heirloom recipe: grandma's dinner rolls {a good bread to make if you've only made bread a few times before}

3 close up overhead | grandmas rolls_.jpg

I love spicy people. The people who are sassy, flamboyant and unapologetic. Sometimes I'm spicy. Sometimes I'm not. I think we all have spice in us but you know what I'm talking about - there are those that are just loud, or just do things their own way and don't care what anyone thinks of them. Their confidence is contagious. 

first rise aka after the first proof

first rise aka after the first proof

folding down the first proof

folding down the first proof

My grandmother is one of those "always spicy" people. For example she used to fling these rolls across the table at us as soon as they came out of the oven. So like, picture us, all of us sitting down to a noisy but still beautifully set dinner at a grand dining room table with a crystal chandelier above our heads and then here's grandma coming in from the kitchen after the start of the meal yelling, "WHO WANTS A HOT ROLL?!" and then she'd throw them to raised hands. 

getting ready to knead for 30 seconds

getting ready to knead for 30 seconds

And I'm not kidding those things were so hot we had to drop them as soon as we caught them.

Those big dinners don't happen anymore. Grandma doesn't make these rolls anymore. I hate change sometimes. 

kneading

kneading

ANYWAY, not to be all sad on ya, but these rolls ignite awesome memories: flying rolls, dodging rolls, grandpa asking for the boysenberry jam. The little kids stealing rolls off of the adults plates. Opening the roll and having visible steam escape. Asking people to pass the butter for the 100th millionth time until you just had to get up out of your seat and grab it yourself. Stashing rolls to be saved for tomorrow. 

The rolls were endless. Seriously grandma always made SO MANY rolls that we never had to worry that we wouldn't get our fill.

And I never appreciated how much work went into making them until I had a go at it. 

folding over to knead

folding over to knead

dough balls formed

dough balls formed

I made these rolls for my grandmother recently and she kindly said they were better than hers. They weren't. There's still a few tweaks and secrets I'm trying to master but I'm close. I've tried to soak up all I can from her when it comes to learning how to make these babies because I so badly want to be like her and have my family look forward to these when they come over for dinner. She seriously made them so perfectly. 

painting melted butter on after baking, optional!

painting melted butter on after baking, optional!

This recipe has been passed on forever and I'm gonna continue that tradition.

I always think of my great grandmother Eva and great great grandmother Olive when I start  kneading the dough.  I feel proud to come from an amazing line of strong, baking, Danish women. Fun fact: I almost named my blog Olive and Eva and/or Danish but settled on Sweetish instead. I can't tell you how many times I go back and forth wondering if I made the right choice. Names are HARD! 

Anyway I'm so happy to share these rolls with you here. Make them whenever - but if you can - try to throw at least one across the table to someone you love. They really are so much better that way.

And Grandma would be proud. xo 

the second proof could have been longer, but they were still great 

the second proof could have been longer, but they were still great 

 

grandma's dinner rolls

yields about 4 dozen rolls  | Robyn Holland | Sweetish.co 

Once baked, I absolutely adore serving these with soft salted butter and boysenberry jam - my late grandpa’s favorite way to eat them. Also please read the notes and recipe ALL the way through before attempting to make these. I'm here for you. xo

bakers note: I used parchment paper this time to bake my rolls and I wasn't thrilled with the outcome because it made the bottoms of the rolls soft. My grandma always made these rolls by putting them directly on a buttered sheet pan to get the bottoms of the rolls nice and crispy and I really love them that way. Some people preferred the parchment paper method yielding the soft bottoms, but me, I prefer a crispy bottom. 

1 cup / 2 sticks / 227g organic, unsalted butter, softened (plus a few tablespoons more for buttering your rising bowl and hands when forming the rolls)
¾ cup / 150g sugar
2 teaspoons medium- grainkosher salt
1 cup / 250ml boiling water
2 packages of dry yeast (or 4 ½ teaspoons)
½ cup / 125ml lukewarm water (lukewarm water should be very hard to “feel”, it should feel close to the temperature of your body.)
4 large, organic eggs, lightly beaten
7 ½ cups / 938g organic, all-purpose four (see note)
2 tablespoons dry, non-fat milk powder (optional, but awesome)
1 cup / 250ml cold water 

melted butter for painting on baked rolls + fine sea salt for sprinkling, both optional 


In an electric mixer, cream together the butte and sugar until fluffy and combined. About 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the cup of boiling water to the butter + sugar + salt mixture and watch your fluffy butter mixture melt down. Don’t panic, that’s supposed to happen. Let it sit for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir yeast into lukewarm water until slightly incorporated. The yeast won’t disappear completely, but will look wet and slightly bubbly. If your yeast doesn't bubble, you either added water that was too hot or your yeast is old. Try it again, because you really do need fresh yeast for this. 

tip! Measure your flour into a separate bowl, using the “scoop and spoon” method. Meaning, scoop your four and “spoon” it into your measuring cup, don’t use your actual measuring cup as vehicle for scooping up your flour. Does that make sense? Really, if you want the most accurate measurements weigh your flour (and all of your ingredients)! 


Add lukewarm water + yeast mixture into slightly cooled butter + water
mixture.

Mix slightly and slowly.

Add lightly beaten eggs.

NOTE: You can change your electric mixer fixture to the “dough hook”
at this point, but the regular “spatula” mixer fixture works great, and is
usually the route I take.


Add salt.

Add flour, and cold water slowly, a cup at a time, alternating the flour and the cold water. Add the water and flour while the mixture is slowly mixing - about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup at a time. 

Mix until a large dough ball forms - don't over mix it. The dough should just come together. NOTE: If this is too much dough for a little mixer to handle, take the dough out and knead in the rest of the flour in by hand.

Dough will be slightly sticky. If your mixer can handle this much dough, take the dough ball out and knead it a couple times through (no more than 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until dough comes together and is no longer wet, but just slightly sticky) folding and pressing down on a floured surface.

FIRST PROOF:

Put dough ball into a very large, buttered bowl. If you’re making the rolls for the day-of, cover with a clean cloth or dishtowel and set in a cozy place free from a draft until dough doubles in size (anywhere from 2 to 4 hours). OR if you’d like to make rolls for the next day, this dough works beautifully covered in a buttered, very large, air-tight container left in the refrigerator overnight OR for as long as 2 days.

SECOND PROOF:

Once dough has risen, knead it a few more times (no more than 30 seconds to 1 minute) on a clean floured surface. Dough should appear smooth.

Preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C. Line 4 to 5 baking sheets with parchment paper or grease your baking sheets directly with softened butter. See note at the beginning of the recipe about soft vs. crispy bottoms. 

 Butter your hands with softened butter and form dough balls. You form the balls by almost folding the dough over itself. It’s kind of like kneading each individual little dough ball to form a smooth roll. You turn the dough inside out and inside out about 2-3 times until you get a perfect little ball. 

NOTE: If this ball forming method is too stressful, roll the dough out on a floured surface with a rolling pin, until the dough reaches ¼” in thickness. Brush dough with melted butter and cut with a round cookie cutter and fold in half. Place the rolls on the parchment lined cookie sheets, spacing them 1 to 2 inches apart, keeping in mind that they almost double in size when rising for a second time.

Allow to rise for at least 2 hours. (3-4 hours seems to be the sweet spot for me).

Brush risen dough balls with melted butter right before placing them in the oven. This will help them brown. 

Bake at 350° F / 180° C for 10 to 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Brush more melted butter on top with a tiny sprinkle of fine fine sea salt.

Serve rolls almost immediately, warm with butter and jam. Serving them thrown, is encouraged. 

12 rolls finished | grandmas rolls_.jpg

 

more bakers notes: 

  • This recipe, while super simple, does require different measurements of water held at obnoxiously different temperatures. That sounds a bit more tricky than it really is, and I’ve wondered if all of the various temperatures are really worth it here, but man, great grandma must know what she’s talking about because these babies turn out perfect every time, obnoxious water temperatures and all.
  • The second proof is key here in getting the rolls the right texture. (The second proof is the time the rolls rise for the second time when they're in their little dough ball form.) I was running out of time so I rushed the process a little bit here. I would say allow yourself at least 3-4 hours for the second proof. 
  • Very soft, room temperature butter really makes a difference here too for greasing your hands when you form the little dough balls. Don't skip this  
  • My secret ingredient is dry non-fat milk powder. It may seem like it doesn’t do much, but to me, it yields a more tender roll. Totally totally optional though. Grandma didn't use this. 
1 rolls side view | grandmas rolls_.jpg

 

resources:

To me, a good organic, all-purpose four is a MUST here. I’m a big fan of Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose four and King Arthur flour. OR if you find a good local, unbleached all purpose flour please use that!! :D 

The beautiful stainless steel pot holding the melted butter is by: Made in Cookware. They're beautiful American-made brand that's affordable. I'm a little bit obsessed with mine and use it almost every day.  For my exact pan click here.  When shopping for these please go for the stainless steel pots as they really are better for us - not only to cook in but for our health as well. 

the happiest chocolate chip cookie.

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By the time you'll be reading this it will be my birthday.

There are some of us that aren't into birthdays but me, I dunno, I'm super into them. I'm that girl who tells her doctor as she's cutting a mole off my back (TMI?) that "it's my birthday tomorrow" when we've just casually chatted about Christmas shopping. 

2 dough in bowl | m+m cookie_.jpg

Last birthday I was super depressed. I won't go into too many details because depression is sad, but I will tell you this: I wasn't myself. I kept telling myself that it was okay that I wasn't "me" at that moment - I was a very sad version of myself and I had to get help and fight through it. I talked to myself the same way I'd talk to a best friend and holy hell, I really fought to be happy. I had to act the way I wanted to feel so much of the time - and for me, for a girl who's super blunt and transparent, that was REALLY HARD. I took walks outside, made conversation with random strangers at the grocery store (and visited the grocery store several times a day just to be out in public), called friends, listened to books and podcasts. I danced with my Myles in the grocery store isles and he danced with me. I bought marshmallows and chocolate and lit citrus scented candles. I never watched t.v. (still don't). I also worked as hard as I could on this blog even though I was a zombie and we were mega struggling financially. (Keeping a blog up is expensive yo!) 

12 diff scoop out dough | m+m cookie_.jpg

I'm really proud of that girl - that girl who overcame postpartum depression, moved far away and had a baby all at the same time. I'm not so proud of the amount of tears I cried or how many times I crumbled onto the floor sobbing for absolutely no reason, but I'm stronger and better for it. I have such empathy for heartache, because depression is like carrying a million, heavy broken hearts in your very soul all the time and it's exhausting. That feeling is still fresh and I know it very well. 

I turn 33 this year. Thirty freaking three. A part of me is wishing I could still be 25 because time is going by too fast, but then another part of me is so grateful I'm here, mainly because the older I get, the more I seem to count my blessings. 

If there's anything I've learned this past year (because birthdays kind of inspire personal reflection right?) it is to trust God.

9 candy on dough | m+m cookie_.jpg

Faith isn't really something we prove on the internet or really even talk about but let me tell you, even if everything in your life completely sucks butt and you feel like you are weighed down with heavy sand-bags of despair, you are NOT alone. (And trust me, I know alone.) God has got you. 

I've wrestled with God a lot this past year and told Him how angry I was that we felt so right about accepting a job out of state and moving far away when it all seemed to go wrong. The whole experience literally felt like gut punch after gut punch. I'm not saying there were no happy times or good memories or friends made because there most certainly were, and we're so grateful for them, but we walked into that risk expecting an entirely different outcome. Especially when we were led by our intuition and answers to prayers. 

7 dough being wrapped | m+m cookie_.jpg

But here's the thing - all of that - ALL of it has changed me and John forever in the best way. Details I don't want to get into today, but please trust me when I say this: God really does have your back. Even though the outcome of our experience was not what I expected, I am so much better this year than I was the last.

You know how phoenix's get old and crotchety and then they suddenly (when they're too old and tired to go on) burst into flames and from the ashes are re-born fresh and new? Enter ME and this past year. I feel like a lil' baby phoenix. (My fellow Harry Potter fans you may get this analogy a little better.)

Maybe all of this was too heavy to put on my site, but whatever. I can do what I want today because it's my birthday.

Here's to another year, but for reals this time, way wiser. 

Hugs to you. xo 

6 close up | m+m cookie_.jpg

 

the happiest chocolate chip cookie 

yields 2-3 dozen cookies depending on the size you make your dough balls | Robyn Holland | Sweetish.co

This used to be my cookie to top all other chocolate chip cookies but this recipe has been sitting on the shelf for a while so I'm happy to bring it back. I think the use of dark sugar is a game changer here, but light brown sugar will still work. I highly recommend pressing little colorful candies (see resources) into the tops of your cookies too, it's just fun and makes everyone excited to eat them. Also, I added a sprinkle of sea salt on top because I can't seem to make a chocolate chip cookie without it these days. This cookie is literally all I want for my birthday dessert....with maybe a scoop of ice cream or milk. (Yes, I love me a glass of good organic milk with a cookie, don't you?) xo 

bakers note: Don't skip the "chill your dough" part and make sure you space your cookies far enough apart to they have room to bake. These cookies spread. 

special equipment: electric mixer, cookie sheets / sheet pans, parchment paper

2 cups / 220g cake flour

1 ⅔  cup / 188g bread flour

1 ¼ tsp. baking soda

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

1 ½ tsp. medium-grain kosher salt 

2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups; 10 oz.) unsalted butter, softened

1 ¼ cups (10 oz.) / 248g dark brown sugar (you can use light if you want, i prefer dark)

1 cup / 200g sugar

2 large eggs, preferably pasture raised

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 ¼ pounds large bittersweet chocolate chips or chocolate bars cut into chunks - at least 60% cacao or higher

colored chocolate candies (see resources for ideas)

Good flakey sea salt for garnish, (like Maldon Salt) optional

 

for the dough:

preheat oven to 360° F / 182° C. get a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper. don't even think about greasing it. parchment paper or bust.

combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. whisk together and then set aside.

beat butter and both sugars on a medium-high speed in an electric mixer until the sugar combines with the butter. it should look very fluffy. beat for about 5 - 7 minutes.

add eggs, one at a time. adding the other only after the first as been incorporated.

add vanilla.

slowly scoop the dry ingredients (aka the flour mixture) into the butter + sugar mixture. mix on a medium slow speed until combined. scape the bowl down once or twice to make sure everything is incorporated.

add chocolate chunks and mix until just combined.

you can refrigerate the dough at this point for as little as an hour up to over night. wrap dough in parchment paper and then put into a sealable bag for extra freshness. the refrigeration of the dough allows a more carmel-y flavor. i hardly have patience to refrigerate dough. so i usually skip this step, and use the dark brown sugar instead. the dark brown sugar achieves that deep rich carmel flavor that the refrigeration does. even if you do use dark brown sugar, and still choose to refrigerate your dough, you cannot go wrong. dark brown sugar is a must to me.

to bake:

make little dough balls weighing anywhere from 3 -3.5 ounces (about a little palm full). i can usually get nine cookies on one sheet. press little candies into the tops of the dough.

bake for 12-15 minutes in 360° F / 182° C oven, switching the cookies about half way through the bake time. if using refrigerated, cold dough, they might need a few more minutes, until the edges are golden brown, and the center of the cookie looks pale and slightly doughy. you WANT to under-bake these babies. over baking them is a crime. ;)

 go spread the love and happy eating.

resources: 

UnReal candies are great here, but I used little m+m-like (or smarties-like) candies from Trader Joe's - find them here. The UnReal candies was a suggestion made to me by French Pressed Kitchen via instagram. I don't know why I didn't think of these at first because I LOVE UnReal candies so much - John brings me home candy of theirs on the regular (that's what love is) - so I'm totally trying this next time! xo

 

Two amazing companies just had a baby: Madewell + Milk Bar {GIVEAWAY closed}

me with cookie shirt and scarf.JPG

Win this! 

