Blooming

Dairy- and Gluten-Free Citrus Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

“You aren’t a flower, you’re every blossom in the wood blooming at once.
You are a tidal wave. You’re a stampede.
You are overwhelming.”

― Leigh Bardugo, Crooked Kingdom

Dairy- and Gluten-Free Citrus Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Words are not my strong suit right now.
I have been absent—there have been reasons, and there have been reasons.
Good and bad, both escape me before I can write them down here.

I want to keep this space a little bit sacred, for my own sanity.
It will all come out, eventually, although I am avoiding bottling up the months of June and July too tightly inside myself.
Again: for my sanity.
I have chosen to journal them in another place, rather than here, so don’t worry: I’m letting my mind run loose a little.
So, so. I am back!

Dairy- and Gluten-Free Citrus Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

And. Do you know what else is back?
Game of Thrones.
You can catch me lurking in the ASOIAF reddit, or watching endless Youtube analyses, furiously texting theories with my BFF Sam or my brother, winding down endless Wiki pages—just generally with my head in the Westerosi clouds.

A girl is very happy.

Note that this cake baked into smaller tins would be a marvelous recreation of Sansa’s favorite lemon tea cakes, without a doubt. If you need something to bring to your next watch party and you want to impress, this is just the treat.

Dairy- and Gluten-Free Citrus Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Speaking of watching, you should read this article about Buzzfeed’s Tasty if you are at all interested in the future of the online food community and/or have ever watched one of their ubiquitous videos (I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have probably seen at least one). It is a fascinating look inside the company.
I can personally while away full hours just scrolling through their videos…

As far as other news and articles go, read them as you see fit. I could link to a million more NYTimes articles that I have pored over or rolled my eyes while reading in recent days.
Empower and equip yourself with knowledge, if I may so kindly suggest. Never let anything that you would not have considered normal a few years ago pass by undetected amidst the chaos of our world.

I personally read the news constantly.
In truth, the news is literally the only thing of which I have become an increased consumer lately.
In all other aspects of my life, I am trying to focus on what is, rather than what if.
That is to say, not many shiny new purchases to show off. Just more knowledge in my noggin’.

Dairy- and Gluten-Free Citrus Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Oh! Also speaking of watching, I have finished the Handmaid’s Tale.
I felt satisfied having completed it.
I don’t really know how much I want another season—I know some people are chomping at the bit for one, but although I did enjoy the show fully and sincerely, I feel lukewarm about seeing the series continue.

I met a colleague of mine whose name is Hannah (and as some of you may know, my middle name is Hannah) and she was joking that we pretty much have all the biblical names in the office.
I said that we just needed Rachel’s handmaid, and neither of us could remember her name despite having both watched the damn show.
The day I finally remembered to look it up—Bilhah—and tell her, the show was nominated for an Emmy.
What a funny coincidence.
The Emmy nom leads me to believe there will be more seasons; our society does tend to milk until dry, it seems.

Dairy- and Gluten-Free Citrus Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

In food-related news, I have been sticking almost exclusively to a dairy-free + largely egg-free diet (except for Halo Top, cause oh my GOD that stuff is good and I am irrevocably hooked) since I discovered that dairy might not sit well with my skin. I cut it out last summer, but it has become much easier and practical now that I am a Real Adult and cooking 98% of my meals.
I do miss cheese, like, a lot. I’ll be honest.

I’ve been meal prepping my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for the work week, and it feels great.
The shopping on Sundays is not the most fun, but getting it all out of the way and not worrying about planning or lugging groceries daily through New York makes it worth it.
I eat the same things happily every day. I am the most staid creature of habit.
As long as I get my favorite foods in (cruciferous vegetables, preferably kale, usually twice a day and strawberries, often frozen and slightly thawed so that they’re like sorbet), I am content.
Since I added seafood into my (as I mentioned above) essentially vegan diet, I’ve found protein to be a lot easier to come by. I still stick to my vegan staples of seitan and tofu, though. I love bouncy, chewy foods, so those come more naturally to me than they may to others.
By the way, did you know that some people consider mussels and oysters to be vegan? We all have to make our own choices, of course, and I am less concerned with perfect labels than I once was. But it is an interesting ethical question to ponder.

