Heaven & Hell

I had a really weird experience with 7-minute frosting about a month ago.

I have, on my wordpress dashboard, a half-written post about how I really messed up the frosting for my mom’s birthday cake. It was so unfortunate, I couldn’t bring myself to publish the pictures. I had crafted this amazing, sumptuous vanilla cake. It was all super-yellow irish butter and whole vanilla bean goodness. The batter was a voluminous mousse of what appeared to be lighter-than-air vanilla pudding. While it baked, a heavenly vanilla scent filled my apartment.

Deciding that this cake was perfect in every way, I set about deciding on the perfect flavors to accompany such a cake. I would turn some egg yolks (I have a bowl in my freezer containing no fewer than 2 dozen yolks…more on that later) into a raspberry curd fit for the finest vanilla gelato. I’d lighten the curd with freshly whipped cream, and make a giant raspberry whipped-cream sandwich on perfect vanilla cake. I’d top it with great swoops of marshmallowy 7-minute frosting. What could be better?

Probably nothing, if that was how it had actually gone down.

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nobody spoke, and i went into a dream

One of the first days off I spent in my new place, I spent doing a puzzle and drinking tons of coffee. Now, as I wait for Easter from the black confines of a sleepy, coffee-deprived Lent; that sunny, java-soaked July afternoon is ripe for remembering.

It started, as many happy days too, with an amazing breakfast. I toasted some croissants from work, fried some eggs and potatoes, and washed a big bowl of cherries. I used my previous roommate’s amazing coffee grinder (he was briefly staying with myself and my new roommate before moving to New York), and brewed a perfect french press. We drank orange juice from little beer glasses, and Kym crafted some flowers for the table, in like, 9 seconds.

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Oh my goodness. I cannot stop thinking about fruit fillings. I need to start making my own jam, but that’s an adventure for another day. Recently, I was going on about how much I love making lemon curd, and I’ve been feeling he need to make some sort of filling since then.

A few days ago, I headed down to Wicker Park and got some yarn so I could start working on a blanket for my sister. It’s going to be pretty! It’s a tradition I have with my roommate that if we go to Nina, we also go to Alliance and grab some macarons, or some kind of treat. I got this little milk chocolate mousse/cake heart that was filled with passionfruit curd. It was too good!! I started looking up where I could find passionfruit for baking, and last night, I struck gold in Albany Park at Chicago Produce.

I got some puree that was frost-bitten and way in the back of the freezer. The juice thawed overnight in the fridge and I got to work in the morning.

I made a fairly small amount (for making cookies, not filling a cake), so the work was fast. Also, I’ve started getting into making gifts for people, and I think I need to learn how to properly jar these fillings. My roommate brought some lemon curd home from a NYE party hosted by a chef, and I used some to fill macarons…in March. It was wonderful, because it was jarred.

People’s scones don’t know they’re missing passionfruit curd, but trust me, they are.

Berries and Blood Orange with Créme Chantilly

Berries and Blood Orange with Créme Chantilly

Mixed Berries and Blood Orange with Créme Chantilly
serves two
1/2 cup blackberries*
1/2 cup raspberries*
2-3 blood oranges, supremed
prepared créme chantilly

* If your berries are frozen, put them into a cast iron pan for a bit. They’ll thaw in no time.

Layer everything into four wine glasses and you’re good to go. This is a really awesome dessert for when you’re entertaining, and you want something that looks good, without going all out. It’s also excellent when you need to practice chantilly for midterms (my case). ;]

Créme Chantilly
8 oz heavy whipping creme or créme fraîche
1.25 oz powdered sugar
.5 oz – .9 oz vanilla extract

Chill your bowl and whip in the freezer prior to beginning, and keep your creme very cold. When your utensils are nice and chilled, whip your creme in an electric mixer until it forms soft peaks. Do this by slowly bringing the mixer up to medium speed. It’ll take a bit for soft peaks to form, but once they’re there, things move pretty quick so keep an eye on things.

Next, add your powdered sugar a little at a time, waiting for the first bit to be incorporated before adding the next. Adding everything at once will overwhelm the mixture, curdling the creme. Add your vanilla. Mix until you have semi-firm peaks and refrigerate until ready to use.

Mini Coconut Blood Orange Bundt Cakes

mini coconut orange bundt cakes

Lolo at VeganYumYum.Com made some gorgeous vegan mini bundt cakes, using coconut creme and blood oranges to create a really wonderful cake with an excellent texture. I couldn’t get to Whole Foods to pick up any more blood oranges (I had some when she posted the recipe, but used them to make another dessert before I got any soy milk in the house…), so I used plain old orange oranges.

I gave these cakes to a friend whose pet died, and she really liked them. It was my first short at vegan baking! Try it out! It was incredibly easy, and you can even lick the batter without any worries about raw eggs.

Sugar High Friday #40

My frist Sugar High Friday! I’m still very new to food blogging, and even though I’d love to show off photogaphy and food styling like Bea at La Tartine Gourmande, or Matt at Mattbites, all I can do so far is make something taste good. But I’m working on it! And the pie I made for this event was very special to me.Pies That Evoke Your Dreams! This event is being hosted by Rachel at Vampituity, who drew inspiration from two really neat sources:

(1) The AMAZING movie Waitress, which stars Keri Russel and a very talented woman named Adrienne Shelly who wrote and directed the film, but who was senselessly murdered before the film was released. If you haven’t, WATCH this movie. It’s genius, and my word the PIES! The pies are the Ancient Greek Chorus of the movie. They give you insight to what’s really going on. If you bake, you cannot watch this film and not be inspired to bake a pie that is an expression of your self or your situation.

(2) The Pie Ranch of California. The Pie Ranch teaches young people about the full cycle of their food. From the earth to the kitchen and back to the earth. These youngsters are harvesting their pie ingredients locally, learning their way around a bakeshop, and selling the pies at Mission Pie in San Fransisco. This is a really important movement for social change. This program is teaching young people to appreciate not only the food they eat, but the waste that results from food production and the quality vs. price factor when it comes to buying groceries. Learn more about it at PieRanch.Org and MissionPie.Com

On to the pie! This isn’t an “I’m having an affair with my prenatal specialist” pie, or an “I don’t want no damn baby” pie. This is a pie about a dream that I have, in which I own a bakery that is flooded with sunlight, where guests are free to spend all day in a fluffy chair enjoying comforting foods and company. This is a dream that I revisit every day, when I’m driving around scouting buildings I’d like to buy, or when I’m at school getting lost in the kneading of whatever dough I’m working on. This is a dream about Apple Berry Pie.

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