Pink Sea Salt Chocolate Tart

Chefs, meet the centerpiece of your holiday dessert table. This gorgeous chocolate tart strikes the perfect balance between elegant and unfussy—if you don’t have Raaka chocolate, feel free to use your favorite dark chocolate (we recommend at least 70% cacao). Either way, don’t skip the sea salt garnish! The salty flakes help to cut through the rich ganache.  Pink Sea Salt Tart_Head

Pink Sea Salt Chocolate Tart

Active Cook Time: 15-25 minutes

Inactive Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Makes: 12 Servings


10 Ounces Shortbread Cookies

1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar

6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted

12.6 Ounces Raaka Pink Sea Salt Chocolate, chopped (7 bars)

1 ¼ Cups Heavy Cream

½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

½ Teaspoon Sea Salt


Make the crust: Place the shortbread cookies in a food processor. Pulse until the cookies are finely ground. Add the sugar and butter. Pulse until the mixture is moistened and the consistency of wet sand. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill until the crust has set, at least 30 minutes.

Make the ganache: Place the chocolate in a large, heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream to boiling on medium-high. Once boiling, remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes. Using a spatula, stir until thoroughly combined. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Assemble & serve the tart: Pour the ganache into the chilled crust. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill until the ganache has set, about 1 hour. Garnish with the sea salt. Enjoy!


Red, White and Blueberries: Celebrate the 4th with This Sumptuous Berry Dessert


The sight of farmers’ market tables and roadside stands, laden with ripe produce—smooth-skinned squash in the winter giving way to bright, plump and deeply fragrant fruits in spring and early summer—is one of our favorite ways to mark the changing seasons. Now, as summer begins to heat up, we’ve set our sights on those characteristic green lattice baskets filled with soft, jewel-toned strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.

The most flavorful berries come from local farms during their peak growing seasons, where crops can be harvested and delivered to nearby farmers’ markets and produce stands in just a day or two (or in some cases, mere hours). With just a quick stop to pick up a pint or two in the morning, you’ll get fruits bursting with sun-ripened flavor that deserve to be eaten immediately and with great abandon.

If you can hold out on devouring the gorgeous, juicy berries right when they land on your kitchen counter (but we don’t blame you if you can’t), we recommend whipping up this festive red, white and blue Eton mess. It’s a seasonal showstopper fit for your 4th of July gathering.

We’re also working on a few more easy recipes featuring summer’s best berries, so stay tuned for more ways to use the abundance of seasonal fruits in the coming weeks.

Mixed Berry Eton Mess with Meringues

eaton-mess-6_808x539With its swirls of whipped cream, sweet meringue crumbles and a pile of seasonal strawberries, there’s a reason Eton mess (named for the boys boarding school where it’s said to have been invented) is a beloved British treat. Here, we’ve updated the classic dessert with 4th of July colors, but don’t be afraid to mix and match berries depending on what’s best near you!

3 Large Egg Whites
⅔ Cup White Sugar
4 Ounces Mixed Berries (or Berry of your choice)
1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
½ Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Tablespoons Confectioner’s Sugar (or White)


1. Make the meringue batter

Preheat the oven to 225°F. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Slowly add all but 1 tablespoon of the white sugar and continue beating 7 to 8 minutes, or until glossy peaks form.


2. Bake the meringues

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer the meringue batter to a piping bag and pipe about 30 mounds, each about 1 inch in diameter, onto the lined baking sheets. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until crispy. Leaving the meringues inside, turn off the oven and let cool 1 hour and 30 minutes.


Chef’s Tip: If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a resealable plastic bag with one corner snipped off. If your parchment is being unruly, use the meringue batter to “”glue” it down in the 4 corners of the baking sheet.

3. Macerate the berries

While the meringues bake, hull and halve the strawberries. Halve the blueberries. In a small bowl, stir together the berries, vinegar and remaining white sugar. Let stand to marinate, stirring occasionally, until the meringues have cooled.

4. Make the whipped cream & assemble

In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the confectioner’s sugar and whisk until thickened. Divide the baked meringues between 4 bowls. Top each with a dollop of the whipped cream and the macerated berries.

Happy Fourth!

How One Pizza Lover Became a Pie Maker: The Story of Nice Pizza

nice pizza5
All photos by Matt Borowick

The more you cook, the better you get: practice, of course, makes perfect. So when your business is pizza and your life includes tons of pizza-making, long-term experience creates better crusts, sauces, and techniques. We talked to one pizza devotee to see how he became a master.

