Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I don't think I can post any recipe at this moment but I want to share this plate of cookies with you.  All of those were made these past weeks, my family would be so happy to devour them tomorrow.  Hopefully in the coming days I'll be able to post the recipes.

As of now, I just want to say to you, my readers,  may the spirit of Christmas bring joy to your heart and happiness to your home!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Toffee Chew Bars

This is literally the second batch of cookies I made.  It sounded good on paper, it was very delicious in real life.  Chewy, true to its name, with lots of coconut and almonds which we all love.  Chocolate drizzle is optional but recommended because who doesn't like chocolate on cookies?

This was a quick cookie recipe to make as well.  The only fussy thing to do was toasting the coconut and almonds.  By toasting those two items, the flavor of the cookie is actually enhanced and slightly smoky.

Be prepared to have sticky fingers while eating this! :)

Toffee Chew Bars

Makes 24 bars

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut, toasted
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

For the crust:  Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325F.  Line a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with foil, leaving overhang on all sides.  Grease the foil.  With an electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat the butter, sugar, and salt until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the flour and mix until combined.  Press the mixture firmly into the prepared baking pan.  Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

For the filling:  Whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla together in a medium bowl.  Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk until until combined.  Stir in the coconut and almonds and spread the mixture evenly over the crust.  Bake until lightly browned around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely, about 2 hours.  Using the foil overhang, lift the bars from the pan and cut into 24 bars.  (The bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.)

Source:  America's Best Lost Recipes

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cocoa Snickerdoodles

I've started baking again about a week ago, a few days after Thanksgiving break ended.  In the beginning, I had a baking frenzy that lasted two days, which these cookies were the first to be made, then it tapered off until I picked it up again on the weekend.  I guess when the house went back to normal--meaning there's no more guest--I was liberated.  I could do whatever I want!  I found that there's time to think about what I want to bake, things to plan with my free time.  As a start, cookies are in high priority item in my to-do list.

This cocoa snickerdoodles are too pretty to be eaten, aren't they?  Its flavor is the same as that of Mexican chocolate with its main ingredient being cinnamon as well as cocoa powder.  We love eating it because they are crunchy on the edges and chewy in the middle.  I was out of the white sanding sugar, as the recipe called for it, but I had plenty of the red.  I don't think the color matters, how the cookies taste is more important.

If I could keep my baking energy high, I could have a dozen cookie variety by Christmas!

Cocoa Snickerdoodles

Yields about 18 cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup red sanding sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375F.

Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.  Increase the speed to medium high and beat until fluffy, about 2 more minutes.  Beat in the egg and vanilla; reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just combined.

Combine the sanding sugar and cinnamon in a small shallow bowl.  Form heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into balls with damp hands; toss in the cinnamon sugar to coat.  Arrange about 3 inches apart on 2 baking sheets.

Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the cookies are set around the edge, 9 to 11 minutes.  Let cool 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Source:  Food Network Magazine, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Tart

I'm back!!!  Yes, it's been a few weeks since I wrote my last post.  Holiday and mother-in-law visit got in the way of me time, but I had a good time during my week off break.  It was also the time of indulging myself with delectable dishes that my mom made.  But there was one occasion that I had to make a special treat, that was my dad's birthday in the middle of November.  When I asked him what he would like for his birthday cake, he wanted to have something chocolate, preferably made with bittersweet chocolate.

I thought long and hard and I found the answer in this chocolate truffle tart.  It was rich in chocolate flavor, smooth, and a little fruity; a dessert that's manly and elegant.  The trick that I learned was that the chocolate didn't need to be super bitter to achieve the velvety texture.  Chocolate can get grittier as it gets bitter, so choosing chocolate liquor content between 60-70% should be enough.  I use Lindt chocolate bars and was very pleased with the result.  We enjoyed having tiny slices accompanied with a big dollop of frozen espresso-flavored custard.

Speaking of frozen custard, I tried a new brand called Snoqualmie.  Costco had the pumpkin custard sample in their store and it was excellent, and that made me decide to try the coffee custard--yay for egg yolk in ice cream!  This makes me want to try their Peppermint Stick Gelato once I see it in stores.  It'll be my holiday spoil that I may (not) share! :)

And yes, the photo above was what's left of the frozen espresso custard after too long of a photo shoot.  It was still amazing to eat!

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Tart

Serves 10

For crust:
1 1/2 cups finely ground chocolate wafers, such as Nabisco Famous (28 wafers)
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling:
1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate (60-70% cocoa), coarsely chopped
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces fresh raspberries, plus extra to serve

Make the crust:  Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly butter side of pan.  Stir together ground wafers and butter in a bowl until combined.  Pat mixture evenly over bottom of pan and 1 1/2 inches up side.  Bake until crust is slightly puffed, about 10 minutes.  Cool completely on a rack, about 15 minutes.  (Leave oven on.)

Make the filling:  Melt chocolate and butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth.  Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.  Whisk together eggs, cream, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a bowl.  Whisk in chocolate mixture and until well combined.

Scatter raspberries on crust.  Pour filling into cooled crust and rap pan once on counter to eliminate any air bubbles.  Bake until filling 1 inch from edges is set and slightly puffed but center still trembles slightly when pan is gently shaken, 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool tart completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours.  (Center will continue to set as it cools.)  Refrigerate tart, uncovered, until center is firm, about 4 hours.  Remove side of pan and sprinkle with cocoa before serving.  Serve with extra raspberries, cream, and/or ice cream.

