Monday, November 26, 2007

Foster's Homemade Granola



This granola recipe is from Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster. It's one of my favorite cookbooks- i've made a good number of the soups, salads, and desserts. I like that they're fresh and well spiced.

This granola is very crispy, light, and fresh tasting. I love it with yogurt. I've never had the dried fruit on hand when making this recipe and the granola tastes fine without it.

Foster's Homemade Granola
adapted from Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster
Makes about 6 cups

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup sliced almonds
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup canola or safflower oil, plus more for greasing the pan
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 275.
2. Spread the oats, coconut, and almonds on a large baking sheet with sides. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the ingredients are lightly toasted but not yet golden. Transfer the ingredients to a large bowl.
3. Increase the oven temperature to 350. Lightly grease the baking sheet with oil or spray with vegetable oil.
4. Stir the maple syrup, oil, and honey together in a small bowl, pour over the oats, nuts, and coconut, and toss to coat evenly. Spread the granola onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the granola is just crispy and golden brown, stirring several times while baking. Let the granola cool completely on the baking sheet, breaking up any large clumps while it is still warm.
5. When the granola has cooled completely, add the dried fruit and toss to mix. In an airtight container, this will keep at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Easy Gingerbread Cakes.

Gingerbread Cakes

I love gingerbread. Generally I love all things involving any combination of molasses, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, ginger, and cardamom.

Every year I look foward to the arrival of Bahlsen christmas cookies. Prestogeorge Coffee in the Strip District usually has the best selection. Mon Aimee Chocolat also has a small selection this year. I'm extremely partial to the Contessas. My family has a history of going through Contessas like hotcakes. Sometimes we hide them from eachother.

I like this recipe because it's easy. I usually omit the blueberries or substitute chocolate chips. I also add about 1/4 tsp of cloves. Also, I never use an 11x7 pan; I use muffin tins or small cake pans and reduce the baking time.

The cake is soft and delivers Christmas flavors without bashing you over the head with them. It's a good solution for people who complain about too much molasses, too much ginger, etc.

Blueberry Gingerbread

1/2 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup fresh blueberries or frozen blueberries
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
With mixer, beat together oil, 1 C sugar, salt and molasses.
Beat in egg.
Combine flour, spices and baking soda, dredge blueberries with 2 Tbsp of mixture.
Add remaining flour mixture to first mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating after each addition.
Stir in blueberries.
Pour into a greased and floured 12 x 7 baking dish.
Sprinkle top with remaining 2 Tbsp sugar.
Bake for 35- 40 minutes.
Cut into squares and serve warm with butter.

Green Tea Kasutera

Green Tea Kasutera

I remember the first time I saw someone eat cake and milk; my uncle Bob piled four or five slices of leftover lemon cake in a bowl, drenched them in milk and proceeded to eat them as though they were breakfast cereal. I thought it seemed ridiculously decadent and I suspected my parents wouldn't really approve. Soon, one of my childhood comforts was eating cake and milk and watching tv whenever my parents left the house.

It's not nearly as exciting anymore, but I still enjoy it on occasion. Especially with this green tea sponge cake. The honey in the cake pairs nicely with milk. I don't have a tube pan; I usually just make it in a 10 or 12 inch cake pan.

Green Tea Kasutera
reposted from

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 large eggs, separated
1 cup cake flour, sifted
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon green tea powder or unsweetened cocoa powder (optional-if using omit the lemon extract)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 C). Use parchment to line the bottom of a 10-inch tube pan, preferably with a removable bottom or 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans. Grease the parchment. In a large bowl, whisk 1 cup sugar, honey, vanilla, lemon extract, and salt into egg yolks. Place bowl in a large pan of hot water. With an electric mixer, beat about 5 minutes on medium-high speed until pale yellow and doubled in volume. Gently fold in sifted flour.

2. Wash beaters. In a large bowl, beat egg whites in electric mixer on a low speed 1 minute, increasing speed to medium-high. When foamy, sprinkle in 1 tablespoon sugar and cream of tartar. Beat until stiff but not dry. With a spatula, fold the egg whites in thirds. Pour batter into pan. Tap gently on the counter to remove air bubbles.

