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Posts from the ‘Features, Articles and Recipes’ Category

The Unbearable Ipad

Hello everyone. It has been a while, not because I have nothing to post, far from it I have been busy cooking but trying to post on the blog without my computer has gotten the better of me. Using the iPad is challenging, I am used to using a keypad, I really have a hard time with a touch screen and word press is different on an iPad. The good news is that I I’ll have a new computer soon, maybe even this week and I am hoping all my data is salvageable. When I pick up the computer I will visit the apple wizards and hopefully they will do their tech magic. Because posting on this thing stresses me out I will keep this short.

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I am active on Instagram and yesterday I saw a video about nut milk. I’ve made it before but this one is amazing. I changed it a bit adding my own touches. Honestly I could give up dairy milk after drinking this. I didn’t follow a recipe but can approximate for you.

Nut milk

makes a little more than a quart

1 cup raw unsalted almonds

1/2 cup raw unsalted pecans

filtered water to soak and 5 cups to make the milk

1 heaping tbs cashew butter

pinch of sea salt (generous)

1-2 tbs maple syrup adjusting to your personal taste

2 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of cinnamon

Pour the almonds and pecans in a lidded bowl cover with filtered water, enough so that the nuts are submerged and there is an extra couple of inches. Put lid on and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning drain the nuts and pour into a powerful blender or food processor. Pour in 5 cups filtered water and the rest of the ingredients. Blend on high speed for 2-3 minutes. Pour into nut bag and drain over a bowl or large (8 cup) measuring cup. Squeeze the bag making sure you get all the milk. Adjust for sweetness and flavoring  pour into glass bottle and refrigerate. It’s also delicious in coffee! Dont throw away the nut meal, put it in a ziplock bag and freeze. I use it for granola.

I also took my banana bread recipe that is here on the blog and made it into marbled banana bread. I will post the recipe later it turned out great!

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A few more photos of what I have been making recipes to follow!

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Cantaloupe popsicles

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Vegan nectarine and plum tart

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My first tomato

Easy Homemade Pita Bread

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Making homemade bread for many seems a daunting task, it can be difficult depending on what type of bread you choose. I become instantly confused when I read about hydration levels and keeping a starter alive has eluded me. I came upon this recipe for homemade pita on Food52 years ago, saved it but have never made it. The recipe comes from Linda aka Lapadia, a great cook and community member and a trusted and consistent source of delicious recipes. This bread couldn’t be easier, it comes together so easily only has one rise of 2 hours and bakes quickly.n

Homemade pita bread is delicious, you can make this and freeze the bread using only what you need or use. I like to heat directly on my gas burner turning with tongs.

I am bringing these with me to fiesta Friday #175 and guess what I am cohosting this week with Monika @ everyday healthy recipes

Hope you all stop by the party it’s always a good time for all!!

Pita Bread

made 10 pita but depends on the size how any the recipe yields

recipe on Food52 by Lapadia

3 1/4 cups bread flour ( I used 3 cups bread flour and 1/4 cup spelt)

2 1/2 tsp instant yeast

2 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

Mix all ingredients together and gather with your hands into a cohesive ball. Cover with tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.

heat oven to 500 degrees. Pita likes a hot oven.

break off pieces of dough and roll into a circle fairly thin approximately 1/4 inch thick. Place on baking sheet and bake until lightly browned and puffed about 8 minutes.

I made a sandwich with homemade black bean veggie burger, micro arugula, pickled vegetables, tomato and thousand island dressing.  It was So good,  good highly recommend that you try making this bread.

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Watercress Ricotta Torte

I  got a bit sidelined recently and although I made this recipe over a week ago it is just getting posted today, this recipe is delicious, easy to make and feeds an army. I was immediately drawn to it because there is no pie crust involved and it is similar to a quiche without the carb laden crust. The recipe is from Saveur, I made a few changes as I didn’t have quite enough watercress and I had some pea shoots in the crisper. They say to make it in a 9 inch spring form pan,I only had a 10 inch so added extra ingredients so it would t be as flat as a pancake. I also added more whole eggs and only 2 egg yolks. The beauty of making savory food is that you can adapt and get creative with ingredients. Here is the original recipe Watercress Ricotta Torte .

