Ruby Chocolate with Pear

Ruby chocolate with pear and a drizzle of white chocolate. Tasty. And you know how it’s satisfying to unwrap a piece of foil, especially if you spread it out really flat? It’s also sort of satisfying to wrap one, it turns out. Odd that it’s nice, but it is.

Sugar Cookies for the ICU Staff

I haven’t made sugar cookies in quite a while, and oh, when you don’t do things for a bit, you forget all the little technique tricks — or maybe that’s just me. I got pretty frustrated trying to ice these cookies — first the icing was too thick and wouldn’t come out cleanly, then I added too much hot water and made it too thin, which made a big mess. Sigh.

Finally I got it just right, and it was so easy after that, though it means my end results are very far from professional in neatness. I should’ve taken a few minutes to get the consistency right before trying to ice! But in the end, happy enough with how they came out, and hopefully the ICU staff will appreciate them.

At least this way, it’s clear they’re homemade, right? 

Thanks, healthcare workers. I wish I could feed you all cookies.

Sugar cookie recipe from Sweetopia (and yes, use the real vanilla bean, it makes a difference), royal icing recipe from Alton Brown.

Getting Silly with Leftovers

Ruby and white chocolate blended, with passionfruit marshmallow bits. I made passionfruit marshmallows to send out to some ICU staff, and that involves cutting off the edges (to leave neat squares), and I can’t stand wasting food, so I end up doing silly things like this with the leftover bits.

Dragonfruit Marshmallows

The flavor of the dragonfruit comes through more strongly in marshmallows than in chocolate, so it’s a little startling if you’re not used to that flavor! Honestly, I will pick passionfruit over dragonfruit any day.

But that said, it’s interesting and fruity, I’ll happily eat a few in a row, and if you’re looking to make a pretty dessert without using food coloring, this is a great option — it’s just colored with pure dehydrated dragonfruit powder.

I’m going to try dipping in chocolate and sprinkling more dragonfruit powder on the top — will report back with more photos, next week, probably. 

*****

Dragonfruit Marshmallows, with Honey, Lime, and White Pepper

1/2 c. lime juice
1/4 t. white pepper
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 T dragonfruit powder
1/2 c. water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
butter (for greasing the pan)

1. Add lime juice, white pepper, gelatin and dragonfruit powder to the bowl of stand mixer (whisk attachment). Stir briefly to combine.

(NOTE: If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can make marshmallows in a large bowl with a hand mixer — you just have to be willing to hold and beat it for 12 minutes. Prep the pan and spatula for the marshmallows ahead of time.)

2. In a small saucepan (a bigger one will be heavy and hard to hold steadily at a later stage) combine water, granulated sugar, honey, and salt. Cover and cook over medium high heat for 4 minutes. Uncover and cook until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (240 degrees if you have a candy thermometer), approximately 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from heat; if it continues, it will swiftly turn into hard candy.

3. Turn mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. (Be very careful with the sugar syrup, as it is scaldingly hot and will burn you badly if it gets on your skin.) Once you’ve added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high.

4. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 minutes.

5. While it’s whipping, butter a large 9 x 12 pan and dust with powdered sugar. Prepare an oiled spatula.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly (and swiftly) with an oiled spatula.

7. Dust the top with enough of the remaining powdered sugar to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

8. Turn onto a board, cut into squares and dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining powdered sugar, using additional if necessary. May be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, or frozen.

Dragonfruit Nebula Bars: Recipe

Recipe below. But first: In the far reaches of the galaxy, the Dragonfruit Nebulae lie. Amid rocky crags, the gilded dragons guard their gemstone horde. Sparks of citrus and pepper dance in dark caverns. Once you taste their seductive wiles, you may find yourself unable to resist returning, again and again.

Heh. If I were going to work with dragonfruit, I knew I wanted to do a diamondscale bar (along with a scattering of gemstones), and gild it — I love how the combo of dragonfruit powder and edible gold came out. Gorgeous.

But what about the taste? Dragonfruit itself has a surprisingly delicate flavor, and while the concentrated powder is lovely to the tongue, once you mix that powder with white chocolate, it fades to just a hint of fruitiness. It needed something more.

A dragon-themed bar had to have some kind of heat, and while I do cayenne chocolates, cayenne would overpower the dragonfruit here. White pepper is perfect, a subtle heat that lingers on the tongue. And the citric acid doesn’t dissolve into the melted chocolate — instead, it dances on the tongue, little pinpricks of tang amidst the sea of fruity sweetness.

My test for a sweet, deciding whether it deserves a name, is whether it’s sufficiently ‘more-ish’. Do I find myself coming back to my island counter, breaking off another little bit to pop in my mouth again and again? This one definitely qualifies. 

*****

Dragonfruit Nebulae Chocolate
(makes two bars)

2 c. white chocolate, melted (1/2 power in microwave, 3-4 minutes, stirring once or twice)
2 t. dragonfruit powder
1/2 t. white pepper
1/2 t. citric acid
additional dragonfruit powder and edible gold dust for decoration, optional

1. Combine ingredients, stirring. Pour into mold and let set for a few hours, until firm.

2. Unmold, and if desired, gild with dragonfruit powder and edible gold dust. Eat and enjoy!

Pretty Without Gilding

Dragonfruit Nebulae chocolates: They are still very pretty without gilding, especially when poured into cool molds. While I love the dragon scale effect of the bars, I did do a bunch of little individual chocolates; those will be better for parties and tasting events. One set in gemstone shapes (so dragon!), and the other with intricate detailing on the tops.

Redbud & Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Fairy food! I had a redbud for a few years, but I didn’t realize the flowers were edible. Once someone told me they were, I had to try experimenting. (We’ve kept our garden pesticide-free for ten years now, which makes it much easier to eat out of it!)

To be honest, I find that the flowers, like most, have almost no flavor — if I eat them on their own, I can taste a very faint sweetness, slightly nutty. But put them in a cucumber sandwich, and you have a teatime treat to brighten any fairy’s heart!

My daughter was a little suspicious — ‘flowers aren’t for eating!’ But I convinced her to try, and she admitted that the cucumber sandwiches were quite yummy. Of course, I think she mostly likes the butter…

Whitefish Bagel

With the New Year, I’m trying to more consciously eat plenty of fish (and serve it to my kids).  I’ve been eating lox and bagels for years, but only recently have I discovered whitefish salad.  I think it was at my friends Ellen and Delia’s apartment in New York, where we had a weekend writing workshop and they laid out a beautiful bagel spread with lox and multiple fish spreads, along with everything else you might want.  SO GOOD.

Next up in the queue is figuring out how to make my own whitefish salad (please do feel free to point me to your favorite recipes!), but for right now, I’m very happy that my local Whole Foods carries ‘whitefish paté’ in their seafood case.  Toast a bagel, layer it up with lettuce, tomato, capers, red onion (not pictured, because I was out, but trust me, that makes it even better), and you have yourself a delicious breakfast.

(And for those counting calories, if you pile this all on a mini bagel, it’s still only about 200 calories, which is kind of amazing.  Have two!)