Tag Archives: French

Tarte Aux Pommes (Apple Tart)

15 Nov

Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.
~Jane Austen

French apple tart

Recipe source: David / Daniele

Today I want to share a very special recipe for classic French apple tart. This is a simple, elegant dessert where the fruit really shines – it has only a few ingredients, and little to no refined sugar. The basic recipe lends itself to a lot of creativity, with all kinds of options for jam and fruit. I really like apples because they’re not so juicy that they make the crust soggy. And since Fall is apple season, they’re plentiful!

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But before we bake…

Besides the obvious – deliciousness – I have another reason to get your mind on pie: the Mama’s Pie in the Sky Bake Sale.

If you live in San Diego, this annual fundraiser is just the thing to round out your Thanksgiving meal! Skip the Vons bakery and help out a good cause.

Mama's Pie in the SkyFrom the press release:
Dozens of San Diego County top chefs, caterers and bakers will lovingly prepare thousands of pies to raise much-needed funds for Mama’s Kitchen. The Mama’s Pie in the Sky Bake Sale is a Thanksgiving tradition, and is considered to be the west coast’s largest bake sale. Each $20 pie provides more than six home-delivered meals to a neighbor struggling with a critical illness such as cancer or HIV/AIDS.

All proceeds from pie sales go directly into funding thousands of free, hot and nutritious Mama’s Kitchen meals, which help ensure that no one living with AIDS or cancer will go hungry in the San Diego community.

Mama’s Kitchen hopes to sell more than 6,250 pies before Nov. 20, which will raise $125,000 and fund nearly 40,000 meals. With the rising cost of food purchased to prepare the meals delivered by volunteers to hundreds of men, women and children in San Diego County, the funds raised through the Mama’s Pie in the Sky fundraiser are needed more than ever.

Here’s how Mama’s Pie in the Sky works:

1. Visit www.mamaspies.org to purchase the Thanksgiving pies of your choice: apple, pumpkin, pecan, or no sugar added apple pies. If you have a friend or colleague selling pies, choose their name. Otherwise you can just purchase from Mama’s Kitchen directly.

2. Select a convenient pick-up location. The pies will be available for pick-up at one of 19 Wells Fargo Bank branches throughout San Diego County or at Mama’s Kitchen, located at 3960 Home Avenue, San Diego, Calif. 92115.

3. Go to the location you selected on Wed., Nov. 23 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to pick up your pie(s) from one of our volunteers. When you open your pie, you’ll discover what baker prepared your pie.

4. To purchase a pie that will be hand-delivered to Mama’s Kitchen’s clients on Thanksgiving morning, select the “Love-A-Client” option. For every “Love-A-Client” pie purchased, the donor will receive an entry to win a 64MB iPad2.

There is still time to sell pies this year. Mama’s Kitchen is looking for individuals and groups to form teams to sell pies before Nov. 20. Volunteers also have opportunities to win prizes from generous sponsors. To sign up to sell pies, visit www.mamaspies.org.

But don’t just take my word for it! Here’s a little message from Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien and Elizabeth Harris of Elizabethan Desserts –

The last day to purchase the handcrafted pies is Nov. 20, 2011. Fifteen dollars from each $20 pie sale is tax-deductible. Pies can be purchased online at www.mamaspies.org or by calling (619) 233-6262.

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OK! Back to the blog…

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might know that I’m a big fan of homemade pastry crust. That is largely thanks to David, who taught me this recipe. So I thought it would be appropriate to pass on a few crust-making tips from the pro:

kitchen scaleThe scale! An essential kitchen item.

The perfect weights for this pastry dough are 200 grams of all-purpose flour, 100 grams of cold unsalted butter, and 100 grams of ice-cold water. This will make crust for an 11-inch tart. But if you insist on cheating, this was about 2 cups + 3 tablespoons flour, 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon butter, and just under 1/2 cup of water.

Probably, the best way to make a pastry dough is the old-fashioned way: working the cold butter into the flour, rolling it until the butter turns into thin sheets of flaky pastry goodness, then carefully and gradually working in a bit of ice-cold water. But the fastest way is in the food processor.

However you bring your crust together (don’t worry, more help below), you’ll want to turn it out on a sheet of plastic wrap, form into a disc, and freeze for at least an hour. You can see here that chunks of butter are still intact – a good thing!

wrapped pastry dough

Skipping ahead (okay, so I’m not actually in the mood to give tips tonight – check out this earlier post for step-by-step instructions!)… once your crust is in the tart pan and pre-baked, it’s on to the fun part! The filling. The base of this tart is traditionally a fruit spread, and you can use any kind you like: apricot or blackberry, pumpkin butter, or maybe even Nutella.

confiture collage

This time, I used the Bonne Maman chestnut creme I brought back from a summer trip to France. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to find in the U.S.

