Category Archives: sweets

coffee, banana + coconut cream poptails with vegan magic shell | #popsicleweek | holly & flora

coffee liqueur, banana + coconut cream poptails in almond-dusted dark chocolate | #popsicleweek

Duuuuuuude. It is so hot this week here in Denver. While it might not be the best week to photograph popsicles, it is definitely the right week to get down on some refreshing, innovative, exciting, frozen treats on sticks. That is just what is happening across the interwebs, thanks to ineffably creative Billy Green of Wit & Vinegar.

It’s officially #POPSICLEWEEK.

The last day of it, in fact. And I’m coming in hot with something insanely delicious. This is the fourth year of Billy’s roundup of frozen pops, and I couldn’t be more excited to share my favorite recipe-of-the-week, along with about 100 other bloggers. Here’s the entire list of popsicle participants. There are enough recipes to satisfy your summery cravings all season long.

And now for some rich, creamy, boozy {and vegan!} popsicles made with St. George Spirits’ NOLA Coffee Liqueur. They’re filled with blended bananas and full-fat coconut milk and drizzled with my favorite condiment-of-the-moment, dark chocolate magic shell. All of my favorite flavors, together in one frozen bite.coffee, banana + coconut cream poptails with vegan magic shell | #popsicleweek | holly & flora coffee, banana + coconut cream poptails with vegan magic shell | #popsicleweek | holly & flora coffee, banana + coconut cream poptails with vegan magic shell | #popsicleweek | holly & flora

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lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

sea salt shortbread cookies with lemon curd | paired with Kracher Auslese 2011

I had every intention of sharing these cookies, along with the lemon curd, even the dessert wine, with my coworkers. I set aside 40 of them to take to work this past Saturday. Between me and Steve, we not only consumed the 15 allocated to the two of us, but we also polished off the portion reserved for the kind and hard-working chefs, servers, and managers at the restaurant. Hmmm. Yeah, sorry. Not sorry!

I just couldn’t stop eating them. I am trying not to think about the fact that, between the two of us, we ingested two sticks of butter over the course of fewer than three days. Somehow, that fact is easier to disregard, when the butter is divided among almost 60 small, heart-shaped, dainty cookies!

There is a lot to cover in this post: a recap on this modification of Emilie’s shortbread recipe over at the Clever Carrot, a how-to on Meyer lemon curd, and a review of the dessert wine that paired magically with these sweet and sour components. I’ll keep my personal update short for sake of space, but I will let you know that, in addition to eating all of these cookies, I am really winning so far this week: I overslept that 5-mile race I had signed up for. I seriously blame these cookies. Somehow, they were the culprit.

I can honestly say that I blame cookies for a lot of things. But that’s an entirely different post.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora


“Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.”

– Victor Kiam


I had actually made a few jars of lemon curd before reading a recent post by Emilie over at the Clever Carrot. Emilie is a chef, who believes in the concept of “healthy comfort food.” She makes amazing sourdough bread, posts useful tips, writes heartfelt posts, and creates recipes far beyond sweets. And she has a kick-ass Instagram feed. Recently, she and her boys made the cutest batch of shortbread cookies. She made a modification of shortbread that included egg yolks, since traditional shortbread recipes call for simply one part butter, two parts sugar, and three parts flour. Just looking at her post, though, made me want to roll out of bed and bake several pans of these cookies. There is nothing like the combination of lemon curd and shortbread.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

I only slightly modified Emilie’s original recipe and added some of my citrus salt I recently made, along with a little vanilla extract, a sprinkling of sea salt, and a slight tweak of flours. My baking session, however, was a little less eventful from hers. Simply skimming the first 100 or so words of her post will clue you in on her baking adventure. If only my two cats were that exciting.

