Hazelnut Butter Cake with Sea Salt Caramel

  • 17th February 2014

The hazelnut is a favorite amongst European chefs due to its true depth of flavor.  We already know that nothing complements chocolate better.  But, this recipe allows the nut to move out of the supporting role and really truly shine.

 

 

 

Slice of Hazelnut, Butter Cake with Caramel Salt

 

 

Because both elements of the cake can be easily made ahead, it is a favored dessert for entertaining.

 

The recipe was printed in Bon Appétit.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of: Bon Appétit.  Our caramel sauce turned out a bit lighter, but was still silky and delicious.

Photo Courtesy of: Bon Appétit. Our caramel sauce turned out a bit lighter, but was still silky and delicious.

 

 

Cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more

1/2 cup blanched hazelnuts

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

3 large eggs

1 Tbsp. raw or granulated sugar

 

Sauce and Assembly

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. light corn syrup

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 Tbsp. flaky sea salt (such as Madon)

 

Cake:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8-inch diameter cake pan.  Line it with parchment round; butter parchment.  Dust pan lightly with flour.

 

 

 

 

Pulse hazelnuts and 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground; set aside 2 Tbsp.  nut mixture.  Whisk baking powder, salt, 1 cup flour, and remaining nut mixture in a medium bowl.

 

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat 1/2 cup butter and remaining granulated sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions.  Reduce speed to low and mix in dry ingredients.  Scape batter into prepared pan, and sprinkle with reserved nut mixture and raw sugar.

 

Bake until cake is golden brown and tester inserted into the center of cake comes out clean, 40-45 minutes.  Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool in pan before turning out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Cake can be baked 1 day ahead.  Keep wrapped tightly at room temperature.

 

Sauce and Assembly:  Bring granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Boil, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture turns a deep amber color, 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and gradually add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously).  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and mix in butter and salt.  Let cool slightly before serving with or on the cake.

 

 

Starting the glaze.

Starting the glaze.

 

 

*Caramel sauce can be made 5 days ahead.  Cover and chill.  Bring it to room temperature before serving.

 

 

 

Hazelnut Butter Cake with Salted Caramel

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!!

Enjoy!!

 

 

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Four Eye-Catching Ways to Welcome Spring

  • 16th February 2014

Playful Puss on Boots!

Thick cotton knee-highs and tights in rainbow hues, paired with irreverent lace-up leather boots—the Miu Miu way!

 

Miu Miu thick cotton tights and lace-up leather boots.  Photo courtesy of: Vogue Paris

Miu Miu thick cotton tights and lace-up leather boots. Photo courtesy of: Vogue Paris

 

 

 

Miu Miu Boots.  Photo Courtesy of:  Vogue Germany

Miu Miu Boots. Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Germany

 

 

 

The Metallic Bandana

It’s a necklace! No, it’s a bandana! Whatever you call it, there’s absolutely no question on how to wear it—with panache!

 

Versace collier facon bandana en maille metail.  Photo Courtesy of: Vogue, Paris

Versace collier facon bandana en maille metail. Photo Courtesy of: Vogue, Paris

 

 

 

Versace necklace/bandana in metal.  Photo courtesy of: Vogue, Paris

Versace necklace/bandana in metal. Photo courtesy of: Vogue, Paris

 

 

 

Etro metallic bandana

Etro metallic bandana

 

 

 

The Star of the Season:

 

Lanvin Altair Collier.  Photo Courtesy of: Vogue, Paris

Lanvin Altair Collier. Photo Courtesy of: Vogue, Paris

 

 

 

Lanvin Étoile Collier

Lanvin Étoile Collier

Lanvin star necklace

Lanvin star necklace

 

 

Lanvin Star Necklace

Lanvin Star Necklace

 

 

 

Lanvin Star and Heart Cuffs

Lanvin Star and Heart Cuffs

Lanvin Heart Cuff

Lanvin Heart Cuff

 

 

Lanvin Star Bracelets

Lanvin Star Bracelets

 

 

 

Spring’s Sac à Dos

Retailing at $3400.00, it is not the backpack you carried to school—though it might look like it once housed some pastels or paints for art class.  This only adds to the chic, carefree charm of the Chanel back pack soon to hit boutiques.

