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Showing posts with label baking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label baking. Show all posts

Monday, October 12, 2020

Persimmon Cinnamon Rolls


 

These are fabulous. You want these. You want them in your mouth, right now. These persimmon cinnamon rolls - or per-cinnamon rolls, if you will - are an excellent application of this beautiful fall fruit. I don't think it gets enough credit, but I'll talk about why I think that a little later... For now? Let's get to the recipe!

Per-cinnamon rolls

Dough

  • 400 g all-purpose flour
  • 5 g dry active yeast
  • 125 g sourdough starter
  • 150 g sugar
  • 30 g coconut milk powder
  • 200 g warm water, a little warmer than body temperature
  • 2 eggs
Filling
  • 1 cup persimmon puree
  • 2 tsp dried spiceberry bush berries, crushed
  • A few grinds of white pepper
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • A fat pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon 
Icing
  • 2 oz vegan butter substitute
    • I really love Earth Balance, or Miyoko's brand!
  • 6 oz vegan cream cheese
  • 1/3 c persimmon puree
  • Powdered sugar, as needed
    • Mine took about a cup and a half to get the right consistency
The night before...
Start by combining all of your dough ingredients, except for the eggs and salt, into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a hook attachment. Stir to combine and only to combine, which shouldn't take more than ten or eleven turns. Set a timer for 10 minutes and let everything sit together until the time has passed. When the timer goes, off, add your eggs and salt, and turn on your mixer to a low stir. Let this stir for about 5 minutes! Next, turn the speed up to medium and let stir for about 2 or 3 minutes, or until the dough is incomparably silky and smooth. 

Oil up a large plastic Tupperware container or a good-sized clean bowl that you can seal well with clingfilm. Turn your dough into this container, seal shut tight, and then let sit out for about 30 minutes, or until you can clearly see or smell that the yeast is working in your dough, though it should be noted that you shouldn't keep it out for longer than 45 minutes. While you're waiting, let's get you to prepare our cinnamon roll filling by simply combining everything with a whisk and storing in a large piping bag overnight with your dough. A ziploc plastic bag is fine, too!

Pop this gorgeous dough into the fridge and let sit overnight! It's important to note that if you want to have cinnamon rolls for breakfast, you must wake up early to do so, at least a couple of hours before everyone else eats breakfast to be safe. If you just want them as a morning snack, then wake up at your normal time and do this at your leisure. Shall we take this break to talk about persimmons?




First of all, I should tell you that I personally believe that they do not get hardly enough credit as a fall fruit. They possess a wonderfully sweet and complex flavor with a most-pleasant tang to finish. They're hard as rocks when they're unripe, but when they are ready they get almost squishy. I suppose you could describe their taste to be somewhere between a banana and a date, with an almost citrus-like tang to finish. They almost taste, to me, like good pie filling that's already been sugared and spiced. 

Second, I think it's only fair to warn you that they can be a little hard to find, but with local farmers and the local CSAs being so amazing, you're likely to find at least one or two folk growing them. Wild persimmons are the kind that I got, and although they were incredibly, especially delicious, they were quite small and rather labor intensive. If you can, don't get the wild kind, unless your plan is to dry them and have them in a tea blend. If you've already gotten your hands on wild persimmons, here's how to clean and process them:

Simply take them all in a bowl and let them come up to room temperature. Then, pour boiling water over them and let them sit until the water is cool enough to stick your hand in, remove and crack open the peel, one by one, before pressing the entire fruit into a fine mesh strainer. I like a good tamis, but if you have a food mill on hand then that'll do just fine! I put all of my puree, along with some of my skin, into my blender before pressing it through my tamis strainer once more. I think it's only fair to tell you that it did take me the better part of my afternoon.

Is it the next morning, yet? Are you ready to roll some stuff out? Let's do it! Just so you know, if you want to have this for breakfast, you should wake up a couple of hours before you are ready to bake and turn on the oven. If you work from home, and time doesn't matter anymore, just get up and go! Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and let's get ready.

Flour a surface generously, and that includes your hands! Turn your now-risen dough out onto your chosen surface, be it your counter or a marble slab, and roll out to an even rectangle that's about a quarter-inch thick. Take your filling and simply pipe it in lines all across your dough, and spread evenly with a spatula. The piping bag isn't absolutely required, but it does make it a little easier on you when it comes to even distribution. 

Roll up your dough, nice and tight, and pinch the sealing ends hard when it comes around to the end. Roll over on the seal side to let the weight help you out when cutting. I personally like to slice mine so that they stand up to be about 2 inches tall, and with this recipe, that method yields 15 rolls. Ultimately, if you're a bit of a novice, all you should really do is evenly slice them with a serrated knife and leave to proof on a sheet pan lined with either parchment or a silpat mat. An easy thing to do is to simply cut your whole roll in half, then in half again, then in half again...and voila! You have a whole tray of cinnamon rolls!





Next, arrange all of these on your chosen tray so that there's a decent amount of space between each one. This yielded 15 rolls for me, so I arranged it ina 3 x 5 on my half-sheet pan, sprinkled generously with flour, and then gently laid plastic wrap over the top while I preheated my oven to 325 degrees F. I usually set my rolls next to the stove and rotate them every 15 minutes or so, until they've doubled in size. You might as well make your icing while you're waiting!

Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes, or until golden-brown and delicious. Let them cool for about 5 minutes in the rack, and while your rolls are still warm, dollop over your gorgeous persimmon cream cheese frosting. 

And there you have it! You've just made incredible cinnamon rolls with a gorgeous autumnal twist. Not only are they delicious, but they have a beautifully gentle orange color that's perfect for fall. They're tasty with a hint of the date-like flavor of the persimmons, that is at once comforting and bright...and it all spells magic. 

Thanks so much for reading, today! Happy cooking and happy eating!






Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Mini Apple Poptarts



I have a secret. Do you promise not to tell my friends? I hope it won't ruin me!

I love Poptarts. I really do! I know that I'm supposed to be this serious and sophisticated Chef at this point in my career. I know I'm meant to have a sophisticated palette. But what can be done when the heart wants what the heart wants? There's just something so amazing about a sugar-packed pastry filled with fruit and topped with frosting! Am I wrong for loving them? I don't know about that...but I do know that recently experienced a tiny tragedy a few weeks ago.

I bought a Poptart from a gas station. (I was in a rush and experiencing a sugar crash, so don't judge me.) I took a big bite of it while I was driving and felt like I was being kicked in the teeth by a tiny sugar monster. I was utterly heartbroken. Am I just too old for Poptarts? Have I outgrown them? But how can one 'outgrow' the perfect parcel of pastry and fruity filling, crisp and crumbly and delicious? It was just too horrible to be true. I set this experience in the back of my mind until I received my farm box from Prairie Birthday Farm and happily opened a bag of Windfall apples. 

