Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Apple Frangipane Tart

Mmmm I love winter time. It's my favorite time of the year, when the air is just a bit chilly and the leaves have started to fall. Lately though, living in California, has provided little winter for me! So sad. Anyways this tart perfectly pairs with this season.
Tartlette originally makes this tart mini-sized but I decided to make one large tart for my family Christmas party. Though it does seem like there are a lot of steps, once broken apart, this tart was incredibly easy to put together. I made the crust one day and pre-baked it, then another day filled it with the frangipane and baked it, and baked and assembled the apples. This really is a gorgeous tart. It was a big hit too! The combination of honey-roasted apples and almond was just delicious! Make sure not to over bake the frangipane though, because you want it to be moist!
I arranged mine like a flower, but you can do it any other way:
I used Granny Smith Apples:
Apples and fall: the perfect combination

Apple Frangipane Tart

Yields: 8 servings

Adapted from original recipe, which can be found here.

For the sable dough:

1 stick butter, room temperature

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups flour

2 tbsn. cornstarch

pinch of salt

For the frangipane cream:

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup ground almond

seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp. vanilla paste or extract

2 eggs

1/4 cup heavy cream

For the honey roasted apples:

4 medium apples

1/2 cup honey

2 tbsn. apricot jam or orange marmalade + 1 tbsn. water, microwaved for 15 seconds (to glaze, optional)

To make the dough, in a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until combined. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt and mix briefly to incorporate. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured board and gather dough into a smooth ball. Do not work dough while in mixture or it will toughen up. Flatten dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. When dough is nice and cold, roll out on a lightly floured board or in between sheets of plastic. You need half the amount of dough to make the tartelettes. Other half can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen, well wrapped for 3 months. Cut out rounds with a 3 inch pastry ring. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 F for 8 - 10 minutes. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel, core and cut the apples in thin slices. Lay them on a couple of parchment paper lined baking sheets and drizzle all with honey. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes until golden, let cool.

Place butter, sugar, almond powder, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add cream and stir it in instead of whisking so you don't emulsify it. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Place 8 baked rounds of dough into 8 pastry rings, divide the cream evenly among the rings and bake for 20 minutes at 350 F. Let cool. Once cool, remove tarts from rings and arrange apples decoratively on top. If desired, you can glaze the tart. Enjoy!

Close up of the apples:
An apple a day keeps the doctor away:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tailored Tuesdays

This is more of a daytime outfit, but a perfect dress for New Years!
1. Burberry Prorsum "Cotton satin trench coat"
2. Matthew Williamson "Silk georgette shift dress"
3. Marc by Marc Jacobs "Flat leather case"
4. Brian Atwood "Patent leather and PVC pumps"

all images can be found

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Smores Cookies

I often use my baking skills to my advantage. When I need a favor or help or anything of that nature, I often offer a baked good in return. 'Help! I need a shift covered! I'll bake you something in return, pleeeeeease??' Yep this hobby has definitely become handy from time to time. I know I've previously said I hated baking cookies. But that fear is now gone, I'm proud to say. After baking an enormous amount of cookies this holiday season, I've perfected the art of the cookie.
Now I'm moving on to bigger and better things hopefully... the macaron perhaps? Only the future will tell. On to the cookies... by the pictures you can tell that these are some sinful little buggers; decadent in every way. These are now one of my top 5 cookies, they are amazingly soft yet chewy and the taste is out of this world! And I especially loved the chewiness that the marshmallows added to the cookies.
Smores Cookies

Yields: about 3 dozen

Original recipe can be found here.

