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archive for confections

i bring you sweet lovin’

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Recipe: the concorde chocolate meringue mousse cake

In this house, Jeremy is the romantic and I am the unromantic. That doesn’t mean I’m boring – I recognize romantic things, I just find them superfluous. Jeremy isn’t a hardcore romantic, but he does give me the moony eyes from time to time and likes to go out for candlelit dinners, hold hands, sip champagne together under the stars, and cuddle under a snuggy blanket while watching a good old sci fi/fantasy/action-adventure movie. I don’t equate love with romance, but I do equate (good) food with love. When I make food, when I share food, when I gift good – it’s all a form of love. So I’m sharing some love with you this week.

this is love

this is your brain on love

I’ve teamed up with my good friend, Ellen of Helliemae’s Caramels, to do a little Valentine’s Day giveaway for use real butter readers. No one is paying anyone. We are doing this just for fun. Ellen is donating the caramel goodness and I’m wrangling the random number generator (a.k.a. Kaweah) who is coming out of retirement JUST FOR YOU. Why? Because… love! Should you be one of the winners, you can select one of the following packages:

plain jane

Plain Jane: includes a jar of caramel sauce and a bag of Caramelo tinies. The caramel sauce is unsalted, dark, and slightly bitter. I love using it for baking projects or fancy desserts. The Caramelos are the smoothest, creamiest, butteriest bites of intensely rich and delightfully chewy unsalted caramels you will ever put in your mouth. They’re so good, I just popped one in my pie hole!


Adventure: for the more daring individual, includes a jar of Chili Palmer caramel sauce and a bag of Passion Fruit caramel tinies. Chili Palmer is like getting kicked in the shins and passionately kissed at the same time. You are eloping with a frisky salted burnt caramel sauce loaded with spice (from the chili and cinnamon), heat (from the chili), butter, and sweetness. This stuff is ridiculous on ice cream. Don’t just try it on vanilla, it’s great on chocolate, absolutely sinful on my key lime pie ice cream, and pretty darn swoon-inducing straight off the spoon. What better partner to the sassy Chili Palmer caramel sauce than the exotic and seductive Passion Fruit caramel tinies? We are talking about a burst of tropical tartness playing off the buttery smooth caramel with hints of vanilla. A seasonal item (only around Valentine’s Day) worth every luscious calorie.

The Rules:

1) Share the food you most associate with love in the comments below.
2) One comment per person, please.
3) Comment must be received before 11:59 pm (MST), Thursday, February 6, 2014.
4) The prizes can only ship in the US.
5) Kaweah will select two winners.
6) Winners will be announced and contacted on Friday, February 7, 2014.

Good luck!!

And now something sweet for everyone whether you win the giveaway or not! Two years ago, I purchased Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé, written by Dori Greenspan. It sat on my shelf collecting dog ears, but I never got around to making anything out of that gorgeous book until recently. This cake is so luxurious it even has a name that begins with “The”, like The Edge, except this is called The Concorde and it is a cake made entirely of chocolate meringue and chocolate mousse.

trace three 8 1/2-inch circles on parchment paper

flip the papers over so the tracing is face down on the baking sheets

fit two pastry bags with a 1/2-inch plain piping tip and a 1/4-inch plain piping tip

Get all of your equipment ready for the meringue because you don’t want it to deflate while you’re futzing around with drawing circles and such. I couldn’t find anything in my house that measured 8 1/2 inches in diameter for tracing, so I used an 8-inch removable base from a 9-inch tart pan. Worked just fine and gave me a little leeway in the meringue volume too.

chocolate meringue: dutch-process cocoa powder, egg whites, sugar, confectioner’s sugar

sift the confectionere’s sugar and cocoa powder together

whip the whites and granulated sugar to glossy stiff peaks

**Jump for more butter**

something cheery

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Recipe: blueberry pear pâte de fruits

Today was a crazy day, but I don’t want to go into detail now other than to say that (thankfully) everyone in our house is alright. So I’m going to delve into the recipe because it’s something utterly wonderful to look forward to and it will take my mind off of the clusterfuck that was today.

