For a few days every Spring, the crab apple tree in my parents backyard blooms with the prettiest pink flowers. After a day or two, petals start showering down until there is just one little flower left. The backyard is like a little sanctuary; surrounded by trees on all one could almost think they were in the country. Almost. I like to sit out there on the weekends with a nice cup of coffee and just enjoy the weekend, it helps take the stress of the week away.
My doctor recently told me to try not to stress. Easier said than done. He also told me to cut back on caffeine. He then went on to list things that have caffeine in them; coffee, tea, soda, chocolate…
I know that chocolate has caffeine in it, but the idea of taking chocolate out of my life as a way to reduce stress just seems like madness to me. So I have decided to selectively follow his advice. I don’t eat that much chocolate, but I’m not prepared to give up what I do have.
This tart wasn’t made to intentional defy the doctors orders, but he may have put the idea of chocolate into my head. I was flipping through Martha Stewart’s New Pies and Tarts, when I came across this recipe. I had all the ingredients and it looked really easy and quick to put together so I figured I’d give it a try. I was right, it was really easy to put together, but I’m not sure it could be made without a food processor. A few drops did drip out of the tart pan, so if you decide to make this placing a baking sheet on the rack below that tart.
Basically a flourless chocolate cake with pears, this tart is intensely chocolatey. The pear and chocolate were a really nice combination, and the almond rounded all the flavours out. I did find it a little too moist, I think some of the juice from the pear seeped into the tart.
Chocolate Pear Tart
Adapted very slightly from Martha Stewart
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp almond liqueur
- 3 firm, ripe pears
- 2 tbsp apricot or apple jelly
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9 inch tart pan, set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the almonds and sugar until finely ground. Add the butter, eggs, cocoa, vanilla and almond liqueur. Process until well combined. Pour into the prepared tart pan.
- Peel, core and slice the pears and place them on the tart. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Heat the jelly slightly then brush on the pears. Let the tart set for 20 minutes before removing from the pan.
I came home from Eat Write Retreat completely exhausted. Three days of eating, learning, mingling can really take a lot out of a girl! I’ve spent the last couple of days reflecting on the weekend and what has struck me the most is the tremendous amount of work Casey and Robyn put into the conference. They, along with some wonderful volunteers, made sure all the conference attendees had a great time. Thank you!
I went to D.C a day early to explore the city. Washington has so much to offer, I barely scratched the surface in one day. It’s a city I will definitely have to go back to.
The conference itself started Friday night with a Cinco de Mayo welcome dinner, and a whole lot of swag. Saturday was packed with activities; food photography and styling followed by lunch at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw, then culinary writing, make money now, and finally dinner at Againn. Sunday was the OXO Kitchen Challenge.. sort of like Chopped but with more prep time. I had to leave after the challenge, but the conference continued with Pitch to the Pros and putting together packages for DC Central Kitchens.
Of the seminars my favourite was Culinary Writing with Monica Bhibe. Monica is a wonderful speaker; her words had me thinking about who I am as a blogger and in life. The real highlight for was meeting some amazing bloggers from around North America, one came all the way from Maui! I met some really kind, engaging people, who all had a story to tell. Once again I’d like to thank Canadian Beef for giving me this amazing opportunity!
You may recall about a month and a half ago Canadian Beef awarded me a scholarship to Eat Write Retreat. Well the big weekend is finally here! I’ve really been looking forward to this trip. I think the session I’m most looking forward to is Food Styling and Photography with Lisa Cherkasky and Renee Comet… or maybe the coffee tasting.. it’s a tough call.
Before heading off I figured I’d scope out the list of attendees. There are some pretty impressive bloggers heading to the conference! Here are just a few of the posts that caught my eye. I can’t wait to meet everyone!
Skillet Cookies from The Wicked Noodle
Chocolate Macarons with Nutella Mousse from 52 Kitchen Adventures
Rainbow Salad from Mango Tango
Blood Orange Curd and Buttermilk Scones from Savory Simple
In exactly seven months I will be living in my brand new condo. I went down to the construction site last week, the building is far from done but it is definitely a building. I’m getting pretty excited thinking about living there. I’ve been scoping out deals on line for all the things I need. I think I’ve got my couch and bed picked out, and I’m now moving on the colour schemes. What do you think of white, grey, and yellow?
