Ce Qui Compte

Chocolate Orange Linzer Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

“When I’m worried
and cannot sleep
I count my blessings
instead of sheep.”

Bing Crosby

Chocolate Orange Linzer Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

We had our first snow here in New York City this past Saturday.

I was out traipsing around with my girlfriends, dressed as a reindeer, painted-on nose and all.
Yes, I tried valiantly to rally for Santacon, a (somewhat perverse) day before Christmas when millennials around Manhattan put on Santa costumes and drink during the few December daylight hours. It’s only a little embarrassing when everyone else is doing it, but it is hugely disruptive and not quite family-friendly.
Let’s just say it didn’t exactly suit my vibe. But at least I tried! I ended the day tucked into bed in my pajamas with pumpkin sushi, tipsily facetiming my best friend. I guess I can chalk that up to a win.

(By the way: pumpkin tempura sushi is SO much better than sweet potato tempura sushi. Don’t @ me.)

P.S. If you have a few moments, please consider voting for my cookies in the Bob’s Red Mill x FeedFeed contest going on here!

Chocolate Orange Linzer Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Today, I’m sharing the first of multiple Christmas/holiday posts.
These chocolate orange linzer cookies are the perfect addition to your cookie boxes!

To make these, fluted rounds of dark chocolate almond dough, fragrant and buttery, are dusted with powdered sugar and sandwiched together with tart, slightly bitter orange marmalade. It’s one of my absolute favorite flavor combinations, with a perfect balance of complex flavors (and none too sweet).
If you’re at all a fan of orangettes, which are candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate, you will love these cookies! They are a fun take on traditional Linzer cookies.

This recipe makes 16 cookies; I tend to scale recipes to fit the number of cookie boxes I intend on preparing; I would likely double this recipe and save any leftovers for my family.
Top tip for gifting sweets: make like Sesame Street and count!
Count while choosing your recipes; count while buying your boxes; count while cutting/portioning your dough; count when they come out of the oven and count when they are decorated.
It really helps, especially when you’re making many types of cookies.

Chocolate Orange Linzer Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Tried and true recipes from Christmases past:

Cakes:
My pride and joy, the most elaborate cake on the blog: la souche de Noël.
Golden and gleaming, an almond and orange spice cake.
A classic: red velvet with a winter woodland theme.
The fluffiest of cakes, a chocolate and peppermint cake with marshmallow frosting.
Oldie but a goodie: chocolate buttermilk cupcakes with peppermint buttercream.

Cookies:
Super intricate and crunchy maple and black pepper gingersnaps.
Luster-dust highlighted sugar cookie Christmas trees.
Festive eggnog sugar cookies, decorated with royal icing and sprinkles.
Twists on the classic: honey spice and dark chocolate sugar cookies, perfect for cutting into shapes.
Pepparkakor with lemon royal icing, decorated with mehndi-inspired swirls.
Chocolate peppermint macarons… Finnicky little buggers.
Classic Linzer cookies with different fillings.
Maple, nutmeg, and rye sugar cookies, dressed all in winter white.
Chocolate, sour cherry, and coconut cookies; grapefruit butter cookies; and dark chocolate pecan snowcaps, all crammed into one post.
Cinnamon toast crunch marshmallow treats, chocolate peppermint shortbread, Russian teacakes, 5-spice snickerdoodles, another post bursting with recipes.
Whimsical peppermint marshmallow ropes; not cookies per se, but great for gifting.