Cookie shirt + scarf and blueberry cookie mix

This collaboration is what my dreams are made of: Madewell + Milk Bar Bakery.

You wanna know something? I've never even been to Milk Bar yet, but I've had my eye on them for years. Christina Tossi (the founder and creator of Milk) is one of my baking heroes and SUCH an example of a boss lady. She's creative and fun and not afraid to push boundaries. SHE CAME UP WITH THE NAKED CAKE TREND PEOPLE. I mean, she's big. Someday, I hope we hug. 

Madewell is one of my all time favorite clothing companies. Their aesthetic is feminine tomboy - they make jeans and an oversized t-shirt look good and can pair tennis shoes with anything (like skirts and dresses) and you're like, YES! That works! (Confession: I am not a shoe person. I love comfortable shoes. I am such a grandma in this regard but please love me anyway.) 

So when these two got together it was all over. I mean, hello. 

SO! We've teamed up to give YOU some of this goodness.

image from MADEWELL.com

image from MADEWELL.com

WIN: the cutest limited edition cookie t-shirt, scarf and blue(berry) jeans cookie mix of your own! (The cookie mix is crazy good you guys - and the t-shirt is soft + adorable and the scarf is my new favorite thing.) 

HOW: Leave a comment below and tell me your favorite holiday dessert (and/or cookie) and you'll be entered to win the cookie t-shirt, scarf and cray-good blueberry cookie mix. (Go enter on my instagram @sweetish.co too and tag a friend!) 

Contest open to US and Canadian residents only, winner will chosen on my birthday December 13th by midnight PST. Winner will be notified by email/and or through DM on instagram. No purchase necessary. 

BONUS: If you enter HERE, on my site, you get 10 EXTRA entries as opposed to someone leaving a comment on instagram. 

I love you and GOOD LUCK! xoxoxo

*Giveaway is closed and the winner has been notified* 

View the entire collaboration HERE

cookie bw.jpg

Great classic sugar cookie {buttery, not too sweet and they hold their shape} + Royal Frosting

7 clouds on cookie sheet | sugar cookies_.jpg

When I think of sugar cookies I think of my brothers sticking a million toothpicks into one cookie with very choice red frosting all over for "blood". I also think of them snatching my cookies and biting the head off of my gingerbread men.... and me squirting frosting all over their creations in revenge. 

We don’t do that anymore.

The decorating cookies thing. 

dough unwrapped | sugar cookies_.jpg
rolling out dough | sugar cookies_.jpg
11 cut dough | sugar cookies_.jpg

Honestly sometimes I get sad around the holidays because I think of how things have changed so much.  I miss those mornings with everyone in their matching pajamas and the smell of baked oatmeal in the oven. I miss my entire family throwing wrapping-paper balls at each other all morning (we call these Southern California snow balls) and my sister’s cute bob-haircut sitting next to me while I looked through my stocking. I miss the days when all I was worried about was whether or not my crush was going to be on instant messenger at the same time I was and what elastic-wasted pants should I wear to the Christmas feast?

I know you know the heartache that comes with change - especially around the holidays.

Change can really suck.

But change can also be wonderful and fun, if we let it. 

on cookie sheet | sugar cookies_.jpg

I try to make our own traditions now with John and Myles. It is SO FUN to enjoy Christmastime with the perspective of giving - especially giving to Myles. He's just old enough to kinda get it all and it's the best. 

When I made these sugar cookies for this post I had Myles on my lap while I decorated. The first time I put a fresh cookie to decorate in front of us he grabbed it without any hint of hesitation hello! my child, and took a big bite and said, “MmmMmmMmm” in a dippy-sing-song way. I kissed his bald little head, asked him if it was good and put another cookie in front of us to decorate. (It was hard decorating cookies with a bouncing + dancing boy on my lap, so, forgive my piping job.) 

It’s certainly not the same cookie decorating party we used to have with my brothers and extended family, but in a way, it’s just a good.

This holiday season I’m really trying to embrace change with a full heart. I don’t know if you need to do that too. Maybe things are better this year than they were last, but I figure the only way we can be happy with change is by dancing with it a little bit and not running away from it.

Have you seen the movie Harriet the Spy? (I love that movie) Towards the middle-end-ish in the movie there's this man that gets all of his pet cats taken away from him by the authorities because he's not allowed to have 20+ cats in his place. It's heartbreaking. (Truly I always tear at this part because those cats are this mans life). But then by the end of the movie there's this scene where a tiny kitten pops out of his shirt and he's just so happy. It may not be 20 cats, but it is one little cat. 

Change is like this. Sometimes it's feeling the sadness of getting all 20 of your very best cat friends taken away from you for no good reason; but then, if we agree to dance with it, change can also be like a small kitten popping out of our shirts. It may not be the same as our 20 cat friends, but it is something. 

Bottom line: There is so much good to be had, right here, and right now. Don't squander the present. 

Hugs to you.  xo

ps. So many more recipes + tips to come my friends - so check back here soon. And! Thank you new and old friends for coming to my cookie decorating workshop at Anthropologie last Saturday. We sold out again very quickly (THANK YOU). Special shout out to my new friend Cambria, (I wanted to talk to you more at the workshop!) who has made it to every single one of my workshops. You my friend, are amazing. Thank you!

Friends, if you want to mark your calendars next workshop is January 27th 2018 (Sat) at 10am. Sign ups to be announced to subscribers first as soon as they're available. More details to come, but this one is more of a health-focused workshop. xo  

15  clouds with squeeze | sugar cookies_.jpg

the best classic sugar cookie

makes 15-18 2 ½ inch cookies | by robyn holland | sweetish.co*

I'm just gonna say it, usually sugar cookies are gross. (I'm not the only one who thinks this right?) But these aren't gross, these are good. While royal frosting (the frosting we use here) isn't my favorite frosting it is necessary here because it hardens as it drys, therefore it's the best to decorate with. There's something about decorating a sugar cookie that brings out the kid in all of us, right? It's simply sugar at its funnest. (I know, I know funnest isn’t a real word. ;) These don't disappoint. 

bakers note:  I think these are best just slightly underdone, but sometimes I completely over do them too for some nice brown crispy edges. You really can't go wrong and they're pretty hard to ruin.  

for the cookies: 
1 ¾ cup / 245g all-purpose flour, preferably organic

¼ teaspoon of medium grain kosher salt 

¼ teaspoon baking powder, preferably aluminum free

¾ cups (1 ½ sticks) / 170g unsalted butter, softened 

⅔ cup / 133g sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature, preferably pasture-raised and/or organic

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons lemon zest (optional, add the zest if you want a tiny hint of lemon to your sugar cookies) 


for the royal icing: 

2 cups / 240g powdered sugar, sifted

2 large egg whites, I always use super fresh, pasture-raised eggs especially when making this. Do not skimp on the quality of your eggs. The eggs can be cold for this. 

1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, a little more or a little less depending on the dryness of the day 

food coloring, I use a mix of high quality food coloring gel and natural dye. 


Preheat oven to 325° F / 170° C. Prepare an un-greased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. note! There is some chill time in-between your actual get-the-cookies-in-the-oven time. It’s actually better for your cookies to have your oven heating for at least an hour, but if you don’t want to do that, turn your oven on after the second chill of your dough.

Measure and whisk together all dry ingredients (except the sugar) in a separate bowl. 

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment mix together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. About 5-8 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until just combined. 

Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Be careful not to over mix. The dough will be very, very soft and sticky and impossible to roll out at this point. note: The dough will probably look like you didn't do it right at first but you did. Remember the dough will firm up nicely as it chills and soak up lots of flour as we roll it out. 

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and/or parchment paper and put it in a zip lock bag and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, or until firm OR 15-20 minutes in the freezer for the first chill. Fridge works best because it chills the dough more evenly, but freezer works in a pinch.

Unwrap the dough and lay a new, clean piece of parchment paper down on where you plan on rolling out the dough and flour the entire surface. 

Roll out the dough on your floured parchment paper until the dough is about ¼ inch thick. Parchment paper might slide a little bit, that’s okay. You can tape it down if it bugs. Put rolled-out dough on a sheet pan, and refrigerate that flat dough, for the second chill. About 20 minutes. 

Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter and place on your parchment lined cookie sheet that you prepared earlier. Your dough is nice and cold now, so cutting shapes should be much easier! Yay!

Pop cookies in the oven for about 12-15 minutes. Try not over bake. They will be the faintest golden brown around the edges when done, but still a milky dough color in the middle. This is perfect. If you'd like them under baked the whole cookie will be milky with no golden brown edges. Unless you want a crunchy sugar cookie then let them brown a little but watch them, as they can brown too quickly. (They're never bad brown though! So don't fret if you over bake!) 

Let the cookies cool for 15-20 minutes before icing. They'll cool faster if you take them off the cookie sheet and onto a cooling wrack, but be careful. 

Decorate with royal icing (recipe below). 

Let the icing dry on the cookies before storing. (I usually let mine dry over night, then immediately wrap them up in the morning but if you live in a dry area, don't leave them out that long - 4 hours tops.) 

Store in an airtight container for about 3-5 days - making sure you separate the cookies with parchment to prevent sticking. I think these are best the day or the day after their made. 

5 dancing clouds | sugar cookies_.jpg


for the royal icing: 

Makes enough for one recipe of sugar cookies - with a little extra to spare.

bakers note:  I recommend making this with an electric mixer, but this entire recipe can easily be made by hand with whisk and bowl. But if you make it by hand be SURE to sift the confectioners' sugar beforehand... I mean you don't HAVE to, but be prepared to whisk aggressively as you add the liquid to take away any lumps. Sifting beforehand is way way, easier.

With a whisk or paddle attachment on your electric mixer beat your egg whites until slightly frothy - about 1-2 minutes. (If making this by hand just beat egg whites in a large bowl vigorously until slightly frothy)

Then slowly slowly add your powdered sugar. See how thick the mixture is and add your lemon juice accordingly - you may not need any lemon juice at all, see notes below. The mixture should have the texture of a thick glaze. Be careful not to over liquify it. If it's too runny, just add more powdered sugar. If it's way too thick, add a little more lemon juice. You want the goldilocks thing here, the frosting should be just right. 

Separate the frosting into several bowls to make different colored icings. Remember a little dye goes a long way. 

You can easily spread your icing on with a spoon, but it's super fun to decorate the cookies with squeeze bottles or a pastry bag with a fine tip if you want more detailed sugar cookies. Both spoon and squeeze bottle work! 

13 squeeze | sugar cookies_.jpg

more bakers notes: 

  • These cookies certainly don't need frosting if you don't feel like making it. Or if you'd like to make the frosting without any dye and left white, they're still super cute. I dare say these are also awesome dipped in melted dark chocolate, or with a dollop of ganache on top and served with a cup of tea.
  • Just in case you missed this note I'm gonna say it again: The dough will probably look like you didn't do it right at first but you did. It's extremely "wet" and soft when all of the ingredients are combined. Remember the dough will firm up nicely as it chills and it soaks up lots of flour that we roll it out. 
  • The lemon juice for the frosting is kinda optional. If your frosting is really dry and needs more liquid add some more lemon juice or more egg white. You want it thick, but not too thick that you can't easily frost a cookie with it.
  • How do I know my frosting is the right thickness? With a spatula you should be able to scoop some frosting up and then let it drop back into the bowl. You should see a thick "ribbon-like" stream form. That "ribbon" should stay in it's "ribbony" shape for 3 seconds and then disappear into the rest of the frosting.
  • Make sure your cut-out cookies are chilled so they hold their shape when you bake them. This makes a difference. I also find that for this dough, the thinner the cookie, the more they hold their shape. 
16  clouds with squeeze | sugar cookies_.jpg

 

Resources: 

Food dyes: I use Wilton's paste and India Tree natural food colorings

Cookie Cutter: Cloud cookie cutter from Herriot Grace


*This recipe was adapted from Baked I started using this recipe years and years ago. It’s SO similar to my family’s old sugar cookie recipe - but I actually like it a little bit better. Shhhh don’t tell grandma. ;) 
 

sweet potato snack cake

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Remember this cake from instagram? Heaven knows I've talked about it enough! And for good reason! It took a couple of tries to get this cake just right - but it was worth it. The results yield a not-too-sweet pillowy cake studded with melted bittersweet chocolate and toasty pecans. Don't skip the pecans. Even if you're not a nut person, the pecans and sweet potatoes here are like peanut butter and boysenberry jam = so good together. 

It's called snack cake for a reason - because it has sweet potato in it, therefore totally okay to snack on. Did you know that the sweet potato is one of the most nutrient packed vegetables out there, therefore a perfectly acceptable snack? Also. Breakfast. 

Okay, I love you! Go make this cake! 

(Have you subscribed yet? We talk more on Fridays in our Cocoa Chats. I'd love to have you in the kitchen with me.) xox 

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sweet potato snack cake 

by robyn holland | sweetish.co

bakers note: I think the chocolate here is optional, but the toasted pecans are not. In fact if your people won’t oppose to nuts in their snack cake, I’d throw in a little more. My people aren’t crazy about nuts in ANYTHING (tough crowd), but because I chopped the nuts really small here, no one objected. I’d definitely add more next time. If you go for chocolate, please make it bittersweet. That bittersweetness plays with the toasted warmth from the pecans, and sweet potato and it’s this beautiful juxtaposition of cool tangy chocolate and toasty, buttery nuts that it can’t be beat. I realize there’s some sort of dirty joke in what I just said but roll with me on this.  

for the full recipe visit nc sweet potatoesPs! There's an error in the recipe, please note in this section it should read:  In another large bowl, combine sweet potato mash, SUGAR and buttermilk. Add eggs one at a time and whisk until combined. Slowly stream in oil, and whisk until combined. 

3 ½ cups / 440g whole wheat pastry flour or all purpose, unbleached flour (I used all purpose, whole wheat will yield a awesomely tender crumb though, just take care not to under bake)
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons medium grain kosher salt
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons  / 375g sugar
2 cups mashed sweet potato (about 6-8 small - medium sweet potatoes total)
¾ cup / 180g buttermilk, room temperature
¾ cup / 168ml sunflower oil or coconut oil, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup / 113g chopped pecans, toasted (you can have more pecans than this if desired, this recipe really is magical with those pecans!)
¾ cup / 128g bittersweet chocolate discs or a large chocolate bar chopped into large chunks (optional)

for the full recipe visit nc sweet potatoesPs! There's an error in the recipe, please note in this section it should read:  In another large bowl, combine sweet potato mash, SUGAR and buttermilk. Add eggs one at a time and whisk until combined. Slowly stream in oil, and whisk until combined. 

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This post was created in partnership with the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission. Their mission is to support non-GMO (and some organic!) sweet potato farmers by promoting the fact that sweet potatoes aren't just for marshmallow casseroles anymore! We're also promoting kindness, and being a little sweeter in life... just like a sweet potato. Also! Be sure to enter the contest the NCSP is hosting right now to win a vitamix! You GUYS! I've been blending goodness for years and I don't even have one of these bad boys yet! Go enter! :D

easy apple cinnamon oats with milk and brown sugar

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 Do you have one of those foods from childhood that’s ignites all sorts of great memories? Tell, me, it’s probably much more exciting than mine.

Mine is oatmeal. It was a breakfast my mom always made special by letting me sprinkle on my own brown sugar, and on really special days, she’d show me how to drizzle cream over the top. The heat from the oats would melt the sugar (that was my favorite part and still is!) and the cream would soak that melted sugar up and if I moved my spoon just right, I’d create a swirl of magic.

Oatmeal was such a fond dish in our home that I distinctively remember making it for my parents when I was barely 4 years old. I thoughtfully put two mounds of raw oats on two paper plates, and then carefully placed golden raisins and chocolate chips throughout. They looked like a start to some great homemade granola, or little raw oat mountains studded with goodness, but definitely not the oatmeal we were used to. I was so proud of them though, and I couldn’t wait to feed my parents my creations. 

