roasted rhubarb parfaits with coconut yogurt and cacao nibs

roasted rhubarb parfaits with coconut yogurt and cacao nibs via

A few days ago, while sitting around the table at my favorite Parisian restaurant with a group of talented creative types from around the globe, I was overcome with the urge to reach under the table and pinch myself. Nothing dramatic. Just a small gesture to ensure I wasn’t at home in my bed dreaming this whole scenario into reality. 

Lately, I find it hard to believe that my life is my life. I’m not saying I don’t have days where I gnash my teeth in frustration with the world. Or feel completely uninspired. Or disappointed with myself. Or angry at the flabbiness of my upper arms. (On my worst days, I feel all of these things simultaneously.)

But on this particular day, in this particular restaurant, in front of the most ethereal lemon tart I’ve ever tasted, I felt a rush of pleasure and satisfaction wash over me. Followed by a wave of incredulity that my life includes things like trips to Paris and creative collaborations with people whose work I admire and light-as-air lemon tarts.

roasted rhubarb parfaits with coconut yogurt and cacao nibs via

Three years ago, when I decided to leave a business venture I’d poured myself into, I cried every day for a month. My business partner and I, to put it mildly, did not see eye to eye. After months of stress and conflict and feeling like I couldn’t be myself at work, it was time to bow out. 

When I wasn’t crying, I was filled with anger and resentment. And fear. How would I earn a living? What would I do next? Would I be able to re-invent myself or would I end up a crazy cat lady living with my mom until I was old and grey? To open that business had been my dream for years and it had utterly imploded. These were some dark days. 

roasted rhubarb parfaits with coconut yogurt and cacao nibs via

But somewhere in the middle of the anger and hurt and sadness and fear, a tiny seed took root. A vision for the future and what sort of work I could find fulfilling began to take shape. I started teaching cooking classes again to regain a sense of connection with my community. I bought a camera and learned to use it. I started this blog. Finally, I worked up the courage to pursue another dream of mine--leading culinary tours abroad to share my favorite cities with others. Along the way, I’ve gotten married, bought a house in a vibrant neighborhood I love and forged new friendships. 

Sitting at that table in Paris, I couldn’t help thinking this was the sort of lemons-into-lemonade moment that makes life a wonderment. I wouldn’t have found myself at that table without the soul-bruising experience of leaving my last business. I’d likely still be working long days and trying to be someone I’m not, instead of traveling and discovering my love of photography and meeting inspiring humans all over the world. (I certainly wouldn’t be drinking nearly as much amazing French wine!)

roasted rhubarb parfaits with coconut yogurt and cacao nibs via

In the spirit of turning lemons into lemonade, I give you this roasted rhubarb parfait. After a cake recipe I was working on turned out to be a total failure, I took the leftover roasted rhubarb and swirled it into some yogurt, then scattered cocoa nibs over the top for crunch. It was infinitely better than that cake.

This version also has coconut, vanilla and honey for depth of flavor. For those of you facing uncertainty, self-doubt or fear of what the future holds, I hope it serves as a little reminder that we never really know what lies ahead. And that often the lemons (or crappy cakes or career setbacks) life sends our way lead to something far more rewarding than we ever could have imagined.

roasted rhubarb parfaits with coconut yogurt and cacao nibs via

roasted rhubarb parfaits with coconut yogurt and cacao nibs via

Roasted Rhubarb Parfaits with Coconut Yogurt and Cacoa Nibs

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 lb rhubarb (about 6 medium stalks), trimmed, halved lengthwise if thick, and sliced about ⅓-inch thick
  • 8 oz (1 pint) strawberries, tops removed and diced about ⅓-inch thick
  • 6 tablespoons honey, plus an additional to taste
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 cups plain greek yogurt (I used Ellenos yogurt)
  • ½ cup coconut cream (I used one 5.4 fluid oz/160 mL can from Native Forest)
  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 6 tablespoons cacao nibs (I like Theo cacao nibs best)

*Notes: For a vegan version, use plain greek style coconut yogurt. If using coconut yogurt, you can omit or cut back on the coconut cream.

- If you can’t find coconut cream, buy a can of coconut milk and place it in your fridge until cold. Open it, pour off the liquid (reserve for another use) and use the thick coconut cream that remains. 

- These parfaits can be made in advance and stored, covered, in the fridge for a couple days. When I did this, mine set up and had an almost cheesecake-like consistency, which was delicious! If you go this route, I recommend adding the top layer of coconut and cacao nibs just before serving to add a little extra crunch.

roasted rhubarb parfaits with coconut yogurt and cacao nibs via

Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a paring knife. Place the seeds in a medium bowl along with the rhubarb, strawberries, 6 tablespoons of honey and a pinch of salt. Stir gently to combine and set aside for 20 minutes. While the fruit is macerating, preheat the oven to 400 F. 