Chocolate Orange Linzer Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche
Chocolate Orange Linzer Cookies
makes 16 cookies

ingredients:
for the chocolate cookies:
170 grams (3/4 cup, 1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
¼ teaspoon (or to taste) kosher salt
100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
1 egg
80 grams (3/4 cup) almond flour or almond meal
90 grams (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
30 grams (1/4 cup) cocoa powder
to assemble:
orange marmalade
powdered sugar

directions:
Make the cookies: beat butter on high speed with the kosher salt and granulated sugar for a full 5 minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the egg; beat for another full 4 minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the almond flour, flour, and cocoa powder.
Gently stir the dough together until homogeneous.
Gather into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to one night.
If the dough is fully chilled, allow it to warm up until pliable.
Roll out to ¼ inch thickness on a well-floured surface.
Cut out 32 circles; cut smaller circles in the center of 16 of the cookies.
You can gather the scraps and re-roll as necessary.
Place onto parchment lined baking sheets and freeze until solid, at least 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Bake cookies (straight from the freezer) for 10 minutes, or until fragrant and the edges are crisping up.
Allow to cool completely.
Place the cookies with holes aside and dust them with powdered sugar.
Place a half-teaspoon of marmalade onto the bottom halves and then sandwich together.

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Laplace

Dairy Free Strawberry Orange Shortcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

If an intelligence, at a given instant, knew all the forces that animate nature and the position of each constituent being;
if, moreover, this intelligence were sufficiently great to submit these data to analysis, it could embrace in the same formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the smallest atoms:
to this intelligence nothing would be uncertain, and the future, as the past, would be present to its eyes.

—Pierre-Simon Laplace

Dairy Free Strawberry Orange Shortcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

I took a class this past quarter called History of Statistics.
It was taught by a professor who knew my grandfather well. Additionally, in an amazing twist of small-world fate, his father taught MY father in a class called History of Economics, when my dad was getting his PhD at UChicago. It was an excellent class to cap off my stat minor, and I recommend it to anyone who can get in off the competitive waitlist.

At the beginning of the quarter, we had a question on a homework that stumped (I think) everyone in the class. The question that was posed was: what was the dessert that Pierre-Simon Laplace invented?
Don’t even try to google it, guys. Been there, done that. It is thoroughly un-googleable.

The answer: in 1826 there was a landmark two volume book about gastronomy published by Brillat-Savarin (as in the Savarin cake). In it, a dessert was attributed to Laplace.
Strawberries sprinkled with orange juice.
Literally, that’s the whole of it.

Dairy Free Strawberry Orange Shortcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Anyways, the other day I found myself with a bunch of spring strawberries and some aging oranges that needed to be used or eaten. I thought back to Laplace’s dessert, and how I could modify it and make it… more, um, interesting.

These dairy free strawberry shortcakes are what I came up with, because I’ve been eating dairy free a lot lately and want to challenge myself to bake dairy free as well.
The cake itself is a dairy free pound cake, made with vegan butter, cashew yogurt (I like Forager), and a hint of orange zest; it is moist and dense and bakes up perfectly golden.
I brushed the cut cakes with an orange simple syrup to infuse them with stronger flavor.
The strawberries are treated as Laplace would have demanded: sprinkled with the juice of an orange (and a little hit of sugar), but then I roasted them in the oven to bring out a toasty, caramelized flavor that is absolutely divine.
The cakes are layered with the roasted strawberries, topped with lightly sweetened coconut cream, confectioner’s sugar, and more orange zest.

Overall, they’re not too sweet and preserve a true strawberry and orange flavor; they store very well as the syrup helps retain their moisture. The serving size is just right for one person, although I know for a fact that some of my testers ate two…
They would be perfect for any summer event, from a BBQ to a tea party.

Note that you can substitute dairy items and still have very happy results: butter for the vegan butter, sour cream or full-fat yogurt for the cashew yogurt, and whipped cream or ice cream for the coconut cream.

Dairy Free Strawberry Orange Shortcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Happy summer, friends! Here’s to strawberry season.

