Decade II

Passionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche FraîchePassionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche Fraîche

She said,
“I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.
I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone.  People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but
people will never forget how you made them feel.”

—Maya Angelou

Passionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche FraîchePassionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche Fraîche

It doesn’t really feel like my birthday today.
It couldn’t possibly be.
And yet here I am, turning twenty.
My body and soul have completed one more trip around the sun.
September 16th.
20 years old; 2 decades done and dusted.
Today is a very special day; it’s the day when all my Facebook friends will murmur their felicitations on my wall.
Hbd, hbd.  Heartfelt.  Ha. Ha.
But in all seriousness—and maybe it seems too cliché and millennial—these little reminders are a sweet part of the day; after all, people are taking their time out to send me a little wish.
It would be wasteful to not be thankful, although my friends and I no longer keep count the way we did in middle school.
Thank God.

Passionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche FraîchePassionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche Fraîche

As I age (o, le pauvre, j’suis vraiment trop vielle…), birthdays become a new sort of clarifying moment.
What becomes important and what falls out of magnification are telling.
That which I reflect upon, replaying over and over, and those minutiae that I let fall to the wayside simply because they are heavy are telling.
Somehow, the nights that bookend my Glorious Day of Birth find me in tears and astounded gratitude for my life/the world.
I aim more and more, these days, to take nothing for granted.  To live and revel in what is important, and let all else go.  In some ways, to depart from my hyper uptight nature.
Passionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche FraîchePassionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche Fraîche

When I was little (very little and even not-so-little), my birthdays would always, always end in a tantrum, in a great storm cloud of frustration and sadness and lots and lots of crying.
Why?
I’m not quite sure why, exactly.
There was always such a buildup of excitement and anticipation; I think we’re all familiar with the over-hype of a birthday.
I’m type-A, to say the least; even when I was 5, when the smallest thing would go wrong with the endless and carefully laid plans that my mom and dad had made, tailored to my obsessive specifications, I would melt (Princess hats must be more CONE-shaped, Mummy, and they must be pink satin).
My parents, patient pillars that they are, would herd the little party guests away from their red-faced, sobbing spawn.

Passionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche Fraîche

When I think back on these times (and, curiously, I do remember snippets from these parties, though little else from that age remains in the dusty cabinets of my brain), I laugh and cringe and feel ashamed.
But mostly, I am moved and inspired by what my creators put up while at the mercy of my meaty little birthday paws.
I feel their love and forbearance even through the years.

I couldn’t ask for better birthday memories than those.

Passionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche FraîchePassionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche Fraîche

It’s strange to think of how old I have become.
Even stranger to think how it must look to others.
I am, after all, the baby of the family.
My brothers wonder that I’m not still 8; my parents marvel at the years that have flown by; my peers are suspicious that I haven’t been 23 this entire time…
I don’t know which age I perceive myself to be.  I just know it can’t possibly be twenty—that number feels like an ill-fitting shoe on the wrong foot for now.
But it will wear in (gracefully, I pray), and by the time 21 and Adulthood roll around, I know that I shall be twenty through and through.  Just in time to start over again.

Passionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche Fraîche

A pavlova is my idea of a perfect birthday cake.
It is the ultimate dessert for me—no question about it.
So light, so airy and fluffy—the perfect cloud of dessert.
I, of course, prefer primarily fruity sweets to deep, dark chocolaty ones.
And my birthday cake is therefore appropriately fruitful.

A very sturdy, slow-baked meringue with a hint of salt forms the layers of the cake.
Tart, buttery, and unmistakably fruity passionfruit-lemon curd is spread over, then topped with smooth, cool whipped cream.
Jewel-like late-season raspberries accentuate each layer, as do light lashings of dark chocolate nutella ganache, a perfect rich and sweet foil to the tart fruits.

Passionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche Fraîche

Each bite is a harmonious melange of textures and flavors.  It’s a birthday cake perfectly suited to my tastes, and it is simply delicious!
P.S. I actually like making my own birthday cakes, because then I don’t have to feel a single ounce of guilt for cutting into it early for photographs!

Too bad pavs don’t cut very cleanly…!
I preemptively put this one in a bowl and used a spoon to scoop; the first cut rendered it utterly slippery and slidey and it was not long for the layered life.
Now, it’s an Eaton mess.  And I ain’t even worried.

Passionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche Fraîche

The monument of a memory
You tear it down in your head
Don’t make the mountain your enemy
Get out, get up there instead
You saw the stars out in front of you
Too tempting not to touch
But even though it shocked you
Something’s electric in your blood.

Various Storms and Saints, Florence and the Machine

Passionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova | La Pêche Fraîche

Passionfruit, Raspberry, and Chocolate Pavlova
makes 1 8-inch pavlova

ingredients:
for the meringue layers:
100 grams (10 large) egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vinegar
500 grams (2 1/2 cups) sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch kosher salt

for the passionfruit curd:
125 grams (1/2 cup) passionfruit pulp, thawed if frozen
2 egg yolks
3 eggs
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
150 grams (6 ounces) butter, cold

to assemble:
60 grams (2 ounces) dark chocolate, chopped
45 grams (3 tablespoons) heavy cream
2 tablespoons nutella
pinch kosher salt

3 cups heavy cream, cold

raspberries

directions:
Make the meringue: preheat oven to 250 degrees F and line 2 being sheets with parchment; draw 3 8-inch circles on the paper.
Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add the cream of tartar and vinegar and start to whip.
Stir the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together.
As the egg whites become frothy, add the sugar mixer in tablespoons, until the meringue is glossy and shiny and all of the sugar is incorporated.
Using a palette knife, spread the meringue into rough circles on the parchment, using the knife to create high sides.
Bake for 5 hours, then turn off the oven and allow to cool inside the   oven to prevent cracks.
Meanwhile, make the passionfruit curd: whisk passionfruit pulp, eggs, egg yolks, sugar, salt, and lemon juice together.
Place cold butter in a food processor or blender.
Cook over medium heat; sift cornstarch over while whisking; bring to a boil.
When curd comes to a boil and thickens, pour over cold butter; start the machine and process until the butter has emulsified.
Allow to cool completely, then press a piece of plastic wrap against  the surface and refrigerate until chilled.
To assemble, melt the chocolate, nutella, salt, and cream together, then whip vigorously until shiny and thick.
Whip the cream to stiff peaks.
Place 1 layer of meringue on a cake plate; secure the bottom with a dollop of curd if desired.
Spread a layer of curd onto the meringue, then a layer of whipped cream.
Drizzle a little chocolate sauce onto the whipped cream, then place a few raspberries.
Repeat the process with the remaining layers; finish the top with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, if desired.
Best eaten the day it is made.

16 September

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It’s my 18th birthday, today.

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Today is the only day of the year

where everyone writes

on my facebook wall.

Rejoice.

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I secretly hate my birthday.

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This may seem trite coming from a teenager, but I’ve always been acutely aware and afraid of growing older.

Each birthday that passes, a wave of fear and anxiety passes over me.  I’ve always been the baby.
I’m the baby of my family; I’m almost always the baby among friends.

Getting older makes me feel uneasy scares the shit out of me.

IMG_3358

Birthdays have hung heavy with regret, especially as I come close to adulthood.  (Am I an adult yet?)

I’m a worrier.  It’s my nature.

I worry that I haven’t done enough
haven’t enjoyed enough
haven’t appreciated enough
haven’t taken each and every last moment of my life, this precious and fleeting thing, and lived it to the fullest.

It’s futile, of course.

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That doesn’t stop me from thinking about it, waking in the dead of night, sweating, crying, scared, worried, tangled in the sheets, blinking like a bird roused from its nest.

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So, yes.  But birthdays come with cake.

And I love cake.

So.

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This was my birthday cake.

It’s a pavlova, which means it’s a baked meringue base, topped with whipped cream and fruits.

Mine is a simple French meringue, baked until the outside is crispy but the inside is still billowy and marshmallow-y, topped with a coconut/mascarpone whipped cream and pucker-inducing passion fruit sauce, and finished with raspberries and coconut flakes.

I love meringue cakes; this one is exactly how I like my cakes: light, airy, but packed with a walloping punch of vibrant flavors.

It was divine.

It almost made me like my birthday.

