Saturday, December 24, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vegan banana walnut muffins

The Pilsen Famers' Market season has come to a close, so now I'm left with the taxing chore of deciding how to occupy my time. I've considered doing an occasional indoor market and have set my sights on the farmers' market at Empty Bottle.

I say an "occasional" market because let's be realistic here — I won't be too keen on schlepping around a few dozen pastries when the weather is less than desirable. This market takes place just once a month, has shorter hours, AND also serves booze while open. Genius.

I've inquired on availability and should know by my next post, which seems to be few and far between these days, no?

Well, here's a little something for my vegan peeps; it's from the Post Punk Kitchen I always seem to have success with their vegan pastry recipes.

The recipe is for banana bread, but I baked mine individually as muffins, so if you choose to do the same, be sure to reduce your baking time to approximately 25-30 minutes (for a dozen).

Vegan Banana Bread 
Adapted from Isa Chandra

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup room temperature margarine (I used Earth Balance)
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup vanilla soy milk, mixed with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350º F. Spray a 8×4 bread pan with non stick cooking spray, or lightly coat with margarine.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

Cream together the margarine and sugars. Add bananas, soy milk and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix well. Pour batter into pan. Bake for an hour to an hour 10 minutes. Makes 12 slices.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A reason to wake up in the morning

Hey, it's my first recipe post in quite some time. Boy, have I been lazy busy. Anywho, I think that you may find this was worth the wait, because... it's... CREPES!

Crepes are relatively easy to make, although I would highly recommend splurging on a crepe pan. They are designed specifically for this use and once your pan is seasoned, consistent crepes are a breeze. I purchased this one:

The recipe below is a traditional crepe batter for sweet fillings. Generally, crepe batter for sweet fillings is made with pastry flour, and batter for savory is made with buckwheat flour.

Here comes the fun part — there are an endless number of fillings that you can use. My favorite is mascarpone with strawberries that have been macerated in Port wine and sugar, but most people swear by a simple scoop of Nutella, or a dusting of confectioner's sugar.

Crepes for sweet fillings
Adapted from here

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1-1/3 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste   

In a pan, cook the butter until brown (beurre noisette).

Sift together the flour, confectioner’s sugar and the salt. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolk and the milk. Add to the dry ingredients.

Whisk in the brown butter and vanilla bean paste. Place in container and allow batter to rest overnight.

In a non-stick skillet ladle 1 ounce of batter for each crepe, makes approximately 12 crepes.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gaudi, Cava, and way too many tapas

Kevin and I just returned from Barcelona, where we were celebrating his birthday...not any ol' birthday, but the big 4-0.

Oh Lordy, Kbird's 40

Every sunny 75-plus degree day was spent exploring the neighborhoods of Barcelona — visiting Cava bars, the markets, Gaudi's buildings, and relaxing on the beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean.

We also ventured out of the city and took a scenic day trip to a Benedictine monastery in the mountains of an area called Montserrat.

And now for the obligatory food shots. This was the first time I traveled without my camera, so I only had use of the camera on my beloved iPhone.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Short and sweet and not a tart

These two cakes were completed today for a surprise birthday party at Honky Tonk BBQ. The owner requested that they be gluten-free, so I made two flourless entremets from recipes learned in pastry school. One is an almond flour cake with apricot-passion fruit gelee and nougat mousse, and the second is a chocolate cake with vanilla cremeux and chocolate mousse. I had forgotten how fun (and challenging) these cakes are to make.

I haven't been so great at updating my blog as of late...pardon. Patio drinks, farmers' markets, my new (old) bicycle and all things summer have been a welcome distraction, but I do promise to post new recipes soon.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sweet Petite debut

So my debut at Sunday's Pilsen Community Market was an unforeseen success. Saturday's bake-a-thon resulted in the creation of over 130 individual pastries, some sleep deprivation and a bit of carpal tunnel syndrome. I sold out of all of my items with the exception of 6 measly tartlets.

A special thanks to Kevin (husband/dishwasher/salesman extraordinaire) and all of my friends who came out to support me. I was absolutely terrified, but their presence made a gorgeous summer day even lovelier.

I will be back at the market on July 10th, and will continue throughout the remainder of the summer. I'll be listing those dates on my website: as well as my Sweet Petite Facebook page:!/SweetPetiteChicago

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gelato for breakfast. I do what I want.

