blood orange rosemary pâte de fruit

blood orange rosemary pate de fruit

I was set on these. I mean set.

And when I’m set on something, it is pretty difficult to pull me back. I guess the correct term for that would be “stubborn”.

blood orange rosemary pate de fruit

Although I’ve been politely corrected and told, “Nah, you just know what you want. That’s not being stubborn.” Oh, do I really know what I want? Okay, that’s a whole other issue that I won’t even get into right now.

blood orange rosemary pate de fruit

I will admit it though. Yes, I am stubborn. You know, sometimes you just have to act and become completely and unreasonably obstinate about things or else life wouldn’t be quite as fun….or stressful.

blood orange rosemary pate de fruit

For instance, if you have the urge to bake a pineapple upside down cake on your day off, then go for it…No, baking a lemon pound cake it’s just not going to do it. Because you’re stubborn…and know what you want. That pineapple upside down cake is what you want.

And if you want to have your nails painted deep purple, the color called “heart throb” probably won’t do it. The color “I think in pink” may not work either. Because you’re stubborn…and you know what you want. Deep purple is what you want.

blood orange rosemary pate de fruit

And if you want to write a recipe for fruity treats that possess a harmonious balance of fruity tartness and sweetness and a texture that when you bite into them is initial resistance followed by a delicate bite, then writing a recipe for something that resembles gummy bears clearly won’t cut it. Although, I will revise that first attempt and bring it to you in recipe form soon because ummm…hello!!!! Gummy bears!! Kind of awesome, really.

blood orange rosemary pate de fruit

So I knew that writing a recipe for these little pastry jewels would be a true test, but I was out to conquer the “Pâte de Fruit Recipe-Writing Challenge” (…a serious challenge that I had formed in my mind and that nobody else around me was hopefully aware of..).

It took three attempts to get the desirable taste, texture, and consistency right on point. Stubborn much? Nah, I just know what I want. Right…

blood orange rosemary pate de fruit

Yield:  Approximately 100 small pieces, depending on the size you cut them. Store for one month at room temperature fully enrobed. Keep well-wrapped in fridge for about one week.

Equipement: scale, candied thermometer, food processor, baking dish or tupperware that’s approximately 8″ x 8″, whisk, strainer.

ingredients:

1 blood orange

4 oz blood orange juice

6 small sprigs of rosemary

4 oz water

11 oz sugar

5 oz certo liquid pectin

4 oz sugar for coating

method:

1. Spray 8″ x 8″ baking dish with vegetable oil. Line baking dish with a piece of parchment paper that extends about 2 inches beyond the rim of the baking dish. Set aside for later use. (Note: The dimensions of the baking dish do not have to be exactly 8″ x 8″, as long as it’s close enough. I mean, let’s keep it real…I used a tupperware that was about 9″ x 5″ and that worked wonderfully. The size of the baking dish will only affect the height of your pâte de fruit.  The more area the baking dish has, the shorter your pâte de fruit will be. The less area the baking dish has, the taller it will be).

2. Cook the blood orange in boiling water for about 30 seconds in a sauce pan, until the peel has softened a bit.

3. Cut the ends off and discard them. Cut the blood orange into segments.

4. Place blood orange segments into food processor and pulse until blood orange is finely chopped. Add blood orange juice to food processor and pulse until mixture is well pureed.

5. Pour blood orange puree and 3 sprigs of rosemary into a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Turn heat off. Put a lid on the pan and infuse for about 30 minutes, until the blood orang puree tastes like a hint of rosemary.

6. Place water and remaining 3 sprigs of rosemary into a separate small sauce pan. Bring water to a gentle simmer. Turn heat off. Cover pan with a lid and infuse for about 30 minutes, until water tastes like rosemary. Set aside for later use.

7. Strain blood orange puree into a bowl to remove the pulp, peel, rosemary, and fruit chunks. Pour liquid into the same sauce pan along with sugar.

