korean jajangmyeon (black bean noodles) caulilini with bagna cauda fig bread pudding elk chorizo chile rellenos


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archive for confections

we return to our regularly scheduled program

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Recipe: peach pâte de fruits

People refer to September as if it is actual fall, but the reality is that only the last week of September is officially fall. Sure, we can feel that precious cooldown overnight in the mountains as August winds down and September steps up. Still, the daytime highs are HIGH and sadly breaking new records. Those of us loyal to seasons outside of Burn-Your-Face-Off-Hot summer are ready to move on from bug bites, sunblock, and waking at 5:00 am to beat the sun. Children’s laughs echo from the schoolyard. Morning frost crunches underfoot in the high country. Time to resume our non-summer schedule. I hope you all had a great summer. We sure did.


variety and abundance

yuki inspects one day’s haul of porcini

a morning spent foraging chanterelles

adventures with wingus and dingus

happy pups (that’s yuki’s happy face, same as all of her faces)

beating the heat on an alpine lake



In summer, Colorado relies heavily on monsoonal moisture coming from the southwest to stoke our mountain thunderstorms and deliver rain. Prolonged absence of precipitation means the flowers begin to wilt, the mushrooms shrivel up and disappear, berries stall or die, and the threat of wildfire rears its ugly head. August was awfully dry in contrast to the start of the season, but this past weekend we were able to catch some wild berries, the last of the alpine wildflowers, and even hints of the golden glory that will soon wash over our beloved aspen forests.

thimbleberries

there’s always that one tree who has to start early

yuki on her labor day hike

resting above treeline in the flowers



It’s time. It’s time. I’ve spent several weeks this summer foraging, cleaning, cooking, freezing, dehydrating, and pickling wild mushrooms, but now we are getting down to brass tacks. Time to can tomatoes, freeze corn, roast and freeze green chiles, forage late summer goodies (if any are to be had), and of course, freeze peach pie filling. I used to make peach jam every summer from luscious Colorado Palisade peaches until I realized I am not much of a jam person. Gifter? Yes! Consumer? Not so much. But peach pie in January is pure magic – hence the freezing of (a lot of) peach pie filling.

Last week, I had a dental appointment and wanted to bring a homemade sweet to the office. I know, who brings sweets to their dentist? I wanted something that could be easily shared, but my dentist is vegan and gluten-free. You may be asking where I find these people, but when you live near Boulder, Colorado, you get very used to these culinary obstacle courses. Peaches are happening now, so why not peach pâte de fruits? I adapted my strawberry pâte de fruits recipe by reducing the sugar and pectin, bumping up the lemon, and omitting the butter. I know there are a variety of pectins out there that behave differently from brand to brand, so I’m using Certo brand liquid pectin here. I haven’t invested brain cycles into how you convert between liquid and powder pectin, but it’s on that long to-do list of mine.


sugar, lemon, peaches, pectin (not pictured: pinch of salt)

peel, pit, and chop the peaches; juice the lemon

purée the peaches until smooth



**Jump for more butter**

something shiny

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

Recipe: chocolate mirror glaze

This past week in Crested Butte has seen a good bit of progress for Yuki. She improved her length of sustained running during our skate ski compared to the last few times when she would slow down, fall behind, and then STOP abruptly. We also took her on the mountain at the ski resort for her first uphill ski and she was pretty good despite so many new and loud distractions like ski patrol, snow mobiles, and large grooming machines. Yuki was a trooper through it all and it helped tremendously to have Neva present to show her there was nothing to be afraid of, but rather everything to be excited about. Crested Butte provides an excellent environment for dog activities with its consistent snow, designated dog-friendly Nordic trails, dog-friendly uphill policies at the ski resort, and good backcountry coverage.


when it is -25°F outside, we stay home and snuggle until it warms up

enjoying the nordic trails on a bluebird day

frost flowers form on the river when it is really cold and calm

skiing out after skinning up the mountain with the pups

plenty of snow down in town



I see Valentine’s Day on the calendar this week and have absolutely zero plans except to possibly ski a powder day. Oh wait, I *do* have something for you all. Last September, I made a random chocolate raspberry mousse cake for Jeremy’s birthday and a few people had asked if I would post the recipe. I didn’t feel there was a recipe to post since most of the cake was made from components that have already been published on the blog. However, the chocolate mirror glaze was new, and that’s what I will discuss in this post. A glossy dark chocolate mirror glaze lends a nice wow factor to a dessert and is pretty easy to whip up. I’ll also go through the steps of my cake assembly, but the cake under the glaze can be (almost) anything you like.