IMG_3235

Pavlova

ingredients:
4 large egg whites
pinch cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 cup passion fruit purée, liquid
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

1 can of full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated and UNSHAKEN (see here)
1 cup of heavy cream, cold
2 tablespoons mascarpone
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

1 pint of raspberries
coconut flakes, optional

directions:

Preheat oven to 175 degrees F.
Draw a 8 inch circle on a piece of parchment with a pencil and place it pencil side down on a sheet pan.
Combine egg whites and cream of tartar.
Beat until soft peaks form, then slowly stream in the sugar while beating at high speed.
Beat until stiff peaks form, then beat in the cornstarch and vinegar.
Spread out on the parchment, staying within the circle.
Bake for 2 hours, then turn the oven off and allow to cool completely in the oven.
Meanwhile, make the passion fruit sauce.
Place passion fruit, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch in a saucepan and whisk to combine.
Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 1 1/2 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before using.
Make the coconut whipped cream by beating the separated coconut fat (detailed instructions here or here) until soft peaks form, then beating in the mascarpone and confectioner’s sugar.
Beat the heavy cream to stiff peaks separately, then beat it into the coconut/mascarpone mixture.
Chill until you need to use it.

Assemble the pavlova no more than 30 minutes before serving (don’t worry, it’s really simple).
Place the meringue on a serving dish, then pile the coconut whipped cream high on top of it.
Drizzle with the passionfruit sauce, and top with raspberries and coconut flakes, if desired.
Enjoy!

P.S.
As you may have noticed, you can now pin my photos simply by rolling over them and clicking the Pinterest symbol.
In addition, there are social media buttons at the bottom of each post.
You can share posts via twitter, linkedin, Google+, instagram, Pinterest, facebook, and email.
(Right below this!)

Merry Happy

March Hare: A very merry unbirthday. 

Alice: To me? 

Mad Hatter: To you! 

March Hare: A very merry unbirthday. 

Alice: For me? 

Mad Hatter: For you! Now blow the candle out, my dear, and make your wish come true!

March Hare & Mad Hatter: A very merry unbirthday to you!


Today, La Pêche Fraîche turns 1.
That’s right y’all; we’re celebrating a blogiversary right here.  Right now.
And we’re doing it properly: with a very large, opulent cake.

It’s hard for me to believe that one year ago, May 30th, 2012, at 9:11 PM, I first hit publish.
I hit publish and I didn’t know what was going to happen.
I had a blog and I didn’t know what that really meant.
I sent a post into this space, my corner of the internet, and waited.
For what, I had no idea.
Now, 80 posts later, I’m not sure if I have any clearer of an idea.
It’s an interesting experience, to look back on this past year, to browse through the many posts, reminiscing (and cringing).
 
Many things have changed, some for the better, some the worse.
 
People have moved in and out of my life; 
things I always took for granted as constants fell away: cliffs sheared off, leaving me teetering on the edge; 
new experiences, new relationships, have nested snugly, precariously, on the crags and crannies left behind; 
triumphs have been trumpeted, flags left proudly waving on distant planets; 
losses have been suffered, sending me cowering in a corner, covered with tears and blood;
I survived even those which I thought I could not.
 

This has been a year of change, of growth, of progression, of learning.
This blog makes that uncomfortably clear.

Just looking back at some really terribly formatted, I mean really awful, posts and photographs, I cringe, yes, but also laugh and enjoy them, as embarrassed as I feel.
There have been times, I’ll admit it, when I have wanted to go back through and re-format all the oldest posts, but I refrained.  
That’s a rabbit hole which this little girl is most certainly not falling into.
This blog is a reflection of my journey, in life and photography and pastry.

I would rather celebrate and embrace that than change it and sand off all the rough edges.

Those rough edges are, um… charismatic.  Or something.  I don’t know.
Actually, I would really like to sand off those edges.  I just don’t have the time or energy.

Oh and, by the way? Don’t you dare look back at those older posts.  Stay right here.
Eyes on the prize.

So anyways!  Right!  It’s celebration time!
Look!  Cake!
My kind of cake, specifically.  Yep.  Greedy and selfish.  That would be me my tastebuds!

My favorite flavors and components are incorporated into this cake.
It’s a brown sugar and deep, rich chocolate marble cake, filled with a tart, buttery passion fruit curd, generously frosted with a barely sweet and wonderfully tongue-coating Italian meringue buttercream.
The filling and frosting of my choice, as in, my favorites!  Absolute favorites.  I could eat ’em straight.  And I did.
Things are getting real wild, as you can tell.

