Tiramisu with Edelbrand Cherry Brandy

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A couple weekends ago, I drove out to Marthasville, Missouri to spend time with my friends Lynn and Martin from Edelbrand Pure Distilling. We had plans to go to dinner in nearby Washington, but first, Lynn and I made tiramisu.

We decided to make it the last time we met up because Lynn was telling me about a recipe she’d made for Martin for his birthday. Instead of using wine for the tiramisu, she subbed in their vinars tschereschas, or cherry brandy. I love cherry and chocolate together so I was a fan of the idea.

We also decided to make a time-lapse video of the process. Lynn took filming duty and I made the tiramisu and tried not to spill everything everywhere. Mostly, it worked.

It was our first time-lapse video so we still have room for improvement. But for our first attempt, I think it went well. If you’re going to make a time-lapse video at home, I’d suggest planning everything out in advance and walking through the shots before you do them (as best you can). It will make filming much easier.

I’d *highly* recommend trying this recipe. If you do, make sure you get good ladyfingers (from an Italian store would be best) and good espresso. I know not everyone can get Edelbrand cherry vinars for their dessert, but if you can get your hands on some, it will also make a big difference. The cherry and chocolate go well together and the brandy is more subtle than red wine.

Check out Edelbrand’s site for the recipe. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this song. It doesn’t have much to do with tiramisu or cherry brandy, but it’s still wonderful.

 

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Flourless Chocolate Cookies with Cherries

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I made these beauties for a project that I’m not at liberty to discuss. I know that makes me sound like I’m in the FBI for cookies…which I probably am.

The project involved getting two ingredients delivered in the mail and using them in an original recipe. I got the package last week and there were semi-sweet chocolate chips and white chocolate chips inside. I’m not a big fan of white chocolate but I wanted to use both in a recipe. So I invented these flourless chocolate cookies with cherries.

White chocolate is kind of bland on its own. Honestly, it reminds me of eating a stick of butter. HOWEVER, when combined with a more tart ingredient such as cherries, it takes on a new life. That’s why I decided to add dried sour cherries to the recipe.

These cookies are a little anxiety-provoking while you’re making them for a few reasons. One, even though you know going into it that they’re flourless, it’s still weird not putting flour into cookie dough. Second, the dough takes a couple minutes to resemble anything close to cookie dough. Even then, it looks more like brownie batter.

Don’t despair. If you let the dough sit for a second in the bowl after you mix in the chocolate chips and cherries, it will thicken up slightly. Yeah, it will still be syrupy, but it won’t make you think that you’re about to pour brownie batter onto a flat cookie sheet.

These cookies bake up beautifully. They’re crinkly on top but soft and chewy in the center. They’re crispy around the edges, sweet, and slightly salty because of the sea salt on top. You don’t have to sprinkle sea salt on top when they’re done, but I’d highly recommend it. It balances the sweetness and brings out the chocolate flavor in the cookies.

So yeah. Make these cookies as soon as possible. They’re especially good for days when the temperature drops 20 degrees and you’re close to breaking out your winter coat again. Desperate times, and all that.

Here’s a song to get you started on your flourless chocolate cookie journey.

Flourless Chocolate Cookies with Cherries

Ingredients

3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup dried sour cherries, chopped
Maldon sea salt , for sprinkling tops

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Mix the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the egg whites, egg, and vanilla extract and mix on medium speed until the batter is uniform. Use a spatula to mix in the chocolate chips and cherries.

Drop a heaping tablespoon of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving two inches between each cookie. Bake in the oven for about 14 minutes or until the tops of the cookies are puffed and crinkly.

Remove the sheets from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the sheets for about five minutes. Then carefully transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool the rest of the way.

Store the leftover cookies (if there are any) in an airtight container. Enjoy!

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Dimanche (That Means Sunday)

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Welcome to this edition of Dimanche (That Means Sunday), a roundup of things that caught my eye this past week.