Source:  adapted heavily from Gourmet Today 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pineapple Upside-Down Cinnamon Rolls

I've always wanted to try something different with familiar recipe, eating the same old sounds boring to me.  Well, I found it in this cinnamon rolls recipe; instead of normal cinnamon rolls, I treated my family to the pineapple upside-down cinnamon rolls.  And you know what, it's actually delicious!

The basic sweet dough recipe is already fantastic, it's a very soft dough that's easy to handle.  It can be made using a mixer or bread machine--which is my go-to machine to make bread dough.  Bread flour is my preferred flour to make sweet dough even though the original one uses all-purpose.  The quantity of pineapples was changed slightly to 2 cups instead of 1 1/2 cups.  I do like it that way so there's an equal amount of pineapple to the rolls, otherwise I would have eaten only rolls and no more pineapples.  

And because I wanted to bake it in the morning for breakfast, I proofed the two pans in my fridge overnight.  The morning of, take those pans out and set in the oven with a pan of boiling water placed on the rack underneath the pans.  Let it proof for 30 minutes and then bake.  

If you have cream cheese frosting, this is also good with it!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 18 small rolls

Pan Sauce:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cups canned pineapple chunks (juice reserved)
1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
9 maraschino cherries, cut in half

Flour for dusting
1 recipe Cinnamon Roll Dough--recipe follows

Cinnamon Filling:
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the pan sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir in the brown sugar until it melts.  Stir in the pineapple chunks and juice and cook until the sauce starts to bubble and thicken, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the salt, remove from heat, and divide the sauce between two 9-inch square pans.  Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.  Arrange half the cherries, cut side up, in the bottom of each prepared pan.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and cut in half.  Roll each half out to an 8 by 12-inch rectangle.

For the filling, combine the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl.  Set aside.  Spread each half rectangle of dough with half the melted butter and sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar.  Roll up the dough, starting with a short end, to form a tight 9-inch cylinder.  Cut each cylinder into 9 slice. Place each slice, spiral side up, in a prepared pan.  Cover with tea towels and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Bake for 23 to 25 minutes or until the rolls have risen and browned. Transfer to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto serving platters.

Cinnamon Roll Dough

Makes 6 jumbo, 12 large, 16 to 20 medium, or 48 mini rolls

1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature 
3 1/3 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading and dusting
2 1/2 teaspoons instant or bread machine yeast

In a 4-cup measuring cup, combine the milk, butter, sugar, and salt.  Microwave on High for 1 minute or until warm.  Whisk in the eggs.

Place the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the liquid ingredients.  Mix on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time, until the dough forms a soft mass and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove the paddle attachment and switch to the dough hook.  With the mixer on low, knead the dough with the dough hook.  Sprinkle the dough with a tablespoon of flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the sides of the bowl.  When the dough is smooth, not sticky, and springs back when you press it with your finger, you've kneaded enough (4 to 6 minutes).  Place the dough in a large, oiled mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place for 45 to 60 minutes, or until it has almost doubled.

For bread machine dough:  Place the liquid ingredients in the pan of the bread machine after first step.  Add the flour, then the yeast.  Select Dough cycle, and press Start.

Source:  adapted heavily from I Love Cinnamon Rolls by Judith Fertig

Friday, November 6, 2015

Apple Cobbler

Right after I made the apple pie filling, I made this cobbler for dessert.  It is inspired by a peach cobbler from Gonna Want Seconds.  It is truly an amazing simple, easy, yet delicious dessert.  The cake-like topping stays crunchy--because of the sugar topping--yet moist underneath.  To intensify the apple flavor, I decided to change the water to apple cider.  It all came wonderfully in one dish that didn't last long in my house.  Everyone begged me to make another one!

 Give it a try, perhaps you'll agree!

Apple Cobbler

Makes one 8-x 8-inch dish

For filling:
2 pints homemade apple pie fillings

For cake topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup very hot apple cider

For sugar topping:
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400F.  Grease or butter 8-inch square baking dish.  Spoon apple pie fillings onto the dish, spreading it evenly.

Place all cake topping ingredients in a medium bowl, except the apple cider.  Rub the butter pieces with the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Pour in very hot apple cider and stir until the mixture just comes together.

Drop large spoonfuls of the dough over apples, try to even out the dough; it will not cover completely, do the best you can.  Sprinkle the top of the dough with the 2 teaspoons of sugar.

Place the baking dish on a cookie sheet, in case the cobbler bubbles over and drips; and bake for 15-20 minutes or until topping is golden and baked through.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of heavy cream.

Source:  adapted heavily from Gonna Want Seconds' Southern Peach Cobbler

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Apple Pie Filling

 This summer season was incredible that I wish it would not go away.  But as soon as I see apples, pears, persimmons, and other fall fruits start to appear in the market, my heart rejoices for the endless possibility of savoring them.  First thing I did was making apple pie filling.  This type of filling is suitable for canning because I like the idea of having it ready when I feel like making apple pie.

Canning has become an enjoyable chore for me surprisingly.  It's true that I have to make a time to do canning but I found that I'm quite proud of what I make into those glass jars.  And I can because of necessity; I want to preserve the flavors of whatever's seasonal but I don't have an extra freezer to store them.