This is a special cake; it does take a bit of effort and time (this cake took me 4 hours start to finish, which is a long time for me… like a really long time), but it’s worth it.
It’s easy on the eyes and the tastebuds.
It’s a celebration cake, in all senses of the word.

Let me just say…
I am grateful for my family and my friends, those whom I keep so very close to my heart, who support me and kick me in the butt, albeit occasionally unnecessarily.
I am grateful for the chance to blather on and on while standing atop this blog soapbox, to share what I love most in this world (no, not whining.  Pastry.).
 
I am grateful, above all, for you lovely readers, my dears, mes chéries, because it’s your clicks and comments that keep this blog going; it’s because of you that this blog gives me any sense of satisfaction, and, honestly, it’s for you.  
This blog is for you.
 
Bon anniversaire, La Pêche Fraîche!  
Et mes chers lecteurs, je vous remercie de tout coeur.
Je vous adore.
Je vraiment vous adore.
My Kind of Cake
for the brown sugar marble cake:
adapted from Food and Wine
ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
2 splashes vanilla extract
6 ounces (12 tablespoons, 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups tightly packed brown sugar
4 eggs
2 ounces very good quality unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Pam spray 4 6-inch cake pans (or 2 9-inch, or 3 8-inch).
Stir flour, baking powder, and salt together.  
Mix milk and vanilla extract.
Cream butter until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the sugar.
Cream for 2 more minutes, until super fluffy and smooth- not gritty.
Add in the eggs one at a time, while mixing on low.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix on low after adding all the eggs.
With the mixer on low, simultaneously add the milk mixture and the dry ingredients- go slow.
Once everything is mixed, scrape the sides of the bowl and mix on low again to ensure homogeneity.
Split the batter in two- by weight, you should have one half with 1 pound 5.5 ounces to which you will add the 4 ounces of chocolate.  By volume, measure out approximately 2 cups.
Stir in the melted chocolate into the batter that you just measured out.
Alternate placing scoops of the vanilla and chocolate batters into your pans; once all the batter is portioned out, swirl it well with a fork.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a paring knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
   

   
for the passion fruit curd:
ingredients:
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
55 g sugar
80 g passion fruit purée, thawed if frozen
pinch salt
56 g butter (4 tablespoons, 2 ounces)
directions:
Blend the eggs, sugar, salt, and passion fruit together, either in a standard blender or with an immersion blender. 
Transfer to a pot (if using a standard blender, clean the blender canister).
Place over medium high heat and cook, whisking (or blending, should you have a stick blender) all the while.
Cook for about 6 minutes, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat and blend in butter (transfer to the cleaned blender canister and add the butter and blend, if using a standard blender).  
Allow to cool completely before using.
 
for the vanilla bean Italian meringue buttercream:
from Joe Pastry: click through for an in depth tutorial
ingredients:
5 ounces of egg whites (about 5)
8.75 ounces of sugar, divided
pinch of cream of tartar
scrapings of 1 vanilla bean
2 ounces water
16 ounces (4 sticks, 32 tablespoons, 1 pound) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened but still cool
directions:
Mix the egg whites in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until foamy.  
Add in the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks begin to form.  
Slowly stream in 1.75 ounces of sugar, mixed with the vanilla bean scrapings.  
Beat on high until stiff peaks form.  
Stop the mixer.
Meanwhile, mix the water and remaining 7 ounces of sugar together in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil. 
Use a candy thermometer, and bring the syrup to 245 degrees F.
Remove from heat and pour into a glass mixing cup.  
Drizzle some of the syrup over the meringue, then whip on high speed for 5 seconds.
Continue in bursts like this until all of the syrup is used up.
Whip the meringue until it has cooled to room temperature (feel the side of the bowl for an indicator).
One tablespoon at a time, beat in the butter. 
Mixture may curdle and look separated; keep beating.  
It will come together, usually quite suddenly, and you will be staring into a bowl of the fluffiest, most delicious frosting ever.  
It will be shiny and smooth.  
There should be no butter lumps and everything should be homogeneous.
 
to assemble:
Torte (level) each layer with a serrated knife to create a nice, smooth, flat top.
Place a cake layer on your cake stand.
Pipe buttercream around the edge of the layer to create a dam.
Fill the center of the layer with a scant 1/4 cup curd, then place the next layer on top of that.
Pipe another dam and repeat with second and third layers.  
Place the fourth layer on top, and crumb coat the cake.
Place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to set the crumb coat.
Use the rest of the frosting to create a smooth, even outer coat.
Enjoy!