I am still trying to post using my iPad until I can purchase a new computer. Hoping that I am able to retrieve all of my documents and things that were on there, won’t know until I take it into the Apple Store and they take a look at it. I really don’t like using the iPad probably because I am not used to it. At least I can post albeit with some difficulties.

Watercress and ricotta torte

serves 6-8 generously

unsalted butter softened for greasing the pan

2 cups cleaned baby watercress chopped

1 cup pea shoots

3 cups ricotta cheese

1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

1/2 cup asiago grated

8 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

zest of 1/2 lemon

4 scallions ends trimmed and left whole roasted until softened and lightly browned

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease well your springform pan. Microwave the watercress for 60 seconds and set aside. Chop pea shoots.

Add to a medium bowl the ricotta and sour cream, most of the grated cheese (reserve a little to sprinkle on top of the torte), the nutmeg, eggs and yolks, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Beat to combine and add the watercress and pea shoots stir just until combined.  Pour into the prepared pan top with the roasted scallions and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Bake for 45-60 minutes. The middle will slightly jiggle. Remove from oven and turn on the broiler, place u dear the broiler until top is browned. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan, best served warm or at room temperature.

 

I killed My Computer

IMG_2116Well, I did it. I am normally so careful and today I broke my own rule and had my coffee next to the computer which I never do, of course I promptly knocked it over onto the computer. The computer appears to be dead it is covered with uncooked rice, a suggestion by friends. Because of this I may not post anything for a while until either I can pull a Victor Frankenstein and re-animate or get a new one. Hoping all of my information is not lost. Using my iPad to post this we will see how that works. Hope you all had a great Memorial Day that celebrate the holiday and that you have a great week.

Made an ice cream cake for the holiday and as soon as I get used to using an iPad I will post the recipe.

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Mary’s Secret Ingredients Spring Box And A Smoothie Bowl

I need to apologize to Mary Frances, she was kind enough to send me her beautiful spring box of goodies. I told her I would include on the blog and post a recipe for one of the items included in the box. Time, life, stuff got me busy and I am afraid I am late in posting.

Mary’s Secret Ingredient Spring Box

I have used just about every item in the box, and love how varied and versatile they all are. I always look forward to the kitchen gadget which is always included. The stainless steel soap bar is so cool. When you cut garlic the smell of the garlic is transferred to your fingers,  I always knew that stainless steel removes the odor and pull out the nearest stainless steel utensil that I can find and rub my fingers on it using soapy water. It works every time but this handy gadget makes it easy, you fill with your favorite soap and rub away, it even comes with it’s own little caddy so no mess. Love it!

I really wondered what to make with the ingredients, I used the Get Dressed as a marinade for chicken, it was delicious but didn’t have good light and couldn’t take a photo. Honestly, I am not much of a mustard eater and don’t eat sandwiches so I still haven’t opened the mustard although I am certain it’s delicious. The whiskey infused chocolate truffles were so good I quickly downed them and, they were just fine on their own so why mess with perfection. That left the Soom chocolate tahini, I was a bit skeptical, I like tahini in hummus and halva is delicious but mixing with chocolate was something I never thought of. Tasting a spoonful of it, and then another I sort of became obsessed with the flavor, it’s delicious, not too sweet, you can definitely taste the tahini but it’s so well balanced with the chocolate I really liked it a lot.

I am on Instagram all the time and see these amazing smoothie bowls posted, every morning I have a smoothie or shake but never made a smoothie bowl. It came to me, use the chocolate tahini in a smoothie bowl, decorate with some fresh fruit and crunchy stuff and it would make an awesome breakfast. So that is exactly what I did. I always have frozen fruit on hand, for this smoothy I used frozen banana’s and strawberries, some coconut milk and the chocolate tahini. Blend it, pour it in a bowl, decorate. Simple and healthful and delicious.

