Beyond the Box – Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Rice Krispie Treats (plus a short tour of the bakery that inspired them and a wedding cake)

It took the extraordinary pastry chef from Flour in Boston, Joanne Chang, to get me to confess my love for Rice Krispies Treats. She boldly put a recipe for them in her cookbook, next to the cakes and other delicate, fanciful pastries. It was an honest and unpretentious statement, which gives the rest of us the ability to stand tall while admitting we too love these juvenile confections. Until now I have used my boys as an excuse to have them around, but the truth is I love them more than they do. This recipe takes the ordinary to new heights. One may argue the beauty of a recipe on the side of a cereal box is the speed, ease and simplicity of ingredients. Admittedly this version takes a few more minutes, and I do bother to use some pretty special ingredients, but it is so worth the effort and I promise the vanilla bean is not lost on them.

I have been following Joanne’s career since she worked in New York with François Payard. Her talents were recognized even while in the shadow of one of New York’s pastry greats, which is no small feat. Several years ago she took the bold step of leaving Payard and opening her own bakery in Boston, now she has a small pastry empire. When my brother announced that he would be getting married this summer near Manchester, New Hampshire, I immediately made plans to slip into Boston for a day to sample her goodies. (more…)

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Springtime Flower Cake for Kathy (Le Creuset Giveaway)

This weekend was my neighbor’s birthday. Her husband asked me to bake her a decadent chocolate cake and decorate it with “Spring Flowers.” Here in MN it isn’t exactly bursting with flora yet. In fact, as I was working on the cake it started to snow. But Easter is right around the corner and the tulips and rhubarb are promising to come out of the ground soon. We hold our breath and hope for a greener time, soon. Her cake, like Kathy herself, had to be over the top and fantastic! I wanted it to be bright and full of life to compensate for the snow!

The chocolate layers were made up of Devil’s Food, Chocolate Pastry Cream, Bittersweet Ganache, White Chocolate Buttercream and the flowers were made from gum paste.

Happy Birthday Kathy!

Last week I was in such a rush to get my Daring Baker Challenge done in time that I forgot to give away another Le Creuset Stoneware Heart Ramekin with Cover, Red. This week I will give away 2 to make up for it. Just leave me a note below and tell me what you are making for Passover*, Easter** or whatever you are craving now that it is spring. I will pick 2 random winners next week.


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