8. Remove rosemary from water. Add water to sauce pan. Stir blood orange, sugar, and water to combine.

9. Cook over low heat until it forms a very thick syrup that coats the back of the spoon and the temperature is of 180 F.  Be sure to whisk constantly. Mixture should never come to a boil, but rather maintain a gentle and very low simmer. You may have to adjust the temperature as you cook it.

10. Once the mixture has reached 180 F and the mixture has become thick and syrupy, turn off the heat and add the Certo. Whisk until well combined.

11. Pour into prepared baking dish and allow it to sit at room temperature for up to 5 hours.

12. Unmold onto a work surface. Peel off and discard parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut into small squares or rectangles.

13. Spread remaining 4 ounce of sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll the pieces in the sugar to coat. Arrange on a platter and serve.

blood orange rosemary pate de fruit

blood orange rosemary pate de fruit

Enjoy!

orange cream phyllo cups • making a small difference

sweet-lab.com

What do you do when you have a lot of something left over? A lot of lemon curd? A lot of chocolate mousse? A lot of ganache? In my case…a lot of candied citrus peel? A lot of orange Italian meringue buttercream…?

Well, clearly we shouldn’t throw food or leftovers away, since world hunger and global starvation is a major problem that should not be overlooked. But I’ll get back to that later.

So yes….throwing food away should never be an option. But I’m not here to tell you what to do. Who am I to do that, right? Right.

But if you’re like me and find that you are left with plenty of Italian meringue buttercream after testing certain recipes, I invite you to reinvent the wheel if you don’t do so already and challenge yourself to find new recipes that incorporate leftovers of buttercreams, curds, pie crusts, mousse, cookie dough, etc. It can become a fun and challenging game and you will feel instant rewards for not letting such food rot away in an eternity of disregard in the freezer or…in the garbage.

sweet-lab.com

When I made chocolate orange mini pastries a few days ago I had some orange buttercream and candied citrus peel left over. It’s always easier to work with a larger recipe when making italian meringue buttercream, so I tend to always have some of that laying around in the freezer. I decided to use the left over orange buttercream and candied orange peel and create these cute orange cream phyllo cups. They are quite creamy, quite citrusy, quite smooth, and quite delicious. As you can probably tell, I would much rather eat these than to hold my heart in my hand while tossing spoiled leftovers into the trash.

Going back to world hunger…do you know what’s another great way to help fight it? Yes, you got it! Volunteer at your local community kitchen and use food as a tool to strengthen your community and fight hunger. If you live in the DC metro area and would like to get involved, here are two great places where you can start making a difference. If you don’t live in the DC metro area, I am sure there are local programs to help fight hunger in your community. All you have to do is ask and do the research!

1. DC Central Kitchen—”Through job training, meal distribution, and local farm partnerships, we’re building long-term solutions to the interconnected problems of poverty, hunger, and homelessness.”

2. Miriam’s Kitchen—”Ending chronic homelessness in DC is possible. Permanent supportive housing is the solution. Food is an important part of our work.”

And always remember to share food with others! I swear that nothing can compare to that simple act of giving and to the satisfaction you get when you know that a dish or dessert you made may be nourishing a friend, a relative, a student, someone in need, etc.

But again, I’m not here to tell you what to do!

**Yields 48 phyllo cups. Store at room temperature for one day. Depending on the size of your mini-muffin pans, you may have to bake 2-3 separate rounds of phyllo cups to end up with a total number of 48 phyllo cups**

Ingredients for Orange Italian Meringue Buttercream: 

8 oz sugar

2 oz water

1 T honey

3 oz strained egg whites

10 oz butter, cubed

3.5 tsp orange juice (I didn’t get my hands on orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier, but I believe that replacing orange juice for Grand Marnier would make a great contribution. I suggest adding it a little bit at a time and tasting the flavor until you reach the desired orange flavor).

1.5 T orange zest

Procedure/Recipe for Orange Italian Meringue Buttercream: (Please read all steps first before proceeding in order for the technique to be completely clear from start to finish).

1. Combine water and sugar in a pot. Mix water and sugar with fingers to make sugar is lump-free.

2. Heat water and sugar to 238 F (soft ball stage) and add corn syrup to water/sugar mixture as soon it looses yellow color and it becomes clear. Be sure to watch it closely and attentively.

