• Mini Pavlovas

    Spring is in the air bbs! And to me, a quintessential spring dessert is pavlova. Pavlovas are meringue nests, either in mini or large form, and are typically filled with whipped cream, pastry cream, lemon curd, or fresh fruit. It can be adjusted based on what is fresh and in season, so there are practically endless possibilities. I feel like that is a running theme of this blog, desserts that can be customized to your liking, and I’m not mad about it. I encourage everyone to play around with flavors and combinations and find what works best for you, the fun is in the process! For these pavlovas, I borrowed the basics from this recipe on ZoeBakes, doubled for more minis, and went from there!

    I feel like I may be the only person on this earth not watching Game of Thrones right now (it’s Sunday night as I’m typing this), and I am instead choosing to watch the 2nd season of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina AGAIN because that’s exactly how I roll. Something I should have done today is give my room a good spring cleaning, but what did I do instead? Take a nap, watch TV and make pavlovas. Good stuff good stuff, guess that spring cleaning will have to wait until next week!


    Until then, here are 5 things to be happy about!!
    ONE. 
    Staying up to watch that extra episode because you know you can sleep late tomorrow.
    TWO. Tent dresses.
    THREEFern fossils.
    FOUR. Fried chicken with hushpuppies.
    FIVE. Cleaning out your wallet, makeup case, and purse.
    Let’s get baking!!

    MAKES: 12 mini pavlovas
    PREP TIME: 45 minutes
    BAKE TIME: 2 hours

     

    PAVLOVA INGREDIENTS

    8 egg whites
    ½ tsp kosher salt
    ½ cup cold water
    2½ cups sugar
    2 tsp vinegar (cider, white wine, or distilled)
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch

    PAVLOVA STEPS

    ONE.  Preheat your oven to 300ºF. To prepare your baking sheets, trace 3″ circles about 2 inches apart from each other on the underside of a sheet of parchment paper cut to size. Flip the paper over so that the circles show through but no pencil marks will rub off on the meringues.

    TWO. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the salt until medium-stiff peaks form. At this point, drizzle in the water with the mixer on low speed. Slowly add the sugar a little at a time, and once all is added, turn the mixer up to high speed and whip until the egg whites form stiff peaks. This means that if you remove the whisk attachment and hold it upright, the egg whites will stick straight up.

    THREE. Add the vanilla and vinegar, and then sprinkle in the cornstarch. Fold the cornstarch into the egg whites with a rubber spatula, lightly shaking the spatula as you fold to eliminate any lumps.

    FOUR. Scoop even amounts of meringue onto each traced circle. Using an offset spatula, start by smoothing around the sides, then create a dip in the center, which will prevent the top from cracking during baking. For a more polished look, smooth the sides of each meringue by holding the spatula horizontal and dragging from the bottom to the top in quick strokes all the way around.

    FIVE. Bake the pavlovas at 300ºF for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 275ºF and bake for another 15 minutes. Finally, turn the oven down again to 250ºF and continue to bake for 30 more minutes. At this point, turn off the oven, turn the oven light on, but do NOT open the oven door. Allow the meringues to sit in the off oven for at least an hour, up to overnight to fully dry.


    BLUEBERRY SAUCE INGREDIENTS

    1 pint of blueberries
    ¼ cup sugar
    ½ tsp cinnamon
    Splash of amaretto liquor (optional)


    BLUEBERRY SAUCE STEPS

    ONE. Combine all the above ingredients in a saucepan and mix to combine. Cook on medium heat until the blueberries begin to break down and the alcohol cooks off. Allow to cool completely before serving.

    WHIPPED CREAM INGREDIENTS

    1 cup heavy whipping cream
    2 Tbsp sugar
    2 tsp vanilla extract


    WHIPPED CREAM STEPS 

    ONE. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream on medium high speed. Add in the sugar and vanilla until the sugar is dissolved and the whipped cream is the desired consistency. For this, some stability is helpful since the blueberry sauce will go on top.