This filling uses ClearJel because it's recommended for canning pie filling.  I've made numerous pie fillings using CearJel before and am always satisfied at how easy it is to process them.  I made this fillings using Honeycrisp apples, courtesy of one of my good friends who has a tree in her backyard.  I'm blessed to have a friend who graciously gives!!

Apple Pie Filling

Makes about 7 pints jars

12 cups sliced peeled cored apples
2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup ClearJel
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cups cold water
2 1/2 cups unsweetened apple juice
1/2 cup lemon juice

Treat apple slices by submerging them into a mixture of 1/2 cup lemon juice and 8 cups water.  Leave in the lemon juice water until ready to use; drain completely.

Prepare canner, jars, and lids.  I usually wash jars and lids in dishwasher and then submerge them in the canner pots; fill it with enough water to cover them, then I let it boil for 1 minute.  Leave the jars and lids inside the pots until ready to be used.

In a large pot of boiling water, working with 6 cups at a time, blanch apple slices for 1 minute.  Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a covered bowl.

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine sugar, ClearJel, cinnamon, nutmeg, water, and apple juice.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, and cook until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.  Add lemon juice, return to a boil.  Drain apple slices and immediately fold into hot mixture.  Before processing, heat, stirring, until apples are heated through.

Ladle hot pie filling into hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace; if necessary, by adding hot filling.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process for 25 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, and store.

Source:  adapted heavily from Ball: Complete Book of Home Preserving

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Truffle Mac and Cheese

Here is an easy pasta dish that surely is everyone's favorite.  I think now that the cool nights have returned, I'd be making this again.  We're Oregonians so we love the Tillamook product brands, in fact this recipe was found at their website by my son.  So naturally he asked me to make this for supper.  Super easy, super creamy, and earthy from the truffle.  I only have truffle butter, not the oil, and I think it can be substituted easily.  Use sharp and medium Cheedar to get a good balance of mild and tangy flavors, but Tillamook also sells triple cheddar combo cheese that's pre-shredded, which is also good and convenient.

Truffle Mac and Cheese

Yields 4 servings

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sharp Cheddar
1 cup medium Cheddar
2 tablespoons truffle butter (or more if you really like truffle)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups dry elbow or any small shape pasta

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  In a medium pot, melt the butter.  Add flour and stir continuously over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Gradually whisk in milk and cream until incorporated.  Stirring often, bring to simmer.  Mixture should thicken as it heats.  Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes, continuing to stir often.

A little at a time, stir in grated cheese, until completely melted.  Take off heat.  Stir in truffle butter and season with salt and pepper.

While sauce is being made, cook pasta until al dente.  Add drained, hot pasta directly to sauce.  Stir and check seasoning.  Serve immediately.

Source:  adapted heavily from Tillamook's website

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chocolate Sprinkles Cake with Fluffy Chocolate Ganache Frosting

My son just had a birthday this week and this was the cake I made for him.  I've been super busy with everything in my life right now that I was glad that he wasn't fussy about how his birthday went.  As long as he got his favorite food for dinner (sushi!), some cool presents (like a Nerf gun!), and a cake (homemade by his momma!), he's contend.  I tell you, birthday celebration for a teen boy is so much simple.  I like how mellow it is with no drama whatsoever!

Anyway, this cake's inspiration came from looking at funfetti cake.  I asked my son what kind of cake he wanted.  He said anything will do as long as it is a chocolate cake.  And so I bargained with him that I would make the frosting chocolate but the cake yellow with chocolate sprinkles in it.  The chocolate sprinkles that I used wasn't the regular jimmies, but the one that's made from real chocolate.  As someone who was born in Indonesia, I'm used to eat chocolate sprinkles in sandwich bread.  The origin of eating this type of food came from the Dutch, who occupied Indonesia for quite some time and brought their eating habits to Indonesia.  The chocolate sprinkles is called hagelslag, which means hailstorm; and I think the name fits very well.  Chocolate hails sandwich is such a comfort food!   The way the sandwich is prepared is to slather bread slices heavily with butter so the sprinkles will stay put.  Although my son was born here, it's a habit that he's acquired since I've served to him from time to time.  To see which chocolate sprinkles to use, see here.

My husband teased me endlessly about the appearance of this cake, saying that the chocolate sprinkles creates a pattern like ants in the cake, but of course the cake tastes nothing like it!  I think it's simple, elegant, manly enough, and not too mention very delicious.  The texture of the cake is tender with tight crumbs allover and the frosting is equally rich and delectable.  I'm happy that I made this cake for my son because it's perfect for him.

Chocolate Sprinkles Cake with Fluffy Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Makes one 8-inch, 2-layer cake

For the cake
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
3/4 cup real chocolate sprinkles or hagelslag

For the fluffy chocolate ganache frosting
12 ounce semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350F.  Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

To make the cake:  Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until light and fluffy.  Stop the mixer a few times and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and paddle to release any clinging butter or sugar.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla just until combined.  On low speed, slowly pour the egg mixture into the butter mixture and mix just until incorporated.  Scrape the bowl and paddle again, then beat on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds, or until the mixture is homogenous.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  On the lowest speed, add about one-third of the flour mixture to the egg-butter mixture and mix just until barely combined.  Immediately pour in about half of the buttermilk and continue to mix on the lowest speed until the buttermilk is almost thoroughly incorporated.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well.  Again on the lowest speed, add about half of the remaining flour mixture and mix just until barely combined.  Add the rest of the buttermilk and mix just until combined.  Be careful not to overmix.