Printable Recipe

1 3/4 cups flour

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 cup/ 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

2 cups miniature chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

2 regular Hershey bars, roughly chopped

In a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugars and mix until fluffy. Mix in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Add the flour, graham crackers, salt and baking soda and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips then cover and refrigerate the dough for about one hour. Preheat oven to 375 F. Take a tablespoon of the dough, roll into a ball, and drop onto a greased baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of dough, leaving about 2 inches between each to allow it to spread. Bake for 6 minutes, then remove from the oven. Push a 3 - 5 marshmallows and a few pieces of a Hershey's bar into each cookie. Return to oven and bake for another 2 - 3 minutes until golden brown and the marshmallows are a bit toasted. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

(Campfire not included):

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tailored Tuesdays

Mmm all cuddly for winter.
Sorry I'm late again... holidays have made my sense of time really off.
Merry Christmas everyone!!!!

1. Camilla and Marc "Hart linen and silk blend jacket"
2. Haute Hippie "Merino wool cowl vest"
3. Haute Hippie "Silk cashmere riding pants"
4. Marc by Marc Jacobs "Lil riz dr. q leather bag"
5. Brian Atwood "Miri leather ankle boots"
6. Cutler and Gross "D-shaped acetate glasses"

all images can be found

Sunday, December 20, 2009


My favorite mixtapes are usually the most insane mixes of random types of music; a smorgasbord of musical delight for the ears. I found that this way, I never get bored. For example, below I have a good mix of newbies and oldies; jazz, blues, trance, electronica, folk, indie, etc. I'd say that's some pretty good variation right there. I really do hate classifying music though, it's one of the hardest things in the world for me to do!
1. Nina Simone: Sinnerman (Felix Da Housecat's Heavenly House Mix)
2. James Yuill: This Sweet Love
3. New Buffalo: Inside (The Corrections) Ft. Jens Lekman
4. Andrew Bird: Souverian
5. Emily Haines: Reading In Bed (65 Days of Static Remix)
6. The String Quartet: Yellow (Tribute to Coldplay)
7. M83: Too Late
8. Etta James: At Last
9. Andrew Bird: Spare-Ohs
10. Tiesto: I Feel It In My Bones (Ft. Tegan & Sara)
11. Anya Marina: Whatever You Like (T.I. Cover)
12. John Coltrane & Duke Ellington: In a Sentimental Mood
(One of my favorite jazz/ instrumental songs ever!)
13. Radiohead: Scatterbrain (The Twelves Remix)
14. Okay: Pretend
15. Tiesto: Escape Me (Ft. CC Sheffield)
16. Phoenix: Lisztomania

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Greetings from San Francisco

Hi everyone! That's me down there... maybe you can't tell but it is, I promise!
I recently took a short mini-break to San Francisco, one of my favorite cities in the world; full or culture, beautiful people, and most importantly, beautiful food. Every chance I get, I trek to this gorgeous city and make my way through the lists and lists of eateries. And boy, I was not disappointed this time around! Basically, this is just a massive foodie/ travel post; enjoy!
Nick's Crispy Tacos: a swanky restaurant and bar that serves to-die-for crispy tacos!
In the heart of the hustle and bustle of Chinatown:
If you can't get good dim sum in Chinatown, where else can you get it?
A plethora of good eats seen while meandering through Chinatown:
One of the best teas (Arabic tea) I've ever had at Kan Zaman:
Oh how I love those San Francisco nights:
Delicious sandwiches at Ike's Place, and of course we cleaned that plate real good!
Union Square:
Mmmmm hot ramen on a cold, cold day in SF at Katana-Ya:
A close up of the very delicious, but kind of overpriced ramen:
Pretty fall leaves at the Japanese Tea Garden:
A mini couples photoshoot at the Japanese Tea Gardens:
Osha, a super trendy Thai restaurant with amazingly good Thai food (my fav was the roasted duck salad below):
Twin Peaks: the best view of the city and the perfect place for silhouettes:
Bob's Donuts: home of the most AMAZING crullers EVER!
My favorite worker at Bob's and the hardcore donut machinery:
Having fun on hotel rooftops with long exposures and sparklers:
What's a good brunch without mimosas and bloody marys?
Mama's and some fineeeee home-cooked breakfast/ brunch:
How could I NOT visit Paulette and grab a box of my French Macaron favorites??!?!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sugar Cookies

Not feeling like much of a writer today, but on the upside here are some sugar cookies! The recipe is a hybrid of a couple I've found. These only took a quick zap in the oven and turned out super soft. I liked the addition of the almond extract and everyone who tried them said they tasted great! Something else I like about them: they keep really well so they make great gifts.