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As I paraded my "oatmeal" into my parents bedroom way too early, my mom greeted me with a huge smile and said “Did you make me breakfast!?” My dad rolled over and sat up too. 

I was SO PROUD as I handed mom the plate of raw oats I could burst. And she didn’t even hesitate. She dove right in and started eating. My dad leaned over and whispered, “Oh! We’re really eating this?” And my mom shot him a look and told me how delicious it was. Dad ate it too. 

Food is one of the great memory instigators. Creating new memories with food is one of life’s greatest privileges to me and I set to create new dishes for my little family as soon as John and I got married and I took on the role of wife.

This apple oatmeal is one of those dishes. It will forever remind me of our Saturday mornings in that tiny, tiny no-dishwasher, super crappy gas-powered oven, in our first old home with lots and lots of windows. Our kitchen was so makeshift that there was literally no counter space, so we would chop everything on our garage sale-purchased dinning table. Saturday mornings always called for a special breakfast but sometimes we just wanted to stay home and make-do with what we had on hand, and for some reason, apples and oats, like good friends, were always there. 

I’d like to say I’ve come a long way from that paper plate of raw oats, but there’s still that little girl inside of me hoping that whatever I place in front of someone, will be loved and accepted. Thank goodness for moms and dads. Thank goodness for husbands who praise every dish you make and a small son who eats like you're the best cook in the world. It is so much stinking fun to know that I get to create food my son will always remember. Hoping these oats will make that list. 

Hope you love these oats just as we do. xo

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EASY APPLE CINNAMON OATS WITH MILK AND BROWN SUGAR

robyn holland | sweetish.co

By far the breakfast I make the most for my Myles. 

bakers note: I use Irish, steel cut oats here, which soak up a lot of liquid. I've found that in order to reach that really creamy consistency, I add more and more liquid to them after they've softened and cooked. 

for the oatmeal:
2 cups / 480g milk (any milk will do, cows milk or nut milk, I used whole cows milk here) 
2 cups water
1 cup irish oats /  steel cut oats
plus about 1 1/2 - 2 cups more of water to add once oatmeal is cooked
pinch of medium grain kosher salt

for the apple topping:
2 cups / 240g granny smith apples (or any other good tart cooking apple) 1 small/medium apple = about 1 cup, peeled and chopped
1 generous tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, muscovado sugar works well too, packed, plus more for serving 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons water
pinch of medium grain kosher salt

Bring combined 2 cups of water and 2 cups milk to a boil in a medium pot.

While you’re waiting for the water + milk to boil, cut and peel apples into thinnish slices.

If water + milk is to a boil, add 1 cup of oats and reduce heat to low. Simmer until oats have absorbed the liquids. I like to add another cup or so of liquid once the oats have cooked, creating a more saucy consistency. You can be generous with the milk or water you’re adding to the oats, they are pretty resilient and will soak up almost anything you throw at them.

In a medium saucepan melt butter on a medium heat. Butter should melt and bubble slightly. Add apples and coat them in the butter. Add your pinch of salt. Let apples soften and soak up some of the butter, for about 3 minutes.

Add sugar and cinnamon, and stir again to coat apples. Sugar should bubble and begin to pull the juices out of your apples. Cook apples in cinnamon and sugar for 3 minutes or so.

Add 2 tablespoons of water. The water is going to soften our apples a little bit and make them saucy.

Let apples continue to cook until soft and fragrant. If you forgot to add your pinch of salt, do so now.

Serve apples on top of your oatmeal, with a sprinkle of brown sugar, cinnamon and a generous splash of milk. 

All of this can easily be made ahead of time and stored in glass containers in the fridge. It stores well and can be-reheated without compromise. Just add a splash or two of water or milk to the oats to refresh and loosen them up a bit. 

 

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Resources:

I used Irish steel cut oats. They can be found at Whole Foods, or Trader Joes or online. 

sweet potato pie with salted pretzel crust and toasted cinnamon meringue {gluten-free option for crust}

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I just wanted to write real quick and say that pursuing your passion can sometimes make you feel really stupid. Especially when it doesn’t work. Especially when you have 3 sweet potato pies sitting there on the counter just staring at you and you stayed up way past midnight making one of them. Sometimes pursuing your passion is absolutely NOT fun. And sometimes you need to lay down and not eat any more bites of pie, and pray that the next recipe works, all in the name of preserving your passion. 

But sometimes your passion pays off I guess because this pie is pretty perfect. The salty crunchy pretzel pecan crust with the custardy, not-too-sweet filling and the warm, toasty cinnamon meringue. Maybe people will wrinkle their nose at the whole pretzel crust for a pie idea, but hey, even landing on the moon sounded crazy at one point. 

This is a pie worth making. 

Love you friends. xo 

ps. THANK YOU to my friends new and old that had a chance to make it to my take and bake workshop at Anthropologie last week. My next workshop at Anthro is December 2nd (a Saturday) at 10am. We will be learning / practicing how to decorate sugar cookies with natural dyes using the water color effect. We'll also learn what makes the perfect sugar cookie. Spots will be limited, and subscribers will be the first to hear when sign ups are live. I can't thank you enough for your support and love. Seriously. 

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sweet potato pie with salted pretzel crust and toasted cinnamon meringue

yields: one 9 inch / 23cm pie

The meringue is sweet and toasty here on purpose, as the filling has a slight tang and the crust is slightly salty but if you don't want to make meringue - I have a recipe for cinnamon whipped cream here at the end. Either topping is fantastic, just don't skip it - the meringue or the whipped cream balance everything out in the best way. 

bakers notes: I know the way I instruct to make the crust can seem a bit cumbersome, but it works and yields the best consistency. Trust me. Also if you want to toast your meringue your gonna need a blow torch. If you don’t have one of those already, splurge. You’ll soon find that there are so many desserts that need to be torched. Also! You can totally smash the pretzels and pecans in a bag if you don't have a food processor. I've tried both methods (food processor and bag) and they both work beautifully. ALSO, pay attention to the salt in your pretzel. The crust may need a little more or a little less salt depending on the pretzel you use. 

gluten free crust option: See my notes in the ingredients about replacements. If you're replacing the pretzels with pecans instead of gluten-free pretzels, start with just 4 tablespoons of butter first, and then go up from there if needed. Nuts are more oily than pretzels, and I've personally found more success with a little less butter. The instructions are exactly the same, just replace the ingredients. 

for the crust:
1 ½ cups / 145g pretzels, crushed into medium-fine chunks, (if you need to make this gluten free, replace with gluten free pretzels OR ground pecans)
¼ cup / 55g dark or light brown sugar
1 teaspoon medium grain kosher salt
¼ heaping cup / 26g pecans, crushed (use unsweetened shredded coconut if making this gluten free)
6 tablespoons / 85g unsalted butter, melted

for the filling:

3 large eggs
⅔ cup / 160ml cream
¼ cup / 60ml buttermilk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups / 488g sweet potato, mashed (about 7-8 small - medium sized potatoes, baked)
1 teaspoon medium grain kosher salt
¾ cup / 165g light or dark brown sugar

for the meringue:
4 fresh egg whites
¾ cup / 90g powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

to make the crust:

Pre-heat oven to 350° F / 180° C and grab a 9 inch pie dish.

Pulverize pretzels in a food processor until they’re broken up quite a bit but not pulverized or even crumbs. We want them in decent, recognizable chunks here. Measure out 2 cups worth of pretzel crumbs (or better yet, weigh it for accuracy) into a large bowl. Then mix pretzel crumbs with the brown sugar, salt and pecans (Pecans can be left whole at this point, because they’ll get mashed in the food processor). Pour all ingredients back into the food processor and pour in all of the melted butter. Pulse until the ingredients form a wet sand. If you need to add more melted butter, do it. Don’t be shy about this. Smoosh crust in the bottom of your pan and bake for 10-13 mins.

Cool crust. (psst, I pop mine in the freezer to cool it super quick!)

to make the filling:

Cook 6-8 medium-sized sweet potatoes at 400° F / 200° C for 1 hour. Potatoes should be very soft and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Peel and mash sweet potatoes in a medium sized bowl. Measure out two cups of sweet potato mash and set aside. Mash should be room temperature.

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, sugars, and vanilla. Then add your buttermilk and cream. Add sweet potato mash and beat together with a whisk or rubber spatula until combined.

Pour filling into cooled pretzel crust and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the edges of the pie filling are set, but the middle gives just the slightest wobble. Note: You may want to tent the sides of the crust with foil to prevent burning if you need to bake your pie for longer than 45 minutes. (Mine took exactly 45 minutes.) We don't want to over cook the custard here, so don't be afraid to take it out of the oven if it has a little jiggle - it will continue set as you take it out of the oven. Think, butt jiggle, not a liquid jiggle. 

Refrigerate pie for 3-4 hours or until set.

Cool completely before topping with meringue.

to make cinnamon meringue: (note: make meringue the day you're serving your pie or else it will seep into your crust making it soggy. health and safety: The egg whites in this meringue are cooked here, but still you may want to use advice pregnant women, elderly friends and parents of young kids before they eat it. I personally think it's totally fine if cooked properly. :)

5 large egg whites 

3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons / 205g sugar  

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

pinch of sea salt

Pour a couple of inches of water in a pot and place a glass bowl just above it, taking care that the bowl does NOT touch the water. (It may take a couple of bowls to find the right fit!) Pour egg whites and sugar into glass bowl.

Over a medium high heat, whisk together the egg whites and sugar until mixture is not too hot to touch, but too hot leave your finger in there for more than a couple of seconds. Sugar should be completely dissolved. If you stick your head in the bowl eggs should smell cooked and consistency should be somewhat snot like and slightly bubbly. (Sorry) It takes about 8-10 minutes. 

Pour hot egg mixture and pinch of salt into your electric mixer and whip on a high speed (about a 6-7 if you have a kitchen aid) until soft peaks form. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl down, half way in-between whipping. Takes about 7-10 minutes. 

Using a small spatula, scoop meringue on top of pie, creating some swirls or stiff peaks (you can even pipe it into a pastry bag, filling the pastry bag 3/4 of the way full if you want to pip on some little meringue puffs).

Toast with a blow torch. Pie can sit with meringue on it for a couple of hours at a coolish room temperature. 

Whisk egg whites, powdered sugar, cinnamon and cream of tartar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Sharp cloud-like peaks should be easily seen and formed. Form meringue on the baked and cooled pie and toast with a blow torch until peaks turn from snow-white to golden-brown. If you don't have a blow torch, "they" say you can broil it in your oven for a few minutes but I've never had steady results with that approach.

to make cinnamon whipped cream instead of meringue:

Whip 2 cups / 240ml heavy whipping cream with 1 teaspoon vanilla + 1 tablespoon of honey OR ¼ cup / 30g powdered sugar if you don’t want to sweeten with honey. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
Beat in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Pour and shape onto pie. Don’t try to toast your whipped cream or you’ll have a melted mess on your hands. Whipped cream is best served the day it’s made. Right before serving is truly best. ;)

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Resources: 

I used Newman's Own Organic Spelt pretzels to make the crust. 

tara o'brady's chocolate chip cookies (aka heaven)

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First of all, there are no chips in these cookies. Just huge hearty chunks of bittersweet chocolate. 

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Second, if you’ve have been following along with me on instagram (@sweetish.co), you know I've been talking a lot about cookies lately because this is the topic of my next "Make and Bake" workshop hosted with Anthropologie.

The workshop is sold out already (thank you!) and I'm so honored and flattered and stoked (I'm all the things) that you guys want to chill with me and talk cookies. If you missed this workshop or my last pie-making workshop, don't fret, I have something great in the works that we'll talk about in just a sec. 

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Fun fact: This entire blog post was taken with my iphone. I wasn't planning on sharing these cookies so quickly, but whatever, so many of you wanted the recipe, NOW. Ask and I will deliver! I make this recipe lately just about as much as I make my other favorite.  

This is the best "make in a cabin or little tiny condo in Hawaii” recipe because it requires no electric mixer. We melt the butter first and then add the sugars to it, allowing them to marry and blend this way instead of the traditional beating and creaming method. (aka beating the sugar in with softened butter). 

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This cookie is brought to you by the beautifully talented Tara O'Brady from one of the original food blogs ever (like she's original gangster status), Seven Spoons.

I change very little about her recipe except for the use of dark brown sugar and the amount of chocolate. I hardly measure the chocolate (just eye ball a little less than a pound) of bittersweet chopped chocolate... yes, it's a tiny bit more than Tara calls for, but have we met yet? #darkchocolateissuesforlife 

Oh, and back to my first comment here at the start of this post: The bigger your chunks, the bigger the pools of chocolate. You're welcome. Don't say I never gave you anything. ;) 

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Oh! One more thing!

We are putting together a really beautiful, fun and instructional online pie making workshop where you'll learn how to make 3 of my favorite holiday pies: Salted Caramel Apple, Butterscotch Pumpkin, and Deep Dark Chocolate Cream pie. We’re gonna learn how to nail the perfect pie crust and fillings - as in one fool-proof amaze balls crust and three different fillings to go with it. (cue the confetti emojis) 

The workshop will be in a step-by-step video format and include me (hi!) teaching you how to make everything. We breakdown the process and the recipes. It’s not gonna be dinky either guys, it’s going to be beautifully shot and styled - but fun, quick and accessible. We’ve made it so you can watch the videos as many times as you need to and I’m fully available to answer any questions, but I swear, you're gonna walk away from this online workshop feeling like a pie-boss. :D That's a thing. 

We're going to start rolling out the pre-sign ups soon. Spots will be limited, and the workshop will start mid-November, just in time for your holiday pies. If you have any questions about it, let me know. 

Hey! I love you. Thank you for being here. Really. xo

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tara o’brady’s chocolate chip cookies 

Adapted from Seven Spoons My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day by Tara O'Brady

Tara has an eloquence to her writing that I lack. She paints the most beautiful imagery with her words, so much so you feel you’re there, savoring it all with her and practically smelling her kitchen through the pages. Her cookbook is one that I would grab and keep with me forever if I was only allowed to keep a few. I think this cookie recipe explains "why" pretty nicely.

bakers note: Kosher salt is saltier than sea salt. So I highly recommend using medium grain kosher salt for these cookies because the saltiness is just perfect. If you use table salt or sea salt, it won’t quite be the same and probably require a little more salt. FYI, I use kosher salt in every single one of my recipes. A box of it is a few bucks at the store and it’s usually not hard to find (in the US) and it makes all the difference. 

1 cup / 225g unsalted butter, chopped

3 ¼ cup / 415g all-purpose unbleached flour

1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder, aluminum free

1 teaspoon baking soda 

1 ½ teaspoons medium-grain kosher salt

1 ½ cups / 320g packed light or dark brown sugar, I use a mixture light and dark

½ cup / 100g granulated sugar

2 large eggs 

2 teaspoons vanilla

12 ounces / 340g semisweet or bittersweet chocolate or a tiny bit more, if you’re like me and want to even out that chocolate to cookie ratio, chopped into large chunks

Flaky sea salt for sprinkling optional - I didn’t do this most of the time because the cookies were already perfectly salted. 

 

Preheat an oven to 360˚F / 180˚C. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan over a very low heat, melt the butter. We’re just trying to melt the butter here and not brown it AT ALL. The butter should be cloudy, and barely barely melted so we retain most of it’s moisture. If we “cook” the butter for too long the cookie dough won’t be right - it will be dry. 

Chop your chocolate and set aside. 

In large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients: the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. Set aside.

Pour the melted butter into a different large bowl and whisk in your sugars. At first it may look like a greasy clumpy mess, but keep mixing, it will smooth out after you’ve stirred it for a bit. Add your eggs, one at a time to your butter mixture, whisking briskly after each addition until just combined. Add and stir in vanilla.