Another component that really set these shortbread cookies apart was the addition of a little sea salt, sprinkled on top of the cookies before baking them. I used some Canadian sea salt, a gift from my dear friend, Kristy. I didn’t even know that Canada specialized in sea salt. The company, Vancouver Island Salt Co., was started by a chef, and their Fleur de Sel is Canada’s first sea salt.


sea salt shortbread cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted almond flour
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons citrus salt {you may substitute regular salt}
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • coarse sea salt for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sift the flours into a large bowl and add the cubed butter. Using your fingers, break apart the cubes of butter and incorporate the butter into the flour. See the photo above for an example of what kind of texture you’re looking for. You want pea-sized pieces of the mixture. And you can always use a pastry cutter, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, but getting your hands dirty is half the fun!
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks well and add the sugar and citrus salt. Stir until incorporated.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and, using your fingers again, mix until the dough forms a ball, being careful not to over-mix.
  5. Flatten the dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. Over a piece of parchment paper, roll a portion of the dough to about a 1/4″ thick. Like Emilie, I also sandwich my dough in between two pieces of parchment paper. This makes removing the cookies SO much easier. The dough won’t stick to your rolling-pin. I don’t attempt this any other way, and this method works when rolling pie dough, too.
  7. Cut out cookies with the cookie cutter of your choice. I love these little hearts! They also make a lovely pie crust.
  8. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, sprinkle the cookies with coarse sea salt, and bake for 12-15 minutes, just until slightly golden.
  9. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool the cookies on it for 5 minutes. Remove the cookies with a spatula and transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
  10. Let the cookies cool completely and serve alongside a glass of Kracher Auslese and smother them with lemon curd. Better yet, make lemon curd shortbread sandwiches and chill them in the refrigerator, until you’re ready to enjoy them!
  • This recipe yields about 55 smallish cookies, depending upon the size of your cutter.
  • Make sure that you thoroughly chill your dough before cutting the cookies. You can always chill the dough down in the fridge in between batches.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

Curd, curd, curd. Curd’s the word! Okay, I am officially delirious right about now. I think I’m still recovering from the birthday celebrations over the weekend. But, seriously, I did grow up thinking that 50s and 60s rock was the current music of my time, since I only listened to my dad’s “oldies radio” station. I didn’t discover Michael Jackson until I was nearly 13! Thanks, Dad. So, about that lemon curd! And back to being slightly serious. Of course, you can purchase some delicious lemon curd from the store, but making lemon curd is super easy and requires just a short amount of time. And, honestly, sprinkling the shortbread cookie with a little sea salt was a perfect match with the sweet-tart lemon curd.

I actually hadn’t actually tasted lemon curd before experimenting with making it this year during my citrus obsession {shocker!}. I’d even loosely used “lemon curd” as a term for describing certain wines’ characteristics. I assumed it had a creamy, rich texture and a citrus-y, tart kick. I was definitely right about that. Kind of like the California Chardonnay I’m sipping on this very moment. A basic fruit curd recipe calls for egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice, and zest. The result is a super rich, custard-like spread that pairs well with anything from scones to waffles to fresh fruit.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora


meyer lemon curd


  • 2 Meyer lemons
  • 1 regular lemon
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  1. Sterilize the jars you will be using for the lemon curd. I used random Mason jars and jars from store-bought relish and jellies. Since you won’t be processing these jars, you can use whichever containers you’d like, as long as you sterilize them properly. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and place the jars carefully inside. Boil the jars for at least 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars inside the pot, until you need them in a few minutes.
  2. Wash and scrub the skins of the lemons well.
  3. Grate the zest from the 3 lemons into a stainless steel bowl. I used a Microplane. Be careful to avoid zesting any of the bitter, white pith. If you don’t have a fine zester, like a Microplane, you can take Ina Garten’s advice and simply peel the skins with a vegetable peeler and pulse it, along with the cane sugar, in a food processor.
  4. Juice all 3 lemons into the same stainless steel bowl.
  5. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil and set the bowl over the simmering water. This is kind of like a double boiler situation.
  6. Add the sugar, salt, and butter and stir until the butter melts.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk until the mixture is smooth.
  8. Strain the egg mixture through a chinois or sieve into the butter mixture.
  9. Here’s where some elbow grease comes into play. For the next 6 to 8 minutes, whisk the mixture constantly until smooth and thickened to a custard-like texture. Don’t slack!
  10. Pour the lemon curd into the sterilized jars and let the curd cool.
  11. Cover with the lids and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
  • This recipe yielded me about 12 ounces. I divided the lemon curd into three 4-ounce jars.
  • Make sure that you use a clean spoon or knife each time you serve the lemon curd. This will keep the curd fresh and lengthen its shelf-life in the refrigerator.
  • If you can’t find seasonally available Meyer lemons, feel free to substitute with regular lemons.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

As you well know, I sing the praises of serving dessert wine after a meal either alone or alongside a sweet treat {case in point, here, here, and here}. I chose an acidic, sweet dessert wine to accompany this shortbread and lemon curd duo. The producer of this sweet, late-harvest wine is Kracher, and they have consistently set the standard for quality, sweet wines from Austria. When I tasted the wine with the shortbread and lemon curd, I knew I had to share this experience with the staff at work. I really did have the best of intentions. I’d like to say that I dropped them on the floor or something, but in all sincerity, Steve and I ate. them. all.

