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Black Licorice Soap

Black Licorice Soap
Yesterday I made a 2nd batch of Black Licorice limited edition soap.
The monochromatic top hides a very colourful interior. Just wait for the slice reveal - et voila!

Layers of colours in two different techniques. I used only natural colorants and I love the result even though the alkanet root is not as purple as I hoped. I even added some indigo and titanium dioxide to brighten it a bit, with no success.
The other colours are red madder root, yellow-orange anatto seed, black activated charcoal and white titanium dioxide. One is a "pointy peaks" technique; and the left overs went into the rather wobbly stripes. By then the soap batter was too thick for anything fancy and some of the colours didn't have sufficient amounts for a while layer, while others had too much. so I just filled up with whatever was on hand. It's not as exciting as the pointy peaks but the colours are still pretty and vibrant and look very much in the spirit of Halloween 🎃 👻
Will be ready October 29th - just in time for Halloween 🎃 👻 🕷
The scent is named in the same manner as one of my perfumes, yet has a more realistic licorice-candy character.

Pearfection

Pearfection

The best desserts are made of three layers. And frangipane tarts definitely fit this category. I've been craving pears really badly recently (which is not a problem, really, considering that they are in season), and so I've decided to finally challenge this desserts, which is not only difficult to come by in North American pastry shops, but also seems very intimidating to master even for an enthusiastic baker like me.

I can't decide which layer I like the best - the almond cream or the fruit. For the sake of simplicity, let's begin with poaching the pears...

Poaching Pears for Frangipane Tart
To poach the pear, take 3 ripe yet firm pears, peel them and cut into halves. Scoop out the core with a melon scoop. Cook in a wine and sugar and spice syrup.
I used:
4 red (Anjou or Bartlett) pears
2 cups red wine
4 cups water
1 cup sugar (which I honestly think should have been reduced by half)
Rind and the juice of one Meyer lemon
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 whole star anise (which I think could have been reduced to only one)
- Bring the syrup to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the pears and reduce the heat. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Cool the pears while being immersed in the syrup. They can be served in any temperature in my opinion (room temperature, warm or cold), on their own, or with a dollop of whipped cream.
But if you want to turn this into a decadent and elegant pastry like pear & almond frangipane tart, proceed to making the crust... Which is reserved for the next post.
By the way - you will only need 2 pears for the tart; but it's good to have extra ones, in case a pear gets broken or mushy. Besides, the poached pears are so delicious that I guarantee you'll want to eat them on their own and 2 won't be enough!

Best served with an osmanthus oolong or a milky oolong.
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