Mini Edible Flower Garden

Hello folks and happy spring!  I have a lot of exciting styling jobs coming up this month, so this week I’ve been focusing on renewal and trying to fortify my life with relaxation and creativity so that I don’t burn out.

As some of you may know, I have fibromyalgia, a muscle pain and fatigue disorder.  I have to be extra careful about watching what I do so that my energy levels remain intact.  While having fibromyalgia sometimes seems like the end of the world, it has helped me weed out the clutter and realize what/who is truly important and worth spending my time on.

I’m constantly trying to focus on resilience.  I want to keep growing and creating beauty despite the challenges that I face.  I’ve found that sometimes you have to take it easy on yourself in order to push even farther toward your goals.  I think that this rule can apply to most people, whether they are facing health challenges or not.

This week, I wanted to create something light and colorful.  I’ve been missing my little garden back in Illinois, and I think this project is the next best thing.  Playing around with ganache is just as rewarding as playing in the dirt, am I right?

For this DIY dessert, I was inspired by SPOT Dessert Bar, which serves a larger potted treat garnished by a sprig of parsley, seemingly growing in the flower pot.  I decided to use edible pansy flowers instead.  Pansies are so much prettier than parsley!  I filled each mini pot with layers of ganache and streusel.

Scroll down for the recipes, and let me know how your edible garden turns out!

Ganache

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions:

  1. Bring cream to a simmer on the stove.
  2. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for one minute.
  3. Slowly whisk the chocolate and cream, starting from the center.  It will soon have a soupy consistency.  Let set, and it will become thicker like frosting.

Streusel

Ingredients:

  1. 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  3. 6 ounces butter
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Over low heat, melt butter in a pot over the stove.
  2. Add all the other ingredients and fully incorporate.

Assembly: Pour alternating layers of streusel and ganache into the mini flower pots.  Start with the streusel, so that the ganache doesn’t escape out of any holes on the bottom of the pot.  Garnish with an edible flower, such as a pansy.  I picked these up from Eataly.

On Cloud Nine: Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies

Recovering from a two day dessert festival and reveling in its sugar coma aftermath, I feel like I didn’t do as much baking as usual this week.

To keep track of my pastry progress, my friend thinks that I should include a butter count on my blog… some sort of widget that shows the number of butter sticks that I use during the week.  What do you think?  The count this week would be rather low, but I managed to throw together some of these alluring vanilla almond orange cloud cookies from a Joy the Baker recipe.

After fighting through the smog of your daily grind, it’s possible to recognize that you’ve actually been on cloud nine the whole time.  Busyness can distract you from the fact that you are actually achieving your goals and (somehow) managing to squeeze in some fun!  This week, between phone meetings and scrambling to feel like I accomplished everything on my March to-do list, I was able to see Samantha Bee live in the studio, indulge in a vegan rainbow latte from the ultra adorable Chinatown nook The Good Sort, and hunt down an art opening featuring Yoshitomo Nara, probably my favorite artist of all time.  I’ve even gotten closer to a tattoo decision that I’ve been deliberating on (sorry, mom).  Next week is looking pretty snazzy as well, with the opening of Eggslut (assemble, brunch gang!) and a film screening at the Japan Society.

Make a batch of these cloud cookies and celebrate the fact that your life is slowly but surely drifting in the right direction.  Each mouthful is like taking a bite of a flawless fluffy cumulus cloud that is catching the spring sunlight in just the right way…  You know the clouds; the perfect ones that hover over your picnic blanket in Bryant Park.

If you like chewy cookies, this is THE cookie for you.  The almond paste gives the cookies a marzipan-y level of chewiness, and the orange zest brightens up the almond flavor.  It was invigorating to work with oranges instead of the typical lemon for a change.

Scroll down for the recipe!

Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies

This is Joy The Baker’s recipe, with a few slight alterations! (makes 18 to 21 cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 ounces almond paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • powdered sugar (for dusting)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare two non-stick baking sheets and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together granulated sugar, orange zest, and vanilla extract.
  3. Place sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, using a paddle attachment.  Add the almond paste and salt.  Beat on medium speed creating a crumbly sugar and almond mixture.
  4. While almond mixture is combining in the mixer, place two egg whites in a small bowl.  Whisk  with a fork until loose and frothy.  This will help in pouring the egg whites into the mixer.  If the eggs are unbeaten, the eggs won’t pour smoothly.
  5. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually pour the egg whites in to the crumbly almond and sugar mixture.  Beat until a smooth paste is formed.  Add the almond extract and beat to combine.
  6. Scoop batter by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet (it will be too sticky to roll).  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  7. Bake cookies for 25 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned on top (mine took a little longer).  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan before transferring to a cooling rack.