I can say, however, that I’ve managed to remember to run almost every day this week!


Kracher, Auslese Cuvée, Burgenland, Austria, 2011


  • Off the vine – 60% Chardonnay, 40% Welschriesling
  • On the eyes  –  very pale yellow
  • On the nose  –  fresh aromas of ripe peaches and apricots, tropical white fruits, with a pronounced citrus blossom note.
  • On the palate  –  medium in body, not too thick on the palate, with lots of honeydew, tangerine, citrus blossom, and lychee notes, with a touch of wildflower honey. This wine has a lingering citrus-y finish and a bright acidity. This dessert wine is sweet but not cloyingly so.
  • On the table  –  perfectly paired with the creamy, rich lemon curd! This Auslese would also complement a slightly spicy Asian dish, fruit-driven desserts, and fresh goat cheese. I’d drizzle the goat cheese with a little honey and serve it along with some toasted pecans.
  • On the shelf  –  around $23 {375 mL}.
  • On the ears  –  I splurged and got five new albums from the record store on my birthday this past week. One of my favorite purchases was the latest from Digitalism. I was smitten by their 2007 album, Idealism, and I couldn’t believe I’d missed their latest effort {2011, so new-to-me}, I Love You, Dude. If you haven’t heard of this German duo, give this track a listen, and it will give you a feel for their sound.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & floraIf you’ve been digging dessert wine lately and want to research more about it, here are a few links that will lend you a little more information:

If you make these cookies or attempt a batch of lemon curd, let me know how it all turns out! And if you score a bottle of this moderately priced, delicious dessert wine, let me know what you think. Here’s to a week filled with commitment to goals, not as many cookies, and a lot more green smoothies. At least that’s what I’ll be striving for!

Cheers!

Jayme

IMG_2137

bundt cake with thyme sprig

meyer lemon + thyme olive oil cakes | paired with anselmi’s “i capitelli” dessert wine

I recently read a very inspiring post on Darling magazine’s website about celebrating our small and large moments of victory, fanning the flames of our goals, and daring to actually live out those crazy dreams we have for our lives. I know I’ve been pretty wordy about goal-setting and intentions on my last few posts, but I have no apologies. We all need a little motivation; I’m seriously preaching to myself.

Lately, I’ve had a few setbacks with the goals I’ve written for myself. I dealt with a case of bronchitis, and I had to stop running for a few weeks. My work schedule has been a little unpredictable, and my finances have taken a toll. I have over-committed and have had some difficulty finding a sense of balance, in turn, hurting a couple of friends and family members as a result.

I can only pick up where I left off with those situations and do my best from this point on. I’ve slowly built my running mileage up to four miles a run, and I’ve tightened up my budget. As far as the fragile relationships go, I’m making room for quality time and making sure I am giving my full attention to the person I’m spending time with.


We have to reach for our goals but, more than that, we have to hold on and live them, until they’re the only truths we believe in.”

Megan Magers


Sometimes, it is tough holding onto our goals. When we are met with setbacks. When we’re the only ones who see any progress. When we supposedly “fail.” When no validation comes our way. It’s at those points where it is so important to stay strong and remind ourselves WHY we made our choices and commitments in the first place.

So, I’ve gotten back on my feet and am trying to make something beautiful from my mistakes. This brings me to my recent marmalade mishap: I botched a batch and couldn’t get the marmalade to set. I wanted to toss out the six jars I canned. I was livid with the results.