Yes! I thought. These apples weren't the pretty things you see in the grocery store, but the real apples that you get off the farm. I could make apple pie, of course, but what if I could take the opportunity to right the wrong of that Poptart experience I'd had some weeks prior? These apples were perfect for baking, and I was about to do just that. Here's another thing you need to know: Not every single produce item you have has to be absolutely gorgeous, especially if it's going to be put in something, versus presented to guests as is. The truth of the matter is that apples will simply jump their way off a tree when it's ready to be eaten and if it's found on the ground that doesn't mean that it is any less edible. We can talk more about that later!

Mini Apple Poptarts
yields 12 mini pop tarts

Perfect Pie Dough
  • 14 oz all-purpose flour
  • 2 oz granulated sugar
  • 8 oz vegan butter/any solid fat
  • Vodka, as needed
Apple Filling
  • 6 small apples or 2 big ones, peeled and chopped
  • 3.5 oz raw or brown sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon or 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp Mexican vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese long peppercorn
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Special equipment
  • A proper rolling pin
  • A fluted square cutter
  • A Silpat mat
Start with your pie dough. I know I've talked about it plenty of times, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to start with cold ingredients. Chop your cold fat, and put it into your cold dry ingredients. Rub your fat in with your fingers - not your palms - to keep it cool. Add cold vodka. Are you curious about what the actual mixing method is? Check it out - I've actually done a video about it!




Now that that's all settled, wrap your pie dough and chill it well! I like to let it chill overnight, but an hour will do the trick just fine if you don't want to wait. Are we ready to move on to the filling? I sure am!

Protip: The trick to doing good pop tarts is to chop the apples large enough to still have a sort of bite when eaten, but small enough to fit into your tart of size. I cut my pieces into thin slices and then had those slices cut to 2 cm in length. This, of course, all depends on the size you want, so please feel free to decide what size you feel appropriate! No matter what, make sure that your slices are all the same size, so they cook evenly.

Combine your apples with the sugar, lemon juice or vinegar, salt, vanilla, and spices, and stir well. Cover with a clean tea towel and let sit for about half an hour to extract all of those delicious juices and that wonderful pectin. This is called maceration, and it's used to soften fruits for sauces or fillings, while also making the flavors more intense. Keep in mind: the longer you let the apples sit, the more juices will escape and the more your flavors will meld...so feel free to start this the day before you want these treats! While we're waiting, let's talk a little bit about apples and the perfectly imperfect fruit that they are.

Apples originated in Central Asia. The apple as we know it was brought over by the European colonizers. Although technically an invasive species, we have plenty of delicious varieties that grow better in certain climates. Apples enjoy a temperate climate and require other apple trees nearby to cross-pollinate, which makes it difficult to grow and manage if you don't have a decent amount of space. The good news: you can dwarf an apple tree! This means that they'll grow out, not up, which is much easier to manage when harvesting! Shall we talk about harvesting apples, now?





The apple tree is an exceedingly clever plant, as it'll simply boot off any apples it deems ripe enough to eat instead of waiting for someone to pick it. This results in bruising, and bruised apples never get picked to go to the grocery store. This is not so great, since bruised apples are entirely edible. Apples do ripen quickly, however, so if you don't get them off the ground as soon as you can, they risk fermenting and trust me when I tell you this: drunk squirrels are funny, drunk hornets are not. 

I could go on and on and on about food waste and the problematic practices of how we harvest produce in this country. I'm guessing, however, that you are ready to cook your apple filling...so let's get to it!


Now that your apples have macerated, you're ready to add your tapioca starch! I love tapioca starch for this because it cooks quickly, is crystal clear when set, and mimics the jelly-like texture of pectin most naturally. Cook your apple filling over medium-low heat until most of the liquid has been reduced and thickened, about ten minutes, and set aside to cool. You'll want your apple filling to be at least room temperature for this next step!

Roll out your pie dough between two greased parchment sheets or between two long sheets of plastic wrap. This prevents you from making a mess! Roll it as thin as you can, about 1/8th of an inch, and use a cutter of your choice to cut shapes of equal sizes to make your tarts. Remember, each tart is going to use two pieces of cut dough. I had this gorgeous little fluted ravioli cutter that I found at a garage sale, so I decided to use that! You can use egg wash to help 'glue' your two pieces together, but water works just fine if you want to keep it vegan. 


Use a scoop or large spoon to portion equal parts of your cooled apple filling onto the bottoms of each tart and loosely sandwich the top piece to it. Allow the top dough to relax around the filling and press gently around the edges to get rid of any air bubbles. I used a fork to crimp the edges of my tarts, but you can use your fingers and pinch them together if you like. Make sure you poke some vent holes in the top!

At this point, you can freeze them for later. Why would you do that? So you can have them to either stick in the toaster oven in the morning for a quick breakfast! Even better, if you wanted to get a little crazy, you could deep fry these beauties at 375 degrees until golden-brown for an insanely indulgent take on the apple Poptart! If you're a traditionalist like yours truly, though, and you simply cannot wait to dig in, feel free to bake these beauties at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until golden-brown and delicious. Let them cool completely before you handle them. You can frost these with a simple powdered sugar glaze or buttercream, but I like them plain. They're a perfect little snack to beat the mid-afternoon slump!

I adore this recipe because it's easy to make ahead, and they're just oh so cute to look at and eat. It's got all the beauty of an apple pie combined with mobility. You can wrap these in paper and take them on a picnic, or pop them in your purse for an on-the-go sugar boost. You can grab one on the way out the door. Heck, put one in your pocket while you wander the wild and windy moors, lamenting over that handsome stranger that shot partridge on your land just Sunday last. The possibilities are endless!

Thank you so much, as always, for joining me today. I hope this has inspired you to try this recipe on for size. Now please excuse me while I help myself to some apple pie a la mode with my husband. Happy cooking and happy eating!


Monday, August 3, 2020

Cotton-Soft Ube Cake


Whoa. Technicolor.


Can we be real for a second? Sometimes, you want cake. You really want cake. But it's in the middle of the summer and it's just too dang hot and humid to even think about turning on the oven. Even during the famous Midwestern False Fall, it's humid. So what's one to do when you want that cake but don't want to heat up your whole house? Use a rice cooker to make a cake! 

This is the perfect recipe for that summery situation of wanting a light spongecake without sweating yourself into a puddle. If you have no choice but to cook this cake in an oven, keep reading! I've got your answer below...

