Currently viewing the tag: "sweet"

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. I often forget about it; not about celebrating my own mother, of course, but about that fact that it is now a day for others to celebrate my contribution to their life. I am a Mom every day – I get two littles up for school each morning; guide them through dressing and eating and brushing teeth while cramming folders and lunch boxes into back packs. I wait at bus stops. I take breaks from working and baking to fold laundry, change pillow cases, pick up toys. I make dinner, I help with homework. I am a story teller, a song singer. I close my book at night when little feet quietly make their way into my room, needing hugs or more songs, or reassurance in the dark. I am always listening, checking, double-checking, holding, awake while sleeping, hoping, helping. But still, somehow, I forget I’m the Mom. Because there is still 10-year old me inside, singing along to Amy Grant all afternoon and lost in Nancy Drew stories. Fifteen year old me is there, dreaming about boys and crying over journal entries. Twenty year old me is over-spiritualizing her life and trying not to bounce every check she writes. Twenty-five year old me is married and can actually sleep through the night without being afraid. Thirty year old me is pregnant for the first time and finally seeing a therapist. And now there is almost 40 year old me, the woman trying to make sense of aging while still so aware of all the other, younger Sarahs lingering inside. Not Mom, then Mom, then both together, for the remaining miles of the journey.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own

-Mary Oliver, from The Journey

I think I will celebrate the big Day this year with a fabulous cake, for both myself and my own Mother. I’m excited to share the one pictured above with you: an almond cake with chocolate and Amaretto buttercream. Andre Prost sent me several boxes of their imported Odense Almond Paste (from Odense, Denmark) to experiment with.  It is made in a factory where only almonds are used so there is no risk of other nut allergies in this cake. If you have never used almond paste, it is found in the baking section of the supermarket. I love almond paste in so many applications (paired with puff pastry, especially, and also in a Danish braid), but I had never used it in a straight up yellow cake. I love the way it turned out; the cake is rich and full of almond flavor, without the need for extra almond extract. Amaretto is an under-used liqueur in my cabinet, and it pairs nicely with the cake and thin layer of chocolate (side note: on the rare occasion I order a drink when I’m out on the town, I do always get an amaretto sour. I’ve also been informed that this is an old lady drink, but dang, it’s so good!). The flowers on this cake are inspired by the lovely Molly Yeh and her own fabulous cake. She has a lot of good links posted for making flowers, and I have a few more at the bottom of the post, too.

Giveaway: Enter for a chance to win 6 boxes of Odense Almond Paste! Leave a comment below with your email for a chance to win. No special comment is required, but if you want to let me know what cookbooks you are currently baking/cooking out of, I would love that. Winners will be picked one week from today, May 9th.

This post is sponsored by Odense Almond Paste. As always, all opinions are my own. You can find more recipes using almond paste on their website.

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cheesecakea

Hello! I have another exciting giveaway for you. Three more pieces of kitchen equipment that I absolutely love: Emile Henry mixing bowls, Mauviel Copper Sugar Saucepan, and a Lékué springform mold. The mixing bowls are pretty much a necessity in any kitchen, and this set is lovely, with three different sized nesting bowls. I use them all the time – for mixing, of course, but also for holding fruit and filling with chips at parties, among other things. The sugar saucepan is beautiful (I included it on my gift guide as well), and I find it to be a fantastic tool for making Italian buttercream. And the springform mold has been a game changer for me. I will admit I was skeptical about silicone molds when I was first introduced to them, but I have fallen in love with them after never having to worry about messy cheesecake sides. The mold peels away from the cheesecake every time, leaving perfect sides. Extra bonus: the cheesecake bakes on a white ceramic plate that is perfect for serving on as well, and I never have to have the stress of sliding a cheesecake on to a serving plate ever again.

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
1 winner will receive 1 Emile Henry Mixing Bowl Set + 1 Mauviel Copper Sugar Saucepan + 1 Lékué Springform Mold + a copy of The Vanilla Bean Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer. Participants who complete*** this form*** will be entered for a chance to win. Contest is open through 12/13 to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.  The winner will be randomly selected through random.org and notified via e-mail no later than 12/16. The winner’s name and address will be shared with Emile Henry, Mauviel, and Lékué for the sole purpose of mailing out the prize. Thank you! (Also: don’t forget to enter my Minted giveaway as well!)

