White Chocolate Coeur de la Crème

June 16, 2010 at 11:21 pm 72 comments

White Chocolate Coeur de la Crème

It was no surprise to anyone that after 8th grade graduation, I sobbed for weeks.

I didn’t just cry at the pre-ceremony event, the actual ceremony, and the post-ceremony party. Instead, weeks into summer, I broke down whenever I heard the Vitamin C graduation song or saw a friend’s face. Looking back at the past, it’s ridiculous and a little embarrassing, but not surprising. I was always an overly sensitive kid.

I remember once, when I was in middle school, unearthing a box of old school reports from my elementary school teachers. I’d opened and read every report written about me since the first grade. I don’t know what I expected, but I was disappointed to see the same thing written every year: “While Elissa shows a clear passion for learning, she needs to control her emotions. She feels everything a little too much.”

Reading those papers, I felt like my sensitivity was a major weakness, my biggest flaw. If only I could learn to make my heart a little tougher, life would suddenly make sense. But I felt like I couldn’t change what was so clearly part of me. My life was overflowing with sensitivity.

White Chocolate Coeur de la Crème

Fast forward four years, and my sensitivity certainly hasn’t left. I’m consumed with sympathy when I hear about earthquakes or hurricanes or oil spills around the world. If I make a rude offhand comment to my mother in the morning, it drenches my entire day with guilt. And I still cry when I watch the Lion King. It’s just so sad.

But somehow, something has changed. I graduated Monday night on my school’s football field. I didn’t cry when I walked into the main gym for the last time and saw my entire senior class in blue gowns and square caps. I kept it together when my mother presented me with the purple lei she’d secretly bought for me, just for this occasion. My heart didn’t break when I finally saw my parents in the crowd, smiling like 150 watts.

Because I didn’t spend the entire time crying, I’ll remember things about this graduation that I can’t remember from 8th grade. I’ll remember how A- kept knocking off my graduation hat, so I couldn’t get it straight during the actual ceremony (thanks a lot.) I’ll remember the way the knots of my cords felt against the back of my neck, and the melody that C- and M- played on their cellos. And surreal and dreamy as it might be, I’ll remember the snapshot image of everyone’s caps suspended in the air, like they could float there forever.

White Chocolate Coeur de la Crème

It’s Wednesday – a lifetime of hugs, handshakes, photographs, laughs, and memories later. I still haven’t shed a tear. It’s not that I’m not sad to leave high school, because I am. I’ll miss my morning carpool with C-, my doodles in first period with M-, and watching Battlestar Galactica in E-‘s basement with a pillow clutched to my chest. In a few months, I’ll begin to miss things that I haven’t even thought of, the little things I took for granted every day I went to class.

But something fundamental has changed in me. In 8th grade, I clung so fervently to the past that I had to be dragged into the next stage of my life. I was terrified of change, even though I couldn’t admit it. And now? Well, I’m still terrified of change. But I’m also ready for it, eager for it. The thrill of college is tangible and overwhelming – it’s electric.

And while I don’t think I’ll ever stop tearing up when Simba takes his rightful place in Pride Rock, I’m no longer held back by sensitivity as a weakness. In fact, wielded in the right way, I think it’s a strength. It’s what fills my head with imagery as a writer, it’s what lets me empathize with everyone around me, and it’s what makes life so much richer an experience.

White Chocolate Coeur de la Crème

My life is no longer overflowing with sensitivity – it’s flowing with inspiration. Everywhere I look, I am surrounded by potential and motivation. I want to take everything I’ve learned in high school and change the world with knowledge. I want to throw myself into Boston head first, arms open. I want to read every book in existence, and let the words push me forward.

I devoured A Homemade Life in one afternoon several weeks ago. It’s by my hero Molly Wizenberg, the blogger behind Orangette, and it’s beautiful. She weaves every story with family and food and love, tying everything in her life to the meals she remembers. “Inspiring” feels like an understatement – I want to write a book like that someday.