Dairy- and Gluten-Free Citrus Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

This cake is a luxurious experiment in dairy- and gluten-free baking.
My last post was also dairy-free: these little strawberry orange shortcakes.
Although neither is vegan (both contain eggs), don’t worry, because I have a vegan cake coming very soon. Watch this space!

Today’s cake is a citrus and almond affair, dense and plush and delightfully tangy.
It is lightly spritzed with lemon syrup, moistening it and bringing it one step closer to a melt-in-your-mouth pudding. The top is finished with powdered sugar, chopped pistachios, sweet juicy blackberries, and candied lemons.

This cake is bursting with flavor and texture, and is made with the most simple ingredients—you can garnish it a lot more minimally if you desire. Overall, it is much greater than the sum of its parts.
It is light without being wishy-washy, and it is a great choice if you need to serve people with varying food allergies. The only fat in the recipe comes from the almonds and egg yolks—no oil!
And no one will miss the dairy or gluten… My taste testers didn’t even blink or pause between inhaling bites when I told them.

Dairy- and Gluten-Free Citrus Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

I think this would be fabulous with orange zest, topped with a little dark chocolate ganache and whipped (coconut) cream; or served warm with raspberry sorbet or pistachio ice cream.
Add some fresh rosemary to the batter and serve it with vanilla crème anglaise and a drizzle of good olive oil and a pinch of flaky sea salt, if you want to get really fancy.

That does sound good… I rather wish I was in a lovely garden enjoying a slice right now. Hmm.

Dairy- and Gluten-Free Citrus Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

“I’ve known a great number of clever men. I’ve outlived them all.
You know how?
I ignored them.

—Lady Olenna Tyrell, S7 E2

Dairy- and Gluten-Free Citrus Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Dairy- and Gluten-Free Citrus Almond Cake
makes 1 8-inch cake
ingredients:
for the citrus almond cake:
4 eggs
zest of 2 limes
zest of 2 lemons
100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar, divided in two
150 grams (1 1/2 cups) almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

for the candied lemons:
1 lemon
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
240 grams (1 cup) water

to assemble:
2 tablespoons lemon syrup, reserved
powdered sugar, as desired
blackberries
chopped pistachios
edible flowers, as desired

directions:
Make the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour (with GF flour) an 8-inch pan.
Separate the eggs; whisk the yolks with half the sugar and the citrus zests until lightened in color.
Add the other portion of sugar to the egg whites and whisk until soft peaks form.
Add the almond flour, baking powder, lemon juice, and salt to the yolk mixture and stir until homogeneous.
Gently fold in the egg whites, then pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the center springs back.
Allow the cake to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the candied lemons: slice the lemon into very thin slices.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, then blanch the lemon slices.
Empty the pot of water; add the sugar and cup of water and stir over low heat just until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the blanched lemon slices and allow to simmer until the rind is translucent, about 45 minutes.
Reserve 2 tablespoons of the syrup.
Lay onto parchment paper and allow to cool.
To assemble, brush the cake with the reserved syrup.
Roll the blackberries in a little bit of powdered sugar, and dust the cake with powdered sugar.
Decorate the cake with chopped pistachios, candied lemons, blackberries, and edible flowers, if desired.
Serve at room temperature with tea.

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Droopy Drupes

Seriously Easy Stone Fruit Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

They had been elegant in the tree, tiny coquettes
blushing more and more until I picked them,
then they were minimalist and matte-colored
in wooden bowls, so barely furred one couldn’t
help but clothe them, enclose them with your hand,
caress each one thoroughly before taking a bite,
exploring the handsome freckles left
from some minor blight.

—Jennifer Grotz, Apricots

Seriously Easy Stone Fruit Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

This is an interruption of the berry desserts that have smartly marched across your screen for what must feel like ages.
(Chocolate, long forgotten, is making an appearance soon.  Promise.  And then at least one more berry post. Oops.)
But this post...This post is devoted to stone fruits.

Peaches and drupes (stone fruits) are some of my most favorite fruits… of course, La Pêche Fraîche is a dead giveaway.

There haven’t been an overwhelming number of peach/apricot/plum posts, however.
(The last I mean to remedy when plums charge in in all their autumnal glory.)