Dairy Free Strawberry Orange Shortcakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Dairy Free Strawberry Orange Shortcakes
makes 6 large, 12 small shortcakes

ingredients:
for the cakes:
113 grams (1 stick, 8 tablespoons) vegan/dairy free butter, softened (can substitute regular butter)
250 grams (1 1/4 cup) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
120 grams (1/2 cup) cashew yogurt (can substitute sour cream or yogurt)
180 grams (1 1/2 cups) AP flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
zest of 1/2 an orange

for the strawberries:
15-20 large strawberries, sliced thinly (about 2-3 cups)
juice of 1 large orange
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

to assemble:
45 grams (3 tablespoons) water
15 grams (1 tablespoon) orange juice
50 grams (4 tablespoons) sugar
zest of 1/2 an orange
coconut cream (see here for a tutorial) (can substitute whipped cream or ice cream)
zest of 1/2 an orange
confectioner’s sugar

directions:
Make the cakes: preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour 6 extra-large muffin tins, or 12 regular sized muffin tins.
Whip vegan butter on high speed for 3 full minutes, until light and fluffy.
Add in the sugar and salt and beat for another full 2 minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the eggs; beat for another 3-4 minutes until fluffy and not gritty.
Stir in the cashew yogurt.
Add the flour, baking soda, and orange zest.
Scoop the batter into the prepared pans.
Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean (small cakes will likely need shorter baking, check them around 15 minutes).
Allow to cool completely before cutting in half.
To make the strawberries, lay the slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with the orange juice and sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, or until softened, juicy, and fragrant.
Allow to cool completely.
Make the orange syrup: stir water, sugar, orange juice, and orange zest together and bring to a boil.
To assemble, brush the cut halves of the cakes with the orange syrup.
Sandwich a few strawberries with the cakes.
Dust with confectioner’s sugar, orange zest, and serve with coconut cream or ice cream on the side.

Comfort and Joy

Almond and Orange Spice Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

“For it is in giving that we receive.”

Prayer of Saint Francis

Almond and Orange Spice Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Merry Christmas Eve and a very happy first night of Hanukkah!
I have not yet wrapped my gifts nor done all the productive things I needed to do, but OH WELL that is just about how I expect 2016 to come to a close.

All my brothers are in town (though we are all staying apart since none of the four apartments where various fractions of us permanently live in NYC are big enough to fit the whole family), and tonight we’re heading to Brooklyn for Christmas Eve dinner at my grandma’s.
Last night, we all went bowling/drinking/for dinner at Brooklyn Bowl, which was fun. Although I was very salty at how bad at bowling I am, especially after a margarita. Ugh.

Almond and Orange Spice Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Tomorrow, we will exchange a few small gifts, eat some french toast (I kind of want to try making french toast with panettone. Is that frowned upon?!), and probably see a movie.

The past few years, I’ve made cinnamon rolls for Christmas day, but that’s not happening in our current kitchen. I’ve seen them all over Instagram this year though, and I think it’s a sweet tradition. Do you make anything traditional for breakfast? I try to keep it low-key and no-fuss since my family likes to just chill together.

Almond and Orange Spice Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

This layer cake recipe is one of my new go-tos.  It’s more unique than just another vanilla or chocolate cake, and it doesn’t fall prey to the gingerbread trope, either.

It’s an almond and orange spice cake, and it’s really soft and moist from the almond meal.  It’s fragrant with spices and orange zest without being overpowering.  Between the layers, there is alternating apricot jam and orange marmalade, which are just a match made in heaven.  Sweet and fruity, with a hint of bitterness that complements the orange zest in the cake.  The icing is a simple cream cheese frosting with a tiny touch of maple syrup to round out the tanginess.

I decorated my cake with a mound of fruits painted with luster dust and bourbon because I am now officially way too obsessed with this technique. Someone stop me.

It would be just as yum with a few rosemary “trees” or a simple piped border and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Almond and Orange Spice Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

More Christmas cakes!

Last year’s cute Red Velvet Woodland cake.
Also last year: Chocolate Peppermint Cloud Cake
The year before: the insane and super fun Souche de Noël.