At first.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora

I could’ve thrown that batch away, and I would’ve missed out on the opportunity to expand my creativity. I’ve used that runny, but oh-so-vibrantly-tasty batch of marmalade in more ways than I would have, had it been “perfect.”  It has found its way into a ginger-soy stir-fry sauce, as a dipping sauce for gyoza, over toast, in a gin cocktail, over granola, and drizzled over these Meyer lemon bundt cakes {recipe loosely adapted from this recipe on Food Network}. I think the bundt cake glaze is my most favorite incorporation of the sweet, citrus-y jam.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora


meyer lemon + thyme olive oil cakes


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, in solid form
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for flouring bundt pans
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • zest from 3 lemons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup Greek yogurt or skyr
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh thyme
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease the lining of the bundt pans with the coconut oil and lightly dust with flour.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the sugar and lemon zest until integrated.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, again, pulsing until integrated.
  5. Add the olive oil and yogurt and pulse for about 30 seconds, until all of the ingredients are blended.
  6. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and fresh thyme.
  7. Pour the flour mixture, in three separate passes, into the olive oil mixture, pulsing just until combined.
  8. Pour the final mixture into the greased and floured bundt pans and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack. If the cakes don’t want to release easily, use a knife to separate the cake from the edges of the pan.
  • I tested this recipe using a 6-piece mini-bundt pan. If you choose to use a 12-piece mini-bundt pan, decrease the baking time, checking on the cakes after 22 or so minutes.
  • Remember to grease the middle part of the bundt pan molds! I forgot to do this, and each cake didn’t want to release easily, since that middle portion was stuck.

marmalade glaze


  • 3 tablespoons marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. In a saucepan, combine the marmalade, coconut oil, and lemon juice over medium heat.
  2. As soon as the mixture reaches a slow, bubbly boil, quickly reduce to a low simmer.
  3. Whisk in powdered sugar.
  4. Reduce for about five minutes or to desired thickness.
  5. Remove from heat and let stand for 20-30 minutes to thicken further, as it cools.
  6. Drizzle over lemon olive oil cakes.
  • If you don’t have any marmalade, you may substitute 3 tablespoons orange juice and simply mix all ingredients together without heating on the stove.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora

And now, let’s take this dessert to another level.

How so? Dessert wine. After a meal, I am always excited to pair a dessert wine with my sweet baked goods or even some cheese. The citrus notes in this particular recipe pair perfectly with Sauternes, a dessert wine from the Bordeaux region of France, made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. I didn’t have a Sauternes on hand, but I did have a Sauternes-like dessert wine from Italy, Anselmi’s “I Capitelli”, Passito Blanco.

I hadn’t tried it before, and I was completely blown away. This nectar-like, sweet wine is complex and balanced with vibrant acidity and provided ample notes of honey, dried apricot, brûléed peaches. I would also enjoy this dessert wine simply by itself, alongside fresh fruit, or with a salted caramel crème brûlée.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora


Anselmi “I Capitelli” Passito Blanco, Italy, 2011


  • Off the vine – 100% Garganega {the primary grape used to produce Soave}
  • On the eyes  –  golden honey-hued.
  • On the nose  –  rich, concentrated aromas of white peach, sweet apricot, honey, and caramel.
  • On the palate  –  full-bodied and viscous with notes of honey, maple, and ripe peaches.
  • On the table  –  excellent alongside fresh fruit, lemon cake, light pastries, and even with steamed lobster. It can definitely stand up and complement a funky bleu cheese.
  • On the shelf  –  around $40 {375 mL}.
  • On the ears  –  I think I’ve listened to Royksopp‘s latest, and supposedly final, album, The Inevitable End {November 2014}, at least once a day for the last three weeks. Right now, my favorite track is “Skulls.” I may have danced around the kitchen with this one blasting. I’m comfortably listening to this album right now on headphones, so there won’t be any neighborly casualties. 😉 The video to this track is definitely worth checking out, especially if you have major beard crushes, like I do.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & floraI also want to add that it is so important to celebrate our accomplishments, the large breakthroughs and the little victories, and not just focus on the hiccups, roadblocks, or setbacks. Even though each of our victories leads us closer to our goals, we have to remember that life happens along the way, in the mix. We have to take time to revel in those small, happy moments.

Let me know if you end up making this recipe, this decadent product of an originally perceived failure. They were absolutely delicious and had the best texture, almost like a sour cream cake doughnut. I ended up eating two of these mini-bundt cakes the night I baked them. And I didn’t feel any guilt about it! It was a victorious celebration, after all, right?

Happy weekend! I’ll be tucked away inside my house for a couple of days. The forecast is calling for well over a foot of snow. We’ll see how well that prediction holds. I’m betting on maybe five inches!

Cheers!