Seriously Easy Stone Fruit Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

There was this (pin-happy) celebration of 100 posts, an ombréed, OCD tart filled with all of the sweetest, ripest stone fruits I could find.
Or this giant slab pie, perfect for feeding a crowd, complete with an utterly absorbing, fun-to-make lattice and homemade vanilla ice cream (le duh).
This simple peach tart, made and shot quickly.  Very much a throw-together tart, skin-on, that comes out as a whole much greater than the sum of its parts.
This old (old!) rendition of Cook’s Illustrated’s perfect peach pie.  It was delicious, but still didn’t manage to convince me that peeling peaches for pie is utterly necessary (such a headache!).

So… This is not very many posts, seeing as I’ve racked up nearly 250 over the lifespan of the blog.  Eeep!

Seriously Easy Stone Fruit Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

I don’t quite have enough of my own links to really devote a link-love post to stone fruit, but fear not!
I have compiled a few absolutely mouthwatering peachy bits and bobs from around the blogosphere.

Let’s start with the unfairness that is Laura’s glut of peaches, no?
*Pouts* whyyyyyy don’t I have such beautiful peach trees bursting with life around me?!  Add to those ripe peaches her maple coconut granola and that right there is a proper summer breakfast.

More elegant simplicity with the seasonal fruits: Kristin’s olive oil pound cake, tinged with citrus and served simply with fresh peaches and coconut whipped cream is a dream come true.

Uggghhh. Slay me, Michelle.
Bourbon + brown sugar + peach pie.  Give me the pie and 5 minutes and you will regret giving me the pie at all.
That thang is a work of beauty right there.

More bourbon + peaches, with brown butter and maple and melty vanilla ice cream, too.
Alanna always has the best photographs.
These in particular left me salivating and wondering why in the heck I haven’t made a thousand crisps and eaten them all hot with cold ice cream.  This must change.

Be still my beating heart.
Custard cakes have been on my mind (read: pinboards) lately.
Then Sam went and added ripe, custardy in their own right apricots and my world turned upside down.
OMG. That vanilla bean custard layer…
(P.S. Can’t wait for that prune cake.  I looove prunes.)

Seriously Easy Stone Fruit Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

Today, I’m sharing a cheater’s simple stone fruit tart with you without a modicum of shame.
Yep, I used purchased puff pastry for the first time.  And its convenience and dependability were awesome.
No fuss, stupid fast, beautiful, tasty, and simple.

5 ingredients, if you count the egg wash and pistachio garnish.
If you thaw your puff pastry the night before, you can have this beauty on your table in 25 minutes flat.
This really lets the fruit shine—there’s virtually no added sugar or other ingredients to distract.

For this reason, it’s vital to choose ripe fruits—a little bruise or droopy skin here or there is a-OK.
It will intensify the flavors of the tart.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need a quick, sweet and fruity fix, or you want a fool-proof yet impressive dessert to serve to friends, or you have some droopy, slightly sad little drupes that are a day away from necessitating jam, this is the recipe to reach for.

Infinitely adaptable.  Unendingly forgiving.

Seriously Easy Stone Fruit Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

You can use any stone fruit or sliceable fruit that you wish, really: plums, apples, dry pears, peaches, apricots, nectarines, pluots, cherries… all fair game.
Nothing too juicy or acidic, and you’re pretty much set.

The (store-bought!) puff pastry rises up, golden and shiny, in the oven; the weight of the fruit prevents it from getting too airy, which allows for a sturdy crust that can be eaten by hand.
The fruit becomes syrupy in the hot oven, bathing itself in sweet, sticky juice.
A smattering of pistachios provides crunch, and a cool, creamy dollop of crème fraîche ties this simple summer treat together.

The tart comes out looking quite beautiful for the minimum amount of effort put in, with the bright, warm colors of the fruit foiled by green pistachios and pure, snow-white cream.