It’s finally starting to feel like spring in St. Louis, and all I can say is, THANK GOODNESS. There were a few snow episodes the past two weeks and all I wanted to do was hide under a blanket and not come out until the spring weather hit.

Luckily, I didn’t need to do that for long. It warmed up and I took some leisurely strolls around town this week to admire the spring flowers. I snapped the above picture at Tower Grove Park, one of my favorite spots for spring flower watching.

I also had a bit of rough week so I tried to take extra care of myself. I got overexcited once it started getting nice outside and I ran five miles two days in a row. My body did not respond well, to say the least. I ended up taking a few days off to recover.

Today, I went to yoga class for the first time in a while. I thought it would help loosen me up and I was right. I skip yoga a lot because I don’t have a membership anymore but I really shouldn’t. Every time I go, I remember how much I love it and how good my body feels afterward. It will cure what ails you, along with ice cream, tea, and repeat episodes of “The West Wing.”

ANYWAY. I hope wherever this week takes you, you find some meaningful detours along the way. I have a couple cooking projects planned for this week but other than that, it should be relatively low key. I’m looking forward to more spring weather, walks through the park, and time spent outdoors.

Without further ado, here is Dimanche:

I was very excited when I heard that Josh Charles, a well-known chef in St. Louis, will helm Winslow’s Home. Josh is one of my favorite chefs in town. He gave me good career advice when I moved back to St. Louis a couple years ago and I’ll always be grateful for it. Now, he’s working at one of my favorite restaurants. I can’t wait to stop by soon and get a pastry and one of my favorite dishes in town, a breakfast burrito with tomatillo salsa.

I’m going to go on another Drake tangent…You’ve been warned. I read an article this week in Slate about how Drake’s latest banger, “Nice for What,” replaced his last popular jam, “God’s Plan,” at the top of the Billboard chart. Personally, I think “God’s Plan” is a better song but I can see why “Nice for What” clinched the top spot. Check out the Slate piece for more insight into the songs and why they’ve become so popular.

Sometimes, I think lunchtime dining options in downtown St. Louis are limited. I was happy to see earlier this week that Good Buddy’s will open this summer. The shop plans to carry homemade soups and sandwiches and cater to the lunchtime crowd. I wrote about the business in my latest story for St. Louis Magazine.

Speaking of lunchtime options in St. Louis…Squatter’s Café is one of my favorite lunch spots in town. I don’t get there as often as I’d like because it’s farther from my office and I’m trying to get better about eating out all the time. Still, I admire the work Rob Connoley and his sous chef Justin Bell are doing. You can read more about Justin in this Q&A in Feast Magazine. I love his shoutout to KNEAD bakery’s doughnuts.

I thought I’d been to every restaurant in St. Louis but apparently, I was wrong. I found out Friday when I stopped by Seedz Café in Demun. The restaurant serves vegan and vegetarian food. Next door, there’s an adorable shop, Seedz Provisions, that made me feel like I was in Los Angeles again. I ordered a chaga chai at the recommendation of the cashier and it was divine. I also got a vegan banana chocolate chip walnut muffin, because why not?

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Last night, I surprised my boyfriend with pastries from La Patisserie Chouquette. The bakery is one of my favorites in town. They always have the most exquisite, inventive French pastries. I feel like I’m back in France when I eat one. I got a few including a pistachio orange creation, a religieuse with strawberry cream, and a raspberry almond cake that was so good, I didn’t want to share it.

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Last but certainly not least, I stopped by Fiddlehead Fern Café’s bluegrass brunch this morning and listened to some tunes from The Mighty Pines. If you haven’t already heard the band’s songs, you should check them out on Spotify. They’ll also be touring around St. Louis and the west this summer, so you can see them live if you’re in the area.

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Enjoy your week! Here’s a song to get you started.