Add your dry ingredients to your beautiful wet mixture and combine all together using a spatula - this takes just a few minutes. Once blended, add your chopped chocolate to the dough.

Wrap the dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes in the fridge - preferably overnight. I think this helps the flavors marry. You certainly don’t need the dough to sit in the fridge to have it work.

Make the dough into golf-ball sized balls (about 3 tablespoons per cookie) and bake for 10-14 minutes, rotating the pan about half way through baking. Take note that colder dough takes longer to bake. Cookies should have a nice golden outside but seem a tiny tiny bit glossy and cracked on the inside. 

Leave cookies on cookie sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling wrack. 

Cookies can be kept in an air tight container for up to a week - but I prefer to keep them in an air tight container in the fridge. The extra dough keeps nicely, tightly wrapped in the fridge for up to a week as well. 

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resources: 

I used Valrhona Chocolate for this batch. 

award-winning pumpkin bread

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I feel like likability is a thing and you're either a person that's completely okay with other people not liking you that much, or you HAVE to have everyone like you. Like, even the people you don't particularly care for - you make it your mission to make them like you because knowing that they don't like you is too uncomfortable. 

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Do you know what I mean? Which one are you? Do you care or do you have thick skin?  

I've been thinking about stuff like this lately because I thought I had thick skin, but maybe I don't. Remember when I mentioned meditation as a way of managing stress? Well I've been doing it religiously, and it's seriously changed my life.

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I'm not very good at it, in fact I think I kind of suck, but it's amazing how much clarity it gives me every morning and every night when I take the time to do it. I can sleep now. Not just because I have a baby that now sleeps through the night, but because I've learned how to breathe through stupid-worry-full thoughts. (I made that word up, worry-full, seems more appropriate than worrisome.) 

I've noticed that during meditation I can get stuck on things, and one of those things is thinking about negative things. Like mean emails I get, or mean remarks that have been made towards me, etc. It doesn't happen often, but I for some reason, have a fantastic memory, and hold onto these little mean things like a collection of bee stingers. Picture a hoarder keeping a jar full of old toenail clippings, that's me and the mean jabs that've been made towards me. It's stupid. And honestly, I have an incredible life. These mean things are NOT a common occurrence, but when they happen, they stick. 

Meditation is helping me let stuff go. When I find myself revisiting these negative pinpricks I figuratively pop them like a bubble. I take a deep breath and remind myself of happier things. Like my Myles, John, my dog's waddle and chocolate fudge sundaes. 

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I didn't realize how often I let negative stuff continually pester me. Meditation has helped me realize this and practicing meditation is helping me control it. Instead of thinking about negative stuff, I'm teaching my mind to think about nothing.

WHICH IS REALLY HARD.

But it's also amazing. I picture my favorite place in the world and then try to fill my mind with light. This probably makes me sound like a weirdo, but you know that feeling you get when you close your eyes and face the sun? That's the feeling I look for and try to emulate when I meditate. Just nothing but light - so it's a "good nothing" type of thing for me to focus on instead of just a blank-dark-empty nothing. 

Is this boring?

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By the way do I sound presumptuous by claiming this bread as award-winning? Maybe it would help to know that this recipe came to my attention via text message from my sister. She texted me: "Bob! I made THE BEST pumpkin bread! You have to make it!" So like any good sister would, I made it.

And it was stinking good. And EASY.

Hold onto people that feel like sunlight.
— some quote i found on pinterest and loved

My sister feels like sunlight. In fact I have so many incredible friends and sister-friends that feel like sunshine. You, my blogging friend, are included in that category. Like that horribly catchy line from that Josh Groban song: You raise me up. Even if we haven't met yet, or if we're friends but haven't hung out in a while, or maybe we just know each other because #life - regardless - the fact that you're here, and with me, really means everything. 

Alright, huge hugs and happy baking. Love you friends. xo

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award-winning pumpkin bread

Makes 2, 8 x 4" loaves | adapted from Taste of Home

This bread is a great consistency and sweet without being headachy sweet. I'll never give you a recipe that's too sweet, we know that by now right? Because #sweetish? ;) I was talking to one of my dear friends (hi Brit!) about the “do I add chocolate chips to my pumpkin bread?” dilemma and I think this bread is great either way.  If you do add chocolate chips though, I suggest leaning more towards bittersweet chocolate than semisweet chocolate as the tiny bit of “bitter and tang" that comes from the darker chocolate evens out the sweetness of the loaf in the most beautiful way.

bakers note: I had to tent my bread with foil for about the last 5 minutes of baking so it wouldn't get too dark. 

3 cups / 375g all-purpose, unbleached flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, preferably organic

1 teaspoon salt, I used medium grain kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 eggs, room temperature, preferably pasture raised

2 cups / 400g sugar

2 cups / 450g canned pumpkin, preferably organic

1 ½ cups / 354ml sunflower oil, or any other clean, neutral oil, or melted butter, ghee or a combination of both

 1 ½ cups / 255g (6 ounces) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate bar cut up into large chunks, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C and prepare two 8 x 4” loaf pans. I prepared my pans by greasing both with softened butter, and then lined the bottom of the tins with parchment paper (and I only lined the very bottom of the pan, not the sides). Then I greased the paper again with more softened butter and dusted the whole thing with a tiny bit of flour, shaking and tapping out the excess flour.

If your eggs are cold, let them sit, (un-cracked and still in their shell) in a small bowl of very warm water to bring them to room temperature now.  This takes about 5 mins max.

With a whisk in a large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.

In another medium sized bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil together. If you used melted butter instead of the oil, just make sure the melted butter isn’t hot, or else it could curdle your eggs.

Stir your pumpkin wet mixture into your dry ingredients (flour, salt, cinnamon, and soda) until just moistened and you don’t see any visible lumps. Take care not to over mix. Next fold in your chopped chocolate or chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Pour and evenly distribute into two greased 8x4” loaf pans.

Bake at 350°F / 180°C for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the crack in the middle of the bread doesn’t look wet. My loaves took about 65 minutes at sea level.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to finish cooling. Can totally be eaten warm, but it's a little more crumbly of a piece this way.... but no one ever complains about that. 

 

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salty-sweet brown butter, brown rice, rice crispy treats {gluten-free}

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You don’t need this, but you also need this. 

You need this the same way I needed to watch a so-ridicuous-it-was-good spy movie on Sunday night instead of working or reading my business book. (Don't my weekends sound thrilling?)

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So let’s share a moment and change our lives with some subtle, yet amazing changes to that box or bag recipe you may have been using to make rice crispy treats for years.

Ditch the bag and follow me. 

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  • Subtle change number one: Instead of heavily processed, light white, paper-thin rice from a blue box, I used organic brown rice cereal. The brown puffed rice is more flavorful + earthy, crispy, less airy and makes for f-ahh-bulous treat. Also, my brown rice cereal contained 3 ingredients: organic puffed brown rice, organic sugar cane and sea salt. Boom. 

  • Subtle change number 2: Brown butter instead of regular melted butter. Browned butter creates tan specs of magic in the melted marshmallows (I love speckles) and a depth of richness to the crispy treats. It also compliments the extra salt I throw in to make them salty-sweet. Browned butter isn't a new trick; one of my dearest friends (hi James!) told me that her mom did this too while growing up. 

  • Subtle change number 3: Clean-ish marshmallows. I say clean-ish because the marshmallows I used contained carrageenan… which is usually an ingredient I avoid. Since we avoid it often, I figured it was okay for a treat, especially since they were the cleanest marshmallows available so I went for it. See resources below for my other favorite, even cleaner marshmallow. 

Also, if you’re rolling your eyes at my mallow snobbery, please read the ingredients on the package of one of those hugely popular name-brand marshmallows we usually buy at the store and tell me what TETRASODIUM PYROPHOSPHATE is (it's a whipping agent, doesn't that make you feel better?) and then tell me why Blue dye #1 needs to be in my mallow. I promise the cleaner the marshmallow, the more delicious the treat. (I know you're all with me on this so I'll get off my soapbox.) I wanted to go so far as to make my own marshmallows but that didn’t happen this time because #LIFE and who really makes their own mallows for rice crispy treats? (Me. I would totally do something that ridiculous.)

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Major tangent: Carrageenan is a thickening agent that is supposed to be derived from red seaweed (also known as Irish Moss) but there’s talk that this isn’t the case in most of the foods we buy. Because most carrageenan used in our food is not clean or derived from sea weed, it’s cause for concern. I am all about being clean and cautious, so we rarely rarely eat the stuff. I am extremely annoying and thorough when making food purchases and read labels like crazy (something I learned over 12 years ago while studying food science), but I am in no way perfect. Case in point, these marshmallows. Anyone who's perfect in their choices is lying. Lol

Anyway, if you’d like to know more about carrageenan I have two links in the resources section for you. 

Alright, that’s it. I hope this new-but-old treat changes your weekends forever in the best possible way. Also, make some time for something ridiculous if you haven't recently. It's good for you. (Me hugging you.)

Also, tell me your favorite way to make rice crispy treats. Do you add pumpkin? Peanut butter? Nut butter? Coconut? Make them with chocolate cocoa crispy rice? Spill. I'd love to hear from you.

Love you friends xo

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salty-sweet brown butter, brown rice, rice crispy treats

robyn holland | sweetish.co 

Basically the big secret to making perfect rice crispy treats is equal parts rice cereal to equal parts marshmallow. Also, don't be afraid of butter and a pinch of salt. Also, these can easily be made vegan (dairy free) with your choice of vegan butter or coconut oil, but I wouldn't brown it the same way you would butter... you could maybe add a couple of tablespoons of some toasted coconut to get that depth of toasty flavor that browned butter provides.  Also, a rice crispy treat needs to be thick or it is not a true rice crispy treat in my book. 

bakers notes: This recipe can easily be doubled. But you'll need a really, really big bowl, a whole box of brown crisp cereal and on average 4 bags of marshmallows. You don't HAVE to brown the butter to make these either. Just take note of the slight difference in the amount of butter used if you chose not to brown the butter below. I hold back one cup of marshmallows and mix it in at the last minute to create that "marbled" effect in my treats. Sometimes they don't melt all together either and it makes for chunks of marshmallow. Its totally 100% optional, but just wanted to give you all my secrets. ;) 

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6 cups / 190g brown rice crisp cereal 

6 cups / 275g mini "clean" marshmallows, 1 cup reserved

5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned - if you're not browning the butter use 5 tablespoons, if you are browning the butter, use 6

½ teaspoon kosher salt, optional, if you want that salty sweet effect, if not, a pinch of salt will do. 

extra soft butter for greasing and for your hands when molding the treats

 

Grease a 8x8 inch pan with butter.  

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan for about 4-5 minutes until totally melted and browned. Watch your butter closely as it's easy for your butter to turn from dark brown to burned. Until I make one of my own, I have a good browning butter tutorial from a great blogger in my resources below. 

Add your marshmallows and salt to your melted browned butter (be sure to set aside 1 cup of your mallows to mix in later, this isn't a huge deal if you forget this). Stir until melted and you have this fabulous thick, brown speckled mixture of magic.

In very large bowl pour the melted marshmallow over your brown rice cereal mixing it all together with a rubber spatula. Brace yourself, it's about to get messy. 

Working quickly and with a light hand so as not to completely mush the cereal, mix the rice crispy cereal with the melted marshmallow, and the 1 reserved cup of mallows until combined. The mixture can be really really hot, so use a spatula first. Once the mixture as cooled a bit, butter your hands and continue mixing. 

Butter your hands again and press mixture into the greased 8x8 inch pan until evenly distributed. Careful not to completely mash the cereal here either, just a gentle firm press into the pan works great. 

Let them sit for about an hour before serving. While you wait, you totally have permission to eat the entire sticky mess left over in the bowl. 

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Resources: 

Dandy marshmallows are the mallows I used for this recipe. They're vegan, but contain carrageenan.

Two of my favorite quick-read articles on carrageenan can be found from Dr. Weil and Meghan Telpner

Elyon kosher marshmallows are probably my favorite clean marshmallow (other than homemade) because they contain no carrageenan. These are not vegan as they contain gelatin. Gelatin is actually really good for our gut health, so if you're not vegan, don't be afraid of clean + kosher gelatin.  

I used organic brown rice cereal from Whole Foods

My food-blog-friend (that I seriously want to meet in real life) has a great tutorial on browning butter on her site. Go love her. 

pink lady apple galette with sea salt

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I had to get out of the house the other day so I decided to take Myles to one of my favorite local bakeries. (A bakery, surprise surprise!) I have this rule that whenever I go out to eat with Myles, I put my phone away. This forces both of us, to people watch instead of stare at a screen and it is fantastic. While we were waiting for our breakfast, we saw a beautiful young woman waiting for her salad to be made.

You know those women that just seem to always look so put together? They have a cup of coffee in their hand that you know they woke up early for after their yoga sesh? They’re fully clothed in real clothes like a sheer blouse with good pants and designer sunglasses? This was one of those women. She was on her cell, taking an important phone call and too busy to make eye contact with me - which was actually a "thank goodness" because Myles and I were trying to cram a chocolate croissant in our mouths and I'm sure it wasn't pretty. Her hair was curled, she was wearing makeup and she was a far cry from what I looked like at that moment. 

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Pan to me, wearing spandex and a t-shirt with avocado smeared on my right boob that I didn’t catch before I left the house. (Thank you Myles). Also I'm wearing a hat that I just fished out of the gutter because my child took it off my head and threw it there and I was currently holding a hydro flask full of water from yesterday. (It’s still cold, so whatever.) I too am wearing a pair of sunglasses. They're bright yellow and blue and could very well be worth 4 dollars and belong to a 12 year old. (I'm pretty sure they're my brothers. He's 26.) I found them in my car. (Yup. Almost positive they're my brothers.) I’m actually surprised they fit my face. (Zach how do these fit your face?)

No woman is better than the other. 

So that’s it. That’s all I wanted to say today.

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So often I catch myself thinking that because I have avocado smeared on my boob and I haven’t washed my hair in days that I’m less of a person than the more “put together” woman but I’m not.)

Yes, I used to have a career that allowed me to dress up really cute and wear shoes (that gave me horrific bunions) and I too, used to take very important phone calls.

Now I wear tennis shoes and baseball caps and wipe poop and make pie.

Er, but not in that order. 

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Just in case you needed some love today to remind yourself that you’re doing an amazing job at life, sweatpants or stilettos (but who wears those though really?), here it is. You are doing awesome. 

Maybe this was more of a note to myself than anyone else: Don't judge the woman who's all put together or the one who ran to the grocery store in her pajama bottoms, cause there's a chance you'll be seen as one of those women to another woman too. So whether you’re the fancy pants lady or the baseball cap wearing lady like me or somewhere in between, it doesn’t matter. Just do your thing, and know that we all go through phases of life where sometimes "we fancy” sometimes we’re not.

This galette is somewhere in between fancy and not, and awesome, so, it's appropriate. 