This, I think, is the definition of keeping it simple (stupid).
Don’t mess too much with perfectly ripe/slightly overripe summer fruit.
Let it pop against the backdrop of buttery pastry.
Highlight it only with a conservative touch of sugar and a few crunchy pistachios.
Indulge in a spoonful of cream to add richness and I think anyone would agree that this is a far more exciting use for droopy, tired fruits than jam…

Seriously Easy Stone Fruit Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

Seriously Easy Stone Fruit Tart
makes 1 10×10 tart

ingredients:
1 sheet all-butter puff pastry, thawed overnight in the fridge
4-6 pieces of very ripe stone fruit, of your choice, sliced thinly
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
3 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream or sour cream, for serving

directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
On a very lightly floured surface, gently roll out the puff pastry until it is approximately 11×11 inches.
Trim the edges carefully , being sure not to rock the blade, to make an even square of 10×10.
Carefully transfer the puff to a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Brush an inch border with the egg wash, and lightly sprinkle 1 tablespoon over the center part of the pastry.
Carefully arrange your sliced fruit over the pastry.
Choose any design you like, but avoid layering one slice completely on top of another.
Sprinkle the tart with 1-2 more tablespoons of sugar, depending on how sweet your fruit is.
Pop in the oven for 25 minutes, until the crust is puffed and golden and the fruit is slumped and juicy.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with pistachios; serve warm with cold crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.

Grey Matter

Apricot Pistachio Lemon-Chamomile Scones | La Pêche Fraîche

All we have to decide
is what to do
with the time that is given to us.

—Gandalf the Grey

Apricot Pistachio Lemon-Chamomile Scones | La Pêche Fraîche

Nary a single complaint nor excuse will I launch about how long I’ve been away from this space.
It’s been ages. Epochs.  I know.
But I’m not going to harp on the time that has passed.
Know that I wanted to be here and know that I was thinking of it constantly.
OK, I can’t resist: I just got wifi back, friends. I wasn’t just being neglectful.

I fear my mind is wasting away, lately.
The part of my brain that is fed by my own explorations, that is fattened by a good story or a poignant quote or a resonating piece of music, is greying at the edges, fading in a most unpleasant and quiet manner, so that I barely even notice it.
The encyclopedic filing cabinet of my mind that is more full up with facts that I love, rather than mandated ones, is seeming barren as a field left to fallow.
That part.  That wild, soulful, curious part.
I worry.

I need a good book to soothe my soul; I need more classical music and less coffee in the mornings.
I mean, good Lord, I sit in front of a screen all day.  I know this isn’t ideal.
I think that in order to return to balance and some sort of an even keel, some serious non-screen time is necessary.
I took a nap outside on Sunday, which was heavenly even if I was laying on the hardest lounge chair of all eternity.
Next weekend I intend to do the same, with a book thrown in the mix.
And sometime between now and then I’m going to get in the kitchen and make a wonderful mess.

Apricot Pistachio Lemon-Chamomile Scones | La Pêche Fraîche

I have things I want to share with you—photos, too.
I have willful thoughts and questions that I am trying to coax out of my brain by smashing words together, head-on.

Today, I’m hopping on the scone wagon.
I actually made these scones a while ago, and now would you just look at THAT everyone and their mother posted a scone recipe last week.  Fantastic timing on my part.
And everyone else’s are so beautiful and delicious and photogenic.
Mine are a bit craggier and are up to their necks in a pool of glaze, but trust me—flavor-wise, they’re well up to snuff.

Apricot Pistachio Lemon-Chamomile Scones | La Pêche Fraîche

These have the most ridiculously long name (even longer than the kingly titles of Game of Thrones…) but they need it because they are a little self-conscious of their cracked, flaky tops, okay??!!

Whole-wheat apricot pistachio lemon-chamomile scones.
Whole wheat pastry flour, soft-milled and nutty, meets butter in the best way possible, becoming a flaky, sweet, slightly-crumbly base.
Each bite is studded with chopped pistachios, the grassiness of which offsets the pieces of sweet Turkish apricots that are strewn throughout the dough.
A generous coat of egg wash and even more generous sprinkling of sparkly sugar and the scones are ready to meet an extremely hot oven, which puffs them up proudly and creates the craters and canyons that will secret away rivers of glaze until bitten into.
The glaze itself, poured over the cooled pastries generously, is made of delicate floral chamomile tea and tart lemon juice.  A pinch of salt tempers the sugar, as always.

Persian flavors are very subtly melded into these scones, which last for days and make for a fantastic breakfast or tea.
You can make the scones ahead and freeze them like you would cookies.  When you want a hot, buttery scone with a cup of tea, you can simply pop a few in the oven straight from the freezer.