At this point, it is best to finish the mixing by hand.  Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and using the rubber spatula, fold in the remaining flour mixture and the chocolate sprinkles just until the batter is homogenous.  As you fold, be sure to incorporate any batter clinging to the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the cakes spring back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip.  Let cool completely in the pans on wire racks.

To make the ganache frosting:  While the cake layers are cooling, put the chocolate in a medium heatproof  bowl.  In a small saucepan, scald the cream over medium-high heat (bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan, but the cream is not boiling).  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for about 1 minute, then slowly whisk together the chocolate and cream until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Let sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, or until completely cool.  (Or refrigerate the ganache until cool, about 30 minutes, whisking every 10 minutes.)

Fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat the butter on medium-low speed for 10 to 15 seconds, or until smooth.  Add the confectioners' sugar, salt, and vanilla and continue to beat on medium-low speed for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is fluffy and smooth.  Stop the mixture a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl and the paddle to release any clinging butter or sugar.  On medium speed, add the cooled ganache and beat for about 2 minutes, or until completely combined.  Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.   Turn up the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute, or until the frosting lightens in color and thickens.  You should have 4 cups.

Remove the cooled cakes from their pans.  Using along, serrated knife, trim the top of each cake to level it.  Place one cake layer on a cake plate.  Spoon about 1 cup of the frosting on top and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly to the edges.

Carefully place the second cake layer, top side down, on top.  Spoon about 1 cup of the frosting on top and spread it over the top and down the sides of the cake, smoothing the frosting as well as you can and covering the entire cake with a thin layer.  If time permits, refrigerate the cake for 20-30 minutes to let the crumb coating set.  Spoon a heaping cup or so of the frosting on top of the cake, and spread it evenly across the top and down the sides.  If desired, spoon any remaining frosting into a pastry bag and decorate the cake as you like.

The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Source:  adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang

Monday, October 5, 2015

Black-Bottom Banana Cream Pie

How do you eat your banana?  Fresh without embellishment or layered in between chocolate custard and vanilla custard?  If your answer is the second one, this pie is for you.  This is the kind of pie that has all my favorite ingredients, chocolate and custard.  It's also super easy and unfussy.  I really like the method where I only have to make one custard which will then divided into a chocolate and a vanilla one.  And the crust is the old-fashioned graham cracker crumbs which I think is excellent bearer of this seemingly humble pie.  It's certainly not humble in the taste department but grand in my opinion!

So go on, try it, you might like it!

Black-Bottom Banana Cream Pie

Serves 8

For the crumbs:
1 1/2 cups fine graham cracker crumbs (about 7 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 large egg yolks
2 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 medium bananas, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Chocolate shavings, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350F.  In a food processor, combine the graham cracker crumbs with the sugar, cinnamon, salt and melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened.  Press the crumbs evenly into a 9- to 10-inch, deep-dish glass or ceramic pie plate.  Bake for about 8 minutes, until the crush is lightly browned and set. Let cool completely.

In a large saucepan (preferably with a rounded bottom), combine the granulated sugar with the cornstarch, egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the milk and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the remaining 2 cups of milk and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the custard is very thick, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract until the butter is melted.  Pour half of the vanilla custard into a medium bowl.

Whisk the chopped chocolate into the custard in the saucepan until it is melted.  Spread the chocolate custard evenly in the pie crust and top with the sliced bananas.  Carefully spread the vanilla custard over the bananas.  Refrigerate the banana cream pie until it is well chilled, at least 6 hours and preferably overnight.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream with the confectioners' sugar until it is softly whipped.  Mound the whipped cream on top of the pie.  Garnish the banana cream pie with chocolate shavings and serve.

Source:  adapted from Food and Wine, authored by Valeri Lucks

Monday, September 21, 2015

No-Bake Strawberry Bars

When I first tried the original recipe, I was amazed by how delicious it was.  Who could have thought that cream cheese, gelatin and whipped cream go harmoniously together in such a way  in this no-bake dessert?  I give kudos to Judy at The Midnight Baker for sharing the recipe in her original post, No-Bake Cherries Jubilee Pie.  My family loves this kind of dessert and quickly voted to have it in a repetitious rotation :)  

This time I made it with strawberry gelatin and chopped fresh strawberries for the filling, and used rectangular baking dish to make the dessert.  I found that this combination works as well.  I think the only other modification I did was in the amount of sugar used in the crust in that I only used one teaspoon instead of three teaspoons.  Do follow her suggestion of using the extra creamy whipped topping because it makes a difference in the taste and texture.  And lastly, you really should try this because it's super easy and way too tasty not to make!  I, myself, can't wait to try it with different types of flavor and fruit.

No-Bake Strawberry Bars

Makes one 9-x-13 baking dish

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon sugar

1 tub (8 oz) extra creamy whipped topping
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 package (3 oz) strawberry gelatin dessert
3/4 cup boiling water
1 package (8 oz) fresh strawberries, save some prettier strawberries for garnish, the rest is chopped into smaller pieces

1 tub (8 oz) extra creamy whipped topping
 Fresh strawberries, halved

Mix all crust ingredients well.  Press into a 9-x-13-inch baking dish.

For filling, beat softened cream cheese with a wire whisk attachment on a stand mixer, set aside.  Mix the strawberry-flavored gelatin in a separate large bowl with the boiling water, stirring until all gelatin is dissolved.  This will take about 2 minutes.  Slowly whisk the gelatin into the cream cheese.  There will be lumps, don't worry.