Jayme

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora

 

two bowls of sherbet on a cutting board

blood orange + campari sherbet {vegan}

I’ve been in a seasonal slump lately. It’s definitely a product of the cold weather and shorter days. I’m doing all the usual advice, like getting up earlier, going outside for some Vitamin D, lighting candles at night, and listening to cheery music. I’ve also been filling up my kitchen with bowls of lemons, oranges, and limes. I will say that their pungent aromas and punchy colors do pick me up quite a bit. The fact that citrus season falls in mid-winter is kind of like a love letter from nature, letting me know that longer days, warmer weather, and summer are on their way.

My citrus obsession has led to a lot of fun experimenting with different recipes and means of preserving these prime winter fruits. I’ve dabbled with lemon curd, preserved  lemons, and a few versions of citrus salads. I even managed to make a tangy orange marmalade, despite the fact that I let the preserving pot boil over. Cleanup was not fun. Not too proud about that moment. And then I came across a recipe for orange sherbet, via the Brown-Eyed Baker.

Right then, I knew exactly what I was going to do with my last basketful of blood oranges.

And if I accidentally type the word, sherbert, instead of sherbet, please don’t scold. Does anyone else feel the need to add the “r” to the word? I don’t know if it is a southern thing or just an accidental pronunciation that caught on, but I still slip up and add the “r.” I suppose worse things could happen, right?

overhead view of blood orange sherbet with orange slices blood orange sherbet with orange slicesNo, I am not 100% vegan, yet. I do, however, consume copious amount of veggies and eschew products that promote animal cruelty. I have slowly been reducing the amount of dairy in my recipes and meals. Giving up cheese has proven to be a futile effort, since the likes of Manchego, the Drunken Goat, and anything Haystack Mountain permanently reside in my refrigerator. It is always tougher to avoid your favorite foods, if your housemate isn’t on board with you. I blame Steve.

Dirty confession? I have wound up on the floor of my kitchen, at some ungodly hour of the night, either shoveling cheese and crackers into my mouth or cutting to the chase and eating a slab of the stuff, like you would a chocolate bar. It’s my vice, my current addiction. It will be the last animal product to go, if/when I do commit to the vegan lifestyle.

Vegan or not, I swear you’ll go crazy for this sherbet. It has just the right about of creamy texture, fruity sweetness, and tart-y punch. The best part about this recipe? You don’t even need an ice cream maker. David Lebovitz told me so.

close-up of spoonful of sherbet overhead view of sherbet and flowered towel


blood orange + campari sherbet {vegan}


  • 1 tablespoon blood orange zest
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups blood orange juice {about 5 oranges}
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons Campari
  • 2/3 cup coconut cream {see notes}
  1. Wash and zest your blood oranges, until you have a firmly packed tablespoon of zest. I used my new Microplane zester that my mom sent me. It is amazing.
  2. In a food processor, combine zest with sugar and salt. Pulse until the zest is well-distributed and mixture is slightly damp.
  3. In a juicer, juice five or six oranges, until you have 2 cups of liquid. If you don’t have a juicer, you can peel and purée the oranges in a blender and run them through a sieve, if you’d like.
  4. Add the blood orange juice, lemon juice {I used a hand-squeezer for this small amount}, vanilla extract, and Campari to the sugar mix. Process for about a minute or until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  5. In a blender, whip the coconut cream until light and airy. How do you make the coconut cream? This is the best tutorial I’ve found.
  6. Add the coconut cream to the mixture and pulse until incorporated. See bullet below on how to obtain coconut milk needed for the coconut cream.
  7. Pour mixture into a deep baking dish or a large plastic container. I used a Tupperware-like rectangular pan, and it worked out perfectly. Place this in the freezer and set the timer for 45 minutes.
  8. Take the pan out of the freezer and stir or whisk the mixture vigorously or use a stick blender, breaking up any clumps. Place it back in the freezer. Repeat this step every 30 minutes, until the sherbet is frozen. The sherbet will be ready within 3 hours.
  • Freeze it right. Okay. Want to know what I did? Yes, this recipe incorporates David Lebovitz’s suggestions, but I actually didn’t stir the sherbet, after I placed it in the freezer. I wanted to see if it was even necessary. I have found that the texture is improved, when you whisk or blend the sherbet every 3o minutes; however, if this seems a little much for you, feel free to skip it. It still makes a great sherbet anyway!
  • Buy only organic. Always use organic citrus fruits, especially when incorporating zests.
  • Keep the zest! I apply a great tip from Local Kitchen on zesting. Anytime you have to juice or squeeze citrus, always zest your fruit before cutting it. Use any leftover zest and combine it with sea salt to make citrus-infused salts for seasoning. Here is the recipe.
  • Find the right coconut milk. Look for the cans of unprocessed and unsweetened coconut milk. Place a can in the refrigerator overnight, making sure to not disturb it. The next day, invert the can and open the top. The coconut cream will have separated from the water, and you can spoon it straight from the can! The Kitchn has a great breakdown of differences among canned coconut milk, coconut cream, boxed coconut milk, and coconut water.

