• Salty Honey Panna Cotta with Crushed Raspberry Sauce

    I’m baaaaaaack! It’s been a while, I know. Here’s the thing, I’ve been all over (mentally and physically), but really what happened was I went to England (!!!) to visit my sister Clare and then for some reason I needed several weeks to recover. I won’t go into all the details but we had the most wholesome time and I saw everything from the Tower of London to the (haunted) Viaduct Tavern. We did SO much walking, got our ears pierced (sorry Mom), and we saw SO many sights and quite frankly I’d like to move there thank you. But to be honest, I have been trying to write this same blog post for three weeks now, and I don’t know WHY its taken me so long to get it out because this was such a delicious and easy dessert to make.

    It all started when I was home and bored and flipping through my two (2) Alison Roman cookbooks because why not? It was a Saturday and I was looking for something to entertain me, I didn’t really want to go outside, after all. I came across this recipe and it sounded like the perfect combination of lazy and fancy, which is my entire Aesthetic™️. It’s made with several different types of dairy, including buttermilk, heavy cream, and sour cream, and topped with a bright and perfect raspberry smash, and all I’m saying is that people should expect this dessert at all my dinner parties for the rest of ever, thanks.

    If memory serves, this is one of the first Alison Roman recipes I’ve written about on Sweet D, I can’t believe it! She is a powerhouse of cooking things and I aspire to be as chic and clever as she is and basically what I’m getting at is that this might as well be an Alison Roman stan blog from now on. The most fun part about this recipe is that you can pour the custard into any containers you’d like really, which is why I used my collection of martini glasses and my brand new English tea cup, because who wouldn’t love to be served dessert from a tea cup, I ask you.

    Okay anyway, that’s enough of me ranting, here are 5 things to be happy about before we start cooking. Baking? Preparing? I don’t really know how to describe it for this particular dessert. Ah well, here we go!
    ONE. Taking a nice long walk on an unseasonably warm day.
    TWO. The sound of rain hitting the windows outside.
    THREE. Getting your hair blown out and feeling incredibly fancy for a day.
    FOUR. Being barefoot in your own house.
    FIVE. The feeling of being on vacation.

    Okay let’s go!

    Ingredients

    1 envelope (¼ ounces) unflavored gelatin
    ¼ cup water
    3 cups heavy cream, divided
    ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
    1 cup buttermilk
    1 cup sour cream
    2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
    Pinch of salt
    6 ounces fresh raspberries
    1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar


    Steps

    In a measuring cup, add the water and pour the envelope of gelatin over it. Allow to sit for 2 to 3 minutes so that it softens and hydrates.

    In a small pot, add the softened gelatin, ½ cup cream, and ½ cup honey. Heat over low heat, swirling until the gelatin is dissolved. Do NOT simmer, as it will denature the gelatin and prevent it from firming back up.

    Gently whisk the sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla, the remaining 2½ cups cream, and salt into a large bowl. Slowly whisk the warm gelatin mixture over the cream mixture, but make sure not to whisk so hard that air bubbles form. Divide the mixture among the glasses, it will be 6 to 10 glasses, depending on their size. Chill until set, 1 to 2 hours.

    In the meantime, add the raspberries to a bowl with the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of honey. Crush the raspberries with the back of a fork so that the juices are released, and stir to combine. To serve, top each panna cotta with the portion of the raspberries, and a drizzle of honey, if you’d like!

    YUM!!

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  • Passion Fruit Napoleons

    Well well well, as you can see this week I really went for it, and baked a twist on one of my favorite bakery pastries. You know those GOOD Italian bakeries where all the pastries are lined up in rows upon rows of joy and they somehow get everything from eclairs to sfogliatelle just perfect? If I could live in one of those I would, and whenever I go, I’m faced with a choice between two things: the eclairs and the napoleons. Similar components, and yet so, so different, I have an almost impossible time deciding if it’s going to be an eclair day or a napoleon day.