Place the bowl with the gelatin/cream cheese mixture in a larger bowl filled with ice water and ice cubes until the gelatin is beginning to thicken.  This will take about 5 minutes or so.  Stir every minute or so that you keep an eye so it doesn't actually set.

Fold in 1 tub of the whipped topping, then fold in the chopped strawberries.  If the mixture doesn't "mound" refrigerate for maybe 10-15 minutes until it does (mine mounded without chilling).

Spoon mixture into prepared crust, spreading it out evenly.  Chill for 4-6 hours or overnight.

Top with the second full tub of whipped topping.  Decorate with halved fresh strawberries.

Source:  The Midnight Baker (No-Bake Cherries Jubilee Pie)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Oat Crisps with Fresh Fruits and Honey Yogurt

When I made these crips I was expecting it to be good on their own.  Well, yeah, I wasn't wrong.  I ended up eating them as snacks because they were so addictive.  Crispy, crunchy, and caramel-y, I just love these!

If you want to eat these for breakfast, the simple way to do is to grab yogurt--honey flavored is my favorite--and fresh fruits for a feel good sustenance in the morning.  This recipe is simple and irresistible which what I like from the book by Emily Luchetti, Classic Star Desserts.  I've been going through my baking book collection and trying out recipes this summer when I had a more leisurely time for baking and cooking.  So far I've found very good recipes and I'm very pleased.  I hope I can continue the baking well into the busy school and work year.  Fingers crossed!

Oat Crisps with Fresh Fruits and Honey Yogurt

Serves 6

1 1/4 ounces (2 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 pint blueberries
4 medium peaches, sliced rather thinly
1 cup yogurt--any flavor you like

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and corn syrup and stir until blended.  Stir in the oats, mixing well.

To form the crisps, drop the oats mixture, one tablespoon per cookie, onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart.  Bake, rotating the baking sheets 180 degrees at the midway point, until golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets.  Then, using a metal spatula, transfer the crisps to a large flat plate to cool.

To serve, divide blueberries, peach slices and yogurt among individual plate and place 2 oat crisps alongside or on top of each serving.

Source:  adapted from Classic Stars Desserts by Emily Luchetti

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Corn Crepes with Blueberry Sauce

Before making this dessert, honestly, I've never tried eating corn with blueberry.  I've eaten corn kernels sauteed in lots of butter and spoonsful of sugar with a dash of salt or an Indonesian version of sweet tamale--a mixture of corn, shredded coconut, sugar and salt wrapped in corn husk and steamed until soft.  Boy, that was a good sweet snack!  But never corn with blueberry and ice cream.

This doesn't make me not like the pairing; I think it's a wonderful one especially when the corn and blueberries are in season.  I love crepes and there's an interesting texture of the crepes with the addition of cornmeal in there; a little different but in no way bad.  Blueberry sauce is one of my family favorites to use in desserts so it can't go wrong in this dish.  And, oh boy, the vanilla ice cream just finishes off nicely!

In the last few weeks of summer--it's already cooling down rapidly here in Oregon--I'm sharing this recipe before it's too late!

Corn Crepes with Blueberry Sauce

Makes 6 servings

Corn Crepes:
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (about 1 ear) uncooked fresh corn kernels, preferably white
3 tablespoons white cornmeal, preferably stone-ground

Blueberry Sauce:
1 1/2 pints blueberries
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Vanilla ice cream

To make the crepes:  Put the eggs and milk in a food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.  Sift together the flour, cornstarch, and salt and add it to the egg mixture.  Blend until smooth.  Add the melted butter and again blend until smooth.

Transfer the batter to a bowl and stir in the corn kernels and the cornmeal.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to overnight.

Heat a 6-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Lightly grease the bottom of the pan.  fill a 1/4-cup measure three-quarters full with the crepe batter and pour it into the pan, rotating the pan so that a thin layer covers the entire bottom.  Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, until lightly browned.  Using the edge of a knife, loosen a corner of the crepe from the pan.  Using your fingers, flip the crepe over and cook for another 15 seconds.  Place the finished crepe on a large plate.  Continue cooking crepes, stacking them, slightly overlapping, on top of each other, until there are at last 12.  It is not necessary to grease the pan after making each crepe.  Wrap the crepes in plastic wrap until ready to use.

To make the blueberry sauce:  Place 1 pint of the blueberries, the sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan.  Cook, covered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the blueberries are soft and juicy, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the remaining blueberries.

To serve:  Place a small scoop of ice cream in the middle of each of the crepes.  Fold crepe over the ice cream.  Place 2 crepes on each of 6 plates.  Accompany with some warm blueberry sauce.  Serve immediately.

Source:  A Passion for Desserts by Emily Luchetti

Friday, August 28, 2015

Tomato and Dijon Tart with Parmesan and Basil Crust

I think everyone agrees that this season's harvest is exceptional.  Summer produce is ripe at alarming rate and the sheer number of yields can be overwhelming.  What to do with hundreds of zucchinis, tomatoes, green beans?  Will there an end to cucumbers and peppers?  I like to tell people that for every garden, one can only have 1 zucchini plant!  But, really, seeing those wonderful produce is heartening and eating is naturally more enjoyable with the freshest local fruits and vegetables.