The chocolate chiffon cake and the chocolate mousse recipes come from my chocolate mousse bombes recipe. If you plan to make the chocolate chiffon cake, I blogged the recipe for the hazelnut praline paste last week. In this example, I baked two 6×2-inch rounds of the chocolate chiffon cake and leveled the tops to give me two 1-inch layers of cake. This uses half of the chocolate chiffon cake recipe which can yield three 6×2-inch cakes (I had extra batter left over). I doubled the mousse recipe because I wanted enough mousse to form a half-inch layer around the cake and a thin layer on top of the cake. For raspberries, I had 3 cups of fresh raspberries for filling the mousse layer as well as garnishing the cake.


trimmed cake layers, raspberries, and chocolate mousse



I couldn’t find a 7-inch ring mold anywhere in town, but managed to improvise one using an 8-inch (point-to-point) hexagonal ring mold whose side-to-side measurement was 7 inches. I taped a strip of 4-inch acetate in a circle around the inside of the mold and set it on parchment inside of a larger (9-inch) baking pan. I set the first cake layer down in the center (base to bottom), then piped mousse on top of it (piping makes it easier). I pressed the raspberries into the mousse, not worrying too much about mousse spilling over the edge since I was surrounding the cake with a mousse layer. Next, I filled the gaps between the cake and the acetate strip with mousse. In hindsight, I should have used a smaller piping tip because it is difficult to fill the tight spots, but it mostly worked.

center the cake in the mold

top with mousse

arrange the raspberries in the mousse

fill the sides with mousse to the raspberry level



**Jump for more butter**

nuts for hazelnuts!

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

Recipe: hazelnut pralines and hazelnut praline paste

I love the feeling of getting over the hump! My cold last month put me behind schedule on a few things that made the past couple of weeks a crush of work and deadlines that pushed up against Chinese New Year preparations. I managed to get it all done while sacrificing some sleep and exercise so we could leave for Crested Butte on the first day of the Chinese New Year. At least I did the “lucky” things for the Year of the Pig, which happens to be my year. Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! Now I can resume a normal pace of productivity and enjoy some time with my pack in the snow.


our spoiled pups enjoying their window benches in nederland

i kept the lunar new year celebration simple

taking advantage of a quiet powder day in crested butte

fluffy little stashes everywhere

yuki and neva as wind indicators



The recipe I’m sharing today came about through necessity. My first introduction to hazelnut praline paste occurred in my pastry skills program over a decade ago. It’s the kind of product you’ll find in the kitchens of professional bakers, candy makers, pastry chefs, pastry schools, and serious baking enthusiasts. Think of it as a rustic version of Nutella without any of the junk ingredients. Unable to find it in any local stores, my online search revealed hazelnut praline paste to be rather pricey unless I was willing to buy 11 pounds of it (I am not). I wondered aloud how hard could it possibly be to make my own? Apparently, not hard at all.

lemon juice, sugar, raw hazelnuts, water



Most people would probably substitute Nutella or skip the praline paste altogether, but I have a deep love of the stuff. I’d spoon it straight into my mouth if my adult brain didn’t override my 1970s child instincts. Hazelnut praline paste has a rich, smooth texture and a buttery, toasted nutty, burnt sugar flavor. To make it requires caramelizing sugar, coating the hazelnuts in the hot caramelized sugar, cooling the pralines, and then blitzing it to a paste in a food processor. While the process steps are simple, the technique requires some competency with caramelizing sugar. I even managed to brick a batch of hot sugar before remembering that a touch of acid (in this case, lemon juice) can help prevent seed formation during caramelization, especially at high altitude. One thing to note is that I usually use organic cane sugar, which is light brown, but I used white sugar in the photographs because I wanted to show it turning amber in color.

combine sugar, lemon juice, and water in a small saucepan

let it boil undisturbed until it turns deep amber



**Jump for more butter**