I’m an autumn girl. This favored season of mine showers me with crisp sweater weather, falling crimson leaves and cozy fires that align with my introvert’s sensibilities. And I cannot forget autumn’s bounty of rib-sticking roasted meats, soups and stews that beckon my German sensibilities as well. And yet, I bask in the first few weeks of summer – perhaps even more than autumn. Summer’s constant sun soaks through my tired flesh and warms my very soul. Birds sing the song of summer throughout the trees during the day while crickets serenade the night away, calming me. The longer days encourage my evening walks and dining alfresco – the TV is left silent. And my kitchen is inspired by summer’s bounty of sweet corn, ripe tomatoes, juicy nectarines and, of course, freshly made gelato.
This is my post-gelato school updated version of a 2012 recipe. Measurements are in grams.
500 grams 2% milk
1 bunch fresh mint leaves, washed, patted dry and lightly packed – about 2 cups
145 grams sugar
16 grams corn syrup
1 gram salt
38 grams powdered milk
1 gram guar gum
1 gram carob
250 grams heavy whipping cream
2 grams vanilla
1 package chocolate dinner mints, chopped (such as Andes) – about 1 cup
Heat milk to 104 degrees. Remove from heat, add ¾ of mint leaves, stir, cover and let steep for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Strain mint, pressing to extract as much mint oil as possible. Re-warm milk mixture. At 40 degrees, add sugar, corn syrup and salt. Continue heating and stirring milk mixture. At 144 degrees, add powdered milk mixed well with guar gum and carob. Heat milk to 194 degrees to pasteurize and immediately remove from heat.
Cool milk mixture in ice bath, adding cream and vanilla when mixture’s temperature is reduced to 144 degrees. Add remaining 1/4 of mint leaves and emulsify with a stick blender. When mixture has cooled to room temperature, pour through a sieve and refrigerate overnight.
Make gelato in ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Add chopped mints about one minute before gelato is finished.
“Happy Anniversary!” – or is it “Happy Birthday?” We’re 9 years old today. For a girl who can’t stay committed to much of anything, I’m astonished to find TwoBitTart is still going – and growing! I starting this blog in 2008 with a different name (Phorenications) and a different mission – and nine years later, what began as a silly little hobby has grown into a big part of my life. This anniversary deserves some cake – like Bananas Foster Cake with Caramel Latte Buttercream Frosting.
Caramel and coffee flavor this not-too-sweet frosting
2 Tablespoons water
6.5 ounces sugar
3 Tablespoons strong coffee
3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 egg yolks
7 ounces softened butter
Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar melts and turns coppery brown. Remove caramel from heat, cool slightly, and add coffee and whipping cream (caramel may bubble).
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat yolks. Add caramel to yolks in a steady stream. Continue whipping until mixture has cooled to body temperature. Add 1/3 of butter and whip. Add remaining butter and whip until frosting is pale tan, fluffy and a spreadable consistency. In addition to banana cake, this bittersweet frosting would pair nicely with rich chocolate cake.
I’m staring at everything and everyone with a lighter in one hand and gas can in the other, prepared to burn bridges and incinerate it all. Nothing is sacred. This isn’t some high-school massacre, but a phoenix-from-the-flames rebirth. Career, home, friends, family– I’ll torch the entire lot and walk anew on freshly scorched and purified earth.
But I’ll set my gas can down for now and make one of my favorite Italian treats.
I love fresh cranberries! To ensure I have access to them year-round, I buy extra bags in Fall and freeze them for use the rest of the year.
1 cup fresh cranberries
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 ½ teaspoon gelatin
2 cups heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Lightly spray 6 ramekins with unflavored oil. Pour gelatin in a small bowl with 4 T. of water. Stir and set aside for 5-10 minutes.
Combine whipping cream, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and whisk over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and small bubbles appear, but before the cream comes to a full boil. Remove from heat, whisk in the softened gelatin until dissolved. Add vanilla, whisk again and let cool 3-5 minutes. Remove any bubbles from top of custard.
Pour the custard into the prepared ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap (it doesn’t have to touch the surface like pudding) and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
To unmold ramekins, fill a small baking dish with boiling water. Slip a sharp knife around the inside of the ramekin loosening the custard, place the ramekin in the water for about 10 seconds and invert it onto serving dish.
Have you ever been so in love with someone that you fail to notice their waning youth? They age and change, a little extra weight around their middle or a bald spot that continues to grow, and yet, in your eyes, they’re the same as when you met. That’s how I saw Sedona. On this trip, I finally grasped that Sedona today is not the Sedona I fell for over 20 years ago. Although I’ve visited over the years, I ignored its subtle transformation. To me, it was still the quirky little town nestled in majestic orange spires of incomparable beauty. Until this visit, I refused to notice the town changing, growing. Roads that were once dirt are now paved, the funky downtown has become a row of mini malls and chic shops, There a roundabouts everywhere to alleviate the traffic (there’s traffic!), and houses have sprouted on cliff-sides where before there were none. Too many cars, too many tourists. I’ve overlooked these changes, not wanting to admit my former Sedona is altered, polished, accessible. It’s still breathtaking, I confess, and anyone who didn’t know the Sedona of before would surely delight in its charms. I’m reminded that we can never really go back, though, can we?
Cabin Improvisations – water bottle as rolling pin.
Flaky pastry surrounds plump, juicy blackberries. These pies required another cabin improvisation – using a stainless steel water bottle as a rolling pin.
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups canola oil
6 Tablespoons whole milk
12 oz. blackberries
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour and salt together in a medium bowl. Combine oil and milk in a measuring cup. Add oil mixture to flour and combine with a fork until dough forms a ball. Cover and set aside.
Combine blackberries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon zest. Set aside. Divide dough into two equal portions and roll each portion out into a 12” x 12” square between two pieces of waxed paper. Cut each 12” square into 4 equal squares (you should have 8 squares).
Arrange about 10 blackberries on bottom half of each square and fold over top half, covering blackberries. Crimp sides with tines of a fork, cut 2-3 small vent holes for steam in each pie and brush with beaten egg.
Carefully transfer pies to sheet pan and bake until golden, 25-30 minutes. Cool slightly and enjoy.
Heed my warning: Never tie the fulfillment of a desire to a major life event, like a milestone birthday. I foolishly attached the promise of Love to mine. When I released my chance for Love, it stole my special day with it. I blame no one – not even my reckless self. But now, as the day looms closer, I wonder, will all my birthdays be tinged by this bittersweet tang of lost Love?
Sweetened whipped cream & chocolate shavings for garnish
In a medium saucepan, bring cream and milk to a simmer. In a medium bowl, whisk yolks with the sugar, espresso, and salt. Temper eggs and then gradually whisk in the eggs to the hot cream. Cook over medium low heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until custard is thickened, about 5 minutes.
Add the chopped chocolate, let sit for a minute, then whisk until completely smooth. Strain custard through a sieve. Press a sheet of plastic warp directly on the surface and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Spoon into glasses, top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.