raspberry jam crumble bars

“An artist is nothing without his or her obsessions, and I have mine.”
-Andres Serrano
In English, the word “obsession” has a  negative connotation.  
From Mariah Carey taunting us all with “why you so obsessed with me?,” to the fact that being “obsessive” seems synonymous to having a “disorder.”
Who said being “obsessive” is a bad thing?  Does being “obsessed” with something make you a crazy person?
I don’t think so.  In fact, I think that I can be an “obsessive” person, and it’s one of my favorite things about myself. 

The root of my obsessions lie in things that I’m passionate about.  Today, I’m going to talk about two of my obsessions: baking and writing. 
Are you an obsess-er too?  How do you know what an obsession feels like?  For me, it feels like a mosquito bite that I’ve been trying to ignore too long — I have to itch it. 
It’s like when I get home from school, throw my backpack onto the floor, and power walk to the kitchen.  In no time, I’ve got the oven preheated to 350 degrees, the KitchenAid whipping at full-speed, and a stick of butter softening in the microwave.  I haven’t even taken my coat off.  
It’s like right now, when it’s 12a.m. on a Friday night, I’m sitting in bed with my notebook and laptop typing away about obsessions.  Most kids are probably watching T.V., doing homework, or partying — I’m sitting here trying to think of a way to describe the feeling when I can’t sit still and have the sudden urge to whip up a vanilla buttercream. 
It feels naughty sometimes, like watching six episodes of Wipeout! in a row or eating an entire pint of Java Chip Frappuccino Ice Cream in one sitting.  I feel like I shouldn’t do it but I really really want to.  That’s how I feel about baking and writing. That’s when I knew I was obsessed. 
Everyone from Martha Stewart to Gwyneth Paltrow to Michelle Obama all seem to be touting living a “balanced” “whole” life.  These buzz-words are on the cover of every woman’s magazine and snuggled in the pages of all advice books.  Although I believe that some balance is needed for survival and happiness (balanced meals, hydration, family time, alone time, homework time), I think that if you’re super passionate about something, obsessed with it, why try to fight that?
Obsessions are things that don’t feel like work — you can do them for days and weeks and the hours just slip away.  I can stand over a layer cake for hours, I can sweat over a short story for days.  Since it’s so effortless to spend a lot of time on the things that you’re “obsessed” with — you will naturally get better at them with time.  Practice makes better.  Thanks to my obsession, my cakes no longer look like science experiments, and I no longer write short stories about elves and horses.  Now, thanks to my “obsessions” I make cakes with buttercream roses, and I write short stories about real things, like trying to go vegan, the perils of driver’s ed, and the smell of Astroturf in May.
If spending an hour at the gym as part of a “balanced” day makes you want to lock yourself in a closet, but you’re itching to go dancing this Friday night.  Why in the world would you strap yourself to the treadmill? Life is SHORT (and dancing is great exercise).  I’m not saying that we should all just neglect unpleasant responsibilities, but if they’re not vitally important to us, we can let them go and succumb to our obsessions. 
I whipped up these raspberry jam crumble bars approximately thirty seven minutes after I handed in my English exam last week.  Obsessive behavior? Perhaps.  Am I concerned? Not at all.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 oz. raspberry jam (or any other flavor you like)
1 cup granola without dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper. With your electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter until combined.  Add vanilla.  Sift flour and salt together, add to the butter mixture until it all sticks together in a ball.  Place dough on a board.  Gently press 2/3 of the dough evenly in the bottom of your pan and about 1/4 inch up the sides.  Spread evenly with jam.  Mix the granola into the remaining dough, break it into small bits and crumble them on top of the jam, covering the surface.  Bake for 45 min, cool completely, cut into squares, and enjoy!

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

lemon raspberry cupcakes

Surprises are funny, you either love ’em or you hate ’em.
Scratch that. That’s not true at all.  It just sounded like a good hook for this post.
Personally, I’m in the middle.

Sometimes, I like to be in the know.  For example, I set
different ringtones for different people. It takes the anxiety out of
texting. I know whether to stop and reach into my bag on a crowded
escalator, whether to start whistling and
pretend it never went off, or whether to go into full-on panic mode. Do other
people do this? Discuss.

filled with raspberry jam

Other times,  I love to be surprised — like when I bite into one of these seemingly simple cupcakes and discover that they’re filled with my favorite raspberry jam.
One thing’s for sure, I love to surprise people.  On Friday, I organized a surprise birthday dinner for my friend Erin’s 16th birthday.  I told her I wanted to go shopping with her at Bloomies (I bought a pair of shoes for the cause 😉 — but I had actually invited ten of our closest friends for a big surprise dinner at Maggianos. There were a few times that my plan was almost went awry — like when she suggested we go to the mall instead of Bloomies, when I almost asked her in P.E. class what she was going to wear to her surprise dinner (god Erica…), and when the hostess almost led us to our own table for two at Maggianos.

However in the end, the surprise worked out perfectly, and the look on her face when she saw all of our friends was priceless.

Do you like surprises?
With love,
Erica

Lemon Cupcakes:
Ingredients
1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant lemon pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, beat together the cake and pudding
mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla and water. Beat
for about two minutes until well combined.
Distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells; about 3 tablespoons of batter per well.
Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes
spring back when lightly touched. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin
tins for about 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool completely.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients
2 (8) ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
juice of one lemon

Using a mixer, blend the butter and cream cheese together until well combined.
Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated.
Finally, mix in vanilla and lemon juice.