Disclaimer: I'm an Asian-American person that (mostly) grew up in a white family. I had a brief phase where I wanted to be in fashion design, but once I realized that I'd much rather be tubby and eat good food, I signed up for culinary school. I went to Culinary school and learned the old-school French ways of cooking, which means my first formal exposure to cooking rice that was of the Western-style, which is to say in a pot on the stove. It wasn't until living with my mom, a full indigenous Filipino woman of Pampanga, that I learned the proper way to cook rice. She never had a rice cooker but just used a pot and the old finger-trick. (Jo Koy talks about it here.) I didn't buy my first rice cooker until I was 30 and am decidedly ignorant about all the glorious things you can do with this amazing machine. I am now in love with it and use it constantly. I stand before you now and I'll say it out loud: I'm a Janie Come-Lately. Please be kind to me, fellow Asians.

Cotton-Soft Ube Cake
adapted from Cooking Tree's recipe
yields 1 cotton-soft cake
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 150 g sugar, divided
  • 30 g raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp ube extract
  • 110 g all-purpose flour
  • 20 g tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 40 g olive oil
  • 40 g almond milk
  • 30 g ube jam
Gently oil the bowl of your rice cooker or steamer with either olive oil or coconut oil. If you do use a steamer, you can either use a bowl or little individual ramekins. I wouldn't use paper cups for this, as it's going to be steamed for quite some time! 

Separate the eggs, with yolks in a large bowl and the whites in the bowl of your standing mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment. Combine the honey, egg yolks, half the sugar, ube jam, and ube extract in a large bowl with a balloon whisk until light and fluffy. It's good for your arm to work this hard, so spend at least 60 seconds on whipping by hand! The idea is to dissolve everything together in a beautiful, thick purple paste. 



Measure out the olive oil and almond milk in a small, separate bowl, and set this aside. Whisk together the two flours, the baking powder, and the salt in another bowl. Spoon in your flour mixture to your egg yolk mixture and whisk gently to create a paste. You're only going to want to do this about a third of the dry ingredients at a time to prevent lumps. Don't worry too much about the gluten!

Whip the egg whites with the other half of the sugar until stiff peaks form. It's going to be tripled in volume, and oh-so-glossy. If they look dry, you've over-whipped them, and the cake won't be as nice, so please err on the side of 'under'-whipping, as you're going to already have some leavening from the baking powder. Does that make sense?


Whoa. Groovy, man.


Add in a dollop of the egg white meringue to your purple yolk mixture. Use the whisk to stir it gently and lighten your batter. It's going to be a little thick, and it's a-okay if you lose a bit of the volume of the egg whites in this step. Add in about a third of your remaining egg white mixture and fold in gently, using the whisk instead of the spatula. It's going to take a little longer than usual; be patient.

Switch to the spatula and fold in your remaining egg whites as gently as you can. The most important thing in this step is to make sure that they are fully incorporated with no streaks of white in your purple batter. Next, take a healthy spoonful of the batter and add it to your almond milk and oil mixture and stir together until homogenous. Scrape this mixture into your big bowl of batter and fold it all together as gently as you can. 

Pour your batter into the prepared bowl of your rice cooker and smooth out the top. Give the pan a few good taps from the bottom to break up any large bubbles, so the only bubbles you get are fine and even. Ten taps usually do the trick for me!



Put your rice cooker bowl in the machine and push to the "STEAM" function, and set it for 65 minutes. 

Note: You will need a good rice cooker for this recipe to have the same results as I have here. I have this one here by Zojirushi, and it comes with all the bells and whistles. If you don't have a rice cooker and are absolutely dying to make this cake anyhow, you may do this:

Follow the usual instructions only pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan and bake at 350 degrees F for about 40-45 minutes or until the top of the cake is dry. Please note to not open the oven to check it until at least 35 minutes has passed. You must also note that it's very important that the oven be already quite hot and ready for this cake, as it won't rise the same without that heat.

This is quite a long time to cook for a steamed cake, so let's use up some of that time to talk about what ube (pronounced "oo-bay") is!

Ube is a beautiful species of the tuber family that is quite high in sugar, incredibly flavorful, and shines like a jewel with vivid purple color. This is also known as a purple yam or the greater yam. It has a creamy, almost coconut-like taste that's unique to Southeast Asia! You'll often see it in Philippine desserts, as well as Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. You can grow them, but most recipes you see calling for ube will usually mean ube halaya or ube jam. You will be able to find this item, jarred and ready to go, in any Asian grocery store with a Filipino section. The extract of this item is quite powerful, so use it sparingly. 

A note about this ingredient: it's very high in sugar already, and when you add sugar to preserve it, it'll be even sweeter in the jar. Make sure you taste it before you make it into a pie so you don't use too much sugar. To make an ube pie for Thanksgiving, I like to simply use a whole jar of ube halaya, some coconut cream, a few eggs, a dollop of tofu sour cream, and salt for the filling. Bake as normal for a pumpkin pie, and you'll have the most technicolor-looking pie you've ever seen. It's almost as bright and colorful as my Pandan Custard Pie!
 
When your timer signals that the cake is ready, open the rice cooker and let the steam escape for about 5 minutes. The cake will have pulled gently away from the pan and the sponge will be firm, yet springy, to the touch. 



Turn the cake upside down over a cooling rack and let sit for another 10 minutes before you gently remove it from the bowl. This may take a spatula, but please, for the love of all that is holy, don't use metal on your nonstick surface. Remember, the cake will have reached the top of the cooker, and some of the bubbles might have popped a little when you open the door to it. It's not the end of the world if, when you turn it out, it sinks just a tiny bit. I swear it'll still taste delicious! Let cool completely before cutting and serving. To cut, I suggest using a serrated knife and using long, gentle strokes. Don't push down - just let the weight of the knife to the work for you.  

You can enjoy a slice of this cake with some coffee or iced tea! This is a delicious cake all on its own, so I don't think this cake needs any kind of icing at all. If you absolutely must give in to temptation, may I suggest that some fresh whipped cream might not be amiss should you be so inclined? Personally, I just like this cake plain!

My dog is behind me, isn't he?


Store this cake in an airtight container. It keeps well for several days, just as moist and tender as the day you made it. If I'm being honest, though, I've never let it survive for longer than 48 hours before it gets gobbled up.

I love this cake because it's incredibly tender, so easy to do, and you don't have any baked-on mess to clean up. I know the value of easy-to-clean stuff at this time. Between volunteering, writing, schooling, and doing the part-time influencer thing, the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time on the dishes at home. I'm sure that a lot of you here in the United States are feeling some emotional exhaustion from the quarantine, and while I don't know how things are going overseas, I know that there are more than a few of you that have lost their jobs, lost their loved ones, and even more in this uncertain time. 

