chocolate sesame tart with grapefruit

i joined the town gym yesterday. i returned from my post-hawaii weekend in winnipeg (eggboy played a trombone concert!), applied a layer of activewear, and then acquired access to the best indoor waterpark in grand forks, along with some other stuff, like free weights and possibly a steam room. i haven't done enough exploring in the locker room yet to confirm that there is actually a steam room, and tbh i don't really want to *explore the locker room* and all of its bare body parts, i just want someone to give me a direct route to the steam room, if there is one. but i have a good hunch. i may also even start going to yoga classes again because these days i can't even do 30 seconds of yoga in my living room without looking at the twitter, it's atrocious. the only downside about the gym is that it takes 23 minutes by car to get there, 24 if there's traffic, but (!) i'm knee deep in research about how to make the most of my car time by way of audio hebrew lessons and i'm extremely excited about it. (do you have an recs? is rosetta stone the way to go?)

in other words, i'm moving into a post-book-deadline world and beginning some things i've been wanting to do for the past year but put aside in an effort to make my deadlines. i have a list on my phone, i'm rereading it now. "learn hebrew" and "have a bat mitzvah" are at the top, "watch every mary-kate and ashley movie ever made" and "eat no food" were all likely added during the most stressful times, and "go blonde" is something i probably won't stop thinking about until i try it. 

and then of course there is the assumed "make other people's recipes that have me foaming at the mouth." so many beautiful cookbooks were birthed this spring and i'm basically floored that all of the people behind these books went through the cookbook writing process that i'm going through right now and that they're all still alive, breathing, considering doing it again, etc. it's reassuring. it makes me appreciate cookbooks even more. and today, right now, as my rhubarb patch is beginning to poke its little nose out of the ground, i'm cuddling up with yossy arefi's sweeter off the vine, a stunning ode to fruit dessertshave you ever met yossy? i think she is the calmest human on the face of the planet. her voice is exactly the one that i need in my head while i try new things (like supremeing a grapefruit or baking a gooseberry into a buckle) or attempt things that typically cause me lots of frustration (anything involving a tart shell or pie crust). it's trustworthy and encouraging, and it all shows through so well in this book, well enough to make me question my staunch preference for nutty desserts over fruity ones. and of course today we are starting with the token tahini recipe, this chocolate tart. it's sour, salty, chocolatey, and nutty, and my favorite part about making it was learning this new thing called supremeinggood luck! don't chop your fingers off, for a tasty tart awaits you at the end. 

chocolate sesame tart with grapefruit

from yossy arefi's sweeter off the vine

makes one 13 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangular tart (or four small tarts, pictured)


1 chocolate tart shell, recipe below

2 medium grapefruit, scrubbed and dried

3/4 c sugar

6 oz chopped semisweet chocolate

1/2 c heavy cream

1/4 c tahini

1 tsp smoked flaky sea salt


grate the zest of one of the grapefruit and measure 1 teaspoon of zest. supreme the grapefruit: cut off the tops and bottoms of the fruits, then with a very sharp knife, cut the white pith away from the outside of the fruit. over a medium saucepan, carefully cut the wedges of fruit away from the membrane, letting the fruit and juices fall into the pan. remove any seeds that have fallen in. add the sugar and zest to the pan and stir to combine. bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grapefruit segments break down and the mixture thickens and reduces by about half, 7 to 12 minutes. pour the mixture into a heat-safe container and let cool to room temperature. it will seem syrupy right out of the pan, but should be the consistency of a thick, sticky jam or marmalade when cool.

add the chopped chocolate to a heat-safe bowl. bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan and pour it over the chocolate. let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. whisk in the tahini.

spread a thin (1/8"-1/4"), even layer of the grapefruit marmalade (you may not use it all) onto the baked and cooled tart shell. pour the warm ganache over the top and smooth with an offset spatula. chill the tart until firm, at least 1 hour and up to overnight, before serving. 

sprinkle with the smoked salt and cut the tart into thin slices. store leftovers in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic, for up to three days. the jam will soften the tart shell over time. 

chocolate tart shell


1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1/3 c cocoa powder

1/3 c firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 tsp instant espresso powder

1/2 tsp salt

10 tb unsalted butter, cold and cubed

1 tb cold water, as needed


whisk the whole egg, egg yolk, and vanilla together in a small bowl. in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in a bowl using a pastry blender, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, espresso powder, and salt. pulse to combine. add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. add the egg mixture and pulse until it is evenly distributed and the dough starts to hold together. it may appear to be a bit crumbly but should hold together easily when pressed. if the dough does not hold together when pressed, pulse in the water 1 teaspoon at a time.

lightly butter a tart pan and press the dough into the pan, making sure to evenly coat the bottom and sides with 1/8"-1/4" of dough. save a bit of dough just in case you have to repair any cracks after baking the shell. freeze the shell for 30 minutes. 

