There is an underlying concept in Imbolc that shows itself again in the preparations for Lent.
Spring cleaning includes the process of going through “stuff” and sorting out what is needed and still useful and what is not. Going through the fridge probably brings up an assortment of containers pushed off to the side, some of value and others not. In a time of less abundance all the useable items would be offered in some way to a festive table.
Preparation for Lent includes going through the kitchen and taking away temptation by using up things on the taboo list in the weeks before, creating that sense of austerity by choice.
So what did I come across while spring cleaning? Mostly, things left over from the last classes before Christmas and this is what happened to them. I chose a braid style of pastry because Imbolc is days away and I wanted to include a nod to Brigid. It could just as well have been popovers or tarts. I also included the two varieties of chocolate because chocolate qualifies as a seed, right?
cream cheese, about 3 Tablespoons
truffle mixture, maybe 1/4 cup
marzipan, just over 1/4 cup
a recipe of processor puff pastry that I had plans for and never got to
some cherry filling, about two cups
Lindt chocolate that was a Christmas present, 35 grams (1.25 oz.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Take the pastry out of the fridge and allow it to warm for 5 – 10 minutes.
Take a moment to gather your thoughts. Focus on the New Years resolutions or 2017 business plans or goals for the coming year and meander through what you might benefit from releasing. Is there fear or frustration that blocks the way? Are you worried about a relationship? Just like these ingredients you are using up, what needs to be let go? Wash your hands under warm water and see what no longer serves dripping off your finger tips. Welcome the compassionate spirits, request their support and begin.
When finished it will all be tucked inside.
With a knife cut one inch strips along each side of the pastry to about one third of the way towards the middle on both sides.
Mix together the marzipan and cream cheese.
I used a fork to combine the two ingredients. It wasn’t smooth and that was not an issue.
Putting the filling down in one big pile will be more difficult to spread.
I rolled out the truffle mixture into a long rope and placed it in the middle of the marzipan/cream cheese mixture and then topped that with cherry filling. ( Note: It was homemade with loads of cherries. If you decide to make this and use store bought cherry pie filling, I would suggest draining much of the sauce off or the braid will be too wet to handle. )
If the outside pastry strips are too long they can be folded, creating a double layer of pastry on top or cut off and rerolled for something else. Fold the bottom center edge up and tuck the strips underneath creating a neat rounded finish.
Carefully transfer to a cookie sheet and bake until puffed up and golden brown, about 30 minutes but keep checking as all oven are slightly different.
Once baked let cool for at least 20 minutes before finishing with a drizzle of melted dark chocolate. Serve slightly warm or a room temperature.
My intention here is not to encourage you to head out to buy marzipan and truffles. It is more to share that what seems like a group of unrelated left over items can be combined into something a little special.
Your fridge may contain a grouping of savoury flavours and the finished dish would be an entree. Maybe there is a warming stew waiting for all the vegetables in need of being used up or that bag of plums in the freezer really would be better as jam before the freezer burn gets it. Use whatever you find in your spring cleaning to respectfully let go of what is no longer needed and create clean open space for your own new beginning.
Cherry Chocolate Braid from My Kitchen Wand