Galentine’s Day Buckwheat Waffles with Chocolate Sauce and Orange Whipped Cream

These waffles were photographed in my dear friend Danielle‘s kitchen. Danielle and I met the first day of college. We lived directly across the hall from each other which made it quite convenient that we saw each other a lot. She was the person who told me to read Virginia Woolf for the first time, who started a poetry club called Dead Poet’s Society our sophomore year (we would go and read poetry outside), who describes her fashion sense as “third grade cool”, who still goes by the nickname Dani Unicorn, and who broke her promise to Aaron by telling me he liked me when we were freshman. She’s a model for showing up every day with creative work and the most Gryffindor person I know. When we got married the only reason she wasn’t a bridesmaid is that she couldn’t get away from her Peace Corps service. And she saw nothing weird or abnormal with me asking her to text me a picture of her kitchen table on a whim.

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Leslie Knope (#Knope2020) from Parks and Recreation created Galentine’s Day to celebrate all the awesome ladies in her life. Galentine’s Day is for the women you call “beautiful and poetic land mermaids” and “strong, sensative musk oxes” and such. Female friendships are such a valuable thing, and I like that there’s a holiday, no matter how fictitious, to celebrate them. For a long time I didn’t feel like I understood friendship, not really. It was always difficult to make friends. Finding your place, especially as a kid, is scary and difficult, but when you find the right people? It’s perfect. Why wouldn’t you celebrate that?

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In honor of Galentine’s Day we have waffles. Buckwheat waffles, because I love the earthy, almost beer-y flavor of the buckwheat and all my favorite baked goods have some interesting flours. Whipped cream and chocolate sauce, because Leslie wouldn’t have them any other way. Orange segments for the reassurance that we’re eating fruit at breakfast (and because orange, chocolate, and buckwheat are as good friends as Leslie and Ann), and chocolate shavings because if there’s ever a time to eat chocolate for breakfast, it’s Galentine’s Day.

Danielle, you beautiful minx, thank you for letting me invade your home and morning. Happy Galentine’s Day. Love you girl.

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Buckwheat Waffles with Chocolate Sauce and Orange Whipped Cream

This batter will look quite wet, which is a good thing as buckwheat flour is dryer than all-purpose flour. Because the egg whites are folded in the batter should be made into waffles immediately. If you delay, the batter will fall and that would make sad waffles. These keep well frozen, and can easily be warmed back up in a toaster oven. I’ve learned two tricks to make these waffles crisp and caramelized and fantastic. The first is to cook them on high- preferably the highest setting your waffle maker can handle. And second is to brush the waffle iron with melted butter in between waffles, even if the waffle iron is non-stick. Those two tricks taken together make for crispy edges and a soft interior, and that contrast is what truly makes waffles great.

Makes about 6 waffles

1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (65 grams) buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon (4 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) sea salt
2 eggs, separated
1 cup (250 milliliters) whole milk
1/2 cup (120 grams) whole yogurt
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) maple syrup
2 tablespoons (25 grams) butter, melted, plus more for the waffle iron
1 tablespoon (15 grams) cane sugar

To serve:

Orange Whipped cream (recipe below)
Chocolate sauce (recipe below)
Orange segments
Shaved dark chocolate (use a vegetable peeler to shave the chocolate)

In a large bowl combine the all-purpose flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together, and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the egg yolks, milk, yogurt, maple syrup, and butter until smooth. Add to the dry mixture, and whisk until smooth.

In another medium bowl place the egg whites. Use a whisk attachment to beat the egg whites at medium-high speed to medium peaks. Once the egg whites keep their shape but the tips flop over when the beater (turned off!) is lifted, sprinkle in the sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. Fold the stiff beaks into the rest of the batter with a rubber spatula, being careful to only stir as much as necessary and no more.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place a cookie sheet with a cooling rack on top inside of the oven.

Heat your waffle iron on the highest setting. Once it’s nice and hot brush the iron with melted butter, and then scoop the batter into the iron and press. Every iron is different- mine works best with 1/2 a cup of batter, but play with yours to find your ideal amount. Cook the waffle until it smells toasty and golden. For me, that’s longer than when my waffle iron says it’s finished. Place on the rack in the oven to keep warm, and repeat with remaining batter.

Serve waffles warm, topped with orange whipped cream, chocolate sauce, orange segments, and chocolate shavings.

Orange whipped cream

If you’d like a stronger flavor, you could add in a hit of orange juice or orange liquor.