Apricot Pistachio Lemon-Chamomile Scones | La Pêche Fraîche

Whole-Wheat Apricot, Pistachio, Lemon-Chamomile Scones
scone portion adapted from Food.com
Makes 8 large scones

ingredients:
for the scones:
2 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) butter, cubed
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for topping
2/3 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
10 dried apricots, chopped
1/4 – 1/3 cup pistachios, chopped

for the glaze:
1 tablespoon hot water
chamomile tea
juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup powdered sugar, or as needed
pinch or two coarse sea salt or kosher salt

directions:
Make the scones: preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Put flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and add the cubed butter.
Using a pastry blender or your fingers, smash the butter into small pieces until the largest bits are the size of a pea.
Add the sugar and stir gently.
While stirring, pour in the milk of your choice.
Before the milk is completely incorporated, add in the apricots and pistachios and gently fold to incorporate.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat into a circle.
Cut the dough into 8 wedges and place on the baking sheet.
Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, or freeze for up to a month, well-wrapped.
When ready to bake, whisk the egg and water together and brush over the tops of the scones.
Generously sprinkle sugar all over the scones, and bake for 12-14 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
Allow to cool.
To make the glaze, brew a very strong (and tiny) amount of chamomile tea—I used about a tablespoon of hot water and a tea bag that I allowed to steep for 10 minutes.
To the tea, add in the lemon juice and the salt.
While whisking, add in the powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, until the glaze reaches a pourable but thick and opaque consistency.
Drizzle or pour the glaze over the scones and allow to set completely before serving.
Scones keep for up to 4 days, tightly sealed.

Ruby Tuesday

IMG_7760_01

Throw your dreams
into space

like a kite

and you do not know
what it will bring back,
a new life,
a new friend,
a new love,
a new country.

-Anaïs Nin

IMG_7724_01

 La la lala link love time!

Appropriate, because it’s the time of year to share our love and appreciation far and wide.
It’s also the time of year for pink.
This batch of links features pink, flowers, and love songs.

Sounds like Valentine’s day to me already!

(Click on these links, and you do not know what they will bring back, a new life a new friend, a new love, a new country cake.)

IMG_7692_01

Have you seen “Her”?  The one where Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with Scarlett Johansson’s computer voice?
I haven’t (yet), but their version of “The Moon Song” melts my heart.
I love ukeleles and I do not care how cliché they are.
I also don’t care if “Her” was featured on every female blogger’s most recent “link love” post.
Ahem.

Also listening: February Seven by The Avett Brothers.
They’re such amazing songwriters… This one is no exception.
A real feel-good song.  Give it a listen!
(If you aren’t familiar with their stuff, go listen to all of it.  Ahhh, the feels.)

More music: this song by Gregory Alan Isakov.  Heart-melting.  That is all.

IMG_7749_01

Annie’s blood orange loaf cake was an instant hit with teh internetz, and holy jeebus I SEE WHY.
Look how beautifully pink it is!!
Pinned pinned pinned.
That last shot especially looks pulled straight from the pages of Donna Hay or Martha Stewart.
Put it on your to-make list, people.  It’s on mine.
(This fits the bill of my recent obsession with loaf cakes.)

Also, blood oranges: did you catch this gorgeous tart?
I love the styling of Kelsey’s entire blog, and this post in particular.
Capturing the marvel of a cook’s hands in action is particularly difficult, and these photos knocked my socks off.
That ring!

More blood oranges: these scones!  Rustic.  Healthy-ish.  Gorgeous.  And I’ll bet deeelicious.

IMG_7719_02

 I recently bought this coconut water gelée blush, which has coconut water and argan oil for moisture.
My skin (especially here in Chiberia) is super prone to dryness, but maintaining a proper oil/dryness balance is critical and touchy.  Too much either way and my face is unhappy.
This stuff is dreamy and solves all those issues.
Perfectly hydrating, light and dewey color, applies easily (stipple brush) and has serious staying power.
Also, coconut.  For life.

Also luxuriating: I generally only wear Chanel Chance (Eau Fraîche), but I decided I wanted a lighter, airier fragrance to have on the side, so I bought a little bottle of Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue.
It’s grapefruity and smells like summer and clean laundry.
Exactly what I was looking for.
I like smelling like a warm breeze of sunshiney goodness during these cold, dark times. (Ugh.)

