Lifestyles of the poor and obscure…

Going around the blog world last week, I saw a variety of treats dedicated to that of Valentine’s Day. Gorgeous creations, mostly heart shaped with a touching story attached of tales of love and dedication. That got me thinking about my most memorable Valentine’s Day.
I will be the first to admit that it is not a favorite holiday of mine. In fact, I spent most of my single years boycotting it and celebrating Arizona Statehood Day instead…which happens to fall on February 14th. For although I love all Valentine decorations, I am not a fan of what poor men have to put up with. First they have to find a card that encompasses all that he feels about us and if he doesn’t, the woman feels disappointed. The woman…she just has to get a card. The man is suppose to buy you roses, chocolates and diamonds. Usually feeling pressure to put the diamonds in either the roses or the chocolate.  The woman gives him a coupon book for a free massage and other “activities” that you probably already do with your loved one. Then he has to take you out to eat and pay for that. Yeah, that seems fair.
Enough of my rant. When I went to college my mother had a tad bit of empty nest syndrome and so whenever she could she would send a care package. The best care packages she sent were for Valentine’s Day. For she would go and buy 14 items and then individually wrap each them. I would open a numbered gift everyday up until Valentine’s Day. Cute, eh? One of my packages was a bag of Valentine Peanut M&M’s.
One night(that would be V-day), when  drinking was amazingly NOT involved, a fellow dorm mate decided to dare me to stick two of those peanut M&M’s up my nose. I of course, declined. Then they offered $10 to do it as long as they could take a Polariod of it.
Ten Bucks?
Now we are talking.
So up I stuffed the Peanut M&M’s into my nose, no problem. Even asked them to take two Polaroid pictures so that I could have one also. They gave me my $10 and I was happy. Happy that was until I had to remove them. Which remove they did not want to do. So stupid me thought the best way to try and remove them was to blow my nose as hard as I could.
That was the sound of me hitting the ground from passing out.
When I awoke, my poor Japanese exchange student of a roommate was standing over me. The M&M’s were out. For my roommate had gone and dug them out, to this day I don’t know how, and it is best that I do not know. But in true polite fashion my roommate saved them for me “just in case you want eat.”
Looking back, not so worth the ten bucks. I promptly took the extra Polaroid and wrote on it, “Lifestyles of the Poor and Obscure” and sent it to my parents. I sent it in hopes that they would send money so that their daughter would stop having to stuff candy up her nose to earn money.
It worked.
Hope you had a lovely day with your loved ones.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Meringue Tart


1/3 cup ground hazelnuts(hazelnut flour)
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
1 TBSP Frangelico
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup all-purpose flour


1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 TBSP unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp Frangelico
1 tsp vanilla extract
7 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped


4 large egg whites, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar


To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter one large rectangular tart pan or four 4 3/8-inch tart pans.
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the Frangelico and salt. Gradually add the flour and ground hazelnuts and combine on low speed until incorporated. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and press into prepared pan/s, making sure the dough comes to the top edge of the pan/s. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes.

To make the ganache:
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the cream, butter, salt, Frangelico and vanilla extract. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove pan from heat. Put chopped chocolate in a large bowl and pour the hot cream over it. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Spoon ganache into tart. Refrigerate tarts at least 30  minutes.

To make the meringue:
Set a large, perfectly clean metal bowl over  a pot of simmering water. Pour in the egg whites and sugar. Heat the egg whites and sugar while whisking constantly until the sugar melts and there are no visible grains in the meringue. Remove the meringue from over the simmering water and whip it with a  mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on low speed for 5 minutes, increase the speed to high and beat 5 minutes longer, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat the broiler. Pile or pipe meringue onto the tart, making sure to seal each tart by spreading/piping the meringue to the edge of the pan.
Broil tart/s until the meringue turns golden brown. You may also just use a kitchen torch..which is what I did.
Tart/s should be served the day they are assembled.

Source: Adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather with Alison Oresman, 2004


  1. You blow me away Peabody. Thud . . . that’s me hitting my head. How could you do that, how could you think of doing that? Goes to show you how you should stick to your first response.

  2. Oh sorry, please send me slices (2 would be nice) of the Chocolate-Hazelnut Meringue Tart. Thanks.

  3. I must say, that is pretty much the best – and certainly the most unique – Valentine’s Day story I have ever heard! That definitely made me smile. Of course the tart is gorgeous as well :)

  4. Oh my goodness!!! I’ve just found your blog. Delicious! :)

  5. As I sit here on a Sunday morning eating split level puddings, (you know what book they’re from…) I think that if someone were to take my picture, (complete with pudding stuck to the side of my face) the caption would read “Shameful lifestyles of the hermit cook…”

  6. This tart is gorgeous! Looks delicious…great story too :)

  7. You just described ALMOST EXACTLY THE SAME THING my boyfriend did at his frat house yesterday afternoon. For $5. WITH CASHEWS.

  8. HA! Hysterical story… Its always good to have a roommate that will #1. dig M&M’s out of your nose and #2. Save said M&M’s in case you want to eat and #3, never speak of it again! Thats a once in a lifetime roommate!

    That tart looks delish… chocolate and hazelnut are one of my favorite combos.

  9. Not sure I’ll ever be able to think of Valentine’s Day again without remembering this story!! Too funny — but only because it has a happy ending. Best stick to making beautiful tarts, I think!

  10. Hhahaha. Well you lived to tell about it. That tart is calling my name.

  11. That’s absolutely hilarious! I guess now you know to stick to plain M&M’s?

  12. I am without words to comment on the M&Ms incident. I can, however, find words for that tart. Delicious! Beautiful! Yum!