Almond and Orange Spice Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Almond and Orange Spice Cake
makes 1 4×6-inch layer cake

ingredients:
for the cake:
4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
zest of 1 orange
2 eggs
1 cup (120 grams) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (32 grams) almond flour or finely ground almonds
1/2 cup (120 grams) milk

for the frosting:
12 tablespoons (175 grams) unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces (112 grams) cream cheese
12 ounces (330 grams) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon (5 mL) maple syrup
3-4 tablespoons (45-60 mL) milk or cream

to assemble:
1/4 cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate arils, kumquats
luster dust, if desired

directions:
Make the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour 2 6-inch pans.
Place butter, sugar, spices, and zest into a bowl and cream on high speed for 3 full minutes, or until light and fluffy.
Add in the eggs and beat for another 3 minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl.
Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and almond flour and stir gently until half mixed in.
Add the milk and beat until the batter is homogeneous, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Portion out the batter into prepared pans and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
Allow to cool completely; meanwhile, make the frosting.
Beat butter and cream cheese on high speed for 3 minutes, or until doubled in volume and very pale in color.
Add in roughly half of the powdered sugar, the salt, the maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon of milk.
Beat on high speed until the frosting is very fluffy, about 3 more minutes.
Add in the rest of the powdered sugar to taste, along with 2-3 more tablespoons of milk, if needed to make the frosting more spreadable, and whip on high speed until fully incorporated.
The frosting should be spreadable but not loose; add more milk or powdered sugar to thin or thicken as needed.
To assemble, cut each of the layers in half.
Pipe a border of cream cheese frosting around the first layer, then spread 2 tablespoons of apricot jam in the center.
Spread frosting on top of the layer to cover the jam.
Add the second layer and repeat, except use orange marmalade instead of apricot jam.
Repeat with the third layer, using apricot jam again.
Top with the fourth layer and add a thin crumb coat of frosting on the outside of the cake.
Refrigerate the cake for at least 15 minutes to set the crumb coat.
Spread frosting thick on the top layer but thin on the sides to create a semi-naked finish.
Top with fruits dusted with luster dust or other decorations 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.

Blink

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Yonder see the morning blink:
The sun is up, and up must I,
To wash and dress and eat and drink
And look at things and talk and think
And work, and God knows why.

Oh often have I washed and dressed
And what’s to show for all my pain?
Let me lie abed and rest:
Ten thousand times I’ve done my best
And all’s to do again.

–A.E. Housman

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Hi friends!  This is a quick update/reassurance for today.
I’ve got a few great things coming your way, they just need extra time, work, and love, all of which are in short short supply right now.  Things are a little hectic/crazy/busy in my life at the moment, but it will all settle down shortly.
One of these days, I’ll get the chance to sleep for a full 8 hours.  One of these days.

For now, here is the most delicious pound cake I have ever tasted in my entire life.

Buttery, soft, tender pound cake with piles of citrus zest–lime, lemon, and orange– is brushed with a honey lime glaze and topped with a decadent vanilla honey cream icing.

The edges are ever so slightly crispy and crunchy, thanks to the unique shape and surface area of a bundt pan, and all these exterior nooks and crannies are saturated with salty-sweet honey glaze and icing; the interior is moist with delicate citrus flavor and pure buttery texture heaven.

The bright citrus zests add to the gorgeous yellow color– just like the daffodils that have cheerily sprung up around campus!

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Twice-Glazed Citrus Honey Pound Cake
cake portion adapted from Bon Appétit

ingredients:
for the cake:
1 cup (16 tablespoons) butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
zest from 2 lemons
zest from 2 oranges
zest from 1 lime
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

for the lime glaze:
zest from 1 lime
juice from 1 lime
juice from 1 lemon
pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 cups powdered sugar, as needed

for the vanilla honey cream icing:
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
big pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, as needed

