Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I haven't blogged about a peanut butter and chocolate dessert since June 27.

I know. I'm sorry for making you wait so long. It was unintentional, really.

Knowing that I'd be biting into this mousse cake later in the day, I decided to make the whole experience into a bit of a workout. I beat the cream by hand for several long minutes, and I creamed the remaining ingredients together as well.

My arm ached a little as I cut slices from the dessert for a friend's dinner party potluck.

It was worth it.

Similar to the chocolate peanut butter brownie cheesecake from the spring, here's a ridiculously decadent dessert that you'll only need a tiny slice of. The Oreo cookie crust on the bottom provides a textural contrast next to the creamy peanut butter mousse. The mousse is studded with mini chocolate chips and chopped, salted peanuts. A layer of bittersweet chocolate and an additional sprinkle of peanuts top the dessert off perfectly.

It's like a giant peanut butter cup, but better.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I'm not quite ready for fall to be over.

It seems like the fall season had just flown by, complete with a tropical hurricane and then a dreadful winter storm where snow ACTUALLY stuck to the ground for more than a few minutes and leaves were ripped from trees. Store windows are already filling with Christmas decorations, and yes, we did play Christmas songs on Friday night.

What I want are the days like Sunday. Days where it's in the 60s and sunny. Days where you leave in the morning thinking you'll need your jacket but take it off while you're at the playground with adorable kids or going on a long stroll with a good friend.  Days where the farmers' market is still overflowing with fresh produce.

These carmelitas combine everything I love into one perfect fall dessert bar. There's a buttery, oat-filled crust that's not too hard. There's an gooey layer of caramel that's still soft in the middle of the bar. Each bite is filled with bittersweet chocolate.

I cut these small because it's hard to have just one. And I'll savor these for awhile because they help me extend that fall feeling a little longer.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Vegetable Pot Pie and a Changed City

It's been crazy living in New York City for the past week since Hurricane Sandy hit.

Our sense of normalcy has been upended.

I weathered the storm at a friend's house, with full power, incredible food, and lots of crafting. I took a cab home from their house on Tuesday afternoon, and we drove by downed trees, crushed cars and signs warning us to keep out of the parks.

I returned home to a neighborhood that was relatively untouched, other than branches and leaves littering the streets. Restaurants, bars and coffee shops were all open and flooded with people who were unable to get to their jobs in Manhattan.

We ate, laughed, went for long walks and cooked. It felt almost normal at first, almost like a vacation.

But then we turned on the news and saw such wide-spread devastation that didn't fit at all with the reality we were living. We received emails about coworkers who had lost their homes overnight. We volunteered at local high schools housing hundreds of displaced citizens, some of us serving breakfast or working overnight shifts and others providing entertainment to people who so badly needed a break from reality. We saw low-wage workers desperately in need of their paychecks walk across the boroughs to their early morning jobs.

It's days like these when all I want is comfort food.

Like this pot pie. We made a huge batch of pot pie filling and pie crusts on our fourth day off of work because of Hurricane Sandy. We cooked with the TV off, with our phones that had been constantly feeding us updates on the state of our city tucked far away. 

These pot pies are loaded with potatoes, carrots, peas, lima beans, corn and onions, smothered in a homemade gravy, and topped with a savory pie crust. We made eight, baked them until they were almost done in the oven, and then froze them.

The recovery from Hurricane Sandy will not be quick. I worry that when most of us have our lives back to normal, when gas stations once again have gas and subway lines connect us through the boroughs, our efforts to help those who will remain in need for a long time will decrease.

As a school, as a community, as a city, we must keep asking, "How can we help?" 

If you're interested in donating to a local organization doing fantastic work supporting rebuilding  Red Hook, Brooklyn, consider the Red Hook Initiative: rhicenter.org