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#bakeamericacakeagain
Today is the day! The Vanilla Bean Baking Book is now available! I’m so excited to share it with you. To celebrate, I have a new recipe and these #bakeamericacakeagain tattoos that I am giving away. The lovely FauxMartha and my husband helped me come up with this hashtag to celebrate both my book and the **Election** (remember to vote today, fellow Americans!) Details for the giveaway is below.
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cake

cake

tattoos
#BakeAmericaCakeAgain Tattoo Giveaway

Ways To Enter For A Chance To Win
1. Comment on this post below.
2. On my Instagram post tag a friend and use #bakeamericacakeagain in your comment.
3. You can also use both method #1 and #2 to increase your chances of winning. I will select 8 winners from the site and 5 winners on Instagram to receive the tattoos.
***No purchase necessary. Open to the U.S. and Canada only.***
cake
(This chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream pictured is a recipe from the new book; I made it for segment on WCCO-TV. You can watch the episode here.)

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vanilla-bourbon cake
A man who writes a story is forced to put into it the best of his knowledge and the best of his feeling. The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty. A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. They pick up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator. Of course, there are dishonest writers who go on for a little while, but not for long, not for long…

A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn’t telling, or teaching, or ordering. Rather, he seeks to establish a relationship with meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all our lives trying to be less lonesome. And one of our ancient methods is to tell a story, begging the listener to say, and to feel, ‘Yes, that’s the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.’ To finish is sadness to a writer, a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn’t really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done.’ John Steinbeck
vanilla-bourbon cake
I love John Steinbeck

I’m excited to share a recipe from Alanna Taylor-Tobin‘s new cookbook. It’s a gluten-free cookbook, so that makes this cake gluten-free as well. Made with a combination of sweet rice, oat, and millet flours, this vanilla cake base has a neutral taste, but more texture than all-purpose flour. I thought it was great. I’ve been impressed with everything I’ve made so far from the book: the buckwheat double chocolate cookies were so.good. with a hint of orange and intense chocolate flavor, and the vanilla chiffon cake was perfect for snacking. I made it with corn flour instead of millet, and loved the flavor of the vanilla and corn together. Even if you are not eating totally gluten-free, this book is full of inspiration.

(Unrelated, but awesome: Emile Henry has a great giveaway going on right over here. You can win an Emile Henry Bread Cloche, a Duralex USA glass bowl, a Rosle USA Kitchen Scale, a Lekue Baking Mat, a Shun Sora Bread Knife, and a bag of King Arthur All Purpose Flour all in one big package. So many good things. I have the bread cloche and use it all the time at home.)
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hazelnut dacquoise
My new copper beating bowl arrived in the mail, and I immediately took it over to Zoë François‘ house and made her beat white egg whites by hand in it for this post. In between laughing and giving me dirty looks, she made this incredible dacquoise with blackberries and cream. It was so good we couldn’t stop nibbling on it all afternoon (after she made me wash all the dishes in payback).

The meringue base here is on the sweet side, but the hazelnuts incorporated in the layers and tart berries in between balance it perfectly. Zoë mentioned this dessert would also work for Passover (you can check out her Chocolate Caramel Matzo as well), so here’s another dessert option if you celebrate.
hazelnut dacquoise

hazelnut dacquoise

hazelnut dacquoise

copper pots

hazelnut dacquoise

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buttermilk cake with blood orange frosting | the vanilla bean blog
If you follow along on my instagram account, you may have noticed I’ve been baking quite a bit since September (well, quite a bit more than usual, if that’s possible). The reason is that I have been recipe testing like a mad woman, working on my first book.

I’m still pinching myself about the whole thing. I spent all middle school and junior high writing short stories, novellas, and poems in the free time I had, dreaming that maybe one day my work would make its way to book form. So while ‘cookbook’ was never in my plans (I was always working on some Nancy Drew enters Narnia with Sweet Valley High make-out scenes type book), I am so excited to have this opportunity.

I still have a lot more work to do, but my cookbook will be coming out Fall 2016, and is being published by Avery in the US and Penguin in Canada. It will be a book focused on baking with a handful of favorites from this space, but will mostly contain new recipes. I will also be photographing the entire book.
buttermilk cake with blood orange frosting | the vanilla bean blog

buttermilk cake with blood orange frosting | the vanilla bean blog

buttermilk cake with blood orange frosting | the vanilla bean blog
So, how about cake to celebrate? I’m enamored with blood oranges, and decided to top a buttermilk cake with some blood orange frosting. The bright purple juice naturally dyed the icing a light shade of pink, and I couldn’t be happier. Gold sprinkles never hurt anything, either (and the color combination was inspired by these plates, which I have fallen so hard for). Hip Hip Hooray!

