Douze x Deux

Peach Pie Pavlova | La Pêche Fraîche

Every tick-tock is a second of life that passes by, that flees never to repeat itself.
And it holds such intensity, such interest that the only problem is knowing how to live.
May each person solve it as best they can.

—Frida Kahlo

Peach Pie Pavlova | La Pêche Fraîche

Continue reading “Douze x Deux”

Lovers’ Eyes

Raspberry White Chocolate and Nutella Éclairs | La Pêche Fraîche

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmear’d with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
‘Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.

—Shakespeare, Sonnet 55

Raspberry White Chocolate and Nutella Éclairs | La Pêche Fraîche

If ever there was a time for overly fancy desserts, it would most certainly be Valentine’s day.
If ever there was a time for edible gold leaf, it would also accordingly be this holiday.

I can think of little else as fussily indulgent as a delicate french pastry crowned with little sheets of glittering gold.

Raspberry White Chocolate and Nutella Éclairs | La Pêche Fraîche

I’m trying very hard to squeeze in the ideas I’ve been amassing for this holiday, but I’ve had little opportunity to get into the kitchen.  Still, I haven’t lost hope, and if all goes as planned you will see some cookies and a cake by the time the fourteenth of February rolls around.

By the way, I have been trying to figure out how in the dickens it is already Janu February 9th.  Anyone with more insight into where the first 1/12 of 2016 went is welcome to drop a line in my inbox with details about the January that I apparently missed.

Raspberry White Chocolate and Nutella Éclairs | La Pêche Fraîche

I’ve made éclairs before (along with choux puffs), but they tend to come out a bit misshapen and lumpy.
This makes them slightly less evenly pretty, but does nothing in terms of taste.  Still—for fancy ones, I needed perfect shells!
I found Iron Whisk’s in-depth perfected recipe and knew it was the one I had to use.

It’s very easy and the shells that come out are much closer to bakery type status than any others that I’ve seen!
Click here to jump to her blog and get the recipe.  Honestly, she put so much effort into her tutorial that there’s little point in me rewriting it.  Just go check hers out!

Once I had my shells on lock, I piped them full of rich chocolate Nutella, and then I just needed to figure out what pretty pink things I wanted to go on top.

I chose an indulgent white chocolate and raspberry buttercream, silky and milky-sweet; dotted in the open space are ruby red raspberries, gently pulled apart into little fruity morsels; little pieces of 24K gold foil finish the top, making them wink and blink in the most beautiful way.

The whole effect is utterly gorgeous and quite delicious; the pastry strikes a perfect mix between white chocolate, raspberry, and Nutella; the shells are crisp and light but strong enough to hold in your hand while eating the éclair.

The pink and red and gold color scheme alone is enough to make me swoon; the chocolate and hazelnut center is a divine and decadent surprise!

Raspberry White Chocolate and Nutella Éclairs | La Pêche Fraîche

Valentine’s Day, previously (I will leave these links at the bottom of all my coming V Day posts):

2016:
Brown butter and vanilla bean teacakes.  Fragrant and light—the perfect accompaniment to tea!

2015:
Fluffy, buttery copycat Lofthouse cookies, with swirls of pink buttercream and handfuls of sprinkles!
Chocolate covered strawberry cake—sinfully dark chocolate layer cake with goat cheese buttercream and chocolate covered strawberries on top.
A dolled-up red velvet cake: with cream cheese meringue buttercream and malted milk candies.
Perfectly pink princesstårta—sponge cake with whipped cream and marzipan.

2014:
The cutest, most pin-able pink grapefruit possets, with salty and buttery Ritz crunch and pistachios.  One of my favorite recipes ever!
Dark and white chocolate French mendiants, quick and healthy and pretty.
Strawberry pocky cake—love this idea, didn’t love the red velvet recipe I used.  Would recommend the link above for dolled-up red velvet if recreating this idea!
Salty dark chocolate tarts—the perfect balance between flaky salt and dark, fruity chocolate.