Love you friends. xo

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pink lady apple galette

robyn holland | sweetish.co 

makes 2, 9" galette crusts, but filling is only enough for one 9" galette

Here’s the thing about this galette, you kinda need to cut the apples pretty thin and then cook the apples for a bit until they’re somewhat soft, in order for this to be delicious. If the apple slices are too big and you don’t cook the apples long enough, this thing is gonna be bland, and we don't want that. Just trust me. I don’t want you to go through all that work just to create a beautiful but bland galette. Stick to thinly cut, cooked apples and you’ll be golden. 

bakers note: I served this with ice cream for the photos sake but I actually found that to be a little too sweet. Just the tiniest drizzle of cream or plop of creme fraiche was more of a winner in my book. Also, I didn't try cutting the apples with a mandoline here but I imagine that would work really well. Mine is still packed away in a box somewhere... 

for the crust:
4 ½ cups / 540g unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 ½ cups / 342g unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½ inch cubes (but don't stress about the size. If they're bigger than this, great, just try not to make them smaller than this)
⅓ cup / 74g ice water (ice cubes removed) please note you might need a little more or a little less water depending on where you live and depending on the day. If you live in a higher altitude, you’re going to need a lot more water. If it’s a dry day, more water. If it’s a rainy day, humid day, less water… etc. Don't be afraid to be extremely inexact here.

for the filling (please note this only makes enough filling for ONE galette):
2 tablespoons butter
scant ¼ cup sugar (or to taste, if you need a little more because you’re using tart apples, add a little more, if your apples are really sweet, add a little less)
1 teaspoon cornstarch or tapioca flour
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
4 pink lady apples, cut thinly, peeled or not peeled, totally up to you (if you can't find pink lady apples, granny smith or fuji will work too. Just keep in mind a different apple won't provide the same pinkish color and granny smith may need a bit more sugar and fuji may need a little less. Taste and adjust!)
pinches of fine sea salt, for cooking
pinches of course sea salt for sprinkling on top of the galette after it's baked
 

FOR THE CRUST:

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment or in a food processor with the dough attachment: gently mix the flour and salt. Then as the mixer continues to stir, gradually add the chunks of cold butter into the flour mixture. Mix until some of the butter and flour combine into blob-like-crumbs. Most people say that here, the blobs should resemble peas. To me, they don't need to be the size of peas, I actually prefer the blobs to be a mix of big and small blobs (see pictures above as a reference). We want big blobs here, so don't blend too much or too fast.

Once you have a blobby, crumb-like mess, slowly start to add your ice water. Now you can do this one of two ways: you can slowly add your ice water as your electric mixer continues to stir or you can pour the crumbly mess onto a clean surface and add the water little by little, working the dough with your hands until combined.

If you'd like to start by pouring some of the water in the mixer that's totally fine, but you will need to take the dough out once it barely starts to stick and finish kneading it by hand in order to ensure a really flaky dough. I STRONGLY encourage you to add the water completely by hand. I do this whole process by hand. It's a mess, but it's fun and gets the right texture every time. 

Knead the dough by pressing the heel of your hand forward and kind of pinching it, and then doing this motion over again a few times. (See GIF as a reference) Knead until just combined. You should be able to see some white marbling of the butter throughout your dough. 

kneading.GIF

If your making this for an 10-inch pie: Split your dough into two disks and wrap each one tightly and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out. Dough can be stored in the fridge tightly wrapped for up to 3 days, or stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just bring dough to room temperature to use again. 

Once dough has been chilled, let it rest for 5 minutes before you roll each disk out into a 12-inch circle at about ⅜-inch thick. 

Now you can use this crust to either make 2 apple galettes or 1 double crusted apple pie: Woohoo! 

FOR THE FILLING: 

Melt butter in a large sautée pan over medium-high heat and add your apples to the pan. Stir to coat the apples with butter and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. While the apples cook, whisk together the cinnamon, salt and ¼ cup sugar and then sprinkle this mixture over the apples, stirring to combine.

Lower your heat and continue to cook the apples until they start to soften, about 5-7 minutes. (Your house should smell amazing at this point.) Mix the corn starch or tapioca starch with your apple cider vinegar until starch dissolves and pour over your apples. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5-10 minutes. If you cut your apples on the thick side, you'll need to cook your apples longer, if you cut them on the thin side, they'll need less time cooking. Take out a sample apple and taste it before you decide they're done. Apples should be soft, with a tiny bite and super flavorful. 

Preheat oven to 375° F / 190° C and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

Roll out brisee dough into a 12” circle using a bit of flour and a rolling pin. Place rolled dough on a the parchment lined cookie sheet. 

Pour apples in the middle of the dough, leaving about a 2-3 inch border. Fold the dough over the apples, leaving a “window” or opening where the apples still show. (See sweetish.co  for pictures as a reference. Search for the post “Really Simple Cherry Galette” While it IS a recipe for a cherry galette and not an apple one, the process is very much the same.) 

With a pastry brush, brush the exposed crust with the egg and then sprinkle liberally with the raw sugar.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is slightly bubbly. Wait about 15-30 minutes before cutting into it if you can, if not, just be aware that the filling and juice is hot - which makes for a delicious pooling puddle of vanilla bean ice cream around it if that’s your thing.  

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really chocolaty flourless chocolate cake {gluten-free}

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I feel like there’s a lot of hugs that need to be given out lately due to the state of things.

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I, like you, have been heartbroken over the pictures I’ve seen of Houston and it’s new watery state. Apparently it’s the worst flooding an American city has ever seen (maybe don’t quote me on that, I just read it in the news) and it's absolutely incredible to see the damage that mother nature can do in such a short period of time. It’s also made me choke back tears when I read about other Texans coming down to Huston with their boats to rescue fellow Texans from the storm.

Sometimes you read things that give you goosebumps and this was one of those things. 

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Remember when I talked about two of my best girlfriends? Well one of those friends just moved to Northern Texas and she offered to go buy supplies for a shelter close to her and if people were interested in participating, they could venmo her money. No amount was too small. She got such an overwhelming response she couldn't believe it and had to take multiple trips to Costco just because her car was too full to lug it all in one go. On this HUGE pile of supplies (food, diapers etc.) she placed a name from each person who donated so people could see how many were behind the bounty. It was another goosebumps thing. 

Tragedy can bring out the best in people (or the worst in people) but we’ve seen a whole lot of good happening in Texas and quite frankly it’s made me want to be a Texan. 

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Which brings me to my next big news. While we are not Texans, we are officially Californians again. Yup! We’ve moved back! I KNOW. (Just in case you didn’t know, we moved to Utah last summer for my husband's job and now we’re back. I give more details on our story to my sweet subscribers. If you're interested in becoming one, sign up here. ) 

The move back here happened as suddenly as it seems. Life literally changed for us from one day to the next with a phone call. And while we terribly miss my brother and sister and their families, we’re thrilled to be back. We've quite literally JUST came back. So yay! 

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All week I couldn’t help but think of how grateful I am to be able to lay my baby down in a dry, safe bed and think of how quick and fragile life is. I've undoubtably kissed Myles every single minute he's been in my arms and told him I love him at least a million times a day. 

Seeing how people's homes have been ripped from them in Huston is a good reminder that even though it's heartbreaking and something I don't wish on anyone ever, it is for the most part, just stuff. We can live without stuff. We can live without our homes. It's our people we need. 

Today (Sunday when I wrote this) is a day we've been urged nationally to pray for Houston (and Louisiana!). So if you're up for it, say a prayer for those who did lose their people. And if you, like me, are fortunate to still have your people, give them so many hugs and tell them you love them so many times they'll think something's wrong with you. Life is so short. 

Love you friends.  

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really chocolaty flourless chocolate cake (gluten-free) 

adapted from King Arthur Flour 

I've made a lot of flourless chocolate cakes in my life. I've actually made a lot of flourless cakes this past week, and this recipe, is undoubtably the best (at least for now). My people could not get enough of it. It's slightly gooey, bittersweet and super rich - almost like an undercooked brownie, only 10 times better. I lathered it up in ice cream for the photos sake because my sweet baby boy decided to stick his tender fingers right in the middle of it after it had cooled (I guess that's what I get for having him on the counter with me haha). After the first bite he went "hmm" and did a little dance. Then when he reached to stick his fingers back in it, I couldn't stop him. It was just too cute. 

bakers note: It's okay to under bake this slightly in my book, but make sure you grease the pan and line it with parchment or it WILL stick. Also, the ingredients for this recipe very much stayed true to the original recipe but I switched up the method just a bit. 

1 cup / 175g semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup / 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
¾ cup / 150g granulated sugar
½ cup / 50g unsweetened cocoa powder (see my resource note below)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder or coffee extract (see resource note below)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

GLAZE (optional)
1 cup / 175g semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup / 120ml heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C. Grease an 8" cake pan or 8" spring form pan with butter, parchment and cocoa powder. So first lather the pan in butter, line the bottom (and sides if you so choose) with parchment paper, grease the parchment again with butter and then dust with cocoa powder until bottom and sides are coated. Butter + parchment + butter + cocoa = greased properly. 

Melt chocolate and butter together over very low heat until combined. Turn off your heat early, before you have all the bits melted, to ensure your chocolate doesn't get overheated. Set aside to cool. 

In an electric mixer whisk your eggs together until they become light and frothy they should look kind of like a weak bubble bath. Beat for about 5-8 minutes. (You really can't over beat your eggs here so don't worry.)

Sift cocoa through a sieve into a separate medium size bowl. Combine cocoa with sugar. 

In the cooled chocolate, slowly fold in some of your fluffy egg mixture. Then add some of your cocoa + sugar mixture (about a scant ¼ of a cup at a time) alternating the egg mixture and the cocoa mixture until combined. You should start and end with the egg mixture. 

Pour batter in prepared cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cake will have formed kind of a crust on top, and very very slightly pulled away from the edges of the pan. If you insert a toothpick, it won't come out clean. This is a dense cake. King Arthur Flour suggests that the temperature inside the cake will read 200 degrees, but I found that my cake was ready to take out of the oven before it reached that exact temperature.

Let the cake cool in it's pan for another 15 minutes. If you used a spring form pan you can take it out much easier than if you use a regular cake pan. If you used an 8" cake pan (like me) you can either cut around the edges and pray that the cake will come out, or you can flip it over so the top of the cake becomes the bottom of the cake. 

If you want to make the glaze, heat cream to a simmer and pour over your chocolate. Let it sit a minute and then stir to melt and combine. Slather that goodness on top of the cake. I didn't do this, but I have had a version with the glaze and it is chocolate heaven. 

Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or milk. And maybe some fresh berries. Whatever you do, don't let your people eat this without something to counterbalance that chocolaty goodness. 

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Resources: 

I used this triple blend cocoa powder from King Arthur Flour. 

I used this all natural coffee flavoring in place of the espresso power, but I love King Arthur's espresso powder. I LOVE Nielsen Massey's coffee extract, but I've been out of it lately. All work great, with my bias leaning a little more towards the powder and the extract than the flavoring. 

Ice cream used was vanilla bean from Alden's Ice Cream and mint chip from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

vanilla bean rice pudding with roasted plums {gluten-free}

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Have you ever been super into something but no one else seems to share your same enthusiasm? 

This was me and my relationship with rice pudding in college. 

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Close to my university there was an amazing rice pudding shop that sold only that - big huge bowls of delicious rice pudding in the most creative and enticing flavors. I frequented that place more than I care to admit. This was when the frozen yogurt craze was just budding and everyone... err, at least I felt like everyone was watching their figure so it was VERY important to load up on non-fat frozen yogurt as a "treat" instead of full-fat rice pudding. (We all know that that low-fat lie is a bunch of garbage by now right? #fullfatforlife) But this pudding place was conveniently within walking distance of the gym... so, I'd go work out and then get a cup of pudding. Seemed fair.

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I always wanted my girlfriends, roommates or date-of-the-moment to go with me and sometimes they'd appease me, but they just didn't share the same level of enthusiasm for rice pudding as I did. 

My enthusiasm has not died. 

Rice pudding also reminds me of visiting my great grandmother. (It is kind of a grandma thing huh, rice pudding? Have we discussed yet how I am like a grandmother in more ways than one? ie, rice pudding. ) She lived in Utah, and I was attending university in Utah too, so I made it a point to stop by sometimes. Although I'm ashamed to admit I probably saw her more when I was a little girl and our family would trek up to Utah for a tiny piece of our summer or winter break to visit family and eat fresh bread. 

It seemed like whenever we would visit great grandma she would give us a small bowl with a plop of delicious cinnamon and plump, raisin-filled rice pudding. When you're little, raisins by themselves or posing as cute ants-on-a-log (aka celery with peanut butter) are okay, but raisins IN something was a big no-no - especially cinnamon rolls and pudding. But never wanting to hurt my great grandmothers feelings I would always eat the raisins. She was proud of them, those raisins, and always watched me when I would take a bite. My other family members gobbled the stuff up (with no complaint about raisins) and we usually cleaned her out of it.

And now, after all that, this is not my great grandmother's rice pudding. I actually think my desire to have a smooth rice pudding without raisins is what sparked the quest to develop this recipe. (I do have a fun variation resembling great grandma's pudding at the very end of the post though, one that I dare say is better than gg's... and I think she'd agree.) 

This pudding has very few ingredients, which means its simplicity lets all the components sing with goodness. It's subtly sweet and addictive and I hope you get just as excited about the tiny specs of vanilla bean in a sea of bright beautiful cream as I do. Please share in my weirdness. 

I also still crave rice pudding regularly. Is this normal? 

In fact I went a little rogue on this craving and made batches and batches of pudding to get the recipe just right while my parents were in town. After the 3rd batch my mom took a bite, said it was absolutely delicious then asked, "Where's the raisins?" 

Love you friends. xo

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vanilla bean rice pudding with roasted plums 

by Robyn Holland | Sweetish.co

serves about 4 | makes 3 heaping cups of pudding

Consistency is a big thing here. It has to be creamy, without a hint of grainy starch, and thick-ish without resembling wall paper paste, and the rice has to be soft but not mush. I basically like my rice pudding how the French like their rice pudding - saucy and perfect. The stark contrast of the not-too-sweet-but-sweet-enough vanilla rice pudding meshed with sharp tanginess of the not-so-ripe-but-ripe-enough plums and the tiniest drizzle of maple syrup is completely magic. I mean it. The textures, the flavors, the smells, the vanilla bean with that milky cream and the cardamom with those plums - uh - I could eat all 4 sittings of this pudding in one go and not even blink about it. It's pretty stinking amaze, but as you know, I AM rather bias towards rice pudding. 

bakers note: The stirring of the rice while simmering in the milk and cream is key. It releases some of the starch but not too much of it, so take care not to over stir it, but please don't just let it sit there either. I get specific with the amount of stirring you should do below. Also, the addition of the milk after the rice has cooled completely is also key. Don't skip either of these steps and you'll be a rice pudding baller. Raisins optional. 

rice pudding:
3 cups / 720ml whole milk
1 cup / 240ml cream
½ cup / 100g + 2 tablespoons basmati rice, rinsed in really hot water for 30 seconds
pinch of kosher salt
½ vanilla bean, scraped, but using both seeds and pod
¼ cup / 120ml maple syrup, plus extra for serving if desired, please use real maple syrup, none of that fake stuff
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract if you don't have a vanilla bean
pinch of kosher salt
¼ cup to ¾ cup / 60ml to 120ml whole milk, to add at the end when pudding has chilled

Using a strainer, rinse rice in really hot water (the hottest you can get from your tap) for about 30 seconds to remove some of the starch. 

Scrape the vanilla bean seeds from the vanilla bean pod and set aside. Don't discard the pod! 

In a medium size sauce pan simmer rice, 3 cups of milk and 1 cup cream with a pinch of salt and the vanilla bean seeds and vanilla pod on a low-medium heat for 35-40 minutes, or until rice is tender and soft, but not mushy. Take care to stir the rice and milk about 2-3 times every 5 minutes with a heat proof spatula, so the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot and more importantly, so that some of the starches are released from the rice to thicken the pudding. I use the spatula to scrape down the sides of the pot too to ensure all of that vanilla bean goodness stays IN the pudding and not stuck to the sides of the pot. tip! if you don't have a vanilla bean, you can just add more vanilla extract at the end of the cooking period. See note in ingredients. 

After 35-40 minutes (my rice pudding took 38 minutes almost exactly) remove rice pudding from heat, but continue to stir for a minute or two. tip! You'll know it's ready because the rice will have absorbed a significant amount of the liquid and be a much thicker consistency. Remember the rice will continue to absorb more liquid as it cools.   

Gently stir in maple syrup, vanilla extract and another pinch of kosher salt. 

