Chiaroscuro LARGE


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

Chiaroscuro SMALL II

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.

Hopefully I didn’t embarrass myself too badly (I definitely did).Chiaroscuro SMALL I

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.

Fragola LARGE


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

Fragola SMALL I

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

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

Fragola SMALL II

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



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


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?!)


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


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.)

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

Herbes de Provence

Long time no post, I know.
Especially WISE posts. 
Things have just been, well, busy, in all senses of the word.
In the last two weeks, I’ve run a marathon, completed 4 AP tests, hosted a (very large) pre-prom party, and made 2 full plated desserts.
And many other baked goods.
I’ve begun to lay out my presentation (I have to talk for how long?! ).
 Mr. B and I spoke about the general format of it- he approves (phew).
It’s feeling more and more real each day that passes…
I only have x number of hours left to finish my health course and finish the final push for WISE.
Great!!! Wonderful!!! No pressure!!!
Luckily for me, now that I have a better sense of research, I have a better handle on what I need to include.
Example: this dessert technically had 3 or 4 sources of “research,” even though only one of them was a tangible recipe.
Often, research is just perusing the internet, looking for sources of inspiration: a photo, an ingredient (I just saw a picture of a cornbread-like cake and I am now intent on incorporating that somehow…), a recipe, or a flavor combination… (tarragon? rosemary?)
The basil fluid gel in the photo is a recipe from Johnny Iuzzini’s Dessert FourPlay;
 the inspiration for a buttermilk panna cotta came from an article from the Kitchn; 
an easy to understand guide about how to temper chocolate originated from Serious Eats’ Sweets section; 
the real movement behind this dessert came from my garden, where I found hardy lavender plants staying strong and fragrant, even after a tough winter, creeping speedwell spreading all over the raised beds and peeking through tall grass, and abundant basil plants (three, to be exact) taking over my kitchen windows.
Nature is a beautiful place to find inspiration; I wanted this to be a floral dessert which showcased the spicy sweetness of basil and paired the delicacy of lavender with a tart, creamy element.
The adorable little flowers didn’t hurt, either; along with some microbasil, they represented the fresh, spring feel to this dessert, much like the first blooms in my yard.
(No recipes today; I may use this for my presentation… but then again, I might not.  On va voir.)
P.S. has my blog been loading as a black, plain format for anyone else other than myself?  For the record, it’s supposed to be a peach color with Georgia font, not the black Arial that seems to be loading occasionally.  A quick refresh should fix it, but I’m not sure what the underlying problem really is.
Herbes de Provence
basil fluid gel
dark chocolate and basil truffle
bittersweet ganache
lavender and buttermilk panna cotta