1 cup (250 milliliters) heavy cream
zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon (15 grams) cane sugar

In a medium bowl beat everything together on medium-high speed using a hand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until the cream is softly whipped, when the cream balls together but is still loose.

Chocolate Sauce

This chocolate sauce is just a thin chocolate ganache. And now that you know how to make it, you can play with all sort of ratios to turn into fillings for chocolate, frostings, and sauces. This is texturally the best the day it’s made,  but it makes a very good hot chocolate. (Just warm your desired amount with your milk of choice.)

1 cup (250 milliliters) heavy cream
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) maple syrup
1/4 heaping teaspoons (1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon) sea salt

Place the cream into a small pot. Bring the cream to a simmer, then remove from heat.

Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Pour the warm cream over the chopped chocolate, then use a whisk to quickly stir the cream and chocolate together. Don’t stop whisking until the chocolate is all melted and the sauce is smooth and emulsified. Stir in the maple syrup and salt. Taste for seasonings, and adjust as necessary.

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Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies with Orange from “Alternative Baker”

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Aaron’s mom is (and has been) under doctor’s orders to avoid gluten. It’s an order she often breaks. The woman’s got a serious sweet tooth, and hasn’t found gluten-free desserts she likes. Packaged gluten-free desserts tend to be weirdly gritty and either bland or with a funky aftertaste. And they’re expensive. Because of this, I’ve been trying to stockpile gluten-free desserts recipes. The best results have been with desserts that are naturally gluten-free. But there are only so many times one can serve meringue cookies. And adapting recipes that generally use copious amounts of all-purpose flour is a little more than a little intimidating.

That’s why I was so happy to find Alternative Baker by Alanna Taylor-Tobin. Alanna uses gluten-free flours joyfully, paying close attention to texture and taste.  Alanna’s recipes are the sort I want to make regardless of my relationship to gluten. I’ve already bookmarked two desserts for Thanksgiving with Aaron’s parents- an elegant chestnut and caramel apple tart, and a comforting pumpkin pie spiked with ginger. There’s also apricot clafoutis with honey and cardamom, raspberry swirl biscuits, chocolate pear tea cakes … among others.

Alanna was a pastry chef before becoming a blogger/cookbook writer, and I love her unfussy but uncompromising eye for detail. Like these cookies, for instance. Alanna uses chocolate in three ways- she has you melt together chocolate and butter with citrus zest (she calls for bergamot, I used orange), fold in chocolate chunks to the batter, and then top the cookie with more chocolate and flaked salt. The layers of texture make for a satisfying cookie. The cookie manages to be both soft and chewy. It’s nutty and deep, with a heady does of orange. They remind me of brownie cookies, except better, because the buckwheat brings out the toasted, rich notes of the chocolate. It’s a subtle addition, but one that enriches the whole thing.

I’m certainly going to make these for my gluten-free loved ones. I’ll also be making these regularly for my glutinous self. And I already know what Aaron’s mom is getting for Christmas- perhaps even with a box of cookies.

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Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies with Orange

Alanna suggests portioning the cookies by the heaping tablespoon. I went a bit more generous (about 2 tablespoons) and ended up with a slightly smaller amount of healthy sized cookies. I like them so much I’ll do the same next time.

adapted from Alternative Baker by Alanna Taylor-Tobin

Makes about 20 cookies

6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter
12 ounces (345 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped, plus extra for topping
1 tablespoon orange zest (1 medium)
1/2 cup (65 g) buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons (15 g) tapioca flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (130 g) cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Flaked salt for topping

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a heavy bottom pan over very low heat melt together the butter, 8 ounces of chocolate, and the orange zest. Stir often, making sure the bottom doesn’t scorch. When the chocolate and butter are warm and melted together remove from heat and set aside.

In a small bowl sift together the buckwheat flour, tapioca flour, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the eggs, sugar, and salt. Mix on high using a hand mixer (or do as Alanna suggests, and use the paddle attachment for a stand mixer) for 5 minutes, until the eggs are fluffy and light in texture. Reduce the speed to low, and add the vanilla extract and chocolate butter mixture. Once that’s well combined mix in the reserved flour. Turn off the mixer, and use a flexible rubber spatula to fold in the remaining 4 ounces of chopped chocolate.

The batter should resemble thick brownie batter at this point. If it doesn’t, pop it in the fridge for a bit. I had to let my batter sit in the fridge for 5 minutes before it was ready to scoop.

Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons, drop the batter onto the prepared cookie sheets. Make sure to leave about 2 inches between the cookies. Top the cookies with chopped chocolate and a pinch of flaked salt.

Bake the cookies for 8-12 minutes, rotating the trays halfway, until the edges are set and the tops are cracked. Allow the cookies to cool on the tray before eating. They will keep at room temperature for a few days. Alanna says to store them in an airtight container, but mine have been sitting quite happily in the open- all the better for snacking.

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Olive Oil Banana Bread with Lemon Glaze

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Banana bread will make a woman do all sorts of dangerous nonsense. It will make her leave bananas out on the countertop until they’re soft and dark and starting to attract fruit flies, then will claim precious freezer storage for the dark and soft bananas. It will make her take home fifteen bunches of bananas that are ripening rapidly for hope of that sweet, sweet taste. Banana bread will seduce with promises of an easy cake, a sweet treat, and leave her trembling and angry when her oven will not turn on. In a fit of desperation this woman may to bake banana bread in her toaster oven, thus jeopardizing her own happy relationship. Banana bread, for all its wholesome image, is a minx.

For a few years now I thought I’d have mastered banana bread. I keep a few bananas in the freezer, already peeled and portioned in delis that I’ve taken from work. I keep no more than a few at a time. I have the recipe that I love at my fingertips, a recipe that utilizes nutritious ingredients that I always keep on hand. We’ve come to an understanding, banana bread and I. I make it during baking season as often as is reasonable and it leaves my relationship alone. And then I decide to share this recipe with you. I woke up an hour earlier before brunch to try to photograph it. I need two more sessions, a set of recently purchased antique napkins, and moving all of the living room furniture out of the room to take a palatable photograph. I denied Aaron banana bread for two days. Banana bread brings out something wild in me.

For all my complaints, this banana bread is worth it. With the combination of olive oil, yogurt, bananas, and eggs it’s intensely moist, even after a long spell in the oven. The dark brown sugar is sophisticated, and the whole wheat flour brings out a beautiful nuttiness. I know there are plenty of people who are hesitant about using whole wheat flour in sweet baking. Yes, it often changes the texture and can be dry. But here you want the whole wheat flour. It has the structure you want to stand up to all those lusciously moist ingredients. And they in turn soften the whole wheat, and you’re left with something lovely. The chocolate is only the clincher.

It’s a supremely elegant banana bread. It’s the sort of banana bread I’d like to offer to guests who come for tea. I have served it as a dessert for informal friends dinners. It’s turns into muffins very nicely, and I bet it could easily make a beautiful layered cake. As long as you treat it well, this banana bread will reward you.

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Olive Oil Banana Bread with Lemon Glaze

adapted from Cook This Now by Melissa Clark via 101 Cookbooks

Makes 1 loaf

I used a full cup of chocolate chips for this banana bread, because that meant no chopping and more chocolate. If you’d like a more refined banana bread, chopped chocolate would give delightful flecks throughout the whole thing.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about three large)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon zest (about half of one large lemon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze
6 tablespoons (1/4 cup +2 tablespoons) brown sugar
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add in the chocolate and whisk again. Set aside.

In another bowl whisk together the bananas, eggs, oil, yogurt, lemon zest, and vanilla until smooth. Pour into the flour mixture. Use a rubber spatula to fold the wet into the dry until all the flour is absorbed. Scrape into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake the banana bread for 50 minutes, until the banana bread is fragrant and golden. A toothpick inserted into the banana bread should come out clean. Allow it to cool completely.

Whisk together the sugars and lemon juice until completely smooth for the glaze. Pour over the cooled banana bread. Serve in thick slices.

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Chocolate Torte with Whipped Cream and Pistachios

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Aaron,

I’m not sure how I ever got so lucky to be your wife. There are many ways that you may respond- you usually deflect the compliment, and insist that you’re the lucky one. Or you may refer to me as your partner because you think the word wife sounds subservient and that’s nothing like our marriage. This aside, I am still not sure how I ever got so lucky.

Do you remember when we were got engaged? I was 23 and you were 22 and we had no idea where we were going in life. Post-college jobs, the sort that we had spent years studying and paying for, were elusive. Independence was hard to find. And in all of that you took me for a walk one frigid March afternoon and asked me to marry you. I swore and screamed and didn’t let you finish the question. We spent a few days slowly telling our closest friends and families, letting it be our happy secret before putting it out for everyone to know.