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan very well.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the butter and salt.
Beat for 4 minutes, until softened and very fluffy.
Scrape the bowl and add the sugar and citrus zests, stirring slowly at first, then increasing the speed up to high; beat for 3 more minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the eggs; beat for 3 more minutes.
Stir the milk and apple cider vinegar together; stir the flour and baking powder together in another bowl.
At the same time, going very slowly, add the milk and flour mixtures, alternating if need be but largely adding them simultaneously to the egg mixture with the mixer running.
Once all the flour and milk has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and beat for a minute longer to ensure homogeneity.
Pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make your glazes: whisk the ingredients for each glaze together in separate bowls until no lumps remain.
Add 1 cup of powdered sugar first; if the glazes are still too runny, just add more powdered sugar.
When the cake comes out of the oven, allow it to cool for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a serving plate.
Cover the cake in as many layers of lime glaze as you can, then allow it to cool for 10 more minutes.
Whisk the vanilla honey icing together to ensure that it is pourable, then spread it over the top of the still-warm cake.
Icing will drip and melt down the sides of the cake.
Allow to cool completely, then slice and serve!

Brass Monkey

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Winter is coming.

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Note.

Sidenote: I cannot wait for February 2014.  I’m dying with anticipation for Season 4 of what is arguably the best television series ever made.
And yes, I’m willing to make that argument.

My dad and I good-naturedly disagree about this all the time.

Speaking of my dad, he’s here in Chicago visiting me and giving a talk at the Booth school.  I’m sitting here writing this while he works next to me at the Quad Club.

We just had dinner at the Green Zebra…

Life is good.

Edit: Sitting in Harper Memorial.  Just ate breakfast at the dining hall.  Wish I were at the QC.  Wish I had just eaten at the Green Zebra.

Sigh.

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One thing I miss most about home is the leisure time spent watching my favorite shows avec mon papa.

I’m going through serious withdrawals, because while we have a Slingbox, I just don’t have enough time to sit down and watch the many hours of TV that have racked up.  I wish I did, but I don’t.  For a period of time, he was in London, and that didn’t help either.  Oh well.

Also, I just miss spending time with him and my mama and mes animaux.

I’m so grateful that he is here this weekend, and I’m incredibly excited to go home for Thanksgiving, which is already my favorite hollyday.

Incredibly. Excited.

Likeyoudon’tevenknow.

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It has been pretty bracingly cold in Chicago over the last few days.
I can’t say I’m surprised or unused to this type of weather, since Ithaca has very similar weather patterns (it generally lags 1 or 2 days behind Chicago weather, but is temperature-wise very similar), but it sure came on fast.

Supposedly, it will be 64 on Sunday…  Again, can’t say I’m surprised.

But three short days ago, it was 27 degrees F with the sun out, not including the windchill.

Edit: It’s around 45-50 degrees out today.  Gorgeous.  Perfect.  My kind of weather.  Cool enough to be comfortable.  Warm enough to be pleasant.  

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Enter: bread pudd’n.
Hot, crunchy, citrusy, and custard-like, it’s a great comfort dessert.
The bread pieces on top are crunchy and crispy from the almonds and extra sugar which caramelizes in the oven.
Those on bottom are soft and gooey, bathed in custard redolent of citrus and butter.
It’s an eggy delight, and so simple!

I would love to be curled up on a couch right now, wrapped in blankets, with a steaming bowl full of bread pudding topped with a great mound of softly whipped cream and powdered sugar, watching Game of Thrones.

Can someone come make that happen?

Like, now?

Guys?

Anyone?

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Orange and Lemon Bread Pudding
ingredients:
5 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch kosher salt
2 1/3 cups milk
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 batch orange curd, fully cooled (recipe below)
1 1/2 loaves soft Italian bread
turbinado and granulated sugar, for sprinkling
handful almond slices, for garnish
powdered sugar and softly whipped cream, for serving

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 12-inch round pan (or other pan of comparable size).
Slice your bread into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick.
Whisk eggs, milk, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and salt together.
Spread each of the sides of each of your slices of bread with orange curd, then arrange them in your pan.
Pour the milk and egg mixture over the slices of bread, making sure that they all get at least partially covered.
Sprinkle heavily with turbinado and granulated sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until custard is set but slightly wobbly.
Garnish with lots of almonds and stick back in the oven for 5 minutes, to let the almonds toast up a little bit.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Bread pudding and whipped cream or ice cream are a match made in the heavens above.  Do it.