 

 

Spring/Summer 2014 'Chanel Tagged Back Pack.''  Photo Courtesy of: Vogue, Paris.

Spring/Summer 2014 ‘Chanel Tagged Back Pack.” Photo Courtesy of: Vogue, Paris.

 

 

Chanel 'Tagged Back Pack' Spring Summer 2014

 

 

 

Chanel Tagged Back Pack Graffiti Print Spring Summer 2014

 

 

 

 

Chanel Tagged Back Pack Spring Summer 2014
Chanel Tagged Back Pack Spring Summer 2014

 

 

Chanel Back Pack

 

 

 

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The Dogs are Out in Full Force!

  • 13th February 2014

One of the many things emerging out of the Scottish Lowlands—the traditional houndstooth check of four alternating dark and light bands becomes ever more ubiquitous as winter starts to wind to a close.

 

Late last year Vogue Germany showed us the dazzling array of possibilities.  The houndstooth cap, almost a uniform for Sherlock Holmes, looks ever so fetching on Christy Turlington:

 

 

Dolce & Gabbana, Ana Alcazar, Blumarine and Borsalino all celebrate Houndstooth.  Photo Courtesy of:  Vogue Germany

Dolce & Gabbana, Ana Alcazar, Blumarine and Borsalino all celebrate Houndstooth. Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Germany

 

 

 

Christian Dior Houndstooth Strapless Top.  Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Australia

Christian Dior Houndstooth Strapless Top. Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Australia

 

 

Pair a houndstooth piece with sleek black leather gloves or even a dalmatian print cap:

 

Photo Courtesy of: Elle Germany

Photo Courtesy of: Elle Germany

Photo Courtesy of: Elle Germany

Photo Courtesy of: Elle Germany

 

 

 

 

Look handsomely put together with a dapper felt fedora and this cozy yet sharp pullover by Golden Goose, Venice.  Or, try a houndstooth boxy boy’s blazer from Saint Laurent:

 

 

Golden Goose Venice Houndstooth Jumper or Sweater

 

 

Golden Goose Deluxe Print Houndstooth Sweater, farfetch.com, $810.00

 

 

Saint Laurent Houndstooth Blazer, Photo Courtesy of: Vogue, Paris

Saint Laurent Houndstooth Blazer, Photo Courtesy of: Vogue, Paris

 

 

Michael Kors played up the print in fur while Marc Jacobs allowed it to shine in a playful pajama-like sateen:

 

houndstooth fur coat Michael Kors
Houndstooth silk blended lamé shirt and matching skirt by Marc Jacobs

 

 

It works equally well as a long structured coat or a swingy, flirty cape:

 

Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Russia

Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Russia

Photo Courtesy of: Elle Germany

Photo Courtesy of: Elle Germany

 

 

Ways to do houndstooth while politely watching the price:

 

 

Yes Style Button-Detail Houndstooth Shorts
Cole Haan Classic Houndstooth Wool Wide Collar Knit Coat

 

 

 

Button-Detail Houndstooth Shorts, yesstyle.com, $27.90

Cole Haan Classic Houndstooth Wool Wide Collar Knit Coat, bluefly.com, $399.00

 

Kate Spade New York Marvis Dress

 

 

1.) Kate Spade New York Marvis Dress, katespade.com, $398.00

2.) Weekend by MaxMara Houndstooth Skirt, Johnlewis.com, $235.00

3.) Topshop Houndstooth Over the Knee Socks, topshop.com, $12.00

4.) Forever 21 Warm Houndstooth Cardigan, forever21.com, $32.80

 

 A Thoroughly Modern Take on a Classic Pattern:

 

Emmanuel Ungaro Houndstooth Skirt

 

 

Emmanuel Ungaro Houndstooth Print Pencil Skirt, farfetch.com, $1172.27

 

Balmain Black Houndstooth Biker Jeans for Women

 

Balmain Black Houndstooth Biker Jeans for Women, ssense.com, $1,950.00

 

 

Marc by Marc Jacobs Women's Flocked Houndstooth Tee Shirt

 

 

Marc by Marc Jacobs Women’s Flocked Houndstooth Tee Shirt, neimanmarcus.com, $98.00

 

 

 

Myne Fitted Oversized Houndstooth Skirt with 2 Exposed Zippers

 

 

Myne Fitted Oversized Houndstooth Skirt with 2 Exposed Zippers, shopbop.com, $71.50

 

Last Look:

 

Helena Christensen wears Oscar de la Renta in 1992 on the runway.