    ASSEMBLY

    ONE. To serve, carefully remove a meringue from the tray so as not to shatter the thin sides, top with a generous scoop of whipped cream, a pour of blueberry sauce, and some extra berries. Best eaten immediately, but if needed, unfilled meringue shells can be stored in an airtight container overnight.

    XoxoxoxoxoD

  • Conchas!!

    I would like to mark down March 10th, 2019 as a very special day in my life calendar, because it was the day that I made my first Concha, and I can already tell that we will have a long and happy life together. Also called Pan Dulce, these beautiful works of art are a Mexican bakery staple known for their intricately patterned tops, often resembling the swirl of a shell. A concha consists of two parts: a sweet cinnamon roll, and a crisp, colored (and sometimes flavored) streusel-like topping, which forms the crackly pattern on top. Whenever I used to come across pictures of these, I just assumed that some kind of baking pan or stamp was required and so I never really gave it much more thought. THEN, I came across this recipe from A Cozy Kitchen, and suddenly they were so attainable!!! No stamp needed, just a pairing knife, a steady hand, and some patience, and since I have two of those things, I once again took a bread-making quest that paid of incredibly well!

    Almost as soon as you start this recipe, you will start to wonder why no one has managed to make a candle that can capture this scent exactly. No offense but the combination of fresh bread and cinnamon is the only thing that matters in this world. Truly. Anyway, if you thought these treats couldn’t get any better, boy do I have news for you! Something that is very fun and special about this recipe is that it’s totally customizable! By mixing different flavors and colors into your streusel topping, you are opening up so many possibilities here! You can add cocoa powder for a hint of chocolate, lemon zest, freeze dried berries, or combine several food colors for a rainbow pattern, and it’s 100% up to you! I kept mine on the simpler side for my first try, and used a red gel food coloring to give my Conchas a bright pink finish. From there, you could follow the traditional concha shaped top by cutting a shell pattern into the top (the bun rises and expands while baking to form the crackled top that these are known for), but you can also add concentric circles, stripes, grids, or any number of patterns and see how they turn out!

    Before we get started, let’s all take a moment to appreciate these 5 things to be happy about today:
    ONE. Falling asleep in the car on the way home from a long day.
    TWO. Using something you had been saving for a special occasion.
    THREE. An evening of zero productivity.
    FOUR. An evening of extreme productivity.
    FIVE. Asking for a booth at the restaurant.

     

    MAKES: 12 buns with topping
    PREP TIME: 30 minutes
    RISING TIME: 2½ hours (divided)
    BAKE TIME: 18-20 minutes

    DOUGH INGREDIENTS

    3 Tbsp. warm water
    2½ tsp active dry yeast
    1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted
    1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
    1/3 white sugar
    ¾ cup evaporated milk
    2 tsp kosher salt
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 tsp ground cinnamon
    2 eggs, at room temperature
    4 cups all purpose flour

    TOPPING INGREDIENTS

    ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
    2/3 cup white sugar
    1 cup all purpose flour
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    Gel food coloring of your choice or 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder

    STEPS

    ONE. Warm the bowl of your stand mixer by filling it with hot water and letting it sit for a minute. This will allow you to add warm water with the yeast and not have the heat change when it touches the cold metal bowl. Once the bowl is warmed, remove that water and add in the 3 tablespoons of warm water and yeast. Allow the yeast to bloom and get foamy, about 5-7 minutes. If it doesn’t foam up, your water was either too hot or too cold, or the yeast is no good, so you’ll have to start over.

    TWO. When the yeast is ready, add in the oil, melted (and slightly cooled!) butter, sugar, evaporated milk, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs. Using the dough hook attachment, mix until the eggs are slightly broken up and everything is incorporated.

    THREE. Add the flour all at once, and mix the dough on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth, and a little sticky. Coat a large bowl with oil or cooking spray and transfer the dough. Cover with a towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour, or until it has doubled in size.

    FOUR. While your dough is rising, you can make the buttery streusel topping! Mix all the ingredients in your stand mixer until smooth and incorporated, then decide whether you want the topping to be chocolate (add the 2 tablespoons of cocoa) or colored (add gel food coloring of your choice!), or both! I went for pink this time but you can do whatever you want! Scoop out about a tablespoon’s worth of topping for each bun, I did this ahead of time so that the topping was ready when the bread was!

