Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

It’s annual pie party time!

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Every year one of my friends here in Milwaukee holds a pie party. You bring a pie and everyone votes for their favorite. This year, in a new twist, there was both a savory AND a sweet category.

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Contests like this remind me that there are times in my life when I get competitive. It’s rare. After all, I purposefully work in a field that is about as un-competitive as you can get (art education!). But when it happens, watch out.

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Happily for my baking ego, I won the sweet category with this doozy of a pie! And my pal who for two years running has gotten first place still won, taking the savory category with a cheddar tomato pie (yum). Everyone wins! Well, okay, two of us win. But you get the picture.

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

I was a little worried that this tart wouldn’t be pie-ish enough for a pie party, so I baked it in a pie pan (that’s not cheating, is it?) and threw caution to the wind. Who could turn down something that combines local honey, almond butter, and chocolate ganache? And on top of that is nearly no-bake? Not this girl, that’s for sure.

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Surprisingly, I’m not the biggest pie person (I tend to go only for apple pie, and that’s mainly for the pie dough), and I especially hate mousse-y pies, but this thing… wow. I’m into it.

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

First, the crust is vanilla shortbread, which is so easy it’s ridiculous (no rolling pan required! Just press it in). Second, the filling is a cream cheese, almond butter, and honey combo…

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Which you fold with whipped cream to make it light and fluffy, but still tangy and nutty and sweet. And THEN you top it off with the baking world’s best invention, chocolate ganache.

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Throw it all in the fridge and you’re set. It’s a bit ridiculous how easy it is for such an awesome payoff. Easy to make ahead, too!

Honey Almond Butter Tart with Chocolate Ganache

And, not only is it easy, but now it’s award winning. So the next time you need to win a pie contest, you know what recipe to turn to. You’re welcome!

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Lemon Berry Pie

Lemon Berry Ginger Pie

I’m back for a post with my very first pie!

Lemon Berry Ginger Pie

I made this for a friend’s pie-bake-off party. I wasn’t totally pleased with the result but for a first try pie, it was pretty good. (Plus I did get some compliments, so my baker’s ego isn’t totally ruined! 😉 Especially since I handmade the pie dough!)

Lemon Berry Ginger Pie

I would make this again but next time would definitely invest in the crystallized ginger the recipe calls for, since without it the streusel is pretty lame and not zingy enough. I really liked the addition of a quick lemon curd glaze as a prettier topping, though! Also, the pie dough is rolled out rather thick–about 1/4″–but it’s a good choice since the berries have a lot of water in them and the juice will bubble over.

Lemon Berry Ginger Pie

Finally, I’m excited to say that I’m participating in another event at Anthropologie this summer! They’re holding events for local women to talk about something they’re passionate about and I’m reprising my role as baker-in-residence on August 1 at 6 PM. I hope you’ll come join me if you’re local! I’ll be bringing treats for sure.

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Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts

You guys. I finally bought a doughnut pan.

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts

I couldn’t resist. They’re the only thing I’ve wanted to bake lately. And you can’t make doughnuts without a doughnut pan. (Well, I guess you could, but I’m not into deep frying.)

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts

I blame my friend AJ, who started this madness, and Tracy from Shutterbean, whose recipe I used– I love her blog (and you should definitely listen to her on the Joy the Baker Podcast)!

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts

These are delicious and are super fluffy, so you barely realize you’re eating baked doughnuts instead of fried. They’re going into work with me tomorrow because even I cannot eat six doughnuts in one night. So… two lucky people are going to be getting doughnuts tomorrow.

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but grad school certainly keeps a girl busy. Happily, I can now fuel my studies with doughnuts.

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Interlude: Los Angeles

Hello, there! I’ve just gotten back from a vacation to Los Angeles. I was visiting for a dear friend’s wedding (pictured above). It was pretty much the most beautiful wedding I have ever seen… and she made everything herself! When she gets on all the fancy wedding blogs (as I know she will), I will post links. Until then, feast your eyes on the prettiness above. Sigh!