It's hard now, and it's normal to not feel normal. I understand that we'll likely never have our old 'normal' back again, and that's okay. We're in the middle of a global revolution, and I for one am ready to see what the next chapter holds. Keep holding on, just a little longer, and I know we'll be okay. In the meantime, find yourself some solace in happy distractions, like an oh-so-pretty ube cake. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Southern-Style Biscuits

Forgive the quality of my counters; I've beaten the bejeezus out of them over the years.
I  mean "American Southern" when I say "Southern-Style Biscuits." I know the American South has come up quite a bit in the news lately with all of the "controversy" about the Confederate flag, and a lot of folks are preaching "Heritage not hate" as if a five-year-long existence of a poor try for a country is somehow as deep and culturally significant as a place like Ireland or France or Russia or some other European country that these folks have taken lineage from. I do love American Southern food, however, so let me just summarize:

Biscuits, Cornbread, Catfish, and Fried Chicken = GOOD. 
Racism, Historical Erasure, and White Supremacy = BAD.

We love our food here in America, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with keeping that delicious food while chucking some not-so-nice things out the door! In America, what we call a biscuit is what folks in (as far as I can tell) every other part of the world would call a scone. It's a fluffy, flaky delight that we here in the states serve plain, with honey butter, with jam, or smothered with gravy. It's an American regional staple that was once considered a delicacy, but I'll save that story for after you've read the recipe.

Southern-Style Biscuits
yields 9 - 12, depending on size

  • 12 oz all-purpose flour 
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • A fat pinch of salt
  • 1 oz sugar 
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 oz butter, shortening, or vegan butter substitute 
  • Buttermilk or Almond milk with a splash of white vinegar as needed
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Mix your flour, leavening agents, salt, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl, ideally a metal one you've had in the fridge for about 10 minutes before starting this process. Chop the butter into cubes and dump them into the flour. Using your fingertips, not your whole hands, quickly and firmly rub the cubes of fat into the flour mixture. The idea is to break up the butter into small, pea-sized pieces without melting the fat. Reall push and pinch and rub the flour into the fat, as if you're trying to snap your fingers. 

If you want your biscuits to be a little more tender, you can substitute 1 oz of the butter for olive oil instead!

When all of this is ready and well-mixed enough, make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add your two egg yolks. Add in a splash of your chosen milk, say a third of a cup to start with, and use a spatula or a pair of chopsticks to mix them together in the middle until the yolks are all broken up. Stir together, adding more liquid as needed to form a nice dough that's soft and pliable, but doesn't quite stick to your hands.

Mixy mixy!

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and get out your favorite rolling pin. Roll the dough out and fold it in half, dusting flour gently as you go to keep it from sticking. Roll out and repeat folding again until you can visibly see layers, which will take two or three turns. When you think you have enough layers, use a ring cutter or a drinking glass to cut out your biscuits.

I like at least four turns in my biscuits because I like to have a lot of layers.  Make sure to beat the dough down with the rolling pin between each turns to help the glutens relax! 

Tip: Use plenty of flour on your cutter. Do not twist when you cut! Push straight down and pull straight up!

Arrange your biscuits on a lined sheet pan. Biscuits are social creatures, so it's alright if they're touching each other like this! They really like to hold hands, so don't put too much space between them.

Biscuits really like to hold hands!
It's at this point that you may pop them in the fridge or freezer to keep cold if you don't want to eat them right away. I do recommend chilling them for at least 20 minutes before you bake them, but it's not necessary if your butter and milk mixture was quite cold. The real trick to biscuits and scones like this is to keep your ingredients as cold as you can before they go into a hot oven. This way, the fats won't simply melt out, but will rise up quickly and create steam to push your dough as high is it can go, and create those gorgeous layers that we all love to have. Either way, you should bake right when you're ready to eat them, as nothing is quite as good as a fresh-baked warm biscuit. 

While you're deciding on freezing or baking straight from the counter, a brief history of Southern-style biscuits is in order! They were once considered to be a delicacy during Civil War times in the South. They were once so revered, they were reserved only for Sunday suppers when Southern American families would reconvene after church services. If you're even more curious as to the different kinds of biscuits that American Southern families would typically eat, check out what Robby Melvin has to say about them below:




When you are ready, bake your biscuits at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then rotate your pan in the oven, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until they're golden-brown and delicious-looking. As you can imagine, the baking time will be a little longer if you're baking from frozen instead of just cold, but you should rotate them, either way, to ensure even cooking. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes before removing and consuming. I like mine with honey butter, but you can use these for any application. Feel free to add things like chopped fresh herbs, shredded cheese, dried fruits, and more to suit your tastes and needs. This recipe is extremely easy to personalize, so I invite you and encourage you to show me what amazing things you can do with a simple base like this to start from. 

Thank you so much for reading and following along with me. It's come to my attention that my reach is quite far on Instagram, so I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for coming on these food journies of going back to basics with me. I know we're in a tumultuous time where a lot of us are realizing that we need to keep our hands busy to keep from going stir-crazy. I'm here to tell you that mastering the basics of cooking is much simpler than you might think and that the road towards it is paved with mistakes. Learning is meant to be paved with mistakes and pain along the way, but it's all worth it in the end. ...I wonder if we can use that as a metaphor for something?

Be sure to follow me on Instagram if you haven't already done it. Happy cooking and happy eating!


Warm wooden counter or cool granite slab? What do you think?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Dump-it Peanut Butter Cookies

How in the world are these so perfect-looking? Read on...
This is going to be the easiest thing you ever make. You don't need a scale, you don't need standing mixer. You need a whisk, a wooden spoon, a big bowl, and some hands to make these. Because, hey, sometimes the world is a dumpster fire and you need cookies.

Dump-it Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1/2 c canola oil
  • 1/4 c peanut butter**
    • If you have a peanut allergy, I highly recommend sunflower butter. It's just as good and will work just fine!
  • 1/2 c coconut sugar
  • 1/2 c cane sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1/4 c potato starch
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 c whole oats
  • Chocolate Chips, as needed
Combine the oil and peanut butter (or sunflower butter if you have an allergy) in a mixing bowl and use a whisk to combine them. Add both of the sugars and whisk together until quite smooth. You'll get a great workout! Add in the egg and vanilla paste, and whisk until it's absolutely combined. Now's the time to switch to a spatula or a wooden spoon.

Dump all of your dry ingredients, sans the chocolate chips, into your bowl and stir until wholly and fully combined. I advise you to let your batter rest in the fridge while your oven heats to 325 degrees F. I'm now going to give you an incredible tip on how to make the perfect-looking chocolate chip cookie.