This was also my first attempt with royal icing, and though it was finicky and took some patience, the result was worth it. I mean just look at that Hello Kitty! Obviously I need some more practice but for a first try, I'd say I was successful. Now I'm just looking for ways to make royal icing taste better cause I'm not all for that sugary taste.
Merry little men:

Basic Sugar Cookies

Yields: about 20 - 30, depending on the shape

Printable Recipe

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. almond extract

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and light in color. Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extract, mixing until incorporated. Add the flour mixture, a little at a time until all of it is incorporated. Divide the dough into two and cover completely in saran wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour to overnight before rolling. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 F. Remove one package of dough at a time and roll to 1/8 - 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shape and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Dough will soften quickly so work fast and always keep extra dough in fridge. Bake for about 7 minutes or until just barely starting to color at the bottom. Let cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Oh no! Not Hello Kitty!

Swirly swirly swirly:

Royal Icing

Yields: about 2 cups

Original recipe can be found here.

Printable Recipe

2 egg whites

2 lbs. powdered sugar (not all may be used)

1 tsp. lemon juice

Combine egg whites and lemon juice in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add some powdered sugar and start to mix on medium-low speed. Keep adding the sugar a little at a time until the mixture looks thick like whipped cream and it makes soft peaks. Now it is ready for piping. To make it runny enough to flood, add drops of water and mix, a little at a time until the consistency is right for you.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tailored Tuesdays

Oops! Wow, this was so late... enjoy!
1. Elizabeth & James "Double layer wool blend cardigan"
2. Acne "Wonder stripe jersey t-shirt"
3. Victoria Beckham Denim "Washed finish super skinny jeans"
4. Marc by Marc Jacobs "Kate leather shoulder bag"
5. Chloe "Flat knee high boots"
6. Kara by Kara Ross "Python pyramid cuff"
all images can be found

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mint Chocolate Puddles

I'm not a cookie baker. I like to bake everything else, and hey, I'll even try a yeasted thing every now and then but cookies? Not my forte. Why you may ask? I don't really know but for me, cookies are way too easy to ruin. They can burn within a second, the textures are harder to get right, they're just a tough cookie (no pun intended, ok maybe a little)!
I only have two cookies that I really love and can actually do well, which are these and these. But in the spirit of the holidays, cookies are just about the best thing to give and I figured I should give them another chance; I mean if not at Christmastime? Then when else (Did you notice the reference to Love Actually!) ?
Anyways, I've seen these cookies for a while and they've always been on my 'to do' list and I finally decided to give them a try. And guess what? I wasn't disappointed! These guys cook up pretty fast, so I over-baked a few, but just make sure to pull them out when they look puffy and fragile because once they cool down, they'll be firm enough. AND make sure to refrigerate them as per directions. I got a little impatient and baked them anyways and I think that was the reason for my flat cookies. BUT they were delicious nonetheless. Super chocolate-y, rich but not too rich and of course, loved the mint! Perfect when warm with a cup of milk!

Chocolate Mint Puddle Cookies

Yields: 35 - 40 cookies

Original Recipe can be found here.

Printable Recipe

12 tbsn. butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 tbsn. water

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3 packages (4.5 oz.) Andes mints

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the sugar, butter and water, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate chips until melted, set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Pour chocolate mixture into a large bowl and beat in eggs, one at a time. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into the chocolate mixture. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease cookie sheets. Roll cookie dough into walnut sized calls and place 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, be careful not to over bake. When cookies come out of oven, press one mint into the top of each cookie, let sit for 1 minute, then after softened, swirl with the back of a spoon to make a patter with the green filling of the mint wafer.

Close up!

Happy holidays everyone!