  13. I’m totally laughing out loud. My daughter would be happy to tell you about “the button incident” in which I attempted to teach a lesson, but learned one instead.

    Lovely tart. I don’t think I’d stick it up my nose.

  14. Hahahhaa…. thanks for sharing your funny Vday story with us! i’m not a big meringue fan, but i do love hazelnut, so i might have to give this recipe a try :) it looks so beautiful!

  15. You had me LOL over this. I may never look at peanut M&M’s the same way again.
    A FWIW, my husband took me to dinner and then I took him to a hockey game :)

  16. I almost peed on myself! :) Peabody you’re too funny and an amazing baker. :)

  17. So…did you eat the unstuck M&M’s or frame them?
    That is so funny! I snorted so loud when I read your post my husband came out to see if I was alright!
    He thought I was choking, which made me laugh even more.
    Thanks for the good laugh.

  18. I love the look of your tart but i love your story more. I would have probably whacked my nose to get the M&M’s out, and suffered from massive pain/broken nose. And then eaten the M&Ms.

  19. Have you ever eaten a peanut M&M again?

  20. LOL…
    Makes me think of the classmate in elementary school who stuck pieces of hot roll up her nose at lunch. She didn’t have much luck with it, either. ;)

    BEAUTIFUL, droolworthy tart!

  21. The things we do when we were in college ;). I had a good laugh. I wouldn’t want to know either if that happened to me . My dad also would send me care packages all the time even when I was working. Think his daughter was starving or something.

  22. gorgeous. i just love meringue. my birthday happens to fall on valentines day. double the pressure for my boyfriend.

  23. Good thing you had an inventive roommate or we would not have the pleasure of posts like this and such delicious recipes and photos to die for. Glad your parents started sending money instead of M&Ms :)

  24. If I’d had this tart on Valentine’s Day it would have been a lot better …

  25. I love, love, LOVE chocolate and hazelnuts. I’m also a big fan of Rebecca Rather, her bakery, and her cookbooks. Looking forward to trying this recipe! I’m sure I’ll be thinking of you next time I eat Peanut M & Ms too.

  26. I’m speechless. Pure decadence on a plate, well done.

  27. Haha great story! And beautiful tart. I’ve been eyeing that long rectangular tart shell for a while now.

  28. holy crap, that is an awesome story.

    that’s some good-looking meringue, it looks almost marshmallow-y. and my love of frangelico cannot be denied.

  29. To die for!!! Such a a heavenly tart is extremely tempting!



  30. Hilarious! The tart looks wonderful too!

  31. Pea, you are out of this world – I had a laugh with your story! Poor M&Ms… :)

    Joao and I take it pretty calmly, and we did when we were boyfriend and girlfriend too. Here in Brazil, it’s called “Boyfriends and girlfriends’ day” and it’s celebrate on June, 12.
    We’ll have something nice for dinner (out or I’ll cook), a bottle of wine, and exchange gifts, but it all kind of happens naturally, no pressure on.

  32. What a way to start my day…snorting my coffee reading your story! I know what to get you for your birthday….Not!! The tart is simply gorgeous!

  33. Well I feel the same way you do about Valentine’s Day. My husband loves that we don’t celebrate it.

    But I will never go on your blog or see your name again without thinking of M&M’s up your nose. Its a lovely picture.

  34. Are you sure drinking wasn’t involved? I actually broke my nose in ballet class when I was 12 so I was pretty good about not sticking things up it after that. :)

    Your tart is beautiful! Do you think a round tart pan would work? I don’t have a rectangular one.

  35. I think I just busted rib from laughing….thanks for that!
    This tart looks sinfully delicious. My mouth is watering!

  36. This has got to be the most unique Valentine’s day story I have read..The tart is gorgeous too.

  37. Awwww my lil Gracie! What she will do for $10. I’m glad you stopped stuffing anything up your nose. And for crissakes if you ever do it again, don’t take anything less than $20. Okay?? :)

    The tart is almost as pretty as she who made it.


  38. I’m just sad you didn’t post the m&m picture.

  39. Do I need a licence to eat that??

  40. I can’t say that Valentine’s Day is exactly MY favorite holiday either (I posted a bit on the subject, in my last post), so I just use it as an excuse to bake a heart-shaped dessert :0) As always, I love your wit, and reading every story you tell through your blog – especially this one!! haha :0D

    That tart is nothing less than pure bliss – looks so decadent and divine!!

  41. My sides hurt from laughing…oh my god. That was a very funny story! And a beautiful tart.

  42. That is the best Valentine’s Day story that I have ever heard!

  43. Oh. My. God. I think I’m going to pass out just from looking at the pictures. That tart should come with its own zip code, seriously. What an absolutely perfect dessert. The M&Ms story was hilarious!!

  44. I don’t want roses or jewelry for Valentine’s Day–I want that!

  45. Oh ha ha ha! You kill me! I got things stuck up my nose too, except I was… 4 – and nobody paid :( Gorgeous tart you made there. I hope you guys had a good V-day Mexican dinner! I’m a sucker for sopapillas (fried dough = delish!).

  46. HAHAHAHA snort, choke! Thank you for that story – I can just picture it. You made my morning- I can’t stop chuckling. OH, and the tart looks amazing!

  47. i once knew someone who got a loonie stuck up his nose. your story totally reminded me of that! lol!

  48. Thank You thank you thank you for this recipe! It was absolutely perfect. I’m working on writing it up today and wanted to swing by and give my heartfelt thanks. This turned out fantastic!

Speak Your Mind


Log In