    BUT! Today, for all of you, is a glorious napoleon day. And not just any napoleon day, PASSION FRUIT napoleon day. It’s been so cold and sad this week and what better way to cheer up than with the fresh, sunny, summery flavor of passion fruit curd? If you close your eyes, you can almost feel the beachy breeze, can’t you? Well, maybe not quite. But anyway, as if that wasn’t enough, this passion fruit curd is mixed with a generous helping of pastry cream, sandwiched between buttery, crisp layers of puff pastry, then topped with a silky, chocolate ganache glaze. I know, I’m crying just typing this. Petition to change all wedding cakes to passion fruit napoleon stacks, who’s with me??

    2 quick notes about this, I know that some people make their own puff pastry dough but I, however, did not. I am lazy and like to sleep late on Saturdays, which does not match with dough prep, so I am using the good old frozen, pre-made kind and I promise it’s good. If you feel like making your own, I admire you and your determination, best of luck. Also, I’m sure in a pinch you could buy pre-made passion fruit curd, but this recipe is pretty quick and easy, so 10/10 would recommend making your own.

    Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
    ONE. Soft pile rugs.
    TWO. Piping hot biscuits.
    THREE.
    A kettle on a wood burning stove.
    FOUR.
    Someone who makes you happy by loving you, being alive with you, filling up your life.
    FIVE. 
    A hazy metropolitan skyline growing out of the horizon.

    MAKES: 16 individual napoleons
    PREP TIME: 1 hour, 30 minutes
    BAKE TIME: ~20 minutes per tray

    PASTRY CREAM INGREDIENTS
    adapted from ZoeBakes

    4 cups whole milk
    1 cup white sugar, divided
    4 Tbsp unsalted butter
    ½ tsp salt
    2 tsp vanilla bean paste/ extract, or 1 vanilla bean (pod and scrapped beans)
    6 Tbsp cornstarch
    2 eggs
    6 egg yolks

    PASTRY CREAM STEPS

    ONE. Bring the milk, ½ cup sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt to a gentle boil in a saucepan on medium. Remove from heat.

    TWO. In a medium heat-safe bowl, whisk together the remaining ½ cup sugar and the cornstarch to remove any lumps. Add the eggs and egg yolks, and mix until smooth.

    THREE. Whisking constantly, carefully drizzle some of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture- this will bring the eggs and milk closer in temperature without cooking the eggs. Once the eggs are warm to the touch, transfer the entire egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and return to a boil, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken quickly, but continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to stabilize it, this will set the custard and keep it from separating later.

    FOUR. Strain the custard through a sieve to catch any stray cooked egg, then transfer to a glass bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap to the custard’s surface to prevent a skin forming. Chill the custard for 15 minutes in the freezer, then place in the fridge to cool completely before using.

     

    PASSION FRUIT CURD INGREDIENTS

    8 egg yolks
    ½ cup passion fruit juice
    1 cup sugar
    Pinch of salt
    1¼ sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

    PASSION FRUIT CURD STEPS

    ONE. In a heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, passion fruit juice, and sugar until smooth. Cook on medium-high, stirring constantly and scraping the sides of the pot, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 8 to 10 minutes.

    TWO. Remove the pan from the heat and add the salt and the cold butter, one piece at a time, stirring until all is incorporated. Strain through a sieve into a medium-sized bowl, and just like with the pastry cream, press a sheet of plastic wrap to the surface to prevent a skin forming while cooling. Chill in the refrigerator until completely cooled and set, at least 1 hour.

    THREE. When both the curd and the pastry cream are cold, mix the fruit curd into the pastry cream until fully incorporated, then return to the fridge until you’re ready for assembly.

     

    NAPOLEON PASTRY INGREDIENTS

    2 packages frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

    NAPOLEON PASTRY STEPS

    ONE. Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Prepare your baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper. Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 6 equal pieces (3 vertical cuts, then horizontal halfway through) and lay out on the prepared baking sheets evenly.

    TWO. Prick holes in each piece of pastry using a fork, then put a second sheet of parchment paper on top. Place another baking sheet of the same size (or a cooling rack) on top of the pastry to weigh it down. This will keep everything from puffing up too much and resulting in uneven heights. Bake until the strips are lightly golden, about 14 minutes. You’ll have to bake the pastry in batches to ensure even browning, one tray at a time.