But for now, maybe I can be satisfied with baking food like that today. When I saw her recipe for white chocolate coeur de la crème, I couldn’t stop myself from making it that very evening. It’s a mousse made with cream, cream cheese, and white chocolate, chilled and served in dollops with berry puree. It was everything she’d described – creamy, soft, simultaneously airy and substantial – brought to life.

White Chocolate Coeur de la Crème

It’s incredible how my view of the world has changed in four years. What will the next four bring?

White Chocolate Coeur de la Crème

I’ve never been a fan of white chocolate. It’s too sweet, doesn’t melt the same way on your tongue as dark chocolate, and it can even be a little waxy. But here, the white chocolate is the star in a very good way. You get the flavor of white chocolate, sweet and vanilla scented. But it’s balanced by the cream cheese, and the whipped cream folded in keeps the whole thing light and fluffy. The blueberry lime puree adds tang and color – just an overall gorgeous dessert.

You chill the dessert in any mold you like overnight. I picked one of my metal mixing bowls and ended up with a shallow dome. It’s traditionally made in a heart-shaped mold, but you could use just about anything.

White Chocolate Coeur de la Crème with Blueberry Lime Puree
Slightly adapted from A Homemade Life
Serves 6-8

Coeur de la Crème
3 oz good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
8 oz cream cheese (not low fat), room temperature
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Puree
10 oz frozen blueberries
Zest of one lime
3 tbsp sugar

Cut two sheets of cheesecloth big enough to fully line your mold, plus a little overhang on all sides. Dampen the cheesecloth with water, wring it out, and put them together to make a double layer. Press it into the sides and bottom of the mold, leaving some hanging over the sides.

Microwave the white chocolate in a microwavable bowl in 20 second intervals on high. Stir between intervals, and heat only until smooth and just melted.

Mix the cream cheese, 1/4 cup cream, and the sugar in a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Then add the white chocolate and beat for 2 minutes, until very smooth.

In another bowl, beat the remaining 1 cup cream to stiff peaks and fold into the cream cheese mixture. Spoon into the mold, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, then fold the overhanging cheesecloth over it to cover the top. Place the mold unto a rimmed sheetpan or plate and chill for 8 hours or overnight.

To make the puree, blend the thawed berries, their juice, the zest, and the sugar in a blender or food processor until smooth. Push the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds into a small bowl. Cover and chill for up to 4 hours.

Carefully peel the cheesecloth off the top of the coeur de la crème and invert it onto a plate. Peel off the rest of the cheesecloth. Serve in dollops in teacups or shallow bowls along with a spoonful of puree.

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72 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Indigo  |  June 17, 2010 at 12:00 am

    That looks incredible, I wish I could make it dairy free though so my mum could eat it, I know a recipe for dairy free white chocolate but the cream cheese and the whipped cream are hard to replace.
    I love your writing and I hope you do manage to write a book someday, I’d definitely buy it.

    Reply
  • 2. Denise Rambo  |  June 17, 2010 at 12:33 am

    Oh Sweetie … go boldly into the future with your sensitive heart! I hope life treats you well and that you are able to retain that sensitivity that so clearly makes you the wonderful girl that you are.

    Reply
  • 3. Elissa's Dad  |  June 17, 2010 at 1:26 am

    Don’t ever let your heart harden, it is what makes you, you. I don’t know what to say, I have nothing witty or charming, nothing deep or earth shattering, no wisdom here….I just agree with everything you wrote, it is true, it is you. Not a single lie anywhere in sight.

    I love you as I need the air I breathe. I smile through my tears, bittersweet at watching you leave. I can’t wait to see what is next.

    Reply
  • 4. Desi Gregory  |  June 17, 2010 at 1:50 am

    Hi! I discovered your blog via a link from the best blogs of the year awards from Pioneer Woman and my, my young lady, you have quite the way with words! I am so excited for you for your new and exciting step in the world of growing up! I have friends that are bakers (just like you and I!) that worked in a professional bakery and they taught me that “white chocolate” isn’t really chocolate but a by-product of the milk fats from chocolate, and that’s part of the reason it tastes waxy. It didn’t stop me from devouring it (’cause man I LOVE me some cookies and cream candy bar from Hershey’s…yum!), but it explained why it has always tasted kind of funny to me!