I'm savoring this sunny 80 degree day because I don't know when we'll experience another. It has been a miserable spring even by Chicago standards. We've had a record-breaking number of cloudy days and most days have struggled to hit 50 degrees. Not fun.

So today, it's gelato for breakfast, a nice sunny stroll with the doggies and some late afternoon cocktails on a patio somewhere.

On another note, I've finalized all paperwork for the commercial kitchen, so I will finally be able to participate in a local farmers' market which begins on June 5. Hot damn.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
  • 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, crushed

In a saucepan combine the milk, cream, and 1/2 cup sugar over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whip the egg yolks with the remaining sugar using an electric mixer until the eggs have become thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Pour 1/2 cup of the warm milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture and stir. Add this mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Place a strainer over a medium bowl and pour the warm custard mixture through the strainer. Stir in the vanilla and hazelnut spread until it dissolves. Chill mixture completely before pouring into an ice cream maker along with crushed hazelnuts and follow manufacturer's instructions to freeze.

Makes approximately 4 cups.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Don't pooh-pooh the cupcake.

I realize this pastry trend has been over for quite some time, yet I really cannot resist making them. So what's better than making a passé pastry? Making a passé pastry whose main ingredient is carrots. If you're not one for veggies in your cake, this recipe may sway you to think otherwise.

My coworker described the cream cheese frosting as being "absolutely orgasmic". Yep. It's the Plugra butter, baby...the Plugra butter.

This recipe makes (1) 8-inch double layered cake, or approximately 2 dozen cupcakes.

Carrot and Pineapple Cake
Adapted from Ina Garten

For the cake:
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-1/3 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 pound carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
For the frosting:
  • 3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

For the cake:
Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2-1/2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the raisins and walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour. Fold in the carrots and pineapple. Add to the batter and mix well.

Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.

For the frosting:
Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

Place 1 layer, flat-side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with diced pineapple.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An attempt to put my pastry education to good use

So most of you know that I've continued to work as a graphic artist, but would like to supplement my career by working in pastry. So here is what I've been working on since graduation:

I am looking to operate out of one of Chicago's shared commercial kitchens with hopes of selling to farmers' markets and local cafes. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Put. A. Bird. On. It.

Have you watched the IFC series called "Portlandia"? If you haven't, you must! Just take a look-see...

I too, am one of those weirdos who cannot resist a good bird motif...bonus points if it's on pastry.

Chocolate and passion fruit curd tart with cocoa powder bird.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Back to life, back to reality

Kevin and I have returned from Puerto Rico feeling rested and looking sun-kissed. San Juan was a fascinating city with friendly people and an overabundance of sunny, 80-plus degree days.

The majority of our time was spent in the Old San Juan area, which was absolutely charming. Regrettably, I didn't bring along my Nikon DSLR, so these photos were taken with my modest point and shoot camera.



And yes, I may have indulged in a tropical drink or two...okay, now back to work.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snowmageddon or the Snowpocalypse 2011

Chicago is on the verge of a blizzard.

They have predicted that we'll receive up to 2 feet of snow when it's all said and done. And while that's nothing to sneeze at, we are after all, living in Chicago — so brutal winters are to be expected.

I just chalk this one up to be an old school winter...the type I experienced as a kid (and crazily enjoyed). When snow drifts came up to my arm pits, and itchy wool tights and thermals were the required base layer. It was all good though, because there was sledding, snowball fights, and playing king of the snow mountain.

My adult experiences with winter aren't so pleasant, since they equate to traffic hell, snow shoveling, and freezing my caboose off at the bus stop. Luckily, my work has given us the option of taking a snow day tomorrow, so I'll be spending mine in tartlet heaven.

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart with Port Glaze
Adapted from Gourmet, April 2009

Recipe makes (1) 10 inch tart, or approximately (24) 3 inch tartlets. If you opt for using the tartlet molds, pie weights are not necessary.

For tart shell:
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons cold water

For filling:
  • 1-1/2 pounds strawberries (about 1 1/2 quarts), trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup ruby Port
  • 1 pound mascarpone (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make tart shell:
Blend together flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Beat together yolk, vanilla, lemon juice, and water with a fork, then drizzle over flour mixture and stir with fork (or pulse) until mixture comes together.

Gently knead with floured hands on a lightly floured surface until a dough forms, then gently knead 4 or 5 times. Press into a 5-inch disk. Place in center of tart pan and cover with plastic wrap. Using your fingers and bottom of a flat-bottomed measuring cup, spread and push dough to evenly cover bottom and side of pan. Prick bottom of tart shell all over with a fork and freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Line tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until side is set and edge is pale golden, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and continue to bake until shell is deep golden all over, about 20 minutes more. Cool in pan, about 45 minutes.

