Chocolate Espresso Dacquoise – lactose free

Chocolate Espresso Dacquoise

did you watch the Great British Bake Off
earlier in the season?
are you watching the american dessert version now?
did you make your husband stream the recent british season?

i did/am doing all three.
then i re-watch an old season on netflix,
as well as a myriad of cooking/food shows
(as well THE BLACKLIST which befuddles me cus
i both hate it and love it)

this particular fancy concoction was
created on both the GBBO and America’s Test Kitchen.
obviously it had to be made.

nuria cried before and during the making
i cried before, but only because dw
gifted me a much desired gift,
this year has been so overfull with goodness
i can’t even begin to list them out.
instead, let’s have cake.

Chocolate Espresso Dacquoise

Chocolate Espresso Dacquoise – lactose free
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

3/4 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 TBL cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

3/4 cup lactose free half/half
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 TBL water
1 1/2 TBL instant espresso powder
1 cup refined coconut oil, soft, but not liquid

8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
3/4 cup lactose free half/half
2 tsp honey or maple syrup or agave nectar
12 whole hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted

for meringue:
preheat oven to 250F. using pencil, draw 4 6″ circles on parchment paper. grease baking sheet and place parchment on it, ink side down.

in a food processor, whiz the almonds, hazelnuts, cornstarch and salt until finely ground. add 1/2 cup of sugar and pulse to combine. set aside.

in a stand mixer with whisk, whip the egg whites + cream of tarter until it’s foamy. increase speed and whip until soft, and while the mixer still running, add in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form.

carefully fold the nut mixture into egg whites in two batches.

with offset spatula, spread the meringue evenly onto the prepared circles on parchment, stay within the lines.

bake for 1 1/2 hours, turn off oven and cool for another 1 1/2 hours. do not open oven at any time. remove from oven and cool to room temp.

for coco-cream:
in a small sauce pan heat up half/half until barely simmering. in a bowl whisk the yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt until incorporated and smooth. remove half/half from heat, and while whisking constantly add a ladle-full of hot liquid into the yolk mixture to temper. keep whisking until liquid is incorporated. pour the tempered yolk-milk into the saucepan and return to heat, all the while whisking continuously, until mixture has thicked into pudding. transfer the pastry cream to bowl, cover and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

*when making the rest of the coco-cream, take the pastry cream out of the fridge and allow to get to room temp*

stir together the water + espresso powder, set aside.

in a stand mixer with paddle, beat the coconut oil until smooth, add the pastry cream in 2-3 batches. last add the espresso mixture and continue to beat until fully incorporated, scraping the bowl down often.

for ganache:
place chopped chocolate in heatproof bowl. warm up half/half and honey to simmer in small saucepan. Pour mixture over chocolate and allow to stand for 1 minute. stir mixture until smooth, set aside and it’ll cool slightly and thicken.

to assemble:

place 3 circles on wire rack. using an off set spatula spread ganache evenly over surface of each meringue (aim for a thin layer, you’re not using all of the ganache). refridgerate until ganache is firm, about 10-15 minutes. set aside remaining gananche.

with off set spatura, on the remaining circle spread about 1/2 cup of coco-cream. place on wire rack. invert 1 ganache coated meringue, placing it on top of the buttercream and press down. repeat with remaining meringues, spreading the meringues with 1/2 cup of coco-cream and topping another inverted ganache coated meringue. with remaining coco-cream spread all over the cake, sides and top. it doesn’t have to be pretty.. refrigerate until coco-cream is firm, about 2-3 hours.

when ready, warm up the leftover ganache over barely simmer water, stirring often until the mixture is fluid but not hot. with the coco-creamed cake on wire rack, pour ganache over the top and with off set spatula spread the ganache over the top of the cake, you’re aiming for an even, thin layer and letting the excess flow down the side. spread the ganache over sides in thin layer.

garnish the top layer with hazelnuts and for the sides, gently press the almonds onto the side. chill on wire rack, uncovered, for at least a few hours, or overnight. transfer to platter or stand.

slice and serve.