3. Test the temperature of the sugar by numbing finger in ice-cold water, quickly dipping finger in hot water/sugar mixture, and re-dipping finger right back into cold water. Form the cooled sugar into a ball with your hands. Drop ball onto a flat surface. Sugar is ready when it makes a sound when it reaches the surface and when it doesn’t sink in while resting.If you would rather avoid using this procedure, you can also use a candied thermometer and test the sugar until it reaches 238 F.


4. Begin to whisk egg whites at high speed when sugar has reached or is close to reaching 238 F. Decrease speed to medium after about five seconds, just after egg whites have been broken up.

5. Begin to slowly add the hot sugar to egg whites while egg whites continue to whip, meringue is soft, and yellow color is gone. Be sure to pour sugar from the side of the mixing bowl so that it doesn’t go flying everywhere. Whip meringue/238 F sugar until the bottom of the mixing bowl has cooled off and feels lukewarm to the touch.

6. Add pieces of butter continuously to mixture when egg whites are fluffy and stiff peaks are close to being formed. Stop whipping when buttercream looks fluffy and stiff peaks form.

Store in freezer for 6-8 months. Recondition buttercream before use by warming it up over a double boiler and whipping it until fluffy.

Ingredients for Candied Citrus Peel:

1 orange

2 oz sugar

2 oz water

Recipe/Procedure for Candied Citrus Peel:

1. Scrub oranges in hot water and pat them dry.

2. Cut off pieces of orange peel and cut orange peel into thin strips. Be sure to exclude as much of the white part as possible to decrease extra bitterness.

3. Throw orange peel strips into a pot of boiling water and cook for about 30 seconds. Strain citrus peel.

4. Fill same pot with new water and bring it to a boil. Throw citrus peel into pot and cook for about 30 seconds and strain. Repeat blanching process once more.

5. Meanwhile, combine sugar and water into a pot and cook over medium heat until all the sugar has completely dissolved to create a simple syrup.

6. Bring simple syrup to a boil and cook blanched orange peel in a gentle simmer in the simple syrup until peel is translucent and tender. You must taste the peel to know if it’s fully cooked. Strain citrus peel.

7. Roll citrus peel in granulated sugar.

Ingredients for Orange Cream Phyllo Cups:
orange italian meringue buttercream
candied orange peel
12 sheets of phyllo dough
melted butter
Recipe/Procedure for Orange Cream Phyllo Cups:
1. On a dry work surface place 1 sheet of phyllo. Lightly brush melted butter over the entire sheet of phyllo. Place a second sheet of phyllo over the first sheet and brush with melted butter. Continue until 6 sheets of phyllo stacked on top of each other.
2. Make 2″ marks vertically and horizontally along the edges of the rectangle of phyllo. Cut the stacked phyllo rectangle into equal pieces by cutting lengthwise and then widthwise. At this point you should have 24 cut squares of phyllo dough. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to create 24 additional squares and end up with a total of 48 phyllo dough squares.
3. Gently press each cut square of phyllo into mini-muffin tin cups.
4. Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes until the edges of the phyllo are golden. Allow phyllo cups to cool off completely.
5. Meanwhile recondition orange italian meringue buttercream by warming it up over a double-boiler and whipping it until light and fluffy. Fill a pastry bag that has a #5 star tip.
6. Pipe orange meringue buttercream into phyllo cups. Finish by placing a piece of candied citrus peel on the tip of the buttercream.

dark chocolate & orange wontons • a purposeful shortcut

sweet-lab.com

It’s the weekend. Happy? Yes. Would be happier if it was Friday night, right? Maybe, depending on your work schedule. Although Sunday is my fun day, it has never been as fun as Saturday because it’s just a bit too close to Monday. Make sense? Great.

sweet-lab.com

Anyways….it’s the weekend nonetheless and it’s just one more day that I don’t have to wake up in the wee hours of the morning. That’s a good thing. Sometimes I feel that the only other cursed ones awake at 5:00 am are the cockroaches in the nearby alley.

sweet-lab.com

It’s during the weekend when I get to write this blog and bake up a storm and I enjoy that to the max. This weekend, however, I’m taking a bit of shortcut. You know, kind of like that shortcut that you take to get home 10 minutes quicker than your guests who are about to arrive with booze while you are still at the grocery store buying plastic cups.