All the King’s Horses

And all the king’s men.

I’m back y’all.  And I’m still half-alive.
I’m feeling pretty beat, though.  
I’m still finishing up some loose ends with college (I know.) and all my classes (including WISE!  Wow!) are beginning to wrap up.

There are some things I need to address in my WISE project, however, before I can consider it a done deal.
Actually, a lot of things… But hey, you have to start somewhere, right?!

So, it is here I will begin demonstrating/divulging some research and important information that you might not know.  
If you are a hotshot smarty pants, you can skip these boring terms to know.  
Kidding.  You have to read them all anyways.
Because I love being boring.  Can’t you tell?

P.S. these are not actually soft boiled eggs, although that is my favorite way to eat an egg.
 
P.P.S. for perfectly soft boiled eggs, bring a pot of water to a boil, then drop in an egg and cook for exactly 5 minutes and 10 seconds before removing it to a bowl of ice water.  Thank you, Dave Chang.  
 
agar: derivative of seaweed; gelling or stabilizing agent
bloom: preparing gelatin for stabilization; ensures smooth product by causing gelatin “grains” to swell as they absorb liquid
calcium chloride (CaCl):used in spherification; the calcium in CaCl reacts with sodium alginate; has a salty taste
calcium lactate gluconate: also used in spherification, most often in reverse spherification; has no salty taste
carbonated sugar: sugar that has been filled with CO2; melts in contact with water based moisture but not fat-based; essentially pure, unflavored, super potent pop rocks
emulsification: fat droplets dispersed throughout a liquid
foam: bubbles formed at the surface of a liquid; often stabilized to prevent bubbles from popping prematurely
gelification: the process of converting a liquid into a solid with certain properties of elasticity and firmness, depending on the agent used
glycerin flakes: emulsification agent; can also be used to stabilize foams
hydroxypropyl methylcellulose: gelling agent which solidifies when hot and melts when cool
powder: a liquid or solid converted into finely ground solid particles
quenelle: smooth, three dimensional teardrop shape; used most often with ice cream
reverse (frozen) spherification: rather than dropping a solution with sodium alginate into a calcium bath, a calcium laced solution is dropped into an alginate bath, either after being frozen into a hemisphere or still liquid
schmear: “fancy” way to plate sauces- place a dollop on the place, then use the back of a spoon to spread it in an even line, tapering to the end
sodium alginate: derived from seaweed, reacts with calcium to form a “membrane”; used in spherification
soy lecithin: stabilizing agent for foams; can also be used for emulsification
spherification: takes advantage of the reaction between sodium alginate and calcium, which form a membranous skin when they come in contact; allows for self-contained spheres of liquid or purée
tapioca maltodextrin: chemical which turns any high-fat or pure-fat liquid into a powder; a common chemical in many processed foods
temper: a means of setting chocolate so that the cocoa butter’s crystalline structure is arranged in an even pattern; results in shiny, crisp chocolate; involves taking chocolate to certain, precise temperatures; untempered chocolate is evident by white blooms on the surface
 
Phew!
Thanks to JoePastry, Molecular Recipes, Albert y Ferran Adria, and Christina Tosi for some reference points for these definitions.
All the King’s Men
caramelized white chocolate ganache
lemon posset
passion fruit and mango sphere
brown sugar soldiers
All the King’s Men

(You will need 4 eggshells, cleaned and opened without cracking, or 4 small shot-glass size tumblers.  Recipes are easily doubled.  If you would like to double or triple the yield, increase only the amounts of ganache, posset, and cookies.  The sphere recipe makes a lot of spheres, enough to double the yield.)
 
for the caramelized white chocolate ganache:
ingredients:
1 ounce white chocolate
2 ounces heavy cream
big whopping pinch salt
directions:
Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.  
Place the chocolate in a shallow pan and place in the oven.  
Stir it around every 10 minutes until it becomes toffee colored.
Remove from oven and let cool.
To make the ganache, heat the chocolate and the salt until the chocolate melts.
Stir in the cream, then mix with an immersion blender.
Pour into the bottoms of the eggshells, then refrigerate to set.
 