Here's a recipe to help you use the over abundant tomatoes.  It's a tart that with an addition of basil leaves and Parmesan emanates aromatic, sweet and cheesy.  The combo works well with tomatoes and savory custard filling.

Tomato and Dijon Tart with Parmesan and Basil Crust

Serves 6-8

For the dough:
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
10 basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg

For the filling:
3-4 ripe, medium tomatoes, all of similar size and shape, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2/3 cup half-and-half
2/3 cup creme fraiche
2 large eggs
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

To make the dough:  Process the flour, Parmesan, butter, basil leaves, and salt together in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine green bread crumbs.  Add the egg and 1 tablespoon cold water, and bring the mixture together to form a soft dough.  Add a little extra water if needed.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 400F.

Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to a large circle about 1/8-inch thick and use to line the tart pan, making sure it overlaps the sides.  Trim all but 1/2-inch of the overhanging dough.  Prick the bottom with a fork, line with parchment paper, and fill with baking beans.  Place it on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until the dough is lightly cooked.  Remove the beans and paper, and bake for another 5 minutes to crisp.  Trim off any ragged edges while still warm.  Reduce the heat to 350F.

For the filling:  Place the tomatoes in an overlapping circle around the edge of the tart.  Fill the center with a smaller circle of tomato slices.  Scatter the chopped parsley over the tomatoes.  Whisk together the half-and-half, creme fraiche, eggs, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Place the tart back on a baking sheet and carefully pour the cream mixture over the tomatoes.  Scatter the grated Parmesan cheese over the top.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden on top and the filling has just set.  Set the tart aside to cool for at least 30 minutes before eating warm or cold.  This is best eaten the day it is made.

Source:  adapted from Pies: Sweet and Savory by Caroline Bretherton

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Blackberry Kahlua Cream Tart

Ah...blackberries.  I hate them when they're growing on or near my property because they'll take over everything.  I hate them for having such sharp thorns that go deep into the skin when I cut the branches that come from the neighbor's property over my fence.

But, come summer, when the fruits are ripe and juicy and sweet, then I love them.  The fruits are deep black and so easy to pick.  And what's best is that they're free, as long as I have time to pick.  This tart was made because my husband suggested one day that we went and picked blackberries in the neighborhood.  Anytime I can spend time together with him, however short, will be a good time.  So we traipsed about in one walking trail not far from home; there's someone kindly enough to clear a path around the thick bushes making it easy for us to gather the fruits.  It took us about half an hour to gather about 4 cups of fruits and we came home happy.

I love the flavor and texture of this tart; cool and smooth seedless blackberry puree that sits on top of shortbread-like crust with billowy whipped cream topping.  What's not to like?

Blackberry Kahlua Cream Tart

Makes 10 servings

1 10-inch Tart Pastry shell, fully baked--recipe follows.  I used a rectangular tart pan instead of an 10-inch round tart pan

Blackberry Puree
4 cups fresh blackberries (save some for decorations on top of the tart)
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Kahlua Whipping Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons Kahlua

Cool the tart shell thoroughly on a rack.  Transfer the shell to a large, flat plate or platter, cover with foil, and refrigerate.

To make the blackberry puree, process the blackberries in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Strain the puree through a fine-mesh strainer, working and pushing it with a spoon so you end up with as much seedless puree as possible; you should be left with close to 2 cups of puree.

Put the puree into a non-aluminum saucepan.  Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir it, along with the lemon zest, into the puree.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.  Hold it at a low boil for 1 minute, stirring, then scrape it into a glass casserole or pie pan and place it in the fridge to cool.  Once it has cooled, scrape it into the tart shell, evening it with a fork.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

When you are just about ready to assemble the tart, put the beaters and whipping cream bowl in the freezer.  Once they're chilled, beat the cream until it almost holds soft peaks, then add the sugar and Kahlua.  Beat until good and firm, but don't let it get grainy.  Spread the whipped cream over the puree and arrange a few blackberries here and there if you saved some out.  Slice and serve right away or hold in the fridge, covered for up to several hours.

Tart Pastry

Makes 1 10-inch tart shell

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons (approximately) cold water

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt.  Add the butter and cut it in until the mixture resembles very small crumbs, with all the flour having been dampened by the fat; it should be actually be starting to clump together without the water.  At that point add the cold water, a teaspoon at a time, tossing and compacting the mixture with a fork until the dough coheres.

When the dough coheres, knead it once in the bowl to distribute the butter, then flatten it on a sheet of plastic wrap into a disk about 1/2 inch thick.  Wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before rolling.  

To roll the dough:  Put the dough on a sheet of lightly floured wax paper.  Lightly flour the top of the dough, then roll it into a circle 13 to 13 1/2 inches in diameter.  Carefully invert the dough over the pan and tuck the dough down into the pan without stretching it.  Trim the dough off flush with the top of the pan.  Cover and refrigerate until baking.

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Line the shell with foil and tuck in into the pastry.  Pour dried beans or pie weights into the foil.  Place the weighted shell in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and very carefully lift the foil out of the pan with the beans still in it.  Pierce the bottom of shell several times with a fork and put the shell back in the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.  

Source: adapted from Country Baking by Ken Haedrich

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Salmon, Vegetable and Cheese Chowder

Every now and then, even in summer, we love to eat comfort food like soup or chowder.  This chowder satisfies the need of eating something wholesome and relatively easy to prepare.  Not too mention a way to use fresh corn that is in season.