Thank you again Mary Frances for the amazing box of goodies, I totally enjoyed it and apoligize again for the late posting. You all should give one of Mary’s boxes a try, visit Mary’s blog for amazing recipes and information about ordering her boxes, you will be introduced to some really great products, part of the proceeds goes to charity and I feel very strongly about always supporting small business. I believe the Spring Box may be sold out but you can order the box for Summer here.  Hurray for Entrepreneurs!

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart Using Puff Pastry

I have a ritual that I do every time I cook, my kitchen must be thorougly cleaned, counters, floor, no dishes in the sink, every surface clean, for me it creates new energy and clears my kitchen. I also try to make sure everything I need is ready so I don’t have to go finding and grabbing with flour on my hands. So the ritual began early this morning in preparation for my puff pastry adventure. I had the butter in the freezer all night, the flour weighed and in the fridge as well. In retrospect I would not freeze the butter quite so hard because let me tell you it was hard work pounding that butter when it’s rock hard. In the video he makes it look easy, well not so much. I had it wrapped in plastic wrap which after a good pounding broke and I had to peel off the pieces from the butter. I decided to use a zip lock bag and sprinkled a little flour on the butter as per The Kitchn. It worked and I got the butter in a nice square and it was still pretty cold. The butter went back in the refrigerator while I rolled out the dough.

The dough comes together nicely in the food processor and forms a cohesive ball which I let rest for a few minutes under a damp tea towel. The hardest part of this recipe is pounding the butter initially, the rest goes very smoothly and if you have any frustration or feel the need to pound something try making puff pastry, it’s a stress reliever.

The first two turns went pretty well, it was hard to make it a neat rectangle but I did the best I could. After a 30 minute rest in the refrigerator I took it out for 2 more turns and there was a marked difference in the dough, it’s very soft, tender and pliable. Rolling it out was a breeze and doing the second set of 2 turns was easy. With only 2 more to go I have to say puff pastry is not all that much work but the proof is in the pudding I guess you can say and I was nervous to see how it turns out when baked.

Final Analysis: AMAZING recipe, with the exception of trying to pound frozen butter it was so easy to make. Honestly, I will never buy puff pastry again. It’s tender, flaky, buttery, pretty much perfect. I have enough dough in the freezer for another large tart. This recipe is a keeper. Also note, I am convinced using a good European butter is key, I used Kerrygold unsalted butter and it really does make a difference.

ready for the 4th turn see the flecks of butter

6 turns and I’m done, smooth, supple and feels like a beautiful dough if you look closely you can still see pieces of butter

 

strawberries and rhubarb

3 stalks rhubarb, washed, ends removed and cut into approximately 1/4 inch pieces

1 punnet of strawberries, trimmed, hulled and cut into pieces (quartered or halved depending on size)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp orange zest

dash of salt

2 tsp cornstarch

Mix everything in a bowl and let sit until sugar has melted and fruit has given off juices. Drain but save the juice. After draining sprinkle the cornstarch on the fruit and mix with a spoon. Pour the saved juice into a sauce pan and cook on medium heat until thick and reduced slightly. When you remove the tart from the oven cool for about 15 minutes then drizzle the thickened syrup on top of the tart. It’s delicious.

docked and ready for the fruit

Making the tart

Cut your dough in half and freeze the other half. Roll into a rectangle, using a sharp paring knife make a slice not all the way through so cut gingerly, you want the slice about an inch from the edges. Roll the edges to the cut line, dock the inside of the dough well with a fork (this is so it doesn’t puff). Arrange fruit on the dough, brush the edges with egg white that has been beaten with a fork. Sprinkle some finishing sugar or turbinado sugar on the whole tart. Bake in a pre heated 400 degree oven until golden brown and bubbly this tart took about 35-40 minutes.

