Sweeter Off the Vine Cookbook Review

Let's talk fruit.

Specifically Yossy Arefi's delicious fruit pastries and desserts found in the new cookbook Sweeter Off the Vine coming out in March 2016.

Over the weekend Justin and I had the pleasure of sampling one of her amazing recipes, and I have to say – it wasn't bad. I mean what else could you expect from the Apt. 2B Baking Co. blog writer and food photographer? A Brooklyn, NY native (where they have some of the best food in the world, imho!), Arefi has been featured in Bon Appétit, Saveur, Good Housekeeping, Modern Farmer, T Magazine, and more. The beautifully crafted Sweeter Off the Vine is merely visual proof of her success in her chosen field. And the recipes? To die for.

The book is broken up into sections – one for each season. Even further, she breaks each season up into specific ingredients that dominant recipes from that section. Herbs, rhubarb, strawberries, and cherries make up the spring recipes while cranberries, citrus, and dates are prevalent among the winter recipes, for example. 

While I managed to bookmark a good many recipes in my kindle version of the book, only two possibilities stood out as true candidates when it came time to decide exactly which one we would bake to determine if Arefi's food actually tasted as good as her pictures looked. We were torn between the Apricot and Berry Gelatte with Saffron Sugar (What the heck is a gelatte?) and Tangerine Cream Pie. Inevitably, with cold 30 degree temperatures in the forecast, the gelatte won us over with the possibility of filling our bellies and warming our souls at the same time.

Thus came the search for apricots.

If you know anything about apricots, which apparently I do not, you would know that apricots grow in the summer rather than the winter. (No, I did not pay any mind to the table of contents where Arefi clearly has her apricot recipes listed under the summer months. Oops.) Anyway, you should have seen my husband and I going to every store looking for apricots and finding none! Justin, however, is quite skilled in the kitchen. Without apricots, my version of the recipe would have failed since I have to follow directions exactly. My husband has enough science knowledge that he is able to seamlessly substitute ingredients and, most of the time, have everything come out perfect – like that's how it was originally intended to be. (Some people have all of the luck.) Rather than get anxious and pull up google in a desperate search for an apricot replacement, like I did, he decided to use mangos in our Apricot and Berry Gelatte instead of the required apricots.

This was the result:

A delicious treat which we ate by the fire with ice cream and whipped cream on top. Sooo good. :)

Now. For the recipe. (As changed by my husband.)
1. Make your favorite pie dough and refrigerate. We used Arefi's All-Butter Pie Crust recipe, but you could just as easily buy a crust from your local supermarket.
2. Combine vanilla seeds from 1 vanilla bean, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and a pinch of saffron threads into a mortar and grind with pestle until finely ground. Stir in 2 teaspoons of all purpose flour and a pinch of salt.
3. Cut two mangos in half and remove the outer shell discarding the pits. Toss the cut mangos (225g), 1/2 cup blueberries (80g), and 1/2 cup blackberries (80g) with sugar mixture to combine.
4. Remove the pie dough from the fridge and cover with a thin layer of apricot jam (approximately 60g) leaving a 1.5 inch border around the edges. Place the fruit mixture in the center of the dough and fold the edges of the dough over the fruit. Press gently to seal. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
6. Before placing in the oven, brush the dough with egg wash (from 1 large egg) and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the fruit juice bubbles and the crust browns.
7. Cool slightly. The tart is best served warm on the day that it's made.

So there you have it! Go forth and eat delicious things on what they are expecting to be a snowy, cold weekend here on the east coast of the US. And then, when you are done, pre-purchase Arefi's Sweeter Off the Vine so that you can try even more of her yummy recipes when the book comes out this March! Or just go follow her at Apt. B2 Baking Co.! You know you want to. :)

* I received this book in exchange for writing a review. All opinions are my own.

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