As you can see, I used ghiradelli chips! And my kitchen is a mess!

Scoop out your dough and place them on your sheet pan in little mounds. Instead of mixing your chocolate chips in, you're going to carefully press the chocolate chips into the dome, almost like you're making a cute little porcupine. It may seem tedious, but I assure you that it's worth it. You can do this with chocolate chips, hershey kisses, M&Ms, whole pecans...pretty much anything you feel like you need your cookie to have. 

I learned this tip from watching a fabulous series on Netflix called "The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell, a California-based artist that's a self-taught baker and DIY queen. Give her a watch!




Bake at 325 for 11 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 before moving to a cooling rack, or a fabulously stylish plate to accompany your tea party. Or you can have your tea party by the harbor while you throw the tea into the ocean. Just be sure to use the hashtag #resist when you post about it on Instagram. 

See that? That was so easy. You can literally throw it together in minutes. If you have small humans around you, you can also employ them to do this. Children are much more responsible and capable than you may think. Arguably, the best thing you can do for them is to teach them how to look after themselves, and what better way to start than to give them the ability to have good, fresh cookies whenever they want? But I digress.

Please enjoy the fastest chocolate chip cookies in the midwest. Even if you already have the oven preheated and only let this batter rest for two minutes, it'll still be great!

Thank you all so much for your patience while I figure out some things on the personal end. Writing gave me a sense of purpose, and in the senseless times in our country, the tumultuous and treacherous happenings, all I can think to do is keep going. 

I'm no Alexander Hamilton. I'm not going to write my way to revolution and I know that. I write letters to my state and government representatives about how I feel about the concentration camps, about the abuse those men, women and children are going through. I write letters about human rights, and about how women should be able to make private health decisions without the government stepping in. I write about how I think that guns should have common sense laws and tests and licencing, and how it shouldn't be so easy to kill and maim another human being. I write to them how I think that children shouldn't have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. I guess that's my way of saying all of my writing motivation has been going to that, and not this passion project that I've grown to love.

This website has become my way to speak through food. I really love writing and I hope that you all enjoy reading what I write. Part of me doesn't want to ruin anyone's day by bringing up politics; the rest of me wants everyone to know and wants everyone to care so we can all rise up and make it stop. At least, that's the hope.

Thanks so much for always reading. Go make yourself these cookies and know that they're coming from not just a child of immigrants, but a place of love. Happy cooking and happy eating!


Sunday, March 24, 2019

Lime Meringue Pie



If you are a follower of my Instagram, you know how much I love pie. I've been having a lot of fun lately with decorative elements and putting twists on classics. Personally, when I want a pie, I want a classical taste that is familiar in taste but somewhat conceptual in design. Remember my Lucky Charms Pie? The point is that I love lemon meringue pie...but lemons weren't on sale at the grocery store for 6/$1, so guess who won that fight.

This isn't key lime pie because key limes are tiny and actually are a citrus hybrid with a spherical fruit that can be quite small. Really they're best for juicing and making pie out of, since they're quite tiny to eat or enjoy. They also have a specific flavor that translates into something a little more fragrant and sweet than the lime you might find from the grocery store. Most of our limes come from Mexico and South America, where they grow easily.

In Pinoy cuisine, one thing can be said about the flavor profiles we seem to enjoy: put vinegar with everything. Pinoy people love vinegar and sour things, and I'm no exception to that rule. Sour things make your mouth pucker and water and they round out flavors that might otherwise be flat. One thing I learned in school that has sort of stuck with me in my career has been: if you taste something and it's tasty, but something is missing, 9 out of 10 the answer will be "acid." It could be a squeeze of lemon, a dash of vinegar, a little reduced wine or a smear of sour cream, but it is acid that elevates everything else and is a key component to delicious food. Learn to harness the power of sour!


Lime Meringue Pie
yields 1 9" pie

  • 6 oz flour
  • 1 oz walnut flour (or just fine-ground walnuts)
  • 1 oz powdered sugar
  • 4 oz vegan butter 
  • Ice water A/N
  • 8 egg yolks + 2 whole eggs
  • 1 c fresh-squeezed lime juice, strained (from about 5 or 6 fresh limes)
  • 1 3/4 c powdered sugar (sorry I don't know the oz, I always did by volume on this one!)
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 8 oz vegan butter 
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 4 egg whites
  • 7 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
Sift the walnut flour into the 6 oz AP flour and pinch in the fat using your finger tips. Don't stop until it all comes together and the butter is about pea-sized. Sprinkle a little bit of water over it at a time and press gently until it all comes together. Chill in a disc in the freezer while you prepare the rest of your stuff. 

In a sauce pot, melt your 8 oz vegan butter in with your lime juice and powdered sugar over a medium-low flame. Meanwhile, whisk together your eggs and egg yolks with the granulated sugar until completely homogeneous. Set up a bowl lined with a fine mesh strainer for later. When your butter is melted completely, give that butter-lime mix a quick stir and splash in about 1/2 cup of the liquid into the eggs, and then whisk gently to warm it. This is called tempering, and is essential to do with any liquid/custard product that will contain egg. 

Scrape your egg mixture all into the pot and whisk gently, constantly, over a medium flame until thick. Do not let this mix boil under any circumstances! Remember, with curds, low and slow is the way to go. When the mixture is a gloriously thick and shiny consistency, quickly dump your curd into the bowl lined with the strainer, and strain out lumps that may have occurred. Once passed through, stir in your lime zest and vanilla paste. If you want to make this a little more green, it's 100% okay to add a drop of green food coloring. It's okay, but optional. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic film into the surface of the curd to prevent from getting a skin. Store in the fridge.

Turn your oven to 350 degrees. With this dough, you will be flouring your surface. Sorry, you need it this time - the walnuts are worth it for flavor but with this crust they really do need a little more flour and structure, as they do release quite a bit of oil. Flour your marble surface and rolling pin and roll out your dough to a thin flat disc, and line your pie pan with it. I like to let my dough rest in the pan for about 5 minutes to let the glutens relax a little before I decide how I trim it and decorate it.

You can do polka dots, braids, whatever you like for yours!
With this particular crust, I knew that I was going to have a meringue mounding up the top so I needed to have any design I was going to decide on be around the edge, but I still wanted a little bit of a three-dimensional element happening. With decorations, I really love leaves as elements, and I have this pretty cutter that looks like lime leaves. Unfortunately, it's too big to go around the edge of the pie, so I took my smallest circle cutter and cut a lot of small circles to go around the edge. I stuck them on with a little bit of egg wash, but you can use a little almond milk if you like. You may as well use egg wash, though, since you're going to want to brush the sides of your pie dough with the egg wash to make it brown.