Raspberry White Chocolate and Nutella Éclairs | La Pêche Fraîche

Raspberry White Chocolate and Nutella Éclairs
makes 10 large éclairs

ingredients:
10 éclair shells (1 batch of Iron Whisk’s choux batter, baked)

for the white chocolate buttercream:
112 grams (4 ounces) white chocolate
112 grams (4 ounces, 1 stick) butter
pinch salt
2-3 tablespoons powdered freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries

to decorate:
1 cup Nutella
raspberries
gold foil

directions:
Poke a few holes into the bottom of your cooled shells.
Fill a pastry bag with Nutella and fill the shells.  Set aside.
Melt the white chocolate and butter together; whisk in the salt and sift in the freeze-dried berry powder.
Allow to cool until solid but scoopable, then whisk on high until fluffy and shiny.
Fill a piping bag with the buttercream and pipe a few star shapes onto each éclair.
Carefully separate the raspberries into 2-3 pieces and fill up the negative space on the éclairs with raspberries.
Finally, using tweezers, place small pieces of gold foil on top of the éclairs.
Serve the day they are filled!

Venus

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Teacakes | La Pêche Fraîche

That’s Venus, September thought.
She was the goddess of love.
It’s nice that love comes on first thing in the evening, and goes out last in the morning.
Love keeps the light on all night.

—Catherynne M. Valente

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Teacakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Happy February!
Here in Chicago, the month eased in with uncharacteristic rainy, warm days, leaving us wondering what Winter had left with which to rattle our bones.

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Teacakes | La Pêche Fraîche

February will start out with two exams and my little’s birthday, for which she demands cake but I have promised bran muffins.  Can’t spoil them too much, right?!

Later, there is Valentine’s day and my big’s birthday—she’s in France, and I’m going to have to figure out how to ship presents, edible and not, across the ocean.

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Teacakes | La Pêche Fraîche

I truly love Valentine’s Day, and so I am beginning to post appropriately adorable, twee, and chocolaty things here—we only have two weeks left, after all!
I’ve made, precisely, a ton of treats geared for this holiday.  There is a ridiculously long list that I’ve linked to below.

To start out this year’s desserts, I chose these brown butter and vanilla bean teacakes, decorated with dark chocolate and sparkly almond sanding sugar.
They’re light and airy, with crispy edges and nibbly insides; they’re mildly flavored with a whole vanilla bean and brown butter; the dark chocolate on the top adds a sweet contrast and the almond sanding sugar is the perfect crunch! (Plus, just look at those vanilla flecks inside!)

These are impossibly fast to pull together, and they store fairly well in an airtight container (up to 3 days, but by day 2, they’ll be crying out for a cup of tea to dunk in).
I actually had a few for breakfast with my morning tea—they are very light, a bit like madeleines.
Buttery, a little crumbly, and a very sweet little treat.

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Teacakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Valentine’s Day, previously (I will leave these links at the bottom of all my coming V Day posts):

2015:
Fluffy, buttery copycat Lofthouse cookies, with swirls of pink buttercream and handfuls of sprinkles!
Chocolate covered strawberry cake—sinfully dark chocolate layer cake with goat cheese buttercream and chocolate covered strawberries on top.
A dolled-up red velvet cake: with cream cheese meringue buttercream and malted milk candies.
Perfectly pink princesstårta—sponge cake with whipped cream and marzipan.

2014:
The cutest, most pin-able pink grapefruit possets, with salty and buttery Ritz crunch and pistachios.  One of my favorite recipes ever!
Dark and white chocolate French mendiants, quick and healthy and pretty.
Strawberry pocky cake—love this idea, didn’t love the red velvet recipe I used.  Would recommend the link above for dolled-up red velvet if recreating this idea!
Salty dark chocolate tarts—the perfect balance between flaky salt and dark, fruity chocolate.

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Teacakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Teacakes
makes 12 small cakes; easily doubled

ingredients:
85 grams (3 ounces, 3/4 stick) butter
3 eggs
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
scrapings of 1 vanilla bean
pinch sea salt
70 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) flour
melted dark chocolate for decorating, if desired
almond sanding sugar for decorating, if desired

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour (I use baking spray) 12-15 little tins, whether they are mini muffin or mini tart pans.
Place butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until browned and fragrant, about 6 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool.
Meanwhile, place the eggs, sugar, vanilla bean, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Beat on high for 10 minutes, until extremely light and meringue-like; mixture should be airy and glossy and no longer gritty.
Carefully fold in the flour; once it is half incorporated, pour the brown butter over top and once again carefully fold in.
Batter will fall; be sure to be gentle but completely incorporate all of the butter (this make take a little while).
Portion out into the prepared pans and bake for 10 minutes, until the center springs back and a tester comes out with only a few moist crumbs.
Turn out from pans and allow to cool completely before decorating with melted dark chocolate and sanding sugar.
Serve with tea (of course)!

