Pour me plaindre ou m’aimer je ne cherche personne;
J’ai planté l’arbre amer dont la sève empoisonne.
Je savais, je devais savoir quel fruit affreux
Naît d’une ronce aride au piquant douloureux.
Je saigne. Je me tais. Je regarde sans larmes
Des yeux pour qui mes pleurs auraient de si doux charmes.
Dans le fond de mon coeur je renferme mon sort,
Et mon étonnement, et mes cris, et ma mort.
Oui ! Je veux bien mourir d’une flèche honteuse,
Mais sauvez-moi, mon Dieu ! De la pitié menteuse.
Oh ! La pitié qui ment ! Oh ! Les perfides bras
Valent moins qu’une tombe à l’abri des ingrats.
“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.”
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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!
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!
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.
I just got my wisdom teeth out.
Boy, was I glad that there were a few of these popsicles in reserve.
I am so doped out on Vicodin that I don’t have the energy to type up a whole post.
I’m pretty much utterly miserable, eating popsicles and mashed sweet potatoes and yogurt and hating life.
All I want is a good crunchy kale salad. URgh.
Mango lassi popsicles, however, are a sunshiney way to nurse my poor, poor teeth back to health.
Sweet mangoes and thick, creamy skyr—Icelandic yogurt—are blitzed to the high heavens with a touch of honey and tumeric (both good for anti-inflammation) adding, respectively, a floral roundness and a spicy, mustardy complexity. Salt and sugar to balance out all the flavors, and a touch of cream to keep the pops from being too icy.
These are so refreshing and perfect for a summer afternoon, even for the non-chipmunk people among us.
Mango Lassi Popsicles makes 6-8 popsicles
2 cups frozen mango
3/4 cup nonfat yogurt
1/3 cup sugar (depends on how sweet your mangoes are)
2 tablespoons honey
heaping teaspoon tumeric
2 pinches kosher salt
1/3 cup cream or half-and-half
Place all ingredients in a blender in the order listed and process on high until completely smooth, about 5 minutes.
The mixture will be thick but pourable; pour it into a popsicle mold and freeze for 15 minutes, then stick popsicle sticks in and freeze completely, at least 2 hours.
Run the mold under hot water to unmold the popsicles.
“There are many things we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.”
January is a fragile month.
The new year is only just hatching, stretching its wings, ruffling its feathers, blinking awake.
The sun is slowly becoming stronger, the days longer.
It is the month of resolutions, ever so delicate, easily crushed in their nascence.
We are all only dipping our toes in the cold, cold new waters.
Not a one of us knows what the year will bring—a terrifying and invigorating prospect.
How has it come to pass that the end of this first month of 2014 is nigh?
January has flown by in a blur, spinning me around in a whirled frenzy of snow and wind.
I shiver to think of what this year holds—whether it is borne from excitement or dread, I cannot say.
It could also be the ungodly cold here in Chicago. I don’t know.
January is a month of citrus.
Though, I must admit, you cannot tell as much from my archives.
January 2013: puff pastry tutorial, coconut mochi, s’mores cake, conversation heart cookies, nutella-raspberry-brown butter crumb bars, maple-bacon and Vietnamese coffee doughnuts, gâteau des rois. Only one had citrus… January 2014: Peppermint-chocolate cookies, PB cupcakes, pear-cranberry-ginger crisps, earl grey cupcakes. Ahem. Still none.
This pavlova is my answer, my remedy, then, to the absent citrus in what I have just declared to be a month of citrus.
Specifically, lemon. January is a lemon month.
Lemon. Perky, bright, sunny. Lemon. Tart, balancing, acidic. Lemon lemon lemon, I’d choose over chocolate any day. (Freak.)
The first time I met a meyer lemon was 2006.
I received the January issue of Martha Stewart Living.
As I tore through it, my 11 year old self soaking in every hit of inspiration, I fell upon this cake.
I wanted to cry. I wanted to make this cake so incredibly badly, but knew it was out of my reach.
This cake prominently featuring these mysterious meyer lemons was all I wanted. And I couldn’t have it. I begged my parents to let me make it.