Love’s Light Wings

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
by any name would smell as sweet…”
Romeo and Juliet, Act II Scene II
Yesterday, I ran a marathon.  
Which is my excuse for not having a WISE blog post in more than a week.
It’s also my excuse for being late to all my classes today.
Stairs are just a wee bit difficult today.
Here’s a Super Sad True Love Story super short true summary of the super long (26.2 mile) race:
(I break long runs into chunks… I like to pretend that it makes it less mentally exhausting.  
It doesn’t.  But hey.)
Miles 1-8 are terrifying.  In the beginning, I’m stiff and aching and tired, which makes me very nervous for what’s ahead, seeing as I’m huffing and puffing and I’ve only run 2 miles.  
Luckily, by mile 6, I’m locked and loaded on cruise control.
At which point, I look at my Garmin and realize, 
I have 20 miles to go.  Jésus Marià.
Miles 8-13 are spent surreptitiously looking at my fellow runners’ shoes, to see which of them have the bright orange D tags which were only given to marathon runners to record times.  I have the sinking realization that there aren’t many runners around me with tags.
Miles 13-20 are my fastest.  I spend time listening to “I Don’t Care” by Iconapop.  As in, on repeat for about 50 minutes.  No shame.
I pick out runners to pass and do so by powering through all of the water stations- I keep the word “slingshot” in my head and will myself not to stop or slow down, and in doing so, spill about 4 brimming cupfuls of bright orange Gatorade down my white shirt.  Good looks.
Miles 20-25 are grueling.  The stations ran out of power gels around mile 18, and my own supply has also been completely diminished.  My glycogen is running on red and I am not a happy camper.
I keep thinking why the hell Pheidippides didn’t take a damn horse.
Seriously, what in god’s name was wrong with him?  
25-26.2 are like running another 12 miles.  Where was the finish line again?
Why do I still see people running?  
Are we done yet?
My intended mile split was a 10:25.  I ended up finishing 23 seconds ahead of that, with a 10:02 average mile split.  I’m not the fastest, that’s fo’ sho.  Honestly I’m just glad to have crossed the finish line!!!
(Turns out, I finished first in my division, female 15-19 year olds.  That was a surprise!)
Back to our regularly scheduled program: WISE jabber.
In class today, I had a revelation: in truth, I’ve been doing plenty of “research,” which is basically just utilizing different sources. 
What I haven’t been doing is keeping a proper log of said resources- different blogs and cookbooks etc.- which means that I have some serious back work to do.  Ahem.
Also, I received my time slot for my presentation!
June 10th from 3-4 PM.  More details later.
I chose the name of this post, and the intro, because a) it’s one of Shakespeare’s most classic, and one of my favorite, scenes and b) because the dessert I’m showing to you is a misnomer and should have a different name.
Right? Right.
This dessert is based on a deconstruction of the famous German chocolate cake.
Which, in truth, is not the slightest bit German.
It’s based off of a recipe that appeared in 1957 in a newspaper’s recipe of the day column, which used a type of chocolate that had been developed more than a century earlier, in 1852, by Sam German, a worker in the Baker’s chocolate factory; it was a sweeter dark baking chocolate, which was marketed as Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate.
Thus was the German chocolate cake born, a coconut and pecan and chocolate melange that is not the most attractive, but one of the more delicious.
German cake≠German.  Confusing, I know.
(This information is from The Baker Chocolate Company: A Sweet History by Anthony M. Sammarco, googlebook accessed via Wikipedia.)
This dessert has the added benefit of being completely vegan.  
I’m thinking of using a version of this for my presentation, because it would be incredibly easy to make gluten-free, thus making it almost entirely allergy-free (it does have coconut and pecan… those are kind of unavoidable) and a good dessert to share with many people who may have various allergies.
I plated it two ways because I couldn’t get a quenelle to smooth out the first go-round and I ended up disliking the chocolate flecks on the first few plates.
(P.S. remember how I was so pumped about my quenelles a few WISE posts back?  
Yeah, those darned footballs are coming back to bite me in the butt.  It took me a good 5 minutes to get the quenelle you see perfectly smooth.  My family keeps recycling the containers I use for my ice cream, so that’s not helping…)
*Note to my father:  Can you please, please, please stop recycling the date containers that I diligently wash out and save?  You’re making my quenelles ten times more difficult than they need to be.  Thank you.  Loveyameanit.*
chocolate cake
salted caramel
bittersweet ganache
candied pecans
coconut ice cream
Mile 12.5.  Eating a gu and feeling güd.
 Mile 20.  The longest uphill slog of the course; it was gradual, but felt never ending. 
Mile 25; back on the streets.
Don’t let the smile fool you; I could barely remain standing long enough to rip off my water belt and iPod in order to take this photo.
for the cake:
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
4 teaspoons extra dark cocoa powder
rounded 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil, measured then melted
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a six inch cake pan with baking spray.
Stir the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together.
Add the coconut oil and vinegar, then the water, and stir it all together, gently.
Once it is just barely homogeneous, pour into the pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake is springy to the touch and a tester comes out clean.
for the ganache:
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped finely
2 ounces sugar
2 ounces coconut milk, light or full-fat
1 tablespoon coconut oil
pinch kosher salt
Place the chocolate, oil, and salt in a bowl.
Heat the milk and sugar up together until boiling, then pour over the chocolate.
Allow to sit for 3 minutes, then stir together.
Blend with an immersion blender to emulsify.
for the caramel:
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons coconut milk, light or full-fat
1 tablespoon coconut oil
liberal pinch kosher salt
Heat the sugar up in a heavy saucepan with tall sides until deep amber, about 7 minutes.
Once the sugar reaches the proper color, remove from heat and add the milk and oil.  
Mixture will bubble and sizzle violently.
Whisk until smooth, then add in the salt.  
If caramel gets a skin before use, just gently heat and stir to return it to proper consistency.
for the candied pecans:
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup (you could go up to almost 1/2 cup with this amount of glaze; you’ll have extra if you use 1/4 cup) pecan halves
Toast the pecans lightly in a skillet, about 2 minutes.
In another saucepan, heat the oil, vinegar, sugar, and salt until bubbling.
Remove from heat and stir in pecans.
Pour mixture onto a sheet pan lined with silpat.
Allow to cool until glaze sets.
for the ice cream:
1 can (14 ounces) light coconut milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil
pinch salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Bring everything to a boil, whisking constantly.
Transfer to a blender canister and allow to sit for 4 minutes to cool.
Blend, being careful to vent the blender and cover with a towel to protect yourself from hot splashes, until frothy and homogeneous.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then freeze in your ice cream machine.
Store in freezer until use.
to assemble:
toasted coconut
Plate the caramel sauce and the ganache first; either smear them both across the plate or use a fork’s tines to splatter the chocolate onto the plate.
Arrange cake crumbles on one end of the smears; follow with candied pecans.
Carefully place coconut where desired.
Finish with a scoop or quenelle of coconut ice cream.