close-up of sherbet two bowls of sherbet two bowls of blood orange sherbet with thyme sprigone bowl of blood orange sherbet with flowered towel

I have been researching wines for an upcoming series at the Kitchn on dessert wines, so I had a bottle of Moscato already open in the fridge. What a coincidence! It just so happens that sorbet and sherbet pair perfectly with this sweet, bubbly, low alcohol wine. And it’s absolutely perfect for brunch, since the alcohol sits comfortably around 8%. Steve and I have a tradition of starting a vacation off {a day off?} with a bottle of Moscato d’Asti, usually Michele Chiarlo’s “Nivole”. So, every time I open a bottle of this peachy nectar, I am reminded of vacations and taking it easy.

{Big thanks to my helpful wine colleagues, Sam Folsom, Bridget Witzell, and Steve Mason, for always keeping me in the loop, suggesting Mondavi, and keeping me stocked up!}

robert mondavi moscato d'oro


Robert Mondavi, Moscato d’Oro, Napa Valley, 2013


  • On the eyes  –  This lightly sparkling wine is a pale, golden straw color.
  • On the nose  –  You’ll immediately notice bright floral notes, with aromas of ripe peaches, and orange blossom. This wine will transport you to summer in an instant.
  • On the palate  –  It showcases notes of honeyed peach, lychee, and a serious mouthful of orange blossom. The acidity is medium in intensity and provides a refreshing contrast to the sweet style of this wine. Its gentle bubbles also pair well with the sweetness of the Moscato di Canelli grape.
  • On the table  –  I’d pair it with this blood orange sherbet, of course! The Moscato d’Oro would also go perfectly alongside a citrus semifreddo, a fruit tart topped with lemon curd, lemon meringue pie, a lemon olive oil cake, or a bowl of summer berries.
  • On the shelf  –  This bottle sits around $25 for a 375 mL {half-bottle} size.
  • On the ears  –  Of course, I paired it with some music. This album has been out since 2013, but I have recently gotten into it. And by “into it”, I mean playing the album on repeat a few times through. The Stroke’s Comedown Machine has gotten me out of a winter funk on a couple of occasions this year. I would definitely say the personality of this wine and dessert exemplifies the track, “One Way Trigger.”

If you are ever out in Napa Valley, visiting the Robert Mondavi Winery is an absolute must. It is a rite of passage for any wine lover. Mr. Mondavi revolutionized the wine industry in California and brought Napa Valley to worldwide acclaim. Plus, the facilities and property are just plain gorgeous. The barrel room is one of the most pristine examples I’ve seen. And the winery is more than happy to schedule a tasting and tour.

blood orange sherbet with moscato

For a decadent and easy treat, pour moscato over the blood orange sherbet.

I have to share some of the gems I’ve found from the internets on preserving and preparing blood oranges. At least pinning these recipes and dreaming about them has brightened up my week:

empty bowl of sherbet with spoonsI’ll close with a few Instagrams from the past week. One of my New Year’s goals was to start seriously studying calligraphy and hand-lettering. My foray into calligraphy has proven to be a challenging, yet incredibly fun, process with a very steep learning curve. Learning to ebb and flow with the pressure-release action of a calligrapher’s pen is not a task one perfects within a few months’ time. I have a great respect for letterers, who have mastered this graceful technique.

My original goal was to practice daily throughout the month of January, but I’ll continue to practice an hour a day, since I’ve basically established the habit. I am already seeing progress and have a better feel for the pen. I’ve also been dabbling with the medium of a digital pen to produce some fun hand-lettering pieces. The one below was prompted by a hand-lettering challenge, hosted by Miranti, of the blog and company, Pen and Peplum. Her work rocks, and her once-a-week challenge keeps me focused on my practicing.

What resolutions or intentions have been sticking for you?