Ever since I successfully tried my hand at making cranberry pâte de fruits, I’ve run up a big list of fruits to transform into these sweet, chewy, tart, colorful jewels. Right before the holidays, I unearthed a bag of frozen blueberries from my freezer and wondered if they could be made into fruit jellies. After some searching, I settled on this lovely recipe that combines pears, blueberries, and lavender. Except I omitted the lavender because you’re not always sure everyone wants to eat something so perfumed, and these were going out as gifts.

liquid pectin, water, anjou pears, lemon, blueberries, sugar

peeling the pears

adding pear quarters to the sugar and blueberries

pour in some water

**Jump for more butter**

unexpected delights

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Recipe: chocolate caramel pretzels

It has taken me a little while to get dialed into Crested Butte since we aren’t here full-time, but it’s happening. The hardest part is reading the skies because the valley is surrounded on three sides by towering mountains. Local orographics make for weather that changes quickly without much warning, unlike our home on the Front Range with unencumbered views reaching from the Continental Divide to the Great Plains. But I’m always observing skyward and the other day as we were finishing our nordic ski, I looked back at Paradise Divide as its mantle of snow began to take on a warm glow. The one day I decided to leave my camera at home…

I skied with a fast and regular stride – kick and glide, kick and glide – arms pumping. I don’t like to rush Jeremy when he’s enjoying his workout, but I tried to hurry him along. At the car, I quickly changed out of my boots and chucked the skis and poles into the back. Sometimes Jeremy will dawdle about with his gear, but thankfully it was too cold for that. As we drove back to our neighborhood I kept looking in the side mirror and commenting on the spectacular colors behind us. Jeremy agreed that it was lovely, but didn’t realize my intention to capture sunset. He asked if he should stop to check the mail and I said, “No! Just pull over on the side of the road – this isn’t going to last another minute!” They say the best camera is the one you have with you, and it’s true.

the glorious sunset from our neighborhood (iphone pano)

In other news, Kaweah is improving daily. I won’t gross you out with photos of her infected toenail, but I’m actually looking forward to when it falls off so she can move about more freely. She’s definitely feeling spunky and getting around like nothing is wrong. For now, the child’s sock remains on the infected paw to keep her from licking it. When I asked the thrift store proprietor if she had children’s socks, she asked how old my child was. “Well, it’s for my dog who has a toe infection.” She smiled and said in a musical voice, “Oh, it’s for your other child! Yes, doggies are our children too.”

my eternal toddler coming in from the snow

So today’s recipe is something that I didn’t think would be very good at all the first time I tried it. This past summer I had two chocolate caramel pretzels from a client shoot sitting on my desk for several days until one afternoon I realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day and broke into one. Then I ate the second one. They were that good. The salty, creamy, chewy, sweet, crunchy, chocolatey was such an unexpectedly delicious combination. Before the holidays, I tried making some to give as gifts. There are two ways to do it – both with good results.

from scratch: pretzel rods, cream, sugar, vanilla bean, water, corn syrup, salt, butter, chocolate

The easiest way is to purchase a bag of caramels (gourmet or store-bought brand name) and melt them in a pan with a little cream. But I decided to make my own caramel since I was out of practice. I let my sugar syrup reach the top of the temperature range (250°F to 320°F), which resulted in a gorgeous but completely hard caramel. I recommend targeting the lower bound or at least the middle of the range so you don’t break your (or other people’s) teeth. Still, I managed to save the caramel by stirring in some cream over a low flame. That yielded a softer, chewier caramel to coat the pretzels.

scrape the vanilla seeds from the vanilla pod

heat butter, cream, salt, and vanilla pod and seeds together

combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in another pan

**Jump for more butter**