 

Challenge Number 2- Puff Pastry

I have never made puff pastry, always buy it already made and that certainly is the easiest way to produce delicious tarts or baked goods with this wonderful dough. When buying already prepared puff pastry I like Dufour’s, it is consistently the best, buttery, flaky and delicious. In researching how to make puff pastry I first saw a post from The Kitchn, she gave a wonderful tutorial with photo’s each step of the way, it was quite involved and fussy but I was game. After reading the entire post and the comments I noticed someone mentioned this video with Julia Child and Richard Medrich, she said his method is simple and her puff pastry always turns out well. One never has to second guess anything from Julia and Mssr. Medrich is an expert. This is the recipe I chose to make. See the video below, he makes it look so easy.  I HIGHLY recommend you watch the video, I tried to write directions but it’s difficult as the instructions for this pastry really makes sense when you watch. I am making this tomorrow, dividing this into two posts.  Today at the farmers market I found some strawberries and rhubarb and decided I will go with full out spring flavors, using both in a tart made with my homemade puff pastry. Don’t know how it will turn out. I just put the butter in the freezer where it will sit all night, weighing my flour and refrigerating it as well. Julia mentions how important it is for everything to be very cold. I will place ice packs on my marble board so even it is cold.

I plan on starting bright and early in the morning. Does anyone want to make this with me? Who is game?

Puff Pastry

Julia Child and Richard Medrich

1 lb flour

1 lb unsalted butter frozen (you can freeze sticks of butter or cut into pieces)

1 1/4 cup ice water

1 1/2 tsp salt

Add the flour, salt and water to the food processor. Pulse until it becomes a cohesive dough. Remove and form into a disk, make slices in the dough first across then in a diamond pattern across again. Cover with a wet tea towel and remove the butter from the freezer. Pound the butter into a 4×4 square (approximately). Roll out your dough into a rectangle so that it is a bit thicker in the middle (see the video) you want the rectangle slightly larger than the 4×4 butter square. Place the cold pounded butter on the dough and fold so that the dough is completely covering the butter. Pound with rolling pin and roll sprinkling with flour so it doesn’t stick to the pin. You want it in a long rectangle. Fold like an envelope, then pound and roll again, fold again like an envelope. Mark twice with your finger imprint and wrap in a damp towel and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat the turns as described above marking 2 more times for a total of 4 turns now, again wrap in a damp towel and refrigerate another 30 minutes. Roll out again 2 more turns (total is 6 turns) and your dough is ready. You can wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Happy Mothers Day, Waste Not Want Not Bread Pudding

My Mama taught me not to waste food, I had to clean my plate and sit at the table until either the food was gone or one of us, both stubborn by nature gave in. One day my Mom made liver and onions, bleh, hate it still do. I refused to eat it and literally sat at the table all night long with the food in front of me and still wouldn’t touch it.  To this day I have not eaten liver and onions and won’t make it.

Honoring my wonderful Mother on this day I decided instead of baking something new I decided to repurpose leftovers and make this bread pudding. Here is what I had:

2 challah rolls (more than a day old but still good)

4 egg yolks (left over from my dacquoise)

peaches from the peach ice cream

1/2 container of blueberries

creme fraiche

With those ingredients I made bread pudding.  Bread pudding is simple rustic down home fare. I remember Mom made bread pudding often and it was one of my favorite desserts. She was frugal and never wasted anything and would save bread that wasn’t eaten to make this pudding. This is not her recipe it’s mine but it’s equally as good as hers. Mom is a great cook, intuitive, creative and accomplished. I learned so much from her and wish that I were with her this Mothers Day!

