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After our loved-up dinner of Cioppino, I was compelled to further spoil my fella with the following super indulgent (and super Valentine’s Day appropriate) dessert! A raspberry & dark chocolate tart…

Started out by making a lil’ chocolate cookie crust. Couldn’t find these surprisingly elusive “chocolate wafer cookies”, so I resorted to using the sexiest of children’s cookies – Teddy Grahams. Crushed them up in my (stupid) mini food processor, mixed the cookie crumbs with a bit o’ melted butter and then firmly pressed the buttery crumbs into my fluted, removable-bottom tart pan. Baked it in a 350F preheated oven for about 15 minutes and then let it cool.

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If there’s one thing I love about cold weather (apart from sweaters, indoor fires and booze-spiked morning beverages), it’s warm desserts. And what better way to enjoy a warm dessert than with a hearty crop of cold weather produce! I had the Granny Smiths, and given my near-obsession with the French, this next dessert was a no-brainer…

Apple Tarte Tatin!

I’ve had my share of this warm, caramelly pastry and the results have been as varied as one could expect; sometimes tart, sometimes super caramelly, sometimes mushy, sometimes firm. I’ve made it a few times (and had the pleasure of devouring it at a fab French restaurant near my house) and have determined that I prefer the apples to be firm, the pastry super buttery, and the caramel flavor pronounced. I believe I’ve achieved just that with the following recipe!

Started out with 6 firm, Granny Smiths…

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I missed apricot season. Like, really missed it.

I had a serious hankering for an apricot tart and without realizing it, I spent the whole “summer” dreaming about a luscious and succulent apricot tart served with a dollop of creme fraiche, enjoyed al fresco on some magical balcony overlooking the bay on a balmy summer evening. Needless to say, “summer” in SF lasted for about 3 days, balmy evenings are practically nonexistent here and I don’t even have a balcony. And on top of all that, apricots had an absolutely shite season, coming and going in the span of a week.

So, despite having found the most enticing recipe, there was no apricot tart.

{sadface}

Flash forward a few months… The produce section is looking heartier and more autumnal and I’m introduced to a little fruit that makes me go, “apricot, who?!”

Italian plums! Italian plums! Italian plums!

These little purple-skinned beauties were so enticing and foreign looking that I knew I had to have them. But what to make out of them… Why not revisit that apricot tart recipe, replacing those elusive fucking apricots with my new purple loves? I think I’m on to something…

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When I moved away from New York City, I took quite a few weeks categorizing and revisiting all the things I’d miss; Central Park on a sunny weekday, Soho’s cobblestone streets and wrought iron architecture, all the beautiful strangers, and date cake from Moto in Brooklyn.

All those other topics have been discussed at great length, so let me just take a moment to extoll the extensive virtues of date cake. Firstly, let me make it clear that I don’t even like dates, and yet, Moto’s date cake is quite possibly one of my favorite desserts.

Anytime an opportunity arose to hit up this speakeasy-esque, French-American joint nestled under the JMZ tracks in Brooklyn, I was all over it. And let’s face it, it didn’t take much…

“It’s your birthday?! Moto.”

“Your parents are here visiting?! Moto.”

“It’s Tuesday?! Moto.”

The atmosphere is just about as perfect as you can get – totally secret-feeling, but welcoming. Cozy with a small, but stellar menu of savories (Oh, hello herb-encrusted pork ribs). And my god, the date cake. Warm, dense, yet succulent cake slathered in buttery toffee sauce, served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream… Gah! I would stuff myself silly with the aformentioned pork ribs or perhaps the Chicken Dijonnaise served with a big bowl of delicious mashed taters, loosen the belt and then order a big ol’ slab o’ date cake. I think a few times, I even ordered an extra one to go! 🙂

And then I moved away and thought I’d never achieve this culinary bliss again. But I have! After the jump, a recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding, which is so close to Moto’s date cake, it’s possibly criminal!

Started out by chopping up 1 lb of pitted dates…

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Yes, I’m a bloggie-boo slacker. I have tens and tens of back blogs that I need to get crackin on, but I keep making new things, thus pushing myself deeper and deeper into the back blog blackhole that is my Drafts folder.

But I’m trying to get better… I promise! So please, indulge me, and travel back to mid-August when S and I took that glorious day trip down to Santa Cruz. Not only did we rock the boardwalk carnival and a fancy lobster clambake dinner, but we also stopped at a charming roadside produce stand for some fresh strawberries! $2 a basket for superfresh, super fragrant, magical little strawberries! We ate a few right away because they were calling out to us, but I had bigger plans for the rest…

Strawberry Shortcake! I used to love this creamy, sweet dessert as a youngster, but we always had them with those spongey discs from Safeway, never with homemade shortcake! Not so, this time! Armed with a fluted biscuit cutter and my fabulous berries, I set to work…

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As I’m sure it’s become quite apparent, I adore sweets. I also adore breakfast. And whenever the two are combined… well, needless to say, mama’s happy. So in keeping with this love of sweet breakfast treats, I decided to try my hand at making poptarts!

Poptarts?!