Helena Christensen wears Oscar de la Renta in 1992 on the runway. Photo courtesy of Net-a-Porter.com

 

 

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The Queen of Tortes Gets Reinvented for Valentine’s Day

  • 12th February 2014

According to varying sources, The Queen of Sheba Torte is the first French cake that Julia Child ever ate and one that she continued to cherish and write about throughout her culinary journey.  It is a beautifully elegant, adult cake,  that with almonds and brandy speaks to a refined palate.

 

It’s a perfect capstone to a romantic meal and we have given it a new whimsical look fit for the amorous day ahead!

 

 

The Queen of Sheba Torte gets a new look for Valentine's Day with a white chocolate heart center.

The Queen of Sheba Torte gets a new look for Valentine’s Day with a white chocolate heart center.

 

 

 

The Queen of Sheba Torte gets a new look for Valentine's Day with a white chocolate heart center.

Keep the central heart pure white, put a loved-ones initial or your own design. It’s very easy to personalize…

 

 

This recipe comes to us by way of ‘Bittersweet Chocolate Queen’ herself, Alice Medrich.  The chocolate torte and bittersweet glaze are delivered unadulterated.  However, the addition of white chocolate is our own.  While Medrich might not approve, it does look visually striking and we enjoyed the contrast it brought in texture and taste.

 

 

Queen of Sheba Torte 

Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into pieces

6 ounces sweet butter, cut into pieces

3 tablespoons brandy

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

4 large eggs, separated

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup (2 ounces) ground blanched almonds

1/4 cup (1 ounce) flour

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) sliced toasted almonds

 

 

1.) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line the bottom of an 8X3-inch springform pan with parchment or waxed paper.

 

2.) Combine chocolate and butter in a small bowl placed in a barely simmering water bath over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat.  Or, microwave on medium (50%) for about 2 minutes.  Stir until completely melted and smooth.  Stir in brandy and almond extract.  Set aside.

 

3.) In a bowl, whisk egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until pale and thick.  Stir in the warm chocolate mixture, almonds, and flour.  Set aside.

 

4.) Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually sprinkle in remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating at high speed until stiff but not dry.  Fold about one-quarter of the egg whites completely into the chocolate batter to lighten it.  Quickly fold in remaining whites.  Turn mixture into the prepared pan and smooth top if necessary.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick or wooden skewer plunged into the center of the cake shows moist crumbs (the center of the cake should be neither completely dry or runny).

 

5.) Cool torte completely in a pan on a rack.  It will have risen and then fallen in the center leaving a higher rim of cake around the sides and possibly some cracking.  The torte can be easily removed from the parchment paper and flipped over.  You might need to round out the edges, cutting it ever so gently with a knife.  (The torte may be prepared to this point up to three days ahead.  It can be wrapped well and stored at room temperature or popped into the freezer for up to three months).

 

 

Let the torte cool completely.

Let the torte cool completely.

You might need to tidy it up a bit to smoothen the circle.

You might need to tidy it up a bit to smoothen the circle.

 

 

Decorating the Torte

 

Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze

Makes enough for an 8-inch to 10-inch torte

This is the simplest and most classic chocolate glaze that can be used on tortes that are stored at room temperature.

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into pieces

4 ounces (1 stick) sweet butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

 

1.) Place chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a small bowl.  Melt gently in a water bath over low heat, stirring frequently until almost completely melted.  Do not overheat the glaze.  Remove glaze from water bath and set aside to finish melting, stirring once or twice until the glaze is perfectly smooth.  Or, melt in the microwave on medium for about 2 minutes.  Stir mixture gently with a spatula or wooden spoon until completely smooth; do not whisk or beat.

 

White Chocolate for the Heart

8 ounces high quality white chocolate

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

 

Follow the same instructions as above minus the butter.  