Chocolate Espresso Dacquoise

previous year: gingerbread cake
2 years ago: peppermint chocolate ice cream

birthday | gingerbread cake

Make a Wish

the fact is,
it’s a year later,
approximately 365 days later,
a sun’s journey around the sun later,
and i’m a year older.
damn, 29 thirty-seven looks good.

without further ado,
36 random things i’ve done this year,
in no particular order:

|| walked with elephants!
|| celebrated my beloved gpa’s life
|| hosted our very first dinner party, sitting on the ground and all!
|| hosted our nephews for a week over the summer. can’t wait to do it again
|| honeymooned in Thailand
|| had oysters and lobster in Boston
|| stood among sunflowers
|| new eyes!
|| like grown ups that we are, we now have a dressing room to get dressed in
|| witnessed a drive by shooting, at a gas station
|| won people’s choice in a pumpkin carving contest, that dw carved and i did nothing. that is called WINNING.
|| saw a blooming cereus
|| thanksgiving in ny
|| skeeball champs we are not, but what a season
|| middle school AND high school reunions, in 2 countries and three cities
|| matt nathanson in baltimore AND dc
|| fireworks at the inner harbor
|| wore shorts to work, got suspended for a week, without pay. it’s a long, stupid story.
|| recipe tested for a blog friend and LOOK! her cookbook is out!
|| we went full share with our CSA. just the two of us
|| babysat a baby. like, fed her, changed her and then put her to bed. technically, dw did the last two, but i was there.
|| watched a break dancing performance
|| tasted duck eggs for the first time ever
|| walked to indianapolis. again.
|| finally invested in a proper pair of rainboots
|| came out of the closet about my lurve for this girl
|| fell in love with this dude
|| and this dude
|| featured on apartment therapy, even if some of the commenters are dicks
|| featured on
|| packed up mi amor and saw her off to her new home state
|| spent 24 hours in dubai
|| voted 2x
|| found a new job, put my notice in, got countered, and then accepted the counter
|| became a member of the aquarium
|| learned how to properly cook dried beans

last year’s list.

Gingerbread Cake
adapted from ashlae warner (oh ladycakes for westelm)

*note: dw baked this. he’s too good to me.
**note: this cake is very molasses-y, i enjoy snacking on it. the original recipe calls for it to be served with a side of whipped coconut cream, which would likely cut through the acridness, but i didn’t mind it.

2 cups spelt flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
6 tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup sugar
1 flaxseed egg (1 TBL raw whole flaxseed, grounded + 3 TBL water)
1/8 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup hot water

preheat oven to 350F. prepare a round 8″ can pan, grease and line with parchment paper.

in a bowl, sift the dry ingredients and spices. in a larger bowl, add in the oil, molasses, sugar, powdered ginger, cinnamon and cloves, combine with flaxseed egg. dissolve baking soda in water and then add to the wet ingredients. add in the dried ingredients and whisk until just comboned, don’t get crazy though.

pour into prepared pan and bake for 32 minutes. the edges will pull from the sides of pan just slightly.

cool completely. tastes even better the next day.


holidays & birthday | gift guide 2014

Gift Guide 2014

if you partake,
it’s that time of year
where your wallet takes a big hit.
in case you’re looking for something
for someone:
here’s a list of things
we purchased this year
that i recommend,
or things i really want.
they range from the
super frugal
to the super absurdly expensive.

happy shopping!

|| pocket notebook, $5: i keep this in my purse & i jot down to-do’s. mainly i like to doodle.
||The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition, by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm, Translated and edited by Jack Zipes, $35: apparently, it’s the true scary stuff, none of the fluff we grew up with.
||jack white’s album “Lazaretto”, $9.99: as the bff says “I’m really enjoying it. It has a good mix of rock, funk and slow jams for baby making.”
||jar funnel, $15: i scoffed when dw got this. now i use it very often.
||kate spade stud earrings, $35: how blingy are these? i don’t even wear earrings much but these are so adorable.
||WOMEN’S MIGHTY LITE™ HOODED JACKET, $140: this is keeping me warm all winter long.
||WOMEN’S MIGHTY LITE™ III VEST, $90: for those in between days, perfect for layering too.

||cage ring, $125: again with the accessories!
||Oral-B Precision Black 7000 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, $169.99: purchased on sale, and dw says “It buzzes me so clean”.
||vitamix 7500, $529: we have an older version that is getting old, and there was a scare this year…

||wall table, $1348.86: if we ever lived in one of those tiny houses, i’d want this. how genius.
||birdsnest, $3K – $10K: i don’t even know where i would put this, and the getting in/out process is giving me a headache just thinking about it. but it doesn’t lessen my desire for it.