 

 

 

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Baby Shower Cupcakes

Baby Shower Cupcakes
I made these cupcakes last night for my friend Mark. He and his wife are about to have their first baby so we decided to throw him a surprise baby shower at work.

It was kind of awkward because when he walked into a meeting this morning, we had everything waiting for him in the corner but no one said anything. So I just yelled out, “Congrats!” He looked at me like I had four heads but then he saw the gifts and cupcakes, and all was right with the world.

It’s been a while since I’ve made cupcakes. Usually I go the cookie route, mostly because I like cookies more than cupcakes. But a baby shower practically screams cupcakes. They’re cute, relatively easy, and there’s lots of opportunity for decoration.

I made buttercream frosting and I divided it in half. Then, I mixed red food coloring into half the icing and blue food coloring into the other. Words to the wise: You’ll need less red food coloring than blue food coloring. A couple drops of red food coloring turned the icing a shade of baby pink. I had to use three or four drops to get the icing a baby blue color.

I sprinkled the tops of the cupcakes with shimmery sprinkles but you could use another kind. I thought about using small pearl sprinkles. Maybe they even make baby-themed ones, but I didn’t want to take it that far. I’m still new to the whole baby shower thing.

The cupcakes are a hit. We had fire drill right after the meeting this morning and a bunch of people told me they grabbed one on the run. I’m happy that they prioritized.

Here’s a song that reminds me of these cupcakes, and, I guess, babies. Stevie Wonder wrote it about his daughter.

Baby Shower Cupcakes

Ingredients

for the cupcakes:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk

for the buttercream frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/8 tsp salt
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 tbsp whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Add the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.

Add half the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Then add the milk and mix until incorporated. Then mix in the rest of the flour. DO NOT OVERMIX.

Pour the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a stick inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean or with just a few crumbs.

Allow the cupcakes to cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the buttercream frosting. Combine the butter and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix until light and fluffy. Then mix in two cups of powdered sugar until it’s fully incorporated. Mix in the rest of the powdered sugar and beat on medium speed until the buttercream is smooth and light. Beat in the milk and vanilla extract and continue to mix until the frosting is smooth.

Use a spatula to divide the buttercream in half. Put one half in a bowl and leave the other in the bowl of the stand mixer. Place two drops of red food coloring in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat until it’s light pink. Transfer the icing to an icing bag or a plastic bag with the corner cut off (that’s what I used). Ice half the cupcakes.

Then place the reserved icing in another stand mixer bowl with a paddle attachment and beat in four drops of blue food coloring. Repeat the icing process.

Top the cupcakes with sprinkles. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for three days this way. Enjoy!

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Dimanche (That Means Sunday)

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Welcome to this edition of Dimanche (That Means Sunday), a roundup of things that caught my eye this past week.

This week was the first one that’s felt like spring, so naturally I spent most of it outside. I went on a run Wednesday through Forest Park and halfway through, I saw the heron in the above photo. It was my first heron sighting of the season. I also saw another one across the prairie but I didn’t want to walk to get a photo of it because technically, the prairie is being renovated. So I just admired it from afar.

Friday, I had the chance to spend time with my friends Martin and Lynn Weber from Edelbrand Pure Distilling at their farm in Marthasville, MO (more on that below). We had a great time even though we encountered a nasty storm on the way home from dinner Friday night. We made tiramisu, talked, ate good food, and I played with their dog. It was relaxing to get away from the city for a while and spend time with good friends.

Speaking of good friends, I got to see my best friend today for lunch. Rachel lives in D.C. so I don’t get to see her as often now. Whenever she’s in town we meet up for lunch or dinner. I’m glad I got to see her and catch up.

WARNING: This might get a little gushy. Being with Lynn, Martin, and Rachel reminded me of the importance of carving out time for good friends. I usually do this anyway, but sometimes it’s easy to start prioritizing work and putting relationships on the back burner. I try to find a balance. I always feel so much better after spending time with people I care about, so it makes sense to try to do it as often as possible.

