• Apricot Cherry Crostata

    Welcome!! I hope you all survived this weekend’s heat wave by not leaving the house, it was the only way to survive. At my house, we spent the majority of Saturday inside, making brownies and playing Clue, which for once, didn’t end in fighting! We went mini golfing at night and were promptly attacked by bugs, but the ice cream afterwards made it all worth it. Sunday we spent the day at the beach, where the waves were very refreshing but I was pinched by not one, but TWO crabs. You can’t win them all I guess.

    ANYWAY, today’s recipe is another one of those ones pulled from my childhood memory vault, one that my Grandpa used to make in the summer when we were over for dinner. Whenever we would spend time at their house, the first thing we’d peruse was my grandpa’s stack of Bon Appetit magazines, which went years and years back. Come to think of it, I’m almost sure that is what sparked my interest in food in the first place. My grandpa was and still is an amazing cook, but with time, it’s gotten harder for him to make elaborate meals. So, last weekend, after saying for years that I would dig out this Apricot Cherry Crostata recipe, I did! I finally got to present it to my grandpa for dessert, and I’ll be honest I teared up when he saw it. He has always had a huge influence on what I cook and has been one of my biggest cheerleaders since the beginning, gosh I love him.

    This tart is the perfect summer dessert, its relatively quick, very easy, and it LOOKS so glamorous. Apricot Cherry Crostata, it even SOUNDS fancy. It’s best with peak-of-summer apricots and cherries, but my grandpa always made it with dried tart cherries and it was just as incredible. Nestled in a crisp, buttery crust, and topped with the shiniest apricot glaze, it looks so professional you might have to show your friends the dishes to prove you made this and didn’t buy it.

    OH ALSO. Something I have to mention, I met a real hero of mine this past week. If you’ve been around Sweet D for long enough, you’ve seen that I make a lot of recipes from Erin McDowell. She’s a food blogger and writer and so so cool. Well, this past week, I got to take a cake decorating class in the city taught by, you guessed it, HER. It was everything I dreamed it would be. We decorated chocolate cakes with macarons and other treats, and she remembered me and Sweet D and I almost cried. Life made.

    Me trying to keep it together

    Before we get started, here are 5 things to be happy about today!!
    ONE. A peach so juicy you have to eat it standing over the sink.
    TWO. Meeting your heroes.
    THREE. Baseball games in the summer.
    FOUR. A weekend with no plans.
    FIVE. Turning over a new leaf.

    Let’s bake!!

    Apricot Cherry Crostata

    Honey-sweet apricots, dark cherries, a buttery crust, sealed with a shiny jam glaze, this is the most impressive and deceivingly easy tart you'll ever make!
    Prep Time1 hr 30 mins
    Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
    Total Time2 hrs 45 mins
    Course: Dessert
    Keyword: apricot, cherry, summer tart
    Servings: 8 people

    Ingredients

    Tart Crust

    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 Tbsp white sugar
    • ¼ tsp kosher salt
    • ½ cup unsalted butter; chilled and cut into small pieces
    • 2 Tbsp ice water

    Fruit Filling

    • 7 large apricots
    • 1 cup dark cherries; pitted and halved
    • cup white sugar
    • ½ cup apricot preserves

    Instructions

    Tart Crust

    • Blend together the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add in the butter and pulse 10-12 times, until the butter is pea-sized and evenly distributed.
    • Blend in the water by the tablespoon until moist clumps form. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten to a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes before working.
    • When the dough is chilled, roll between 2 sheets of parchment paper to slightly larger than the size of your tart pan, about 11 inches. Carefully remove the top sheet of parchment and invert the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
    • Gently press the dough into the pan, folding the excess into the tart pan so that the sides are double thick. Pierce the dough all over with a fork and freeze for 20 minutes. At this point, preheat the oven to 375°F.
    • Bake the tart shell for 25 minutes until set but still pale, and allow to cool before filling.