 

2.) Place a heart shaped cookie cutter in the center of the torte and begin glazing the top with the Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze.  Do not worry if glaze drips down the sides of the cake as you will be marbling the sides anyway.  A knife can be used for the chocolate glaze.  For the white chocolate, which is a denser texture, use a spoon and gently smooth the white chocolate into the mold with your fingers.  Fill the mold generously as you want the white chocolate to pop up above the bittersweet chocolate glaze, thereby creating a raised effect for the heart.

 

Starting to glaze....

Starting to glaze….

It's really very easy and fast.

It’s really very easy and fast.

 

 

 

Add the white chocolate and keep it plain or push further.

Add the white chocolate and keep it plain or push further.

 

 

3.) At this point you can either keep the heart plain and it will still look very attractive.  Or, you can choose to write an initial, or another word using bright red sprinkles of your choice.

 

4.) Glazing the sides of the cake are the trickiest part of this endeavor, but since it is marbled there’s really no stress.  Ice the sides of the cake with the white chocolate without worrying too much about how it looks.  Once finished, use a clean brush to gently swirl the bittersweet glaze along the sides.

 

 

Start marbling....

Start marbling….

 

 

 

Again, not that difficult...blend away.

Again, not that difficult…blend away.

 

 

5.) If at this point your cake plate is messy, a wet paper towel and steady hands does the trick.  Pop the cake into the refrigerator for just about 30 minutes to set the chocolate and then very gently remove the heart cookie cutter.  Voila!

 

Cooks note: This type of glaze looses it shine when refrigerated.  If you are decorating the torte….no problem.  If however, you are serving it without any added pizzaz, let the glaze shine and keep it out of the fridge.  

 

 

 

Serve it up and enjoy!

Serve it up and enjoy!

 

 

Spicy, Perfect Cocktail Kabobs

  • 7th February 2014

Amended from one of our favorite cookbooks of all time, Savoring India, the cocktail kabobs are little bites of spicy, savory goodness.  They are Indian meatballs at their finest!

 

In lieu of serving them with chutney, we added the fresh mint right into the recipe.

 

 

Savory and spicy cocktail kabobs

Photo Courtesy of: Savoring India, Williams Sonoma Cookbook

 

They are delicious and appreciated as an appetizer at any party.  However, we find we make them more frequently as an after-school snack.

Packed with protein they are just the pick-me-up kids need as they head from one activity to the other before dinner.

They are just as delicious cold and right out of the fridge, so we often find them ridiculously convenient for a hungry mom on the go.

 

 

Cocktail Kabobs

 

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1 lb ground beef or lamb

1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon ground cumin (we added)

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (we amended)

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

1/8 cup finely chopped mint (we added)

4 fresh mild green chiles such as Anaheim, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon ground red chili pepper (we added)

1 egg

1 slice of white bread, crusts removed

2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon Adu Lassan (ginger garlic paste…recipe available here)

 

In a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil.  When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring often until it turns caramel brown, about 9 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and add the meat, garam masala, cumin, Adu Lassan, mint, salt, cloves, cilantro, red pepper, chiles and egg.

 

In a small bowl, soak the bread in the milk for 1 minute, mash it to a pulp, and add it to the meat mixture.  Mix thoroughly, preferably with your hands, kneading the mixture until it is uniformly smooth and silky.  Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions, then make 8 balls with each portion.  (If necessary, dip your fingers in water to prevent the meat from sticking to them while you make the kabobs.)

 

Heat 2 large nonstick frying pans over high heat until hot.  Place 16 kabobs in each pan.  Reduce the heat to medium-high and fry, shaking and turning, until they are cooked through and browned all over, about 8 minutes.  If necessary, reduce the heat to medium during the last few minutes of cooking.

 

 

Cocktail Kababs Nestled in a Gravy Boat and Ready to Serve.

Cocktail Kababs Nestled in a Gravy Boat and Ready to Serve.

 

 

Make a double-batch, keep them in the fridge and they disappear by week’s end.   You can warm them and press them between a fresh baguette…chop up some tomatoes, boil some pasta, add the kabobs and dinner is done!

 

 

A New Crop

  • 6th February 2014

Perfect for the season we’re heading right into…the cropped sweater helps you with the it’s not quite cold, yet it’s not quite hot conundrum.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of: Cosmopolitan HK

Photo Courtesy of: Cosmopolitan HK

 

 

It’s also the best way to work the midriff trend without actually giving your tummy the spotlight. Try it layered neatly over a loose white shirt.