Bread Pudding With Peaches and Blueberries

2 large challah rolls day old or older is best, brioche is also good

4 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg

1 cup whole milk

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup creme fraiche

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

dash of salt

Peaches (optional) chopped or crushed or even a peach jam or preserve

fresh blueberries (you decide how much to add)

Heat oven to 350 degree’s. Whisk the egg yolks and whole egg with the sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the milk, cream and creme fraiche and continue whisking until combined. Add a dash of salt and the vanilla and whisk just until mixed.

Add the torn bread and stir until the bread is completely immersed in the custard base, add the blueberries and fold them in.

Butter your ramekins or baking dishes, spread some peaches on the bottom and spoon the bread pudding mixture, dividing into 3 large or 6 small baking dishes.

Place the baking dishes in a large roasting pan or baking dish place into the oven and then add enough hot water so that it comes halfway up the sides of your dishes. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set.

I served it with some creme fraiche gently sweetened with brown sugar. It’s fantastic and adding the peaches and blueberries make this dessert so good!

Happy Mothers Day to all of you whether you have children, fur babies, a classroom of children, do volunteer work with kids or just love them it’s a day to celebrate women and Mothers and caregivers. I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Turkish Stuffed Eggplant

The other day I got an email from Saveur and there were 43 vegetarian recipes that celebrate Spring vegetables. Browsing through the recipes I was inspired to try 3 of them immediately, they were all so many appetizing and delicious it was hard to pick which ones to make but I decided on 3 for now.  The first recipe is Turkish Stuffed Eggplant, Imam Bayildi. It’s so simple to make and chock full of wonderful vegetables it makes a great meal or side, you decide how you would like to serve it, for me with some greens and greek yogurt with dried mint.

Choose small eggplants, I found some beautiful grafitti eggplant, small and slender, I knew they would be tender and cook quickly. The recipe calls for green pepper, cauliflower, leeks, garlic and tomato as the stuffing. Because I like to add my own spin on a recipe and frankly I am a bit tired of cauliflower (yes I finally had my fill) I chose zucchini and tri color mini peppers. They say to grate the tomatoes, ummm I don’t think so, I envisioned parts of my finger mixed with the tomatoes as all I had were small (cherry) tomatoes. I did a fine chop and drained them of their juices in a sieve. The eggplant is cut in half and roasted cut side down in the oven until soft and slightly caramelized. This is so easy to make it’s almost ridiculous and the results are delicious. The recipe calls for Aleppo or Marash pepper but I didn’t have, you can use that if happen to have it on hand instead of the sumac.

I am bringing these little gems with me to Fiesta Friday #171, egad, sweet Angie has been hosting 171 parties. She is amazing folks.  Happy Mothers Day Angie!!

Turkish Stuffed Eggplant- Imam Bayildi

Recipe from Saveur (adapted by me)

2 small eggplant, cut in half with stems on

6 small tri color bell peppers  or 1 medium bell pepper cleaned, seeds and veins removed and chopped

1 small zucchini chopped

1 leek, light and white parts only cleaned very well and cut in thin rounds

3 cloves garlic minced

1 cup chopped (or grated if you are brave) tomato drained of juices

salt and pepper

dried oregano (just a little)

Sumac small amount to garnish or if you have Aleppo or Marash pepper

crumbled feta (as much as you like)

olive oil

Heat oven to 375 degree’s put the eggplant cut side down on a sheet pan lined with parchment and brushed with olive oil, rub some olive oil on each eggplant half as well. Roast for approximately 25 minutes or until soft and the cut side is slightly caramelized. Remove from oven and set aside.

Add a few tbs of olive oil to your sauté pan and cook the leeks until softened. Add the bell pepper, garlic and zucchini and sauté until tender and cooked through. Remove from heat and add the tomato, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Turn the eggplant over cut side up and spoon some of the filling on top about 1/2 cup for each half. Sprinkle a little dried oregano on top, drizzle with olive oil and put back in the oven for about 15 minutes until hot.

To serve, add the crumbled feta, sprinkle a little sumac and drizzle with a little olive oil.