    Filling and Assembly

    • Blanch apricots in boiling water for 1 minute, then transfer to ice water. Peel, halve, and pit each apricot, then slice each half into 3 to 4 wedges.
    • Arrange the apricot slices in the tart shell as desired, then top with the pitted cherries. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top and bake the tart until the apricots are tender, about 50 minutes.
    • In a small saucepan, heat the apricot preserves until warm and pourable. Strain through a mesh sieve so that only the smooth jam is left.
    • Using a pastry brush or a spoon, cover the tart with a layer of the apricot jam. Remove the tart from its pan and serve warm or room temperature, preferably with ice cream!

    Looking for more summer fruit desserts? Look here, here, and here!

  • Banana Cream Pie

    Hello my friends! I hope we are all keeping cool in this very hot summer. If you’re reading this from somewhere that it isn’t summer, just know I envy you. I’m sure this makes me a party pooper, but the novelty of summer heat wears off PRETTY fast when you’re not a kid and it’s no longer acceptable to sit in the kiddie pool in your backyard all day. Instead I have to wear real clothes??? And go to work?? And the whole time I’m thinking of the beach and/ or ice cream (or this Banana Cream Pie tbh) and basically what I’m saying is I think we should all get summer vacation no matter what age/ job we have. Who’s with me!

    This was a pretty lazy segue into this week’s recipe, but really, what better way to enjoy summer than with a Banana Cream Pie? Essentially vanilla pudding with sliced bananas mixed in, this one is ~fancier~ because you make the pudding yourself. Plus did I mention there’s a layer of chocolate in between the graham cracker crust and the filling? Are you sold yet? Cool. The recipe comes from ZoeBakes because we all know I’m obsessed with her, so find the original recipe here.

    Before we get started, here are your 5 things to be happy about today:
    ONE. Seeing a movie in an otherwise empty theater and talking as loud as you please.
    TWO. The caffeine boost of an afternoon iced coffee.
    THREE. The melty consistency of a perfectly toasted marshmallow.
    FOUR. A prosperous herb garden.
    FIVE. Packing a cooler for the beach with watermelon, chips, and ice cold lemonade.

    Let’s bake!!

    Banana Cream Pie

    Prep Time1 hr
    Cook Time15 mins
    Chilling Time2 hrs
    Total Time3 hrs 15 mins
    Course: Dessert
    Keyword: banana, chocolate, cream pie, pudding
    Servings: 8 people

    Ingredients

    Graham Cracker Crust

    • 12 whole graham crackers
    • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter; melted
    • pinch kosher salt
    • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate; finely chopped

    Banana Filling

    • tsp powdered gelatin; (1 packet)
    • 2 Tbsp cold water
    • 1 egg
    • 3 egg yolks
    • cup white sugar
    • Tbsp cornstarch
    • cups whole milk
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract; or 1 scraped vanilla bean
    • 1 cup heavy cream; whipped to soft peaks
    • 3-4 bananas; cut into coins

    Whipped Cream Topping

    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 2 Tbsp white sugar
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • bittersweet chocolate; for shavings on top

    Instructions

    Graham Cracker Crust

    • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grind together the graham crackers, butter, brown sugar, and salt until crumbs form, and can hold together when you squeeze some in your hand.
    • Press the crumbs into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan, using a small dry measuring cup to maintain an even, flat surface. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set and toasted.
    • Immediately after removing the crust from the oven, sprinkle the bottom with the chopped chocolate, and allow to melt, about 5 minutes. Once the chocolate is fully melted, use an offset spatula to spread a thin layer evenly over the entire bottom of the crust and up the sides as desired. Allow to cool before filling.

    Banana Filling

    • In a small bowl, bloom together the gelatin and the 2 Tbsp cold water and set aside for at least 5 minutes.
    • In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until no lumps remain. Set aside.
    • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk on medium low until simmering. If you're using a vanilla bean, heat the scraped seeds and pod with the milk now, if you're using vanilla extract, we'll add it later.
    • Slowly, while whisking constantly, drizzle some of the heated milk into the egg mixture. This tempers the eggs so that they won't spontaneously cook when we add them to the hot milk. Once about ⅓ of the milk has been added and the egg mixture is warm to the touch, pour all of the egg/ milk mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and bring to a boil on medium heat.
    • Once the mixture starts to boil, continue to cook, whisking constantly for 3 minutes, until the custard is thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the bloomed gelatin and vanilla extract (if using) until the gelatin is fully dissolved.
    • Strain the custard through a sieve into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to cool to at least room temperature.
    • Once cooled, fold in the softly whipped cream and sliced bananas, then pour the filling into your prepared crust. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly to the surface of the pudding and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until set.