They said, “um… no. We don’t need a 3 foot high, 3 tier meyer lemon cake. Stop reading Martha Stewart, you little weirdo.“
Everything was so beautiful and yellow and happy and lemony.
It was torture. And what the hell was a meyer lemon, anyway?
Can you tell what a strange, disturbed child I was? A Martha Stewart addict from a young age.
It explains so much, don’t it?
In a month where stagnation is banished, where the wheels are turning and the world is changing, lemon is ideal.
It’s fresh and lively, something which I appreciate when the fresh produce situation is somewhat abysmal.
Lemon never fails to awaken the palette.
It’s a clean flavor, and after all the heavy desserts of December, we can all use a flavor boost.
Pavlova. Also perfectly suited for January, with its light airiness and minimal sweetness. Good for resolution breaking, but not resolution destroying, ja feel?
It’s probably my favorite dessert. Which is a big, big deal.
I wrote a sonnet inspired by rhubarb, which was featured in my first pavlova. (I have no words for the white balance in those photos. Please accept my apologies.)
I had pavlova for my 18th birthday cake, a simple one-layer affair, covered in coconut/mascarpone fluff, passionfruit sauce, and tumbling raspberries.
And now, here we are.
This pavlova focuses on tartness, allowing the meyer lemons to shine.
A supremely light meringue base, crispy and crackling on the exterior, pillowy marshmallow on the inside, is
layered with barely sweetened Greek yogurt, thick and luscious meyer lemon curd, fresh bites of strawberries and raspberries, and
finished with a sprinkle of earthy, grounding thyme and tart, chewy candied meyer lemons.
My pavlova cracked, pretty badly. I ain’t stressed about it.
See, I thought it would be genius to layer the yogurt and curd onto the layers before stacking them.
What anybody with a shred of common sense would quickly see is that the meringue was too delicate and fragile to stand up to the thick sauces and promptly crrrrrraacked. *shit shit shit*
Oops. It’s okay. Pavlovas crack and crumble; it’s part of their personality, their patina.
Get over it.
Once I was done photographing the cake, I realized how futile it would be to try to keep it on the cake pedestal.
It was already slip sliding around, as I didn’t secure it to the stand with a daub of lemon curd, as I should have.
Things were cracking, falling, toppling.
So, I plopped it into a bowl, shoved the leftover fruits on top, and called it a day.
The secret? It tastes just as good smashed up, packed into a bowl, smashed to bits and spooned straight into your mouth as it does dressed up, stacked, and eaten from a proper plate.
And thank goodness for that.
Meyer Lemon, Berry, Thyme, and Yogurt Pavlova
meringue base from Donna Hay
lemon curd adapted from Use Real Butter ingredients:
for the meringue base:
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons white vinegar
for the lemon curd:
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
4 egg yolks, beaten
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup meyer lemon juice
zest of 2 meyer lemons
for the candied lemons:
2 meyer lemons, sliced very thinly
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 pint strawberries, 1/2 hulled and sliced, 1/2 whole
1 cup raspberries
Make the meringue base:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
Trace 2 6-inch circles (you could do 8- or 9-inch, but it won’t be as tall.) with pencil, then turn the paper over.
Begin to whip egg whites with a stand mixer.
When soft peaks are just starting to form, stream in the sugar very slowly, one tablespoon at a time, until the meringue has reached very stiff peaks.
Gently fold in the vinegar and cornstarch.
Spread the meringue out around the traced circles.
Bake for an hour and a half, then turn off the oven and allow the pavlova to cool completely inside the oven.
Make the lemon curd:
Place water and sugar in a large pot.
Bring to a boil, then whisk in cornstarch.
Bring to a boil; mixture will be very thick and gloppy.
While whisking egg yolks, take a spoonful of the cornstarch mixture and quickly combine; continue to add, by the spoonful, until about 1/3 of the hot cornstarch mixture has been added.
Whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the corn starch mixture, and return to very low heat.
Whisk in the butter, then, off the heat, carefully whisk in the lemon juice and zest.
If any lumps are present, blitz the curd in a blender until smooth.
Make the candied lemons:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath.
Place the very thinly sliced lemons in the boiling water and cook for 20 seconds.
Remove to the ice bath and allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, add 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water to the pot and bring to a simmer, until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the lemon slices and allow to simmer for 45 minutes, until softened and no longer bitter.