Orange Curd:
ingredients:
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
zest of 2 oranges
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
pinch salt
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
8 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

directions:
Whisk sugar, juice, zest, cornstarch, salt, and eggs together in a pot.
Begin to heat over low-medium heat until it comes to a boil; allow to cook until thick.
Remove from heat and whisk in vinegar or lemon juice.
Either transfer to a stand blender or use a hand blender: blend in the chunks of butter until the curd is very smooth and silky.
Allow to cool, then transfer to the fridge with a piece of clingfilm placed directly on the surface of the curd to cool completely.

Orange You Glad

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Orange you glad I didn’t make these with pumpkin?

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Because guys, seriously.  I know it’s fall.  You know it’s fall.  And pumpkin is exciting, (in fact, I have some yeast-raised pumpkin goodies coming for you soon…)
BUT good gracious gravy everyone has been blogging about pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin… Similar to all the white girls tweeting about PSL. (Sorry, not sorry.  At all.  lol.)

So, I rebelled.  These orange-colored cookies are actually made with oranges, not pumpkin.
I regret nothing.

These are super simple, using my 3-2-1 dough as a base recipe.  I made three batches- one vanilla, one chocolate, and one orange, then divided each in half.
The doughs were rolled up tightly, sliced, and baked into adorable little spirals.
They’re so cute I could squeal!!
SO cute, SO easy, and SO yummy.  It’s the trifecta of cookie perfection!

Can we just talk about how great slice-and-bake cookies are?  In love.

Anyways, these cookies are perfect for a Halloween party.
You can make the dough in advance, keep in the fridge all rolled up and ready, and whenever you want cookies, all that you have to do is thaw the dough, cut however many cookies you want, and bake!
*Note: these cookies bake best (hold their shape best) when baked from room temperature.

See you soon for more spooky treats!

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Orange, Chocolate, and Vanilla Swirl Cookies 

ingredients:

For the vanilla dough:
225 grams (2 sticks, 16 tablespoons) butter
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
Two big pinches (scant 2 teaspoons) kosher salt
1 egg
Splash vanilla
360 grams (3 cups)flour

For the orange dough:
225 grams (2 sticks, 16 tablespoons) butter
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
Orange gel food coloring (optional)
Two big pinches (scant 2 teaspoons) kosher salt
1 egg
Splash vanilla
360 grams (3 cups) flour

For the chocolate dough:
225 grams (2 sticks, 16 tablespoons) butter
90 grams (scant 1/2 cup unpacked) brown sugar
110 grams (heaping 1/2 cup) sugar
2 big pinches (scant 2 teaspoons) kosher salt
1 egg
300 grams (2 1/2 cups) flour
45 g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder

Directions (for all the doughs):

(For the orange dough only: rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips before beating the orange sugar, butter, salt, and food coloring together)
Beat the butter, salt, and sugar(s) together for 3 minhtes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 2 more minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the flour (or flour and cocoa powder, for chocolate dough).
Mix until a thick dough forms.
Divide into equal halves and form into rectangles.
Refrigerate, wrapped in plastic, for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out each half into a rectangle between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.
Layer one chocolate half over a vanilla half, the other vanilla half over an orange half, and the other orange half over the leftover chocolate half.
Working gently and slowly, roll each up very tightly, making sure not to crack the dough.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Slice the cookies about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick with a sharp knife, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Do not chill your cookies!
Make sure they are room temperature; leave them on the counter as your preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are set and the bottoms start to become lightly golden.