 

 

 

 

 

Mocha Dacquoise Cake And The Winners Of the Giveaway

I usualy try to keep my posts consise, short,  but this one requires a lot of explanation so in advance let me apologize. This was quite an ordeal, the cake did not turn out exactly like I wanted, there were a few bumps in the road, as a matter of fact I had to keep changing things as I went along. The fillings were a disaster, I originally had the idea to use a Mocha Mousse as one of the fillings which sounds good in theory, but in practice not so much. When I put the mousse on the bottom layer and placed another layer on top of it and gently pressed down it oozed out all over the sides, it was not firm enough. The dacquoise although they feel firm in reality are fragile, very fragile. The French Buttercream was a disaster. I beat the egg yolks until tripled in volume and were thick and light in color. I brought the sugar syrup to 265 which is really past the hard ball stage on the thermometer, with the mixer running drizzled the hot syrup down the side of the bowl as directed, two problems with this 1. the sugar syrup when it hits the side of the bowl hardens so I moved it away from the side of the bowl and 2. the beater flung hardened sugar strands everywhere. OMG, it was a mess. I managed to make it adding the butter in pieces until combined. I had sugar candy stuck on the side of the bowl and sugar strands wound around the whisk from when the syrup hit it. Because the syrup was hard ball stage the buttercream was very stiff, which I guess is a good thing because it stays put unlike the mousse. Last minute I also made a buttercream recipe I saw on Food52 from Merrill Stubbs. It is a quick and easy version of a French buttercream using egg yolks, butter, powdered sugar and flavoring of your choice. It takes about 10 minutes to make is silky and thick and really a great frosting or filling. This went in as a filling, it wasn’t quite enough for a thick layer of filling but at this point it was ok. To cover up all the imperfections I frosted with the Chantilly but used my recipe for stabilized whipped cream frosting.

I tried the recipe from Saveur for the Dacquoise and failed pretty badly, not exactly sure what happened. The batter was runny, the dacquoise were like thin crisp mishapen sugar cookies. I know there is supposed to be a crispness but this was more cookie like.  IMHO I think there is too much sugar in the recipe. It’s also possible I over processed the almonds and sugar. The batter spread and didn’t look anything like the photo’s (sorry no photo’s) and video’s I’ve seen of how to make Dacquoise and certainly didn’t look like the one in the Saveur video (the video is included in the link above). Humph… I decided to search for another recipe and found one from Fine Cooking that looked good. It seemed pretty simple, the proportion of the ingredients sounded right and loved that it used hazelnuts and almonds (love hazelnuts).

misshapen, flat and really crisp first attempt

Second attempt, instead of rounds I made a rectanglar cake.  The recipe from Fine Cooking is wonderful, the batter is perfect, holds it’s shape when piped onto the baking sheet, I feel like this will be a success. The batter is super easy, and quick to put together. I have actually become quite good now at the dacquoise. Because one of the layers bit the dust, I quickly made a half a recipe which I can now make without even looking at the recipe and put it on top.

Final Analysis:

Perfect batter, ready for the long bake

Dacqoise

From Fine Cooking

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts

1/2 cup toasted almonds

1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/8 tsp kosher salt

6 egg whites

1/3 cup granulated sugar

French Buttercream

7 large egg yolks (about 1/2 cup)

12 oz- 3 sticks usalted butter softenend

2/3 cup strong coffee

1 cup (7 1/2 oz) sugar

 Chantilly

2 cups heavy cream divided

2 1/2 tsp cornstarch

1/4 cup confectioners sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Buttercream

Recipe on Food52 by Merrill Stubbs

6 oz soft unsalted butter

2 egg yolks

2/3 cup confectioners or powdered sugar

1 tbs vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until thick, silky and spreadable. Thats it, so easy!!

Instructions

Dacquoise

Pre heat oven to 225 degree’s and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Draw three 10×3 rectangles onto parchment paper, turn over and place on sheet pan spray with cooking spray, butter or oil and set aside.