Assemble the pavlova:
Whisk the yogurt and confectioner’s sugar together.
Spread a thin layer over the first pavlova layer, then spread half of the lemon curd onto the yogurt.
Top with the sliced strawberries and a sprinkling of thyme.
Add the second meringue disk, and top with the remaining yogurt and lemon curd.
Arrange the fruit on top of the lemon curd, and sprinkle more thyme leaves over.
Serve with a spoon, in bowls.
Forgive me. This one is a mouthful, in all senses of the word.
I guess I might as well start out by telling you what you’re looking at, because otherwise I fear you may feel unsure of my sanity.
Gird your loins.
This is a vanilla bean marshmallow, Greek yogurt cheesecake with a peanut butter base, torched marshmallows, and homemade potato chips.
These flavors called to me as I stared at a big ole pile of homemade vanilla bean marshmallows and graham crackers that I had leftover from a picnic yesterday (I’ll share some pictures etc. in the next few days.).
I keep a running note of minute-to-minute, day-to-day, random inspirations on my phone.
It includes eclectic and esoteric things like “honey nut” and “coconut kumquat” to, lo and behold, “homemade potato chips with peanut butter- cupcakes?“
So obviously, this is not cupcakes. But those two flavors are featured in this cake.
Savory, fatty peanut butter combines with silky cheesecake and soft, puffy marshmallows, only to be highlighted with über crispy, salty chips.
This cheesecake is a no-bake deal. You can whip it together in 20 minutes.
It has to chill for a while, but that’s down time.
You could run errands or walk your dog or clean your kitchen (none of which I did), or drink milky green tea while watching the last two episodes of Food Network Star (cue glazed eyes), and feign sleep when someone discovers you, which I may or may not have done.
Anyways, you have some time. A minimum of 2 hours. So plan ahead.
The nice thing about this is that you can make this way ahead and let it hang out in the fridge before unmolding and decorating it.
I would say a full day ahead would be totally fine.
You don’t want to put the chips on too early, you little eager beaver you, because they will get soggy and limp.
Soggy and limp are not two of the adjectives I ever want to hear describing any cheesecake.
So chill with the chips until you’re ready to serve.
This thang is not so rich as one might think: there is no butter, only a smidgen of cream, it’s made with 0% Greek yogurt, light sour cream, and neufchâtel.
It slices very well and is light and creamy.
The textures are out of this world… I can only think of adjectives to describe this cheesecake.
I have trouble forming full, coherent sentences.
Crispy, salty, fatty, soft, creamy, silky, sweet, savory, and just a touch bitter (torched mallows).
One last thing: let’s be honest, you don’t have to make your own marshmallows and potato chips to make this cake.
(I garnished with regular mini marshmallows!)
Go out and buy a package of mini mallows and some Cape Cod potato chips and go to town.
You’ll thank me later.
(You can add in vanilla bean or extract if you use regular marshmallows.)
Also, I realize this post was all about food and kind of one note.
Never fear, I’ll be back before you even want me to be, bitchin’ and whinin’ about my life as per usual.
(Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Greek Yogurt Cheesecake with Potato Chips and PB Crust)
makes one 6×3 inch cheesecake or one 9×2 inch cheesecake
3 ounces graham crackers (I used homemade, you could easily sub more Nutter Butters)
3 ounces (about 6 cookies) Nutter Butter or other peanut butter sandwich cookies (leave the filling in)
2 ounces (heaping 2 tablespoons) peanut butter
16 ounces cream cheese (I used half neufchâtel)
150 grams (3/4 cup) sugar
8 ounces (1 cup) 0% Greek yogurt
3 ounces (1/3 cup) light or full-fat sour cream
2 ounces (1/4 cup) cream
2 teaspoons gelatin
7 ounces marshmallows, melted and still warm (about 1 cup when melted)
Garnish: toasted marshmallows, potato chips
Lightly grease your springform pan (either a 6×3 or 9×2).
In the bowl of a food processor, process your cookies and crackers, leaving the filling in the peanut butter cookies.
Meanwhile, melt the peanut butter in a microwave or over a stove.