Make filling while tart shell cools:
Stir together strawberries and granulated sugar in a bowl and let stand, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Strain in a sieve set over a small saucepan, reserving berries. Add Port to liquid in saucepan and boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, whisk together mascarpone, confectioners sugar, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until stiff.

Assemble tart:
Spread mascarpone mixture evenly in cooled tart shell, then top with strawberries. Drizzle Port glaze all over tart.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Madeleines for your Monday

Ugh...what an endless winter, and it's only mid-January. Someone remind me again why I choose to live in Chicago? Yep, cabin fever has hit me a bit sooner this winter, and no amount of vino, Netflix, or Wii Karaoke Revolution can shake it.

So my yearly escape from the snowy abyss will take place in February, when I will be visiting sun-soaked San Juan, Puerto Rico. Kevin and I have never been, but I hear it's a city rich in history complete with beautiful architecture, nature and amazing food. And for those of you who have traveled there, I welcome your suggestions.

In the meantime, baking seems to help me pass the time. So here's a little sunshine for your dreary, winter Monday.


  • 2/3 cup cake flour (sifted)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (sifted)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar (sifted)

Preheat oven to 350º F. Butter (2) 12 ct. madeleine molds. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

In an electric mixer, beat together the eggs, orange juice, zest and vanilla on high for 5 minutes. Add confectioners sugar gradually, and beat again on high for another 5 minutes until batter thickens.

Gently fold the flour mixture into the batter, then add melted butter. Spoon or pipe batter into molds filling 3/4 of the way. Bake for approximately 8 minutes, or until edges are light brown. Allow to cool in pans for 2 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Salted chocolate tartlets

A special thanks to my sister and her BF for funding my latest bakeware obsession...tartlet pans.

I purchased 24 of these little cuties from Sur La Table yesterday. With over a dozen different sizes and shapes available, I literally perused their tart/pie display rack for a good 45 minutes. At 3 bucks a pop, I wouldn't say that they're cheap, but they're made by the French company Gobel, and are also non-stick, which is a bonus.

And in less than 24 hours, I had managed to put them to use...

The recipe below is for one 9-1/2 inch tart, or approximately two dozen 3 inch tartlets.

Salted Chocolate Tart
Adapted from Sunset Magazine

For the chocolate sweet dough:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
  • 5 large egg yolks

For the chocolate filling:
  • 8 ounces extra-bittersweet top-quality chocolate, such as Callebaut or Valrhona, chopped
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee
  • 4 large eggs

For the chocolate glaze:
  • 4 ounces extra-bittersweet top-quality chocolate, such as Callebaut or Valrhona, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • Maldon sea salt for sprinkling

For the dough: 
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together flour and cocoa powder, then add to butter mixture and mix until combined. Add yolks and mix on low speed just until dough comes together. If small pieces remain, knead dough to blend them in. Form dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

Unwrap dough and set on a lightly floured work surface. With short strokes from center outward, roll into a 12-in. circle. Transfer dough to a 9 1/2-in tart pan and, using your thumb, press into sides and bottom corner. Trim dough flush with top edge. Line shell with parchment paper, completely fill with dried beans or pie weights, and chill at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°.

Bake dough 10 minutes, then remove parchment and beans and return to oven until dough looks dry, about 5 minutes. Set on a rack to cool slightly.

For the filling: 
Put chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl. In a medium saucepan, combine butter, sugar, and coffee and bring to a boil over medium heat. Pour hot liquid over chocolate and let sit 3 to 4 minutes, then gently stir until smooth. Break eggs into a large bowl and slowly pour in warm chocolate mixture, whisking constantly until incorporated.

Pour warm filling into still-warm tart shell. Bake until filling has risen slightly, appears dry on surface, and seems firm when shaken slightly, about 10 minutes. Set on a rack and let cool completely.

For the glaze:
Put chocolate and corn syrup in a medium bowl. In a microwave-safe container, heat cream to boiling; pour over chocolate. Add butter and stir slowly until smooth, working in one direction to prevent air bubbles from forming (if butter doesn't melt completely, microwave in 5-second intervals to warm slightly).

Pour glaze onto center of tart and use a small spatula to push glaze to edges. Let sit at least 15 minutes to set up before slicing. Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt before serving.