Never throw away the pie crust trims! Turn them into little decorative elements that will go on your pie!

Prick your pie crust with a fork and line with a parchment sheet, and fill with baking beads (or dry beans) and bake for 20 minutes, or until fully cooked and browned. To make the leaves, cut them with a mold and bake them until crisp, about 10 minutes. I got the 3D shapes by propping the leaves against the lip of my baking sheet. Set aside to cool. Now, we're going to make a meringue!

Place your egg whites in the bowl of  your standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Meanwhile, place your sugar in a small saucepot with just enough water to cover. Fit it with a candy thermometer and bring it up to a slow boil on a medium high flame. Please note that it's very important to not jostle the pan in any way while it's coming to the temperature that you're going to want it at. Otherwise, it might crystalize and you're going to have to start again. Your goal temperature is 260 degrees F. When it gets up to 250, you can turn on the standing mixer and start whipping it to foam up.

Whip your egg whites until they've become quite white and fluffy, to about a medium peak, which should be the right amount it takes to get from 250 to 260. If you need a little more time, turn your whisk down to the lowest possible setting and let it stir. If it sets, you're in trouble. 

When all is ready, turn your whisk up to high and carefully pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream, being very careful to avoid the whip. Pour it in slowly, as you continue to whip to stiff peaks, until all the sugar is gone. Turn the speed down to medium-high and let it whip until the meringue is cool, about 3 minutes. What you've just made is an Italian meringue, and it's the most structurally sound of all meringues and will last you the longest. 

I totally used a smear of green gel dye in this. Why? Because look at that gorgeous color.
Now, we're finally ready to assemble! Obviously this takes quite a bit of time to do, a couple of hours, but it is worth it. Assemble by removing the baking paper and beads from your pie crust and dumping your curd in, smoothing the top to be even. Dump in your meringue and use an offset spatula to swirl and make attractive flips and whirls. You can use a torch to make it toasty, or a super-hot oven, around 450 degrees, for 3 minutes tops. Finish with your leaves, set in the side, against the meringue. 

To cut: heat up your knife with the flame of a torch or some near-boiling water, and your meringue will be cut smoothly!

And there you have it! A gorgeous, super-tart, super tasty lime meringue pie. I hope you've enjoyed reading, and please don't hesitate to tell me if you try it out.  Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Lingonberry Hamentaschen

Pretty in pink!
I love lingonberries. I'm obsessed with them, especially for spring. I love lingonberry poptarts (homemade, of course, using my favorite pie crust), lingonberry lemonade, and just plain lingonberry jam on toast. I go through phases of obsession. Currently, I'm obsessed with a little show called Allt för Sverige. It's where they take the children and grandchildren of Swedish immigrants and bring them back to Sweden, and put them on a journey of discovery. It's a wonderful competition reality show that shows Swedish culture, the story of how we came to be, the history of a country, and the winner at the end gets to be reunited with their Swedish family in a big party! You can find most all of the episodes on Youtube. Check it out here!

Since we're talking about Youtube, I'm going to go ahead and link you up to Mayim Bialik, to give you a quick rundown on an amazing spring holiday, Purim! I'm obviously not 100% full-blooded Jewish, but I still love enjoying the culture and part of that is celebrating the holidays and eating the foods...and even better, I love sharing the culture with friends! In fact, I'm throwing a Purim party this evening! We're going to have masks, eat hamentaschen, and more.



Purim is upon us on the 21st, which is this Wednesday, so I've decided to show you how to make my absolute favorite Jewish ritual treat (yes, I love it even more than freaking latkes) the Hamentaschen. These are triangle-shaped cookies that are filled with just about anything your heart desires, although jam seems to be the favorite for most. You can fill them with pistachio paste, chocolate chips, citrus curds, ganaches...whatever floats your boat! For this, though I've chosen lingonberry.

Lingonberries are a magical kind of berry that miraculously thrive in cold areas. They do incredibly well in moist, acidic soils from ranges that are from Massachussetts to Alaska. I live in the Midwest, so it get's way too hot for lingonberries. If you live in a more northern state, please consider growing them! They have an incredibly pleasant taste, and although resemble a cranberry are only the size of a garden pea. When cooked into a jam, they give off a beautiful red-pink color, and are even prettier when swirled into a sour cream sauce.

Hamentaschen
yields about 2 dozen cookies
  • 3 medium eggs, room temperature
  • 200 g sugar
  • 2 oz olive oil
  • 2 oz vegan butter, room temperature (Earth balance is my fave, but any non-dairy butter/margarine will do)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 fat pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 375 g AP flour plus more for dusting
  • A smear of pink gel food coloring
  • Lingonberry jam, as needed
Whisk together, by hand, the butter and oil along with the vanilla paste and sugar until the sugar appears to have dissolved, or at least lightened in color. Add in the eggs, one at a time, whisking wholly until completely incorporated. Add in your salt, baking powder, and smear of pink gel paste. I like Wilton's "rose", but you can use whichever you like. If you want to go an all-natural coloring way, you may use beetroot powder, which will give a beautiful red. For this crazy holiday, though, I like to go for more electric colors.

Switch to a wooden spoon and stir in your flour. Turn out onto a cold, floured, marble surface and knead gently, until everything comes together smoothly. Divide in two discs, wrap each in plastic, and chill in the freezer for at least 1 hour. 

Flour your surface again and roll out thin. I like to go to 1/8 inch, because these cookies can get tough if too thick. Be generous with flour on the rolling pin, too, as this dough is rather loose so it likes to stick. The oil is nice and makes it a kosher fat, and it also makes it more pliable so you can mold it. This is ultimately the reason I don't tend to use all oil or all butter; butter makes the dough too short and not-so-easily pliable, and oil makes the dough too runny so I have trouble shaping it and end up using way too much flour. 



Cut out circles with a ring cutter. I like 3" rings! To fill, hold the cut disc in your left hand draped gently over your fingers (or right, if you're a leftie) and fill with a generous teaspoon of your lingonberry jam. If it's not too cold, it should fall off the spoon with ease. Gently separate your index and middle fingers just enough to allow the dough to fall in and help you create a crease. Pinch this closed and use the thumb of your opposite hand to push the bottom up. Gently place these on a silpat-lined sheet pan and pinch the three corners together to create the shape. If you're having trouble, find this awesome tutorial on Tori Avey.com!

