I’ve been in a fashion funk lately. Ill-fitting clothes grace my closet – either the hubby shrank them in the dryer or they’ve seen better days or something more sinister is in play and I simply refuse to acknowledge the obvious.
Since I spend most of my weekends in the kitchen, I am most comfortable in sweat pants and sensible shoes. And when I’m baking for the business – I wear the most unflattering hairnet – thankfully my hair has grown long enough that I can collect it in a ponytail.
This has not always been so. I used to be up to date with the latest fashion, buying Instyle magazine faithfully every month, keeping an eye out for the cutest outfit and snatching it up quickly when I could. And though I don’t own a pair of Manolos, I have ogled them enviously and wished I could walk in them (my feet can never take such torture). I don’t remember shopping for clothes since last spring – didn’t feel inclined to - I was more interested in kitchen stuff.
Last Friday though, when my sister-in-law asked us to dinner at this swanky new place, I, in my usual lazy dress-up mode, just pulled whatever was in the closet. It was warm that day, so I reached for a worn-out brown tee and matched it with a pair of equally worn out jeans.
When I strode into the restaurant, it was like transporting myself to a fashion palace. The bar was hopping with well-dressed urbanites. Women were in their snazzy spring attires sporting dainty sandals and freshly pedicured toes.
I was in my elf-shoes. And I think the last time I had a pedicure at a salon was a year ago.
I wanted to turn around and flee, especially when I thought the hostess was eyeing my outfit (or non-outfit) disdainfully – ok I’m pretty sure I imagined that part – but I squared my shoulders and bravely marched on to the waiting table.
Oh and it gets better … my sister-in-law, fresh from a vacation from Puerto Rico, waltzes in in an adorable black and white dress that gloriously accentuates her newly acquired golden tan.
Do I feel frumpier than ever? Did I mention my roots were showing too?
It was then and there that I decided enough was enough. Time to get out of the kitchen and have a “me” day. So I ended up in the mall (hallelujah!) last Saturday afternoon and what perfect timing too – Ann Taylor was having a 60% off sale! I must have bought out the entire store…okay I didn’t – it felt like I did but only because I tried on so many clothes. I was pretty pleased with the good deals on the ones I ended up buying. I also visited Nordstrom’s Laura Mercier counter to pick up my spring/summer foundation and decided to treat myself to a new lipstick! Girls – Laura Mercier Discretion – awesome lip color! Very natural looking but adds that hint of color to your lips in a flattering way. Of course the effect might depend on your skin tone.
He..he..no this has not turned into a fashion blog so…
Sunday , I was back in the kitchen. I had a couple of cupcake orders but wanted to make the chocolate friands I have been eyeing from Tartine’s book. I wanted a chocolate fix with the least amount of effort and let me tell you this recipe fits the bill perfectly!
Adapted from Tartine by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson
Bittersweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped 6oz/170g
Unsalted Butter 8oz/225g
All-purpose Flour 3 3/4oz/105g
Cornstarch 2 tbs/30ml
Salt ¼ tsp
Large eggs 4
Bittersweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped 4oz/115 g
Heavy cream 5-½ oz/150ml
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line up 24 mini-muffin-cups on a baking sheet or butter and flour a mini-muffin tin well, knocking out the excess flour.
To make the butter, place the chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Melt the butter over medium heat until very hot. Pour of the chocolate and stir until smooth. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt and mix well. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture in 3 batches, whisking well after each addition. Add 2 of the eggs and whisk until just combined and then add the remaining eggs and whisk until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix the batter.
Transfer the batter to a liquid measuring cups and fill the cups ¾ full. Bake until the top of the cakes is crack on top 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
To make the ganache, place the chocolate in heat proof bowl. Bring the cream to just under a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for a minute or two. Stir gently with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Make sure the friands are cool before dipping them into the ganache. Holding each friend by its sides, dip the top into the ganache and shake gently to let the excess run of the sides. Let the ganache set up in a cool place for an hour.
Serve the friands within a day of making, or store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
As I’ve stated above, this recipe was very easy. It was quick to put together with plenty of time to devote to other things (like a pedicure). As I have baked them in cups without the support of a cupcake tin, the friands started pushing out and looked a bit distorted. Even so, they were the chocolatiest dessert I have made in a while. The flavor of this dessert hinges mainly on the chocolate you use so make sure to pick good brands such as Valrhona or Callebaut.
Oh and this cupcake stand needs some cupcakes, don't ya think?