I’m also getting really nervous. A downtown condo on my own is a huge deal financially. I’ve gone over the budget a million times, and even though I know I can do it I still worry. I’m good at worrying. I sometimes find myself stuck in a loop of “what ifs”. My latest solution is to give myself a firm action plan and then listen to Bob Marley. Every little thing is gonna be alright.
Of course the classic stress reliever is chocolate. This cake will calm me down even on my most anxious days. Thanks to the marzipan it’s dense and moist, and the almond flavour perfectly complements the chocolate. This recipe is also really easy to make, just be sure your ingredients are at room temperature so that the eggs and butter combine properly.
Chocolate Marzipan Cake
Adapted from Anna Olson
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 250 g marzipan
- 6 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/4 cup icing sugar
- berries to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 10 inch springform pan, set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. Break the marzipan into pieces and mix into the butter mixture until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure they are well combined after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts.
- Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Beat into the butter mixture until well combined.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely.
- Whip the cream with the icing sugar until stiff, cover the cooled cake with cream. Garnish with berries.
We’ve got family on the way over right now, so it’s a little hectic here. I just wanted to take a quick moment to wish you all a very wonderful day!
My kitchen clumsiness apparently knows no bounds. After burning my breakfast this morning I decided to make some that’s unscrewupable, a classic carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I made the cake, did a pretty good job of slicing it in half, iced it, then placed it on a pretty cake stand. I started to carry it over to my tabletop to photograph when “SPLAT!” the cake slid right off the stand and onto the kitchen floor.
Looking down on the cake the first thing that came to my mind was this episode of Friends, so I thought I’d share some clips of the episode with you. I figure its better to laugh over lost cake than cry, right?
I was able to save the top half of the cake, and I can tell you it’s really good. If you’re interested in making it the recipe is here.
I’ll Have What She’s Having turns two years old this week. To be honest, I never really thought I would still be blogging at this point. I’m one of those people who moves from obsession to obsession, leaving past ones behind without much thought or regret. I think what keeps food blogging interesting for me is that it continually challenges me to learn new things. In these two years I’ve learned more about photography than I ever would have without this blog, and there is still so much to learn.
In the coming year I want to challenge myself to expand my culinary skills as well as my photography skills. I want to try new cooking techniques, attempt dishes that are “scary” (chocolate soufflé, I’m looking at you), and experiment with flavours that I normally wouldn’t use. A friend of mine recently told me that she enjoys my “style” of desserts because I tend to make things she wouldn’t normally make. I want to take that even further.
The biggest thing that keeps me going is the responses I get from readers. Your comments encourage me, inspire me, and push me to make What She’s Having better and better. Thank you.
On the topic of comments, WordPress recently made some changes to their commenting platform. Those of you who try to comment using an email address that is linked to a WordPress or Gravatar account will have to log into your accounts before leaving a comment. This change was in response to some cases of Gravatars being hijacked for trolling. Although I understand that something needed to be done, the response was kind of like using a sledgehammer to fix a splinter. I’ve removed the requirement to leave an email address when commenting so that those of you who do not want to log don’t have to. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I won’t end up with too much spam.
To celebrate my blogaversary, I made this Berry Mascarpone Almond Tart. It’s similar to this one I made last summer except that this time the recipe came together without any drama. The crust has a nice crunch to it from the almonds, and it’s easy to cut through. The filling is similar to a no bake cheesecake filling, creamy and rich. The amaretto flavours works really well with the berries.
