Raspberry Lavender Honey Tart

There are 3 things I can always make in a hurry when I have a last minute guest coming over that I want to force-feed my baking: 1. Cupcakes; 2. A fruit tart; and 3. A mess.

#3 always happens whether I want it to or not, and this past weekend I decided to go for a fruit tart, because honestly, it’s super hard to f-k up fruit.

Because it’s the end of summer, and because I love raspberries, I thought: “Let’s make a raspberry tart…wait, wait, wait. No…Let’s make a raspberry tart with CREAM CHEESE and more cream stuff, and vanilla beans, and let’s cap that off with some ultra-fancy lavender honey. YES.”

[*Side note: I’m having this weird thing with lavender right now-I want it in my Earl Grey tea, I want it in my face masks, my body lotion, and now in my tarts. Is this a sign that I’ll be 30 in a few months? Does this mean soon I’ll start salivating over prunes and writing checks to buy groceries? #30Year-OldQuestions.]

The crust is a pâte sucrée, or a sugar crust, used for a lot of fruit tarts, especially somewhat acidic fruits. The crust is still very buttery and flaky, however, and between the slight buttery sweetness, the cold vanilla cream, and the lavender honey-drizzled raspberries, all the flavors and textures come together to make one hell of a tart.

I tried to make the raspberries do this really cool circular thing with almond slivers, but that failed hard, so I just piled it on with wild abandon; which leads me to my final thought: Just remember: even if your baking doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to, you will always have one thing ready for your guest: A huge mess 😉

rasptart4

I found this recipe in Gourmet and modified it a smidge. It’s supposed to make 6 servings but my friend and I ate it in about 3. Mmmmm.

Equipment:

  • 9-inch fluted round tart pan [1 inch deep] with a removable bottom
  • Pie weights or raw rice
  • Dough blender or food processor
  • Electric mixer

Ingredients:

For crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 7 Tbl. cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg

For filling:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche [I used the Madagascar vanilla bean kind. If you can’t find this at your grocery store, just scrape the beans out of one vanilla bean and add].
  • 3 1/2 Tbl. lavender honey [same applies here. If you can’t find lavender honey, add about 1/4 tsp. lavender extract to about 1/4 cup of honey].
  • 4 cups raspberries [18 oz]
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds [optional]

rasptartMake crust: Pulse together all crust ingredients in a food processor just until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Or, if using a dough blender, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter using a dough blender until the mix resembles coarse crumbs. Using your hands [I use disposable gloves to disperse heat] mix in the egg.

Put your tart pan on a baking sheet and press the dough evenly onto the bottom and up the side of the tart pan with your fingertips. Chill the shell, covered, on the baking sheet until firm, about 30 min.

Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the shell with a buttered sheet of aluminum foil [buttered side down] and fill shell one third of the way up with pie weights.

Bake on the baking sheet until edge is pale golden, about 20-25 min. Carefully remove the pie weights and foil, then bake until the edges and bottom are golden, about 20 min. more. Cool completely in the pan on a rack. [*Note: Tart shell can be made 1 day ahead, but keep it in the tart pan and wrapped in plastic wrap at room temp.]

Make the filling: Beat the cream cheese in a bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until smooth, then add the crème fraîche and 1 1/2 Tbl. lavender honey and beat until well-combined. [*Note: Filling can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.]

rasptart2Spread the filling evenly in the shell and let cool in the fridge about 30 min-1 hour. Top the tart with raspberries and slivered almonds. Heat the remaining honey in a very small saucepan or microwave on low heat for about 30 seconds until liquefied. Drizzle honey over the raspberries and almonds. Serve with additional melted honey on the side.

Tart with a view

rasptart3Pile of goodness

rasptart6Side view

rasptart5Slice of everything amazing in life

rasptart8Oh yeah.

rasptart9

Summer Sails and Jumbo Slices

Usually when it’s been a busy week it means my kitchen is coated in confectioner’s sugar and my fingers are stained with dye, but this time the only thing I was coated in was sunscreen and staining came in the form of freckles.

Now, some of you may think of old women with purple hair throwing quarters at slots when I say Atlantic City [and you wouldn’t be wrong] but there’s a lot more to the Jersey Shore than GTL’ing and fist pumps.

From trying my first fried snickers bar to learning that a ‘slice’ can feed two, I had a great time sampling the many foods laced with basil [seriously, even the cocktail sauce had basil in it] and the many cookies and candies you can toss in with funnel cake batter.

And while this post isn’t a recipe, I still had to share the great time! Stay tuned for an upcoming summer cupcake sendoff 😉

I’m at the Jersey Shore, Bi—!

The Chelsea Hotel was poppin’, and so was the celebratory champagne. [Raishay on the boardwalk, Meris the lush]

Starting our time off right with sangria and banana daiquiris at one of many beach bars. [Me, Raishay]

Clearly, I needed the tackiest towel the city had to offer. When I purchased this one, the man at the counter said “Oh, you like cats?” Then proceeded to show me an entire collection of cat towels. It was my lucky day 😉 [Casbah the Cheetah, the beach]

Ahoy!