Benjamin Duff’s first pizza pie came out a triangle. Since this geometric accident, his pizzas are a lot more circular shaped – and always satisfyingly delicious. From eating pizza twice a week as a child, the owner of Nice Pizzeria in Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn has rolled out hundreds and hundreds of pizzas, so he knows a thing or two about making some good dough.

nice pizza1

nice pizza4

“Did you know that the French eat more pizza than the Italians?” offers Duff, a native of Nice, in southern France. “Nice used to be Italian 150 years ago, but it was given back to the French by Giuseppe Garibaldi. There is a lot of Italian influence, all the names are Italians, all the street names are Italian – they really stayed Italian.”

“My oldest friend, Leonnard Mallo, owns a pizza truck in Nice. He taught me everything about pizza.” Everything. Duff didn’t know how to make a pizza until he opened his pizzeria. He says he mastered the pizza-making process on the job. “As you get busy, you get it.”

Duff’s light as air pizzas are actually way thinner than the Italians’ (if you can imagine it), made using a machine bought from France that flattens the dough very thin. This makes is crispy when it bakes, “and people like crispy,” he says. How he makes “French” pizza, as he calls it, goes like this:

nice pizza2

Above all, have quality ingredients. When making a very simple dish you must have the finest ingredients. All of his ingredients are fresh, and nothing’s canned or frozen. His enchanting “La Baltique” was crowned with pleasantly acidic tomato sauce, moist mozzarella cheese, smoked salmon, lush heavy cream, mushrooms and capers.

nice pizza6

As for the dough: “Everybody’s got their own little thing, but at the end of the day it’s flour, water, salt, oil, and yeast,” says Duff. You have to find your own proportions.

He uses the “Rolls Royce of the flours,” a high grade, double-zero flour. Instead of using Cantalet cheese as he would in France, Duff uses a sprinkle of fresh, milky mozzarella to achieve a cheesy pie. While many choose to top off their pies with a shake of cracked red pepper, Duff (as the French do) prefers a drizzle of spicy homemade oil. Another one of Duff’s master tips: Work the dough for 30 minutes and let it sit for 1 hour. Then, use a lot of flour to prevent sticking.

nice pizza3

What did he learn through all this pizza making, from France to the streets of Brooklyn? keep it fresh, keep it simple.Continue reading “How One Pizza Lover Became a Pie Maker: The Story of Nice Pizza”

Homemade Granola with Cardamom & Chia Seeds

Cardamom & Chia Granola
Freshly toasted homemade granola

History repeats itself–breakfast history, particularly. Let’s hurtle back to the turn of the 20th century. Before that, Americans were farm-workers, and they needed serious sustenance in the mornings. Eggs, meat, puddings, pies, and cheese were standard 8am feast materials. But around this time, desk jobs came into fashion, and sedentary lifestyles combined with the fatty fare to give the country a bad case of indigestion. Enter: homemade granola.

Within a few years, two companies, Kellogg and Post (recognize the names?) were both selling grain-based cereals meant to help wean their countrymen from scrapple, bacon, and sausage for breakfast. That’s when granola (then known as granula) entered the scene, too–it was simply one crispy baked cereal on a burgeoning shelf of health-food products. Sounds a little bit like today!

This granola has a couple of ingredients that are coming into their own today, just as grain-based breakfasts were gaining popularity back then.

First, we’ve got buckwheat. You might have seen buckwheat flour or buckwheat noodles (aka soba) at the grocery store. Whole buckwheat groats are the nutritious little seeds from which that flour is made; when toasted they become crunchy and nutty. Although “wheat” is contained within the word, buckwheat is naturally gluten-free and contains a ton of protein and amino acids. That plus the protein in the almonds makes this a nutritionally beneficial and satisfying breakfast.

Cardamom & Chia Granola

Next up, coconut oil. Solid at room temperature, the buttery oil delivers a subtle hit of coconut. Many people believe that the high dose of saturated fat in unprocessed coconut oil is good for you!

Chia seeds used to be famous only for the topiaries they could grow. Today, health-foodies snatch them up for their high calcium and omega-3 content.

Almonds, oats, maple syrup, and flakes of sea salt round out this marvelous granola that’s no less delicious for being right on trend–both today and way back in time.

Cardamom & Chia Granola | Blue Apron

So get ready to jump in by making this deliciously fragrant granola, which will fill your kitchen with aromas reminiscent of chai tea. Serve with yogurt or with milk, and if you choose milk, you may find yourself slurping the chai-like remains straight from the bowl.

Cardamom Granola | Big Girls Small Kitchen

Get the recipe below.

Continue reading “Homemade Granola with Cardamom & Chia Seeds”

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

Buttermilk Pancakes | Blue Apron

You need to know how to make pancakes. You, with the expertise in meatball formation and molten chocolate cake-baking and summer roll assembly. Pancakes are essential breakfast food, because they’re not so much a food as an expression of love.