Add the hazelnuts to food processor and pulse just until it is a fine powder, no longer otherwise it will turn to paste. Next pulse the almonds the same way. Place the nut flour in mixing bowl and sift the powdered sugar over and add the salt. Stir with rubber spatula to combine.

In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachement beat the egg whites for 3-4 minutes until there are soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar in 3 additions beating well after each addition and the egg whites are thick and glossy and hold a stiff peak.

Sprinkle the nut mixture on top and gently fold into the meringue until combined. The consistency will be thick and gooey. You can either use a piping bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip or spread the batter in the rectangles 3 inches apart as they will expand.  Place in the oven and bake for approximately 2- 3 hours or until they are firm to the touch. Turn off the oven and let them sit with oven door closed for 6 or more hours. NOTE: Although the recipe does not say to, I rotated the pans every now and then to ensure even browning. I used 2 sheet pans because I was afraid they would run (they didn’t) and the pan on the lower rack browned more quickly. Also the dacquoise were done at just slightly over 2 hours, so I turned off the oven and let them sit for about 6 hours. After turning off the oven I waited about 20 minutes and then gently loosed them. Believe me, it helped greasing the parchment they gave way easily and there was no sticking.

 French Buttercream

In a high sided saucepan over medium heat, add the coffee and sugar, set a candy or deep fry thermometer in the pan and cook until it reaches 265 degrees.

Meanwhile in the clean bowl of a stand mixer whip the egg yolks until tripled in volume and the color has lightened significantly, approximately 8 minutes.

Once the syrup has reached the temperature, remove and slowly pour the mixture into the yolks, whisking on medium low speed. Continue to run the mixer for 20-30 minutes, letting it cool completely. Once fully cooled, add the butter one tbs at a time, whisking until fully incorporated after each addition. The buttercream will thicken noticeably when all the butter has been fully incorporated.

Chantilly

To a small saucepan add 1/2 cup cream, whisk in the confectioners sugar and corn starch. Cook on medium heat until the mixture thickens. Immediately remove from the heat, scrape into a bowl and set aside, stirring frequently until cooled completely.

Place 1 1/2 cup cold heavy cream in mixing bowl and start beating using either whisk attachment on your stand mixer or hand held is fine also, add the cream cornstarch mixture and flavoring of your choice, continue to beat until thick and stiff peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake.

Assembly

The layers were not even at all, some were smaller, some larger, there was some overhang and the layer that had the failed mousse attempt was cracked and broken. Dacquoise is very fragile and does well when filled and covered and refrigerated overnight or longer. Because the layers were uneven in size I trimmed them with kitchen shears as a knife just doesn’t cut it. The pieces and crumbs I pressed into the bottom layer that had some canyon size gaps, mixing with a little of buttercream from the sides of the cake. Talk about kitchen hacks, this cake was hacked every step of the way.

Anaylysis:

Will I ever make this again, maybe. The perfectionist in me wants to keep making it until I get it right but it literally was hours and days of work. The dacquoise I have down pat and it’s really not hard. I don’t think I will ever make the French buttercream again, it’s just not worth the effort and the results did not knock my socks off. I really like Merrill’s shortcut version of a French Buttercream, it tastes almost exactly like it, it’s fool proof, quick and easy. All in all I actually loved the challenge, it didn’t matter that it was a partial fail, I learned a lot and made something with a fair degree of difficulty and it was edible, I learned what to do and what not to do, what works and what doesn’t. Because of that I view this as a success for the simple fact that I did it! Tasting it though, it did kind of knock my socks off, the cake is delicious, the dacquoise retained its crunch kind of a melt in your mouth crunch and I am really glad I used hazelnuts. Ok maybe I will make it again.

The Winners

Selected by feeding everyone’s names into Random.org the winners of the cookbooks are and Annie@Give me meatloaf and Teagan@Teagans Books. Congratulations to you both. Watch for an email, I will need your mailing address so we can get those books out to you asap.