chocolate & pretzels

as you're busy planning your thanksgiving menu, here's a little treat to make you drool! after thursday, when you need a break from all things pumpkin and turkey, try making this rich, salty, sweet dessert. this recipe is adapted from an old issue of Food & Wine magazine and we decided peanut butter was a perfect addition to the pretzel and chocolate combination.

check out the latest post in our mad props series here - a warm german scene with gold crackle plates, weisswurst and sauerkraut.

finally got to the new amsterdam market for the smorrebrod table 2010 and the rye bread project which was great! also got to meet fellow big leo food stylist Heidi Johannsen and taste some of her delicious and beautiful tea from Bellocq.

Chocolate Pretzel Tart
serves 8

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups coarsely crushed pretzels
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 egg
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 lb bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbs maldon sea salt for garnish
in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter with 3/4 cup pretzels and confectioner's sugar on low speed until creamy. beat in flour and eggs. add remaining 1/2 cup pretzels and mix, leaving some pieces intact. flatten the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes.
preheat oven to 350 degrees F. roll out the dough between the sheets of plastic wrap to a 12-inch round. peel off the top sheet and invert dough over a 10-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. press the dough into the corners and patch any tears. trim the overhanging dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes. line the shell with parchment and pie weights or dried beans and bake 30 minutes. remove the parchment and bake 8-12 minutes more or until firm and set. let the shell cool completely. using a small offset spatula, spread the peanut butter into a thin even layer and refrigerate while making the chocolate filling.
in a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. turn off heat and add chocolate, let stand 5 minutes. whisk until completely smooth. let filling cool slightly before pouring into the shell and smoothing with spatula. sprinkle with sea salt and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.



we've pickled stuff before here and have been working for months on our own classic dill pickle recipe to share but here are two new pickled things we recently came across. lately we can't get enough vinegar, lemon juice or anything acidic - don't know exactly what this means but the honeycrisp apple kimchi with jowl bacon at momofuku ssam bar we had at dinner a few nights ago was a great way to satisfy our craving! the recipe for spiced pickled beets is adapted from this book and reminds me so much of the pickled beets that found their way onto our dinner plate many nights growing up. the pickled fennel is adapted from an old Food & Wine magazine recipe and we're still trying to figure out how to work it into an ice cold martini recipe!

Spiced Pickled Beets
makes 1 pint

1 1/2 pounds raw beets, unpeeled
2 cups red wine vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
6 whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
wash the beets and trim the tops, being careful not to cut into the beets. leave roots intact. add the remaining ingredients to a large heavy bottomed stainless steel pan and bring to a boil. reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer 1-2 hours or until beets are tender when pierced with a skewer. left the beets out of the liquid and cool. peel and slice into 1/4-inch slices. pack into a pint jar and top with strained cooking liquid. keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Pickled Fennel
makes 1 pint

3/4 cup water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground cinnamon
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored & cut into matchsticks
in a shallow dish, combine water, vinegar, salt, sugar, cloves and cinnamon and stir. fill a jar with fennel and cover with liquid. refrigerate overnight and serve lightly chilled.


sweet paul

we have been holding our breath with excitement for the last few months since we were asked to be contributors to the wonderful magazine sweet paul!! for those of you who are not familiar with him, paul is an amazing talented prop and food stylist who we are happy to share a agency with. he started this fantastic magazine and this holiday issue is issue 3 of many to come. and well, today is the day, we can share and see our fun little holiday brunch spread, complete with a great layout and surrounded by a great cast of photographers, stylists and writers. please click to visit the new issue and check back soon for updates full of recipes and photos.