Archive for April, 2013

Fancy Science Dinner Party + Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream

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There is a difference between being invited to dinner and being “invited” to make dinner. It’s kind of significant, because it’s one thing for someone to flatter you by saying say, “Let me provide dinner for you” and another thing entirely for someone to flatter you and then say “Please provide dinner for me.”

I have experienced both, and I have appreciated both, but somehow I like the former scenario a little better. (Where my ladies at?)  And I would like to tell you about my most recent “invited to dinner” experience because I think you would appreciate it. I appreciated it. The only thing I even contributed were the chocolate pecan florentines I showed you earlier.

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This dinner was neat because a bunch of people from my church got together for an evening, and we all made dinner together. As a group. That element is really important. It made doing the dishes fun. I mean, there was a real chef involved, and he kind of knew exactly what he was doing, but he let the rest of us novices help.

On the menu:

Citrusy Slaw Scallops (Hello.)

Sea Salt Coffee Caramels

Pop Rock Nutella Hazelnut Truffles (Read that again. As you can imagine, this was a total party-in-your-mouth moment.)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Strawberry Truffles (Rich.)

Bacon and Nutella Fluff (It gets real.)

Raspberry Sorbet

Jameson-Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream with Chocolate Pecan Florentines (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

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Dinner was science! Science was dinner! And dinner was delicious. And the toasted marshmallow ice cream? Well, let’s just say, I couldn’t have been more delighted. I just kept talking and talking about it, and scraping unsalvaged bits of melted marshmallow off wax paper. I couldn’t help it.

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Hopefully this gives you some dinner party inspiration for summer! It’s time to bust out the grill! Try a sparkly new cocktail! Kick back with your friends! I am using too many exclamation points, but I just can’t help it. There was toasted marshmallow ice cream.



Pipe Dream #193: To Be Invited, Not Invited – Gluten Free Chocolate Pecan Florentines

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I have a delicious treat in the form of a delightful dinner party to share with you this week, wherein I will wax on about being invited as opposed to being “invited” (apologies in advance). But before I do, I would like to share my only contribution to said dinner party, as the other items on the menu will clearly outshine my miniscule offering.

I do not feel bad about my miniscule offerings at all. Trust me, you will understand when you know. This dinner party. Heavens.

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Spoiler alert: Don’t read this next unless you want to know what I ate for dinner the other week, which I will also tell you later this week. What’s that? You don’t care what I ate for dinner the other week? You should care. Because I ate


Let that sink in.

Ok. I know.

And what is the only worthwhile accompaniment to toasted marshmallow besides everything? That’s correct, Senator. Chocolate.

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I wanted to make something gluten-free, because there were some GF attendees, and these florentines were the perfect recipe. Elegant, interesting, and made with gluten-free flour.

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Traditional Italian florentines are made with almonds and are sandwiched together with tempered dark chocolate. The cookie batter flattens out significantly and bubbles up, creating a crunchy, buttery shell. This recipe substituted the almonds for pecans (which weren’t overpowering by any means, so if you don’t like pecans, no big), and instead of making cookie sandwiches, I opted to shape them into little serving bowls for the ice cream, kind of the same way you might shape brandy snaps.

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This was Attempt #1 at shaping the florentines. I let the cookies cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheets and then wrapped them around the metal handle of my whisk, pinching the ends to seal. They just slide right off like magic! I might have left them on a bit longer, though. As you can see, they are a little deformed.

florentines 2

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Attempt #2 was more successful. I flipped little mise en place bowls, and draped individual cookies over them, pressing down the sides to create little cups for the ice cream.Next time, I would drape the cookies over on their other side, so the pretty, bubbly side to the cookies would be more visible when they are flipped upright.


This is an easy way to add some class to your next ice cream sundae party. You should have one of those. It would be impossible to fail, and it’s practically summer right now.

Don’t mind me,


Gluten-Free Chocolate Pecan Florentines

Adapted from gluten freek

1/2 cup gluten-free flour blend (I used Bob’s)

2 handfuls pecans, finely ground in a food processor (or 3/4 cup pecan flour)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/3 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter

1/4 cup light corn syrup

2 tablespoons milk

chocolate chips, if desired

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment.

Combine the flour, pecans and cocoa in a small bowl, mixing well to get as many clumps out as possible. I found that my pecans were a little sticky.

Combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup and milk in a small saucepan. Stir occasionally over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour mix well so all the clumps are incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

Drop by the teaspoonful onto the baking sheets leaving two to three inches between each cookie to allow for spreading. Bake for 10 minutes. While the cookies are baking, set out little mise en place dishes or other little bowls upside down.

Remove the sheets from the oven and let the cookies cool for a couple minutes. When the cookies are cool enough that you can lift them without them stretching, drape each cookie over the little dishes you have set out and press down the edges, creating little bowls out of the cookies. Alternately, you can wrap each cookie around the end of a wire whisk, sliding them off to make a cannoli-like shell.

Let the cookies cool, then store in an airtight container between layers of parchment.

Pipe Dream #192: To GET THAT

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The greatest  compliment to receive as a photographer is that my subjects look natural. Capturing real smiles is my joy. It is that moment of satisfaction where you just know you got it right and you can move on. Next pose, next subject, next joke. It’s better than baking a perfect chocolate chip cookie.

Because a still can only catch one second of a real person, it can be tricky to coax out a smile and record it on film at the same time. So getting one means that I am not so horrendously unfunny and that I still am maintaining my fine motor skills.



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