    Reply
  • 5. Kay  |  June 17, 2010 at 2:44 am

    Congratulations! I pray our country will turn around so young people have a chance. Good luck w/ your college!

    Reply
  • 6. Kay  |  June 17, 2010 at 2:45 am

    Oh, of course, the recipe looks devine ;)

    Reply
  • 7. Warm Vanilla Sugar  |  June 17, 2010 at 2:49 am

    I think it’s wonderful how sensitive you are to things around you. The world is moving so fast, that I feel people rarely stop to take a look at what is going on around them. I graduated university last weekend, and instead of enjoying what was happening, I was checking my watch and wondering when on earth the speeches would end. Your post really made me think.

    On another note, I can’t wait to try this dessert! I love the simplicity to it!!

    P.S – your dad’s comment is so touching :)

    Reply
  • 8. Melissa  |  June 17, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Wow. I was just like you when I graduated high school. I wasn’t crying either. I was so excited for the next part. I also lived out west and then went east to school. It was a whole new world for me and it was awesome. I loved it and I know that you will love every minute, too… although there are always bad minutes here and there… i hope your dorms have A/C.

    Anyways, this dessert sounds so yummy… it may be just the thing my husband would love to eat this father’s day weekend. thanks :)

    Reply
  • 9. Sarah  |  June 17, 2010 at 5:27 am

    For us really sensitive people, I’ve found, it hits you at the weirdest times.

    My fiance and I watched “Up!” last night, and I cried (sobbed!) through the first third of it.

    Reply
  • 10. Helen  |  June 17, 2010 at 5:34 am

    As ever your writing is beautiful I am so pleased that you enjoyed your graduation, it is a memory to cherish for ever. Good luck in your next adventure – college. I can tell you will bring the same thoughtfulness and sensitivity you bring to all situations. I hope you have the time of your life there. I am looking forward to reading all about it.

    Reply
  • 11. Leslie  |  June 17, 2010 at 7:07 am

    This might sound silly, but I kind of teared up at this entry. I think all of your readers are just as proud of you as your parents.

    Reply
  • 12. Eliana  |  June 17, 2010 at 7:56 am

    This dessert looks incredible. And have no doubt that you are about to enter one of the most exciting stages of your life. Make sure to savor each moment because after it’s all over, all you will be left with is memories.

    Reply
  • 13. Rebecca  |  June 17, 2010 at 8:55 am

    I teared up a little reading your post and remembering being where you are. You have a gift for writing and I hope you use it well. That dessert also looks amazing!

    Reply
  • 14. Kim, Rambling Family Manager  |  June 17, 2010 at 8:57 am

    All too often the things that adults consider “problems” or flaws of some sort in children wind up as their strengths, as you have discovered for yourself. My kids are stubborn and strong willed as all get out. They question authority and challenge me all the time, and while I have to keep them safe and grow them into decent, respectable, and respectful human beings and those characteristics make that… challenging… I can see that those traits will serve them well as adults if channeled properly. My hat is off to your parents for guiding you, with those wonderful qualities your teachers didn’t appreciate, into the incredibly talented person you are now.

    Reply
  • 15. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking  |  June 17, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Congratulations on your graduation, Elissa. It seems you’ve realized that you’ve matured in the past four years, but once you leave the nest you’ll do even more growing emotionally. The world is your oyster!

    Reply
  • 16. Pearl Joy  |  June 17, 2010 at 9:18 am

    good!

    Reply
  • 17. Pearl Joy  |  June 17, 2010 at 9:24 am

    nice that looks incredibly good!!

    Reply
  • 18. lighteyes  |  June 17, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Elissa, I’m a new follower of your blog and I wanna congratulate you on your graduation! :) I’m your age too, but a few months younger. Studying my 6th form.. kinda different system here.. will only get to Uni in 2012.. X__X Anyways, what I wanna say is I understand your feelings.. that anticipation.. is definitely like electric. :) All the best to you!

