ingredients:
188 grams (1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon) white whole wheat flour
88 grams (1/2 lightly packed cup) brown sugar
3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
2 grams (3/8 teaspoon) kosher salt
50 grams (3 1/2 tablespoons) butter, cold and cut into pieces

57 grams (1/6 cup) honey
38 grams (2 1/2 tablespoons)milk
14 grams (1 tablespoon) vanilla extract
directions:
Place the flour, sugar, baking soda, and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor.
Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand.
Add the honey, milk, and vanilla and pulse until a dough forms.
Turn out and wrap in plastic; refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll out dough on a well floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness.
Cut desired shapes and bake on a parchment lined sheet for 15-18 minutes.
 
Graham Crust
adapted from momofuku milk bar
ingredients:
graham crackers, above, pulsed and turned into crumbs (190 grams, if you want to use store bought, which is approximately 1 1/2 cups of crumbs)
20 grams (1/4 cup) milk powder 
25 grams (2 tablespoons) sugar
3 grams kosher salt (3/4 teaspoon)
55 grams (4 tablespoons) butter, browned
55 grams (1/4 cup) half and half
directions:
Pulse the graham cracker crumbs, the milk powder, sugar, and salt together. 
Add the butter and half and half and pulse until the mixture resembles damp sand.
 
Graham Ice Cream
adapted from momofuku milk bar
ingredients:
1 cup graham crust
380 grams (1 3/4 cups) half and half
1 teaspoon gelatin
35 grams (2 tablespoons) golden syrup
65 grams (1/3 cup) sugar 
40 grams (1/2 cup) milk powder
1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) kosher salt
directions:
Combine the half and half and graham crust and allow to steep for 20 minutes.
Strain out the graham crust with a fine mesh sieve; discard the mush.
Bloom the gelatin in 2 tablespoons of cold water.
Warm some of the graham milk and whisk in the gelatin to dissolve.
Add the gelatin/graham milk mixture back to the entire batch of graham milk, then add the rest of the ingredients. 
Blend with an immersion blender or a regular blender to combine.
 
Graham Ganache
inspired by Christina Tosi
ingredients:
the remainder of the graham crust from your graham ice cream 
half and half
directions:
Continue to pulse the graham crust, adding half and half a teaspoon at a time, until it turns into a very smooth, grit-free paste.  (Do not add too much half and half at any one time, it may turn the ganache liquid.)
The consistency should be thick and creamy and smooth, like a cooled chocolate ganache.
 
Honeycomb Candy
adapted from not so humble pie
200 grams sugar
10 grams honey
15 grams golden syrup
40 grams water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
directions:
Line a baking pan with a silpat and spray with nonstick spray (do not use parchment; if you must, go bare with just nonstick spray).
Place the water in the bottom of a heavy, high-sided pot.
Add the sugar, honey, and golden syrup to the middle of the water, stir carefully to combine.
Heat over medium-high heat until it turns a very light golden color, or 300 degrees F, stirring constantly. (The color should be just barely turning; this took me 3 tries, 2 without a thermometer, so I just recommend going by temperature rather than looks.)
Moving quickly, stir in the baking soda with a whisk and pour the mixture onto your pan.
Allow to cool, then break into pieces.

Worth It

It’s rainy sunny zebra weather, as I called it when I was little.
Boy, I thought I was a clever little imp.
Either way, it is h-o-t.
And very humid.
(And damp.  Note the photos.)
The last thing I want to be doing in this kind of weather is cooking running to urgent care to get my finger mended.
Alas… While making this pie, that is exactly what I ended up having to do.
Was it worth it?
Definitely not.  But the pie is all kinds of awesome, so that’s at least a plus.
I love key lime pie.
It’s one of my favorite kinds of pie.  It’s up there with peach and apple and nutmeg-maple cream.  
(And crack.)
So, while meandering through the grocery store, when a bag of key limes caught my eye, I had to snatch them up.
 
Side note: it still amazes me how cheap produce gets in the summer.  
Ataulfo mangoes are 2/$5 in the winter.  
Now, they are piling up in giant mounds and being sold 5/$5.
Key limes are cheap, too.
I guess it’s just funny because I always think of winter as the citrus/tropical fruit season, but that’s only because nothing else is in season- it’s just a default!
Anyways, back to pie.
This pie is healthified- just a little.  
Instead of butter, there’s coconut oil (which gives a boost of flavor as well as health).
Instead of egg yolks, there’s neufchatel.
The graham crackers are homemade with 100% whole wheat flour.
But you know what?  You wouldn’t know it.
In fact, my family didn’t know it.  The pie was gone by the next day.  There are only 4 of us in the house.  It went quick.

This pie tastes better than many key lime pies and is so much easier without the baking of the interior.  It’s quick and has some health boosts to boot.  I’ll take it!
(And it’ll take my finger.)
 
P.S. A note about the coconut graham crackers- you could make them vegan by swapping golden syrup or agave for the honey.
Icebox Key Lime Pie
ingredients:
about 2/3 batch of graham crackers, recipe below
4 tablespoons coconut oil, liquid
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (I used fat-free)
6 ounces neufchatel cheese
1/2 cup key lime juice
zest of 3 key limes, optional
directions:
Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor until they are crumbs.
Add in the coconut oil and pulse until the crumbs are all moistened.
Press into a 9-inch pie pan and chill while you prepare the filling.
Whip the sweetened condensed milk, the neufchatel, and the key lime juice together until they are homogeneous.
Stir in the zest.
Pour into your prepared crust and allow to chill in the fridge until set, about 3 hours.
 
Coconut Graham Crackers
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
ingredients:
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) white whole wheat flour (you could sub 2 cups AP and make the rest regular whole wheat)
1 cup (176 grams) brown sugar
1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (4 grams)
7 tablespoons (100 grams) coconut oil, solid but not hard
1/2 cup (171 grams) honey
2 tablespoons (27 grams) vanilla extract
directions:
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Cut the coconut oil into small chunks and add it into the mixture.
Once the mixture resembles coarse sand, add in the honey and vanilla extract and mix just until combined.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut it with a knife into rough squares (they don’t need to look even mildly good/accurate, since we’ll be grinding them up).
Poke each square with a fork and put onto baking sheets.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden and fragrant.
Let cool before using in any recipes.