Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Design: Chairs

©Briana Campbell, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dinner For Two: Spicy Chocolate Tart

A few nights ago I made dinner for a special gentleman friend.  I wanted to make something delicious and romantic and kind of sexy.  I wanted it to taste yummy and, more importantly, I wanted my friend to really like it.

By the way, I like to wear a cute apron, like the one I made a while back, when cooking for others.  While it does protect your cute date-night outfit, it's also an important addition to it.

The meal started with a mushroom risotto and an endive/watercress salad with a really simple vinaigrette.  I think risotto is a great date-night meal - it's not too complicated, has a lot of flavor and you can do so much with it.  Done right, it's impressive and thoughtful.  Though you need to constantly stir, you can sip a glass of wine and chat while you're tending to the meal.  And having your hunny in the kitchen with you is always sexy.

What topped off the meal, though, was dessert.  Knowing my friend is a chocolate lover, I wanted to challenge myself to make a creative and amazing dessert that we would both really enjoy.  Okay.  Okay.  I wanted to make something that he would love.

While at the Greenpoint Food Market this weekend, we came across a really interesting jam - a collaboration of two awesome indie food-makers - and it was that find that was the inspiration for my chocolate tart.

Brooklyn's Anarchy in a Jar and Mama O's Kimchee were selling a little something they call Anarchy Mama, a sweet a spicy grapefruit jam infused with kimchee spice.  It might sound a little strange to some, but it is totally amazing.  And, as Kheedim of Mama O's had promised that it would "totally get [me] to second base," it seemed only appropriate to somehow add it to my romantic dinner menu.

Spice and chocolate are a no-brainer and this simple tart is delicious, with layers of flavor that hit the sweet, salty and spicy parts of your tongue.  If your date is a chocolate lover, I guarantee that this dessert will get you at least to third!

my inspiration

The recipe is based  on a recipe for a chocolate-citrus tart with jasmine infused whipped cream I found on Epicurious.  I substituted three heaping tablespoons of Anarchy Mama for the citrus zest the recipe calls for and some Mighty Leaf Orange Dulce Tea for the Jasmine tea called for in the recipe.

the tea for infusing the cream, as this is a really good tea, I only used two bags, as opposed to the two the recipe called for

The recipe from

* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup all purpose flour

* 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
* 1/2 teaspoon (lightly packed) finely grated blood orange peel or orange peel
* 1/2 teaspoon (lightly packed) finely grated pink grapefruit peel

* 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
* 1/4 cup boiling water


For crust:
Combine first 4 ingredients in bowl. Add flour and stir just until blended; let stand 5 minutes. Press dough onto bottom and up sides of 9- to 91/2-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Chill 30 minutes.

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Bake crust until deep golden, pressing down with back of spoon if bubbles form, about 25 minutes. Cool crust in pan on rack.

For filling:
Combine chocolate, butter, and both peels in medium metal bowl. Place bowl in skillet of barely simmering water set over low heat. Stir just until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Remove bowl from water. Place fine strainer over bowl with melted chocolate. Keep skillet with water set over low heat.

Whisk egg yolk in small metal bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in 1/4 cup boiling water. Place bowl in skillet of hot water; stir constantly with heatproof rubber spatula, scraping bottom of bowl to prevent egg from cooking, until instant-read thermometer inserted into egg mixture registers 160°F, about 3 minutes. Immediately pour egg mixture into strainer set over bowl of chocolate. Stir just until egg is incorporated into chocolate and mixture is smooth.

Pour chocolate filling into crust; tilt slightly to spread evenly (crust will not be completely filled). Cover and chill overnight or up to 2 days. Before serving, let tart soften slightly at room temperature.

Remove pan sides. Place tart on platter. Using pastry bag fitted with star tip, pipe whipped cream rosettes around edge of tart. Garnish with candied peel.

a close up of the delectable cream

Whipped Cream

* 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
* 1 tablespoon good-quality loose-leaf jasmine tea or 3 jasmine tea bags

* 1 tablespoon sugar

Combine chilled cream and tea in bowl. Cover; chill overnight or up to 2 days.

Strain cream-tea mixture through fine strainer into mixing bowl; discard solids. Add sugar; beat until peaks form.

yummy dessert!

We both really enjoyed this. The slight tea flavor (and big tea smell) go wonderfully with the sweetness of the chocolate and the kimchee jam I used in lieu of the citrus peel in the recipe above provided a subtle, spicy finish to the tart. I used all semi-sweet chocolate this time, and, while my gentleman friend really enjoyed it, I think next time I will use a mixture of semi and bittersweet chocolate or a really dark chocolate to cut some of the sweetness from the dish.

All in all, dinner was a great success.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Blog DIY Inspiration: Colette Patterns

I recently discovered Colette Patterns and am so inspired by her patterns, and her site in general.  Designer Sarai Mitnick has lots of fun patterns and links to books and fabric and other craft sites.  She also has a section called Make It Work, all about starting one's own business.

I'm really looking forward to making these cute mini-bloomers from this great website!

Download the free pattern here.

Let me know if you make your own! I'd love to see them!
Send pics to unemployedbrooklyn [at] and I'll put them up on the blog when I post my own.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I wanted to make some really special "thank you" cards to send to the creative team of The Martha Stewart Show - to show them my appreciation for the day spent with them, but also to show them what I can do with some paper and an Exacto knife!

I decided to print out some designs I had drawn last semester for my textile design class at FIT and use them as background for a slim silhouette of a wintry tree. I found a jpeg of a tree online and, using Photoshop, turned it into a silhouette that I would be able to cut with an Exacto and cutting board.  I chose an orange Ginko leaf on a blue background and pink butterflies sitting on pale pink and yellow cherry blossoms for the ground of my cards and cut the trees from traditional black paper.

 the template for the tree silhouette (in pink) and the cut out tree on black card stock

 the cut out and folded card with the Ginko leaf designed paper 
(if you can't make your own designed paper, a pretty wrapping paper or piece of scrapbooking paper would work well)

a close up of the completed card, with the butterfly/cherry blossom design

Friday, February 12, 2010

Be Mine

Ah, gentle readers, it's that time of year again, St. Valentine's Day.  A day we either delight in or despise.  Me?  I'm of two minds about it, but you can't deny that there are loads of cute, cool and crafty things one can do with a heart-shaped theme.

I had originally planned to post some of my personal V-day crafts on here - but, as my computer has been sitting at Tek Serve for the past week, my blogging has been...  let's just say I am well behind in all things blog/computer/e-mail related.  So, instead of a something of my own creation, here are a few Valentine's Day to-dos that I have come across in my internet wanderings:

An adorable mini-megaphone from Design*Sponge

Lacy paper Valentines from Craftzine

Jojo's Brownie Bites via Craftster

A love-themed succulent garden from Ready-Made

A delicious prosecco based cocktail from Martha

Also, for those of you in the New York area, be sure to check out the Greenpoint Food Market this Saturday for a Valentine's Day themed experience - loads of great food vendors, a secret food-mirer wall and a kissing/photo booth should prove fun for everyone - attached or not!

image courtesy The Black Apple (check out her site and Etsy shop for loads of other cool work)