Let's talk for a moment. Some days I discover my favorite recipes by pulling out my scribbled notebook where I've darted down several dozen ideas, selecting one, refining it, and then going to the store in the early hours of the morning. I nod with respect to the dozens of young moms in workout clothes, but with my baguette in one arm and a bouquet of flowers in the other, we both know I'm having more fun.Read More
This post was done in collaboration with Cost Plus World Market. As always, all opinions are completely my own. I am so thankful for the opportunities to work with brands I truly love. Thank you all for your continued readership and support!
It's just around the corner. The day that we all (hopefully) remember to do the one thing we should be doing constantly. It is time to show our mamas how much we love and appreciate them, and how very thankful we are that they put up with our drama long enough to shape us into fairly decent adults.
Many years ago, my mother wisely established an hour she called "quiet time." After lunch, my siblings were laid down for their naps and I was sent off to my room or sat on the couch to read my American Girl magazines while my mother cleaned, watched Martha Stewart, or, occasionally, took a nap. These hours not only provided a respite for my mother, but also taught us to play on our own and to use our imaginations.
Typically my creativity stayed within the realm of Barbie dolls and coloring books, but sometimes, during those quiet hours, I would creep into the kitchen to make my mother a surprise. Microwaved pinwheels of American cheese and Wonder Bread were one of my specialties, but the most remembered creation was my teddy bear cake that was baked during one such quiet hour.
I was immensely proud of the bear-shaped creation that I had baked in the toaster oven - the only cooking source I was allowed to use at the time. It was slightly raw and studded with cinnamon heart candies, and I cannot promise you that the ingredient list spanned beyond eggs, sugar, and milk, but I could not wait for my mother to wake up so that I could present my masterpiece.
While she had to pick around the bits of raw egg, she was just as proud of me that day as she was when I made her this coffee cake last week. That is because she is my mama, and mothers are the most lovely kind of delusional.
I hope I am not deceiving myself when I boast that my baking abilities have evolved a bit over the past fourteen years. At least for this cake I used a proper oven.
My mother has always loved coffee cake so I knew it had to have a place on our brunch menu. This particular version is dotted with ripe blackberries and swirled with blackberry preserves to bring summery notes to this spicy cinnamon cake. The sugary crumb topping is my favorite part.
Even before the days of my toaster oven cakes, my mother used to put heavily sweetened coffee in my sippy cup so I could participate in her morning ritual. Ever since those days, few outings have gone by without us making a stop for coffee. My mother's favorite? The white chocolate mocha.
As I was thinking of the perfect brunch, coffee seemed a necessity, but I wanted to make it extra special for the occasion. Two bars of Lindt white chocolate and a heavy helping of whipped cream later, I had a pitcher full of something I would happily enjoy on any occasion. Oh yes, Monday morning definitely counts as a special occasion.
These iced white chocolate mochas were declared by both mother and sister to be better than you-know-who's and they are embarrassingly simple to make.
Fragrant, vanilla bean coffee is brewed strong and allowed to cool to room temperature. Half and half is heated and chopped white chocolate stirred in, creating a sweet, smooth syrup. The white chocolate cream is stirred into the cooled coffee, poured over cups of ice, and then topped with a liberal swirl of whipped cream and a sprinkling of these adorable chocolate curls.
Friends, you really need to make a pitcher of this stuff immediately. I want to drink it ALL. DAY. LONG...even if I did get jittery after the first cup. Worth it.
Blackberry coffee cake and white chocolate mochas all in less than two hours! And, if you would like to consider rounding out your brunch with something savory, may I suggest this quiche?
My sister, mother, and I ate our cake and sipped our coffee in between bursts of laughter on the loveliest of Wednesdays. The fragrance of the honeysuckle behind my home wafted over the patio, forcing us to forget the time and enjoy the new memories we were making as we celebrated the old ones.
I admittedly allow Mother's Day to sneak up on me most years, but I hope we can all take some extra time this week to love on the ladies that raised us and choked down our most memorable of creations with a beaming smile.