Fallen

Fallen Pear Torte | La Pêche Fraîche

I’ve fallen out of favor, fallen from grace.
Fallen out of trees and I’ve fallen on my face.
Fallen out of taxis, out of windows too.
Fell in your opinion when I fell in love with you.

Falling, Florence and the Machine

Fallen Pear Torte | La Pêche Fraîche

When I arrived home over the holidays, I was pleasantly surprised by a glut of gorgeous Harry and David d’anjou pears, a generous gift from my Uncle John!

My parents had been pretty faithfully eating them, but as empty nesters, it can be hard to eat an entire basket of fruit.
Thus, there were 3 or 4 softening pears who looked pretty sad and were just begging to be put to good use.

Fallen Pear Torte | La Pêche Fraîche

Much googling followed, as I searched for recipes that would use overripe pears other than pear sauce.
You see, baking with pears, in spite of some of their similarities with apples, is a whole different game.
Generally one chooses underripe pears that are still hard with some bite, because otherwise they all too easily turn to mush and release a wash of juice.

I stumbled upon a Chowhound discussion post that had a bunch of suggestions, including one for a cake that is apparently famous, as it has spawned many threads just devoted to it.

It’s an eggy, buttery cake with as many soft pear slices as you can fit crammed in.  The edges are slightly crispy, like a traditional cake, but in the middle, where the pear juices were absorbed and the cake has fallen into itself is soft and sumptuous, more like a torte than a cake.
It’s brilliant served in wedges with a dusting of powdered sugar or a little unsweetened whipped cream.

This pear torte is ultra easy, delicious, and useful—definitely deserving of its “fame”!

Fallen Pear Torte | La Pêche Fraîche

“Fallen” Pear Torte
makes 1 8- or 9-inch cake
adapted from galleygirl

ingredients:
113 grams (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
150 grams (3/4 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
120 grams (1 cup) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 very ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 8ths

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8- or 9-inch springform pan (8-inch is better but work with what you have).
Cream butter for 3 minutes on high speed until very light and fluffy; add in the sugar and vanilla and beat for another 3 minutes, until mixture is no longer gritty.
Add in the eggs and beat for 4 full minutes; mixture should be very pale and homogeneous.
Scrape the bowl and sprinkle the flour, baking powder, and salt on top.
Stir until completely incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan and arrange the peeled pears around the cake (this won’t matter much in the end); really cram them in to fit all of them.
Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a skewer comes out just barely clean with a few moist crumbs.
Allow to cool completely, then release from pan.
Serve with powdered sugar and tea.
Gets better with age!

Aux Myrtilles

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cakes | La Pêche Fraîche

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.”

–Pablo Picasso

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Can I tell you a secret?

Oh, bother—of course I can. I do it all the time, don’t I?
The rush—the relief—of spilling inky, irreverent and inwardly-felt thoughts into the incontrovertibly stained internet drives the very heart and soul of the blogosphere. I think.

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

The writing of this post began with sadness and loneliness pouring forth from a disquieted mind, with introspection and frustration and words that were important—questions about growing older that, inevitably, must be asked—but it fizzled, never reaching a boil but a rather disappointing simmer that belied the troubles beneath.

It took me so long to eke out a few tortured words.
The sentences clashed, metallic and hard-edged, and rather than producing the profound music I had hoped to hear, begat only dissonance and off-tune complaints.
Somewhere along the way I lost my thread of consciousness and the subtlety of the emotions thus came undone.

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Without it, I was uncertain of the questions I was even trying to ask, or the tone I was trying to set.
This is just an elaborate way of saying: the writing sucked. It was bad. It was melodrama without substance and it was destined to develop into nothing. A half-assed staircase to understanding.

It’s not like I knew, firmly, what I wanted to write about. I was exploring as I wrote, as I often find myself doing in this space.
I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it; couldn’t quite convince each finger to tap out the required letters.

So I erased it, and sat in front of my computer, vexed.
I also simply don’t feel like putting effort into editing recent photos since I’ve moved (again)—it is such a pain, trying to document pretty food without any props and poor lighting and without my tripod.
It’s far more frustrating than not being able to articulate my anxieties, and that’s reflected in the photos.

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cakes | La Pêche Fraîche

I’m annoyed that my blog is lingering, stale crumbs lying stagnant.  The same post to see every time you click back. Boring!
I want freshness and excitement and movement, and yet I am swimming against what feels like an insurmountable tide of writer’s and photographer’s block to deliver even a single post.

