March 23, 2017

Chocolate Pie with Toasted Meringue

If you catch me in the right mood, I may just be able to devour a whole pie by myself. Pie is my weakness, especially when it's filled with silky chocolate mouse and topped with a fluffy toasted meringue. There is something so satisfying about running a torch over a detailed meringue and watching the swirls brown. 

I've been spending most of my spare time watching Big Little Lies and The Great British Bake Off. Big Little Lies causes me to drink and The Great British Bake Off makes me want to bake, the latter being slightly more productive. I've had to increase my cardio activity just to keep up with these caloric demands, but in my eyes, it's been totally worth it. When it comes to baking, I will draw the line at biscuit towers and novelty cakes - I don't have the steady hands for anything that intricate - but everything else is fair game. As for my drink of choice, it's almost always wine.

We've been going through a great deal of butter around here, from the multiple batches of puff and choux pastry we've been experimenting with to our attempts at gougeres, Kouign Amann's, macarons, loaves, cakes, and doughnuts. This weekend I'm inviting over some friends to help me eat the two-dozen cream filled doughnuts I'm going to make, because, in my experience, doughnuts taste much better (even incredible) when they're fresh out of the fryer.

Last week I took a crack at making my first chocolate pie. I'm not going to lie, I completely destroyed the first crust during the blind-bake (Mary Berry would have been so disappointed) and had to make another. That, along with the overnight chill of the mousse, it sort of felt like I had been making this pie for a week straight. I invited over some friends to help me eat it, because I know my weaknesses, and let me tell you, I probably could have eaten this whole pie myself.

The crust was thin, flaky and buttery. The mouse was light and airy, a bit silky, with the taste of dark chocolate and coffee. The meringue topping was like a billowy cloud perched on top, light and airy, and the crispy toasty bit's gave it a resemblance to S'mores. It was incredible.


March 8, 2017

My favorite Blueberry Bran Muffin

I love a good bran muffin. They don't have to contain fruit or nuts, but they have to be made with a combination of wheat and oat bran, taste a little sweet with a slight hint of molasses, tender and moist.

I always gravitate towards muffins with fruit. Cranberries, blueberry, and raspberries - I go for those ones first. Unless, there is a bran muffin on offer, regardless of the fruit, I will always always choose the bran. I have a natural tendency to gravitate towards foods that are whole grain. You'll rarely find a loaf of white bread or white cakey pastries in our house, unless Brent has made a trip to the grocery store hungry. He has no impulse control when it comes to baked good - especially cinnamon buns and cheese bagels. But for the most part, he also prefers whole grains. And so far, Sebastian also prefers whole grains, but that's because he really doesn't have a choice in the matter.

I have had a many love affairs with bran muffins over the years. The grocery store raisin bran muffins my mom used to buy when I was younger. The jumbo blueberry bran muffins I used to purchase hungover at 7:00 am before a morning class at our University cafeteria, that would keep me going for at least 5 hours. I'm sure there were at least 500 calories in those things. The bran muffins from Tim Hortons I used to get on my way to work. And now the bran muffin that they serve at the coffee shop just down the street from my house, which I discovered a few years back when our toilet backed up and we were forced to use the coffee shop restroom for 2 weeks. I feel like I have really narrowed in what I love about a bran muffin, which I why I was so excited to stumble upon this recipe.

I found this bran muffin recipe a while back, on a blog called Farmgirl Fare. I'm ashamed to say that I've had it tucked away for years and never shared. I though that over the years I would tweak it, making minor adjustments, so that in the future I would have a recipe that through time I could call my own, but to be honest, nothing ever turned out quite as good as the original. So instead of trying to mess with something that's good, I finally just let it be. These muffins are so moist and substantial. They have a hint of molasses flavor, which I think is key to really great tasting bran muffin. I like to add tiny little frozen blueberries instead of fresh, because I find the consistency and taste better. I've tried to make them into little muffins for Sebastian, but they don't quite work as well. I like to use full-fat milk and yogurt in this recipe to give them just a bit of extra richness. They are absolutely perfect.