for the lemon posset:
from food52
ingredients:
1/2 cup cream
1.2 ounces sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
directions:
Bring the cream and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.  
Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
Stir gently, then pour into eggshells, over the ganache.  
Refrigerate to set.
for the mango-passion fruit spheres:
adapted from this wonderful site
ingredients:
100 grams mango, thawed if frozen
50 grams passion fruit purée, thawed if frozen
1 tablespoon glucose (optional)
3 g calcium lactate gluconate
50 ounces filtered water
33 grams sugar
6 grams sodium alginate
directions:
Heat the water, sugar, and sodium alginate until sugar dissolves.
Mix very well with an immersion blender, for about 2 minutes, until everything is dissolved.
Place in a flat bottomed container and let sit to allow bubbles to escape.
Meanwhile, blend the mango, passion fruit purée, glucose, and calcium lactate gluconate together in a food processor.
Transfer to a measuring cup with a spout.
Fill a hemispherical mold placed on a sheet pan with the mixture, then freeze until solid.
Turn the spheres out and place them back in the freezer.
Repeat with remaining mango mixture.
Once all of your purée is frozen into spheres, drop them, as many as can fit without touching at a time, into the bath.  
Let them cook for 4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to clean, cool water.
Repeat until all spheres are cooked.
Spheres can be stored at room temperature or cooler for up to 2 days.
To place in the eggshell, scoop out a tiny bit of posset with a 1/4 teaspoon measure, then gently place a sphere in the depression and press down very gently to nestle it into the posset.
 
for the brown sugar “soldiers”:
ingredients:
8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup very lightly packed brown sugar
big pinch kosher salt
1 egg yolk
splash vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
cinnamon, optional, for dusting
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream butter and sugar together for 3 minutes, until super fluffy and light, slightly shiny, and not grainy at all.
Scrape the bowl, add the salt and the egg yolk, and beat for 1 more minute.
Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
Add all the flour and mix on low speed until a dough forms.
Roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness and cut it into strips.
Roughly pull the ends of the strips off to create ragged edges.
Texture the cookies with a pastry brush by dappling the surface.
Freeze for 10 minutes.
Bake for 14-15 minutes, until golden and firm.
Remove from oven and, if desired, dapple the edges with cinnamon to create more of a toast looking cookie.

Cheeky

I’ve made you something,
dearest and belov’d readers:
marshmallows, for you!
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Big, fat, and fluffy,
sweet, tangy, tart, and fruity
marshmallow pillows.
 
Candy in candy-
this is what Willy Wonka 
wanted all along.
 
Powdery and white,
with passion fruit and sweetarts,
maple syrup, too.
Crunchy surprises,
awaiting your eager teeth,
hidden in this treat.
 
Cushioned outside
yields to even gentle bites;
so tender and sweet!
 
 
Sweetart and Passion Fruit Marshmallows
further adapted from my snobby krispie treats
ingredients:
1/2 cup passionfruit purée, liquid
2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 egg whites
1 box sweetarts, crushed
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
directions:
Oil and dust a 13x9x2 pan with confectioner’s sugar (not too much oil!).
Sprinkle the gelatin over the passionfruit in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment.
Stir to ensure all the gelatin is wet.
Meanwhile, stir the sugar, salt, water, and maple syrup together in a large pot.
Heat over medium-high heat until the syrup mixture reaches 240 degrees F.
Pour over gelatin mixer and stir on low to combine, then raise speed to high and beat until fluffy, white, and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes on the very highest speed.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.  
Once the gelatin has reached triple its original volume, add in the egg whites and mix until completely combined.
Add in the sweetarts and mix to combine.
Pour the mixture (it will be extremely thick and sticky) into the pan and smooth it out the best you can.  Sift a thin layer of confectioner’s sugar over the top of the marshmallow, ensuring that the entire top is covered in sugar.
Refrigerate for 3 hours and up to a full 12.
The marshmallow should be firm and springy to the touch.
Flip the marshmallow onto a cutting board and cut into cubes.  Toss with a bit of confectioner’s sugar, making sure all 6 sides of each marshmallow are covered.
Store in an airtight container.

