Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tasty Tuesday - Chocolate Violet Creams

Chocolate Violet Creams

Chocolate Violet Creams

Dating in the Victorian era is anything but easy, especially for Athena in Courting Miss Lancaster by Sarah M. Eden. Harry has convinced himself that if he can't have Athena, he can at least make certain that she marries well.  Athena adores violets and I just knew this novel would be complemented by a recipe with the edible flower.Violet creams are popular in the UK and feel very Victorian--wouldn't you agree?

3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
purple food coloring
2 Tablespoons violet syrup (or rose syrup or 1 drop lavender oil)
11/2 cups powdered sugar
7 oz. chocolate chips, milk or dark
1 teaspoon olive oil

 Place the whipping cream, food coloring(to your liking) and violet syrup in a small bowl and mix well.  Sprinkle the powdered sugar over the liquid and stir to combine.  Lightly dust a work surface with powdered sugar and turn the fondant out, kneading until it forms a firm ball. 
Roll 18 teaspoon sized balls and as many tiny little balls if you desire to decorate the tops of the chocolates. Refrigerate the fondant balls for at least 30 minutes. 
Melt the chocolate and oil in the microwave for one minute.  Stir and continue to cook for 30 seconds at a time until the chocolate is melted.  Dip the large fondant balls in the chocolate and using two spoons, place them on some parchment paper to dry.  Top each chocolate with a tiny fondant ball.  Let set up for at least 3 hours.  Store in an airtight container.  Makes 18 chocolates. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tasty Tuesday - Rosemary, Sea Salt and Crème Fraîche Croissants

Rosemary and Sea Salt Crème Fraîche  Croissants
for Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Rosemary, Sea Salt and Crème Fraîche Croissants 

Helen, in Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini, lives in Nantucket, and yet she dreads the sea. Her father's girlfriend, Kate, makes delicious croissants that reflect Helen and her story.  The sea salt in the croissants represents the ties Helen has to the sea; the rosemary is the subtlety with which Helen learns about her heritage; and the crème fraîche embodies the richness of the setting, and the background that is based in mythology. These croissants are time consuming but oh, so worth the trouble.

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 Tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoons white sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/3 cup warm milk
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
11/3 cup unsalted butter, chilled
10-12 Tablespoons crème fraîche (see recipe below)
1 egg
1 Tablespoon water

Combine yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon of white sugar. Set aside. Measure flour into a mixing bowl. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of sugar and the salt in warm milk.  Add the milk mixture to the flour along with yeast, oil and rosemary. Mix until smooth.  Cover and let rise until triple in volume.  Deflate and let rise again until doubled.  Deflate and chill 20 minutes.

Divide the dough in two. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch slices and knead with fingers until pliable but not oily. Pat each dough ball into a14x8 inch rectangle.  Smear the buter over the top two thirds of each rectangle. Don't worry about it looking pretty at this point. For each rectangle, fold the unbuttered third over the middle third and the buttered third down over that. Turn 90 degrees so that the folds are to the left and right.  Roll out to a 14x6 inch rectangle.  Fold in three gain.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours. Unwrap, sprinkle with flour and deflate gently.  Roll to a 14x6 inch rectangle and fold again.  Turn 90 degrees and repeat.  Wrap the two rectangles separately from each other and chill two more hours.

To shape, roll one dough rectangle out to 20x5 inched. Cut in half crosswise and put one half in the fridge. When you have cut both dough rectangles, you should have three in the fridge and one to work with. Roll out to a 15x5 inch rectangle.  Cut into 5x5 inch squares.  Spread one tablespoon crème fraîche on each square. Cut each square in half diagonally.  Roll up each triangle to form a crescent. Place on a backing sheet.  Repeat with the other three chilled dough rectangles. Beat together the egg and 1 tablespoon of water.  Glaze the croissants with the egg wash.

Bake at 475' for 12-15 minutes. Recipe yields 2 dozen flaky and flavorful croissants.

Crème Fraîche

1 cup whipping cream
2 Tablespoons buttermilk

Combine the whipping cream and buttermilk in a glass container.  Cover with a cloth and allow to stand on the counter for 24 hours.  Mix and store in the refrigerator.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tasty Tuesday - Threaded Apple Pastry

Threaded Apple Pastry
for Warped by Maurissa Guibord

Threaded Apple Pastry

Like the braids of this flaky pastry, Tessa and William in Warped by Maurissa Guibord, become entwined within the warping of a tapestry that holds William hostage. Tessa and William are threaded together through the ages and complement each other like the tart apples and sweet apples in the tart.

Apple filling:

5-6 large apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 egg, beaten

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Let the mixture sit to thicken while you make the pastry.


2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of baking powder
1 cup cold unsalted butter
1 egg
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup cold water
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Cut the cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes.  Mix the butter into the flour mixture with your hands, pinching the butter until the ingredients resembles coarse cornmeal.

In a small bowl whisk the egg, vinegar and cold water. Stir into the dry ingredients mixture.  Mix with  your hands until you can form a firm ball.

Roll the pastry dough into a large rectangle. Roll the rectangle onto your rolling pin and unroll the dough onto a baking pan.  Place the apple filling down the center of the rectangle, leaving at least 3 inches on each side of the filling.  Using a butter knife, cut diagonal slits in the pastry dough, from the filling outward. Continue the slits the length of the dough, forming 1 inch strips of pastry on each side of the filling.  Fold the top and bottom of the pastry in first followed by the strips of pastry over each other like a braid.

In a small bowl beat the egg white and 1 teaspoon water.  Brush the braided pastry with the egg.

Bake at 375 for 35 minutes until the top crust is a golden brown.

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Destiny brought them together, the Gods will keep them apart. 

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire 16 years trying to hide how different she is--no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. 

~Hardcover, 487 pages Published May 31st 2011 by HarperTeen

Food to Eat While Reading: Rosemary, Sea Salt and Crème Fraîche Croissants 
Rosemary, Sea Salt and Crème Fraîche Croissants 
I'm loving the Greek mythology stories that are big right now and Starcrossed is an imaginative and fresh story based in that mythology.  The feuding families of gods and demi-gods who are trying to find Atlantis provide a rich well for Angelini to create her story.

The story has a great sense of place in Nantucket.  I felt transported to the ocean and the idiosyncrasies of it's small towns. I love it when an author takes me away for a little while.

Helen and Lucas' forbidden love didn't work for me.  I couldn't relate.  I wanted to feel the spark caused when two people can't stand to be together and yet can't stay away, but I couldn't get into it.  I knew they would end up together and it slowed the pacing for me. Later in the story when it was known that they could never fully express their love to each other, I cringed at the resulting scenarios.  Helen and Lucas alternate between pushing the boundaries and claiming that they could remain celibate.

There is tons of action in Starcrossed and I didn't want to put the book down.  I never knew who would be spared and who was in serious jeopardy.

Unlike some paranormal stories where the protagonist finds out later in life that all along they had these amazing powers, Helen's story is entirely plausible.  I could believe that she didn't know about her God-like powers because of the curse that had been placed on her and the fact that she suppressed her own memories about her powers.  I love it that her best friends knew that she was extraordinary and she didn't even have a clue.  And cool powers--invincibility (but also vulnerable if she lost her necklace), and a lethal lighting charge.

It would be way cool to see her abuse her new-found powers a bit and be tempted by the "bad side" of the family.

I'm not sure what to think about the sirens.  They are wicked in an awesome, gruesome way, and I would like to have seen Helen and Lucas go after them.

The bottom line:
Starcrossed crosses the line between myth and reality as it asks what in life can be controlled and what is left to fate?