Sunday, January 4, 2015

Brunch for the Chocolate Lover

I am married to a chocoholic.

I am not a huge fan of chocolate, not even a big one. I merely like it and only on occasion, too much is just too much.

So it was a really romantic gesture when I planned this chocolate themed brunch as a surprise for the hubby. ;) He absolutely loved it and I was so excited to share it with ya'll.

Gift this to the chocoholic in your life and I'm sure they'll love it too.

Here's what was on the menu- chocolate crepes served with whipped cream and bananas, chocolate dipped heart strawberries, hot chocolate as drinks, and chocolate "croissants." To balance off the sweet, chocolate-y items, I included two savory items, mini asparagus and mushroom tarts and mini heart shaped tomato tarts.

Brunch for the Chocolate Lover
(Serves 4; or 2 with lots of leftovers)

You can make the crepe batter and dip the chocolate strawberries the night before so there are less things for you to do in the morning. This is the recipe I used to make the crepes. Make sure to half it if its just two of you! Make the crepes morning of while your tarts and pastries are in the oven.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

To dip the strawberries, wash and dry 10-15 strawberries completely. Melt 1/3 cup of chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli's milk chocolate chips) in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Line a baking pan with parchment paper to set the dipped strawberries on. Instead of dipping the strawberry once, dip it on each side slightly at an angle to achieve a heart shape. Decorate using sprinkles or melt white chocolate chips and drizzle it across the strawberries. I used a ziploc bag with a snipped corner to make it easy and mess free. Leave it in the fridge to set overnight.

Tarts and Pastries 

These tarts are absolutely delicious! My favorite were the mini tomato tarts. They tasted like little pizzas but were more elegant somehow. And the presentation was fabulous. 

You'll need:
1 box puff pastry, defrosted overnight in the fridge
1-2 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 asparagus bunch 
4-5 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
Swiss or gruyere cheese block
grated Parmesan cheese
fresh basil chiffonade, for topping
1/4-1/2 cup milk chocolate chips 
1 egg beaten
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
You will use both puff pastry sheets to make all of the pastries so divide it as you like. I made 5 chocolate pastries, 4 asparagus tarts, and finished off the rest of the puff pastry with 8 tomato hearts. 

Tomato Tarts- 

Using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out medium sized hearts from the pastry dough. Brush the dough with olive oil and add grated swiss cheese to the center. Put a slice of tomato on top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top it off with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. The tomatoes may slide off as the pastries back so keep an eye on them, you may have to slide them back on halfway through, no worries. Sprinkle some basil chiffonade on before serving.

Asparagus and Mushroom Tarts-

Optional (Leave this step if you don't want mushrooms on your tarts)- Sautee mushrooms in olive oil until fully wilted. Season with salt and pepper and any other seasonings you like.

Cut 4 rectangles of puff pastry dough and use your fingers to flatten and spread it out a little. Using the flat side of a knife, make a groove 1/4 inch along the edges of the tart. This will from the crust. Poke holes in the tart using a fork and brush with beaten egg for an egg wash. Place sliced swiss cheese in a single layer in the center of the tart. Trim asparagus to the size of the tart and line them in a row on the cheese. Arrange sautéed mushrooms on the asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20-25 min or until golden brown. Serve with basil.

Chocolate "Crossaints"-

Cut equal sized rectangles from the puff pastry dough. With the rectangle in hamburger orientation, place 2 strips of chocolate chips on the third and two third lines. Do not over fill. 

Fold the right side over to the center and lightly press to secure. Fold the left side over to the right side and press to secure. Carefully turn pastry over so seams are on the bottom and place on a parchment lined baking tray. Give it an egg wash and b
ake for 14-16 minutes, until tops of pastries just start to turn golden. Let them cool till just slightly warm before serving.

Make hot cocoa to top it off (or any other chocolate drink, chocolate milk, milkshake).

Don't forget to set the mood with some beautiful roses and a clean home! :) Enjoy and good luck in the kitchen!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Turquoise and Gold Moroccan Ostrich Egg

Do you guys remember this giveaway I did for a custom hand-painted ostrich egg when I reached 100 posts? My beautiful reader, Sarah, won the giveaway through random selection and I am so happy that she did. Not only was she super creative with the egg ideas she came up with, but she was patient through out the painting process. I was able to paint this beautiful Moroccan themed ostrich egg to fit with her home decor. Here's how the process went-

I started with a blank canvas, a clean new egg with a coat of white paint. I measured the dimensions of the egg, sketched on the pattern Sarah wanted, and then painted in the details. After going over the painted egg to correct any details, I finished it off with a coat of clear glossy varnish. 

Recently, I decided to start selling these special painted ostrich eggs. If you want one for yourself, follow this link, , to my etsy shop. Thank you for all your support. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Raspberry and Chocolate Chia Pudding

Remember Chia pets from when we were little? The little animal shaped pots of chia that we had to nurture and grow. Well, chia seeds have definitely made a comeback and are a major trend in the health world right now. Full of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, antioxidants and much more, this grain is really a superfood. It is so versatile, there are so many ways you can include it in your diet. Chia seeds can be sprinkled over cereal, used as a thickening agent for soups and curries, as a tea. But my favorite of them all is that it can be used to make a delicious pudding dessert.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chicago Skyline Egg

I'm a born and raised SoCal girl. I feel at home in the bustling CA lifestyle - the people, the clothes, the parties, the beaches, the everything! But over the past few years, Chicago (and the Midwest) have become a central part of my life. I definitely feel myself being drawn to this beautiful city. 

Chicago is kind of underrated. It's beautiful, clean, and definitely a great tourist spot, but it just isn't as popular as other destinations and I don't know why not. The best part of Chicago is their skyline (my favorite part too). Whenever we road trip to or from Chitown and MI to visit S's family, we get a full view of the city. We've seen it at dawn, at sunset, in the daytime, at night, and I have to say that it is truly spectacular.

When my older sister got accepted to her dream graduate school, I knew she deserved a present worthy of the accomplishment. Both my older sister and I got married in Chicago so it was fitting that I paint her an ostrich egg with the Chicago skyline. In the past, I've already painted the skyline at night, so this time around, I decided to paint it in the daytime. Plus, the blue went with my sisters beach-y decor (she misses CA as much as I do). I added two ducks for a little romantic touch. Needless to say, she totally loved the egg.

I recently opened an Etsy shop where you can purchase a custom painted egg of your own. You can find the shop here. Just like I gifted this egg to my sister, they make beautiful, personal and unique gifts. They would also look just as good in your own home. Feel free to visit and shop around. :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Pumpkin Roll Cake

Pumpkin is a very popular ingredient this holiday season. Thanksgiving has already passed but people are still making and buying pumpkin products. Most popular this time of the year is the pumpkin spice latte. Mmm.
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