This was the general reaction whenever I mentioned my latest culinary project to all those willing to listen. Yes, I responded, poptarts… Storebought poptarts aren’t necessarily one of my favorite breakie treats, but I figured that since most things are better homemade, poptarts probably would be no exception.

And I was right.

Started out with the usual dough ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1 cup butter, 1 tbsp sugar, blending until I got a loose, dry meal…

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Absentee!

Shirker!

Truant!

I’ve heard them all… mostly from the little voice in my head. “Lauriebot…”, I’ve sternly said to myself, “You’ve neglected your bloggie duties for over two weeks and it simply will not do. Get off your keister and get back to work.”

So I’m doing just that. But, in my own defense, I did just start a new job a few weeks ago and it takes a while to get back into the rhythm of life when I’ve had the luxury (for the past year and a half) and doing things on my own time whenever I feel like. So now it’s back to reality, back to the work-5-days-off-2-days cycle, and back to the importance of time management.

I’ll kick it off with a bang… my ambitious birthday cake, the recipe for which I stumbled across on Poires au Chocolat – a beautiful blog written by a very, VERY talented young lady. Seriously, my cake pales in comparison to the gorgeous confection she created, but I had my heart set and knew that I needed this cake in my life for my birthday.

So settle in for the long haul, this post is FULL of piccies because there are about 8,371 steps to this cake! For clarity’s sake, I’ve written out the ingredients and quantities (converted from UK measurements to US) at the end… otherwise, things would just get way too confusing!

Without further ado… my Dark Chocolate & Whiskey birthday cake…

First I made the cake – started out with 8.5 oz of delicious 70% dark chocolate plus 1 oz each of 60% dark and unsweetened chocolate. Chopped it all up and melted it over a double boiler before setting it aside to cool.

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When I informed my mom of my homemade s’mores endeavor, I was initial met with dead air.

“But Laurieanne,” she began, “why don’t you just buy a box of graham crackers to go with those marshmallows? They’d be just as delicious.”

“No way,” I heartily exclaimed, “I’ve already committed to the marshmallows… I MUST make the graham crackers.”

And so, because I am quite clearly a crazy person, I decided to go ahead and make those homemade graham crackers to go with my boozy, Lillet-infused marshmallows. And here they are… in (perhaps needless) detail!

Started out by gathering my ingredients… Whisked together 1/3 cup honey, 2 tbsp vanilla and 5 tbsp milk (the recipe suggests full fat milk, but I drink 2% and it worked out just fine!)…

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Woo doggie, have I been truant! But my excuse is utterly valid – I ran out of $$$, so I had to focus my energies on finding a damn job. Simple as that! I temped my arse off for a few weeks, sent resumes EVERYWHERE, and interviewed till I was hoarse and irritated. And now, what have I got to show for it?

A job! A job that I actually want to do! Huzzah!

So now that I’m getting my life back in order, I can calm down and devote a little time to updating this here bloggie boo… Starting with my latest endeavour, made in honor of our camping trip to Lake Berryessa for the 4th – Homemade S’Mores!

Homemade S’mores?! (You incredulously ask.) Why, yes, my friends… I am of the ilk that refuses to go for the easiest solution to one’s snacking dilemmas. I realize that a bag o’ Jet-Puffed costs about $3 and a box of graham crackers is even less, but where’s the adventure in that? Oh no, it all had to be from scratch.

A few months ago, knowing that I LOVE to make marshmallows, my pal sent me a recipe for Lillet-infused mallows… Boozy marshmallows?! I couldn’t believe it. And camping was a particularly good excuse to try these babies out.

Lillet Blanc is a crazy delicious aperitif, a little sweet (as aperitifs usually are), with a delightful citrusy accent that makes these marshmallows extra special.

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It’s 9 am, and I’m all kinds of jazzed/pumped/amped after a riveting US showing at this morning’s World Cup match against Slovenia. Don’t know if you caught it, but we was robbed. Had that last goal counted, we would have totally had a Mighty Ducks caliber win. Sigh…

Despite my disappointment at our loss, I did enjoy my 7am Irish coffee and as a result, I’m energized enough to finally get to blogging this amazing chocolate Bundt cake I made the other night! Adapted the recipe from Warren Brown’s (of Cakelove fame – holla, DC!) excellently titled new book, United Cakes of America.

I finally decided to  use my lovely vintage Bundt pan to make an actual Bundt cake (as opposed to the jello mold I used it for a few months ago!) and it was so fun! This was my first Bundt and I def consider it a success – spongy pound cake flecked with cocoa powder & the most decadent bittersweet chocolate glaze that raised this cake from plain ol’ delicious to X-rated food porn.

My Bundt pan is a weird size (6 cups), so it was perfect for the small gathering of folks we had over to watch Party Down and old Aeon Flux shorts… [Note to Netflix… as long as you’re delving into the Liquid Television archives, please, please, PLEASE get “The Head” on Instantly!]

Anyway… on to the cake!

Started out with 1 oz unsweetened and 1.5 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli and Trader Joe’s, respectively)…

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Hi, I’m Lauriebot!


I live in San Francisco. I used to live in NYC, Washington DC, and London.

I like to take the pictures.

I like color, excess, food, light, clothes, and going places.

I also like talking to people.

Write me at:
mmhmm[at]lauriebot[dot]com

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