Aside from dancing for four hours straight under the stars surrounded by peonies and chevron table runners, my vacation consisted mainly of three of my most favorite things (sometimes all three at the same time! Awesomeness overload). Let’s list them through Instagram pictures. These things are:

Art museums!!! (Specifically: LACMA, Getty Center, and Getty Villa.)

The Getty Center is basically art museum Disneyworld. You even take a monorail–I mean, tram–up to the galleries. Amazing.

The Getty Villa, meanwhile, is on the beach.

This beach. This pretty beach.

Beach toes in Malibu.

By the way, the beach is my second favorite thing. We went to lots of beaches. Like this one in Santa Monica.

We even ate macarons on the beach… Heaven.

Speaking of baked goods, that’s number three: BAKERIES! Yes–naturally I ate my way through Los Angeles.

There may have been some arugula and other greens in there somewhere (see above bianco pizza)…

But mainly it was macarons… like this earl grey tea one from Bottega Louie

Or croissants, like this twice-baked one from Short Cake in the super fun and overwhelming Farmers Market…

Or cake, like this hazelnut coffee cake from Semi Sweet Bakery

Or cupcakes. A given. From Sprinkles. We might have gotten four and eaten them within 12 hours.

This one was the black & white one–I also loved the strawberry. Ah-mazing.

We also went to a movie studio and saw the Hollywood sign (and Brad Pitt).

And, I even met Sara Tso from Matchbox Kitchen at an adorable little bakery in Pasadena, Euro Pane! Their ginger scones were really good (something I need to re-create), and she is super sweet!

Most of my days started with treats from Bottega Louie, since it was conveniently (dangerously?) near our hotel… I got a couple of these guys for the plane ride home. I just can’t resist pearl sugar.

Reviewing all of the sweets I ate over the past week, it’s probably no wonder I’m all about the green smoothies this weekend, huh?

More baking soon–until then, don’t mind me, I’ll just be dreaming of L.A. (minus that traffic)…

Tasting Tuesdays: Coconut Raspberry Crumble

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Let’s make people smile today. Ready?

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Get yourself some raspberry preserves. Round up some coconut.

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Put them in pretty little jars for an extra added touch. No one but you will know your ingredients were in pretty little jars before they got baked up together, but it’ll make them taste better. Trust me.

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Stir together butter, flour, a smidge of sugar, a heap of super-shredded coconut and make yourself some shortbread. That’s right. I said stir. With a spoon. And some elbow grease. You don’t even need your Kitchenaid for this one.

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Bake it up, let it cool, spread more than an entire jar of sweet raspberry preserves and sprinkle with a generous helping of more coconut. Bake again and get that coconut all crisp and chewy on top.

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Then hand them out. Give them to your friends. Give them to your coworkers. Give them to folks on the street who look like they’re having a bummer day.

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Give them to the sweet ladies who work at Anthropologie. Give them to all the customers who walked in for a perfect chambray shirt who will then walk out with raspberry coconut crumble on their chins (and a hole in their wallet in the shape of said perfect chambray shirt–not that I’m talking from personal experience or anything).

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And watch those smiles come!

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Meanwhile, you’ll be smiling because the Anthropologie display is, um, the best one yet. Of course, I have a completely biased love of handwriting. This might also explain why I have fallen in love with the Donna Hay Seasons book, which this recipe is from–all the descriptions and comments are handwritten in pretty, looping script. Kim did such a great job emulating the design of the book in this month’s display!

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Okay, so admittedly this lost a bit of credibility for your life, dear reader, once I veered into Anthropologie territory–I mean, I can’t guarantee success if you walked into one of the stores with a panful of crumble and offered it up in the dressing room.

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But, like I said: Smiles? Yes. For sure. Definitely. Go break out the coconut.

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Blood Orange Curd

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You might think this is a Valentine’s Day post.

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After all, there’s a lot of pink happening here, and the scones are cut into heart shapes.

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But you’re WRONG! Wrong, I say. This is not a post about Valentine’s day, but it is a post about love… Love for Downton Abbey.

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Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you? (Well, maybe you were. Everybody in the world is in love with Downton Abbey. Don’t know what it is? I’m so sorry. It’s the best TV show ever. Go educate yourself immediately.)