I can’t wait to go back to Ithaca, where I have pretty linens and lots of plates and a huge oven etc. etc., if only to glean a little inspiration and rediscover myself in the big jars of flour and sugar.
Even if the trees cast green on everything up there.  Even if I have no pastry bags and piping tips or cake stands.  Even if there is a lot of cat and dog hair floating around in the summer air.
Even if these are all complaints I have lobbed previously, in indignant validity, they will vanish away when I’m back in the heart of my home—the kitchen. (Do I say this every time before I return home? Maybe.)

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cakes | La Pêche Fraîche

I’ve been waiting to share these enchanting little cakelets with you, as I felt them deserving of more than just a rant.
Whatever.  I gave up, I gave in, and I realized that they were plenty good on their own.  Rant be darned.
Some pretty, flowery words would have been a lovely accompaniment to these ruffled pound cakes, but a cup of tea does just as well in their stead.  Take it from me.

In truth, these photos are old enough to go back to Chicago, where the lighting was good and I had all my favorite kitchen tools.
This might be the real reason why I am feeling almost reluctant to release them!

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cakes | La Pêche Fraîche

I have so many posts highlighting summer’s produce to share with you all!
I really must make haste, because at the rate at which I am posting, it will be pumpkin-spice-latte season and I will be shit out of luck with a bunch of purply-stained blueberry posts lurking in my drafts folder.
I’ll start here, with these lovely mini pound cakes.
The base is a dense lemon yogurt cake, fragrant with zest and moist and buttery–in spite of the lack of butter in the batter–the texture is all due to a generous scoop of yogurt.
Each mini cake is studded with a few juicy blueberries, which, as they bake, collapse in on themselves to become sunken craters of sweet, sticky fruit.
Each cake is dusted with a little powdered sugar; in just two bites, tangy lemon and sweet berries are brought together in the best of summer pairings.

These would be magnificent if made with raspberries or blackberries, and I can imagine that they would also behoove themselves to a ripe wedge or two of peach or apricot.
These are a perfect accompaniment to summertime tea–sweet or unsweetened.
They’re adaptable to whatever summer fruit you have in your pantry (a few white chocolate chips would also sub brilliantly) and simple to make, and they bake so quickly that you won’t even notice that your oven is on!

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cakes | La Pêche Fraîche

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cakes
makes 15 mini cakes

ingredients:
2 eggs
135 grams (2/3 cup) sugar
150 grams (2/3 cup) yogurt
75 grams (1/3 cup) canola oil
zest of 1 lemon
120 grams (1 cup) flour
1 1/4 baking powder
5/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup blueberries
powdered sugar, for dusting

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour 15 mini muffin tins or mini tart pans.
Whisk eggs briskly with sugar.
Add yogurt, oil, and lemon zest and whisk briskly until fully combined.
Add in flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir until the batter comes together.
Portion the batter out evenly into the prepared tins and press 2 or 3 blueberries into the top.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are golden and the blueberries have released their juices.
Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Enjoy with a tall glass of iced tea.

Zap!

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Un éclair… puis la nuit! — Fugitive beauté
Dont le regard m’a fait soudainement renaître,
Ne te verrai-je plus que dans l’éternité?

Ailleurs, bien loin d’ici! trop tard! jamais peut-être!
Car j’ignore où tu fuis, tu ne sais où je vais,
Ô toi que j’eusse aimée, ô toi qui le savais!

— Charles Baudelaire

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un éclair = a bolt of lightning
or
a delicious pastry…?

Named for the speed with which they are eaten, apparently. As soon as they’re made, they disappear.  Zap!

choux = cabbage
or
sweetheart

Choux à la crème, named not for its ingredients (no Brassica here, people.  Calm yourselves.), but because the dainty little puffs, with their cracked tops, look like cabbages. (?)

And this concludes our French lesson of the week.
(Bonus points if you can read the Baudelaire at the top of this post.)

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How could I claim to be a lover of French pastry, a pâtissière at heart, if I had never tried my hand at the ever classic pâte à choux?
This I realized sheepishly some morning a few weeks back.
I promptly busied myself with a batch of éclairs, ready to tackle the simple dough: water, salt, milk, butter, flour, eggs.
Supremely (and elegantly) simple!

I knew choux pastry to be relatively easy to make, but I must admit I was surprised at how easy and quick it was!

20 minutes after deciding to make éclairs, I had 2 sheets of teeny tiny little piped pastries waiting to go into the oven.