    THREE. At this point, remove the top tray and parchment paper, and bake for an additional 4-6 minutes until fully golden. Allow the pastry to cool completely. Once the pastry is cool, you may want to slice each square in half, the second baking tray weighs the pastry down but it still puffs up slightly and may be too thick to stack whole. 

     

    NAPOLEON ASSEMBLY INGREDIENTS

     2/3 cup heavy cream
    5 oz. dark semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
    1 tsp corn syrup
    Fresh raspberries, for garnish

    NAPOLEON ASSEMBLY STEPS

    ONE. Bring the heavy cream to just barely a boil, then remove from heat. Place the chopped dark chocolate into a bowl and pour the hot heavy cream over it and allow the chocolate to melt. Whisk in the corn syrup and set aside to cool.

    TWO. To make each individual napoleon, we’ll be using 3 pieces of puff pastry, with 2 layers of pastry cream. If your puff pastry sizes aren’t all the same, feel free to trim them with a serrated knife to make them even and easier to stack. Start with a piece of puff pastry and carefully spread a layer of passion fruit pastry cream on top, leaving a half inch border on all sides.

     

    THREE. Top with a second puff pastry and repeat with more pastry cream, again leaving a half inch border on all edges. For the final piece, spread a thin layer of the chocolate glaze on top and carefully place on top of the pastry cream layer. Top with raspberries.

    FOUR. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the remaining pastries, then chill in the fridge for at least an hour to set. Now go open the bakery you were always meant to!

    YUM! xoxoxoxD

  • Raspberry Opera Cake

    HELLO! This may be one of the most ambitious projects I have ever attempted, but the results were well worth it I promise you! I mean, just LOOK at it. I have never felt more like a contestant on the Great British Bakeoff and it was so fun. The other day I was scrolling through Instagram as one does, and came across this masterpiece by Zoë François of the blog Zoë Bakes and I immediately began plotting. The recipe below was adapted from that very recipe, with a few minor flavor changes including raspberry jam instead of blackberry, and dark chocolate for the ganache. Be warned, this is not a quick recipe, and there are a lot of different pieces and parts, so prepare to have a whole day set aside for this. Put on your comfiest clothes, put on a movie (I watched Solo while I baked this and simply had a blast) or your favorite cooking music, and have lots of iced coffee at the ready, you GOT this.

    This weekend was completely free of obligations and plans, which are my favorite kinds of weekends. I get to tackle so many baking and cooking projects in two days it feels like I might as well move into the kitchen. Saturday’s projects were this cake and some shrimp scampi for dinner, and Sunday brought this fall’s first of many apple pies (recipe for that coming soon, it’s my pride and joy)! Now if only the weather outside matched my fall mood. All in good time I guess!

    Before we start, here are your 5 things to be happy about today!

    ONE. Hot apple cider with mulling spices.
    TWO. Marathoning a movie series on a rainy day.
    THREE. Switching out your summer wardrobe for your thickest sweaters.
    FOUR. Running through a corn maze as an adult and having just as much (if not more) fun.
    FIVE. Homemade breakfast sandwiches with the crispiest bacon.

    Serves: 6 to 8 people
    Prep/Assembly Time: 1 hour
    Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
    Inactive Time: ~2 to 3 hours

    Almond Joconde

    3 eggs, room temperature
    90 grams sugar
    3 egg whites
    30 grams sugar
    115 grams almond meal
    28 grams flour

    Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

    ½ cup egg whites (from 3 to 4 eggs)
    1 cup sugar
    3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
    Kosher salt (a pinch!)
    1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
    ¾ cup raspberry jam

    Dark Chocolate Ganache

    12oz. dark bakers chocolate
    12oz. heavy cream

    Meringue Topping

    ½ cup egg whites
    1 cup sugar
    1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

    *Fresh Raspberries for topping

     

    Almond Joconde Steps

    ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line an 11″ x 16″ baking sheet with parchment paper, then brush with butter to prevent the cake from sticking. In a large bowl, sift together the almond meal and flour, then set aside.