Have you used the no-ice-cream-machine method for making sorbet, ice cream, or sherbet?

Do you have a recommendation for a machine?

And please send me a link to whatever citrus projects and recipes that have been inspiring you. As if I needed another excuse to go out and buy a bag of citrus!

Cheers!

Jayme

hand-lettered winter words

sparkling almond butter and chocolate cookies on a plate and on a cutting board

sparkling chocolate + almond butter cookies {and why procrastination works}

So, here we are, two days away from Christmas. My boyfriend is at the grocery, picking up the last-minute details for our dinner on Thursday, and I am hustling to finish a few projects, before I leave for work. I keep telling myself the mayhem at the restaurant is almost over. I can do this. Just two more nights. This month is our busiest, as you would expect, and the entire staff is either overworked or fighting off illness or just plain exhausted.

Despite the craziness, I do enjoy this time of year. I love stringing up lights on the front porch, making garlands and wreaths, decorating the tree, lighting as many candles as possible, and baking as much as I possibly can. I always make several batches of sparkling peanut butter cookies, but I swapped the PB for almond butter this year, and I think they might be absolutely perfect.

I usually set aside a day or two, where I bake everything I’m giving away as gifts. I’ll crank out seven or more batches of cookies, decorate them, and package them up. This system has always worked for me. This year, however, I took my mom’s advice. “Jayme,” she said, “Why don’t you do what I do and bake a batch ahead and freeze it. That way, you can bake your cookies throughout the month, and by the time Christmas is here, you won’t be stressed for time, and all of your baking will be done!”

Wow. Brilliant idea! I’ll actually plan ahead and save myself some sanity. Those were my initial thoughts. So, earlier this month, I baked two batches, put them in the freezer, and told myself and Steve not to touch them. What innocently started out as sneaking a cookie or two became a series of late-night cookie-eating fests. Both of those batches are gone. All 75 of those cookies.

Mom’s advice isn’t always right {I foresee my mom popping up in the comments later on!}. In this case, procrastination wins. I’m fine waiting until the last-minute to bake, if it will prevent me from eating all of the cookies destined for my friends and family. In fact, I am guilty of actually opening up gifts I’ve already packaged for my friends, if I knew there was a chocolate bar or some cookies inside. Why I can’t just bake a new batch or run down to the store amazes me. Instant gratification, I guess!

And I know I’m not the only one guilty here!


sparkling chocolate + almond butter cookies


  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almond butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Milk chocolate discs {I find mine at Whole Foods. You can also go classic and use chocolate kisses.}
  • granulated cane sugar for garnishing cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a standing mixing bowl, cream together butter and almond butter until well-blended.
  4. Add the egg, almond milk, and vanilla to the butter mixture.
  5. Slowly add the flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined.
  6. Form dough into 1″ balls and roll in granulated cane sugar. I pour some in a small bowl.
  7. Place rolled dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Space cookies about 2″ apart.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and immediately press the chocolate discs onto the center of each cookie.
  10. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.
  • Allow each cookie to cool, so that any melted milk chocolate has a chance to harden again. I’ve definitely made the mistake of stacking the cookies in haste, only to be disappointed with a chocolaty mess. I usually eat those, myself!
  • Try rolling the cookies in finely chopped toasted almonds or cinnamon sugar for another flavor profile and texture.
  • This recipe doubles well.

chocolate almond cookies cutting board with almond and chocolate cookies and vin santo

These cookies are so simple to make. They are extra delicious with the almond butter, but they are just as good, if you only have access to peanut butter. Lately, I have been making my own almond butter with my Vitamix. I find it cost-effective and satisfying to make my own. I’ll post the process soon.

For added decadence, which is always an option, I served these cookies alongside some Graham’s 10-Year Tawny Port. The notes of baking spices, cocoa powder, orange peel, toasted nuts, and dried figs are a perfect match for these cookies.

So, the moral of this delicious story is that procrastination CAN work in your favor. Set aside a baking day, last-minute, the day before you have to mail out your gifts. A freezer-full of a month’s worth of treats won’t be a temptation, and that added frenetic, holiday rush will power you through!

I hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season, no matter how you choose to celebrate! Come Thursday, I will be happily sequestered in my house, wearing my cozies, enjoying crab legs and Meursault, and watching Christmas movies. It looks like we’ll have snow on Thursday, as well!

Happy Holidays, my friends and family!

XO,

Jayme