In the year and a half before we got married we got a lot of questions from people. Friends and strangers both would ask us why. Why we were getting married so young. There was genuine curiosity, but there was also hostility. Do you remember how angry I would get? Or when your awful manager at that terrible hotel bar asked why you  wanted to get married instead of sleeping around? The form of the answer changed but the core was the same. We loved each other. We wanted to make that love the cornerstone of our lives rather than a crowning achievement. It’s as good an answer as any. But it’s not the whole answer.

I think people need others, whether that’s as friends or lovers or partners or some amalgam of all three. I am better with you. You are the most kind person I’ve ever known, and you bring that out in me. With you I’m softer, less prickly. I’m slower to judge and to take offense. Your steadiness is grounding. You challenge my assumptions by making me explain them.

When my family was questioning my decision to not take your name you were my greatest advocate. When I thought that I might want to change jobs (and earn less money) you mastermind a cross-state move. If I woke up tomorrow with the decision to go to grad school, write a book, or enter politics you would not only support the decision, but help figure out how we could make it work. And you would do it graciously, without any bitterness or impatience.

Our friends who didn’t know us early in our relationship are always shocked that we used to fight. A lot. We spent a long time having the hard conversations and deciding kind of relationships we wanted. It wasn’t easy. I’ve seen plenty of friends break up over these fights, these conversations. When people ask how we did it I like to paraphrase C.S. Lewis and say that love is not a feeling but a decision. It’s not romantic but is often true.

But you know as well as I do that love is both. It’s you making me origami paper roses for our first Valentine’s Day together and not expecting anything in return. It’s smuggling a bottle of wine in our picnic tote because it’s a Thursday and we want to celebrate it being Thursday.  It’s making me a cocktail after a hard night of work and”I love you” being the first words you say every morning. And these sort of flowery posts are usually reserved for Valentine’s Days, or birthdays, or anniversaries. But maintaining love means building it every day.

Recently we went out to ie for a date night. We have a bad habit of going out to eat and spending way more than anticipated, but if that’s our biggest vice I’m not terribly worried. We reconnect over these nights. They’ve always been our steadying point. You had been gone for work for a week and we had missed each other. We drank glasses of wine and made friends with our server. The food was incredible- tender octopus flecked with shredded pepperoni, braised cannellini beans, perfectly seared scallops, squid ink and uni pasta with clams. And then came dessert- a fudge-y chocolate torte with a shattering crust, flecked with salt and drizzled with olive oil. The tart was strewn with pistachios and topped with whipped cream, and as full as we were we kept trying to finish it. We brought it home, and the next day I ate it all. And when you found out, as disappointed as you were, you forgave me instantly. As you always do.

I love you, darling. This one is for you.

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Chocolate Torte with Whipped Cream and Pistachios

adapted from Fran Bigelow via Saveur

Tightly wrapped, this torte will keep but will get softer the longer it sits. I imagine that it will freeze well, but have not tried it myself.

Makes one 9 inch torte

1 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips (or semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped)
1 cup heavy cream
6 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dry curaçao or other orange liquor
1 teaspoon salt

To serve

Whipped cream
Crushed pistachios
Flaked Salt
Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 9 inch cake pan. Cut a round of parchement paper the same size as the bottom of the pan, lay that at the bottom of the pan, and butter that as well. Place a large pot of water on the stove and set it to simmer.

Place the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and set into the pot so it sits above the water but does not touch it. Let the chocolate melt, stirring occasionally. Once all the chocolate is melted set aside. Let the water continue to simmer.

Meanwhile, place the heavy cream into a medium bowl. Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whip the cream. Once it is fluffy and stable set aside.

In a large heatproof bowl combine the eggs, sugar, orange curaçao and salt. Whisk the whole mess together. Set over the simmering water and whisk continuously until the egg mixture is warm. Remove from the heat.

Using the whisk attachment beat the warm egg mixture over medium for 5 minutes. The eggs should be fluffy, frothy, light yellow, and at least doubled in volume by the time 5 minutes have passed. Slowly beat in the melted chocolate until all combined.

Using a rubber spatula, add the whipped cream to the chocolate-egg mixture and fold in the whipped cream. Be careful to fold until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

Place the cake pan in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes. It will have risen, with cracks on the surface, and will smell of rich chocolate. A toothpick inserted into the cracks will come out clean, and the center should be just set.

Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan. This torte is best served in small pieces with lightly sweetened, softly whipped cream, pistachios, flaked salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.

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