    TWO. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the whole room temperature eggs and the 90 grams of sugar until the mixture has tripled in size and, when drizzled, forms ribbons that hold their shape momentarily before disappearing back into the rest of the egg. It should take about 7 to 8 minutes. Gently fold this mixture into the almond meal mixture.

    THREE. In the clean bowl of your stand mixer, whip the three egg whites and the 30 grams of sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold this mixture into the rest of the cake batter. Pour into the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the top is lightly golden. Allow to cool completely.


    Raspberry Buttercream Steps

    ONE. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix the ½ cup egg whites and the 1 cup of sugar until thick and combined. It will be very grainy. Set this bowl over a pot of boiling water (a double boiler situation!), and heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the sugar has completely dissolved.

    TWO. Transfer the bowl back to the mixer and beat the egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks form and the egg whites are back down to room temperature.

    THREE. Once the egg whites are the right texture and temperature, add the butter in, two tablespoons at a time, until completely incorporated. Some notes about this: if the egg is still too hot and the butter starts to melt, put the whole thing in the fridge for a while to cool it down. If, while you’re adding the butter, the mixture begins to look like it’s curdling, don’t panic!! This happens, but if you keep mixing, it will fix itself.

    FOUR. Once all the butter is added, continue to mix for another minute, until the frosting is thick and glossy again. Add in the vanilla, salt, and raspberry jam and mix with a rubber spatula until fully incorporated.

    FIVE. Dollop the frosting over the completely cooled cake and spread with an offset spatula. It’s important that the frosting is as even and flat on top of the cake as possible, as it will make stacking much easier later. Chill the cake until the frosting is set.


    Chocolate Ganache Steps

    ONE. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the heavy cream until simmering, then remove from heat. Add in the chopped chocolate and swirl to ensure that all the chocolate is covered by the hot cream. Allow to sit for 3 minutes.

    TWO. After 3 minutes, whisk the mixture together, as the heat from the cream will have melted the chocolate by now. Let the ganache cool before spreading on the cake so as not to melt the frosting.

    THREE. When the ganache is cool and the cake is set, spread the ganache evenly over the buttercream and smooth with an offset spatula. Chill until the chocolate is solid.


    Cake Assembly Steps

    ONE. Once the cake is chilled and completely set, run a hot knife around the edges to loosen the cake and the chocolate from the tray. Wrap the top of the cake with plastic cling wrap, and place another (same size) baking sheet on top of this, with the bottom of the baking sheet touching the plastic wrapped top of the cake. Flip the whole thing upside down so that the ganache side of the cake is now on the bottom. Remove the original baking sheet and peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake.

    TWO. Flip the cake back to right side up by placing the bottom of the original baking sheet on top of the cake and turn upside down again, then peel the plastic wrap off the ganache side of the cake. At this point, you should have your cake sitting on an inverted baking sheet (to make it easier to slice) with the ganache on top and the cake on the bottom.

    THREE. Using a heated knife (keep a large glass of boiled water nearby to dip your knife in as you slice), trim off any uneven edges of your sheet cake so that all the sides are perfectly straight.

    Shot from my snapstory, gotta get those angles you know??

    FOUR. Using a ruler to keep measurements exact, turn your tray so that the long side is vertical. Cut the cake into thirds on the long side (the 16″ side), so that you have three long strips of cake. Then, turn the tray so that the long side is horizontal, and slice in half so that you have 6 even rectangles of cake. *If at any point the ganache starts to get soft, place  the cake back in the fridge until everything is set again.

    FIVE. To assemble, take a long spatula and place one cut rectangle onto your desired serving tray. Repeat with each rectangle, making sure that the sides all match up and the cake doesn’t end up lopsided. Top the finished cake with even rows of raspberries.


    Meringue Topping Steps

    ONE. This step is optional, but it looks so pretty so 10/10 would recommend. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the egg whites and sugar until stiff and glossy. Mix in the vanilla extract/ vanilla bean paste. Dollop or pipe the stiffened meringue over the raspberries, making spikes and swirls with the back of a spoon. Using a kitchen torch, toast the meringue until golden.

    You DID IT!!! I’m so proud of you, it’s been quite a journey!! xoxoxoxoxoxD