Blueberry Basil Galette

The heat of summer has settled in, bringing lazy afternoons, layers of sunscreen, and produce ripening on the vine. In the Upper Midwest, locally grown fruit and vegetables are finally making their way into the markets. Blueberries are one of my favorite summer fruits (for years now, I've enjoyed a half cup of berries in my morning cereal). While I regularly use fresh and frozen berries in my baking, I hold out for the farmer's market blueberries for my berry-centric desserts. When the berries first appear at the market, I make it a habit to pick up a weekly purchase of two pints, exchanging new recipe ideas with the farmer each week.

These sweet blueberries have a rich, concentrated flavor with a depth I haven't found anywhere else. It should come as no surprise that the quality of fruit dictates the quality of the finished product when it comes to fruit-based desserts. While I adore the blueberries fresh from the vine, butter and sugar have a way of making anything taste even better.

Earlier this summer, I bought a basil plant for the kitchen—a promising start to what I hoped would become a small herb garden. In a few short weeks, the basil quickly began taking over the counter top. It now towers an inch shy of 3 feet over the kitchen sink (which means I have much more basil than I know what to do with). As a result, the basil has been unexpectedly finding its way into dishes.

With this free-form galette, I tossed together the chopped basil and fresh blueberries before folding up the pie crust and placing it in the oven to bake. The basil adds a subtle, but present flavor to the galette, adding a new dimension to the classic blueberry flavor. I like to believe it brings out the flavors of summer.

This Blueberry Basil Galette features a sweet blueberry filling held within a buttery, flaky crust. Almond flour is sprinkled below the berries to absorb the blueberry juices as it bakes and to keep the crust crisp. With chopped basil to add a unique twist, friends and family will be sure to enjoy this summer dessert.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Chunk Coconut Oil Cookies & Homemade Almond Milk
Two Years Ago: Banana Peanut Butter Green Smoothie & Cherry Hand Pies
Three Years Ago: Lavender Vanilla Cake & Plum Almond Galette
Four Years Ago:  Berry Cheesecake Tarts, Mint Sugar, Frozen Strawberry Bars, Coconut Sorbet, & Cherry Almond Crumble
Five Years Ago: Cherry Cream Cheese Muffins, Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa, Vegan Brownies, Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie, Chocolate Cherry Cake, Coconut Scones, & Roasted Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream
Six Years Ago: Blueberry Hand Pies, Harry Potter Treats, Cauldron Cakes, Butterbeer, & Butterbeer Cupcakes
Seven Years Ago: Mocha FrappuccinoBlueberry Lime Panna Cotta, & Grilled Peaches

Blueberry Basil Galette

Yields 6-8 servings, depending on size

1/3 cup (38 grams) almond flour*
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar**
1 1/2 pints (18 oz or 510 grams) fresh blueberries
Large handful (about 1/4 cup) fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
Recipe for single crust pie dough 
Egg wash (1 large egg + 1 tablespoon water, whisked)
2 tablespoons demerara or raw sugar, for sprinkling

In a small bowl, whisk together almond flour, all-purpose flour, and granulated sugar together. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie dough into a circle roughly 1/8-inch thick and approximately 14 inches in diameter. Spread the almond flour mixture evenly over the pie dough, leaving a 2-inch border around the outside. Layer the fresh blueberries and chopped basil over the almond flour mixture. Fold up the pie dough over the filling, pleating the dough every two or so inches. Brush the visible pie dough with egg wash and sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over the dough and the filling. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to firm up the crust.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C).

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the blueberries have released their juices. Cool slightly before serving. Serve with a topping of whipped cream or side of vanilla ice cream.

*To make almond flour, process almonds in a food processor until fine.
**Add more or less to taste, depending on the sweetness of the berries.

Grandma's Chocolate Cupcakes

My grandmother recently passed away. After a two and a half year long battle with cancer, it was expected, but it was still difficult for my family to say goodbye. Can you truly prepare yourself for losing someone you love? My grandmother was such a strong figure in our family, both humble and hardworking. She will be greatly missed.

