Swampy Pandowdy. Need I say more?!

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Can I just say that I’ve recently discovered swamp pie, and I will never be the same again.

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Sometimes, the messiest food is by far the best food, and the less-aesthetic desserts are actually the tastiest. And sometimes, they have ridiculous names and it just gets better and better!

Ugly and strange sounding, but delicious. I promise. Would I lead you wrong in the dessert department? I think not.

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Let’s talk verbiage for a minute…

Swamp.

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Best word ever. And also, hilarious (and slightly unappealing I suppose, if you’re normal… unlike me) connotations when we’re talking about food. Side note, I was Bride of Swamp Thing for Halloween one year, and I think it might be one of my more inspired costumes to date.

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Typically, it’s pies that are swamped (i.e. have cream poured into them so not only are you getting pie, but you’re also getting this delicious mash up of cream and custard and pie and all the goodness, all at once), but since I’d never made a pandowdy, I decided to swamp that instead.

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Swampy pandowdy.

What a great combination of words!!! Swampy pandowdy. Which sounds potentially unappealing but I promise it isn’t.

Pandowdies are basically pie’s less fussy cousin. Or maybe they could be considered pie’s artsy, bohemian cousin who comes to visit once a year, bakes, does art things and wears colorful, ridiculous jewelry and lots of scarves and… omg that’s me! I’ve apparently found my spirit food. Or food totem? As in, if I was a food, I’d be a pandowdy. Low maintenance, boho weirdo… that sounds about right. Actually, I’d probably be a swampy pandowdy because that’s even weirder and more awesome. But, y’all like me for my weirdness, right?! So it’s fine. I’m at peace with having my spirit food be a swampy pandowdy.

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Though the origin of the word is technically unknown, I’ve read the theory is that pandowdies apparently get their name from “dowdy-ing” its looks by mucking up the crust. I just enjoy playing with my food, so you’re not going to hear any complaints from this corner.

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AND THEN not only that, but you get to pour a bunch of cream in there, which is an experiment in and of itself if/when you realize you don’t actually own a funnel, and careful pouring is going to have to do.

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It’s fun! It’s delicious and makes great dessert and breakfast (especially breakfast). And there are great words involved…

Happy pandowdy-ing!

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Cherry, Peach and Raspberry Swampy Pandowdy

Refined sugar free, lightly sweet, whole grain, and perfect for the late summer stone fruit season! I’m all over the stone fruit lately… Pandowdies are like pies, only way less fussy and much more messy and fun. They’re kind of like pie’s artistic, bohemian cousin (that’ll be me, later in life… oh wait. It probably already is) – only a top crust, and you get to mess it up and play with your food! Besides that, I love love love cream, so what better excuse to eat some than to flood your pie? Swamp pies are a thing. Also, I love the name. Pandowdy crust lightly adapted from Food52, here and the swamp business is adapted also from Food52, here! I didn’t do much to the crust, the recipe was pretty much perfect as is. Yield: 1 9″ pandowdy, serves… several. 2 if you eat it for breakfast too ;)

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For the crust:

  • 1.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 c cornmeal
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • zest of 1 meyer lemon
  • 9 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed into small pieces
  • 3-5 tbsp ice water

Add whole wheat flour, cornmeal, sea salt, and lemon zest to a large bowl and stir to combine. Add in butter, toss to coat, and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut in the butter until a coarse mixture forms and the butter chunks are the size of peas (I prefer to use my fingers for this since I a) like the feeling of having my hands in flour and b) have greater control over butter-chunk sizing). Add ice water 1 tbsp at a time until the dough just begins to hold together when pinched between two fingers. It’ll look a little crumbly, but that’s fine.

Toss the dough out onto a clean counter or wax paper (I prefer the counter method; less fuss), and use a bench scraper to gather the dough into a rough rectangle. Using the heel of your hand, smear the last fourth of dough away from you, against the counter. Repeat until you smear all the dough (see? playing with your food!), then gather the dough back into a rectangle and repeat, smearing it all away from you. The dough should be cohesive by this point, so gather it up into a disc, wrap in plastic, and stick it in the fridge for at eat an hour, or up to overnight.