preheat the oven to 375ºf and line the frozen shell with a piece of aluminum foil, shiny side down. bake the tart shell (no need for pie weights) until it is beginning to brown, about 15 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake until the shell is completely cooked through. if the shell puffs up while baking, carefully use an offset spatula to gently press it back into the pan. repair any cracks that may have formed with the reserved dough. baked shells or unbaked dough will keep in the freezer, well wrapped, for up to three months. thaw in the refrigerator before filling baked shells or using unbaked dough. 


citrus confetti cake

even though i had my little wedding cake flop and then chopped off the better part of my left index finger while leveling a cake yesterday, i have been spending these last few days leading up to christmas and the wedding the best way i know how: by baking and decorating cakes. usually when i want to make a cake, i wait until there's a birthday or other party approaching so that there will actually be people to eat the cake, but this week there's christmas and hanukkah and the wedding and a bunch of family and friends in town, so i have a zillion million reasons to make cake and it is a dream come true. 

the cherry on top was that eggboy surprised me with a little tv for the kitchen and cable!!!!! we even get a canadian channel, and it had ice dancing on it yesterday, which i watched while eating a big quesadilla covered in ketchup. cake decorating, ice dancing, cheese, ooh (!) and finally a thin sheet of snow on the ground, it's like the universe *knows* me. 

this citrus confetti cake is going to be my gift at the egg family's white elephant christmas gift exchange! i'm so excited. it comes from april carter's new book, decorated, which has pretty much been my bible all week. i think i've flipped through its pretty pages hundreds of times by now, and it took me forever to decide which cake to make first. i was really tempted by her gingerbread cake with whiskey caramel and apple, parsnip, and rosemary cake, but then when i remembered that citrus can be wintery too (i always forget that), i knew that this would be the one. it even comes with a how-to for homemade confetti sprinkles!! 

i made a half batch of april's recipe out of fear that we wouldn't have enough room to store all of the cakes that i'm making. it's a shame that the kitties are so curious because otherwise we could just put all of these desserts outside in our big farm-sized deep freeze. but it's ok, i've been wanting to use my new mini green cake stand anyway (thanks, egg mama!). the cake halved perfectly. i baked it in two 6" tins instead of two 8" tins, and then the only other thing i did differently was that i used marzipan instead of fondant for the sprinkles because i seem to always have a small chunk of leftover marzipan in my fridge waiting to be used. the cake is delicious-- a nice sturdy crumb, and that curd!! i could have eaten it all with a spoon. i'm so excited to try all of the other cakes in this stunning book! yay, april!! 

citrus confetti cake

slightly adapted from april carter's decorated

makes 1 large 8-inch cake



450 g (1 lb) unsalted butter

620 g (1 lb 6 oz/ 2 3/4 c) sugar

8 medium eggs

620 g (1 lb 6 oz/5 c) flour

5 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

250 ml (9 fl oz) whole milk

grated zest of 4 unwaxed oranges

grated zest of 4 unwaxed lemons


400 g (14 oz) unsalted butter, softened

10 medium egg whites

450 g (1 lb/scant 2 c) sugar

2 tsp vanilla


5 medium egg yolks

170 g (6 oz/ 3/4 c) sugar

grated zest and juice of 1 pink grapefruit

1 tb lemon juice

110 g (3 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, cubed

to decorate:

colored fondant cut out with a piping tip and set to dry on parchment for a few hours or overnight



preheat oven to 335f (170c/gas 3). grease two 8-inch round, deep cake tins, line the bottoms with parchment, and set aside. 

use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes until fluffy. add the eggs one at a time. sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. incorporate half of it into the butter mixture, add the milk, and then add the remaining flour mixture and zests. pour into cake tins and bake for 70-75 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

cool for 10 minutes in the tins and then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. 

to make the buttercream, gently heat the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved completely. remove from heat and beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form, about 10 minutes. add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. it may look curdled, but keep beating and it will come back together. beat in the vanilla.

to make the curd, gently heat the egg yolks, sugar, zest, and juices over a double boiler, whisking constantly. whisk in the butter one cube at a time, until all of the butter has been incorporated and the mixture has thickened (about 10 minutes). strain into a shallow container and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. chill until needed.

level the cakes and then cut each in half so that you have four layers. fix the first layer to a cake board with a small amount of buttercream. fill a piping bag with buttercream and then pip a line around the edge of the first layer (this will stop your curd from escaping). fill with 2-3 tablespoons of curd and then gently press the second layer on top. repeat with the second and third layers and then finish with your top layer. cover the cake with a thin layer of buttercream and then chill for 30 minutes or until firm. cover the cake with a thicker layer of buttercream, pipe on a border or two, and then sprinkle with confetti sprinkles. enjoy!