    Reply
  • 19. Carol  |  June 17, 2010 at 10:18 am

    What a sweet post – congrats on graduating! I graduated from UW 4 years ago and I can’t believe how time has flown! Enjoy everything to come! :)

    Reply
  • 20. Allison  |  June 17, 2010 at 10:33 am

    What a beautiful post! I love the way you write, and can so descriptively express your emotions. Good luck at college in the fall!

    Reply
  • 21. Jenious  |  June 17, 2010 at 11:39 am

    “Get tough in Boston.” That’s what my Dad used to say to me during my college years in Boston. After reading this lovely post, his voice came to mind. It’s been awhile since I reflected on that phrase. And, you know what, these many years later, I’m still here, in the city, a bit tougher from wear, but still remaining true to my sensitive heart. I didn’t get too tough…

    Hold on to your sensitive heart. As a writer, you need to.

    Happy graduation. You have much to look forward to!

    Reply
  • 22. April  |  June 17, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Congratulations on your graduation! You are an amazing blogger (I enjoy reading every post!)…you have many amazing things in store for you in the future!

    Reply
  • 23. Veggielady4life  |  June 17, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Lovely article. I check your blog every few days to see what you’ve come up with, so I was happy today to see a new post! Congratulations on graduating, and much luck to you in the days to come! I think you have wonderful things waiting ahead for you. You are so talented… a writer… photographer… baker… all rolled into one. I will definitely buy your book when it comes out (because I’m certain you’ll write one!) :-) Have a great day!

    Reply
  • 24. outsideoslo  |  June 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Congrats on your graduation.

    And thanks for sharing your experience making Mollly’s recipe. I saw it in the book and was intrigued, and now that I’ve seen photos of what it looks like, it sounds just as delectable!

    Reply
  • 25. outsideoslo  |  June 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    By the way, great blog. I just added it to my blogroll!

    Reply
  • 26. Melissa  |  June 17, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Oh, my… please write a book!

    Reply
  • 27. Ivonne  |  June 17, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Elissa,

    First of all congratulations on your high school graduation! This was such a beautiful post and you’re right, this is such an exciting time in your life. There is every possibility and opportunity ahead of you. I have no doubt that you’ll bake the best of it! Keep baking and most importantly, keep reading!

    Reply
  • 28. Star  |  June 17, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    That looks so deliciously and it’s so cute.

    I totally agree with you being sensitive is not a weakness it is definitely a strength. I think it helps you to connect to others more easily because you can empathize with them more.

    Reply
  • 29. Caty  |  June 17, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Congratulations on your graduation! The next 4 years will be amazing for you! :)

    Like many other comments before mine, being sensitive is definitely not a weakness. I used to feel like there was something wrong with me b/c I cry so so easily… but there’s no shame in it at all.

    Best of luck in the future!

    Reply
  • 30. Sarah  |  June 17, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Hi Elissa,
    I envy your composure. My last day of high school classes was Monday and I was far more emotional than even I knew I could be. I’m the girl who cries buckets every summer on the last day of sleepaway camp and sobs into her pillow every time Beth dies in Little Women, even though she’s read the scene a hundred times before. All day I was torn between relief that I was finally, finally done and sadness that I would be leaving so many people behind. As thrilled as I am to be going to college, there’s also an undercurrent of terror. But you are so adventurous and open minded. I admire that a lot. I’m certain you’re going to do fantastically in college.
    That said, I’m a big fan of emotion. My parents and friends often tease me for crying so easily, but I believe that if you don’t open your heart to the world it won’t open itself for you.
    I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful summer, filled with lemonade and berry crisps and ice cream and sunsets. And I’m sure that in the fall (Boston in the fall! That’s going to be delicious) there will be more inspiration and excitement to come.
    – Sarah

    Reply
  • 31. Mags  |  June 17, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    My dear, never lose that endearing sensitivity that God gave you. It’s part of what makes you so special and it shines through so clearly in your writing. I’m not sure what your college pursuit is, but I think you could become a great author. Your genuineness shows in every post and I enjoy reading every one. The recipes are always fantastic, but it’s your writing that brings me back.