For the filling:

  • 3 c cherries (mine were Bing cherries; I think Ranier would be awesome here too)
  • 2 c peaches, sliced
  • 1.5 c raspberries*
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot starch
  • 1 tbsp meyer lemon juice
  • scant 1/4 c maple syrup
  • egg white & 1 tbsp coconut sugar for glaze
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 c heavy cream

*I used some that had been frozen; if you do as well, bake them straight from frozen instead of letting them thaw beforehand

In a large bowl, combine the cherries, peaches and raspberries. Add vanilla, arrowroot, lemon juice, and maple, and toss to combine. Pour all this goodness into your pie plate or skillet of choice – 9″ pie plates are fine as long as they’re the deeper variety; a 10″ cast iron skillet would also work well.

Preheat the oven to 400. Once the dough has chilled, roll it out to be roughly circular (no need to be perfect here, like I said – pandowdies are pie’s unfussy cousin), and lift the dough onto the fruit. Tuck in the edges, leaving a rim of dough between the edge of the pie dish and the fruit – I crimped mine because I’m an overachiever and I also had extra dough, but no need to do that. Make a few slits for steam to vent, brush the top with egg white and dust with coconut sugar. Pop the whole beautiful thing into the oven for 40 minutes; best if you line the rack beneath with foil or a large baking sheet – the juices runneth over! In a liquid measuring cup with a spout, and let it sit at room temp.

Once you hit the 40 minute mark, take the pandowdy out, and use a sharp knife to break up the crust, thus ‘dowdy-ing’ its looks (now begins the really fun part). Carefully pour the cream into the new breaks in the crust, filling each – some of the cream will pool under the crust, and some will sneak out on top, which is fine. Just be careful not to drown the whole crust! Go slow, and fill each vent/break. Stick the pandowdy back in the oven, and bake for another 10 minutes, until the cream is just set and barely jiggles in the center. Let cool completely before serving; it will be gloriously juicy and delicious so might I suggest serving it in bowls? Ice cream is… optional, sort of, if you’re out of cream; otherwise, this can be served even swampier with extra cream poured over the top. You do you!

Store any leftovers (who are you) covered in the fridge, but make sure to save some for breakfast. You’ll thank me later!

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Solstice Profiteroles!

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What do you do when you’re under a heat advisory for a week? Well, I dunno, maybe bake profiteroles?

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I know, I’m crazy. But my logic is not completely illogical: a) it was already in the triple digits by noon, so my apartment was already hot despite the valiant efforts of my ceiling fan and occasional usage of the A/C (it’s a wall unit; I try to run it as minimally as possible to keep my costs down, ugh); b) I wasn’t going to bake until after yoga, which finishes at 7 pm so in theory, the apartment can then cool down overnight; c) I’ve already been sweating all day so why not turn my kitchen into a sauna? No big deal.

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Besides, making pâte à choux requires cooking the dough on the stove and a lot of stirring, and thus a bicep workout, which means I’d get hot anyway.

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SO! I made profiteroles on the second-hottest day of the year so far… and I survived. And they were delicious. Worth it!

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I will admit that I did a happy dance in my kitchen when I could see they were puffing appropriately – I was worried the humidity would defeat the puffiness. But no! I win. I win the battle of the puff. Heat: 0, Hayley: 1. Ha!

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In other news… more SF series, both drawn version and photographed version:

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Profiteroles seem like the perfect summer food, even if it requires turning on the oven. Light, airy, and filled with ice cream & summer berries – how much more summery can you get?! Especially if you make them during a heat wave. Double win.

Happy Solstice!

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Profiteroles with Salted Chocolate Ganache and Maple Almond Caramel

Spelt flour profiteroles are a perfect pastry shell for any kind of ice cream, making this the perfect summer dessert (minus baking in a zillion-degree kitchen). The spelt makes them a little lighter than whole wheat, plus possibly a little easier on your tum, depending on your biology; they are also refined sugar free (adapted from NYT Cooking, here). The chocolate ganache and the caramel are vegan, paleo-friendly & refined sugar free. Yield: 12-15 profiteroles, depending on how large you make them! & enough ganache & drizzle for serving.

For the profiteroles:

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 3/4 c water
  • 3/4 c whole spelt flour
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 425, and line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the butter and the water to a boil, stirring until the butter is melted. Reduce the heat to medium and add the spelt flour all at once, stirring to incorporate and cooking until it pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball, about 30 seconds more. Remove from heat, and let sit to cool for a 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs to the slightly cooled dough one at a time, beating after each addition (you could use a mixer; I used a spoon & got a bicep workout). The dough will break and come back together each time, and you’ll feel it in your biceps!

