of recovery, reconciliation & one badass pavlova

grilled peach & salted caramel pavlova // glazed & confused

Dear Internet,

It's me, Graham. 

I was thinking about you recently and was wondering how you were doing. I know that it's been a while since we've seen each other, but I've been using this time to reflect on our relationship. 

Our time together certainly hasn't been perfect, but we definitely had our moments together. I still cherish those often. Remember the all of the silly selfies I shared with you. Or the drunk tweets that I totally never posted? And all of those desserts?! That was a really nice time and I really wish we could make many more moments like those in the future. 

So, how have I been? I've seen better days, that's for sure. If you haven't noticed, I've been laying pretty low lately. Sometimes, social media makes one's life look like they've got it all together. I wish that was the case, but it's far from the truth. I know it's probably not what you want to hear, but things have been difficult this year and I needed some time off to take it all in. Though I normally would shy away from sharing the untouched remainder of my personal life online, I've recently come to the realization that everything becomes harder when you bottle up your emotions. Everything becomes harder when you censor yourself. Everything becomes harder when you're portraying a life you don't truly and fully live. 

After eight months of going back and forth between posting this very blog post, I've reached a sort of breaking point. Thanks to some lovely blogger friends (hello Molly, Beau and Matt!), I discovered the importance of finding the strength in owning one's vulnerability. For me, sharing my life rather publicly through Glazed & Confused has been a cathartic experience, but I've always guarded a major aspect of my life: my eating disorder. 

The story is a long one, but it goes a little something like this: From a young age, I was overweight. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I relied on humor as a crutch to deal with my weight. The tipping point for me came during my senior year in high school, during a period of my life marked by friendships in limbo, coming to terms with my sexuality, and just general depression. My life seemed out of control, so I took matters into my own hands by controlling the one thing that I knew I could: my body. Through strict restriction, i.e. a maximum of 700 calories a day, I lost nearly 40 pounds in a mere three and a half months. But once the initial excitement of sheer physical transformation waned, I found myself feeling unhappier (and fatter) than ever. From there, I spent three years controlled by the voice in my head. Sometimes, I found myself depending on a mere apple and copious amounts of Diet Coke to keep me full during the day. Other times, it was all about over-indulgence and sneaking into secrecy wherever possible to purge multiple times a day.

I know what you're thinking: "How does Graham, the boy with the blog devoted to the most utterly excessive of desserts, have an eating disorder." Interestingly enough, I started this blog smack dab in the thickest moment of my anorexic behaviors and for a long time, I made it work. I found a strange sense of joy in watching other people enjoy the foods I so furiously denied myself. However, once my disorder erred more to the side of bulimia, I found it mentally and emotionally much harder of a task for me to bake, so my posting frequency during the beginning of this year became dodgy. 

So where am I now, you might ask? It wasn't until this March that I took matters into my own hands. Though I had endured this cycle for years, I realized how much unnecessary pressure I was putting on myself. Since then, I've been in a period of personal recovery, teaching myself how to love and live fully and reclaiming my own self-image. Although every day has its struggles, I'm doing much better. I've recently reached a point in this reconciliation with myself where I've become comfortable enough to enter into a new, happier era of my life, one not defined by guilt, but rather self love. I want nothing more than to share that with you. 

I know that I haven't always been there for you as much as I would have liked to have been, but I hope I could help you can understand a little more, because I think our relationship is one I've always truly cherished. Right now, I'm channeling this newfound inspiration and general okay-ness into the work I share in this virtual space. In the meantime, I made you a pavlova as a peace offering. It's drenched in salted caramel and is really delicious, I promise! Enjoy it! 

Always yours,

Graham 

grilled peach & salted caramel pavlova // glazed & confused
grilled peach & salted caramel pavlova // glazed & confused
grilled peach & salted caramel pavlova // glazed & confused
grilled peach & salted caramel pavlova // glazed & confused

SALTED CARAMEL, GRILLED PEACH & PECAN PAVLOVA

for the meringue:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1-1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean extract or paste
  • 3 drops of almond extract

for the topping:

  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel 
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups freshly sliced peaches
  • turbinado sugar, grilling 
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped 
  • salted caramel, as desired

Preheat oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and using a pencil, draw a 9-inch circle in the center of the parchment. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time until the mixture is thick and glossy. Gently fold in the lemon juice, cornstarch, and extracts. 

Spoon the meringue mixture in the center of the circle drawn onto the parchment paper. Using a spatula, spread the mixture to the edges of the circle, making sure to build up the edges and create a small well in the center of the meringue. Bake the meringue for 1 hour and cool on a wire rack.

Using the same mixer with a clean bowl, whip together the heavy cream and salted caramel on high speed until soft peaks form. Place the salted caramel-infused whipped cream in the center of the baked meringue. 

Using a grill pan or barbecue grill, coat the peaches in sugar and grill until golden brown and cooked through. Place grilled peaches on top of the whipped cream. Garnish with chopped pecans and remaining salted caramel. 

a day in new orleans (fueled by lots of coffee)

I personally believe that calories don't exist in New Orleans, so I like to treat myself to a cafe au lait and an order of beignets with extra powdered sugar at my favorite beignet spot, the original Cafe du Monde in Jackson Square.

