Cookies, fruit, Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegan

[Vegan & Gluten Free] Chestnut & Cherry Pillows

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I absolutely love chestnuts in winter. They’re perfect in both sweet and savoury foods, and are synonymous with the holidays. Yesterday I paired them with a quick cherry jam, and they made just a perfectly sweet, tart, and tender cookie sandwich.

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I love this recipe because it’s incredibly simple and it’s just the perfect little holiday bite. The cherry filling also has a bit of vanilla bean and Grand Marnier, which gives it a bit more depth of flavour.

[Vegan & Gluten Free] Chestnut & Cherry Pillows

makes about 15 sandwiches

For chestnut cookies:

245 g chestnut paste

95 g almond flour

4 g xanthan gum

2 g salt

10 g granulated sugar, plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients and blitz just until all ingredients come together to form a paste. Scrape out dough onto a piece of parchment paper, then roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment until dough is 1/8th of an inch thick. At this point you can refrigerate the dough until it is firm, or if you’re impatient like me, just carefully peel the top piece of parchment off and cut dough into 1″ squares.

Place cookies onto a parchment-lined sheet pan about an inch apart, then sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cool completely before filling.

For quick cherry “jam”:

260 g dried cherries

1 ea. vanilla bean, scraped

60 g Grand Marnier

60 g water

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat; be careful that the Grand Marnier doesn’t flame up (this happened the first time I made these haha). Discard vanilla bean and strain out excess liquid. Place cherries in the bowl of a food processor, and blitz until it forms a smooth paste. Cool completely. Spread or pipe filling onto half of the cookies and sandwich with the other half.

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Crafts, DIY, Fashion, Knitting

First Knit of the Season

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After seeing Frankie Hearts Fashion‘s white sequined sweater top, I knew I had to make one of my own. I loved the low-cut back and the cream color that kept it looking very classy.

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I know it looks small, but this piece took almost an eternity to finish (okay, so closer to a month, but it felt like an eternity!). I modified this Berroco tank top pattern so that it uses smaller needles and so that the back is cut a few inches lower than the front, which is where most of the mishaps occurred, but nevertheless, I am thoroughly satisfied with this piece! Also, instead of sewing on sequins after I finished knitting it (because lord knows I don’t have another month to spare) I decided to use an ivory yarn that had just a touch of shimmer running through it.

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I know that crop tops are probably best left for summer, but I think this makes a perfect pair with the vintage high-waisted pants I found at the thrift store, so I couldn’t be happier! Winter in SoCal doesn’t always call for a heavy sweater anyway, and this one provides a nice touch of warmth without being overbearing. So if you’re a knitter, definitely check out Berroco’s free pattern library, or if you’re just into fashion, take a look at frankieheartsfashion.

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And here’s a sneak preview of my next knit; I still have a whiles to go, but the pattern is a bit simpler than the last one, so here’s hoping it’ll take me less time, haha. Happy knitting!

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Cake, Caramel, Custard, fruit, Petit Four, Recipes

Visions of Sugar Plums and Work, Work, Work

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Needless to say but by my lack of posts, I think you can tell I’ve been busy lately! Winter is finally setting in around these parts (regardless of today’s 90 degree weather), and so is the crazy holiday season, hence the crazy schedule I’ve been given at work. So to my readers out there, I sincerely apologize, but I can assure you that I’ve been working on more stuff to show you guys! Sometimes the 10-hour work days and long weeks just get in the way.

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Plums are in season now, and what better flavor to pair them with than the warm notes of caramel and vanilla? Here I have a vanilla bavarois bar with caramelized plums and almond sponge cake. The vanilla and caramel definitely tone down the tartness of the plum, and round it out to make a pleasant (albeit cold) winter dessert.

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While plums definitely aren’t something you traditionally see on a winter dessert menu, I think it’s time to change that, don’t you? I mean, it’s almost 2013, people! It’s time to give the pears and apples a rest and let the underdogs shine!

Caramelized Plum and Vanilla Bar

makes 10 (3-inch) bars

for Caramelized Plums:

90 g  plum, diced small (almost brunoise) and room temp.

30 g granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon spiced rum

In a small saucepan, melt sugar over medium heat, stirring with a rubber spatula until lightly golden. Add diced plum and toss to coat in caramel. Cook sugar gets slightly darker, then deglaze pan with rum and cook until dissolved. Using a small half-sphere silicon mold, divide plums between 10 molds and compact into sphere, making sure to use all liquids. Freeze until firm.

For Vanilla Bavarois:

200 g heavy cream

5 g powdered gelatin

25 g cold water

150 g milk

45 g granulated sugar

45 egg yolks

1/2 vanilla bean, scraped

Vanilla Almond Sponge, cut into rectangles to fit bar molds

Bloom gelatin with water, set aside. Whip heavy cream until it reaches very soft peaks, and set aside.

In a small saucepot, combine milk and vanilla bean, and heat over a medium flame. In a bowl, whisk together sugar and yolks, then temper yolks into milk mixture, cooking until it thickens slightly (basically make an anglaise). Strain out vanilla bean, then stir in gelatin until completely melted. Fold anglaise into whipped cream, and divide between 10 silicon bar molds (you may have a bit extra leftover). Press sponge cake into bavarois until it is flush with the base, then freeze until firm.

For assembly:

While bavarois is still frozen, pop out of molds and onto a wire rack on top of a lined sheet pan. Slice a thin piece of plum and place on top of bars, then pop out frozen caramelized plums and place on top. Heat some clear glaze until thin enough to pour, then slowly pour over tops of each piece until completely coated. Refrigerate until set.

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