Feel free to pipe these suckers onto the prepared sheet about 1″ apart, or just use a spoon like I did – they’ll be less uniform but no less delicious. They should be about 2″ in diameter. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and carefully poke a hole in the bottom of each to release steam (careful to not squish them as you do it, preserve the puff!), return them to the cookie sheet, turn the oven off, and let them crisp up in the oven for 4 more minutes – prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Remove and let cool completely on a wire rack.

These can be made a day ahead (or more, if you want to freeze the finished product) – just let them cool completely and store loosely covered on the counter, or in your fridge if, like me, it’s in the triple digits and your kitchen is actually a sauna. If you like, you can crisp them up in the oven at 375 for 5 minutes, just before serving. Fill with ice cream of your choice, and serve with ganache & caramel (below).

For the ganache:

  • 1/4 c full-fat, canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 c chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • generous pinch of sea salt

Gently heat the coconut milk in a saucepan or in the microwave (I used the latter; too hot for the stove!). Pour over the chocolate chips and let sit for a few minutes, then stir until combined. Stir in vanilla and salt. Let sit at room temp until ready to use; it will harden in the fridge (which is fine, just reheat gently until it’s the consistency you like).

For the caramel:

  • 1/3 c coconut oil
  • 1/2 c unsalted, creamy almond butter
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 runneth-over tsp vanilla extract

In a small saucepan over medium, heat coconut oil, almond butter, maple, and sea salt over medium until all are melted and incorporated. This shouldn’t take more than a minute or two, which is excellent for instant gratification. Turn off the heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool, then pour into a jar. Serve warm or cold (it will solidify a bit in the fridge).

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Come to the Dark Side… I have pie.

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Pie! Such a perfect food. Especially when it resembles… the Death Star! Because why have plain pie when you could show off your nerdiness to the world? I almost didn’t want to eat this… but I did.

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Pie crust used to intimidate me, which is pretty stupid given that it’s basically just flour and water and butter… yet I think sometimes the simplest things end up being the trickiest (in life and in baking!). But pie is also a fairly forgiving food, and will love you endlessly if you learn to make it with the confidence it deserves.

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I think I’m finally at that point — this one felt great! I am quite pleased with the way it came out both in looks and taste… the sci-fi nerd is strong in me ;) I think the key with pie crust is not to let on that it makes you nervous! It can probably sense that, ha! Maybe with its pie crust force powers…

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Thank goodness pie is so delicious – it makes all the potential crust shenanigans worthwhile.

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In other news, another drawing for the series!

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Anndddd…. the first skiing of the season! Wheeeee!!! And what great skiing it was. More to come, that’s for sure.

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But for now, pie. Because often the simplest things in life are the most enjoyable, especially leftover pie for breakfast in good company! Nothing better.

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Wild Blueberry Pie with Whole Wheat Dark Side Crust

Refined sugar free and whole wheat! Naturally sweetened with coconut sugar. Crust recipe yields a double crusted pie, enough for a Death Star of your own making if you so choose. Crust recipe lightly adapted from Carolyn McCuaig (thanks Carolyn, if you’re reading this!)

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For the crust:

  • 2.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/3 c vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 c butter (mine was salted), cut into chunks
  • 5-7 tbsp ice water

For the filling:

  • 4 c wild blueberries, or enough to heapingly fill your pie plate (frozen is fine)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 1/3 c whole wheat pastry flour

For finishing: 1-2 tbsp butter, 1 egg for egg wash

To make the crust: in a large bowl, whisk together pastry flour, coconut sugar, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest. Cut in shortening and butter either with your fingers or a pastry cutter until a coarse mixture forms and the butter chunks are the size of peas. Make a well in the center of the dough and add in the ice water one tablespoon at a time – mix as little as possible when incorporating the water to avoid overworking the dough. Once it will stick together, you’re good to go. Divide it into two even pieces, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 10 minutes and up to an hour.

While the dough is chilling, put together the filling. Toss blueberries, lemon juice, coconut sugar and flour in a large bowl.