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While they were baking, I whisked together a simple pastry cream; I wanted to flavor it with almond, but had no almond essence in my pantry, so I used one of my favorite ingredients (almond paste!!! I can eat it plain with a spoon!) for a rich, fragrant, extra thick, and creamy filling.
Just a few tablespoons are needed—save the rest of the can for a batch of marzipan or almond cookies!

Dark chocolate, shiny and finger-licking good, finishes the éclairs.  The profiteroles need only a shower of powdered sugar.

These were so easy and satisfying—as they puffed in the oven, I could feel my pride swelling.
Thank goodness this blog (not to mention my tummy) is no longer lacking for choux pastry!

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Almond Cream Éclairs (and Cream Puffs)
adapted from the lovely Zoe of Zoe Bakes
makes 20-25 mini pastries

ingredients:
for the pâte à choux:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs, room temperature

for the almond pastry cream:
1 1/3 cups milk
4 egg yolks
5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
pinch kosher salt
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons butter (~3 tablespoons)
3 rounded tablespoons almond paste

for the chocolate ganache:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup cream or half-and-half
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
pinch kosher salt

directions:
Make the pastry shells: preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
Prepare a pastry bag with a large plain tip.
Place milk, water, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepot and bring to a simmer (the butter will be all melted by then).
Lower the heat to low, dump in all the flour at once and stir until the dough forms a cohesive ball and there is a slight film of dough on the bottom of the pot (click through to Zoe’s sight for great step-by-step photos!).
Remove the dough and place in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
While beating on medium speed, add in the eggs one at a time.
Scrape the bowl after adding all the eggs and beat until a smooth, thick but pipeable paste forms.
Fill your pastry bag and pipe desired shapes and sizes; make cream puffs by simply dolloping the dough, and make éclairs by piping a steady, thick line of dough.
To fix the peaks that stick up after piping, wet a finger slightly and gently tap them down.
Place the sheets in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Rotate the sheets and switch them top-to-bottom, then bake for 7-10 more minutes, until golden.
Prop the oven open with a wooden spoon and bake for 5 minutes more.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before filling.
Make the pastry cream: place milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepot and whisk very well to remove any lumps.
Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until it comes to a boil and is thick; remove from heat and place in a blender or in a bowl with which an immersion blender can be used.
Add the butter and almond paste in pieces to the mixture and blend briefly to incorporate and eliminate any lumps; don’t blend for more than 20 seconds.
Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream and place in the fridge to cool completely.
To fill the éclairs, cut three small Xs in the top, then stick a pastry bag fitted with a thin star tip into them and fill.
To fill the cream puffs, just stick the tip into the bottom, pressing firmly in order to push through the surface.
To make the ganache, chop chocolate and microwave in 15 second bursts until it is 1/2 melted.
Gently stir in the rest of the ingredients and continue to microwave in bursts until the chocolate is 2/3 of the way melted.
Remove from the microwave and allow to sit for 3 minutes; whisk briskly until the ganache comes together; it should be nice and glossy.
Allow it to cool slightly before dipping the tops of the éclairs in.
Refrigerate the pastries to set the ganache and allow the flavors to meld.
Eat cold or room temperature, dusted with powdered sugar.

Doubtful

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“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

–Karim Seddiki

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You know what kills macarons?
No, you don’t.
No one does, because these stupid fucking cookies have minds of their own.

For me, macs go hand and hand with failure.
Do I doubt them? Perhaps—just a touch—as I slide each fated sheet into the oven.

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Ah, I know there are explanations and even better explanations, there are complete lists of problems and solutions.

But sometimes, y’all, the problem cannot be explained by even the most exhaustive list of troubleshooting suggestions.

Take these macs.  I’ve never turned out a sheet as perfect as the first that was pulled from the oven.
Great feet, solid insides (beware the hollows!), crack-free.
Hallelujer.

The second and third sheets, however, looked like the San Andreas fault personified in a cookie.
Feet, yes.  Gigantic, canyon-like crevasses?  Yep.

Why?!?!?! I don’t know.
Same batter.  Same oven temp and technique… It’s a mystery.

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So this round of macaron mania resulted in 1) the single most perfect sheet of macs to come out of my oven and 2) the most delicious macs to come out of my kitchen.
The super chocolaty shells (thank you extra dark brown cocoa!) are filled with rich bittersweet chocolate ganache and a spoonful of tart, bright red currant, blackberry, and raspberry jam.

This jam is something of note, guys.  Like seriously.  It’s bursting with the flavors of summer and it is outrageously fruity.