Bring pudding to room temperature first, by transferring it to a medium size bowl, covered, and either refrigerate it or leave it out until it cools down.

When pudding is room temperature, stir in your remaining ¾ cup of milk. You can add a little more milk if you'd like an even saucier consistency, but take note that if you serve this with a drizzle of maple syrup, that maple syrup loosens the pudding up a bit too. You can always add less milk too, if you'd like a much thicker consistency. I love a saucy rice pudding, so I added the whole ¾ cup of milk to the cooled pudding. Remember rice is a sponge, so I find it best to add this extra milk after it's cooled so it doesn't get soaked up again. 

Serve pudding in shallow dishes for dessert or breakfast, topped with roasted plums (see recipe below) and more maple syrup. This pudding is also fantastic with fresh berries of any kind, or any fresh stone fruit of any kid. OR delicious just the way it is. xo

(See Great Grandma's spin on rice pudding below)

to make the roasted plums:
¼ cup / 50g sugar
4 plums, pit removed and sliced
pinch of cardamom (about half of ⅛ of a teaspoon)
pinch of salt
1 to 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
side view | rice pudding (vanilla)_.jpg

Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C. 

Slice plums and toss with sugar and cardamom on a sheet pan. note: It definitely makes for an easier clean up if you line the pan with foil, but, I suggest not doing this so you can scrape the bubbling sugar and mix it with butter to create a sauce at the end with ease. 

Bake for 20 minutes, or until plum juices have released and are bubbling. You should be able to smell them and they should smell like heaven. 

Immediately after removing the plums from the oven, throw in 1-2 tablespoons of cold butter and swirl it around with the plums and the browned sugary juices to create a "sauce". I used a heat proof spatula to make this happen so I could really scrape some of that hot sugar off of the pan and mix it with the butter. 

Serve plums still warm, on top of rice pudding or oatmeal or yogurt or ice cream. 

 

to make it Great Grandma's Rice Pudding:

Follow vanilla rice pudding instructions exactly through the very end of the recipe then steep ¼ cup raisins in simmering water + 1 teaspoon vanilla for about 5 minutes. Set aside. 

Add 1 generous teaspoon of cinnamon and a tiny pinch of cardamom to the rice pudding and gently fold in. 

Strain raisins patting them dry with a towel and then gently fold in the pudding. There you have it. This version was wildly more popular with my family. Grandma would've been proud. xo 

almost eaten | rice pudding (vanilla)_.jpg

chocolate cake with light and fluffy raspberry buttercream

I have this ongoing group text message with two of my best friends and whenever my phone 'buzzes' John asks, "The besties?". Yes.

One of them recently got married and moved to Northern California. Another, just had her second baby and moved to Texas. And it's no secret that I too recently went through a big move out of state and had a baby too - practically at the same time. All of us have joked and cried about the huge changes that have come as a result of moving far from home and entering huge milestone life events.

In one of my best friends attempts to embrace her new world and make the most of it, she joined a local women's running club. As soon as she approached the group of highly decked out luxe active wear wearing women she could sense that they were already, not her people. I mean my friend is the type of person that could sit on the bus next to a complete, non-english speaking stranger and they'd be friends and exchange contact info by the end of their journey. She's just that rad.

This running group however, was not. 

Disappointed by the experience, she vented in our group text that these women were so fast, and so into things that she was not into that she had a hard time relating. We both applauded her bravery and said that neither one of us would have joined a running group like that, but yay for trying something new.

Then I chimed in and said, "You know, we should start our own long-distance, nation-wide woman's running club titled, "We run to eat." Because honestly, that's the ONLY reason I've trained for races and diligently ran in the past - I was looking forward to all of those calories I'd get to enjoy later." 

Then we joked about tag lines that would grace our new running club shirts:

I run for cheeseburgers.

I run for ice cream.

I run for cheeseburgers and ice cream.

I dunno guys I'm still seriously thinking about making some t-shirts...

Anyway, this cake. This cake is a celebration cake using all natural cocoa powder (last post we used dutch processed cocoa to make brownies). Are we all learning this cocoa powder stuff together? It's kinda fun right? I mean, I'm having fun, raise you're hand if you aren't having a good time and need a hug and a brownie.

And in case you missed it, I shared a little blurb of "behind the scenes" that went on while I tried to make and shoot this cake on instagram, hashtag that momlifetho

"The truth is I took this exact shot while trying to ignore the loud whines of my 10 month old son who didn't want to sit in his high chair anymore. The truth is I lost it and yelled because I couldn't take his whining for no reason anymore. (Mommy just needs you to sit there for 5 minutes! 5 MINUTES!) The truth is there's smeared fresh raspberries and chocolate covered cocoa nibs currently littering the floor. And my dog ate some cocoa nibs and immediately barfed. The kitchen looks like a hurricane went through it. There's little raspberry covered hand prints that have stained my ratty-I-always-use-this "table cloth". And I fed my child cold turkey and cheese and avocado for dinner so I could get it done. All of this, for the sake of one damn cake." ❤️

Sometimes pictures can look so perfect on social media or in the blogging world, and while I adore the life I am living, I just wanted to keep it real. 

I made this cake for no reason at all other than the fact I was celebrating that I have accomplished some very, very hard things this week. Stories I'll share for another day. Sometimes though, it's worth battling through the resistance to just make a cake and enjoy a slice. I virtually shared some with my best girls too as I do with you now. And until we start that running club and make t-shirts my friends... this will have to do. 

Sending so much love to you. xo

 

chocolate celebration cake with raspberry buttercream 

adapted from Yossy Arefi and her cookbook Sweeter off the Vine 

I've noticed that I follow, love, drool and fawn over so many fellow bloggers' gorgeous creations but rarely make any of their recipes myself. So, in an attempt to change that, I'm starting to pull recipes from these beautiful bloggers and dive into their goodness whilst continuing to recipe develop my own stuff. Might I add it is SO fun to just make a recipe, tweak it very little and have the results be magic. This was one of those times. This cake is perfectly chocolatey, moist and the raspberry buttercream is really, quite perfect. I'm not a fan of overly sugary frostings, or really frosting in general, but this one, this one had me licking the spatula, don't leave out that pinch of salt.  xo

bakers note: *I think buttercream frosting is best the day it's made, but if you want to make the frosting ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, just whip it in your standing mixer using the paddle attachment until it comes together. It will look like a disaster and clumpy and like it's not working at first, but trust me: the butter just needs to jive and get warm again and then it will all come together. I feel like there's some great life lesson to be learned in this..... just give it time and it will all work out. 

for the chocolate cake:
2 cups / 400g sugar
1 ¾ cups / 225g all purpose flour (preferably organic, and unbleached)
¾ cup / 75g cocoa powder (I used natural)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup / 240ml buttermilk
½ cup / 120ml sunflower oil
⅓ cup / 75g full-fat plain greek yogurt or sour cream, at room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
¾ cup / 180ml strong hot coffee, but brought to room temperature

for the raspberry buttercream:
8 ounces / 225g fresh raspberries, for the puree
5-6 large egg whites (I used six! see buttercream bakers note below), preferably pasteur raised and organic
1 ¼ cups / 250g sugar or superfine sugar (I used superfine sugar because it dissolves faster than regular sugar, but regular sugar works just fine)
generous pinch of kosher salt
2 cups / 450g unsalted butter, soft but still cool, cut or mushed into small-ish tablespoon sized pieces

to decorate:
8 ounces / 225g fresh raspberries
sprinkling of dark chocolate covered cocoa nibs, optional

to make the cake: 

Preheat your oven to 350°F / 180° C and make sure your middle rack is in position. Butter three 8" cake pans lining the bottoms with parchment paper, so the parchment paper sticks to the pan. Butter the top of the parchment paper too, and dust with either flour or cocoa powder. I used cocoa powder. Don't skip this part! :)

Make your ¾ cup of coffee and let it cool. I just use hot water and add a heaping teaspoon of high quality instant coffee. You can find instant coffee pretty much anywhere, but as of lately, I use a Trader Joe's brand.

In an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, stir together all of your dry ingredients: sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. 

In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together all of your wet ingredients: buttermilk, sunflower oil, yogurt or sour cream, eggs, vanilla and coffee. Make sure all of these ingredients are room temperature before combining. (You don't want the hot coffee to scramble your eggs.) 

Slowly pour your liquid mixture into your dry ingredients, keeping the speed on low. Mix for about 30 seconds, then scrape down your bowl once or twice to ensure the bottom is getting mixed in. 

Mix for about 1 minute or a minute and a half or until all the ingredients are mixed and incorporated. Batter will be very thin. 

Evenly distribute your batter among your three greased and prepared tins and bake for 20-25 minutes. The center of the cake should not look wet, and spring back ever so slightly if you press your finger to the top. Remember that the cakes will still cook a tiny bit more when they're pulled out of the oven and left in their tins.

Cool cakes for 15 minutes, then take them out of their cake tins and let them finish cooling on a cooling rack. 

 

to make the raspberry buttercream: 

bakers note: I know they say baking is an exact science but to me 90% of it is intuitive. Use your gut. The original recipe calls for only 5 egg whites but adding 1 more egg white worked better for me. It's dry here in Utah, and I'm at a high altitude, I'm guessing that had something to do with it. Don't stress too much about it. You want your egg whites + sugar mixture to be a wet and snotty (sorry) consistency. If it seems like it's too thick with sugar (aka not a snot consistency), add more egg white. 

Using either an immersion blender or a potato masher, smash your fresh raspberries and then strain them through a fine mesh sieve to remove all of the seeds. Set this beautiful liquid aside.

Fill a medium sized saucepan with a little bit of water (about 2-3 inches). The saucepan needs to be big enough to place a glass bowl on top, but make sure the bowl does NOT touch the water. 

Put egg whites and sugar in the glass bowl (or other heat proof bowl)  that will fit over your medium sized saucepan. 

Bring the water in the medium sized saucepan to a gentle simmer. Place the glass bowl on top of the saucepan and whisk gently for about 8-10 minutes, or until mixture becomes 160°F / 71°C. You'll know it's ready because the mixture should be too hot to hold your finger in the mixture for a long time, but not too hot to touch. 

Remove egg white mixture from the heat and pour into your electric mixing bowl. Add salt. With the whisk attachment, whisk heated egg whites and sugar until it looks like a stiff cloud or shaving cream. The mixture should cool as it whips, and the outside of the bowl should feel room temperature. This takes about 5-10 minutes. 

Switch to a paddle attachment.

On a medium speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, until the butter is fully incorporated, scraping the bowl about halfway. 

Buttercream should be light and fluffy and free of any butter clumps. If you have butter clumps it simply means your butter was a little too cold when you added it into your meringue, give it some times to soften - and then try beating it again. 

Next slowly stream in your raspberry puree. You can beat this in by hand, pouring the puree in little by little or using the electric mixer. Mix until incorporated. tip! You can easily store the frosting in the fridge at this point and then whip it back to room temperature in your electric mixer. See bakers note* at the beginning of the recipe. 

Make sure your cakes have cooled completely before frosting. 

Frost and top cake with fresh raspberries and cocoa nibs or any decoration of your choice. I think the cake keeps pretty well for 3 days in the fridge, but tastes best the day of or the day after it's made. xo

Resources: 

I got my chocolate covered cocoa nibs from: Old Town Spice and Tea Merchants

dark cocoa brownies with sea salt

Have you ever tried to look not at something because you know you're not supposed to but COULDN'T HELP IT?

When my sister got married she hired a local, super talented mother + daughter florist team to do her flowers. (ps. The work they did was stunning.) I could probably write a whole book on how many career paths I've pursued, but I used to be in the floral industry too and can talk flowers. Anyway, they were making some final touches on the arrangements when I offered to help the daughter assuring her I have done hundreds of flower arrangements in the past - "I'm a little rusty, but I take direction well." I joked.  

She began to tell me that they were okay but would call out if they needed any help, when I couldn't help but notice that she had unshaved armpits. These weren't "oh I forgot to shave yesterday or last week or even last month", armpits, these were full-on mother-nature loving hair fests. YOU GUYS. I'm so embarrassed to admit this but I was actually so distracted and had to keep reminding myself not to look down at her pits as she used her arms to point and show me things. 

You know what kept running through my mind? 

YOU GO GIRL. 

For reals. I mean this girl was so comfortable with herself that she didn't even shave her armpits. It made me want to grab a slice of vegan pizza with her and talk about her life. I immediately imagined she'd been camping in the wild for weeks at a time or better yet, has lived with nudists in France or had a dreamy and unruly vegetable garden that she ate from daily or maybe none of this at all, but she was an artist who wasn't afraid to be different and I was totally delighted by it.  

I for one, have somewhat boring armpits, but not her. She had flare and an admirable sense of self-regard. 

This experience was liberating to me in a way. So much so that for the next two weeks I didn't shave my armpits and sang along to my First Aid Kit songs pretending to be a hippie rockstar. Myles was on drums. (ps. First Aid Kit is one of my + John's all time favorite bands - it's a Swedish sister duo that is folksy and pure magic. Take time to dive into their goodness if you haven't already.) I mean, there was no reason to any of this other than why not? Life passes us by so quickly, and we stress about things like armpit hair, I wanted to push back against the norm a little here just like my florist friend. 

Anyway. Brownies. The big reason I wanted to share this recipe is because they're made with and specifically call for dutch processed cocoa. I thought it would be fun to put our cocoa knowledge to the test - because of last week's "brushing up on baking basics" post. 

Brownies remind me of college. They were the one thing I craved constantly and I used to make brownies with low fat yogurt and egg whites and try to get away with not using any butter or oil in an attempt to "be skinny". They weren't the best. 

I've since ditched this imposter brownie and have turned to Sarah's brownies. 

These brownies are simple, chewy, dense fudge-y with the right amount of bounce. You want a brownie to bite back a little when you bite into it, you know what I mean? 

I don't know why hairy armpits have inspired me to sing louder and pick up the guitar again (an instrument I have never been disciplined enough to be good at) but I recently told John, I have music in me that needs to come out. Whatever it is you need to do to feel more liberated, do it. And make brownies while you're at it.

Love you friends.

 

dark cocoa brownies with sea salt 

adapted from Sarah Keifer's cookbook, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

I made these brownies while I was still able to spend some time with family for my sister's wedding and everyone loved them. The addition of the coffee extract and the sea salt are my doing just because I love salted ery'thing, and didn't use the highest quality chocolate ever, so I wanted to counteract the lack of richness I got from cheaper chocolate with some coffee flavor. (Coffee adds a depth of richness and bitterness I adore.) You most certainly don't need expensive chocolate for these, or coffee, but I might go as far to say that the extra sprinkle of flaky salt does add a bit of magic - it brings out the chocolate in the best way and makes these wildly addictive. 

bakers notes: Don't skip the part where you the pan with butter and parchment paper. AND use a plastic knife to cut these beauts, They will cut clean - it's MAGIC. I promise. 

 

8 tablespoons / 1 stick / 113g unsalted butter, cold
8 ounces / 226g bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or bittersweet chocolate chips, 60% cacao content or higher)
¼ cup / 25g dutch processed cocoa powder, sifted slightly
1 cup + 2 tablespoons / 160g all purpose flour (I prefer organic, non bleached)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, preferably pasture raised
½ cup sunflower oil, or any other neutral oil, just not vegetable oil
1 ½ cups / 297g sugar
½ cup / 99g brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coffee extract or 1 tablespoon strong coffee optional
flaky sea salt for sprinkling

 

Preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C and make sure your oven wrack is in the middle of the oven. 

Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line it with parchment. You want to butter your pan first so the parchment sticks to the pan. This whole thing makes for a beautifully smooth process in removing the brownies out of the pan. 

In a medium size sauce pan over very low heat, melt your chocolate and butter together until just melted. tip! I've found that if you take the pan off the heat while there are still a few bits of chocolate that need to melt and continue stirring, you wont overheat or burn the chocolate. Set chocolate mixture aside to cool a little. 