Plus, they’re essentially easy, a little batter mixed up and then cooked on the stove. It’s all right there in the name, “pan” and “cake.” To make the batter, you’ll want two bowls, and a couple of items from your fridge and pantry. First, you mix the wet ingredients together (eggs, buttermilk, melted butter).Buttermilk Pancakes | Blue Apron

Which you then combine with the dry (flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda). Stir together, not worrying if you leave a few lumps. Then, cook the batter in a large, flat pan. That’s it, that’s really it. Which means you should put down that pancake mix right this second. You don’t need it.
Buttermilk Pancakes | Blue Apron

One thing…if you can’t find buttermilk, here’s a trick: combine the same amount of milk (regular or 2%) with the juice of half a lemon, some vinegar, or a big dollop of yogurt with live cultures. Let the two sit together, hanging out, for about half an hour, then go ahead with the pancake recipe. You’ll have just created homemade buttermilk!Buttermilk Pancakes | Blue Apron

Here’s one final thing you should know about pancakes: sometimes the first pancake just doesn’t come out right. The pan is too hot or the pan is too cold. You haven’t salted enough. You used too big a scoop of batter. That’s okay. Toss the first one (or eat it yourself–cook’s snack!), and keep on going, adjusting the heat or seasoning or size as needed. The rest of the pancakes will be perfect, or close enough.Buttermilk Pancakes | Blue Apron

Get the whole recipe below!
Continue reading “Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes”

Ingredient Love: All About Quick Breads

Sometimes a name really does say it all. Quick breads are the faster sibling of yeast breads, which we dug into with our first bread post. While there’s no denying the satisfaction of a fresh baguette whose inception has been 72 hours in the making, quick breads promise their own delight. From sweet to savory, standalone breakfast items to dinner add-ons, these breads may come to life quickly, but they are undoubtedly worth savoring for a long, long time.

The difference between yeast and quick breads is the type of leavening agent used to make them rise. Whether you’re a master chef or you just figured out how to turn on a toaster oven yesterday, you can guess the leavener for yeast breads (hint: look up to the first sentence of this post). The answer for quick breads isn’t as easy, so let’s just skip to the punch line: baking soda or baking powder. Unlike yeast, both of these leaveners react immediately when exposed to a liquid, so there’s no need to let quick bread dough sit and rise. It’s actually advised to do just the opposite: bake your quick bread as soon as you’ve mixed all the ingredients together.

Just as we had Bien Cuit’s Zach Golpher help guide us through yeast breads, we have another expert to share some behind-the-scenes details of the quick bread world. Amy Scherber is the founder of Amy’s Bread, an award-winning New York City bakery that opened its doors in 1992. Before Amy got up the nerves to write the business plan for what began as a small storefront in Hell’s Kitchen, she did what any aspiring baker does: She found an incredible mentor and worked with him to build up her baking chops.

For Amy, that mentor was Tom Colicchio, and the restaurant was Mondrian. Under Tom’s wing, Amy created breads to support the restaurant’s stellar entrées. Amy describes her time at Mondrian as invaluable, but as soon as she built up enough expertise, she turned back to her real passion, making bread the star of the show. And, at her namesake company, there’s no arguing that it’s front and center.

To begin our exploration of quick breads, let’s look at one that may seem, to the untrained eye, like a yeast bread (you can consider your eyes trained at the end of this post!).

Irish Soda Bread

Similar in look, texture, and even taste to many yeast breads, Irish Soda Bread is one of the original* quick breads. Dating back to the 1840s, when sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda) was first introduced to Ireland, this bread was only a slight departure from yeast breads: Wheat flour (same), buttermilk (instead of water), baking soda (instead of yeast), and salt. In the years following its debut – which began in economically poor communities for whom the non-perishable and inexpensive baking soda was a choice ingredient – more luxurious ingredients like sugar and caraway seeds started making their way into the recipe. These additions are what many Americans associate with Irish Soda Bread today, making it a bread that straddles the line between sweet and savory. Which is exactly how it ended up on Amy’s menu. “Customers were asking for something they could eat for breakfast, that wasn’t too sweet,” says Amy. Lucky for her, one of her bakers had an Irish grandmother with a family recipe, who was generous enough to share with the bakery. This adaptation, which comes chock full of “voluptuous raisins” is the perfect way to satisfy a slight morning sweet tooth. The acidity of the buttermilk keeps it a bit tart, so a pat of silky soft butter ties the whole thing together: Sweet, sour, savory. Happy breakfast.