That’s kind of what I did in the kitchen. Scaling ingredients was not required. Dirtying bowls and whisks was not necessary. Preparation time did not exceed 10 minutes. But let me clarify something: taking a shortcuts is not equal to cheating.

sweet-lab.com

Shortcuts are okay, I have concurred. As long as there is a legitimate reason for taking them. As long as they work. As long as the final product, in the words of a nerdy design teacher I once had, “Wows” your audience.

sweet-lab.com

Modern Art and Cubism may serve as examples of what I’m trying to explain. Five blue/black strokes painted horizontally across a large white canvas may seem as a cheap shortcut to some, but I’m sure that the artist had a reason for taking such simplistic style and approach. We may never know what his/her motivation was, but in my opinion if the art form makes you question things or strike up a conversation and/or any brain activity, then it has done part of its job successfully.

sweet-lab.com

sweet-lab.com

I won’t even TRY to compare myself to such ingenious artists, but sometimes I do make things seem little more simple for myself and for the audience and I’m totally okay with that. My reasons for taking today’s shortcut? I’m simply a bit busy with chores/work and feeling sluggish this weekend. I also have leftover dark chocolate, candied citrus peel, and simple syrup from last weekend’s recipe that are calling my name. Orange and dark chocolate go wonderfully together. Are those not considered to be legitimate reasons? I know, maybe not….I’m sorry, but I didn’t say we would agree on everything 🙂

sweet-lab.com

So I can’t promise you that I will “wow” you like a true artist would with this dessert. I’m just simply taking a shortcut. I will call it: A purposeful shortcut!

sweet-lab.com

Ingredients:

dark chocolate, roughly chopped

candied orange peel

wonton wrappers

water or egg wash

orange zest

vegetable oil

3 oz sugar

3 oz water

(honey)

Procedure/Recipe:

1. Make candied orange citrus peel. Click this link to a get a full and detailed description of steps with pictures.

2. Make simple syrup: combine sugar and water in a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat until all sugar dissolves. Set aside.

3. Prepare wonton wrappers, chopped chocolate, candied orange peel, and water/egg wash in front of you to assemble.

4. Place some chocolate over a wonton wrapper. (Note: Try to add a bit more chocolate than what the pictures show because after frying them, the wontons puffed up and there was a bit of a hollow space inside that the melted chocolate didn’t completely fill up. I think that more chocolate could have been added to fill up the cavity more fully. Simply stack more chocolate on top so that the sides of the wonton wrapper can fold over without hitting the chocolate).

5. Place candied orange peel over the chocolate.

6. Brush some water or egg wash along the sides of the wrapper. You can apply the water/egg wash with your fingers as well.

7. Fold the sides of the wonton wrapper over to seal.

8. Heat up vegetable oil in a small sauce pan and fry until golden brown, about 30 seconds per side.

9. Place fried wontons over a napkin to soak up excess oil.

10. Finish with a pinch of orange zest and a drizzle of simple syrup or honey.

sweet-lab.com

sweet-lab.com

Is this shortcut okay with you?

orange supremes with candied citrus peel and syrup

sweet-lab.com

Please allow me to present to you a very simple and healthy plated dessert that will satisfy your sweet cravings.

sweet-lab.com

I know, I know. If you’re craving brownies, you want brownies. If you want/need a soft, warm, and gigantic chocolate chip cookie, then you need to get a soft, warm, and gigantic chocolate chip cookie. Somehow, someway, and you’ll do whatever it takes.

sweet-lab.com

And of course today, just like every day, my sweet tooth was active and it needed its dose of sweetness. This sweet tooth of mine is extremely demanding as you may figure.

sweet-lab.com

sweet-lab.com

Luckily, these oranges with candied citrus peel and simple syrup completely subdued those cravings. They did way more than that. They comforted me and captivated me. Just you wait and see. I think you’ll be pretty captivated yourself…especially if you add greek yogurt to the mix. Oh my God, yes!

sweet-lab.com

This medley of citrusy, bitter, and sweet flavors began to unfold in my mind this morning and a few minutes later this delightful creation was on my plate. How nice!