3. Bake on middle rack of oven 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. When done, cake sides will pull away from pan slightly; top will be flat and feel spongy when pressed with finger. Cool 20 minutes. Run a small knife between edge of cake and pan. Remove from pan carefully. Pull off parchment and cool completey. Serve or store airtight.

This recipe is adapted from the Kastutera recipe in "Japanese Cooking for the American Table" by Susan Fuller Slack.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Citrus Babas.

Here's an old photo I like. These are citrus babas from the Hidemi Sugino: The Dessert Book. They are yeasted pastries with a citrus compote folded in. They are soaked in an orange syrup and filled with a whipped cream lightened vanilla custard.

I'm not sure i'd make them again, pretty as they are. A biker acted like he was going to reach into the car and grab one as we drove past.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

I love apple crisp. My mom baked it, my dad brought it home from California Pizza Kitchen when it first opened (if they still have it, it is completely different,) and my friend Mike always made it for potlucks.

It's much easier to make than apple pie and it dresses up just as nicely, especially if you have ovenproof bowls like the one in the second picture. I believe my roommate got those plates from her grandmother. I've had trouble finding ovenproof plates and bowls that are economical, pretty, and lightweight.

Once again, there was no one here to eat this. This is the first Thanksgiving i've been alone (though i'm having lunch with a friend and his mother around 2.) I can't really complain- I had offers to go home with roommates, and I could have found a flight home if i'd made more of an effort. I thought some time alone to reflect would be good. In hindsight, this wasn't the best idea.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you all have a chance to share good food with the people you love.

Apple Crisp
adapted from The Foster's Market Cookbook by Sara Foster
6 cups peeled and sliced apples
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp corn starch
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 cup flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2inch cubes
1/2 tsp cloves
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, almonds, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a large bowl and stir to mix.

Add the butter and cut it into the mixture with a pastry blender or 2 knives until it resembles coarse meal.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 11x7x3 baking dish and set aside.

Combine the apples, sugar, flour, cornstarch, and lemon zest/juice in a bowl and stir to mix. Pour into the prepared baking dish.

Sprinkle topping evenly over the fruit and bake 40-45 minutes until the fruit is bubbling nd the top is crisp and golden brown. Serve warm.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nuts, reprised.

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

I made the Sweet and Spicy Nuts again for a potluck. They're addictive.

The Recipe.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mountain Meadow Chocolate Fudge Cake

Mountain Meadow Fudge Cake

Supposedly, Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor is the next feature for Joseph Beth's Cookbook Potluck Club.

The book says "desserts for the serious sweet tooth" on the front cover. Even though I love dessert, some of these recipes seem a little too intense for me (ie cheesecake milkshake.) Still, the book is beautifully designed and all the recipes have a happy, whimsical quality.

I decided to try this relatively simple chocolate cake recipe. It was well recieved at a potluck on Sunday. It's not the fanciest cake in the world, but it uses fairly simple ingredients and takes less than an hour to make.

The frosting might seem a little strange at first; while warm, it has a weird, oily consistency. Even if it seems a little thin, I recommend omitting the optional 1 cup of powdered sugar. Once the cake cools completely, the frosting will have hardened in to a decadent fudge layer that's best at room temperature. The toasted pecans are a great textural addition.

Mountain Meadow Chocolate Fudge Cake
adapted from Sticky Chewy Messy Gooey by Jill O'Connor
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup boiling water
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

For the icing:
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3 to 4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Brush a 9x13 inch baking pan with melted butter or spray with a nonstick spray.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.

Combine the butter, boiling water, and chocolate in a saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk gently until the butter and chocolate are melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the sugar. Quickly whisk in the buttermilk and then the eggs and vanilla. Using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients just until combined and a smooth batter forms, about 1 minute.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Combine the chocolate, butter, and buttermilk in a saucepan and cook, stirring over medium heat, until the chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla, salt, and 3 cups of the confectioners sugar. If you would like the icing sweeter and thicker, whisk in the remaining sugar to taste. Stir in the pecans.