More luxury: L’Occitane’s floral bomb of a hand cream (Délice des Fleurs, which I can’t find online, sorry), good for daytime light wear to ward off cracked, dry hands in the winter.
That being said, I swear by a thick slathering of Hand Shit (frankly obsessed with the complex honeysuckle sage scent) on my hands and feet before bed to really ensure softness.

IMG_7732_02

So, these little cutie puddings you’ve been staring at.  Let’s chat about ’em.

grapefruit + cream + thyme + salty pistachios + buttery Ritz crunch

Possets are unbelievably easy: boil some cream and sugar, stir in citrus juice, and allow to set.
Here, their creamy, luscious texture is offset with crunchy, salty things, and the tang from the grapefruit is balanced with earthy thyme.

I decided to add a drop of red food coloring because I really, really, really wanted pink possets.
Feel free to leave it out; your possets will be a lovely cream color.

Don’t skimp on the whipped cream to finish!  Its a nice fluffy counterpart.
To eat, encourage people to do a little stirring to evenly distribute the crunchy bits before tucking in.
Getting a spoonful with a little bit of everything is truly transcendent.

These are simple, no-bake, and easily made ahead (as prep for a Valentine’s day dinner, perhaps!).
Also, pink.  I’m getting in the spirit.

IMG_7742_01

Grapefruit Possets
makes 4 small bowls or cups
posset portion adapted from Donna Hay

ingredients:
for the possets:
2 cups heavy (double) cream
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/4 cup (from 1/2 a grapefruit) grapefruit juice
drop of red food coloring, if desired

for the Ritz crumble:
1/2 sleeve Ritz crackers, slightly crushed (but not into fine crumbs)
3 tablespoons butter
big pinch salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon milk powder

to assemble:
chopped salted pistachios
thyme leaves
softly whipped cream

directions:
Make the possets: place the cream, sugar, and a drop of red food coloring (optional) into a small saucepot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent a skin from forming.
Boil for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in grapefruit juice; set aside for 5 minutes.
Ready 4 small (3/4 cup capacity) bowls or ramekins by placing on a baking sheet or in a baking pan that fits in your fridge.
After 5 minutes, pour the posset mixture into the ramekins and set in the fridge to set, at least 8 hours.
Make the ritz crunch: melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet.
Add the sugar, salt, milk powder, and Ritz crackers and stir until all the butter is absorbed and the seasonings are stuck to the crackers, about 5 minutes.
Continue to gently stir and toast, until the crunch becomes fragrant and begins to darken slightly; about 5 more minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool completely; can be stored in an airtight container for up to a day.
To finish the possets, garnish each with a sprig of thyme and a few chopped pistachios; top with ritz crunch and softly whipped (unsweetened) cream.

Khodahafez

 
 
This is my last WISE post.
 
It’s been real, y’all.
Just yesterday, it feels, I told you about my WISE project.
I present in a week.  It’s crazy.  I’ve loved every minute of this.
Time flies.


(This is the last dessert I made not destined for the presentation.  
I combined classic Persian flavors: cardamom, rose, pistachio, and saffron, and added mango for an extra kick.  
I shaped the sholeh zard, or rice pudding, into firm, pressed rice cakes, inspired by Dave Chang’s ttuk, and then fried them in ghee.  
The mango sorbet was just mango purée with a little bit of glucose and plenty of saffron.)


Khodahafez
rose whipped cream
sholeh zard
pistachio pain de gênes
mango saffron sorbet

Unseasonable

This was not supposed to be a Christmas themed dessert.
I swear.
It was meant to be a beautifully vibrant expression of three of my all-time favorite flavors:
 pistache, framboise, et rose.
 
Pistachio, raspberry, rose.
I had dreams about the beautiful red spheres of raspberry that I could make; I drooled over the thought of a pistachio pain de gênes; I practically fainted when I pictured candied rose petals, topping the whole shebang off.
This dessert was the very first baking I did when I got home from my vacation.
Let’s just say that I was just a little *ahem* antsy to get back in the kitchen.
I had been planning this dessert out for ages, diligently typing out recipes on my phone on the plane ride to the islands.
 