Once the dough is chilled, roll it out between two pieces of parchment or on marble, whatever you have – I like parchment for easy removal. Aim for about 1/8″ thickness, and lay the bottom crust into a lightly greased pie dish. Shape it with your fingers, evening out the top as per your pie plate or design you want — this crust will make a double crusted pie, so keep that in mind. Toss in blueberry filling goodness and dot with butter.

If you want to get fancy and do the Death Star…

Cut out templates (thick paper or thin cardboard work nicely) for the Death Star and a TIE fighter. Have egg wash and coconut sugar handy (I use a beaten egg + 1 tbsp water). Use the templates to cut out the top crust shape, then use a chopstick or a knife to make the surface lines. Roll out thin pieces of dough for the details, and brush everything with egg wash to make it stick. Sprinkle coconut sugar where contrast is desired. Once finished, carefully lay top crust over the blueberry filling — there is no real need to seal the edges. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then 350 for 35-40 until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven when done and let sit to cool for at least an hour, preferably more so that the filling will set. Serve warm or at room temp, and store any leftovers overnight on the counter, loosely covered, or in the fridge for longer (assuming it lasts that long). Pie can be made a day in advance if needed and reheated briefly in a 375 oven to crisp the crust and warm the filling – 10/15 minutes. The pie filling will firm up if stored in the fridge overnight, making slicing easier.

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Galette for breakfast: guaranteed to improve your election day experience

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Galette and pears and hazelnuts and dark chocolate and November!

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I love fall because it means pears are EVERYWHERE and I love pears so this just feels like a win-win situation. Besides that, throw in some dark chocolate hazelnut filling and put all that goodness in a cardamom crust? Sign me up. And then eat it for dessert with ice cream and then for breakfast with (what else) eggs and kale and sourdough toast? Yeeessssss please thanks.

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Let’s see, what else… today is election day! Did you vote?! I voted absentee ages ago and didn’t get a sticker… they should send stickers with the ballots!

And the time changed, woohooo for not having to get up in the dark anymore! I miss the extra daylight hours but I’d rather not go to work when it’s still dark out… Jessie and I enjoyed our extra hour of snuggles:

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Pretty skies lately!

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Annnnnd I’ve been drawing again, shocker I know. I just read a study that says making art reduces cortisol levels! Which is awesome and I think I subconsciously knew that because drawing always gets me into the flow state, pretty much without fail.

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But anyway, back to galette!

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This sounds complicated but totally isn’t. The crust is forgiving and easy to work with, and the filling comes together in a snap. Also, unlike the last time I made galette and crammed a truckload of blueberries into it, this one is far more structurally sound since pears are a little easier to wrangle than blueberries.

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Give yourself a break from watching those election returns and gaze on this instead. I guarantee it’ll lower your cortisol levels ;) 

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Pear Galette with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Filling and Cardamom Crust

Grain free, gluten free, paleo and refined sugar free. Yay! There is butter, though a sub for coconut oil might definitely be possible (if you try it, tell me how it goes!). Yield: 1 galette, serving sizes are up to your discretion ;) A Wait are those Cookies original!

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For the crust:

  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c tapioca starch
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tbsp salted butter, chopped
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

In a food processor or high-power blender (I used a Vitamix), pulse almond flour, tapioca starch, cardamom, salt, and butter, and pulse to combine until it looks like coarse meal. Add in egg, coconut sugar, and vanilla extract and pulse just until combined. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape into a disk and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or up to overnight.

For the dark chocolate hazelnut filling*:

  • 1 c roasted hazelnuts, skins mostly removed (reserve a few for topping purposes if you want!)
  • 3 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1.5-2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

* measurements are approximate! Adjust as necessary to suit your tastebuds :)

Blend hazelnuts in a vitamix or high power blender / food processor until a nut butter consistency forms (it’s okay for it to be on the chunkier side; mine wasn’t completely smooth). Add cacao powder, sea salt, maple, and vanilla and pulse until combined. This can be made up to a week ahead — just store it in an airtight jar in the fridge!

For the galette:

  • 1 crust
  • most or all of the hazelnut spread
  • 2 pears, thinly sliced (I used d’Anjou; Bosc would also be good) — you can peel them if you want, I chose not to
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar, divided
  • 1 tbsp salted butter, melted
  • extra hazelnuts for topping, if desired!

Preheat the oven to 375.

Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, keeping the circle to about 1/4″ thickness. Peel off the top piece of parchment, and slide the rolled out dough on its parchment onto a baking sheet. If you’re feeling extra artistic or motivated, cut some extra dough off the edge of the circle and cut leaf shapes out of it because… I’m an overachiever and it’s FALL! YAY! Anyway… moving on.

Spread the hazelnut paste carefully over the dough circle, leaving about a 2″ border from the edge — I found that the back of a spoon worked nicely for this (Try not to move it around too much, just press it into place so that the bottom dough stays intact). Spread the sliced pears in a fan shape if you’re feeling fancy, or just toss them all in there (I’m definitely not going to judge!). Begin folding up the sides, creasing them together as you go – if the dough is cracking, that’s okay (you can crimp the cracks back together; remember: galettes are forgiving and rustic!); you can use the bottom piece of parchment to help fold up the sides. Stick the leaves on the edges if you went that route. Brush the pears with the melted butter, and top with 1 tbsp of coconut sugar. Brush the dough with the beaten egg (I like a pastry brush for this), and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of coconut sugar.

Bake for 35-40 minutes (mine was perfectly done at 35, so check accordingly), until the dough is firm to the touch and golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then slide the whole piece of parchment paper and galette onto a cooling rack to cool completely (or serve immediately!). Eat with some kind of vanilla ice cream thing (dairy or not) because… you should!

Leftovers keep covered at room temp for about… 1 day. Because it will be gone by then anyway so you won’t even have to worry. Promise!

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Birthday Excess

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Happy Birthday to meeeeee!!!

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I made my own dessert. Is that weird?! I have no idea. I’m weird, so it’s probably fitting, right??

Besides, not much has changed:

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Yep. As my mom says, “To our sweet girl (who still attacks dessert with dedication and gusto–and looks just as cute doing it!!) Happy 24th Birthday!
Much much Love, Mom and Dad”. That’s fairly accurate, don’t you think?! And I know for a fact I still make that face…

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I’ve always wanted to make choux pastry. So I did!! Forget cake. I love it and whatnot, but it’s my birthday so I’m playing by my own rules. Besides, all you really need to do is makes something delicious that you can put a candle on. Because birthdays are definitely NOT birthdays without smelling candle smoke. Nothing reminds me more of a birthday than smoking candles!

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My birthday rules are thus (and I just made them up soooo they’re going to apply from now on):

1. Excess is required.
2. Jazzercise is an excellent way to start the day and possibly offset the excesses of dessert that will happen.
3. SPRINKLES.
4. Desserts must be excessive. Because… see rule number 1.

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I think these are spot on. And I DID go to jazzercise yesterday morning which was fab and sweaty as usual and then I went and ate at least a cookie if not two (whoops, not quite sure how that happened) and then I ran around more and then I made these. And then I ate them! Muahahha.

24 is going to be excellent.

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Chouquettes with Vegan Banana Cookie Dough Ice Cream + Salted Date Caramel

Wow really?? Could that title be any longer?? But it’s my birthday sooooo I can do whatever I want, up to and including making excessive desserts that are actually refined sugar free! Because that’s how I roll. Healthy indulgences in celebration of turning 24. Wheeee!! There is gluten, butter, and sprinkles in this. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Chouquettes are lightly adapted from David Lebovitz (amazing!!), here. The date caramel is my own brainchild and the vegan banana ice cream is just embarrassingly easy… I made a half batch of chouquettes, which yielded 10. Recipe as listed yields 25 ish. And obvs made extra caramel and ice cream, obvs. These are also excellent stuffed with real ice cream… or pretty much anything.

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For the chouquettes (which makes me feel really sophisticated to say, even if I mangle the pronunciation):

  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 eggs, at room temp
  • optional: chocolate chippies! I did them in half the batter

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 425.

In a medium saucepan, heat water, salt, sugar, and butter, stirring often, until the butter is melted and the water starts to boil. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the entire amount of flour, stirring until the dough is incorporated and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan (it should clump up into a big blob). Let cool for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to release heat. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until dough is silky and smooth. If adding chocolate chips, let the dough cool completely before adding them. If not, begin dropping dough onto the prepared cookie sheet (I found that a single large spoon worked well), about 2 tbsp’s worth per blob. They’ll spread just a little so don’t put them too close together. Bake for 35 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove to a cooling rack and serve warm or at room temp. Freeze any leftovers (or really, just eat them immediately).