Transfer the cake to a wire rack and pour the warm icing over the cake while it too is still warm in the pan. Let cool completely, then cut into squares and serve.

Mountain Meadow Fudge Cake

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cakes from Chocolate & Zucchini

Some of my favorite photos and recipes aren't in this blog, as I used to post my photos to picturing food. I'm going to start sharing these when school, work, and the band leave me with less time to bake. I hope they keep you entertained!

These recipes came from Clotilde's blog. They are a chocolate-pistachio cake and a simple butter cake with pears. Both cakes were fantastic; salted butter makes the pear cake especially rich and delicious, and the ganache adds extra elegance to the already striking 10inch pistacio cake.

The Chocolate Pistachio Surprise Cake recipe is here.

The Gateau de Mamy a la Poire recipe is here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rice Pudding with Dulce de Leche.

Rice Pudding w/ Dulce De Leche

Rice Pudding w/Dulce De Leche

I rarely eat rice pudding; I think I can count the number of times i've had it on one hand. Still, I think it's the epitome of comfort food: simple, good, and loaded with dairy.

I'm not sure I cooked this pudding long enough. I stopped about 15 minutes early because the rice started to feel very soft. Consequently, it came out very soupy but the flavor was amazing.

I used Chinese cassia cinnamon from Penzey's and Organic Valley whole milk. There is a huge difference in taste between a good organic milk and the grocery store brand. I recommend you go for the good milk if you're making a dessert where milk is the star ingredient.

I microwaved some dulce de leche in the ramekins to soften it, then dumped the cold pudding on top. It was a great combination- the silky texture of the caramel really stands out against the creamy pudding.

It was a good dessert to have on the first real day of snow.

Rich Risotto Rice Pudding
adapted from Jill O'Connor's Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey.
1/2 cup arborio rice
8 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean, split length-wise
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
freshly grated nutmeg (optional.)

Combine the rice, milk, sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and salt in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring every 5 minutes as the mixture starts to thicken, for about 30 minutes. Continue cooking until the rice is tender but not too mushy, about 15 minutes more. The milk will be thick and the rice tender, but the mixture will still be a little soupy, which is what you want. (As the pudding cools, it thickens, and if it is too thick while still hot, it will firm up into a thick, stodgy lump without the creaminess of a great rice pudding.)

In a bowl, whisk the yolks and cream together and stir into the rice pudding. Continue cooking the pudding for 2-3 minutes, until the eggs are cooked through and the pudding is creamy and glossy, but still fairly soupy. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Grate a little nutmeg into the pudding, if desired. Remove the vanilla bean. Pour the pudding into a serving bowl and press plastic wrap over the top to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2-3 hours. Serve cold.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Apple Cheesecake

Apple Cheesecake

Apple Cheesecake

This apple cheesecake seemed appropriate for fall. It has a touch of ground cinnamon and ginger and a layer of caramelized apples sitting on top of the graham cracker crust.

I wasn't sure which photos to pick. I thought the above two had a nice character to the color/texture, but I also took this one which was also interesting- less washed out, but busier.

I'm going to drop this off with the guys at Apple again. There's no way 3/4ths of a cheesecake is going to get eaten in my apartment. I'm also pretty picky about cheesecake texture. This cake is pretty light and similar to cheesecakes i've tried at Juniors.

I'm more partial to cheesecakes that are very dense and crumbly with a crust that is crunchy instead of soggy and dense. The crust recipe I used on Pichet Ong's Kabocha Squash Cheesecake is one of my favorites and next time i'll probably substitute it in.

Sometimes my baking really reflects my mood. I'm still stuck in an empty, stressful, unmotivated funk. Lots of friends have moved away and my new apartment building gives me less opportunities to cook for people. I'm not sure if I need to take a break or simply find a new outlet for my work.

Apple Cheesecake Brulee
adapted from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book
Apple Layer:
2 medium granny smith apples
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp heavy cream

Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/4 cups (150g) cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp granulated sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Cream Cheese Filling:
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup sour cream at room temp
1 tbsp corn starch
4 large eggs, at room temp

Brulee Topping:
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x3 springform pan. Cut an 18in square of heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap the foil around the outside of the pan.