    Congratulations on your graduation…. and Good Luck to you!

    Reply
  • 32. Jennifer  |  June 17, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Never lose your sensitivity! Embrace it! It will give you deeper relationships and deeper joys in your life. I know, because I’ve been the same my whole life. You’ll also have deeper pains but you will know joys that many others never will. Not to mention the fact that it has made you a brilliant writer and given you a passion for living that shines through in your blog. I so enjoy reading it! Congratulations on your high school graduation! I hope to keep reading your blog as you continue into college and beyond!

    Reply
  • 33. Margarita  |  June 17, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Congratulations, you high school graduate, woman of the world.!!!!!!!!!!!:) You can’t change the stars, the moon or the sun. That which is, is. You, my dearest, Elissa are a sweet, sensitive, intuitive, intelligent girl. You can’t change that, try as you might. Thankfully, you will always come back to what you are, because it’s you. I have had the pleasure of reading about things you have seen and experienced through the filter of Elissa’s mind. That, mind, is an exquisite place and, blissfully, you have shared it. We sure are blessed. Thanks!!!!!!!!! I am just so thrilled to read your posts. Your fan. <3

    Reply
  • 34. Anh  |  June 17, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I think we all have experience like that. But you know, they say, a chapter closes, a new one begins. :)

    And congrats on the graduation. !

    Reply
  • 35. K  |  June 17, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    You are one of the most inspiring young women I have EVER come across. I look forward to following you while you grow in Boston and beyond. You made my life and make my life more interesting. . I will live vicariously thru you. . and I will miss your face. XOXOX KD.

    Reply
  • 36. Connie  |  June 18, 2010 at 12:04 am

    hey elissa! i just graduated two weeks ago too, i thought i would a teary mess at grad but i didn’t cry at all. while reading this blog post, i kept nodding my head because I completely understand how you’re feeling! Sure, I’ll miss high school. Especially all the little things like just seeing familiar faces in the hall, but the adventure and mystery of the future looks hopeful and welcoming. good luck in the fall :) and continue baking!

    Reply
  • 37. Millys mini kitchen  |  June 18, 2010 at 4:56 am

    Congratulations! Here in England we don’t have anything like that at high school, although there is graduation after uni but I’m sure it’s not as grand as how you do it over there! I’d love to be a part of something like that.

    Reply
  • 38. Charr  |  June 18, 2010 at 8:34 am

    It did not feel right to me that your teachers said that but the way you have “used” that sensitivity is beautiful and mature. Me, well I was crying while reading your graduation story about how you didn’t cry! Love your blog.

    Reply
  • 39. hannah @ thepastrykook  |  June 18, 2010 at 9:22 am

    i feel the same like you did, every moment in my life. i wish life wouldn’t be on the fast forward so much. but life goes on and most importantly, we make every second of it worth it.

    Reply
  • 40. Alli  |  June 18, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Hi Elissa! Great post, as usual. I’m glad that you’ve realized so early on that your sensitivity and emotionality are strengths, not weaknesses – I didn’t accept that part of myself until after I graduated from college! And kudos for still being able to watch The Lion King – I’ve been avoiding it since the fifth grade, just because it made me so scared and sad! I probably should revisit it though, because I love Up!, even though I started crying within the first 5 minutes and couldn’t stop through the rest of the movie. Thank goodness for 3D glasses.

    Your white chocolate coeur de la creme looks amazing! It looks so thick and creamy and fluffy! I actually just posted about strawberries I stuffed with a similar white chocolate cream cheese mixture, but I wish I had seen this beforehand, because it probably would have made a much better strawberry stuffing! I’ll definitely be making this with my leftover white chocolate and cream cheese!

    Re-reading this, I probably used too many exclamation marks, but I’m leaving them in because that’s how excited I feel when I see that you’ve posted something new!