To Assemble
Ingredients
Your favorite raspberry jam
Fresh raspberries

Once cool, core each cupcake with an apple corer or a pairing knife.  Fill with raspberry jam.  Frost with lemon cream cheese frosting and garnish with a raspberry.

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

linzer stars

I know it’s after Christmas, but I still have a ton of holiday recipes that I want need to share with you all.  And even though Christmas is over, the holiday spirit isn’t over! Right guys?! We’ve still got New Years… and heck, we’ve still got Groundhogs day!  In my opinion, even a Thursday is worth celebrating with cookies… especially these lovely little star shaped jam filled ones.

This star shaped cookies look so festive, and so professional.  I added these to my holiday cookie assortment and they definitely added the visual appeal that even the most decadent brownie can’t attract. 

I made mine with my favorite Bon Maman Raspberry Jam.  But you could even fill yours with an assortment of jams if you want to be fancy like that.

So if the post-Christmas blues are getting you down, turn up some music, grab some friends, whip together a batch of these uber-Christmas-y star shaped cookies, and relive Christmas all over again!

With love,
Erica

Ingredients


  • 1 1/2
    cups
    all-purpose flour


  • 1 1/3
    cups
    slivered almonds


  • 1 3/4
    teaspoons
    ground cinnamon


  • 1/2
    teaspoon
    fine sea salt


  • 2/3
    cup
    sugar


  • 1/2
    cup
    (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature


  • 1

    large egg


  • 2
    teaspoons
    dark rum


  • 1/4
    teaspoon
    vanilla extract


  • 1/2
    cup raspberry jam 

  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)


Pulse flour, almonds, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor until almonds are finely ground (no larger than poppy seeds).


Using an electric mixer at
medium speed, beat sugar and butter in a large bowl until fluffy, about 3
minutes. Add egg; beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Beat in rum
and vanilla. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients. Beat dough just
to blend; gently knead if necessary to form a ball.


Divide dough in half. Place
each half between sheets of parchment or waxed paper. Working with 1
piece at a time, flatten dough into a disk; roll dough, occasionally
lifting paper on both sides for easier rolling, until 1/8 inches thick.
Chill dough in paper until very firm, at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.


Arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 375°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.


Working with 1 dough disk at a
time, remove top sheet of paper and, using 2-inch star cookie cutter,
cut out cookies. Transfer to baking sheets, placing 1/2 inch apart;
chill. Repeat with remaining dough. Gather scraps; repeat rolling,
chilling, and cutting until dough is used.


Using 1/2-inch star cookie
cutter, cut out a star from the center of half the cookies. Working in
batches, bake cookies until light golden brown, dry, and just firm to
the touch, 11-13 minutes. (Cookies will firm up as they cool.) Transfer
to a wire rack; let cool. DO AHEAD: Cookies can be baked 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.


Bring jam and 1 teaspoon water to a boil in a small saucepan; let cool slightly.


Arrange whole cookies flat side
up. Spoon 1 teaspoon cooled jam in the center of each, dabbing slightly
to spread. Arrange cookies with cutouts flat side down on a wire rack;
dust with powdered sugar. Set atop whole cookies, lining up star points
and allowing jam to push up slightly through center. DO AHEAD: Linzer Stars can be assembled 8 hours ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

raspberry and white chocolate tart

Hello everyone! Today I am super excited to share with you all a recipe from my favorite teen blogging duo: Anne and Mathilde. They are two teenage girls growing up in Denmark and sharing their beautiful photos and recipes on the blog Les Quatre Saisons. Hope you all check them out — I’m sure you’ll love their work as much as I do!

First of all, a big thank you to Erica, for letting us do this guest post and share our recipe with all of her readers! Second of all, we are from Denmark, and English aren’t our native language, so pardon our french 😉 We are two sisters, Mathilde and Anne, blogging on Les Quatre Saisons. Just like Erica, we are both high-school students with a huge passion for food and photography.

When Erica invited us to do this guest post, we knew that we wanted to make a dessert, because what’s better than dessert? The only question was, what kind? We chose to make raspberry and white chocolate tart. A crisp and sweat crust with a creamy, chocolatey filling and a rich raspberry filling. The combination of these 3 things worked perfectly together, a real treat.

Be careful not to overwork the dough, otherwise it might not be crispy. And remember to let the chocolate mixture settle before adding the raspberry mixture, otherwise they will blend together.
Please let us know what you think!
Love,
Mathilde and Anne

Ingredients

The dough:
4.41 ounce of butter
2 cups of flour
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 egg

Mix together all of the ingredients (be careful not to overwork the dough). Put the dough into the fridge for a few hours. Roll out the dough as thin as possible and place in a tart tin. Bake in a preheated oven (170 C) for approx. 20-30 min. until it’s golden.

White chocolate filling:
8,75 ounces of white chocolate
0.8 cups of cream
2 leafs gelatine

Let the gelatine soak in cold water. Warm the cream, and finely chop the chocolate. Put the gelatine into the cream, and let it melt, before mixing in the chocolate. Stir until the mixture is homogeneous. Pour the mixture over the tart, and let it cool for a few hours.

Raspberry filling:
2 cups of raspberry puree
0.27 cups of caster sugar
2,5 egg whites
6 egg yolks
2 leafs gelatine
0.44 stick of butter

Let the gelatine soak in cold water. Warm up the raspberry puree and sugar. Whisk together the egg yolks and egg whites, and pour the warm puree over, while whisking. Let the mixture cook on low heat until the consistency is creamy. Add the gelatine and whisk in the cold butter. Pour the puree into the tart – as a second layer. Let it cool for at least two hours. Serve with fresh raspberries.