Crème Fraîche

Condiment

Remember that time that I had an awesome food blog, and then I switched host companies and lost all my content?  No, you don’t?  I do.  And it broke my heart, and I cried.  I was sad.  And I gave up food blogging.  And then I said, “Get over it.  Start over.”

And so it begins.  To kick it off, I’m doing a week of simple recipes.  These are recipes that almost don’t require a recipe.  They are things that everyone should know how to make, but don’t.  These simple recipes will bring immense pleasure to your every day life.  They will save you money and make your mouth happy.  Who couldn’t use more of that?!

And so, let’s begin with one of the easiest, most pleasurable foods I can think of- crème fraîche.  It’s cultured cream, and it’s freakishly delicious.  It’s not as sour as sour cream, yet has that consistency.  It’s not tangy like yogurt.  It’s denser than whipped cream.  It’s cream, perfectly thick, waiting to be slathered on something.  It balances sweet desserts, and it adds creaminess to savory dishes.  You can use it in place of yogurt or sour cream in recipes.  It’s just fabulous, and you need it in your refrigerator at all times.

Crème Fraîche

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1-2 tbsp plain yogurt
  1. Whisk together the heavy cream and yogurt in a container with a lid.
  2. Cover the container and let it sit on the counter for anywhere from 12-24 hours.
  3. When you notice it start to thicken, whisk it once more and watch it magically turn to thick cream.
  4. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week, although I imagine you’ll eat it all up before then.

Crème Fraîche - forkful of awesome

Crème Fraîche - forkful of awesome

 

Mocha Pecan Cake with Coffee Whipped Cream

Dessert, Gluten free

chocolate pecan cake sideview

I have a new crush on pecans.  Almonds, you’re like, so yesterday.  Pecans, you have stolen my heart and I will be eating you with everything, on everything, and in everything within the foreseeable future.  How have I rejected this nut for so many years?  Minus the once a year pecan pie, pecans were off my radar.  Not anymore.  Let’s have food affair together, okay pecans?pecans

 

So, you can just imagine my excitement when I came across a recipe for a flour-less chocolate pecan cake the other day.  Awww yeah!  It was destiny, and I had to make it mine, all mine.

This is a special occasion cake.  It’s not a bake-sale cake or a one-bowl cake.  It requires some luxury time in your kitchen.  Just you, some pecans, chocolate, butter, and some sultry music.  You’re going to be melting, whipping, folding, and licking (the spatula people!).  And it’s worth it.  May I suggest listening to Zou Bisou Bisou while making your cake?  Eating this cake in bed is also highly recommended. Bon appetit!

Mocha Pecan Cake with Coffee Whipped Cream

Inspired from the Chocolate and Pecan Cake from Donna Hay Magazine

Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

          The Cake

  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate, chopped
  • 10 tbsp butter, chopped
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature and separated
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped, or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brown sugar, dark or light
  • 2 tbsp hot tap water
  • 1 heaping tsp instant espresso
  • 1 2/3 cups toasted, ground pecans*
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Coffee Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 tbsp confectioners sugar, based on how sweet you want your whipped cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp instant espresso

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9 inch springform pan, and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper, traced from the bottom of the pan.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water.  When everything is melted and silky smooth, set aside and let cool slightly.
  3. In a small bowl, dissolve the instant espresso in the 2 tbsp water.
  4. In a large bowl (I mean large- I had to move everything to a larger bowl while making this cake), combine the egg yolks, vanilla seeds or vanilla extract, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, the espresso, the melted chocolate, the pecans, and the salt.
  5. In a stand mixer, or using handheld beaters, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually add 1/2 cup brown sugar, and continue to beat until the egg whites are glossy and stiff (hehe).
  6. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in two batches.  Use a plastic spatula to do this.  Be gentle and loving so you don’t deflate your egg whites.
  7. Pour the batter into your pan and bake for one hour.  This is where the licking (spatula) comes into play.  The top of the cake will be crispy and crackled, and the inside will be almost truffle-like. Oh yes.  Cool the cake completely while still in the pan.
  8. To make the coffee whipped cream, beat the cream, vanilla, and instant espresso.  Slowly add the confectioners sugar.  Beat until you have soft peaks.  Taste for sweetness.  Remember, the cake is going to be sweet, so you don’t necessarily want the whipped cream too sugary.