 

Olive Yew

Olive trees’ lifespans, on average, are between 300 and 600 years; the oldest known tree is 2000 years old. (!!!)
But… and there’s always a but… I hate olives.  I’m sorry.  I do.  
I just can’t bring myself to like them… They’re sort of slimy, very squishy, and all together too salty.  
That being said, I love olive oil.  I’m not kidding.  The stuff runs through my veins.
Olive oil is liquid gold; the specialty stuff, even more so.
One of the most heavenly things on Earth is a fresh, hot baguette dipped in olive oil+Parmesan.  
There is nothing like it.
For those of you who live in Ithaca, you may have been to the little specialty olive oil and vinegar shop downtown, in the commons: F. Oliver’s.
Talk about wonderful olive oils.  I was in there the other day, recycling old bottles (If you have empty bottles from their store, don’t recycle them the regular way!  Take them down to the store and they will refill them for you or recycle and reuse them.), when I stumbled upon what may possibly be my favorite oil ever- even more so than coconut or toasted sesame- their fresh pressed blood orange olive oil.
Laaaaaawd is it good.  Mix it with some pomegranate molasses and you have the most deliciously tangy salad dressing ever.
I also got some Tuscan garden olive oil.  Gorgeous in a balsamic vinaigrette.
And no, unfortunately enough, I am not getting paid to say these things.
I wish.
Anyways, in addition to picking up some fancy schmancy new oils, I learned that F. Oliver’s is having a recipe contest.
Basically, you develop your best recipe using their oils or vinegars, send it in, and keep your fingers crossed.
The winner gets a free bottle of vinegar or oil every month for the rest of the year!
Obviously, I want to win.  Come on… Imagine all the avocado oil I could get. 
So I made a cake with blood orange olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.
 
The cake itself is super soft, with a very fine, tight crumb.  The edges and top are ever so slightly crispy, which is a wonderful contrast to the tender interior.
It’s redolent with orange and almond, and it’s made with whole wheat flour.  
It’s a very virtuous cake, dairy-free, whole-wheat, with lots of healthy fats from the olive oil and almonds.  
I’ve paired it with fresh berries that have been roasted into a sticky, syrupy treat with a touch of sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar that is older than I; they’re complex and balance out the sweetness of the cake wonderfully.
Taming the sweetness even further is a simple whipped mascarpone that I dolloped on top.  It’s plain and unsweetened, but gives richness and body to the dish.  
I ate could eat it by the spoonful.
 
This is a lovely, quick cake, perfect for a brunch (Mother’s day, anyone?) or quick weeknight dessert.  
It’s also classy enough for a light dinner party finisher, sure to leave everyone’s sweet tooth satisfied without weighing them down.
When I say quick, I mean that this is a 2 bowl dessert; the cake is made with one utensil and the batter comes together in 5 minutes if you know your kitchen well; the strawberries roast at the same temperature as the cake and give you just enough time to prep and throw them in and then take them out at the same time as the cake, preventing unnecessary energy waste from an idle oven.
You can serve the cake and compote warm from the oven, so you don’t have to bother with cooling times, and the mascarpone takes all of 30 seconds to whip.
Olive this cake.  Eye really dew.

Orange Almond Olive Oil Cake with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries and Whipped Mascarpone
(that’s a mouthful)
for the cake:
ingredients:
175 g white whole wheat flour (1 1/3 cups)
75 g almond meal (2/3 cup)
12 g baking powder (2 teaspoons)
8 g kosher salt (1 heaping teaspoon)

80 g granulated sugar (1/3 cup)
120 g brown sugar (very loosely packed 2/3 cup)
zest of one orange
135 g F. Oliver’s fresh pressed blood orange extra virgin olive oil (2/3 cup)
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
140 g freshly squeezed orange juice (2/3 cup), from about 1 1/2 oranges
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9-inch springform or regular cake pan with 2 inch sides.  (Alternatively, you could use an 8-inch with 3 inch sides or a 10-inch with 1 1/2 inch sides.)
Whisk the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.