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Holiday Cut-Out Cookies | the vanilla bean blog
This past weekend the kids and I headed to my sister’s house for a cookie decorating party. It was really a few hours to eat cookie dough and spill sprinkles all over Auntie’s floor, but we all sure had fun anyway. This December has been rather odd for me; our house troubles are still ongoing (we are now currently gutting our entire basement and can’t run our furnace in freezing Minneapolis) and my father-in-law has temporarily moved in with us for a bit (to help with said basement and spend time with the kids). All those things combined make me feel slightly displaced – our home still doesn’t feel like ‘home’ to us as we struggle with trying to find root problems and share space. My facebook feed has also been filled with tragedy this past week, adding another layer of sadness. I’ve been listening to a lot of holiday music, finding solace in lyrics of Christmas cheer and hidden thoughtfulness.

The table is set
And all glasses are full
The pieces go missing
May we still feel whole
We’ll build new traditions in place of the old
Cause life without revision will silence our souls

 So we sing carols softly
As sweet as we know
A prayer that our burdens will lift as we go
Like young love still waiting under mistletoe
We’ll welcome December with tireless hope
-Sleeping At Last, Snow

Speaking of Holiday music, my Best of Christmas vol. 3 is now up on 8tracks! You can find Best of Christmas vol. 1 and vol. 2 there also. (Check out Eustace the Dragon’s cover of Justice Delivers Its Gift on vol. 3 – I’m in love with their version. Also! they have a holiday EP out now. It’s worth every dollar.)

And this made me chuckle: James Thurber pens “A Visit from Saint Nicholas IN THE ERNEST HEMINGWAY MANNER” for The New Yorker, December 24, 1927.

Also: 51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature to cure a bad day.
holiday cut-out cookies | the vanilla bean blog

holiday cut-out cookies | the vanilla bean blog

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pear + blackberry tartlets | the vanilla bean blog
sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love

(all the merry little birds are
flying in the floating in the
very spirits singing in
are winging in the blossoming)

lovers go and lovers come
awandering awondering
but any two are perfectly
alone there’s nobody else alive

(such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes)

not a tree can count his leaves
each herself by opening
but shining who by thousands mean
only one amazing thing

(secretly adoring shyly
tiny winging darting floating
merry in the blossoming
always joyful selves are singing)

sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love”
-E.E. Cummings
pear + blackberry tartlets | the vanilla bean blog
Spring! Is here! At least, our fingers are crossed it’s staying around for good. You never know in these parts.

A few things:
*If you’re a Flight of the Conchords fan, you may enjoy the new show Short Poppies,(on Netflix) starring Rhys Darby (who played Murray).

*Diala’s Kitchen! So beautiful.

*If you ever wanted to know how to make that Big Mac sauce at home, a chef from McDonalds shows you how (it’s not a joke, by the way. But it should be?).

*Two days left to vote in the Saveur Best Food Blog Awards!

*I’ve been enjoying Kate’s mixes.

*Burundi Beans are here! I’ve written about my lovely friend Kristy from Long Miles Coffee Project here and here, and you can find out about where to buy Burundi beans here. Support their amazing project!

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Even as a young girl, the sweet and salty combination was one of my most favorite things. I have very fond memories of my sister and I dunking hot, salty fries in cold, frothy chocolate shakes, gleeful at our latest invention. Sure, they were from some fast food empire, but we didn’t know any better, and thought we had come up with the most amazing discovery. [We also came up with popcorn and sour patch kids. Try it next time you’re at the movies. Really, just dump the sour patch kids on in. You won’t regret it.]
Years later, I am now enjoying salty and sweet in a more sophisticated way. Every restaurant, coffee house, bakery and food blog has some pastry or recipe that combines this union. The Baked Explorations cookbook is no exception, and these brownies are incredible. They are so chocolaty and deep, with a thin layer of salty caramel and a dusting of coarse sugar and salt. They are a little more work than heading through the drive-through for a shake and fries, but it is time well spent. I think my sister would agree.

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Purchase my cookbook!

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / BAM / IndieBound

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