Caya Hico

I am not prepared to be talking about my WISE project.
I am not doing much thinking at all, let alone about my WISE project.
At this moment, I could more or less give two clucks about my WISE project.
JK but not really.
Sorry Ms. Lord.
See y’all, I’m in the Turks and Caicos.  Taking a nice, warm holiday.
I’ve been in dire need of one (FWP, I know, I know).
I am treating myself to some R&R.
There are times when even the most diligent student, which I myself am not necessarily, must take three deep breaths, look left and right, and take a nap.
This is my nap.  I shall enjoy it without regret and certainly without guilt.
 
March is a tough month, school-work wise.  It’s the time when the Great Review starts.
It is the time when you look back on your year, as you prepare to relearn everything, and think to yourself, aghast,
 
my god, have I been asleep this whole time?
While many of my other classes have been piling on the work, I’m happy to say that I’ve been staying on my WISE grind.  
Even on days when I am dog-tired, I can find it in me to get up and make something.
In fact, that’s my preferred method of relaxation (when not taking a holiday, that is).
See, that’s the beauty of choosing this project.  
I love it.  It comes naturally for me.
It’s not work.  It’s play, and I’m glad of it.
I had class the other day, and it was suggested that I do some more introspective writing, in regards to why this project fits me so well and how, or if, it will fit into my future.
It’ll take me some time to think about.
Perhaps even a week or so…
I’m on island time… Can you really blame me?
Caya Hico
coconut mochi
banana sponge
orange-maracuya curd
coconut foam
lime flower
You crazy if you think I’m going to type out recipes right now… You can find the mochi recipe in last month’s archives on my blog.  The rest… You’re on your own.  Loveyameanit.

Asisium

Somehow, coming round in a full circle can be both comforting and disconcerting.
 
One encounters things familiar, even soothing, yes, but with this familiarity often comes a sense of stagnation, of dejà-vu.
 
Il faut qu’on se demande pourquoi on y est arrivé encore une fois: par mégarde ou délibérément?
One must ask oneself why one has arrived there yet again: by accident or on purpose?
As I breezed through these photos, tweaking the too-bright exposure and blue tints that were the result of reflections off of the snow the day that I shot them, I had a strange sense of already having edited them.
The coloring, and, in truth, the plating, of this dessert were similar to those of the first one I ever attempted.
I was struck by it.  
I asked myself, is your project becoming prosaic?  Are your desserts becoming less and less distinctive?
(Sounds like I’m doubting myself a lot in these WISE posts, don’t it?)
I realize that the desserts are different; in fact, I cringe looking back on my first dessert.  
Nowadays I can (usually) bear to look through the photos.
 
I say usually because there are times when I look down at a plate and hate it.
 There are times where I redo said plate, look down, and hate it even more.
There are plates that are messy, cluttered, ugly.
There are ice creams that become soup in the time it takes me to lift up my camera.
There are mousses that don’t set and there are mealy caviar.
There are desserts that are contrived from their very conception.
Before I made the dessert that you see here, I had a failed experiment which involved nearly all of those situations.
The flavors (olive oil, orange, almond, and dark chocolate) paired beautifully, but the ways I chose to present them just didn’t click.
The burnt-orange ice cream recipe, which I got from Gourmet, was quite tasty, but didn’t set when I spun it in my ice cream maker.
It didn’t set when I tried to freeze it solid.
So, I whipped some cream and folded it into the base to make a mousse.
And hey! look! it froze!
And hey! look! it melted upon first contact with ambient temperature!
And hey! look! I made soup!
Needless to say, that dessert was a messy, soupy disaster.
I was unhappy with the photographs and unhappy with the presentation.
I felt I used too many components and didn’t put enough thought into the plating beforehand.
(I had a meltdown… Get it?!)
 
I set out to make a new dessert, with ideas of clean, simple plating floating around my brain.
In light of the new Argentinian pope, I decided to utilize a very popular Latin American flavor combination: chocolate and passion fruit.  (Also happens to be one of my personal favorite flavor combinations).
 
(Don’t ask me where these weird ideas come from. There is a small, wizened, and mostly blind old man somewhere in a dusty control room in the back of my brain pushing and prodding on the decidedly wrong buttons and these are the thoughts that result.)
 
Ah.  Anyways.  Latin American.  Yes.
I decided I wanted to bring some Italian influence into the dessert.
(The pope chose an Italian saint’s name… It all makes sense.)
I had just bought a gigantic bulk bag of hazelnuts, so hazelnuts it was going to be.
(Apparently hazelnuts equate Italian.  I don’t know.)
 