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
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:
1 ounce white chocolate
2 ounces heavy cream
big whopping pinch salt
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
1/2 cup cream
1.2 ounces sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
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
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
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”:
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
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.


If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, even a brief glance, you were not surprised, I’m sure, at the title of this post.
I kvetch quite a lot, especially on this soapbox in my little corner of the internet.
Fun, if not somewhat depressing, fact: 1 out of every 3 posts on this blog has been labeled with “whining.”
1 out of every 10, “Stupid.”
3 of every 20, “WISE.”
At least I have that ratio going for me… WISE>Stupid.
I won’t lie and say that my project has been going especially super duper well, simply because it has been somewhat stagnant in the last two weeks, primarily due to the fact that I have 4 finals within the next two weeks and 4 APs the two weeks following.
Needless to say, that has been consuming a lot of my time, energy, and, frankly, willpower.
I wanted to make something yesterday with basil, as we have two basil plants which have outgrown their welcome flourished, Lord knows how or why, in our kitchen.
It’s difficult for me to push WISE to the forefront of my mind and my worries these days.
I itch to get in the kitchen, but I have to force myself to work on other homework, else I fall behind (speaking of which, I already am behind…).  
I am relieved that my timeline for WISE is so much longer than my other classes; it may be only a few week difference between my APs and my WISE presentation, but I’ll be darned if it doesn’t feel wonderful not to have added pressure in yet another class.
I know there are still things I haven’t gotten to.
I know there are topics that are in dire need of attention.
I know because I read my project proposal once through, yet again (I found a typo! Send help!!!), and realized that while I have gone above and beyond certain expectations that I had had, I am also lacking in more than a couple.
About the dessert, ’cause that’s what we really care about around here:
I found this dessert by Michael Laiskonis (the plating makes me want to cry, it is so beautiful. And no, I am not joking.  I love that stinking cylindrical panna cotta so much.  How could you not?  It’s a little tube of beauty.) and ran with the inspiration.
First, I kept things small- the plate that you see is a tiny little tea saucer, though it looks rather large in the photos.  
Secondly, I loved the way he cut the strawberries- it’s unconventional and transforms them into a new, unfamiliar element which attracts the eye.   So yeah, I copied him there.  
Third, I had no idea that basil seeds, like flax and chia seeds, were mucilaginous.  Steeping them in basil syrup is so logical but so unexpected.  
It heightens the herbaceous and spicy notes of the seeds, while activating their mucilage-producing quality.
Yucky name, lovely texture- sort of “squeaky,” as Laiskonis describes it.
Stick with me for a few more weeks, guys.  
We’re in it for the long haul.
P.S. humblebrag… sorry not sorry… Look at that quenelle!!  Best one yet!  I’m figuring out more and more tricks:
boiling water
small spoon
NO drying off the spoon
a tall, plastic container with a rim for the ice cream.
Hallelujah, I might have quenelling down by the time I have to present.
strawberry curd
tomato spheres
balsamic reduction
steeped basil seeds
basil ice cream


for the strawberry curd:
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter
Bring the strawberries, sugar, salt, and lemon juice to a boil.  