    Whipped Cream + Serving

    • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip together the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract until the desired stiffness is reached. Stiffer whipped cream can be piped onto the pie, but I opted for a softer whipped cream that I piled on top, it's up to you!
    • Using a vegetable peeler, shave some of the leftover bittersweet chocolate on top, and serve. YUM!!

    Looking for more pudding pies? Look no further than here, here, and here!

  • Black and White Cookies

    Two days back into work after a long weekend, I am almost feeling back to myself. The only downside of long weekends is how much longer it takes to readjust to work, don’t you think? Anyway, I hope all your holiday weekends were lovely and filled with lots of snacks. I myself made guacamole and a pitcher of VERY strong watermelon mojitos, plus a cherry pie and a flag cake for dessert. I couldn’t make up my mind so why not make both?? That, combined with a morning at the beach made for a very sleepy me, and you BET I slept late into the morning on Friday. Buuuuut, then I recovered enough to return to the kitchen for……..black and white cookies!!

    I think about black and white cookies a lot, they are the superior cookie for sure. A cross between a cake and a cookie, with a half vanilla, half chocolate glazed top that snaps when you break it, what’s not to love? These cookies are a staple of New York City, and TBH I feel like I owed it to myself to try these out. I adapted from this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, with a few changes here and there.

    As luck would have it, my cousin Raymond was over while I made these, and we got to plotting about the country’s first ever all-black and white cookie bakery. He’s a decade younger than me but has more business savvy than anyone I’ve ever met, we made a logo and flavors and everything!! So if this idea takes off everyone better get ready. I don’t wanna brag, but we discussed flavors like maple bacon, coffee caramel, and strawberry.

    Before we bake, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
    ONE. Group traveling.
    TWO. Free admission.
    THREE. Having your coffee in the park.
    FOUR. Two shakes of a lambs tail.
    FIVE. Bursting into song.

    Let’s bake!!

    Black and White Cookies

    Prep Time1 hr
    Cook Time20 mins
    Total Time1 hr 20 mins
    Course: Dessert, Snack
    Keyword: chocolate, cookie, vanilla
    Servings: 36 cookies

    Ingredients

    Cookie Base

    • cups white sugar
    • 1 cup unsalted butter; at room temp
    • 4 eggs; at room temp
    • cups milk
    • ½ tsp vanilla extract
    • cups cake flour
    • cups all-purpose flour
    • ½ tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp kosher salt

    Black and White Glazes

    • 4 cups confectioner's sugar
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • ⅓ to ½ cup boiling water
    • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate
    • 1 tsp light corn syrup

    Instructions

    Cookie Base

    • Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
    • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl down after each addition.
    • Slowly drizzle in the milk (to avoid splatters), then the vanilla and mix until combined.
    • In another large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients a little at a time, until all has been added.
    • Using a cookie scoop or 2 large spoons, scoop roughly ¼ cup portions out onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving at least 2 inches of space between each cookie. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the cookies are only just beginning to brown. Allow to cool completely before icing.

    Black and White Glazes

    • In a large heat-safe bowl, add in the confectioners sugar, salt, and vanilla, then slowly add in the boiling water, a little at at time, until the desired thick consistency is reached. Keep in mind that you probably won't need all the boiling water, and it's difficult to fix a glaze that's become too thin.
    • Spread the vanilla glaze on one half of the flat side of each cookie. After every cookie is half iced, put the bowl with the remaining glaze over a double boiler (a small pot of boiling water that the bowl can fit in without touching the water), and add the chocolate pieces plus the corn syrup. Continue to stir until the chocolate melts and the frosting is thick and spreadable.
    • Ice the other half of each cookie. The chocolate frosting has a tendency to dry up faster than the vanilla, so if you notice that happening, feel free to stir a bit of boiling water in to keep the frosting shiny as needed. YUM!

    Looking for more cookie recipes? Try here, here, and here!