I served this with slices of sourdough bread along with butter and considered dinner accomplished :)

Salmon, Vegetable and Cheese Chowder

Serves 4 to 6

1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 medium russet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cubed
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
4 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup half-and-half or milk
1 cup flaked cooked salmon
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese or a combo of Cheddar and Monterey Jack
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large soup pot over high heat, bring vegetables, garlic, rice and 3 cups of the stock to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until vegetables and rice are tender, about 20 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor and blend in batches until slightly chunky.  Return to soup pot.  Stir in remaining 1 cup stock, half-and-half, salmon, cheese, salt, thyme, and pepper.  Simmer, uncovered, until cheese melts and flavors are blended, about 10 minutes.

Source:  The Big Book of Soups and Stews by Maryana Vollstedt

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Peach Custard Pie

For the last 2 weeks or so we've been eating lots of peaches at home.  We eat them mostly fresh and in smoothie, but of course I have to make them into a dessert.  I've also felt like making pie all summer long, so naturally I looked for pie recipes. 

I have a book called Pie by Ken Haedrich, which is one of my favorite baking books, where I've made several pies previously.  His recipe for basic pie crust uses vegetable shortening which I don't mind at all, but if all-butter crust is preferred, I've made one for my Marionberry pie.  Even though it's for a double crust, one half dough could simply be freeze for up to a month.  The book is pretty extensive in all kinds of pies and has chapters on what to bake with corresponding fruits for each season.

What I think about this pie is that it satisfies both my likes, custard and fresh fruit.  The peaches need to be peeled for this pie which I grumbly did but appreciated when I bit a slice.  The crumb topping gives it a wonderful crunch, without a doubt this is all I want from a summer pie!

Peach Custard Pie

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 recipe Basic Flaky Pie Pastry, Single Crust or store-bought pie crust

1 cup full-fat sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and thickly sliced

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

If you haven't already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the pastry into a 13-inch circle with a floured rolling pin.  Invert the pastry over a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan, center and peel off the paper.  Tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge.  Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, egg yolks, flour, and vanilla until smooth.  Set aside.  Arrange the peach slices in the chilled pie shell in tight, concentric circles.  You don't have to make it look perfect, just relatively neat.  Slowly and evenly pour the sour cream mixture over the peaches.  Gently shake the pan to help the mixture settle between the peaches.  Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the streusel topping.  Combine the flour, sugar, and butter in a large bowl, tossing to blend. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Remove the pie from the oven and reduce the temperature to 400F.  Dump the streusel in the center of the pie, spreading it evenly over the top with your hands.  Tamp it down very gently.  Return the pie to the oven, placing it so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward.  Continue to bake until the topping is golden brown, about 25 minutes.  If the top gets too dark, cover with loosely tented aluminum foil during the last 10 minutes.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 2 hours.  This pie is supposed to be served cold, but also very good at room temperature or slightly warm.  Once the pie has cooled to room temperature, cover with loosely tented aluminum foil and refrigerate before serving.

  • To judge whether the pie is done or not, stick a knife in the center of the pie.  If it comes out clean, the pie is done.
  • Try serving it with vanilla ice cream and/or berry sauce.  I tried it with Marionberry sauce, it's very divine!

Source:  adapted from Pie by Ken Haedrich

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Deep-Fried Tofu Simmered with Tomatoes

Tofu is one of our main proteins in everyday cooking.  It appears frequently and my family always have many different recipes of cooking tofu.  Some people are turn off because of the texture and the bland taste of it, but when it's paired with a good recipe the tofu will become a perfect canvas.  It absorbs flavors from spices and sauces, so look for recipes that features assertive ingredients.  

Take this recipe; it's a very simple one but it has all the components that make a great dish.  Sweet, salty, and a bit sour, and the tofu soaks up all these wonderful combo flavors.  I paired this with one or two other dishes, maybe a vegetable and another protein.  Along with steamed rice, I can make dinner quickly.

If you don't want to fry your own tofu, there's fried tofu available in most Asian markets.  I do buy those because I don't always have the time to fry it.

Deep-Fried Tofu Simmered with Tomatoes

Makes 4 to 6 servings as part of a multicourse family-style meal

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
12-ounce package fried tofu (try to find a package with eighteen 1-by 2-inch rectangular pieces)
1 1/2 pounds (about 4 medium) tomatoes, cut into 8 wedges each
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoon sugar
2 green onions, green parts only, chopped

Coat the bottom of a large nonstick skillet with the oil.  Arrange the tofu pieces side-by-side in a single layer.  Wedge the tomatoes in wherever you can around the tofu.  If you have to pile the tomatoes on top of the tofu to form a second layer, that's okay.

In a small bowl, mix the fish sauce and sugar together.  Pour over the tofu and tomatoes in the skillet.  Scatter the green onions over the top.  Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Cook until the tomatoes soften and their juices are released, 10 to 15 minutes.  The skins will also start to peel away from the flesh.  Serve hot with freshly steamed rice.

Source:  The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook by Patricia Tanumihardja

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Marionberry Pie

I'm back blogging after being absent for a while.  I was away on a vacation to California the last week of June and was back in town just before the 4th of July to enjoy it at home.  As usual, fireworks were being deployed in the front yard by a happy teen and the performance was highly encouraged by his parents and grandparents.  I'm glad to be back home again; the vacation was normally a satisfying break from daily grind because we got to spend time as a family together, saw friends and family member, and enjoyed unfamiliar scenery.  

