Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Coffee Custard with Toasted Swiss Meringue Kisses & Hazelnut Brittle

Coffee Custard

This custard almost defeated me. I made it three different times before I got it just how I wanted. It was a bit of an experiment really. Every recipe I came across for anything even remotely similar involved instant coffee or espresso powder, but I wanted nothing to do with that.

I actually find the use of instant coffee or espresso powder in desserts somewhat perplexing. I guess I get it in some sense--it's easy, quick, and cheap. But I so often hear about the importance of using the best quality chocolates or top notch vanillas or freshly squeezed lemon/lime/orange juice or freshly grated spices or unbleached flours, but what about coffee? Why, in baking, do we settle for instant (i.e., freeze dried, low grade, poor quality coffee) instead of the good stuff (i.e., good quality, freshly roasted, responsibly bought, thoughtfully treated coffee)? And when coffee is the sole or primary flavor in a dessert, why use something with no flavor at all except the roast?

In this custard, I didn't want just roast flavor. I wanted everything I get from drinking the greatest cup of coffee ever. I wanted the sweet, the fruit, the delicate, the nuance. I wanted it all!

Coffee Custard

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Moistest Chocolate Cake with Berry Mascarpone Frosting
(for my birthday)

Moist Chocolate Cake with Berry Mascarpone Frosting

Today I am twenty-six. A quarter century of life behind me.

I really feel like twenty-five taught me a lot. What I love, what I don't. What and who really matters to me. How to embrace the good fully, completely, and honestly. How to let things go and brush things off. That I don't have to like and/or please everyone, or even pretend to. That things aren't as bad as I sometimes think they are, and that things are far better than I sometimes realize. What I want to be, who I want to be with, where I want to end up. How to be better and more and enough and myself. That I am so incredibly lucky for all that I have.

Big things, important things, worthy things, I guess. Things to get me at least through twenty-six.

Sometimes I think that my life is so much different than others around me. That's probably true in some ways and not at all in others, but it can, at times, feel that way. I suppose the weight of decisions, responsibility, disappointment, and reality has something to do with it. These have been reoccurring themes throughout the last year that have, I think, taught me all that stuff up there.

Moist Chocolate Cake with Berry Mascarpone Frosting

But, today, I am twenty-six. And despite all the seriousness behind/within this post, I am happy today! And I feel like I have so much more to come as I say goodbye to twenty-five. There is cake after all.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Gluten-Free Rosemary Apple Cranberry Crisp

Gluten-Free Rosemary Apple Cranberry Crisp

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that it snowed at my dad's house on Christmas day. It's quite the rarity in Texas (and Georgia). So the day after Christmas, Dale and I woke up early to take a snowy walk before everything started to melt. It was beautiful and quiet and so so cold.

Part of my dad's land houses wild horses being broken for riding. They're all so majestic with hair-covered hooves, long manes, and feisty spirits. Seeing them run and play in the snow was nothing short of amazing.

See more photos from Texas here.

When we got back from Texas last Saturday, Dale and I headed to Pura Vida for a final dinner there. It closed as of the 31st and was our most favorite date spot with the best coconut steamed buns and sangria. I will miss it.

I must say, it was nice to return to my kitten and my bed and a bit of normalcy. Although I do miss Texas.

On New Year's Eve, we had dinner with some friends. It was a southern style potluck situation, and I was asked to bring dessert. Our friend who was hosting the party has Coeliac disease, so I wanted to make something gluten-free so that she too could have dessert!