Happiest of Mother's Days to you all!
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Blackberry Coffee Cake
makes one 11.5x7.5-inch pan / basic cake recipe loosely adapted from Ina Garten
for the cinnamon swirl
6 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
pinch kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, ground cinnamon, and salt. Use a fork to mix. Toss in butter and use your fingertips to work the mixture until it has the texture of rough cornmeal. Refrigerate until ready to use.
for the crumb topping
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cake flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
In a small bowl, combine sugar and cake flour. Use the tips of your fingers to work the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Refrigerate until ready to use.
for the cake batter
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups full fat sour cream
2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup seedless blackberry preserves
1/2 cup fresh blackberries tossed with 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (shake off excess flour)
Cook's Note: Tossing the berries in a bit of flour before adding them to the batter will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the pan when baked.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 11.5x7.5 baking pan with nonstick spray.
Fit your stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat butter on medium speed for one minute. Beat in sugar.
With the mixer on low speed, add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides as needed. Add vanilla and sour cream.
Sift to combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture until the batter is smooth.
Fold 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan and top with preserves. Use a large spoon to place tablespoons of preserves over the batter, then use a butter knife to swirl the preserves into the cake batter. Press the flour-coated berries down into the batter and top with the cinnamon swirl mixture.
Fold the remaining batter into the pan and and smooth over with a spatula. Sprinkle with the crumb topping.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the cake is golden and a fork inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before serving (about 90 minutes). Enjoy!
Iced White Chocolate Mocha
1/2 cup ground vanilla bean coffee
pinch of kosher salt
3 cups boiling water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups half and half, divided use
2 (4.4oz) Lindt white chocolate bars, roughly chopped
whipped cream (1 cup heavy cream beaten with 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar)
chocolate curls, for garnish Cook's Note: A pinch of kosher salt is the difference between a bitter brew and a perfect cup of coffee. Salt naturally counteracts bitterness! Place ground coffee and salt in a french press and top with boiling water. Allow to brew for 6 minutes before pressing. Transfer the brewed coffee to a pitcher and stir in granulated sugar; refrigerate until cool.
In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of half and half over medium heat; until just simmering. Remove from heat and stir in chopped chocolate until completely smooth. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup half and half. Pour the white chocolate mixture into the cooled coffee and stir to combine.
*Cook's Note: It is important that the white chocolate be fully melted, otherwise little bits of unmelted chocolate will seize up and become hard when added to the cooled coffee. *
Pour coffee over cups of ice and top with whipped cream and chocolate curls. Enjoy!
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I have been deep into a fruit & chocolate obsession ever since I did this Galentine's Day party for World Market. I had leftover blackberries and Nutella. Things happened. Things like berry-dipping and spoon-licking. It was at that moment that I realized the enchanting marriage of blackberries and chocolate.
Sometimes I crave s'mores in February.
The combination of graham cracker, marshmallows, and chocolate has a very special hold upon my heart. A hold that does not lessen just because bonfire season is long behind us.
The air was crisp, the week was overcrowded, and I had just purchased the most important dress of my life (yes, the infamous wedding gown), so whipping marshmallow and melting chocolate was undoubtably the proper course of action.
The best part is that you can make all of these components in advance for when the salty-sweet cravings hit, or for when you want to bring a fun, interactive dessert to an impromptu dinner party.
I love making marshmallows, and the idea of a purple-hued blackberry marshmallow ribboned with sweet preserves made my heart flutter.
These marshmallows get their blackberry essence through a combination of blackberry jam and blackberry preserves. While it may seem far more convenient to use only one, there is a reason behind this madness. Jam is often thinner than preserves, because the fruit has been thoroughly broken down. The result is a spoonable, slightly-thicker-than-syrup product, and one that mixes very well into stiff, marshmallow fluff.