Spread the rhubarb and strawberries out on a parchment-lined sheet pan along with their juices. Roast until some of the rhubarb is falling apart and the juices have thickened to a syrup-like consistency, about 25 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

Place the yogurt in a medium bowl and add the coconut cream. Whisk to combine well. Whisk in honey to taste. (The amount will vary depending on how tangy your yogurt is--I used 2 tablespoons.) Place a couple tablespoons of the coconut yogurt in the bottom of 6 small (4- to 6-oz.) glasses. Spoon a tablespoon or so of the roasted rhubarb over the yogurt and top with some of the flaked coconut and cacao nibs. Repeat the layering process one more time, then serve.

Makes 6 servings.

roasted rhubarb parfaits with coconut yogurt and cacao nibs via

matcha white chocolate bark with coconut and raspberries

matcha white chocolate bark //

I’ve got big news this week. Beau and I are buying a house!!!!!!!!!

Those of you who have purchased houses before probably know how nerve-racking this process is. I had no inkling of the mountain of paperwork buying a house entails, not to mention the nail-biting stress induced by waiting to see if your bid is accepted. And then there’s that whole forking over a huge pile of money part, too. 

matcha white chocolate bark //

But, home-ownership! How exciting is that? I can barely sleep at night, I’m so jazzed to start painting and refinishing and laying tile. And my index finger is practically paralyzed from all the decor-related pinning I’ve been doing. 

All this stress and excitement has left me more than a little behind on my Christmas preparations, however. As in I have done precisely nothing to prepare for the holidays. I haven’t even played any sappy Christmas music, which is my favorite way to kick off the season.

But thanks to this recipe for Matcha White Chocolate Bark with Coconut and Raspberries, I will at the very least have some pretty homemade treats to give. 

This bark is inspired by a green tea bar made by the L.A.-based chocolate company, Compartés. The recent appearance of many excellent white chocolates on the market had already made me a white chocolate convert. But the sweet, grassy flavor and pleasant bitterness of matcha powder against the silky sweetness of white chocolate made me consider it in a whole new, more sophisticated, light. 

One of my go-to gifts for the holidays is chocolate bark. It’s stupendously easy to make and the possible flavor combinations are limitless. This bark is my favorite to date though. I’m obsessed with the green tea/white chocolate combination. The raspberries provide contrast to the earthiness of the tea and the sweetness of the chocolate. And the coconut gives the whole thing crunch. 

matcha white chocolate bark //
matcha white chocolate bark //

I’m feeling pretty nice about the whole Christmas color palette, too. And did I mention this gorgeous confection only takes about 15 minutes to make? 

So if you’re looking for a last-minute homemade holiday gift or just a little something different to slip in someone’s stocking, I suggest you get acquainted with this Matcha White Chocolate Bark. 

I’ve made two batches today, which might be the extent of my holiday “baking” this year. But I’m cool with it. Especially if it means decking the halls of our own little bungalow come Christmas 2016.


P.S. If you're looking for other homemade holiday gift ideas, here are a few more recipes you might like:

I am obsessed with the green tea/white chocolate flavor combination! And this beautiful bark comes together in about 15 minutes. Hello last-minute homemade holiday gift!

Matcha White Chocolate Bark with Coconut and Raspberries

  • 1 lb. high quality white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons culinary grade matcha powder
  • ½ cup freeze-dried raspberries, lightly crushed
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened, shaved coconut

*Notes: I used Green & Black's organic white chocolate for this bark but any high-quality white chocolate will work.

- Trader Joe's and Whole Foods both carry excellent freeze-dried raspberries.

- Unsweetened coconut is important since white chocolate is generally quite sweet. Using sweetened coconut would, in my opinion, push this bark into cloying territory.

- The chocolate is gently heated to between 100 – 110° F in order to keep the temper of the chocolate. Reserving 1/4 of the chocolate to stir in will cool it down more quickly and also help keep it in temper. Once your chocolate it is out of temper it gets a whitish sort of "bloom" more quickly and will lose some of it's snap. Of course, it isn't strictly necessary to try to keep your chocolate in temper. For a slightly less fussy version, you can simply heat it all until melted and then proceed with the recipe. This option works better if you or the recipients of your bark are going to be eating it within a 2-4 days.

matcha white chocolate bark //

Heat a small saucepan with one inch of water over high heat until the water barely comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain this bare simmer. Place a large metal bowl over the saucepan of water and add ¾ of the chopped chocolate. Take care not to let any water or steam touch the chocolate or it can seize

Cook, stirring often until the chocolate has melted and reads between 100 – 110° F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the reserved chocolate. Stir until all the chocolate has melted. Sift the matcha over the bowl to make sure there are no lumps and stir until the streaks disappear and the chocolate is uniform in color.

Stir half the raspberries and half the coconut into the melted chocolate then pour onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Spread the melted chocolate to a roughly 10x10-inch square then sprinkle the rest of the raspberries and coconut over the top. Gently press the toppings into the chocolate to make sure they stick.

Set the bark aside to cool for 2 hours at room temperature or 20 minutes in the fridge before slicing into 16 pieces. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 16 pieces.