Summer has been a gorgeous season here in Oregon.  While we're away the temperature stayed in the upper 90's to sometime 100's.  As a result the fruits have been bountiful and I got to enjoy plenty of Oregon berries.  I've canned strawberries and raspberries as jams and doled out a few jars to a friend and family member in California.  After I went back home I looked for farm that has U-pick Marionberry as I seldom pick these in the summer.  Weird, huh, because these are supposed to be the berry of Oregon, the native child of the state.  There's one farm out in Beaverton that has U-pick Marionberry, which my son and I went to last weekend, called Hoffman Farm.  It was bit of a drive but it was beautiful out in the country.  We got still plentiful of berries despite the long and thorny vines that we had to avoid.  We also picked some blackberries and raspberries though they're almost out mostly because the heat baked them on the vines.  

I managed to make jam from these beauty and still have leftover.  I then decided to try a pie using filling that's prepared with a different method.  I've used Clear Jel from making canned pie filling before and I decided to utilize it again this time.  Berry pie filling always has lots of water in it that by using Clear Jel I can avoid overly runny filling.  The crust is all-butter crust which smells yummy during baking time.  In the end, even if the filling is still a bit runny, the crust collapse here and there, it's still a delicious pie that's even better with whipped cream or ice cream.

So here is my hard-earned prize after a hard-worked day of picking berries!

Marionberry Pie

Makes 1 9-inch pie

1 cup + 2 Tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons ice water

Cut butter into 1" pieces.  Chill it while you measure other ingredients.  Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Add the butter and toss until coated.  Using your fingers and palms, work the butter into smaller, irregular pieces, moving quickly and aggressively, so it stays cold.  You want some pieces pressed flat and thin and others that are larger and chunkier.

Combine the vinegar and ice water in a small cup.  Drizzle the liquid over the flour mixture, running your fingers through the flour as go to evenly distribute.  Knead in the bowl until the dough starts to hold together.  It will still look a little dry, but resist the urge to add more water; excess liquid can lead to a tough dough.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface (no extra flour needed) and smash with the heels of your hands a few more times, working in any shaggy edges.  You should still see large-ish pieces of butter and maybe a dry spot here and there.

Cut dough in half.  Press each half into a 1"-inch thick disk and wrap in plastic.  Chill at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days) to firm up the butter and allow the dough to hydrate.

While the dough chills, make the filling.

Marionberry Pie Filling

Makes 4 cups

3 1/2 cups Marionberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon Clear Jel
1 1/3 cups cold water
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Place sugar and Clear Jel in a large saucepan, whisk to combine thoroughly.  Tip in the water and boil the mixture over medium high heat; stirring constantly.  Cook until the mixture begins to thicken.  It will turn from the milky white color to a clear color.  Once the mixture thickens, add lemon juice and cook for 1 minute; stirring constantly.

Remove the mixture from the heat and add in the berries.  Don't over stir, just fold them well.

Continue with making of the pie:  Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to a 13" round (about 1/4" thick).  Slide onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill while you roll out remaining dough to a rectangle, measuring 8" x 14" to make lattice top.  Cut this dough on the long side into strips, each strip measuring 2" x 14".  You want the strips to be a bit longer than the diameter of the pie round.  Any excess strip can be cut with scissors later.  Slide strips onto parchment-lined baking sheet and chill.

Transfer the round dough into a pie dish; lift up edges to allow dough to slump down into dish.  Scrape in the filling.  Beat in 1 large egg with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl.  Brush outer edge of bottom dough with half of the egg wash; then weave lattice strips over filling.  Cut excess strips and press each strip to the edges.  Fold over the rest of the dough that's hanging out on the dish.  Brush pie with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons demerara or granulated sugar.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set pie dish on top.  Bake pie until crust is deep golden brown on top and bottom and juices are bubbling, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  If the top is browning too quickly, cover it with aluminum foil loosely.  Let the pie cool at least 4 hours before slicing.

Sources adapted from:

Bon Appetit, June 2015 (Pie Crust)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Raspberry Cream Cheese Tart

Great, another raspberry post?  Yes, but I can convince you that this tart is worth the steps to make.  It's flaky at the bottom, tangy and creamy in the middle followed by sweet-tart burst of raspberry on the top.  This reminds me of clafouti which I also love; there's few custard type desserts I don't like!

Raspberry Cream Cheese Tart

Serves 8

For the pastry dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk

For the filling:
4 oz (115 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup granulated sugar
A pinch of grated nutmeg
3 large eggs, beaten
Zest of 1 lemon
12 oz (350 g) raspberries
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

To make the pastry dough:  Place the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor, and pulse until it resembles bread crumbs.  Alternately, to make by hand, rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles bread crumbs, then stir in the sugar.

Add the egg yolk to the mixture and mix to a firm dough.  Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and use to line the pan.  Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and chill for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 400F.

Line the crust with wax paper and fill with baking beans.  Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and bake for another 10 minutes, or until pale golden.  Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350F.

To make the filling:  Beat cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar together until smooth.  Add the nutmeg, eggs, and lemon zest; beat again until well combined.  Pour into the crust and scatter the raspberries over the surface.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until just set.  Set aside to cool before transferring to a serving plate.  Serve warm or wold, dusted with confectioners' sugar.

Source:  Pies:  Sweet and Savory by Caroline Bretherton