During my childhood, my sister and I would spend our winter breaks on my grandparent's farm. Our early mornings were occupied by painting ceramic figurines, using leftover paints from my grandmother's days of painting alongside The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. Our afternoons were spent building snow caves in the large snow drifts in the yard. When we could no longer feel the tips of our noses, we ran inside to be greeted by my grandmother's handmade quilts, hot from the dryer. In the evenings, we would cuddle up in the same bed and she would read us books. Even when we grew too old for bedtime stories, we would insist anyway, enjoying the familiar tales of Rabbit and Skunk, and the silly voices my grandmother gave the characters.

Most significantly, my grandmother passed down her love of baking to me. Since I was very young, I watched her create complex German meals from scratch: kneading bread dough to make buns, rolling out dough for strudels, whipping the filling for her chocolate pudding pies. As I grew, she taught what she knew about food. As a dedicated home cook, she opened her kitchen to me, letting me work alongside her. She was a no-fuss kind of woman, never minding when I accidentally ripped holes in the strudel dough or flip the frying "shoop" noodles too soon. Instead, she would guide me to do better on the next batch. In many ways, she laid down a foundation of knowledge on food, helping me discover my love and passion for baking.

When I learned of my grandmother's passing, I pulled my personal cookbook off the shelf, filled with her handwritten recipes. I paged through the book, pausing on each recipe, remembering the moments we shared making and eating those dishes together. The last recipe in the book was her recipe for chocolate cupcakes, the memories of which made me laugh. 

My grandmother was known in our family for her chocolate cupcakes, which appeared at every holiday and family gathering. It was general knowledge that her cupcakes had a secret ingredient. My sister and I would constantly beg and plead her to tell us the secret, but her response was always the same: when you grow older. Finally, when I reached my fourteenth birthday, I was deemed old enough. She took me aside and whispered the name of the mystery ingredient—a good cup of strong coffee—and told me I wasn't to tell a soul. I happily lorded this secret over my younger sister for years

I made her chocolate cupcakes on that sad morning, hoping to keep the memories of my grandmother close, baking them to share with my grieving family. I'm sharing her recipe—and secret ingredient—with you today. Above all, my grandmother believed food creates community; food is what brings us and binds us together. Food is love. Our recipes tell the stories of our love.

When you find a moment, bake and share these cupcakes with your loved ones. Create moments to remember and hold dear long after the cupcakes have disappeared. 

My grandmother's chocolate cupcakes have a chocolate base reminiscent of a moist, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth devil's food cake. The frosting is cooked down on the stove, made with butter, sugar, marshmallows, and chocolate chips. After the frosting cools down and is whisked for a lighter texture, it's spread onto the cupcakes. My family prefers to eat the cupcakes straight from the refrigerator, where the frosting is firm and chilled, but feel free to serve them at room temperature based on your own preference (though my father will disagree with your decision on this). 

One Year Ago: Blueberry Crumble Bread
Two Years Ago: S'mores Tarts & Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Espresso Custard, Mixed Berry Quinoa Crumble, & Cookies & Cream Ice Cream
Four Years Ago:  Boozy Margarita Cake, Double Chocolate Muffins, Rhubarb Ginger Bars, & Dill Dinner Rolls
Five Years Ago: Lavender Lemonade, Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes, Cherry Almond Granola, & Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Six Years Ago: Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast, Chocolate Almond Oat Bars, Bizcochitos, & Quinoa Pudding
Seven Years Ago: Chocolate Chip Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Grandma's Chocolate Cupcakes

Yields 2 dozen

Chocolate Cupcakes
2/3 cup (155 mL) vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk
2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (43 grams) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (250 mL) strong coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a cupcake pan with liners.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, egg, granulated sugar, and buttermilk until uniform. Whisk in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt alternatively with the strong coffee until smooth.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Frosting
1/4 cup (56 grams) butter
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
6 standard or 60 mini (42 grams) marshmallows
1/4 cup (60 mL) water
1/2 cup (85 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisk together butter, sugar, marshmallows, and water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate chips until melted. Cool the frosting in the refrigerator, whisking energetically every few minutes until it reaches a spreadable texture (approximately 15-20 minutes).