2. Make the apple layer. Peel and core the apples and slice them in half. Cut them into 1/4 inch slices (don't cut too thin!) and place them in a bowl with the lemon juice, tossing the slices so they are evenly coated.

3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the butter is bubbling, add the apples and saute for 2 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar over the apple and continue to cook, stirring frequently until the apples are nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and continue to cook until the apples are tender, about 10 mins. Remove skillet from heat and set the apples aside to cool.

4. Make the crust: in a medium bowl combine the crumbs, sugar, and butter. Pat the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 8 minutes.

5. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool the crust completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325.

6. When the apples are cool, arrange a tight circle of slices, without overlapping them, around the edge of the pan, on top of the crust. Arrange another circle of slices in the center, covering the crust completely.

7. Make the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat until blended. Add the vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, ginger, sour cream, and corn starch and mix until well blended. At low speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

8. Scrape the batter over the apple layer. Place the pan in a roasting pan or large baking pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come about 1 inch up the side of the springform pan. Bake the cake in the water bath for 70 to 80 minutes, until the center is set but still slightly wobbly (the cake will continue to set up as it cools.) Remove the pan from the water bath and set it on a wire rack to cool completely.

9. Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours before caramelizing the top.

10. Run a thin bladed knife between the edge of the pan and the cake to loosen it. Remove the side of the pan. Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the cake, covering it with a very thin, even layer. Caramelize the sugar with a butane or propane torch, holding it about 2 inches from the surface of the cake and slowly moving it over the top until the sugar melts and turns golden brown.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


This is at a house show in Grand Rapids. Playing in a band is probably the most satisfying thing i'm doing right now. I loved spending the weekend on tour. Seeing four cities and meeting tons of people/musicians is a great way to get some perspective.

I never realized how many musicians make no money. You can have an album, critical acclaim, a loyal fanbase, and talent and still make nothing. There was a cool band from Baltimore at our show in Chicago, and by the time they went on the audience was nearly non-existent.

The trip was worth it though. We made enough to cover gas money. We ate good Indian food and visited a cool used bookstore. I met interesting people who lead incredibly different lives.

I promise there will be more food photos later. I have a cheesecake from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book chilling in the fridge.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Crunchy Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

I immediately noticed this Nancy Olson recipe in the latest issue of Food and Wine. According to the article it's "the brilliant marriage of her mother's chocolate, peanut butter, and Rice Krispie-topped brownie...and Pierre Herme's 'sweet pleasure'."

Sometimes I think Pierre Herme's Plaisir Sucre is the ultimate baking challenge as so many bloggers have attempted it.

I don't really feel like trying; it seems like the kind of pastry that can be amazing and memorable in a patisserie but stressful and not worth the expense/effort at home. Still, I love all things crunchy and i've often fantasized about making a dessert involving some sort of feuilletine or rice crispie layer.

This cake recipe takes a little time, but you can definitely finish it in one sitting. It was a very satisfying evening project and i'm extremely happy with the results. It's very rich and texturally interesting. I'd definitely make it again.

Anyway, i'm going on a short tour with my band this weekend. We're hitting South Haven, Grand Rapids, Chicago, and somewhere in Indiana. Hopefully i'll take some fun photos on the road.

Crunch Milk-Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake
2 cups + 2 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp boiling water

1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 large egg whites
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 oz milk chocolate, chopped
1 cup rice krispies

1 1/4 pounds milk chocolate
1 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp heavy cream, warmed

1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9x13 cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Whisk in the boiling water. Pour the batter (it will be thin) into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool.

2. Invert the cake onto a work surface. Working carefully, slice the cake horizontally. Reduce the oven temperature to 325.

3. Make the filling: Trace a 9x13 rectangle on a sheet of parchment paper and lay it on a large baking sheet. In a food processor, pulse the almonds with the confectioners sugar until they're finely ground. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the whites are stiff and glossy- about 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the almond mixture. Spread the meringue on the parchment to fill the rectangle. Sprinkle the chopped peanuts on top. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned and firm. Let cool.