 Pop these in the freezer while you're waiting for your oven to heat up to 400 degrees. The reason you don't want to have your oven preheating while you're rolling these out is because - in my experience - they do better when they start from cold, and it's hard to keep a cookie dough cold when  you're heating up your kitchen with a hot oven. Besides, this recipe makes at least 2 dozen cookies so you're going to want to make them all at once, freeze them all at once, and bake only as needed. I've found that you can store the raw cookies, frozen, for up to two weeks if kept in an airtight container. To accomplish this, simply freeze on a tray until hard, put them in an airtight container, lined with parchment, and store until needed. 

Pop your cookies in the oven and reduce the heat to 350. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the edges just barely begin to brown. You want a super hot oven to start with , but want your more standard baking heat so the corners don't burn. The reason  you want it to be hot is because you don't want your fat to melt and therefore your cookies will lose the shape. These are tricky because they can get really tough if overcooked. 

Once baked, remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Please keep in mind that this dough is incredibly versatile. You can add in shaved chocolate and fill with nutella to make chocolate hazelnut hamentaschen. Heck, make a tiramisu hamentaschen where you use coffee extract instead of vanilla, fill it with a cheesecake filling and dust them with cocoa powder. The sky is the limit! You can even do what I did for the second offering at my part, and divide the dough in half, add lime zest, dye them green, and fill it with lime curd to make a zesty zingy lime hamentaschen.



Of course you can enjoy hamentaschen year-round, but because they take multiple steps, I recommend doing a lot all at once, with the help of family. Little ones, especially, love the idea of folding cookies. I hope you've enjoyed learning a bit about Purim! As always, if you've tried my recipes, please tell me all about it in the comments below. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Cheesecake Tart with Candied Walnuts and Pomegranate Honeycomb



This is a little fancier than my normal posts, but I've been doing so many 'homestyle' cooking things at home and on my blog lately that I just had to do something chef-y. Wedding season is coming up which means lots of wedding cakes for me, and it's far too cold for ice cream so I can't sell that at the bakery. This means it's a lot of time for experimentation, which is good for me and the cookbook.

I wanted to talk a little bit about how I decide what to write and when to write it. Like the cookbook, I try to write, cook, and eat seasonally. Each chapter in the book will be about the wheel of the year and how the seasons will turn. This will have some fun history and neat things there in the margins, but it's mostly going to be about cooking sustainable and with the seasons. March is here, and it's my favorite month of the year. The full moon is the Chaste moon, and it carries the time of fertile Pisces, perfect for planting your garden. Another one of the reasons for my love of this month (or, rather, this season of spring) is a little holiday called Purim.

Purim is a sort of Jewish Halloween - and we all know how I love Halloween. There are plenty of religious bits about it but honestly this is the one holiday of the calendar that's easily the most-fun. It's a holiday in which we're encouraged to cross-dress, get drunk, and throw a rocking party. As always, you donate money to charity, or do a mitzvah, a good deed. There's, of course, a ritual food that comes with it, but we're not covering that in this blog. That post will come on March 16th, the weekend before the holiday on the 21st. (Spoiler alert: it's my own version of hamentaschen.) The whole month of March, though, is going to be full of fun foods that you can make for Purim! What's that? You'd like a little backstory as to what this holiday might be? Well...

Disclaimer: this is a super trite version that I'm about to tell you, but I think you'll get the reason it's a celebration.

In the ancient Persian empire there was this King called Ahasuerus who had his wife Vashti executed. Apparently, he asked her to dance naked for him and she was like "um, no???" so of course she was beheaded. He then goes on a search for a new wife in his kingdom and finds this smoking gal called Ester (whose Hebrew name is Haddass), whom he then weds.

Ester slays the game as a royal until she overhears the plan of this really gross and creepy royal adviser, Hamen, who has this plan to kill all the Jews because that's just kind of what seems to happen, historically. Ester's uncle, Mordecai, overhears this plan and goes to see his niece in secret and tells her all about Hamen's plan. She comes up with a really brave and brilliant plan: throw a party!

She throws this massive ball where there's food and drink and lots of fun ancient world shenanigans going on. At some point during the dinner, Ester says to the King: "Hey so Hamen is wanting to exterminate all the Jews and you totally can't do that because I'm a Jew." His mind is blown but instead of having her executed he has Hamen executed instead and the Jews are saved.

Ester saves the Jews! Hooray!

Of course, there's the proper version of this story, but all you need to know is that every spring, Jews have this amazing holiday called Purim where it's encouraged to get drunk, cross-dress, wear costumes, and just have a rocking good time. The idea is to get crazy and have fun with this topsy-turvy holiday, so where you can't tell who's the hero and who's the villain. Purim is a story of bravery and redemption, and that you're more-likely to get what you want if you know how to throw a good party.

What does this have to do with cheesecake?

Everyone loves cheesecake because it's delicious, so it's easy to get people to like it for a party. This cooks exponentially faster than your normal cheesecake would (3-4 hours) and so it'll be perfect for a party if you forget that you have one in the evening. This recipe is easily made pareve, which is known as a neutral food. This means it contains neither meat nor dairy and can be consumed with or after consuming either. As I'm sure some of you are aware, kosher law dictates that meat and milk shouldn't be on the same table.

There's a lot of debate on exactly how long you have to wait between each meal before it's acceptable to eat meat or dairy, but the point is that if you have cheese on the table then it should either be a vegetarian meal or have fish. If you have meat on the table, you should have vegetables but no milk or cheese or butter. If you're going to a party with people that keep kosher or even just are lactose intolerant, it's a nice thing to do to keep it a neutral food. My husband is severely lactose intolerant, so I don't even keep dairy in the house. But that doesn't mean I can't have cheesecake still!

With a tart, there's quite a bit of surface area that you can decorate it in any way you like. Purim requires lots of sparkles and decorations, so feel free to use bright colors. I'll be showing a couple of great little garnishes you can make, not just for this but for any item you want to add a little pizzaz to.

Cheesecake Tart with Candied Walnuts and Pomegranate Honeycomb
yield 1 11" tart

Pie crust
  • 8 oz butter (or vegan butter substitute, such as Earth Balance)
  • 14 oz flour
  • 1 oz powdered sugar
  • Spiced rum as needed
Cheesecake Filling
  • 8 oz cream cheese ( or tofu cream cheese)
  • 4 oz sour cream (or tofu sour cream)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 fat pinch kosher salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
Pomegranate Honeycomb candy
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 3/4 c water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
Candied walnuts(recipe follows)
Gilded raspberries

For the crust, make a pie crust as usual. Cube the butter into very small pieces and rub it into your flour mixture. Once the pieces are about the size of peas, add in some spiced rum, a spoonful at a time, until the dough resembles a sort of damp sand that stays together when clumped. Turn out onto a marble surface and gently knead together. You don't have to worry about gluten forming because you've used alcohol, not water, so bring it all together into one nice disc. Wrap it in plastic and let chill for at least 30 minutes in the freezer. 