The end result of the cookie sandwich is something that tastes like a rich brownie with a crackling shell, with a dab of jam right in the fudgiest part.

Hello, heaven.  Come to mama.

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For the macaron shells, I’m directing you to Annie.  To make them chocolate, sub 24 grams of extra dark cocoa powder for 12 grams of the almond flour and the confectioner’s sugar.

Pipeable Chocolate Ganache
ingredients:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup cream or half-and-half
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
pinch kosher salt
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

directions:
Melt and briskly whisk the chocolate, half-and-half, butter, corn syrup, and salt together.
Whisk until the mixture is shiny and viscous.
Allow to cool until solid but still scoopable.
Whip with the confectioner’s sugar using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Whip until fluffy and lightened in color.
If it starts to melt while piping, stick it in the fridge and rewhip as needed.

Red Currant and Berry (Fridge) Jam
makes approximately 2 cups
ingredients:
1 heaping cup red currants, destemmed
heaping 1/3 cup blackberries
1 heaping cup raspberries
generous 2/3 cup sugar

directions:
Press the currants and blackberries through a fine sieve with the back of a spoon; process them for a long time so that you get the most puree possible and leave behind relatively dry seeds.
Place into a deep pot with the sugar and raspberries and place over medium heat.
Smash the raspberries with a spatula or spoon as you stir the jam.
Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, until the jam is thick (use the freezer test: place a small amount of jam on a plate and put it in the freezer until it cools to room temp: it should be thick and spreadable).
Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a clean jar and then to the fridge.

Mellow As the Month

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Mellow as May might be, the end of this month holds much serious significance in my life.

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“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.”

–from Merry Happy, last year’s blogiversary post

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It is my brother’s birthday (last year’s cake); it’s this blog’s birthday; it’s the anniversary of Chris’ death.

I cannot believe that in two days it will have been a year.
It will have been a whole year since that dark, blinding night.

Chris, you are dearly beloved and missed.
The people whose lives you touched are all the better for it, will never forget it, will always be grateful.

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It is quiet around this blog lately.  I am busy.  I am trying to balance.
This, you know.  I’ve made that abundantly clear with all my whining and whinging.

Still, exams be damned, count on a big, delicious cake for my second (?!!?) blogiversary, marking the third year of La Pêche Fraîche.
Also on the docket: pie and two types of cupcakes and more cake.  Always, cake.

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These are dark chocolate coffee pots de crème.  

The recipe is so so easy and quick– no bake, gluten-free, and perfect when hit with a little extra salt and powdered sugar over top.

The recipe is from the Pioneer Woman (oh, dear, wonderful, hilarious Ree), and I’ll leave you with a link if you’d like to check it out.

Here.  I skipped the orange and topped mine with unsweetened whipped cream and Maldon sea salt.

It comes with high recommendation from me and praise from my taste testers!

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P.S. Like the beautiful stationary that I used in the background of this post?
Check out Mockingbird Paperie.  They’re fab!

FOTA

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CHIAROSCURO

blackberry caviar, coconut mousse, coconut crumb, coconut yolk, blackberry puree

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Hi!  To any newcomers, welcome to my blog, and welcome to my project for UChicago’s spring Festival of the Arts!

(I’ll post more explaining this post-presentation, for all you laypeople.)

////// Okay!  SO Hi!  Yes!  Presentation went off without a hitch. \\\\\\

I gave a 7-ish minute spiel about molecular gastronomy, this here blog, my weird love of reverse frozen spherification, and the three desserts you see here, which were funded by FOTA.

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Contrast, made edible.  Fruity, creamy, crunchy, chewy.

Why are there so many seeds in blackberries?  Getting ultra-smooth puree is a pain in the ass.

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FRAGOLA

black pepper cheesecake, lemon curd, lemon sorbet, ginger black pepper sand, walnuts, candied lemons, creme fraiche, honey

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Early summer on a plate.  Spicy, sour, rich, fresh.

PSA: candied lemons are so incredibly addictive.  So is lemon curd.  OMg.

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For my live presentation, I made a deconstructed strawberry pie: strawberry yolk, yogurt cream, 5-spice milk sand.
Simple, delicious.

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TUORLO

mango yolk, watermelon tartar, avocado mousse,  lime curd, creme fraiche, grapefruit

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A play on tuna tartare with raw egg yolk.  Tropical, crunchy, herb-y, tangy.
(There is nothing quite like cold watermelon on a hot day, amirite?!)

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Happy to provide any of the recipes pictured for my fellow molecular nuts!