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For the vegan banana cookie dough “ice cream”:

  • several frozen bananas (however many you need depends on the amount of peeps you’re serving)
  • a good splash of plain almond milk
  • 1+ tsp vanilla
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp (ish) peanut butter

Blenderize all that good stuff in a food processor until creamy. The bananas magically turn into this great ice cream-like consistency!! Like magic. So wonderful and happily guilt free. You can flavor this however you like, I usually use about 1 banana per person, and freeze them in chunks for easy blending. Eat immediately! It’s best fresh.

Then throw all this in the food processor [dry ingredients first, then the wet until it all comes together] :

  • 1 c raw cashews
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/6 c dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp unsalted almond butter
  • excessive amounts of sprinkles. ha.

Et voila! Vegan, refined sugar free funfetti cookie dough. Muahahha. Mix it into your banana soft serve and be really happy about life.

THEN.

Make salted date caramel:

Soak 1 c of pitted dates in boiling water for at least 5 minutes.

Chuck them all into the food processor, followed by a judicious about of vanilla + unsweetened almond milk + a pinch of sea salt + giant heaping blog of almond butter and blendy blend blend until it’s all smooth.

AND THEN.

Stuff the cookie dough banana deliciousness into a chouquette, top with a ridiculous amount of date caramel, and more sprinkles. Because… it’s your birthday. Or at least it’s mine. So you have an excuse to indulge anyway ;)

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Confessions of a Hippie-Granola Child

toaster pastriessss!

Okay so. Confession time.

For being such a hippie-granola crunchy type, I had a few less than crunchy incidents in my childhood. Even though I was raised eating lots of mashed up tofu and banana, as I got older, I was allowed to eat significantly more processed food (This was of course before we discovered the evils of hydrogenation and trans fats, at which point my extremely wise mother put the kibosh on eating that kind of junk). Clearly this lapse in taste didn’t affect my gastronomical maturation too much, since after this shortish hiatus I returned to my tofu-eating roots (thank goodness). Anyway. During this small interval of colorful cardboard boxes and “food products”, I developed a liking for… pop tarts. Seriously. What little kid DOESN’T like pop tarts?! Especially the frosted ones with the multicolored sprinkles (we know how I feel about sprinkles!). My favorite were frosted strawberry, but I hated them toasted! Weird, I know… I do realize that they are, in fact, toaster pastries… but for some reason I always liked them cold. I would unwrap that shiny silver package with such anticipation, knowing that I got TWO in one bag. Added bonus. I distinctly remember eating all the way around the edge and saving the middle, since that part was the best: all the filling and frosting!

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Anyway, suffice to say that this infatuation ended sometime during high school, and I decided that kind of processed junk wasn’t worth my taste buds. I occasionally make an exception for the organic, more natural ones, but that’s rare. I much prefer just to make my own! What a concept. They’re really not difficult at all, and I’m sure they freeze wonderfully, which makes them just as convenient as a brand-name toaster pastry. Even better: they’re made with ingredients you can pronounce :) oh yes, and one more thing: they’re beyond delicious! Go appease your inner child and make some toaster pastries for yourself that you can feel good about eating! You can even put sprinkles on them, since you KNOW I would approve of that.

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Whole Wheat Pop Farts (get it?! Like… fake pop tarts!)

From BabbleFood, here! I’ve made these before but Kira never had, and that was a travesty! They’re deeelicious warm or cold, and are very easy to pull together—the dough is relatively forgiving, in terms of pastry, and you can fill them with whatever floats your boat!

  • 2.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar (I used turbinado)
  • 1 stick of butter, chilled, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 1/3 c cold water
  • fillings of choice! Kira and I used a variety of pumpkin butter, almond paste, jam, and jam + nut butter (which is my favorite)
  • if you want a glaze, powdered sugar and water works well. They’re perfectly good unglazed as well!
up close and personal

Preheat the oven to 375, and line a cookie sheet with either wax or parchment paper.

In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Once combined, add in butter chunks, and pulse until crumbly and the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Combine whisked egg and water in a separate bowl, and add into the bowl of the food processor (while running if possible, if not, that’s okay too). Pulse until the dough just comes together.