    Reply
  • 41. TV  |  June 18, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Being someone your age, I wonder how you find the time to blog like this. Especially during first semester senior year. It is really a job. Im a lazy person but now that its summer, I really just wanted to give it a shot.

    Help a fellow senior/freshman out (what are we now?!?)…http://tangledreflections.wordpress.com/

    Please find time to continue this in college.

    Reply
  • 42. !Legato  |  June 18, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    That was beautiful. I convocated from university yesterday, so this was really incredibly fitting. I’m faced with a lot of change too, a lot of uncertainty and a lot of reality checks. I hope I can discover the same excitement and anticipation for the future that you have filled this post with. Thank you!

    (Just discovered your blog a couple weeks ago and I love every post! You’re an incredibly talented writer. I hope you keep up the baking and writing as you throw yourself into the excitement of the change that’s coming!)

    Reply
  • 43. Carolyn  |  June 18, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I felt exactly the same way about grade 8 versus high school. Sometimes I think back and miss parts about high school but I knew I was ready to move on. I’m finishing my MA in a couple months, and I’m even less nervous and sad than I was for high school and undergrad graduation – your future will just keep getting brighter, and so there’ll always be exciting things to look forward to to soften the blow of having to leave a lot of things you love behind. Good luck at college! I’m sure you’ll love it.

    I have the same opinion on white chocolate as you do, but this looks divine!

    Reply
  • 44. Bonnie Riffle  |  June 18, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    I was very sensitive when I was young too. I remember lingering over emotions and thinking way too much about things. I remember my mother telling me that i worry too much, and that i am overly sensitive, and that i wear my heart on my sleeve. Well, one thing for sure, i think i have enjoyed the details in life so much more because of it…and so will you. How can you appreciate happiness, without ever knowing sorrow. I love your blog, and whatever you do in college, i hope you’ll still find time to continue with it. thanks for all your wonderful stories.

    Reply
  • 45. mammalfish  |  June 19, 2010 at 9:44 am

    I have something to say about this sensitivity–I was totally you with that. I now believe that we become the strongest ones, because we keep our empathy, but learn how to be resilient, too. It’s a great way to be =)

    Reply
  • 46. Loll  |  June 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Congratulations on your graduation! And thanks for the lovely recipe, it sounds delicious.

    Reply
  • 47. Baking Monster  |  June 20, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Every post you write, I feel like it’s about me. I am super sensitive too and for so long I felt it was a bad thing, but when it comes to writing it’s the best. Which is very good for you. I also had the same experience for high school graduation I didn’t shed a tear it was all surreal and I was so ready to move on to the next part of my life. I can’t wait to buy your book, I hope you have a few book signings too! This looks so good, like nothing I have seen before, I just want to make it for the texture it looks amazing. Your going to do great things in Boston.

    Reply
  • 48. Making my Mark  |  June 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I agree. I still remember my graduation even though it’s been nearly three years.

    As always, beautiful, thought provoking writing.

    Reply
  • 49. Deeann  |  June 20, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    Elissa, All I have to say to you is that the best is yet to come. College is such a great time of self discovery and joy. We wish you all the best as you move forward to adulthood. Congrats on your graduation.

    I also have to tell you that the cake you made for my mother in law’s birthday party was divine. All but 8 pieces were devoured. It was beautiful and was even better than I hoped. Thanks for the effort you put into it. You are amazing.

    Reply
  • 50. ric the SA from seastar  |  June 21, 2010 at 12:39 am

    yo so this wednesday the 23rd of the 6th month (june??) dale the newer/return SA and mandy the bartender and myself and dales chick are hanging out and we were all wondering what was up with you and if you wanted to hang out that night starting around like 4 or some shit like that. i dont know if youre already in colonial america yet or whether youre just hanging out at home for the summer or what but we just wanted to hang with you.

    if you want to get in touch with me about wednesday or any other time my email address is yellowric@gmail.com but the safer and more reliable way is to call me at 425 681 4537 because i dont get on the internet or check my email very much and i dont have a facebook or anything like that and i never got to officially say goodbye on your last day

    Reply

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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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