Fig & Grape Tarts

Fig & Grape Tarts

As I mentioned in my last post, I celebrated Christmas in Chicago with my mom. The boyfriend even came home with me! I got to show him around Geneva; we went to the Shedd Aquarium and wandered around downtown; and we spent some wonderful quality time with my mom and friends. With everything going on, I told my mom that the one thing I wanted to do to help was to take care of dessert. On top of everything she was doing for us, I didn’t want her to have to also do a bunch of Christmas baking!

Fig & Grape Tarts 2

On Sunday afternoon, while picking up last-minute groceries, I ran around the store trying to figure out what I was going to make for dessert! After marathon baking sessions for the majority of December and fighting off the sick for the last week, I have absolutely no idea what to do. I didn’t want to make anything too traditional or too out of the box or that would leave my mom with massive leftovers. I didn’t have my usual arsenal of back-up ingredients, and since it was winter in Chicago, my produce options were limited.

So I ended up adapting my award-winning Fig and Grape Pie to account for a lack of fresh figs and to make tarts. (As an added bonus, my mom also got to take some of the tarts to work to share with her friends who read my blog!) The resulting Fig and Grape Tarts are absolutely amazing. The flavor from the original pie recipe still holds true in the tarts, but the dried figs give the filling a chewier texture and a deeper flavor. And they keep very well in a sealed container, so they can be enjoyed without worrying about eating a much larger slice of pie!

Fig & Grape Tarts 3

When I got home from Chicago, I whipped up another batch of the tarts to share with you all! The tarts are great on their own, but were also amazing warmed and served with the leftover Brie Ice Cream that I found stashed away in my freezer. (Present-Emily thanks past-Emily for that wonderful little surprise!)

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments below! And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Cranberry-Orange Cheesecake

Cranberry Orange Cheesecake

This year, the boyfriend and I hosted a large Orphan Thanksgiving gathering. We opened our new apartment for all of our friends who were in town for the holiday, inviting everyone for daytime drinking and snacking, dinner, and desserts. I cooked two turkeys (cause you can never have too many leftovers!), stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. And, of course, I took care of dessert…

For dessert, I knew I wanted to do something with cranberries. I thought about a cake, but I couldn’t decide on the right type… I thought about cookies, but I wanted to use fresh cranberries… So I decided to make a cheesecake! A few different flavor combinations swirled though my head, but I fell in love with the idea of a cranberry and orange cheesecake.

This cheesecake is smooth and creamy, with the tart flavor of cranberries swirled in to the sweetness of the orange batter. The whole thing is surrounded by a gingersnap crust, which lends a slightly spiced element to the cheesecake. And it fits perfectly with the winter holidays! 🙂

If you’re a cheesecake novice, don’t be afraid to try out this recipe. Cheesecakes aren’t inherently more difficult than other cakes; they just require a little more attention to detail. Check out my Pumpkin-Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake post for tips on how to bake a perfect cheesecake!

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments below! And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Fig and Grape Pie

Also known as: the pie that won first place at the DC State Fair! 🙂

I am incredibly proud of this pie, especially because it is one of the first things I’ve sat down and created all on my own. (I usually modify other recipes instead of starting with a blank slate…) While musing on what to enter in to the pie competition for the DC State Fair, several things went through my head: maybe something with Nutella or a variation on peach pie or one of fifty other ideas. But then, when flipping though one of my cookbooks, the idea of combining figs and grapes stuck in my head. So I dug a little into the flavors that go well with figs and ended up with Cognac (brandy) and orange.

I gathered up all my ingredients the next day (mind you, this was only a few days before the competition) and composed my test run. I stewed down some figs and grapes, mixed with a little bit of sugar, cognac, and orange, in to a compote. When it was cool enough to eat, I sat down on the couch with the boyfriend and started the taste test…

I wasn’t quite sure how I felt right away. Cause the filling (compote at the time) is weird. It’s not what you would expect from a pie… Yes, it was strange, but damn, it was good. And those words just kept coming out of my mouth. It was like nothing I’d ever tasted before, but I just couldn’t stop eating it! The flavor of the figs is brought out by the cognac and orange, and the crunch of the grape adds a contrasting texture when cooked with the figs.

And apparently the judges liked it too! 😀

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments below! And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Mimosa Cupcakes

Last weekend, a very good friend of mine celebrated her birthday on the last night of our 5-day vacation. As usual, I volunteered to take charge of the birthday cake… Yes, this means that not only did I bake like a crazy-person to gift tasty treats, but I also needed to bake a cake and keep it cool and hidden for 4 days! And as I’ve said in other posts, I really enjoy making personalized cakes for my friends that are one-of-a-kind or something dreamed up just for them! So I knew that this cake needed to be something pretty awesome…

Since the plan was to surprise her on Sunday night of our camping vacation (her birthday was on Monday), I decided to make cupcakes because they are easier to store and serve. My friend has earned the nickname “Bubbles” because of her love of champagne, so I really wanted to make her a cake to live up to her nickname! It is a rare occasion to find Bubbles without a glass of champagne or a mimosa in her hand, especially at brunch. So for this occasion, I decided to modify one of my go-to recipes to mimic a mimosa!

Like a proper mimosa, these cupcakes are mostly champagne with a splash with orange for flavor and color! The cupcake is a light, bubbly champagne-flavored cake, topped with a fluffy mound of orange buttercream icing. And of course they are best served alongside a mimosa!

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