* To toast the pecans, heat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 7 minutes.  Let the pecans cool completely before grinding.

Serve the cake with a dollop of whipped cream and a strong espresso.  Dim the lights, send the kids to bed, close your eyes, and enjoy.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA chocolate pecan cake wedge

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

xox

Roasted Apples and Figs Compote

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It’s fall, and it’s rainy and cold.  You need to make this compote.  It’s freaking amazing.  Put it on ice cream, yogurt, french toast, oatmeal, or eat it plain by the spoonful.  End of story.  You’re welcome.

Roasted Apples and Figs Compote

Ingredients:

  • 4 large or 5 small apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 7-9 fresh figs, quartered
  • 3/4 cup orange juice (I think apple cider would be amazing too)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup raisins (golden raisins would be lovely.  Dried cranberries too)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • slight pinch of ground cloves (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter, diced
Diced apples

Diced apples

 

Quartered figs

Quartered figs

 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Heap all ingredients except butter into a casserole dish.  Mix together with a spoon.
  • Scatter diced butter on top on mixture.
Ready to go in the oven

Ready to go in the oven

  • Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and give a good mix.
  • Bake another 30 minutes.
  • By now, your house will smell like fall heaven.  It’s a good idea to have friends over so they can marvel at the smell.
  • Then, scoop some vanilla ice cream or salted caramel gelato into small bowls. Spoon hot compote over ice cream, and commence having a mouth orgasm.
Finished compote

Finished compote

Compote with homemade yogurt

Compote with homemade yogurt

 

 

The Comfort of the Chocolate Chip Cookie

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It was a rough weekend.  Usually a family get-together is something to be happy and excited about.  Well, not this time.  We were all together in Pittsburgh to celebrate the life of my grandfather.  Rough stuff.

Sometimes you need comfort in the worst way.  Besides a bottle of champagne and a Xanax, I can’t think of anything more comforting than the humble chocolate chip cookie.  And no, I’m not talking about a store-bought, hard, processed cookie (that rhymes with Lips Oh Boy), or a vegan faux chocolate chip cookie made with chick peas and kale.  I’m talking about a huge, homemade, buttery, soft, warm, chocolate chip cookie.  With a tall glass of cold milk.  I swear, I can feel my muscles relax and my blood pressure drop 10 points just thinking about it.  Who needs Xanax when you have cookie nirvana?

And whoever says that you shouldn’t seek comfort by way of food is a twat.  But, that’s just my opinion.

The following recipe is not my creation.  It’s from America’s Test Kitchen.  I made these cookies for a dinner party, and that was the end of that.  I burned all other chocolate chip cookie recipes in a blaze of glory.

A couple notes: 1) If you’re so inclined, you can add raisins, nuts, shredded coconut, whatever to these cookies.  I am not inclined.  I love the pure simplicity of this recipe.  When it’s good, don’t mess with it.  But don’t let me tell you what to do.  2) Make the dough ahead of time, portion out, and freeze.  Then, have a homemade chocolate chip cookie whenever the urge hits you.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.

Big and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 20 large cookies (depending on how much cookie dough you scarf down)

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 16 tbsp or 2 sticks butter, melted and cooled (I always use salted, use what you prefer)
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. or 2 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chip cookies (quality counts)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.  Set aside.

Beat the cooled butter and sugar using beaters or an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes.  Then add the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla and beat for about 30 seconds.

Add the flour mixture to the eggy, sugary mixture, and mix until just combined.  Mix in the chocolate chips.  Eat a piece of cookie dough.

Either use a 1/4 cup measuring cup or an ice cream scoop, and portion dough onto 2 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper.  Space about 2-3 inches apart.  Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the middles are still soft and puffy.  The worst thing you want to do here is over bake your cookies.  When you look at them and think, “Hmmm, maybe a couple more minutes”, that’s when you take them out.  Do it!

Big balls of chocolate heaven.

Big balls of chocolate heaven.

 

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes and then transfer to wire cooling racks.  Let cool as long as possible, until you can’t stand it anymore.

Pour a tall glass of milk, put a cookie on a plate, crawl into your bed, and yummmmm.  Go get another.

Stack of comfort.

Stack of comfort.

 

Box up some cookies and share with people you REALLY love.  Only the ones you really love.  Spread the comfort.  xox

Kids and cookies.

Kids and cookies.