Category Archives: rose water

‘Nuts About You’ Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches

As I’m writing this, most of you probably already have some kind of titillating chocolate cherub in the vicinity, so this post might first look redundant, but please keep reading if you wish to discover why these little cookies are my choice tonight.
No matter how commercial, patronizing and insipid the Valentine’s Day may feel, it’s still about LOVE, so it gives you and your significant one a chance to give each other some extra attention in so many ways. Sky is the limit, but for me, Valentine is also about celebrating the miraculous and things I like in general. Like cooking, discovering new ingredient, flavor or combination, etc. – today it happens to be the tiny Lady’s Kisses or Baci di Dama Italian sweet treat I was looking for quite a while and surprisingly discovered in Bonjour Paris website, while I was searching for something completely different. I made a small batch, almost climaxed trying it (think of life as a box of chocolates) and here we are, I am sharing the recipe with you… If for you it’s a cat, ukulele or working out the muscle, give yourself a slack and arrange for your own nirvana.
Life is short and there’s no need for a crystal ball to tell us what we need to do next to be happy. Love is everywhere, every day, every minute and I wish we would notice and celebrate it more often. In the meantime, here is a great dig of a Jimmy Fallon’s Valentine songs during his SNL apprenticeship  back in 1999 to put a smile on your face.
The weather is a usual snow-storming today (let’s be positive: at least it’s not hailing), so good luck with all that reservations taken around the city tonight – it will be a Big Honking Deal.
As for me, a home-made winter warmer (supper + wine) with further cuddling and watching Olympics would fix it, not without a touch of my latest hazelnut cookies addiction to go with a cup of tea (a glass of champagne and some fresh berries might replace it tonight).  And did I tell you that my hubby goes nuts about them too? Why? Because you can’t go wrong with ethereally rose scented hazelnut mini-slabs hosting a decadent dark chocolate filling!  Gluten free, my friends, and you are welcome!

The dough is made of roasted and chopped hazelnuts, rice flour (you can still use regular unbleached flour), butter and sugar with the touch of salt and rose water (I suppose you can swap maple syrup for sugar, but you don’t need to add rose water in that case). Mix the ingredients with your hands in one ball, then cut it and roll it in short logs in batches (1.5 inch diameter), wrap in the film and refrigerate for 2 hours, or just leave it in a freezer for 15 minutes. Slice the logs quarter of an inch thick (about 5 mm), distribute in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 325 F for 15 minutes. Let cool without removing from the sheet, melt the chocolate in bain marie and sandwich a dollop of chocolate between two cookies until you run out of them. Start eating them right away.

Confessions: I doubled the recipe’s quantity and skipped the part of rolling the sliced dough into little rounds (the actual lady’s lips) like it is suggested in original recipe turning them into sandwiches. Heck, it saved me a lot of time and gave me something to talk about with my best half (‘Oh, crikey, I completely forgot to make the lady’s lips out of them, but they still look like cartoonish lips, and the taste is still there… and HEY that’s why I called them sandwiches!‘(say it in Italian, if you know Italian, for more drama)).  
Short in time or space? Go for the faster dessert option of a little Molten chocolate cake – so swoon-worthy for the Valentine! Or just buy a bunch of quality French macaron like I did last year – heavenly. 
 Have a Happy Valentine dear readers!
Photo credit: Natalie Schweiger

Makes about 20-24 mini-sandwiches
1 ¼ cups roasted and skinned hazelnuts or blanched almonds
1 ¼ cup rice flour (or unbleached flour)
3.5 oz (100g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (100 g) sugar
½ tbsp rose water (or fleur d’oranger water)
Pinch of salt
2 oz (60g) bittersweet chocolate, melted in bain marie
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Chop the hazelnuts in a food processor to the semi-coarse, but not flour consistency.  Mix all ingredients, except the chocolate, with your hands in one ball, then cut it and roll it in short logs in batches (1.5 inch diameter), wrap each log in the film and refrigerate for 2 hours, or just leave it in a freezer for 15 minutes. Slice the logs quarter of an inch thick (about 5 mm), distribute in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool without removing from the sheet. In the meantime, melt the chocolate in bain marie and sandwich a dollop of chocolate between two cookies until you run out of them.  Enjoy right after the chocolate sets within 15 minutes.
Adapted from: Lady’s Kisses (Baci di Dama) by Theresa Murphy

”La Vie en Rose” Moment

”A Cup of Water and a Rose”, by Francisco de Zurbarán, 1630.
The objects in this painting may be intended to have a symbolic character: the water in the cup perhaps refers to the Virgin’s purity and the flower recalls her title of ‘Mystic Rose’.