In the meantime, you may preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and make your custard mix. 

Using a large bowl and a whisk, whip together your cream cheese and sour cream. You want it to be very smooth indeed with absolutely no lumps. Add in both sugars and the vanilla, stirring quite well. Don't worry about whipping air into this mixture, otherwise the texture won't be quite right. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, and being sure to not move on until each egg is 100% fully incorporated. This is very important with a cheesecake mixture that you don't rush and curdle your batter, so please don't rush it. After all, you have a crust that's cooling and that's something you don't want to rush. 

Once all the eggs are absolutely without a doubt mixed in, you may add in the remaining ingredients and whisk gently. You're not looking to incorporate air, but to create a very smooth custard. Set aside.

Between two sheets of parchment that have been liberally sprayed with pan spray, roll out your tart dough disc. You'll want to beat it up a little bit, just to soften it, using your favorite rolling pin. I like these French-style rolling pins because the less moving parts you have, the less you might have to repair later. Plus, it makes me feel like Julia Child when I whack stuff, and these are the kinds that she used.

You want to roll out your dough between parchment sheets because:
  • It's just about the quickest and easiest cleanup in the world
  • You already have enough flour in the dough, so why add more
  • Because you have less flour in there, the risk of overworking anything is far less


I personally like to use these round fluted tart pans from Sur la Table, but this 11" fluted tart pan on Amazon will do you just fine if you don't have a Sur La Table anywhere near you. For the record, I do encourage you to shop at businesses that actually pay their taxes and don't exploit their workers the way another company might. The best part about these tart pans is that they have a removeable bottom, so you can take it out and flip the dough over onto it and then lower it inside the fluted edge with a great deal of ease. Please note that the dough will be rolled quite thin, almost a quarter of an inch thin. You want this!

Once your tart pan is lined with your ultra-thin dough, fill it with your cheesecake custard. Open up your oven and place it on the bottom rack. (Remember, we always put pies on the bottom rack of the oven.) On the top/middle rack, place another pie dish full of ice and then lower the temperature to 300 degrees. This will help to create some steam and keep from forming too much of a skin, as well as having this lovely stuff bake evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center is wobbly while still being a touch firm. If the filling puffed up a little, that's absolutely okay. Evacuate the tart from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature for about 20 minutes before refrigerating. It's now the time for you to make your garnishes!

Add the sugar meant for the pomegranate honeycomb with the water and honey to a pot fitted with a candy thermometer. Start it on high and then bring it down to a rather low boil until it comes to 300 degrees F. Turn off the flame. Meanwhile, take some whole walnut kernels on wooden skewers and stick gently, yet not all the way through so you won't break the nut. Dip each nut in the molten sugar, being very careful, and lay the skewer atop the rim of a glass, which is atop a silpat mat or a parchment sheet. You want the hot sugar to sort of drip down and form a point.


You can do this as many times as you like to make as many candied nuts as you like, so long as the syrup is warm. You can also make candy floss with this by using two forks and whipping them over a mat to create threads. Don't do this, though, if you don't feel like a mess to clean up. When you're satisfied with the amount of candied nuts you've made, turn the heat back on and add in the pomegranate molasses.

Bring your sugar syrup up to a nice boil and add in the baking soda. Stir it with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula and pour out onto a silpat mat. Work fast and work carefully!


I cannot stress this enough: Work fast and work carefully! Sugar syrup, when cooked to 300 degrees, is quite dangerous, so please don't attempt it with small children, who like to stick their fingers in everything. If you do get some hot sugar syrup on your hand, here's what you must do:

  1. Put everything down and turn everything off immediately
  2. Get safely to the sink and turn on the hot water
  3. Cuss a lot, because it hurts
  4. Let the sugar dissolve and then go to cool water, not cold
  5. Let the cool water run and then dab, not wipe, with a paper towel.
  6. Apply mustard to the burn
  7. Apply a bandaid.
  8. Cry a little, if needed.
  9. Continue working.

So honeycomb candy is known by that name because of the gorgeous texture it creates. You can snack on it on its own or dip it in chocolate when cool and dry. You may have even heard of candy bars using honeycomb!



Please be mindful that the aeration will make everything grow, especially considering the acid in the pomegranate molasses will react with the baking soda, so do be sure that you've got plenty of room on your silpat mat. Allow to cool entirely before breaking off into pieces. We'll talk about later storage in a few minutes.

For the rest of the decorations, you can use fresh berries, gold leaf...you can even roll some fresh raspberries in luster dust of any color of your choosing and decorate. You want a lot of different textures, of course, but you want it all to be cohesive. Every component in any composed dessert must be harmonious, even if it looks a little crazy. The idea, though, is to create interesting textures that will elevate a dish to the best it can be. I chose lots of crunchy things for this because the cheesecake itself is rather soft.


I love these color combinations of red and gold on a white background. You can add anything you like to dress this up for a party. You'll only need a few pieces of the honeycomb, so store the rest in an airtight container, ideally with a silica gel packet in the bottom to keep it from melting. You won't let the candied walnuts last, I assure you - they're too tasty of a snack. You can do this technique of candying with any soft nut!

Now, you can talk about assembly. If you aren't travelling far for the party, I highly suggest traveling with the components separate. If you're hosting, feel free to assemble up to 20 minutes before the guests arrive, after you've showered and made sure you're done cleaning, but before you've set out the chips and dip. Gather all of your components together and take a look as to what you'd like to do. I chose honeycomb, candied nuts, and fresh raspberries. You ultimately can choose whatever you like, but I chose these for color, for texture, and for flavor in mind. If you do go with something else, please post it on instagram and tag me! Just remember to stay organized and you'll do great!

Invest in some tweezers and a small offset spatula that's dedicated to helping you garnish cakes, pastries, and more. 
One tip I can't stress enough is that restraint is often a little better to exercise than excess. Even though you might make this for Purim, it'll look far more elegant and composed if you make use of negative space. This just means that you can always add, but you can't always take away. I think it's far more beautiful to have clusters of garnishes here and there instead of having it all over, because it's going to have a little more of an impact. Pay attention to height, especially, when thinking about your presentation. To serve, have more garnishes available if your guests really like them!

I hope you've enjoyed this post! For the month of march I'll be posting a lot of topsy-turvy fun things. March really is the best month, as it often contains some of my favorite holidays. Purim, the first day of Spring (or Ostara), St. Patrick's Day, and - of course - International Women's Day, which happens to be my birthday. Of course, there will have to be a great birthday cake post. I'll be 31!



Happy March! Happy cooking! And, as always: Happy Eating!