Without further ado, here is Dimanche:

I’ve been following this story about how Philly cheesesteak made it into a symphony at Carnegie Hall and it’s WILD. The composer, who has already penned symphonies about other cities, decided to concentrate on sounds unique to Philadelphia for his latest symphony. I liked the part of this story in The New York Times where he says that while he was recording the cheesesteak, he got close enough to the meat to singe his hair.

Junot Díaz is one of my favorite authors but I didn’t know much about his personal history until recently. Then I read this story in The New Yorker last week and cried at my desk. Díaz writes about childhood trauma and how it’s impacted his life, especially his romantic relationships. The story is powerful, heart-wrenching, and raw. I’d highly recommend reading it, even though you might feel like stopping at some points because it’s so intense.

On a lighter note… Food & Wine released their top restaurants of 2018 recently. The list includes eateries in Houston, D.C., and New York. I really like what Chef Justin Yu said about sandwiches in the article. Yu, who helms Better Luck Tomorrow in Houston, said that a sandwich can only be something between two fully-detached pieces of bread. In other words, hot dogs and falafel don’t count. I couldn’t agree more.

Can we talk about the new Drake song? I can’t stop talking about it. Some music writers said it’s Drake’s response to the #MeToo movement, and this seems right. After all, most of the lyrics praise women and talk about how they have to put up with so much nonsense from men (i.e., “nice for what?”). Aside from its sociocultural implications, though, the song is an artistic gem. I read some nice things about it in this Pitchfork review.

As I mentioned earlier, I spent some time with my friends Lynn and Martin Friday and Saturday and we had a blast. Lynn and I made tiramisu from scratch, something I’ve only attempted once before and to less-than-satisfactory results. Our tiramisu was delicious. We ended up having slices Friday because we couldn’t wait for it to set overnight. I’ll share the recipe with you later this week.

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In other food-related news… I tracked down Balkan Treat Box last Monday during lunch. It’s a rare treat because they don’t always come close to where I work. I got the chicken döner and it was on. point. I wish I could eat there every day, but I’ll have to settle for when they’re on the road.

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Last but certainly not least, I stopped by The Clover & The Bee in Webster Groves for breakfast earlier this week when I had a half-day at work. I love spending time there writing and drinking coffee. The interiors are very whimsical and everyone sitting in the café is generally in a good mood. You can check out their menu here.

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Enjoy your week! Here’s a song to get you started.

 

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Snickerdoodle Cookies

snickerdoodle cookies
One of my favorite movie quotes comes from (I shudder to admit) “27 Dresses.” The main character, a cynical wedding reporter, said: “Love is patient, love is kind, love is slowly losing your mind.” That got a big laugh out of me and my college roommate when we watched it together.

I guess love *is* losing your mind because it makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do. For me, that means coming home after running five miles for the first time in months and making these snickerdoodle cookies. I was out of breath, sore, and tired, but I didn’t let that stop me.

I made them for my boyfriend because he mentioned offhand that they were his favorite kind. I’ve always liked snickerdoodles but I rarely eat them and I’d never made them. For me, they were the cookie equivalent of a turkey sandwich: Satisfying, flavorful, but not as exciting as, say, prosciutto and Gruyère.

I was wrong. Snickerdoodles are actually the cookie equivalent of spies. They’re very subtle as you make them. The dough has a sugar cookie vibe. It comes together relatively quickly and it doesn’t require many ingredients.

Then, you roll balls of dough in cinnamon and sugar and they take on a new life. The cinnamon/sugar mix does two things: It adds spice AND texture to the cookies. They’re slightly grainy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. They melt in your mouth. I’m tearing up a little just writing about it.

The only weird ingredient in the cookies is cream of tartar. When I saw that in the recipe, I was kind of grossed out because cream of tartar sounds like something you’d serve with lobster. HOWEVER, it’s not that at all. It’s a powder that you use sometimes in baked goods to activate baking soda. I’m not a scientist but I’d imagine that it has something to do with why these cookies are so soft and chewy.