It makes sense, then, that this was an especially ambitious dessert.  
Highly involved, many components, and many, many opportunities for human error to enter into the system.
I wasn’t entirely happy, as it became very clear very quickly, with the color scheme of this dessert.
The raspberry was so vibrant that it looked garish next to the muted greens of the pistachios.
The white meringues were too much of a contrast with the rest of the plate, and the rose petals which I had candied were pink, not red, and looked like sliced red onions on the plate. 
*gag*
 
So, lesson learned: ease back into my work, lest in the throes of relaxation my creativity has silently slipped into a less tasteful realm.
 
Also, pink rose petals look like onions.
 
Pistache et Framboise
vanilla goat cheese panna cotta
raspberry gelée
raspberry curd
rosewater meringues
raspberry and rose cubes
pistachio pain des gênes
raspberry spheres
chopped pistachios
(candied rose petals)
 
I currently don’t have my WISE journal (it’s being evaluated… eep!), and I didn’t make a dessert this weekend, so I guess I’m “behind” a week in terms of desserts.  
I’ll probably make one during the week, to catch up, and I’ll be back to regularly scheduled posts soon.
I think.
 
Pistache et Framboise


Raspberry Rose Cubes
ingredients:
80 g raspberry purée, strained twice through a sieve
1 teaspoon rosewater
5 g sugar
1.2 g agar
directions:
Bring juice and sugar to a simmer, add the agar and mix with an immersion blender. Strain and pour into a rectangular pan, then put into fridge to set. Once set, cut into cubes.


Goat Cheese Panna Cotta
ingredients:
1 ounce goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon gelatin
1/4 cup cream
1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sour cream
directions:
Bloom gelatin in 1 tablespoon cold water. Being cream, scrapings from the vanilla bean, and sugar to a simmer, then blend in goat cheese until melted.  Add gelatin and blend with immersion blender, then add in the sour cream.  Pour into shallow bowls and chill until set.

Pain de Gênes à la Pistache
ingredients:
56 grams pistachios
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch salt
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
4 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into chunks
21 grams flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 6-inch cake pan.
Pulse pistachios, salt, and sugar into a finely ground meal in a food processor.  Add eggs and butter and pulse until thoroughly combined. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse until combined.
Spread batter into pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Raspberry Spheres
ingredients:
100 g raspberry purée
25 g sugar
2.4 g calcium lactate gluconate
500 g low calcium water
2.5 g sodium alginate
25 g sugar
directions:
Prepare the alginate bath: heat water just to dissolve sugar, then add in sodium alginate and blend until completely dissolved. Allow to settle and  cool overnight.
Blend the puree, sugar, and calcium lactate gluconate until homogeneous. Spoon into hemispherical silicon molds and freeze until solid.
To make the spheres, drop the frozen purée into the bath and leave for 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and rinse in clean water.

Raspberry Curd:
adapted from Luscious Berry Desserts by Lori Longbotham
ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
5 ounces raspberries
2 egg yolks
Pinch salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
directions:
Bring raspberries and sugar to a boil, then press through a fine mesh sieve.  Whisk in the egg yolks and salt, then bring to a simmer over low heat, whisking constantly.
Once the curd comes to a simmer, remove from heat and whisk in butter until curd is smooth and silky.

Raspberry Gelée
ingredients:
1 teaspoon gelatin
1.1 ounces water
4 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
directions:
Bloom gelatin in water.
Boil raspberries and sugar together, then press through a fine mesh sieve.
Stir in lemon juice and gelatin mixture, then use immediately and place in refrigerator to set.

Rosewater Meringues
ingredients:
60 g egg whites (should be two-ish, feel free to just use 2)
75 g sugar
Pinch cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon rosewater
directions:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs until foamy.  Add in the cream of tartar and continue to whisk.
Slowly start adding the sugar, as the egg whites whip.
Continue to whip until the meringue is very stiff.
Beat in the rosewater.
Form large mounds using two spoons.
Bake for 11/2 hours, rotating midway through.
Turn off the oven, crack it open a bit, and allow the meringues to finish drying (the oven should be completely cool when you pull them out).

Candied Rose Petals
From Alice Waters
ingredients:
Unsprayed rose petals
1 egg white
1 cup superfine sugar
directions:
Brush the petals on both sides with the egg white, then lightly dip the petal in the sugar.  Lay them out on a wire rack and allow them to dry at least a few hours to overnight.