*For the trivia buffs amongst you: There are soda breads that pre-date the Irish version. As early as the 1700s, Native Americans were using pearl ash (an early baking soda predecessor) to leaven bread. And recipes for quick breads were first recorded in 1796 in the American Cookery book by Amelia Simons.

(Cherry Cream) Scones

Sticking with morning-appropriate quick breads, let’s talk about scones. While there is still a debate over their country of origin (England vs. Scotland), no one argues that they are delicious. The nuts and bolts of scones are rather simple: flour, sugar, baking soda and/or powder, butter, milk, and eggs. It’s their affinity for additional ingredients that makes them so special. Amy’s bakes a swath of different scones, but an all-time crowd favorite is the cherry cream scone, which nods to a more traditional British approach, in which heavy cream is used as both the liquid and the fat (instead of a combination of butter and milk). This two-in-one substitute ensures that the scone stays particularly tender and rich, which is why the tart cherry is such a perfect pairing. So whether you’re enjoying it with an afternoon tea – in true Brit form – or not, you’re in for a treat.

Country Biscuits

A Google search for “biscuit recipes” returns 9,370,000 results. There is a brand inspired by them (Bisquick) and they’ve been paired with other foods to make some of the most memorable food duos (biscuits and gravy, anyone?). So to say biscuits are a “popular quick bread” would be a severe understatement. But we all know that a flaky, tender, fall-apart-fluffy biscuit isn’t easily made. So how does Amy do it? For starters, shortening. Giving credit to the American south, Amy says this is the only fat you can use for good biscuits. Her other tip? Don’t over-mix the dough. That flakiness comes from a gentle handling. Amy can vouch for the popularity of the biscuit: to keep up with customer demand, the bakers at Amy’s often find themselves staring at an entire industrial-size countertop covered corner to corner in biscuit dough, just begging to be cut in to perfect, oven-bound rounds.


Like biscuits, cornbread is another quick bread often associated with the American South. While its origins date back hundreds of years, to when Native Americans first ground corn to make a cook-able meal (literally), cornbread has a prominent place in modern cuisine. From classic BBQ or chili side, to Thanksgiving stuffing star, one of cornbread’s most standout traits is its texture. This grainy and toothsome feel comes from a combination of cornmeal and regular white flour, and helps cornbread stand up to spreads and sauces alike. (Some recipes use cornmeal entirely, which yields an even grainier, rustic outcome.) At Amy’s, cornbread texture gets taken to the next level with creamed corn that’s full of big, sweet kernels. Amy explains: “Cornmeal is so absorbent that is can take a lot of liquid,” which is why they add this alongside the traditional buttermilk. While purists may appreciate their cornbread best as is, it’s a quick bread that’s open to adaptation, from ingredient addition to form and presentation: Add dried cranberries to make it holiday appropriate. Cheddar cheese and jalapeño give it a southwestern flare. Make it into snack-able muffins (like Amy does), spread it flat on a sheet pan for perfect square cuts, or get very house-on-the-prairie and bake it in a cast iron skillet.

Banana Bran and Walnut Muffin

Some consider them breakfast. Others, dessert. But no matter what time of day you chose to eat a muffin, it’s hard to not be satisfied. One of the more indulgent quick breads (there’s a quite a bit of sugar, butter or oil, and often vanilla extract), muffins may also be one of the most creative. Think of a muffin recipe as a blank canvas, ready for the artful addition of your favorite ingredients. After plenty of her own experimentation, one of the most popular muffins on Amy’s menu (and Amy’s personal favorite) is the banana bran and walnut muffin. “I created this muffin for myself because I love the coarse texture of the bran with the sweetness of the ripe bananas, and the toasty flavor of the walnuts,” says Amy. When it comes to getting a crunchy muffin top – a characteristic so crucial to a successful muffin that an entire episode of Seinfeld was based on it – Amy has a tip: “There’s a lot of cold, dense batter when the muffin tin goes in to the oven, so you need a higher temperature to start.” Give the muffins 10 minutes at higher heat (~450°F) before turning it down to a more moderate 375°F for the rest of the bake time. Then invite friends over so you can show off!


Quick breads are perfectly friendly for new cooks and plenty challenging for seasoned ones. So whether you’re just dipping your toe in to the bread-baking world or are ready to try your 18th biscuit recipe, there’s a quick bread out there for you. Because, despite their name, these breads are worth slowing down for, so you can enjoy every bite, as leisurely as you like.

Up Next: Flatbreads and a trip around the world.

This piece is by Veronica Wilson. Among her former colleagues, Veronica is known as “the girl who started a breakfast club at the office.” From first-time canning to weeknight experiments, Veronica is a food lover but not necessarily a food “professional,” an eater who enjoys finding ways to delight in food every day.