In a small bowl whisk all of your dry ingredients together: flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. 

In a large bowl whisk together all of your wet ingredients: eggs, oil, sugars, vanilla and coffee extract (if using). Add the cooled, melted chocolate + butter mixture and whisk until combined. 

Slowly add your dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture and whisk gently until combined. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 22-27 minutes. (I baked mine for exactly 25 minutes, and my batter was completely room temperature)

If you stick a toothpick in, the toothpick will pull up some crumbs but not be wet. Sprinkle sea salt while brownie are still warm. 

Transfer pan to a wire rack and cool. Pull brownies out of the pan and use a plastic knife to cut them with ease. 

Resources: 

I used Maldon Salt to sprinkle on top of these brownies. 

I used Hershey's Dutch processed cocoa

Here's an old blog post on "How to make your boxed brownie mix even more amazing" if making brownies from scratch doesn't appeal to you today. ;) 

brushing up on baking basics: dutch vs natural cocoa powder and a trick to keep 'em straight

I read recently that depressed people tend to eat more chocolate than others. This made me chuckle a little because I've loved chocolate pretty much my whole life, but I most DEFINITELY suffered from depression for months after I had Myles and, yes, I was completely addicted to hot chocolate. I'd skip good wholesome meals to drink the stuff. That's not to say I take depression lightly. Depression feels like wearing heavy weights on your soul while trying to mask a terrible ache every time you breathe in. Depression is real and it sucks, and I wish I could erase it from the face of the earth, but because my case wasn't terribly severe (and I sought help), chocolate definitely helped. 

By the way did you guys ever watch Giada Di Laurentus' cooking shows? Back in the day, I did occasionally - and only occasionally because I was too annoyed that such a small person could eat so much pasta and still be so skinny - but the one thing I did love about her is that she LOVED chocolate and frequently made chocolate desserts. When homegirl loves chocolate with me I automatically feel like we've bonded and I've dropped all grudges against her pasta eating superpowers. 

BUT, if you're not a chocolate person, or have never experienced depression, that's totally cool. Two of my best friends are absolutely NOT chocolate people, and they're especially not crazy dark chocolate lovers like I am - I'll straight up buy an 85% cocoa chocolate bar and call it heaven and they would gag at the thought. We can still be homegirls together. 

So! Chocolate lover or not, chances are you're gonna bake or make something in your lifetime with cocoa powder so let's get down to the big fat question on the mother of all chocolate goodness: cocoa powder. 

(ps. I've been meaning to do this for awhile - get down to the fun core bits of baking with you, so finally! Here we are. Yay.)

hold up, What is cocoa powder exactly?

Cocoa powder is the pulverized bits of the cocoa bean after it's been separated from most of it's cocoa butter (or fat). It's the removal of this fat that makes the chocolate a powder, because the fat makes the chocolate a solid. Cocoa powder + cocoa butter = solid chocolate bars. 

As you can probably see from the pictures here, cocoa powder comes in several different varieties. Usually these varieties have to do with what country the cocoa bean came from and how long it's been roasted. But origin set aside, there are basically two different ways cocoa powder has been treated: it's either been dutch processed or left alone, or what we'll refer to as natural. 

Dutch vs Natural.... So what the heck does it all mean? 

Sometimes dutch processed cocoa is referred to as "European Cocoa" and natural cocoa is referred to as "American Cocoa" because most American brand chocolates and cocoa powders are natural and most European cocoas are dutch processed. Think, Americans really tend to love their milk chocolate (think Hershey's) and Europeans pretty much hate our American chocolate and prefer their dark chocolate.... and for good reason, it's just better, (hehe)

Dutch Processed Cocoa: Is cocoa that has been alkalized - or in other words it's been given a bath in a baking powder-like substance that reduces it's acidity. This makes for a really deep, rich cocoa that's sometimes almost black. Think, Oreo cookies. (Which is so ironic because Oreos are SO American, yet they use the "European" style cocoa.) This cocoa flavor is deep and earthy and rich and sometimes give hints of coffee. It's significantly less acidic than natural cocoa and a cocoa that makes chocoholics (eh hem, me) happy dance because it's just so dang rich.

Natural Processed Cocoa: Means it has not been washed in this baking powder-like substance, which means the flavor is more acidic. Think fruity, citrusy and is always lighter in color. Sometimes it can taste like strawberries, graham crackers, orange or grandma's christmas fudge (think sweetened condensed milky fudge). Natural processed cocoa usually has reddish hues (like the deep red earth you can find in Hawaii) - and fun fact! This is the type of cocoa that is used in red velvet cake... specifically for it's reddish, mild chocolate flavor. 

So does it matter which cocoa I use?

I can't tell you how many times I've crinkled my nose at this question when making something. DOES IT REALLY MATTER? Because sometimes recipes don't call for a specific cocoa AT ALL. Usually, American recipes call for natural cocoa (because #america) and European recipes call for their style of cocoa (because #europe). 

In short, it matters. But it also doesn't matter. lol!

Here's why it matters and also why it doesn't: 

When choosing a cocoa powder for something like ice cream, custard, frosting and pudding - it doesn't really matter which cocoa powder you use, because these goods do not rely heavily on leavening agents. If you're making a cake, brownie, cookie, bar or bread - or any other baked good that relies heavily on leavening agents (like eggs, yeast, baking powder, baking soda or steam to make the good rise) it matters; Especially if a recipe (like a cake recipe) calls for dutch processed cocoa. Because dutch processed cocoa has been bathed in a baking soda like solution, it can react with the baking soda/powder/any other leavening agent already called for in the cake recipe. 

The trick to help you remember: 

Here's a good rule of thumb: the darker (blacker) the cocoa powder, more alkalized it is, meaning the more dutch processed it is, so if you're using it for a cake or brownie and the recipe doesn't call for dutch processed cocoa but you use dutch processed anyway, you may have a little bit of a reaction - meaning your baked good may rise too much or not enough or rise and then sink. Honestly I've used dutch processed cocoa and natural cocoa interchangeably in tons of baked goods. In my humble opinion, the biggest thing I notice is flavor.... but texture is affected slightly. I have made cakes that have sunk and lemme tell you, no one turned it down. I say this, so you don't stress about it to much. Remember it's dessert. It will make everyone happy no matter what. 

How to measure cocoa powder: 

Usually when measuring cocoa powder I scoop and fluff. Meaning I scoop and fluff the cocoa powder with a dinner spoon in a large container or it's original package first and then scoop it into a measuring cup. Really, the best way is to measure it is to fluff it and then weigh it with a digital scale. 

Resources: Cocoa powders I've used and really loved: 

Cocoa Metro 

King Arthur 

really simple cherry galette | and yelling on top of a mountain

Apparently I'm terrible at managing stress. I don't freak out at people, or get ticked off easily and I'm wondering if I internalize things too often. I speak my feelings always, but I never really yell you know? Like really yell, because I hate getting angry. 

You know those scenes in movies where they're on top of a building or mountain or maybe hanging out of a car - hair back, arms free -  and they just yell? Maybe it's a happy yell or a frustrated yell, but I've never done that. I'm thinking maybe I should. Maybe it would relieve some stress? 

Do I sound like a psycho?

Just when my large bald spot was growing back in (which I blamed on post-pregnancy hormones and stress), I found another one. It's small. And I pray that it stays that way, but it was another big wake up call that I internalize stress too much and need a reality check.

We were just hit with some more news that's a bit ("a bit" is an understatement) stressful. Everyone is healthy and fine (thank heavens) but I've lost even more sleep than usual lately and can literally feel my heart pound out of my chest when I go to sleep because I'm AMAZING at thinking of all the things I'm worried about when my head hits the pillow. (Do you struggle with this?) I've forced myself to do yoga more often (but not daily because #life). I DO go on really long walks every day and listen to uplifting stuff while I walk and have no screen time before bed - all things that I think have helped a bit. 

Wait, do I sound like a mess?

One big thing I've been trying to do too is limit foods that can inflame the body. Because when we're super stressed apparently the body is all inflamed inside (I picture it swollen like a bee sting), so things like sugar and gluten throw us off and make our body even more inflamed inside. Which is totally NBD, because you know I ONLY HAVE A BAKING BLOG I love to pour my heart and soul into so not using sugar and gluten is like TOTALLY EASY. This inflammation is totally linked to stress, and stress is totally linked to bald spots. (crying emoji)   

Disclaimer: This recipe has both gluten and sugar. Again two things of which I am trying to slow down on a bit... but in my defense, I made this galette before the discovery of my new bald spot. (I talk about my first one here.) 

I have been experimenting more and more with gluten free things too, which is sometimes hard to get right the first time because it's such a fun (and annoying) mix of flours and things, but I'm up for the challenge. So, expect more and more gluten free stuff on here. I still gotta perfect my gluten free galette. (Pssst, here's my favorite homemade, gluten free flour mix that you can use for a lot of baked goods.)

Oh, John and I have talked about meditating and we've been looking into the apps headspace and heartmath to help us balance it all out. No reporting yet on these guys but stay tuned. 

What do you do to handle stress because apparently I suck. Do you bake? Do other things? Wait, please keep it PG. I have a vivid imagination.

Anyway, I'm all ears. And apparently stress.

Brb gonna go climb a mountain and yell. Ugh, someone please come take me away to Hawaii. This is all so embarrassing.

Love you friends. xo

really easy cherry galette

by Robyn Holland |  Sweetish.co  |  serves 6-8

In the cookbook: Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School it says a galette is the French word for meaning “pastry for the non-baker”. This made me chuckle a little because I feel like I’ve actually had a hard time getting a cherry galette just right…I kept telling myself trial bake after trial bake, that this was supposed to be easy. It's a galette! Good news is, I think I nailed it when I realized I was over thinking it. This dessert is as uncomplicated as it gets - I guess you can add a bit of cornstarch as a thickener, or jam, but really, I find that the magic is in the unadulterated cherry juice that bursts out after each pocket-of-crust-bite. The crust is sturdy enough to handle all that juice too. This one lives up to it's title, it's really easy but still magically good.  

 

½ recipe of brisee dough (or you can just make the whole recipe and freeze the other half for a fast and delicious brisee on the fly)
3 ½ to 4 cups dark sweet cherries, pitted
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 egg, beaten
raw turbinado sugar for sprinkling (I would say optional here, but to me, it’s simply not a galette without the raw sugar sprinkle)
whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream to serve

 

Preheat oven to 375° F / 190° C and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

Wash, de-stem and de-pit the cherries, but still leave them whole. (I got a cherry pitter from Sur La Table, it wasn’t very much and it's such a life saver.)

Mix whole cherries and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Set aside. 

Roll out brisee dough into a 12” circle using a bit of flour and a rolling pin. Place rolled dough on a the parchment lined cookie sheet. 

Pour cherries in the middle of the dough, leaving about a 2-3 inch border. Fold the dough over the cherries, leaving a “window” or opening where the cherries still show. (See pictures as a reference.) 

With a pastry brush, brush the exposed crust with the egg and then sprinkle liberally with the raw sugar.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Wait about 15-30 minutes before cutting into it if you can, if not, just be aware that the filling and juice is hot - which makes for a delicious pooling puddle of vanilla bean ice cream around it if that’s your thing.  

cheats ice cream cake with bittersweet fudge and salty almond crust

John and I have been trying to create more productive schedules for ourselves lately, like wake up early, go to be early and have meetings over our makeshift dinners.  

I'd love to tell you that we're just wildly successful at sticking to what we've written on our calendars but we're not. It's hard because we very much feel pulled in a lot of directions. (Don't we all though?) Me, being the mom (aka the primary care-taker of Myles) leaves me on average 1.5-3 hours a day to do anything I please... and I can't help but think of that meme, "You have the same hours in a day as Beyonce" but I just don't think that's true, I think Beyonce has a slight advantage.

Myles is learning how to be a better napper, but we're still working on the sleep thing and all of it - the tantrums, the gagging when he doesn't want to eat something, poo that's miraculously escaped his diaper while I change him and now suddenly landed on his book - all of it puts a HUGE dent in my expectations for how I'd like our (my) day to go. Sometimes I feel like I'm taking crazy pills instead of prenatals.

Because of this madness we (John and I) feel we encounter on the daily, we've both felt a need to create some sort of structure, and productive routines - so we've been turning to lots of books and from these books we've gathered a very common theme to help us make sense of things: "one thing at a time."

So, every day we pick just one thing we want to accomplish. One thing. This means we get a free pass to ignore the dishes in the sink and to just focus on that one thing. I'm not gonna lie, my one thing since last Sunday has been this blog post. (Huge eye roll emoji). See paragraph above. 

One thing that's helped us stay on track is to text each other a small outline of what we'd like to accomplish that day to hold each other accountable... and for some reason these daily check-ins feel homey. Like we're not apart and we're in it together. It's easy to feel alone when you've assumed the role of mom you know?

Over the years, I seriously think I've read more business + branding + self help books than anyone I know, and I'm lucky that I have a companion in my weirdness because John's the same way. So this is us, trying to truly whack a fraction of what we've read over the years into our every day lives - scheduling things out and holding each other accountable. We do everything pretty loosely though because Myles always has other plans, and we're such yellows that we have to make time for fun too or our work quality goes to the toilet. And confession, I've never been much of a serious planner so the inconsistency Myles creates is sometimes more welcome than frustrating.... but when he refuses to nap or eat, I'm definitely frustrated and find myself being grumpy and annoyed with an adorable toothless face that loves me. Why does being a mom make you feel like the worst person ever sometimes? I don't want to be one of those people that wishes time away - I just want it to pause, so I can get stuff done and make my kid take a nap. Some days I feel like I'm one stop away from crazy town. 

We're working hard, but seriously having a kid feels like you have to move through molasses to get anything done, but like I said, this one thing at a time thing has been a good practice for us. I'll list some of the books we've found most helpful in the resources at the end of this post.

Anyway, I want to share 3 things with you real quick before you go: 

1.  I've updated the "my story" page if you care to read and John's introduced himself on this space as the video guy. Expect more of this GIF + video stuff on here. We really love it and love the dynamic it brings to the story telling of food. 

2. The food blog awards are back. Remember when I asked you to vote for me last year too? It would be my honor if you'd like to nominate me again. I totally didn't make the running last year, so this is me being brave and asking again. I hate asking, but pushing a baby out of me has subconsciously turned me into a more confident superwoman. For the awards - there are great categories this year, but I think I'd be a good fit for: "Best Baking and Sweets Blog" or any other category you see fit. Cast your vote here. (ps. You can vote as many times as you want and voting lasts until July 19th).  (me hugging you.) THANK YOU x. Really. 

3. This ice cream cake is re-invented from an old post I did two years ago for mom's birthday. It's still just as amazing. It just got a re-vamp with with the fresh fruit and GIF fudge drip. I'm still just as obsessed now as I was then. It's really the perfect, minimal effort summer dessert and just like Meryl Streep, needs no introduction. 

Thank you for being apart of Sweetish. We're excited to keep going with this venture. I (we) seriously heart you big time.

cheat's ice cream cake with bittersweet fudge and salty almond crust | gluten free 

It's called cheats ice cream cake because we don't make the ice cream ourselves. We just buy 4 glorious pints of it, and hand make the bittersweet near-perfect fudge and crust. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing. 

bakers notes: I used 4 pints of vanilla ice cream, and honestly didn't measure my fruit at all. Just eye ball it. I did a mix of whole blackberries, chopped cherries and whole cherries for appearance sake, all sprinkled on top. You really can't go wrong though, have fun with it. ;) If you want the fudge to stick to the cake, freeze it for a good few hours with the fruit on top before pouring the fudge on. Make sure your cake is freezing cold and the fudge is room temperature and or it will immediately melt your cake. 

 

For the recipe go here.