Preserves, on the other hand, typically have larger pieces of fruit and are thicker than jam, though this is dependent upon the maker. I chose to swirl preserves through the marshmallows because the jam I was using would have been too thin and would have bled when the marshmallows were cut. Of course, the choice is yours, and if you find a reasonably thick jam, then you could certainly employ that for both uses. Just take into account the thickness and consistency of your product.
Look at that color! A runway-ready marshmallow if I ever saw one.
On to the chocolate, because we definitely did not get our fill on Valentine's Day.
This ganache is spiked with a teeny bit of red wine to give it an extra fruity kick that melds beautifully with our blackberry marshmallows. It's all about the layering of flavors.
I'm a huge proponent of layering, in both the edible world as well as the sweater one. More about that some other time.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love my blow torch?
If you have not yet added this tool to your kitchen arsenal, I would highly recommend that you do so. But please do not allow yourself to be sucked into buying a kitchen blow torch. Instead, go to your local hardware store and buy the real thing. You will save yourself quite a bit of cash and you will thank yourself later on for getting the larger tank.
I brûléed the tops of each marshmallow to deepen the flavor and give the marshmallow that gooey, roasted-over-a-fire texture.
I dipped my top crackers in more chocolate (because, why not?), and sprinkled them with toasted hazelnuts and a bit of coarse salt.
We are almost done!!
A perfect s'more that is just as accessible on a rainy, wintery day as it was back in October.
Afternoon snacking suddenly became very fancy.
Grown-Up S’mores with Blackberry Marshmallows & Red Wine Ganache
makes 18 s’mores, with leftover marshmallows
for the marshmallows
- 3 packages unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup ice water, divided
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup blackberry jam
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 cup blackberry preserves
- nonstick spray
Coat a 9x13 pan with nonstick spray and generously dust with confectioner’s sugar.
In the bowl of your stand mixer combine 1/2 cup ice water with gelatin.
In a small saucepan combine remaining water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cover and place over medium heat - cook for 3-4 minutes. Uncover and attach a candy thermometer. Cook for 7-8 minutes, until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F. Remove from heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and pour the syrup into the gelatin mixture. Once all the syrup is added increase the speed to high. Beat for 13 minutes, until the mixture is very thick and fluffy. In the last minute of beating add vanilla and 1/3 cup blackberry jam.
Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan and use a small spoon to swirl the preserves through the marshmallow. Dust generously with confectioner’s sugar.
Allow the marshmallow to sit for 4 hours before removing from the pan. Turn the marshmallow out unto a cutting board dusted with confectioner’s sugar and use a greased pizza cutter to cut into 1-inch squares. Once the marshmallows are cut dust all edges with remaining sugar.
for the ganache
- 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped roughly
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon dry red wine, such as Cabernet
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate, heavy cream, and red wine. Microwave at thirty second increments, stirring after each, until the chocolate is smooth.
At this point, the ganache can be used immediately, or refrigerated until needed. Allow the chilled ganache to sit at room temperature 3-4 hours to soften before using, otherwise it will be too stiff and will break the crackers.
crackers and assembly
- 32 graham cracker halves
- 5 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare two cooling racks by placing them on baking sheets lines with parchment paper.
Place hazelnuts on a sheet pan and toast until fragrant; about 12 minutes. Do not go too far, as they will burn quickly.
Allow the nuts to cool before chopping finely. Place hazelnuts in a small bowl or plate.
Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at thirty second increments, stirring after each, until the chocolate is smooth.
Dip eighteen of the graham cracker halves into the chocolate, only covering half of the cracker. Then, dip the cracker into the hazelnut pieces and sprinkle with salt. Place the crackers on the cooling racks until all the crackers have been dipped. Then, transfer the baking sheets to the freeze and freeze for 10-15 minutes, until the chocolate has set.
Spread a layer of ganache unto each undipped graham cracker half. Top with a blackberry marshmallow and use a blow torch to brûlée the top. Top with a dipped graham cracker half and serve immediately. Enjoy!
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