Toss the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few times until it sticks together. Roll out to about 1/8″ thick, and cute out your rectangles! I like to make a variety of sizes to accommodate my snacking needs and the whims of the gremlins…Try to match up the sizes of top and bottom, so that the filling stays contained. Put a couple teaspoons’ worth of filling onto the bottom rectangle, wet the edges, and stick down the top. Crimp the edges with a fork for added cuteness.

Bake on the prepared cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned. If glazing, let them cool a bit, and then brush with a mix of powdered sugar and water…and add sprinkles if your heart desires it!

Eat. Love. Indulge your inner child :)

//

Tarting up February!

mmmm, CRUST!

I like to think I know myself pretty well, in terms of food-type oddities and  proclivities. As such, I know that February irritates me. It’s such a bleh month in the middle of everything, and there is a distinct lack of interesting produce. I’ve already gone nuts over squash, waaaay back in the fall… I love sweet potatoes but I eat them all the time anyway…and there is a depressing amount of fruit available. As in, local and seasonal fruit, if you please (Besides, strawberries in winter just look sad. All pale and anemic. I would much rather eat them in the summer, thankyouverymuch).

BUT.

I discovered a solution to this problem.

Waaay back in September, over Labor Day weekend, I procured some fresh peaches (thanks, Dave Lakey!). I fought the urge to eat them immediately, and instead sliced them up and threw them into the freezer. All neat and nicely labeled, I was determined that they would remain in there, until the dead of winter (aka February), when nothing grows and I was itching for some summer fruit. Genius, clearly.

Over the weekend, when I spent a bit more time thinking about/researching/drooling over pie and tart recipes than actually thesising, I realized the time for peaches had arrived! And oooooh was that a good decision…

THIS. Is what happened.

peeeeachesss!

Fresh peaches in February! Can you ask for anything better? It’s like summer in a bite. And a healthy bite, no less! The crust has healthy fats from olive and canola oil, and the custard is made with yogurt instead of cream. And fruit is the most important part! It’s totally justifiable to have this for breakfast.

okay, so the pictures of this weren't super fantastic... but the crust was beautiful! clearly my favorite part.

Peach Custard Tart

Crust is slightly adapted from the Garden of Eden blog, and the custard is adapted from Eating Well, here. Makes one 11” tart.

For the crust (most low maintenance tart crust EVER):

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 2 tbsp milk of some kind (I used plain soymilk)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar (no need to sift). In another small bowl, whisk together olive and canola oil, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Add liquid into dry, and gently stir until just combined (be careful not to overstir). Gather this up and plunk it down into your tart pan (in the absence of a tart pan, a pie dish is fine)… then flatten the dough on the bottom and up the sides by pressing gently with the flats of your fingers (this is the fun part!). Try to get it to an even thickness all around and up the sides, about 1/8″.

messy, but delicious.

For the filling!

  • 4-5 peaches, sliced (mine were frozen. I ran them under cool water until I could separate them into slices, but didn’t defrost the completely to prevent peach mush)
  • 3/4 c turbinado sugar
  • 3/4 c lowfat plain yogurt*
  • 3/4 c milky beverage (soymilk again for me)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp organic cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

*The original recipe called for greek yogurt… but Kira and I, being the frugal/practical types that we are, decided to try it with regular yogurt, since that was what we had on hand. Excellent decision, as it turned out deeelicious. Either type is fine!

This is ridiculously easy: dump all the above ingredients in a bowl (except peaches), and whisk until smooth. See? Easy.

I told you the crust was pretty!

Preheat the oven to 400. Arrange the peaches around the bottom of the crust (they don’t have to look pretty). Pour the custard over the top, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover the edges with foil to prevent excess browning (I did a rather ineffectual job, but I like the rather caramelized edges, so… not a big deal!). Reduce oven temperature to 350, and pop it back into the oven for another 40 minutes to an hour. Mine was done at about an hour and 10 minutes—I checked it at 40, and then put it back in for 15 minute intervals. You want a knife to come out clean when inserted into the center. Let cool before eating, about an hour and a half, to make sure the custard has time to set.

This is EXCELLENT cold. In fact, I think it might be better cold the next day, once the flavors have had a chance to get to know each other. It is also excellent with a blob of vanilla ice cream, of course.

uh oh... evidence!