Windy Wednesday

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Today’s post is brought to you by the letter W.


Words are not one of the W’s.  They escape me today.

But rather: waffles, waterfalls, and wistful. (Wednesday, too, I suppose!)

Oh… and windy… Because, yes, I am in the Windy City.


So, um, yes.  Here are some abstract pictures of a waffle cake.

And my dog, obviously.

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My waffle maker makes kind of smushed waffles.  It’s pretty old.  I don’t blame it.

The result of  stacking up these smushed waffles with a lightly spiced brown butter and maple pear-apple compote and a maple Italian meringue is a delicious but somewhat ugly cake.
I know!! So many ugly cakes lately.  Sorry.  Sometimes that’s how the cookie crumbles.

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Pssst… I even had a slice for breakfast!

(Ginger, on the other hand, did not.)
Which explains her facial expression.



Pear and Apple Waffle Cake

for the waffles:
from King Arthur Flour
1 1/2 cups milk, warmed to 110 degrees F
6 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 scant cup of Belgian pearl sugar

Sprinkle the yeast over the milk to prepare it for its job; after five minutes, whisk in the butter and maple syrup as well as the vanilla extract.
Stir in the eggs and the flour and salt; set the batter aside in a warm place, covered in plastic wrap, for one hour, to rest and rise.
Right before cooking, stir in the Belgian pearl sugar.
Cook the waffles in a waffle maker.
for the pear and apple compote:
2 medium pears, peeled and cored and chopped into small pieces
3 medium apples, peeled and cored and chopped into small pieces
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon butter
pinch salt
pinch cinnamon
pinch nutmeg

Brown the butter in a saute pan, then add all the apples and pears and saute them until they soften.
Add the maple syrup and allow it to reduce by 1/2.
Season to taste with salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Allow to cool before using.

for the maple Italian meringue buttercream:
1 egg white
pinch salt
pinch cream of tartar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 stick of butter, softened

Place egg white, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Place maple syrup in a small pot and begin to heat it up.
Whip the egg white while heating the maple syrup to 240 degrees F.
The white should be at soft peaks when the syrup reaches temp; drizzle it in with the mixer running.
Once the meringue has cooled, beat in the butter.
Stack up the waffles with buttercream and compote.

Moody Blues

When I woke up on Friday, the sky was covered with clouds heavy with rain, and a thick fog had settled low to the ground like a lush carpet.  Not the kind of morning that makes me want to jump out of my warm, cozy bed and run straight into the cold, cold rain.  
The past two mornings, however, have been utterly glorious.  People.  Take a moment to look around and take in the beauty that is autumn.  I mean, come on.  The hues of the trees are so brilliantly rich, it’s hard to believe they’re real.  I gather that the extra gorgeous colors are due to the strange growing season this year.  I can’t get over them.  
But there will be plenty more of that later on in this post.
Firstly, I bring dessert!  I’ve been baking a lot lately, but have been too lazy chosen not to write about most of them; “they” being a maple, walnut, and brown butter caramel cake (whew), a nutmeg maple cream tart, coconut chocolate banana bread, potato chip and dark chocolate bark… 
I did, however, save the best for the blog (but of course!).
Inspired by a classic cheese plate, I set out to make something that would reflect all the best elements of one:  crunchy crackers, slightly bitter nuts, smoky meat (if you’re into that sort of thing), tangy, salty, and rich cheese, sweet fruit, and just a whisper of honey.  
A few weekends ago, my family had bo ssam, a Korean lettuce wrapped, brown sugar encrusted-pork shoulder dish.  Though I (obviously) did not eat the meat, I was sure to save the rendered fat and gelatin (Why?!? Because I’m weird.)
And because I just knew it would come in handy sometime soon.  And it did!  Clearly I am learning to utilize some sort of frugality and foresight (neither being my… um… strong suit).
This tart is comprised of a brown sugar, wheat cracker, walnut, salted butter and pork fat crust, a mascarpone and blue cheese filling, figs, pears, and a drizzle of honey.
Blue cheese tart.
The revolution is coming, people.
Granted, I couldn’t taste all of the elements together because of the pork fat, but I know it was good.  I think everyone who has tasted it has had two pieces.   
Victory is mine.


And because I can’t resist… Here are some autumnal pictures I’ve taken.

Blue Cheese Tart
1 cracker crust, baked (I used equal parts wheat crackers, graham crackers, and walnuts, added 3 tablespoons of flour, then added half a stick of melted, salted butter, about 3 tablespoons of melted pork fat and gelatin, two tablespoons of brown sugar, and a hefty pinch of salt.  Mix it together, press into a buttered tart pan, and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 or so minutes, or until golden and slightly crunchy.)
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
2 ounces good quality blue cheese (taste as you go)
1 cup confectioner’s sugar (again, taste as you go.  Palettes vary.)
1/2 cup cream, whipped
figs, pears, and honey, for garnish
Once the crust is cool, whip the mascarpone and blue cheese together.  Add in the powdered sugar, slowly, tasting as you go, until homogeneous.  Fold in the whipped cream.  Spread into crust, and chill until set.  Top with fig and pear slices, and drizzle with honey.