 

 

They can be layered on top of sweaters as in this look from Stella McCartney featured in Vogue.

They can be layered on top of sweaters as in this look from Stella McCartney featured in Vogue.

 

 

The cropped sweater wrap is also a cozy-chic alternative like this favorite from Garnet Hill:

 

Cabled Crossover Wrap from Garnet Hill

Cabled Crossover Wrap from Garnet Hill

 

 

Cropped Wrap—Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Deutschland

Cropped Wrap—Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Deutschland

 

 

From the Huge Crop to Choose From—We’ve Selected a Few Choice Pieces:

 

Givenchy Cropped Sweater
Givenchy Cropped White Jumper

 

 

 

 

Givenchy Cropped White Jumper, farfetch.com, $1080.00

 

 

Mango Cropped Chunky Knit Sweater

 

 

 

Mango Cropped Chunky Knit Sweater, mango.com, $50.00

 

 

 

Tibi Layered Black Cropped Sweater and White Turtleneck

 

 

 

Tibi Layered Merino Wool Sweater Colorblocked Cropped Short Turtle Neck Pullover Black/Off White, couture.zappos.com, $144.99

 

 

Nenette Merino High-Neck Cropped Sweater

 

 

Nenette Merino High-Neck Cropped Sweater, matchesfashion.com, $690.00

 

 

Theyskens' Theory Kaska B Sweater in Blue

 

 

Theyskens’ Theory Kaska B Sweater in Blue, thedreslyn.com, $365.00

 

 

 

Louise Goldin 'Crown' Cropped Jumper

 

 

Louise Goldin ‘Crown’ Cropped Jumper, farfetch.com, $537.89

 

 

Miu Miu Cropped Cashmere Sweater

 

 

Miu Miu Cropped Cashmere Sweater, net-a-porter.com, $565.00

 

 

 

Forever21 Cropped Raglan Sweater

 

Forever21 Cropped Raglan Sweater, forever21.com, $17.80

Guacamole Two Ways

  • 29th January 2014

There is nothing more comforting and inviting at a party than a big bowl of freshly made guacamole.  Whether you are pairing it with traditional corn chips or one of the newer trends like wafer sliced jicama, beets or heirloom radishes, either of these recipes will more than delight.

 

 

Celery-Spiked Guacamole with Chiles from Bon Appétit

Celery-Spiked Guacamole with Chiles from Bon Appetit

 

 

One version celebrates the earthy crispness of celery while the other lets a tangy, juicy, ripe mango shine.

 

 

Celery-Spiked Guacamole with Chiles (Recipe from Bon Appétit)

4 avocados, chopped

1 celery stalk, very finely chopped

2 serrano chiles, seeds removed if desired and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1/4 small red onion, chopped and divided

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus more leaves for garnish

 

 

Onion and celery chopped

 

 

Mixing

Mixing

 

 

Mash avocados, celery, chiles, garlic, lime juice, 1/2 onion and 1/2-cup chopped cilantro in a medium bowl to desired consistency; season with salt.  Top guacamole with remaining onion and fresh cilantro leaves.

 

 

 

Serve it up!

Serve it up! The crunchy celery compliments the feel of the chips….

 

 

 

Chunky Guacamole with Fresh Mango

5 avocados chopped

1 small tomato diced

1 very ripe mango diced (try to preserve any juice while cutting, as well as squeeze the juice from the flesh hanging onto the pit)

1/8 red onion, chopped and divided

1 garlic clove finely minced

2 stalks green onion chopped

1/3 cup cilantro chopped (plus more leaves for garnish)

1/4  cup fresh lime juice

 

 

Mango, green onion and red onion chopped

 

Chop fresh mango first, preserving any juice and squeezing any juice from the fleshy pit.  Place the juice in a large bowl with the lime juice and mash the avocados in the fresh juice.  Once the desired consistency is reached add the garlic, onion, cilantro, mango, tomato and green onion.  Salt (and pepper) to taste.

 

Mixing

Mixing

 

 

 

Delicious!

Just delicious!

 

 

 

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