Ingredients:

2-3 oranges

3 oz natural cane turbinado sugar (ex: sugar in the raw)

3 oz water

granulated sugar

(greek yogurt)

Procedure/Recipe:

1. Scrub oranges in hot water and pat them dry.

2. Cut strips off orange peel. For this you may use a citrus zester. I started doing that at first..

but since my citrus zester is not that great, I switched to the good old pairing knife and cut the orange peel into very thin strips. 3. Throw orange peel strips into a pot of boiling water and cook for about 30 seconds. Strain citrus peel.

4. Fill same pot with new water and bring it to a boil. Throw citrus peel into pot and cook for about 30 seconds and strain. Repeat blanching process once more.

5. Meanwhile, combine sugar and water into a pot and cook over medium heat until all the sugar has completely dissolved to create a simple syrup.

6. Bring simple syrup to a boil and cook blanched orange peel in a gentle simmer in the simple syrup until peel is translucent and tender. You must taste the peel to know if it’s fully cooked. Strain citrus peel over a bowl so that you can reserve the simple syrup. (The simple syrup absorbs some of the citrus flavor from the orange peel. Tart/bitter/sweet=yummy).

7. Roll citrus peel in granulated sugar.

8. Cut both ends off the orange and peel skin off from pole to pole with a paring knife. This technique is called peler a vif.

9.  Supreme and cut orange into wedges by slice out each segment by cutting in towards the center of the fruit along the membranes/walls.

10. Assemble Dessert: Arrange orange segments onto a plate. Drizzle simple syrup over orange segments and finish with a bit of candied citrus peel.

sweet-lab.com

Like I said before, you can also add greek yogurt. So delicious.

blueberry-lemon stuffed cupcakes • no story here

sweet-lab.com

Hello? Anybody there?…

Well if you are, I have very good news.

Remember the last entry I wrote? It was the first entry of sweet-lab…the one where I blabbed about the stupendous ratio for quick cakes. The ratio was 2:2:1:1: (2-flour, 2-liquid, 1-egg, 1-butter). Let me take just a second to remind you that I took that quick cake ratio to create a Chocolate-Vanilla Ice-cream Sandwich  recipe.

Well anyways, guess what? That same ratio that is used to make quick cakes and quick breads is the same ratio that is used to make muffins and/or cup cakes. If you think about it, the texture and consistency of a quick cake, a cupcake, and muffin are very close — a cupcake  does seem a little less dense and sweeter than a muffin, but you get the point. A cupcake is also frosted, whereas a muffin isn’t and many recipes use shortening instead of butter. To view more differences and similarities among the two please view this foodie blog I have stumbled upon, but please do come back!

BUT how cool is that? How cool is it that we can take one ratio and come up with two completely different sweet creations?!

I simply used the 2:2:1:1 ratio, thought of the star ingredients for this recipe, and came up with delicious blueberry-lemon cupcakes.  Last week I took the same ratio and modified the ingredients to create something chocolaty. So far we have one ratio, two recipes, and the list of yummy creations could keep going on and on. Before I tell you all about this recipe, let me take a quick pause to ….

sweet-lab.com

Alright, I’ve been keeping up with some food blogs for sometime and there seems to be a trend…a certain formula that many bloggers seem to follow when submitting entries. This formula may already be very evident and familiar to you. The recipe that is presented is most likely accompanied by a story or a quick personal anecdote… an anecdote that just so happens to make the connection between the recipe that is presented and the story appear to be – oh so natural.