Pour the still-fluid PB into the food processor and pulse until the mixture sticks together when pressed.
Press into the bottom of your pan and place in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.
Whip the cream cheese with a stand or hand mixer until it is light and fluffy.
Add in the sugar and whip for 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over the top of 2 tablespoons of cold water and set aside for 5 minutes.
To the cream cheese, add the yogurt and sour cream and beat until combined; scrape the sides of the bowl.
After the gelatin has softened for 5 minutes, add it to the cream and microwave on high until it melts, about 20 seconds.
Add the cream mixture to the cream cheese mixture and beat on high.
Scrape in the still-warm marshmallows (you may need to reheat them a bit to get them nice and liquidy) and beat on high until everything comes together.
The batter will seem a little liquidy; this is fine.
Pour the mixture into the prepared crust/pan and place in the refrigerator to set, about 2 hours.
Once the cake is set, garnish how you like.
It cuts best with a clean knife, so wipe in between cuts.
breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit,
and resign yourself to the influences of each.
Be blown by the winds.
Grow green with spring, yellow and ripe with autumn.
For all Nature is doing her best each moment to make us well.
Do not resist her.”
-Henry David Thoreau
Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea, But sad mortality o’er-sways their power, How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea, Whose action is no stronger than a flower? O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out Against the wreckful siege of battering days, When rocks impregnable are not so stout, Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays? O fearful meditation! where, alack, Shall Time’s best jewel from Time’s chest lie hid? Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back? Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid? O, none, unless this miracle have might, That in black ink my love may still shine bright.
I adore Shakespeare’s Sonnet 65, mainly because I love the thought of Time, unstoppable and ravaging, racing through the seasons with little regard to the beauty of each.
I’m blessed to live in a place that experiences each of the four seasons so distinctly and so exquisitely.
I appreciate each in turn, but it’s true that by the end of the season, I am yearning for the next.
When the first flowers sprout, I am ecstatic for growth and life, but by the time May rolls around I’m ready for heat and sun.
When it comes time, I dream of sweaters and long pants and the most beautiful season of all, autumn, with its fiery colors and chilly weather.
Eventually, I crave the first snow, downy white and fluffy.
Of course, what follows- grey and brown slush- leaves me longing for grass and flowers and green- which completes the cycle quite nicely.
Right now, I’m doing my best to enjoy summer, keeping thoughts of jackets and boots out of my mind.
It’s not as easy as it sounds, being a Fall baby leaves me constantly wishing for the cooling off.
I’ll be quick about the popsicles:
They’re cool, easy, and very refreshing.
They’re tangy and tart- not too sweet.
My favorite part about these is the fact that they’re made with nonfat Greek yogurt- it causes them to be icy on the outset, but once you take a bite, melt into creamy, tangy goodness.
Also, they take 10 minutes to put together and have 4 ingredients.
You could sub any type of berry here, just go by what looks good in your area, and taste for sweetness.
I ate two the other day, after returning home from a lovely, long and sweaty walk, while curled up on the couch reading a book.
Now that is a perfect summer afternoon.
Raspberry Yogurt Popsicles makes 6 standard popsicles ingredients: 1 1/2 cups raspberries, mashed 3 tablespoons honey, divided 1 cup Greek yogurt (I used non-fat) 2 tablespoons half and half or cream directions: Stir 1 tablespoon of the honey into the raspberries. Check for sweetness- you may need to add more if your raspberries aren’t very sweet. Stir the rest of the honey into the Greek yogurt along with the half and half. Layer the two mixtures into popsicle molds and swirl with a knife, if desired. Freeze until solid; release from the molds by running hot water over the exterior.
For a rough estimate, just count the number of layers in this cake.
I mean, really.
I’m an exaggerator. It’s true. Always have been, always will be.
Now, my family calls it being a drama queen, diva, prima donna, etc.
Just who do you think I got it from?!
But seriously, guys.
When I make crêpes, I feel like I’ve made a hundred thousand million and I look at the stack and there’s like six sitting there, plus the one in my mouth.
Talk about disheartening.
I’ve tried to make crêpe cakes before.
I must will myself not to eat them fresh and hot from the pan and I must will myself to stay at the stove making stupid pancake after pancake until I can take no more.