These cookies are delicious on their own but they’re also good in ice cream sandwiches. I put a scoop of toffee ice cream between a couple of them last night for dessert.

So the moral of this story is, take a chance on a cookie that you’ve never made and rarely eat. Do it under the guise of doing something nice for your boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other because it will only help you in the end.

Here’s a song to get you started and to take you into the weekend.

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and place them in the refrigerator (this will come in handy later).

Mix the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the softened butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract at medium speed until well mixed. Add the flour mixture and beat on a low speed until fully incorporated.

Place plastic wrap over the bowl with the dough and place it in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the cinnamon/sugar mixture for the outside. Combine the two ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Once the dough is chilled, use a cookie scoop, ice cream scoop, or tablespoon to scoop out pieces of dough. Gently roll them into balls and dredge them in the cinnamon/sugar mixture until they’re evenly coated. Place them on the chilled cookie sheets.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the sheet immediately after baking and allow them to cool on a rack.

The cookies will keep for a few days in an airtight container. Enjoy!

 

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Cinnamon Porridge with Maple Fried Banana

Cinnamon Oatmeal with Maple Fried Bananas
I’m so happy because SPRING IS HERE. I’m a little premature shouting that out because apparently, we’re in for some cold weather this weekend. But at least for the time being, I’m celebrating.

On one of the last cold days this week I made cinnamon porridge with maple fried bananas. I can think of nothing more comforting for those weird spring days when it’s waaay too cold and it feels more like the beginning of winter. I needed something spicy, warming, and sweet, and this fit the bill.

Frying bananas is easier than you’d think, but it’s still a process. To make these bananas, I melted some coconut oil in a skillet and then I whisked in some maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Then I put the bananas in the skillet with the cut side facing up. I like to do this because then, you give the backs of the banana a chance to fry first and then the cut side (or the pretty side) will have a better chance of cooking evenly. It’s kind of like making pancakes: The first one is almost always a dud.

The porridge is simple to make, too. You combine rolled oats, a pinch of cinnamon, a splash of maple syrup, a pinch of salt, and some almond milk in a saucepan and allow it to come to boil. Then, you reduce the heat and cook it, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the consistency you like. I like my porridge on the thicker side, so I cook it until it gets very dense (or until I can’t wait any longer).

I topped this oatmeal with the fried bananas, blueberries, a scoop of almond butter, hemp seeds, and sliced almonds, but feel free to get creative. I bet cacao nibs, walnuts, and raspberries would also be delicious.

In other news, Drake just dropped a new single and I’m in love. Every time I think I love Drake the most I can love him, he does something to make me love him even more. The song, “Nice For What,” is essentially an anthem to women everywhere and the struggles they face. As one writer said recently, it’s Drake’s response to the #MeToo movement.

I know there are some haters who probably say that Drake is just looking for some pats on the back and adoration from fans, and hey, maybe he is. But I applaud any artist who comes forward in a positive moment in women’s history and responds in an affirming way. Plus, I love Drake. Have I mentioned that?

Here’s the song, for your listening pleasure. I may or may not have listened to it twenty times on repeat yesterday.

Cinnamon Porridge with Maple Fried Banana

Ingredients

for the oats:
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup regular almond milk (not unsweetened)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
blueberries, sliced almonds, almond butter, and hemp seeds for topping

for the banana:
1 large banana (cut into quarters)
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp maple syrup
pinch of salt

Directions

Combine the oats, almond milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt in a saucepan on high heat. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer the oats, stirring occasionally, until they reach your desired consistency.

Meanwhile, make the banana. Heat the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat and once it’s melted, add the maple syrup and salt. Add the banana, cut side up, and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Pour the oats into a bowl and top with the banana, blueberries, sliced almonds, a scoop of almond butter, and hemp seeds. Enjoy!

 

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