In using this so-called “Italian” influence, I now get to use fancy names for things… 
Nocciola gelato?  Hazelnut ice cream (with a lower fat content but, whatever, get over it.  Gelato and ice cream are just short of identical when homemade.)
Gianduja? Nutella.
 
Vive le pape!
Asisium:
gianduja ganache
passion fruit crème
roasted milk and white chocolate mousse
dark chocolate and passion fruit bonbons
nocciola gelato
Why Asisium?  It’s Italian for Assisi, as in St. Francis of Assisi, as in Pope Francis’ namesake. Plus, it sounds grand.  Can’t you just hear Pavarotti singing it in the background?


Asisium:
for the roasted milk and white chocolate mousse:
ingredients:
100 g milk and white chocolate; I went almost exactly halfsies
1 egg yolk
110 g cream
12 g sugar
1/8 tsp gelatin bloomed in 1 teaspoon cream

directions:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
Place chopped chocolate in a baking pan and bake, stirring vigorously with a spatula every 15 minutes, until extremely fragrant, about 40 minutes.
The chocolate will have caramelized; you won’t see much of a color change because there is milk chocolate in addition to the white chocolate, but if you taste it, you will notice a distinctly more complex flavor.
Pour into a bowl; you should have about 85 g of chocolate. If you have more, eat it!
Heat cream, yolk, sugar until 175 d F.
Strain over chocolate.
Allow to sit until chocolate is melted.
Stir in bloomed gelatin and pour into molds.
Freeze until use; place on plate to temper at least 5 minutes before service.


for the nocciola gelato:
ingredients:
1/2 cup milk
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts
directions:
Heat the milk until simmering. Pour in hazelnuts and steep for at least 2 hours and up to a few days, in the fridge.
Strain and discard the hazelnuts.
Blend all ingredients together with an immersion or regular blender, then pour into a pot and heat gently, stirring constantly, until custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Let cool completely, then spin in an ice cream maker.


for the dark chocolate bonbons:
adapted from Elizabeth LaBau

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, tempered
1 tablespoon cream
1 teaspoon glucose
1/3 cup passion fruit pulp (find it in the frozen section with other Goya products)
4.5 ounces white chocolate, chopped
directions:
Bring passion fruit purée, glucose, and cream to a boil.  
Place the white chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and pour the cream mixture over.  
Allow to sit for 2 minutes without touching, then stir gently until the ganache is smooth and homogeneous.  
Allow to cool.
Coat your molds with the tempered chocolate, then pipe in a little of the ganache.  
Seal with more chocolate and allow to harden.

for the passion fruit crème:
adapted from Milk Bar
ingredients:
65 g passion fruit puree
35 g sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon gelatin
6 tablespoons butter, cold
1 g kosher salt
directions:
Blend the puree and the sugar and egg together until the sugar granules have dissolved and the mixture is smooth.  
Pour into a pan; clean the blender.
Bloom the gelatin in 1 tablespoon cold water.
Heat the passion fruit curd over low heat, whisking constantly, until it comes to a boil.  
Remove from heat and add it to the cleaned blender.  
Add the gelatin, butter, and salt, and blend until the mixture is “thick, shiny, and super-smooth.”
Allow to cool completely.

for the gianduja:
ingredients:
roughly 1 2/3 cups hazelnuts
scant 1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
big pinch salt
1/3 cup milk powder (or more, to taste)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
directions:
Prepare a baking sheet with a silpat.
Bring the sugar to a boil in a dry saucepan, and allow to cook until it reaches a golden-amber color.  
Immediately stir in the hazelnuts, working quickly.
Spread out the brittle onto the silpat as thinly and evenly as possible.
Allow to cool completely, then break into chunks.
Pulverize the praline with the grapeseed oil until liquidy and almost entirely smooth.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine.
Taste and adjust for your preferences; I wanted this spread to be a deep, dark, chocolate, so I didn’t add much sugar, but I did add a nice big pinch of salt.
Can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks (But it won’t last that long…)

to assemble:
Plate the gianduja first; use a chilled plate.
Pipe a few dots of passion fruit cream around the plate.
Place the bonbons where you would like, then follow with the mousse.
As soon as the mousse is out of the freezer/mold, work quickly, as it will melt.
Next, quenelle a scoop of the gelato and place in the center of the plate.