Casbah the Cheetah wasn’t the only strange bit of the city: Hotel light shows, candy bikinis, and statues of frolicking beach-goers were some of the highlights.

Raishay and I decided to win it big…at the arcade! [Raishay, me, and our priceless diamond rings worth every one of our 950 tickets]

Atlantic City is also the home of IT’SUGAR, selling some of the largest candies and desserts in the world. Also my new home away from home.

Say what you will, but the beach is actually very pretty, especially if you’re the only one not hungover from the night before and on the beach at 8:30 a.m.

Frolicking.

Ocean dreaming at a little hidden deck we found on the 6th floor of the Pier Shops at Ceasars.

Sunset skyline.

We wanted to try everything! Fried Reeses? Bring it on! Corndogs from a truck? Why the hell not? Rita’s frozen custard? Duh, bro.

We also decided to give our sugar rush an adrenaline boost by going to the Steel Pier carnival.

And to cap off the trip we thought: why not parasail and get that adrenaline pumping a little more? We had to go to Ocean City, NJ, for the sail, since we missed our first appointment and I chewed out the phone girl. But we had a great experience with Bayview Marina!

T minus 5…4…3…2…

Higher! 500 feet higher!

The experience was so peaceful-it really does feel like you’re flying weightless.

28 and Counting

There’s nothing better than good food, good drinks, and good company to celebrate getting one year closer to the big 3-0. You know you have some friends for life when they’re willing to pay $12 for a frozen margarita, listen to your hiccups for 2 hours, and put on an extra 10 lbs. all in one weekend to say ‘Happy Birthday.’ Thank you to everyone who made this a very memorable weekend. So much love 😉

PARTY LIKE IT’S…oh wait, we’re at the office.

Thank you, Laura, for being super anal about my bday cake and picking out this divine lemon curd-filled, strawberry whipped cream-iced cake.

Laura, Denny the Honorary Woman, and me (The eSN editorial team)

Laura’s Managing Editor skills were put to good use making this awesome bday card

My amazing foodie gift from CZ. Girl, I still don’t know how you psychically knew I needed this Milk cookbook by Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar. #blowingmymind

Not to be outdone by the brain-phoning CZ, my parents and G teamed up to give a perfect 1-2-3 punch gift pack with dark chocolate raspberry Godiva cordials, my very own cast iron skillet, and tiered cake architecture from Cake Stackers.

[From left-right] Jenna, me, G and Stephen [Shana and Shaunique behind the camera] eating our weight in tableside guacamole at Rosa Mexicano.

If you’re going to be a foodie jerk in D.C. you have to be a bit** who brunches, and what better place to strut your Sunday heels and discuss making your own butter than at Blue Duck Tavern?

Hand cut BDT Triple Fries (These are fried in duck fat–the grease du jour–and served with a garlic aioli)

My Eggs Benedict with Pork Belly and Sauce Choron (a variation of béarnaise without tarragon or chervil, plus added tomato purée)

Straight from the Oven Chocolate Cake with Maker’s Mark Caramel, Apple Pie, Honey and Walnut Cheesecake in Phyllo with Brandied Cherries, and complimentary vanilla and peppermint ice creams for the birthday girl.

Shaunique, me, and Shana

My boyfriend’s attempt at cake decorating. *Sidenote: say what you will about buttercreams, ganaches, and organic flours-sometimes, nothing beats a plain white cake from the local grocery store 🙂

Ho, Ho, Holiday Party

Whether you love them or hate them, about 90% of us have them: office holiday parties. They only come once a year [thank god?] and this year I hit the secret santa jackpot with my homie, Shana, who is one of the best gift-givers I’ve ever known. Besides the funky jewelry [channeling my inner Girl with the Dragon Tattoo], salt water taffy [thank you for visiting Ocean City way too often], and clove cigarettes [hey, everyone’s got their closet vice], she also gives me the gift of her dry, sarcastic wit every day to keep me from bashing my head against the fax machine.

Me, Shana, Victoria, Laura

For this secret santa occassion I received the best vanilla extract on the market, which is unfortunately reflected in its price: Nielsen-Massey. Thank you, gurl, for going the extra mile on something only foodies could love: extract.

I was also gifted Momofuku’s Compost Cookie Mix, which Shana informed me you can now buy, along with other Momofuku Milk Bar mixes, at Williams-Sonoma. Momofuku, meaning ‘lucky peach,’ has five restaurants with four of them located in NYC. Perhaps the most famous of these among foodies and celebrities is Milk Bar, which serves its equally famous ‘Crack Pie.’

According to the package, this Compost Cookie Mix “makes playful yet decadently rich cookies packed with irresistible sweet and salty snacks: chocolate and butterscotch chips, coffee-plus your own favorite potato chips and pretzels.” CAN’T WAIT 😉