    FIVE. After the bread dough has doubled, turn it out onto a baking mat or countertop and section it into 12 rolls. If you want to weigh them individually so that they’re even, you can, but I just eyeballed it. Shape them by hand into uniform, round buns and place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

    SIX. Take each topping round and flatten it into a disk in your palms, then lay it over the top of each bun so that the top is totally covered. Repeat for all. Using a pairing knife, cut some patterns into the top- you can research some of the more traditional patterns here, but you can also do whatever you feel like! When all designs are done, cover the whole tray with a towel and allow the buns to rise again for another 30 minutes, until doubled in size again. Preheat your oven to 350ºF halfway through this second rise.

    SEVEN. Bake the buns for 18-20 minutes, until they are lightly golden and the topping has spread into the classic concha shape. Best eaten soon after baking, with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate!!

    YAY! xoxoxoxD

     

  • Spaghetti al Limone

    If you remember last week’s post, I mentioned that I have recently been introduced to the world of Bon Appetit Test Kitchen videos, and I can’t believe I survived this long without them honestly. Aside from being incredibly informative, they’re so wholesome and everyone is super lovely and nice to each other and I love it so much.

    Of the test kitchen chefs, I keep finding myself going back to the videos done by Molly Baz, because they’re simple in procedure, but packed with flavor, also I’m fascinated by her collection of cross-back aprons. So much so that I definitely also bought one and I’m in LOVE with it. But anyway, back to food because that’s why we’re here, this recipe comes from Molly herself (original can be found here), and it’s literally so good that the first time I made it I gasped out loud. I’m not kidding!! It’s rich and cheesy like a fettucine alfredo, but with a bright zing of lemon so that it doesn’t feel heavy, it’s a dream come true. Plus it’s done in under half an hour so what more could you possibly want from a pasta dish??

    Because I can barely contain my excitement, we’ll get right to it, but not before I give you five things to be happy about today!
    ONE. A book so gripping that you read it from start to finish in one sitting, well into the night.
    TWO. Iced coffee with coffee ice cubes.
    THREE. A three day weekend.
    FOUR. Drinks served in mason jars.
    FIVE. Clothes that you can wear from winter to spring.

    Let’s cook!!
    SERVES: 3-4 people
    PREP TIME: 10 minutes
    COOK TIME: 15 minutes

    INGREDIENTS

    1 lemon
    12 oz. thick spaghetti
    Kosher salt
    ¾ cup heavy cream
    6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
    ¾ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
    Fresh ground black pepper

    STEPS

    ONE. Before starting, place your pot of water on the stove to boil, so that it’s ready when you are. Set out all of your ingredients in their correct measurements (called a mise en place!) because once you get started, you won’t have time to stop and grate cheese or juice a lemon on the go.

    Waste not! We use this whoooooole lemon!

    TWO. Using a vegetable peeler, cut one wide strip of the lemon peel and slice it into thin strips and set aside (this will be a garnish for later!). Zest the remaining peel of the lemon into a dutch oven or large saucepan, then juice the same lemon and reserve 2 tablespoons of juice.

    THREE. Pour the cream into the dutch oven with the lemon zest, and cook on medium heat until the cream is heated through and just about to simmer. *Start cooking your pasta now!* Lower the heat and whisk in your butter, one tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is creamy and emulsified, then remove the pot from the heat.

    FOUR. When your pasta is very al dente, about 3 minutes earlier than the package instructions, scoop out 1½ cups of pasta cooking water, and add ¾ cup to the cream sauce. Transfer your pasta to the sauce pot using a pair of tongs (it’s okay if some pasta water drips in as well), and return to medium heat. Cook the pasta for 3 minutes, adding the parmesan cheese gradually until all the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth and glossy. Feel free to add more pasta water a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Stir in the reserved lemon juice now, and season with salt and pepper as needed.

    FIVE. To serve, swirl a generous pile of pasta onto the plate, garnish with more fresh black pepper, and the reserved lemon peel strips. Enjoy!!!

    xoxoxoxoxoD