Berry Mascarpone Almond Tart
Adapted from Desserts for Breakfast
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup almond flour
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
- 1 egg yolk
- 2-4 tbsp. ice water
- 400 grams mascarpone at room temperature
- 2 tbsp. icing sugar
- 2 tbsp. amaretto
- ½ cup whipping cream
- 2 cups mixed berries, cleaned
- 2 tbsp. seedless raspberry jam
1. Make the pastry crust: In a large bowl mix the flour, almond flour and salt together. Add the butter. Using your finger tips or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour until it forms pea sized pieces of butter and holds together when squeezed. Mix in the egg yolk, and just enough water to bring the dough together. Form the dough into a disk, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Once chilled, roll out the dough to ¼ inch thick and place in a 9 inch tart pan; dock the crust (poke holes with a fork). Refrigerate the crust for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 400F. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the crust and cover with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 13-15 minutes, remove the pie weights and parchment and bake for an additional 3-5 minutes. Let cool completely.
2. Make the filling: In a medium bowl, beat the mascarpone and a tablespoon of the cream together using a hand held mixer until the mascarpone is softened. Beat in the sugar and amaretto. In a separate bowl whip the cream. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Pour into the chilled tart crust.
3. Make the berry topping: In a microwave safe bowl heat the jelly until it liquefies (about 30 seconds). Toss the berries with the jelly. Pour over the mascarpone filling. Chill the tart for at least 1 hour before serving.
I’ve fallen out of the blogging beat lately. As I mentioned in my last post, long hours at the office have left me feeling drained. And uninspired. I kept trying to come up with a spectacular dish or dessert to share, but I was too tired to even think of anything. It eventually dawned on me that at times like this what I need to do is focus on simplicity.
And so I made myself this simple citrus salad. It’s perfect because 1) it’s really, really easy to make 2) it’s delicious and 3) the vitamin C will give me the boost I need to tackle more complex projects, like a sandwich.
- 2 large oranges, sliced
- 2 pink grapefruits, segmented (for a tutorial on segmenting check out this post at A Thought for Food
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 2 tbsp wildflower honey
- a handful of pistachios
- Mix the orange juice and honey together. Toss the orange slices and grapefruit segments with the pistachios and dress with the honey mixture.
Have you ever been so busy at work that you become completely non functional at home? That’s what’s happened to me in the last few weeks; 10 to 12 hour work days (not including my long commute) have left me completely drained. So when Monsieur Felix and Mr. Norton showed up at my door with a new product for me to review I was more than happy to dig in.
Felix and Norton is a Montreal based company that has been enticing Canadians with decadent cookies since 1985. They pride themselves on using high quality ingredients and providing customers with products that lead to what can only be described as pure joy. I’m sure you know that I usually make my own desserts, but there are times when even the most avid baker needs a little help. And in those times, it’s good to know that there are options out there at a reasonable price that are made with high quality ingredients. Felix and Norton cookies have long been a favourite treat, so I was very excited to try their new cakes. Made with 100%, pure Belgian Chocolates and no preservatives the cakes are actually layers of Monsieur Felix and Mr Norton cookies filled with buttercream or whipped cream and chocolate chunks.
These decadent cakes come in two flavours: Ebony & Ivory and Ménage-a-Trois (shown above). Ebony & Ivory is made of three layers of chocolate cookie with layers of white chocolate butter cream and whipped cream. The Ménage-a-Trois is made of three layers of chocolate chunk cookies, and layers of milk and dark chocolate butterceam. I found the first bite of the Ebony & Ivory to be a little too sweet for my taste, but my palette must have adapted because soon I was gobbling the whole thing up. My clear favourite was the Ménage-a-Trois, the combination of the dark and milk chocolate creams with chunks of white, milk and dark chocolate is just heavenly.
The cakes cost 14.99$ and serve 6. They are available at IGA’s across Quebec in the bakery section, along with Felix and Norton’s line of “bake your own” cookies.
Disclosure: I was provided with these cakes in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are my own.
I hope you all had a great week. It’s been very busy for me, and I’m really glad the weekend is almost here. There is a snow storm coming, and I’m ready to cuddle up on the couch and relax.
I don’t have a recipe this week, but I do have some really exciting news; I am going to Eat Write Retreat thanks to a sponsorship from Canadian Beef! It’s an amazing opportunity and I am incredibly grateful. I can’t wait!