4. In a medium bowl, set in a saucepan of simmering water, heat the peanut butter with the butter and milk chocolate, stirring constantly, until smooth and melted. Remove from the heat and fold in the Rice Krispies. Spread the mixture all over the meringue rectangle. Transfer to the freezer and let cool completely.

5. Make the ganache: In a medium bowl set in a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Whisk in the warm cream until smooth. Remove from the heat and refrigerate for one hour, whisking occasionally until thick enough to spread.

6. Assemble the cake: Place the bottom cake layer cut side up on a large board. Spread 1/3 of the ganache over the cake. Invert the filling onto the cake and peel off the paper. Spread half the remaining ganache over the filling, then top with the second cake layer. Refrigerate until firm, at least one hour. Using a serrated knife, trim the edges. Spread the remaining ganache over the top and sides of the cake and refrigerate to set. Cut and serve.

Friday, November 2, 2007



My friend Lindsey is having a Dia De Los Muertos party tonight, so I decided to make a flan (because Lindsey loves it, not necessarily because it's culturally suited.)

I've posted this recipe before here.

We'll probably light it on fire. I'll try and make a video.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Pecan Tassies.

Pecan Tassies

Pecan Tassies

Somehow in class today I ended up with a two inch doodle that reads "Pecan Tassies!" It's hard to concentrate when the lecture is about TCP/IP and the history of the internet.

I said I needed time to regroup from baking failure, but then I started thinking about how easy Pecan Tassies would be since Alice Medrich's recipe uses melted butter.

They were incredible fresh from the oven; extremely crunchy on the outside but chewy inside with some runny brown sugar/butter sauce that you can almost see in the first photo. The crust was flecked with real vanilla bean since I ran out of extract.

I liked this recipe so much that I wanted to give away the product immediately. My roommates and I don't go through pastries very quickly and it seemed tragic to let these sit for days and get soggy.

I ended up taking them to some friends who work for Apple. Their office is amazing; simple and well designed with some incredible furniture and a gorgeous view of Oakland. I only felt a little jealous!

It was nice to meet some new people and share the baked goods. I really love baking for others, and the folks at Apple said I could ditch things any time. Someone chimed in that they love cheesecakes.

Honestly, if you're in Pittsburgh and have a horde of hungry coworkers I can hook you up. As long as I don't blow my budget on ingredients.

Pecan Tassies
adapted from Alice Medrich's Cocoa Bean Tassies in Bittersweet
for the pastry:
12 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
scant 1/4 tsp salt
1.5 cups all purpose flour

for the filling:
1 large egg white
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 cup pecans (or cocoa nibs), chopped
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
generous pinch of salt
2 12-cup miniature muffin pans

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
To make the pastry: combine the melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated.

Divide the dough in half and press each half into a flattened 4 inch square. Cut each square into 12 equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Place one ball in each muffin cup and press it evenly over the bottom and all the way up the sides of the cup, forming a neat rim. Set aside.

To make the filling: in a medium bowl, beat the egg white until foamy. Stir in the brown sugar, melted butter, pecans, vanilla, and salt. Divide the filling evenly among the tartlet shells, about 1 tsp each.

Bake the tassies for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees and bake for 20 minutes more, or until the pastry is well browned on the edges and underneath (lift one out with the point of a knife to check.) Let cool in the pans on a rack.

Bad Baking Mojo.

I had another failure yesterday. I tried to make the Sour Cream Cake with Cocoa Filling from The Simple Art of Perfect Baking. The recipe looked tempting because the cake had a double glaze. Sadly, it broke apart coming out of the pan. I put some in a tupperware and gave the rest away, as it's still perfectly edible and delicious.

I'm not a stupid baker. Usual i'm careful and meticulous. I think my heart hasn't been in my baking the past week; school is really busy and my increased stress seems to have the power to curdle frosting and eviscerate cakes.

While I try to recuperate and take a little time to myself, I'll treat you to an old photo of the Pisto Manchego from Jose Andres's Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America.

Pisto Manchego

There you go.