Morning Lullabies

 
“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
-Roald Dahl
Short and sweet for today.  
 
These bars are absolutely killer.  The nutella, raspberry jam, and brown butter shortbread and crumb combine into a not-too-sweet and nibbly treat.  
 
What’s more, they can be made super quickly (and with one bowl and one spoon.  No mixer nonsense here.).  
 
I whipped these up last night because I had had a long, hard day and was inspired by the Bonne Maman raspberry jam in my fridge.
 
Waking up to them in the morning?  Best. Breakfast. Ever. Laaaaa! 
 
 
Those cookies you see were a bit of an experiment.  I ground my own pistachio flour (Pistache. Pistache. Pistache.), then combined it with honey into crunchy (and shippable) butter cookies drizzled with chocolate.  I also made some salted honey-pistachio butter with the extra chunky bits of pistachio flour.  Love!
 
I’ll be back soon with some ideas for lovey-dovey baked goods.
And some slightly more involved posts.  Perhaps.
 
 
Nutella, Raspberry, and Brown Butter Bars
ingredients:
480 g flour
2 sticks butter, melted and browned
50 g sugar
40 g cream 
6 g kosher salt
good quality raspberry preserves (or any other fruit); I used about 2/3 of a jar of Bonne Maman
150 g nutella, heated gently until it is liquidy and easily spread
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  
Stir the flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl.  
Pour in the browned butter and cream and stir until crumbs come together.  
Press half of the batch into a greased 9X7 pan (These would also work in an 8×8, I’m willing to bet).  
Spread the liquid nutella evenly over the crust, then dollop jam over.  I used just shy of a cup of preserves, which was pretty conservative.  If you want more fruity flavor, just add more jam.  Either way, don’t spread the nutella or the jam all the way to the edges of the bars.  Rather, leave about a 1/4 inch empty space around the edges.  Once the jam dollops are smoothed over the nutella, sprinkle the rest of the crumbs on top.  
Bake for 35-40 minutes (a note: the bars will look pale golden when done, but they are difficult to judge.  Grab a relatively large crumb from the top and pinch to see if it is crumbly and thoroughly baked.  If so, pull the bars out.  I used a convection oven, so my bars were done around 33 minutes.  If your oven runs colder, do the crumb test to be sure.)  
Allow to cool completely, then slice into squares.
 

Ad Hoc

I find myself opening a lot of drafts, trying to figure out what to write, and a lot of times, I just don’t know.  No one told me that putting words down and sending them into the shadowy interspace would be so gosh darn hard sometimes.  
 
 
Yet I love it.  I love challenging myself to be creative, or funny, or sarcastic, or whatever, but to be honest, I’m not funny or creative or sarcastic all the time.
 
In fact, I hardly ever am.  Ninety-nine percent of the time, I am whiny not.
The only solution is to wing it.
 
Baking new things and combining new flavors is not my problem; I have an entire document on my phone of wacky flavor combinations that I’m dying to try out (See the cornmeal-fig-pistachio-brown butter combo at the bottom of this post for proof).  
 
 
My issue is that I don’t always know what to say about the food I make, without being super repetitive and annoying.  
 
 
I don’t always have witty things to say.  Really.  I just have to pretend I do.
 
 
So. Um.
These were delicious.  You should make them.  
Boom. Done.
 
And P.S.?  The French word for pistachio is inexplicably beautiful to me.  Pistache.
 


Fig, Pistachio, and Cornmeal Brown Butter Blondies
adapted from smittenkitchen’s infinitely adaptable blondies
ingredients:
1 stick butter, browned
1 loose cup light brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
big pinch kosher salt
3 tablespoons coarse polenta
1/4 cup fine cornmeal
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon white whole wheat flour (can use all-purpose)
1 cup chopped dried figs
1 cup toasted chopped pistachios
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8×8 pan.  Stir brown butter and brown sugar together, then stir in egg and vanilla and salt.  Add in the cornmeals and flour, and stir until combined.  Add in the figs and pistachios.  Spread into pan and bake until golden and slightly firm to the touch, 30-35 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly, slice, and remove from pan.  Allow to cool completely, then dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.