(And/or have had my fill of fresh, hot crêpes.)
Then, after hours and hours of tending to a flaming hot stove, I, ever stoical and composed goddess of patience, must wait for them to cool.
HA! Fooled you, didn’t I?
Like heck I’m waiting for crêpes to cool… I’ve got things to do and places to see.
Ain’t nobody got time for dat.
I slap those suckers together with some filling, then stand back to admire what I expect to be a lovely little French pastry.
I’m never happy with what I behold.
It’s like getting a hairless cat instead of that damn poodle I was promised at the beginning of this whole ordeal.
They never stand above two inches tall, and they’re always droopy instead of ruffly and prim. They’re not flavorful enough.
They’re boring AND ugly.
A real winning combination…
So why are you staring at a haphazard, not very ruffly, somewhat off-kilter crêpe cake right now?
Because I couldn’t stop thinking about layered crêpes. Because I couldn’t get the flavor combination of banana and vanilla and apricot out of my head.
Because I wanted cake for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and linner that day.
Because I wanted said cake to be a semblance of something healthy. Ya know.
This cake is whole-wheat, has very, very little sugar in it, less than a teaspoon of butter, and is chock full of protein and healthy fats, thanks to the greek yogurt, ricotta, hazelnuts, and coconut oil; most of the sweetness comes from the bananas, vanilla seeds, and tart California apricots.
This cake is thus approved for every meal of the day.
It’s not the shiniest spoon in the drawer, to be sure, but it tastes good. It tastes real good.
(I can’t describe how much the asymmetry of that one darned hazelnut bothers me.
Whyyyyy didn’t I fix it while the cake was still in existence?
It will haunt me for the rest of my life.)
Banana Apricot Crêpe Cake for the banana crêpes: adapted from Smitten Kitchen ingredients: 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted 1 6 ounce banana, peeled 1 cup almond milk 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour 4 eggs 2 tablespoons natural sugar splash vanilla big pinch sea salt pinch each cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg directions: Whir all ingredients together in a food processor. Let batter rest for at least 20 minutes. To make the crêpes, heat a 6 inch skillet up on medium high heat. Brush with coconut oil- you should only have a thin film. Pour about 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan and immediately swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the top is cooked and the bottom is golden brown. To flip, use a spatula to pick up the edge, then gently use your fingers to pick up and flip the crêpe. (Don’t be a baby. It’s not that hot.) Continue until all batter is used up. for the Greek yogurt and ricotta filling: ingredients: 1/3 -1/2 cup Greek yogurt, depending on how loose you want your filling and/or how thick you want the filling layers to be. I used closer to 1/2 a cup. 1/3 cup part skim ricotta 1/3 cup powdered sugar splash vanilla pinch salt directions: Whisk all ingredients together. Set aside and let thicken slightly. for the apricot-vanilla compote: ingredients: 15 dried California apricots 1 vanilla bean or 2-3 already used pods (I fished some used ones out of my sugar) boiling water directions: Roughly chop the apricots. Place in a heat safe bowl with the vanilla pod (cut the pod up into 2 1/2 inch chunks if it is whole). Pour boiling water over to cover completely. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, until the apricots are softened and there are vanilla seeds floating in the water. Drain most of the water, reserving 2-3 tablespoons. Scrape the insides of the vanilla beans out and place in a food processor along with the reserved water and the apricots. Pulse until a slightly chunky paste forms. Set aside. for the caramel sauce: adapted from the NYT ingredients: 1/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon water 2 tablespoons light cream 1/2 tablespoons butter big pinch of sea salt (around 3/4 teaspoon) directions: Add the sugar and water to a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook on medium heat until light amber, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately stir in cream. Mixture will bubble and steam, so beware. Whisk in butter and salt; use before completely cooled. To loosen it up again before use, microwave it for a few seconds until it is liquid. to assemble: Cut up a large banana into thin slices. Begin layering the crepes, spreading each with yogurt filling, then either banana slices or apricot filling. Alternate the banana and apricot. Once your last crêpe is on the cake, pour the caramel over top. If desired, you can stack some toasted hazelnuts on top before pouring the caramel. Allow the caramel to set slightly, then serve.