I personally believe that calories don't exist in New Orleans, so I like to treat myself to a cafe au lait and an order of beignets with extra powdered sugar at my favorite beignet spot, the original Cafe du Monde in Jackson Square.

the quintessential City Park picnic: meats and cheeses from St. James Cheese Company, an overflow of freshly-baked breads from La Boulangerie, colorful macarons from Sucre and iced French Market Coffee French Roast. 

the quintessential City Park picnic: meats and cheeses from St. James Cheese Company, an overflow of freshly-baked breads from La Boulangerie, colorful macarons from Sucre and iced French Market Coffee French Roast. 

lafayette cemetery, new orleans
lafayette cemetery, new orleans
if you're looking for the perfect mid-day pick me up before going out for cocktails, Domenica's affogato with Chef Lisa White's famed chocolate espresso cookies — bruto ma buoni — hits the spot every. single. time.  

if you're looking for the perfect mid-day pick me up before going out for cocktails, Domenica's affogato with Chef Lisa White's famed chocolate espresso cookies — bruto ma buoni — hits the spot every. single. time.  

new orleans, la // glazed & confused

To say that New Orleans is a special place is an understatement.

Every square foot of this perfectly imperfect city overflows with character. I grew up in a small town less than an hour north of the city, but never truly discovered my love for the city until the day I left it. It’s a bit of a paradox really, because placing yourself in New Orleans often seems like removing yourself from the outside world. Time goes slowly here and things don’t always get done on time, but that laissez-faire attitude is exactly what makes New Orleans so beautiful. From the colorful Caribbean houses of the French Quarter to the melange of cultures visible on each and every street corner. The food. Hell, how I love the food. The fact that it’s perfectly acceptable to have a full-fledged powdered sugar fight over a hot cup of our amazing chicory coffee. The need to celebrate anything and everything to the openness and hospitality of complete strangers. The reasons for my love are endless.


Thank you to French Market Coffee for letting me share my perspective on New Orleans! Check out what other NOLA bloggers have been sharing by searching #mynolamycoffee on Instagram. 

blueberry & blonde chocolate crostata

blueberry & blonde chocolate crostata // glazed & confused

Last weekend I realized that I've spent the majority of the summer so far laying in bed watching RuPaul's Drag Race. Three weeks after willingly getting four unnecessary teeth ripped out of my mouth, panicking over the potential for dry sockets, and experiencing what I can only describe as my body melting into a cloud of pillows as a result of some pretty strong painkillers, I forced myself out of bed and headed out for my favorite Louisiana summer tradition of waking up at the crack of dawn, putting on my overalls, and blueberry picking in the sweltering 8 a.m. heat.

All in the name of crostata! 

louisiana blueberry picking // glazed & confused
louisiana blueberry picking // glazed & confused
louisiana blueberry picking  // glazed & confused

Pro tip: blueberry picking is all fun and games until you realize that you have 8 pounds of berries that need to be tended to immediately. Luckily for me, the solution was an easy one: bake them into practically every single dessert known to man. Within the past week, I've made blueberry muffins, two batches of blueberry brownies, and frozen a good chunk of them.

But the true superstar? This blueberry crostata.

blueberry & blonde chocolate crostata // glazed & confused
blueberry & blonde chocolate crostata // glazed & confused
blueberry & blonde chocolate crostata // glazed & confused
blueberry & blonde chocolate crostata // glazed & confused

I was feeling extra ~*fancy*~, so I smeared the inside of the pastry with homemade blonde/caramelized white chocolate. If you've never had blonde chocolate before (a la Valrhona Dulcey), it's a deliciously toasty, caramelized white chocolate that will change your life forever. Don't worry about ordering Dulcey — it's a super simple operation to turn your regular old white chocolate into blonde chocolate at home: a quick roast in the oven, stir and repeat every five minutes for 40 minutes. The outcome is waaaay worth extra time, I promise! Buttery crust, toasty blonde chocolate, the most deliciously juicy local blueberries.... just do it.

Whether you eat it alone or use it as a vehicle for your favorite vanilla ice cream, you need this in your life! Happy weekend fraaaands! 


Caramelized White Chocolate

8 oz. good quality white chocolate

make:

Preheat oven to 266° F. Scatter white chocolate pieces onto a baking pan.* Bake the chocolate for 40 minutes, removing from the oven every 5 minutes to stir. (After about 30 minutes, the chocolate will caramelize and gradually turn amber.) Remove from oven and place into a bowl. At this stage, your chocolate might be lumpy and pretty gross looking. Don't worry! Stir vigorously until a liquid resembling melted chocolate forms. Pour into a glass jar and store at room temperature. 

Blueberry Crostata 

for the pastry:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and diced
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

for the topping:

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

for the filling:

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar, divided
  • juice and zest of half a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened

  

make:

Place the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse to combine. Add the butter and toss quickly to coat each cube of butter with flour. Pulse 15 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water, continuing to pulse but stop the machine just before the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, roll it into a ball and form into a flat disk. Wrap the disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. To make the topping, use the food processor and pule together all ingredients until coarse. Set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the berries, sugar, lemon zest, juice and cornstarch and set aside.

Roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer it onto the prepared baking sheet. Smear half of the caramelized white chocolate in the center of the pastry. Top with the blueberry mixture, topping, and any extra blonde chocolate. Fold and crimp the edges of the pastry into to the center. Brush with butter and sprinkle crust with the remaining turbinado sugar. 

Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the fruit is tender. Serve warm with ice cream for a killer dessert or at room temperature with a cup of coffee for a killer breakfast.