Allow to simmer until the strawberries have broken down into a smooth mush consistency. 
Whisking vigorously, add the egg.
Cook over medium-low heat until the curd thickens.
Whisk in the butter.
Chill until use; press plastic wrap right onto the surface of the curd to store.

for the tomato spheres:
1/2 cup of tomato juice, freshly pressed out of a few tomatoes
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon agar
2 cups canola oil, chilled in the freezer for at least an hour
Stir the salt, sugar, juice, and agar together in a microwaveable, large container.  
Microwave on HIGH for 30 second bursts, until the mixture boils.
After the first burst that it boils, microwave it twice more, for a total of 1 minute 30 ish seconds of boiling in the microwave.
Remove the oil from the freezer (put it in a wide, large bowl).
Using a syringe, drop the liquid tomato gel into the oil.  It will congeal into little spheres.
Remove from the cold oil by straining the spheres out (the oil is reusable), then rinse in cool water and use.

for the basil seeds:
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar
10 basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
1 tablespoon basil seeds
Bring the water, sugar, and basil leaves to a simmer just to dissolve the sugar.
Strain out the leaves.
The syrup should be a loose consistency.  
If it is not, simply add more water 1/2 a teaspoon at a time.
Sprinkle the basil seeds over the syrup and mix gently.
Allow to sit and become mucilaginous.  
To use, strain the syrup with a sieve.

for the basil ice cream:
adapted from Jeni’s
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons half and half
1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon mascarpone
10-15 basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
1 vanilla bean, scraped
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon light corn syrup
pinch kosher salt
pinch gelatin (scant 1/8 teaspoon)
Bring the vanilla bean, the vanilla seeds, the half and half, the sugar, the salt, the corn syrup, and the basil leaves to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer and whisk cornstarch in very well.

Place mascarpone in a bowl; strain the hot ice cream base over the mascarpone; discard basil leaves and vanilla pod; whisk well to dissolve mascarpone.
Sprinkle gelatin over the top of the mixture and whisk to combine.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then spin in your ice cream maker until smooth and creamy.
Store in a plastic container in the freezer.

for the balsamic reduction:
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Bring to a boil over medium heat in a small saucepan.  
Allow to boil for 15-20 seconds, then remove from heat.
The reduction should be only slightly looser than a syrup.

to assemble:
micro basil leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
Smear a tablespoon or so of strawberry curd in a curve around your plate.
Place a large mound of whipped cream on the base of your plate; create a small well in the center with the back of a spoon.
Slice the very tips of the strawberries very thinly; place a few around the plate.
Spoon 1/4 teaspoon piles of basil seeds around the plate.
Garnish with micro basil leaves.
Splatter balsamic reduction across the side of the plate.
Place 1-2 tablespoons of tomato spheres in the well of your whipped cream.
Quenelle a scoop of basil ice cream and balance it on top of the spheres.
Serve immediately.


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. 
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
80 g raspberry purée, strained twice through a sieve
1 teaspoon rosewater
5 g sugar
1.2 g agar
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
1 ounce goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon gelatin
1/4 cup cream
1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sour cream
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
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
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
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
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
3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
5 ounces raspberries
2 egg yolks
Pinch salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
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
1 teaspoon gelatin
1.1 ounces water
4 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
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
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
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
Unsprayed rose petals
1 egg white
1 cup superfine sugar
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.

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.


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!
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?

for the roasted milk and white chocolate mousse:
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

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:
1/2 cup milk
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts
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
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
65 g passion fruit puree
35 g sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon gelatin
6 tablespoons butter, cold
1 g kosher salt
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:
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
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.