In another bowl, place the sugars, orange zest, olive oil, and eggs, and whisk vigorously to combine, about 2 minutes.  Mixture should lighten in color.
Whisk the vanilla extract and orange juice into the sugar mixture.
Whisking constantly, slowly add in the flour mixture.
Mix until batter is homogeneous.  
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until cake is deeply golden and springy to the touch, and a tester comes out with only a couple crumbs.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then unmold from pan and allow to cool fully.
Dust with powdered sugar and serve with balsamic roasted strawberries and whipped mascarpone.

for the strawberries:
ingredients:
260 g chopped strawberries (2 cups)
15 g granulated sugar (1 tablespoon)
20 g F. Oliver’s 18-year old special reserve balsamic vinegar (1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon)
splash vanilla extract
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 (or make these simultaneously to the cake).
Toss strawberries with sugar, vinegar, and vanilla.
Spread out in an even layer over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 20-24 minutes, until softened and caramelized.  
Strawberries should be slightly sticky.
Stir around to fully coat each strawberry with the sauce, and serve slightly warm.

for the whipped mascarpone:
ingredients:
5 tablespoons mascarpone
3 tablespoons half and half
directions:
Using an immersion blender, food processor, or stand- or hand-mixer, beat mascarpone and half and half together until very fluffy and light.
Store in refrigerator until use; serve chilled.

Creamsicle

Now that spring/summer is finally/almost here, oranges are on their way out.
(I’m trying not to jinx the weather, people.  The weather gods are a fickle bunch.)
In a few short weeks- days even- oranges will be forgotten among the lovely rhubarb, luscious berries, and, my favorite, the stone fruits.
(Now I want a peach. Ugh.)
 
But tis time.  Oranges, like most citrus fruit, are for wintertime enjoyment.
You might still have a few lying around; slowly losing their juicy interior and their peel becoming ever so slightly wrinkled.
Juice ’em.  And make these bars.
Honestly, the prep for these takes about 20 minutes.  Start to finish.  
Then it’s just 25 minutes in the oven.
Even if you are making something else on the side and keep running out of eggs and butter and needing to run downstairs to your storage fridge like FOUR times. FOUR.
Even if your gosh darned can opener is being moody. 
 
These bars go from your mind to your stomach in less than an hour.
They are so creamy and dense, the way good lemon bars should be- but they’re orange bars. 
They’re sweeter and have a softer, mellower flavor, in the best way possible.
Seriously addictive.
 
I cut mine into tiny little 1 inch squares, because that means I can eat 5 at once. Duh.
I was going to be super lazy and post this as a wordless Wednesday.
A few problems with that:
a) I’m not a cool enough blogger for that.  I don’t do wordless Wednesdays or WIAW or weekly rewinds.  My blog is clearly lacking in the W department.
b) Without words, it would be difficult for me to describe how awesome these bars were.  
c) I’m bossy and I want you to make these.  How can I do that without YELLING AT YOU?
GO MAKE THESE. 

Orange Bars
for the crust:
adapted from Joanne Chang
8 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup flour
1 egg yolk
for the filling:
adapted from Martha
4 egg yolks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup orange/lemon juice (juice from 1/2 lemon plus enough orange juice to make it to 3/4 cup, it took me about 1 1/2 oranges)
big pinch salt
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until softened. 
Add the sugar and salt and beat on medium-high speed until extremely fluffy and light, about 3 minutes.  
Scrape the bowl and add the flour.
Mix on low speed until just beginning to combine; add the egg yolk and mix on low speed until everything is combined and the dough is forming small crumbles.
Transfer the dough to the pan and press out evenly.
Freeze for 10 minutes.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until firm but puffy and slightly golden.
Meanwhile, whisk all the ingredients for the filling together.
Pour over hot crust and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the filling is firmly set.
Remove from oven and let cool, then freeze for 30-45 minutes if you want a very dense bar (how I like them). 
Remove from the freezer and cut into squares; let thaw and dust with confectioner’s sugar before eating.