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archive for confections

chocolate-dipped love

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Recipe: strawberry pâte de fruits

For the past several days, I’ve watched white clouds build over the mountains, turn dark, and then blot out the sun by mid afternoon. The black-bellied clouds swoop down with winds, lightning, and rain – only to march away before dinner. This pattern is more typical of summer than spring, but I like the rain. It keeps things cool and wet which is better than dry and burning (wildfires). And every time it rains, I cross my fingers that up high in the mountains, it’s falling as snow. Wishful thinking.


ski day #101 – because i can

dramatic weather

my favorite cherry tree in the canyon in full bloom



Before my trip to Virginia, I debated what sorts of goodies to bring to my parents – more specifically, my mom. It had to be something that traveled well and didn’t take up a lot of space. I thought chocolate-dipped strawberries would be great except they are über perishable. Why not chocolate-dipped strawberry pâte de fruits? The first step is to make the pâte de fruits.

sugar, lemon, butter, strawberries, liquid pectin

hull the berries

chopped berries, juiced lemon, and everything else

pop the berries in a blender and purée



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fluff puff stuff

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Recipe: chocolate cinnamon hazelnut cacao nib meringues

Well, I finally overcame my issues with square photos, took the plunge, and got an Instagram account. You can find me and my random shenanigans over at @jenyuphoto. Rather than bore you with stories of skiing slush and trouble shooting our broken washing machine, let’s talk about meringues. I’m specifically referring to giant palm-sized clouds of sugar. While the huckleberry meringues were beautiful to look at, it felt like I was just biting into a big puffball of sugar with a veneer of huckleberry sauce. So I got to thinking about and researching other flavors and textures.


superfine sugar, cacao nibs, toasted hazelnuts, egg whites, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, salt



I found a recipe on Leite’s Culinaria for chocolate cinnamon meringues as big as the ones I made based on Ottolenghi’s recipe. It’s a similar technique, too – pouring hot sugar into the egg whites. This is what creates the chewy interior of the meringue (which I love). The bitter, earthy, and spicy flavors of unsweetened cocoa powder and ground cinnamon would temper the sugary sweetness of the meringue. Then, taking a cue from another Ottolenghi recipe (the pistachio-rose meringues), I decided to coat the base of each meringue with a combination of chopped toasted hazelnuts and cacao nibs. It sounded like a good combination in my brain.

ready to bake the sugar

whisk the cocoa powder and cinnamon together

chop the hazelnuts

toss the hazelnuts and cacao nibs in a bowl



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white and fluffy

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Recipe: huckleberry meringues

The Front Range got the goods this past Wednesday – 8 inches of snow to replenish our dwindling reserves in the mountains. Since then, our region has been hammered with several unseasonably warm and sunny days. Hey East Coast, I think we should arrange for a trade! Of course, you make due with what you get. I don’t wait for perfect conditions because I’d only get 3 ski days a year around here. I just pick the type of skiing that is best suited for the weather and snow conditions, and get myself outside. It’s all about exercise, the mountains, and fresh air. I do the same in summer, except without the skis.


powder in the glades

putting skins away

skinning up the side of the drainage



It almost felt like summer on Sunday. We skinned up into the backcountry through snow that was fast disintegrating into mashed potatoes, peeling off layers of clothes as the sun rose higher into the sky. Jeremy and I unzipped the side vents in our ski pants and I kept my long-sleeve top on for sun protection rather than for warmth. And this is early February. In the mountains. Above 10,000 feet. I chose this route because Erin was sick over the weekend and told us to ski tour without her. It’s a “No Dogs” trail, which means I would never ask Erin to ski it since No Dogs translates into No Banjo – and Banjo is my puppy buddy.

“It’s just as well,” I muttered to myself as I watched Jeremy make his way up the steepening valley headwall in front of me. The snow was crappy for ski touring and I had already taken Erin on a crappy ski tour the weekend prior (where there wasn’t enough snow). Since I convinced her to pick up skiing and sold her my old gear, I feel obligated to show her how awesome it can be on our local trails. Sadly, the conditions have been less than awesome. Like way less than awesome. But I need to give Erin more credit than that. She’s thrilled to get outside with Banjo to explore our lovely mountains by ski, no matter the lack of snow or overabundance of wind. Aside from Jeremy, Erin is the only person with whom I regularly hike and ski.

On the car ride home from last week’s ski tour, Erin told me she wanted to attempt making meringues. She had heard that our high altitude can cause problems. Was this true? I waved the question away. No, altitude hasn’t posed any problems for me. Meringues are easy. But I told her that I’ve been researching and obsessing over one kind of meringue – all based on a photograph – and I was going to experiment soon. I promised I would report back on my findings. You may or may not have seen the gorgeous giant billowy meringues made famous by Ottolenghi. I’ve actually been oblivious to them until I recently purchased Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. Flipping through, looking for savory vegetable recipes, an image of those signature meringues piled high on a cake plate grabbed my attention. What? How? I need to – they’re so beautiful!


frozen huckleberries, lemon, superfine sugar, more superfine sugar, eggs

egg whites, lemon juice, sugar, sugar, huckleberries



Ottolenghi’s raspberry meringues resemble giant dark pink and white variegated roses. I wanted to create those large cloud-like confections, but there were a few issues to address. First off, my meringues always wind up beige instead of white. Second, how does he apply the berry splatter without turning the meringues soggy? Eventually, with the guidance of this article based on Ottolenghi’s technique and some kitchen testing, I managed to create this obsession I’ve had for the past few months. For the sauce, I used frozen huckleberries (foraged from this past summer), but you can easily substitute fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, strawberries… pick your berry.

Use superfine sugar, because it will incorporate and dissolve into the egg whites faster than larger granules of sugar. Spread the sugar out on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. You’re going to heat this up in a hot oven until it just starts to melt at the edges. When this happens, start whipping the egg whites in a stand mixer on high speed. You really want to use a stand mixer because these need to be whipped for 10 minutes. My arm hurts just thinking about whipping that by hand. You’ll need to move quickly (and carefully) and take the baking sheet out of the oven, lift the parchment (with the sugar) off the pan using oven mitts, and slowly pour the sugar into the whipping egg whites. The directions say not to let the sugar brown in the oven, but mine did a little bit (hey – photographing this stuff makes timing tough). It’s okay, but not ideal. I think if the sugar is liquid (hot), you can pour it into the egg whites, but if you have shards of hardened sugar, don’t add them to the mixer because they won’t dissolve. Also, pour the sugar in on the side of the bowl to avoid any unnecessary excitement. If you pour it directly onto the whisk attachment while it is running, you will have hot sugar flying all over your kitchen.


spread the superfine sugar on a parchment-lined baking sheet

start whipping the egg whites when the sugar begins to melt at the edges

a little too melty, but you get the point

pour the sugar into the egg whites



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