If you haven’t noticed this trend in blogs, perhaps you have noticed it in some of the cooking shows in the Food Network. That theme is the key that pushes the show forward and ties everything together at the end. Do you see it now? Okay good. If you don’t see it, you will after watching just one episode of the Italian woman who sounds so American even when she exaggeratedly pronounces panceta and mozzarella with an Italian accent..

Well, I don’t have one of those today. I think that the personal story is a pretty amusing element to include in food blogs, since it gives a personal touch to each recipe that is being showcased. However, I’m telling you that I won’t always be including a personal anecdote about my happy childhood in Spain in which I spent eating magdalenas for merienda time or about my awkward teenage years which I spent listening to the Backstreet Boys while munching on chocolate, which only made my breaking out episodes worse. Sometimes I like to be less sentimental about things. Sometimes I like to experiment and create new recipes solely for the reason that I want to create something new or because an idea popped into my head–without any story or connection being arranged simultaneously. I hope that is alright with you 🙂

For example, I won’t go through the trouble of trying to tie a recipe to a personal story that explains why I inevitably had to try to recreate a lemon pound cake on June 17th of this summer (the last day of school) because my grandmother would always bake me such cake at the very beginning of my summer vacation. That would seem lovely and all, but it would also be false. So let’s keep it real shall we?

On the other hand and to contradict everything I have previously mentioned, I’m sure that there will always be a story of some sort, as the entire process and elaboration of creating a recipe can be quite a story in itself. So once upon a time…

sweet-lab.com

Research Question: Will these cupcakes bring out a fine balance between the two flavors (blueberry and lemon) while both making a strong stance?

Hypothesis:

– the maple syrup and the blueberry jam will add extra sweetness to the cupcakes, which will battle against the sourness of the lemon zest, lemon juice, and blueberries.

– using cake flour will make for a lighter cupcake that resembles…well, cake! A cupcake is basically like a little piece of cake after all.

– the combination of the lemon zest and the lemon juice that is found in the batter will yield an extra lemony and citrusy cupcake. The lemon zest that is found in the frosting will also contribute to that citrusy flavor.

Materials/Ingredients:

scale

8 oz cake flour

4 oz sugar (2 oz white sugar, 2 oz light brown sugar)

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons of baking powder

8 oz of liquid (6 oz of buttermilk, 2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice)

4 oz eggs (2 large eggs)

4 oz vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons of maple syrup

1 ½ Tablespoons of lemon zest

About ½ cup of wild blueberries

1 jar of wild blueberry preserves or marmalade for filling

Materials/Ingredients for Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 oz softened cream cheese

4 oz mascarpone cheese

8 oz or 1 cup of powder sugar

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 tablespoon of lemon zest

**Yield: 10 cupcakes**

Procedure/Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 10 cupcake tins with paper liners.

sweet-lab.com

Sift the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together into a bowl.  In a different large bowl, combine the buttermilk, lemon juice, eggs, melted butter, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and lemon zest. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk to combine. Gently fold in the wild blueberries to the wet batter and scoop into greased paper liners.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick has been inserted and comes out clean. Remove to a rack and allow to cool completely.

sweet-lab.com

Meanwhile, whisk the cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, powder sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon zest to make the frosting.

When cupcakes are cool core the center of each cupcake using a cupcake corer and fill each hole with blueberry jam or lemon-cream cheese frosting. Your choice! You can simply frost the cupcake using a spatula or get fancier with icing bags, tips, and more.

Enjoy!

sweet-lab.com

Observations: The 3 hypotheses for this experiment were proven and confirmed. These cupcakes taste citrusy, lemony, fresh, and sweet. The blueberry and the lemon flavors don’t compete with one another, but rather work together to make a powerful and well-balanced cupcake. The sweetness of the sugar and the maple syrup cancel out the sourness of the fruit completely, and the refreshing characteristics of the lemon zest and lemon juice lingers in your mouth. The frosting is very smooth and makes a nice accompaniment to the cupcake itself.

sweet-lab.com

Results/Conclusion: Nothing much else to say, except that I really enjoyed these blueberry-lemon stuffed cupcakes and I hope you do as well!