 

Resources (or the books we're super into right now): 

Some of these we've read a couple of times through, they're that good. 

Essentialism (We adore this book and read it when it first came out. This link is a great summary of the book too.) 

The One Thing (A tiny bit cheese-sauce, but pretty effective and a fairly quick read.) 

Will it Fly (Kind of amazing and life changing. Pat really spells it out for you... and maybe we love it so much because we have SO MANY freaking business and branding books under our belts that this one takes that knowledge and really puts it to paper.) 

7 Habits of Highly Effective People (I'm pretty sure I first read this book when I was 17, it's a good one.) 

Big Magic  (Huge, ginormous fan of this book and mentioned it in this blog post here.) 

The Pumpkin Plan (Very similar to Essentialism and The One Thing, but more hyper-business-focused)  

chocolate, chocolate chip ice cream | (psst! it's kind of amazing)

Right now I'm regretting all of the chocolate cake I ate yesterday while I watch my sister do a workout in the living room from a workout video. Have I told you this already? My sister is engaged and getting married soon so I wanted to treat her to some of her favorite desserts for her big bridal shower.... which led to a very long drive home to CA, 150+ big salted chocolate chip cookies and tripling our ("the only") favorite chocolate cake recipe... and of course someone had to eat the little bits of left over cake right? #itssogood

(ps. The trip was way way too short and kind of a whirlwind, and going home to CA right now is like ripping a bandaid off slowly... especially when it's full of the faces I love, so, my dear friends back home, if I didn't see you this last trip it's because it was too fast, and because I'm still a baby and hate seeing the people I love knowing I have to travel back to Utah so soon. Sometimes I feel like an orca stuck in a Sea World tank up here in UT. Yes, I just called myself a baby and a whale at the same time. Not in a mean way, it's just the truth.) 

Also, my dad's birthday was this weekend. This chocolate ice cream isn't his number one dessert of choice (he's more of a pie pan), but it is somewhat funny because he didn't even like chocolate ice cream until he met my mom. In college they'd run far to an ice cream shop, get a scoop and then run back, you know to even those calories out. My dad said he didn't even know ice cream could be a main food group until he met my mom too, lol - and it's true. As a family, ice cream is a big part of our lives. It's one of the first things we offer when a guest comes over. We celebrate with it, we drive (or run) far to get a scoop and we dive into a pint during our late night talks at the kitchen table. Now Dad is a big fan of chocolate ice cream and dare I say when that ice cream is from-scratch, he's all in. 

While buying a pint is a lot less effort, it is incredibly amazing to make you're own ice cream. Yes, you have to churn it, but really, that's like the funnest bit! I don't know why people complain about that. (I do have some no-churn ice cream recipes I've been working on though, hang tight.)

The hardest part about making ice cream is not eating it all yourself, lol!

No, really, the hardest part about ice cream is making the base, or otherwise known as the custard - but I walk you through it below, don't worry. 

This is hands down, my favorite from-scratch chocolate ice cream (and trust me I've made a lot of chocolate ice creams!). It's clean tasting, meaning doesn't feel heavy on the tastebuds but it's still rich - which is exactly what the chocoholic in me wants. With the tiny specs of dark chocolate throughout, it strikes that perfect balance of bittersweet with the smallest hint of salt that leaves you wanting more and more. Like, if there was one ice cream flavor to represent me and my obsession of my two loves (chocolate and ice cream) - this would be it. 

Love you friends. xo  

chocolate, chocolate chip ice cream

adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones

This is hands down, my favorite from-scratch chocolate ice cream (and trust me I've made a lot of chocolate ice creams!). Also If you're feeling a bit adventurous, a drizzle of fruity olive oil with a tiny sprinkling of sea salt over the top of a scoop of this is AHMAAZING. John doesn't care for it, but I love it. 

bakers note: Just like I learned from the cookbook this recipe came from, if you make this ice cream with dutch processed cocoa it makes for a much richer, almost truffle like ice cream. If you make it with regular (non-dutch processed) cocoa it makes for a more milk chocolate ice cream. Both are fantastic, but I lean more towards the dutch processed cocoa for this recipe. 

special equipment: ice cream machine

5 large egg yolks, preferably pasture raised
¾ cup sugar, divided in half, so 6 tablespoons each
¼ cup / 30g Dutch processed or natural cocoa powder, measured then sifted (see note about which cocoa powder to choose above)
1 cup / 237ml 2% or whole milk, preferably grass-fed
1 ¾ cup / 414ml heavy cream
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
scant ½ cup / 100g dark chocolate bar, chopped, optional (see sources at the bottom of the post)

tip! Make sure your ice cream maker is all ready - I had to put a portion of mine in the freezer to chill it, so if you need to do that too, do it now. Also note you need 3 bowls here that can withstand high heat. 

Get out two bowls: one large bowl and one bowl that will fit inside of that bowl. In the large bowl: prepare an ice bath by putting a little cold water with a lot of ice. Place the other bowl in ice bath without getting any of the cold water or ice into it. We'll come back to these bowls later. Set aside. 

In a glass or stainless steel medium-sized bowl, whisk together your egg yolks and 6 tablespoons of sugar until just combined and set aside. 

In a heavy-bottomed, dutch oven like pot (over no heat yet), whisk together your cocoa powder, remaining sugar (6 tablespoons) and slowly stream in ¼ cup of milk. tip! Milk can be cold, but room temperature is best. You need to add the milk slowly to the cocoa powder or else the cocoa powder will clump up. Continue adding the rest of the milk in a slow steady stream until you get smooth, bubbly chocolate milk mixture - about 1 minute. 

Whisk cream and salt into the chocolate milk mixture and transfer the pot to a medium heat. Heat until the mixture reaches a bare simmer; so mixture should quiver and have tiny bubbles on top but not be boiling. 

Take mixture completely off the heat for now. Next scoop ¼ cup of this hot chocolate milk mixture and slowly stream it into your egg yolk mixture. We're tempering the eggs here, or bringing the eggs to the same temperature as the hot chocolate milk without cooking our eggs. It's REALLY important that we stream this hot chocolate mixture in really slowly so we don't scramble our eggs. Don't be scared, we got this. 

Repeat this process 3 more times or until you've reached 1 cup of the hot chocolate mixture added to the yolks in total. 

Dump your new egg yolk + hot chocolate milk mixture back into pot and return to a low heat. 

With a heat resistant spatula, continue stirring, gently scraping the bottom until the mixture significantly thickens, about 2-5 minutes. You'll know the mixture is thick enough because it will coat the back of the spatula and leave a line if you run your finger across it. Note that the mixture won't be incredibly thick at this point but just thick enough - because it will thicken much more as it cools in the fridge.  

Once mixture is thick, pour into the bowl over your prepared ice bath. Stir with spatula to cool down the custard for a few minutes. 

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours. (Overnight is preferable.) 

Once custard is cold, place in your ice cream maker and after 3-5 minutes add your chocolate chunks as the maker churns. (You need to add your chocolate at the beginning of the churn or they wont be fully incorporated.) Churn until thick and ice-cream-like. You can eat it out of the ice cream maker as is or put it into a tin or container and freeze for 4 hours or until firm. 

Scoop, or eat straight out of the tin. I could seriously eat this whole recipe by myself. I KNOW. Myles loved sneaking bites of this too. xo

Resources: 

King Arthur Double Dutch Cocoa

Pump Street Bakery Chocolate , which I purchased at Whole Foods. 

Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones cookbook

the pie | chicken + veg pot pie part 3

I'm not gonna lie to you, we are definitely not eating this pie this Sunday for Father's Day.

Not because it's not amazingly delicious, but because we've already been eating it for months and months making sure we got it just right. Lol - John has even been kindly chipping away at the last of the leftovers kept in the freezer every day this week for lunch. 

On our hike that we took this past weekend I joked and said, "So, for Father's Day, I'm thinking, chicken + veg pot pie for dinner?" :) 

In all honestly I think we're going out for burritos for FD because I've worked so hard on recipes that I can't wait to share on here (like this pie!) that I just don't want to cook on Sunday. 

That's the thing with food blogging. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes. SO MUCH RECIPE TESTING. That when it comes time for me to actually make a meal for my little family I put my hands up in the air and ask (beg) John if he can grab something on the way home from Trader Joe's. 

I think we've gotten to the point where I have to ask myself, "How many times do I want to eat this?" before I consider recipe developing. It's awesome. And fun. And I love it and I LOVE this pie and John loves it too and I've served it to a lot of people - and every time I've gotten enthusiastic "seconds please" from all. So! Now that I've talked it up a ton, let's dive in. 

Here's the thing about this pie. It takes a little time. All good food does. But then let's slap pie into the "really good food" equation and it takes a teeny bit of extra work to get there - but I promise - I'm gonna try to save you as much time as possible with this timeline AND I also promise it's stinking WORTH the effort or I wouldn't have eaten it at least 10 times. 

Chicken + Veg Pot Pie Timeline: 

1-3 days before:

1. Make your brisée dough, tightly wrap it, and store it in the fridge. 

2. Roast your chicken. tip: You can even just buy a pre-roasted chicken from your favorite source if you'd rather save time that way. 

3. Chop 1 whole breast of your roasted chicken, skin removed and store it in the fridge. 

1 day before or morning of: 

4. Chop all your veggies and measure them out into containers / little baggies so you don't have to measure them again. You can even go as far as to make the entire veggie filling AND sauce a day ahead of time and store it, combined, in the fridge until the next day. Just bring it to room temperature before baking it in the pie. tip: I even chop more veggies than I need and use them in meals for the following week. I especially find good use for the extra leeks, kale and spinach.  

day of: 

5. Measure all ingredients for the sauce and set aside. They need to be at room temp anyway. 

6. Get out two pots and have them ready on the stove: one really large one for cooking all your veggies and another medium sized one for cooking your sauce. 

If you do these tips, I swear, making this pie is 1,000 times easier. You can even make this entire pie and store it in the freezer unbaked, until you want an impressive dinner on the fly. (see more on this in the baker's note)

Happy Father's Day! Dad, you're the best dad. Really. You taught me to dream big and to believe in myself. You also taught me to love all smoothies and baked goods, including but not limited to: hot blueberry muffins, bran muffins with weird toppings and slightly under-baked cinnamon rolls.  And John, you're the best dad to our sweet boy, I love how much he loves you (even though he still loves me more! ;) I love you both, but this Sunday, don't count on pie. 

Happy weekend to you friends. xo 

chicken + veg pot pie

makes one large, overstuffed 10-inch pie, serving 6-8 people

robyn holland | sweetish.co, inspired by Little Flower Bakery

I include spinach and more peas as extra ingredients to replace the chicken here for you vegetarian friends. These extra portions of veggies actually work really great in the chicken version of the pie too - it just makes for a less saucy pie and a more veg-packed one. In fact, I shot this pie several times and the version you see on here, is just that version: the chicken with extra veg. I honestly love all versions, but the straight up chicken one without the spinach may be my fave just because it feels naughty but still slightly virtuous. The veg-packed one makes me feel like a good green loving lady and the extra veg + chicken one is just the best of both worlds.

bakers notes: When measuring the spinach, I measure it already chopped. To freeze: Freeze the entire pie unbaked without the egg wash, tightly wrapped for up to 3 months. To bake: just take it straight from the freezer and bake at 375°F / 190°C  Keep in mind that when I do this it takes me 2-3 hours to fully bake the pie. I don't know if this is a mountain thing yet, but I end up tenting the pie in foil and continue cooking until filling is bubbly. 

for the crust:
1 recipe of brisée dough

for the veg + chicken filling:
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, ghee, coconut oil or olive oil, divided (I use butter, but all work great)
2 cups / 190g leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 cups / 335g carrots, peeled and chopped into coins, (tip! I just use organic baby carrots to save time)
2 cups / 355g dutch yellow potatoes, peeled or unpeeled (I left my skins on) and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 ½ cups / 354ml chicken or veggie stock or water, room temperature (or a little more or a little less, see note in method)
2 cups / 76g  lacinato (dino) kale, stalks removed, cut into thin-ish, bite-sized strips
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, just the leaves not woodsy parts, chopped
2 heaping cups / 105g fresh spinach, chopped finely (think confetti) OPTIONAL see bakers note above!!
1 ½ cups / 225g peas, fresh or frozen (I used frozen) *if making this pie a vegetarian version, add one more ½ cup / 70g of peas*
2 cups / 455g / 1 lb (about 1 large breast) roasted chicken, skin and bone removed, and chopped into 1-inch pieces
kosher salt to taste
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, more to garnish (optional)

for the sauce:
½ cup (85g) + 2 tablespoons unbleached, all purpose flour
¼ cup (55g) + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ½ cups / 350ml whole milk, room temperature
1 ½ cups / 350ml  chicken or veggie stock, room temperature
5-8 springs of fresh thyme
½ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste if you think it needs a little more or less)
fresh black pepper to taste

 

In a large pot on medium heat, melt 2 tablespoon butter (or fat of choice) and fry leeks until a they turn a slight golden brown, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. 

Add carrots, potatoes ½ teaspoon-ish of kosher salt and stir until the veggies are coated in the leeks and butter. Turn heat to a medium/low heat. Add 1 to 1 ½ cups of chicken/veggie stock or water and continue to cook veggies until they have absorbed all of the liquid and potatoes are soft but not falling apart, and carrots are soft-ish, but still have a bite, about 10-20 minutes. Stir occasionally. note! It's super dry here in Utah, so I use all of the 1 ½ cups of liquid to get these results, but there's no shame in adding a little less liquid or a little more liquid if that's what it takes to get your veg right.  

As your veggies soften, make the sauce. 

In a medium size dutch-oven like pot over low-medium heat, melt your butter. Once butter has melted and bubbled slightly, whisk in the flour until the flour has absorbed all the butter. Still whisking, cook the flour + butter for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. 

In a steady stream, pour the room temperature milk into the flour + butter paste whisking constantly. The flour and butter should soak up the milk like a sponge and it will be a little lumpy. Immediately after the milk has been soaked up, add your chicken or veggie stock in a steady stream. Add your sprigs of thyme. Still whisking constantly and reduce heat to low and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens - about 1-3 minutes. You'll know the sauce is ready if you dip a spoon in it, draw your finger across the back of it and it leaves a line. When sauce is done, fish out sprigs of thyme. Add salt to taste. Set aside. 

After the carrots + potatoes have absorbed the liquid, add 1 tablespoon of butter, kale and thyme + parsley. Add pinch of kosher salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes. If adding the optional spinach, add it now. If you added spinach - add another tiny pinch of salt and cook it with the kale for 1-2 minutes. 

Add peas and chopped chicken.

Add your beautiful sauce to this huge pot of veggies and gently stir until combined. Set aside. 

 

Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C and place a large sheet pan on the middle wrack to get hot. 

Take out your two disks of chilled brisée dough. Flour a clean surface and roll each disk into a 12-inch circle at about ⅜-inch thick. (It can be a little thinner than this too, don't stress. Also if you're finding that it's a little difficult to roll out, let it sit out at room temperature for 5 minutes or so. It will warm up as you roll it.) 

Press one dough circle into an 10-inch pie tin, trimming the excess dough. Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes while you roll out the other disk. 

Fill the pie with your filling. The filling comes very high out of the pie tin - create a dome out of it and gently lay the other 12-inch circle of dough over it. Cut excess dough and pinch the bottom and top dough pieces together and cut 3-4 slits in the top to let out the steam. 

Liberally brush the pie with one beaten egg using a pastry brush and top with flaky sea salt (or kosher salt) and freshly cracked black pepper. Without taking it out of the oven, place the pie on the hot sheet pan in the oven to bake. This ensures that our bottom crust wont be soggy. 

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cooking time depends on the heat of your filling and your oven. Filling should be bubbly and crust should be a deep golden brown. When you can smell it baking, it usually means it's close to ready. 

Serve warm and congratulations! You made an amazing pie!! xo