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So why the scones? My coworkers are having a Downton Abbey-themed luncheon tomorrow. That’s right. We are gathering in the conference room over our lunch break and watching Downton Abbey while we eat a potluck English feast. (Pretty much the snazziest coworkers ever, I know.)

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Naturally I had to make scones. And obviously some sort of curd had to go along with them.

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I was envisioning lemon curd until I saw the blood oranges at the grocery store. That was it. I love blood oranges. I am not a fan of any other kind of oranges, but I will take sweet, juicy blood oranges any day.

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This blood orange curd is super-easy, sweet and just a little bit tart, and goes perfectly with my favorite scone recipe, which is subtle and creamy. Not to mention it is a beautiful pink color.

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I don’t really think the Crawleys would have been into blood orange curd. It’s a little exotic and I’m 99% sure not at all historically accurate. The Countess would surely have turned up her nose, although I bet Lady Sybil would have been on board. But I have a feeling these will be a hit at the luncheon tomorrow, historical accuracy be darned!

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Interlude: Paris & Lucerne

Oh… Hey there. So… I went on vacation and didn’t tell you. I just snuck off on a big plane and ate my weight in macarons, chocolate, and fondue. I’m sorry. I hope these photos of my trip make up for it. (By the way, I came home from Paris, France and Lucerne, Switzerland with, inexplicably, the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. It is glorious. There might be homemade crack pie coming your way soon to make up for my absence.)

Hotel sweets

View from hotel

Evening in Paris

Someone lives here

Arc de Triomphe

Gold and grey

A hint of La Tour Eiffel

Eiffel Tower

View from the Eiffel Tower

La Defense

3 euro

Sightseeing

Pont des arts

Nike

Mona Lisa and paparazzi

Key on a frame

Photography class in the Louvre

Above: Paris

Below: Lucerne

Swiss chocolate

Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne, Switzerland

Kapelbrucke

Kapelbrucke

Pilatus Kulm

Lucerne from 7,000 feet

Weekend Coffee

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I really love coffee. If you had told me when I was in high school that I would even be able to stomach coffee, I would have thought you were crazy. But then I went abroad — to Italy — and that was that. Espresso, freshly made by host mother every morning, combined with a rich latte every afternoon, simply did me in, and now I’m addicted.

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Every so often the fact that I’m technically addicted to a drug (caffeine) floats into my mind. Every so often (like this week) I drink a bit too much coffee and am off the wall all afternoon and evening. At those moments I worry about myself a little bit. But most of the time coffee is a treat to savor and enjoy while I click through my inbox in the morning… Or, on the weekends, while I push emails out of my mind and watch the clouds floating over the lake outside my window, and the changing trees, now leafless, trying fruitlessly to resist the Midwest wind.

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This month’s Tasting Tuesdays cookbook gave me the idea to brew my usual French pressed coffee with a dash of cardamom, so I thought I’d share here my favorite way to make coffee.

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It might not be your favorite way to make coffee. (I think my mom, for one, would not think that this is brewed anywhere near strong enough.) But try it and tweak it and make it your favorite.

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And may it make your weekday inbox dealings more pleasant, and your weekends all the sweeter. Continue reading

Garlic Kale Chips

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I’m cheating on sugar.

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Don’t tell. I think sugar’s feelings would be hurt. Along with flour and butter. They’d probably be pretty upset, too.

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Green things usually don’t do it for me. Sometimes I get on a salad kick–but they’ve always got to be followed up with cookies or brownies or scones or something. My sweet tooth is very demanding.

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That is, unless there’s garlic involved. Then the scales are slightly tilted in healthy stuff’s favor.

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These kale chips are super crispy, thin, a little salty, and garlicky. They’re not at all like eating potato chips, but somehow you still don’t realize you’re eating something that’s actually healthy. (It’s true. This “dark, leafy green” is in fact a superfood. Gwyneth says so.) … (Did I just seriously embarrass myself by admitting I read GOOP? Oops.)

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If you are feeling guilty about all the brown sugar and cinnamon and butter I’ve been feeding you lately, make yourself some kale chips. And feel happy. Continue reading