Frost cooled cupcakes and serve. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator, depending on preference. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

My early twenties were a period of movement. I lived mainly out of a suitcase, shuffling between college dorms, internship accommodations, and my parents' house. In a year's time, I would call as many as four different beds my home. I loved the unpredictable nature of my life, this liberating feeling that I could go anywhere and do anything. It was freeing.

As the years passed, the pillow beneath my head grew fixed and my feet stayed in one place for a greater length of time. I moved to a small town of three thousand for two years; then I moved to a city of three million and that's where I still remain today. Though I resisted it in the beginning, I began to settle down, to find a community, to grow roots.

I closed on a beautiful house two weeks ago. The whole process still feels unreal; the understanding that I live here now is slow to set in. After years of living out of a suitcase, the lessons of minimalism stayed close to heart. Several rooms still sit empty after unpacking the boxes from my one bedroom apartment and will certainly sit empty for a while longer. The home is a blank slate, both exciting and intimidating at the same time.

I have dreamed of this moment for a long time. Now that it's here, I'm spending my time trying to take it all in, to savor this experience.

After baking in cramped apartment kitchens for a number of years, a large functional kitchen was one of the top elements I was looking for in my home. This new kitchen checks all the boxes, with enough counter space for several people to prep comfortably (or, in reality, enough space to support multiple messy, flour-covered projects). The new kitchen also features gas appliances. After using electric appliances my entire life, this particular adjustment has already become an adventure of trial and error.

For this Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, I gave the gas oven a spin for the first time. The graham cracker crust bakes only long enough to set before it is cooled and filled with a rich, creamy peanut butter filling. Covered with a thick chocolate glaze and a smattering of salted peanuts, the pie is a simple homage to the candy bar of similar flavors.

I enjoyed a slice while sitting on the floor of my empty dining room. Between bites, I imagined the memories that would be made in this room someday.

This Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie is a rich, chilled dessert that has a flavor reminiscent of a favorite candy bar. A crisp graham cracker crust is filled with a peanut butter filling made from creamy peanut butter and coconut cream (but don't worry, it tastes nothing of coconut). Spread with a thick chocolate glaze and garnished with salted peanuts, the pie is shaped into its final form. Serve chilled, with a tall glass of milk.

One Year Ago: Dulce de Leche Cake
Two Years Ago: Strawberry Layer Cake & Blueberry Oat Crumble Muffins
Three Years Ago: Berry Topped Angel Food Cake, Mango Margarita, & Chocolate Cacao Nib Banana Bread
Four Years Ago:  Buckwheat Pancakes, White Chocolate Espresso Cake, Vanilla Chia Pudding, & Rhubarb Vanilla Pound Cake
Five Years Ago: Multigrain Bread, Blueberry Lemon Crumble, Vanilla Cupcakes, Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies, & Coconut Nutmeg Pudding
Six Years Ago: Roasted Cherry Brownies, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies, & Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread
Seven Years Ago: Lemon Tart, Chocolate SherbetTapioca Pudding

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Yields 8-10 servings

Graham Cracker Crust
2 cups (285 grams) graham cracker crumbs (about 12 crackers, crushed)
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, melted

Peanut Butter Filling
14 oz (414 mL) can full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight in the refrigerator
1 1/2 cups (405 grams) creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups (140 grams) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze
6 ounces (170 grams) semisweet or milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (120 mL) heavy cream (or full-fat coconut milk)
1/4 cup (35 grams) salted, roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (160 degrees C). 

In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter until uniform. Press evenly into a pie pan and bake for 10-12 minutes to set. Cool before filling.

For the filling, open a can of chilled coconut milk and scoop the solid cream from the top into a mixing bowl. Leave the liquid in the bottom of the can and reserve it for another use (smoothies, baked goods, etc). Add the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract to the solid cream and beat until whipped, about 3-5 minutes. Spread evenly into the cooled crust.

For the glaze, heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until steaming. Immediately remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate, allowing the chocolate to melt for 5 minutes before stirring until smooth and uniform. Spread evenly over the filling. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

Chill in refrigerator to set before serving. Store pie in an airtight container in the refrigerator.