ultimate wishlist:
nikon d610, $1600
Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens: $196.95: i’d settle for this, if i can’t get the d610.

and of course, other gift lists. as the season progresses, more will be coming up. i just wanted to get this out there during black friday week, in case you partake in such activities:

tasting table
cup of joe

last year’s gift guide

coconut peppermint patties

Coconut Peppermint Patties

it’s not so much the daily
wake up ritual we partake in,
where sometimes i coax you out of slumber
with promises of kisses,
or i downright threaten to withhold kisses
it’s not so much the
evening hugs we make time for,
no matter how much i need
to go pee
this is a deep & abiding glimpse
of this love we’ve been working on

Coconut Peppermint Patties

this month you mark another
yearlong trip around the sun
it was never about the destination
i only ever care about the journey
as long as i’m with you
cus darling,
we are adventurers in this
life we’ve been working on

for your birthday this year
i made your favorite combo:
chocolate + mint
because i adore you
and because i’m your
Ride Or Die Bitch

Coconut Peppermint Patties

coconut peppermint patties
yields: 24 patties

*note: in lieu of the coconut flakes, you can use all powdered sugar. i decided to use the coconut flakes because this particular brand soaks up moisture really well, and i wanted to cut on the sweetness.

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, i used Let’s Do Organic
2 tsp pure peppermint extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBL softened (just below room temp) coconut oil
2 TBL coconut creamer, i used So Delicious

beat everything in a mixing bowl with a paddle. everything will start out crumbly and ugly and alarming, walk away. come back after 30 seconds – a 1 minute, it should be creamy and well incorporated. when you touch the mixture, it will be soft but not sticky. if it is sticky, add more powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until it’s no longer sticky. it’ll be stiff.

scrape mixture out of bowl onto a long piece of plastic wrap. form into a tube, about 1 1/2″ in diameter. wrap up well and be sure to tie the ends up. fridge up till firm, about 45 minutes. cut into desired thickness, aim for 1/4″. dip into melted chocolate and allow to cool and harden.

i chopped up a 5oz bar of chocolate, at least 70% cacao, melted over a double boiler. ( i used scharffen berger)


Coconut Peppermint Patties

my other dw birthday concoctions:
homemade thin mints – 2013
mint chocolate cake – 2012

quinoa chocolate cake

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

we’re missing an hour
never before have
i wanted an hour back
like i do now

daylight saving time
never bothered me before
growing up
either because my body didn’t
register the loss
or the countries i lived in
didn’t participate in DST

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

it’s an adjustment
much like making minor
dietary changes
we made the decision
recently to cut back on
our gluten intake,
for health-reasons
and as it happens,
our close friends are
also attempting the gf lifestyle

for less than 2 weeks
i’ve missed bread
i’ve missed pasta
no lie:
i’ve cheated
and i have to remind myself
that much like when i went
dairy free
it’s not so much what i’m missing,
it’s what i could be gaining
the challenges i could tackle
in the kitchen

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

quinoa chocolate cake – gluten free & dairy free
adapted from Quinoa 365

*note: i baked this cake for my dear friend Nuria’s birthday. i’ve made many, many desserts for this hooker, including her wedding cakes, and she said this was her most favorite. the flour wasn’t missed.
*initially i had wanted to make it a two layered cake with whipped coconut milk but the coconut milk was too runny, though delicious, and i wasn’t confident that it would make the trek to the party. so i topped with powdered sugar and called it a day.

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (about 1/2 cup dried quinoa, though just cook a full cup and find another use for the unused)
1/3 cup coconut creamer, i used So Delicious
4 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil, liquid but cool
1 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

cook up the quinoa according to package instructions, be sure to fight the urge to NOT cook it with broth, cus i damn near forgot… allow to cool completely.

preheat oven to 350F and prep 2 8″ round pans.

in a bowl, sift the dry ingredients.

in a food processor, whizz up the eggs, coconut oil and coconut creamer. add in the cooled cooked quinoa and process until smooth, or as smooth as you want it to be. pour mixture into the bowl of dried ingredients and mix everything until fully combined.

divvy up into pans equally and bake for 28-30 minutes. the sides will pull clean from the pans.

cool on rack and either top with powdered sugar or frosting of your choice.


Quinoa Chocolate Cake