When years ago I was planting my rose garden, I wanted to look out the window and see ”indefensible” amount of beauty that can lift my spirits, inspire and bring clarity in my life. Sadly, once the roses have grown to give that fragrant abundance each June, I was too busy to even notice them most of the time. Until last week, when a chain of some very un-inspiring events has brought me to this Carnegie’s quote: ”One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” I decided to fix that human error and take a day off rose-meditating. 
Many things needed to get done, but I stopped everything and firmly pushed myself to do nothing but to catch this moment. Breathe. Smell the roses. Watch the bees. Listen to the warm summer breeze. Absorb the sacredness of the nature. I meditated, I read, I did yoga, I took the warm bath with salts and rose petals. My ”universe is expanding” state slowly dwindled away and down. Nothing really mattered anymore, but a virtue of a beautiful empowering scent – a virtue of a true beauty and happiness which is always there for us. But we rarely notice it because the blooming time is short and the smell is elusive and we can not possess it … Or can we?
Suddenly I had an urge to make that rose smell last and be with me for the fall and winter and next spring until I can be back in my rose garden and catch this moment again. I found myself looking for a rose water tutorials and there I was, an hour later, collecting the rose petals and assembling my own little distillery.

”Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May”, by John William Waterhouse, 1909

The invigorating smell of roses filled up the house with some magical aura carrying away the rest of my sadness, healing my emotions and replacing them with an excitement of an alchemist. Science is wonderful! Three hours later I decanted the fragrant distilled liquid in the plastic container and placed it in the fridge to cool down to develop a full scent.

The next morning I opened it – it really smelled like an air filled with a bunch of roses on a hot summer day! I used it as a face toner and cleanser and – WOW! If there is such thing as a feeling of a baby Jesus skin, that was it. The real toner of youth and good times as if designed for ”angels and butterflies”: it softened and refreshed the skin and closed the pores instantly! I assume you can also keep it in a spray bottle and mist your face and hair with it any time you want a natural a smile. I promised myself to find a nice dark glass Art Deco bottle to keep my rose water refrigerated in it to use it for many months to come and, hopefully, until next June. But for that I have to make another batch, so I am off to go…
It’s so easy, it can actually be a great craft to do with kids. All you need is: a bottle of a distilled (or spring) water, a large stock pot or a Dutch oven with the lid slightly bigger that can fit tightly on your chosen stock pot (or a big metallic sauce pan instead of the lid), a brick or a flat stone, a small heat safe bowl that will sit securely on the brick to collect the rose water, a large quantity of fresh fragrant rose petals and a bunch of ice or a sauce pan with an ice cold water. Put the stone in the stock pot; add water to top the level of the brick; place a dry heat-resistant bowl on the brick and the rose petals around the brick; start heating and cover with the lid (upside down) filled with ice cubes or a bowl with the ice cold water. Evaporate the rose water for up to 3 hours on the low heat, refreshing the ice cubes or ice cold water to enhance the condensation process. Check out these images, or follow the instructions of this less than 2 minutes tutorial on how to make your own rose water.

Wrapping up, this was my handful of sunshine and the aha moment for the day to prove that life can be great under any circumstances. What is your way to detox the emotions?
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours
1 quart (liter) distilled or spring water
1 basket (size of your choice) of organic fragrant rose petals, freshly collected
1 big bag of ice cubes or ice cold water
1 three quart + (3 liters+) large stockpot
1 big lid that can close the stock pot well when upside down, or a big metallic bowl
1 brick or flat stone
1 small heat-proof bowl to place on the brick inside the stock pot
Place the brick in a center of a deep large stockpot. Add water to top the level of the brick; place a dry heat-proof bowl on the brick. Distribute the rose petals around the brick. Start heating and cover the stockpot with the lid (upside down) filled with ice cubes or with the bowl of the ice cold water. Lower heat to simmer. Evaporate the rose water for up to 3-4 hours, refreshing the ice cubes or ice cold water on top to enhance the condensation process. As the mixture of petals boils, the steam rises and hits the cold top, which causes it to condensate and drip down into the inner bowl. When done, the small bowl will contain the rose water, which will have a thin film of rose oil that is essential oil or extract. Decant the rose water into a container and let cool in the fridge to develop a full scent. Keep it in the fridge and enjoy as toner, cleanser, refresher, moisturizer. Equally, you can use it in baking, desserts or making other culinary concoctions, such as rose jello, apple cider vinegar, etc.