You only need a thin spread (about 2 tablespoons), then you will commence layering 5 peeled, cored, and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples in a pretty design, like so:

French apple tart

If you have an apple peeler corer slicer, lucky you! You’ll save the hand cramp I got after refusing to buy a fourth one. If not, just think positively about how slicing these uniformly is going to improve your knife skills.

Granny SmithLooks sweet and innocent, right?

It can be nice at this stage to sprinkle a layer of sugar over the top of the apples before baking. Or, you can brush a light coating of light-colored jam (such as apricot) or maple syrup over the top while it’s still hot from the oven.

sugared apples

Bake at 450 degrees F for 25-35 minutes, or until the crust is slightly brown and completely firm, and apples are desiccated. Serve warm or room temperature.

French apple tart

Recipe – Tarte Aux Pommes (Apple Tart)

200 grams all-purpose flour
100 grams cold unsalted butter
100 grams ice-cold water
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fruit spread of your choice
5 Granny Smith apples
2 teaspoons granulated sugar, optional
1 teaspoon nutmeg, optional

To make the dough, sift and weigh 200 grams of all-purpose flour into a large bowl, stir in sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and cut in 100 grams of cold butter. With your hands, gradually mix in 100 grams of ice-cold water until all is well combined. (This step can be done in a food processor, but be careful not to over-process the butter at this stage.) Turn the dough out onto a cold surface and with your hands, form into a disk, wrap in cling film, and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Remove dough from refrigerator and turn out onto a cold surface. Roll it to a thin round disc, fold in half and then into thirds, and wrap tightly in cling film; refrigerate for another 30 minutes.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll it one last time, as round as possible, leaving about 1″ to go up the sides of the pan. Fold the dough in quarters and place it in a 15″ tart pan with a removable base. Unfold and press the dough into all sides, using a rolling pin to trim excess dough from the top edges of the pan. Cover the top of the dough with cling film and refrigerate until ready to assemble the tart.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Peel and core apples, slice into 1/4-inch rounds, then cut in half. Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator and spread the bottom crust evenly with your preferred jam (apricot, boysenberry, or chestnut creme all work nicely).

Starting on the outer edge and moving inward, tightly overlap the apples until all slices are used. Sprinkle the entire surface with a light layer of sugar and nutmeg, if desired. (For those going sugar-free, you can brush a light layer of jam over the apples just before baking, and this will create a nice shine on the surface. I recommend St. Dalfour brand, which is only sweetened with grape juice concentrate.)

Bake immediately for 25-35 minutes, or until the crust is slightly brown and completely firm, and apples are desiccated. Serve warm or room temperature.

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Happy World Nutella Day!

5 Feb

Seize the moment.
Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.

~Erma Bombeck

Have you ever heard of National Hugging Day? What about No Housework Day? Rubber Duckie Day? Who makes  up these crazy holidays, anyway?

…Happy Mew Year for Cats Day?

And we thought Valentine’s Day was created by Hallmark! Well, here’s a new one for you – World Nutella Day.  It was new to me, at least, until I came across this blog.  [Note: check out these fun hand-printed silkscreen calendars of silly holidays for 2011!]

World Nutella Day

Now, for those of you who know me personally, you can attest that I have a cynical side. I may be a little sarcastic  at times. A wee bit skeptical. Not about this. Friends, this is serious. This is NUTELLA we’re talking  about!

Of course my choice was clear. I had to celebrate this newfound Nutella holiday. As I did a little more digging, I  discovered a whole world of food bloggers paying their respects to the addicting chocolate-and-hazelnut spread.  Some take pictures, some post their own unique  recipe creations, some  discuss Nutella as a cultural phenomenon, and  some write touching odes to  their favorite pantry item.


So now, without further adieu, here are some recipes I tried out this week!

Nutella and Fresh Ginger Mousse
Recipe Source: Ms. Adventures in Italy

It sounded like a strange combination, Nutella and ginger. It could be a match made in heaven, or a disaster. So I  had to find out which.

When I realized how much of my precious, brand-new 26-oz. Nutella jar would be used by this recipe, I decided to  halve it. Even with doing that, I would still say this pudding serves four, because it’s very rich and a little will go a  long way.

The first step for this mousse is melting Nutella with a bit of water over a double-boiler. Unfortunately, I missed the  double-boiler part of this instruction and overheated my Nutella right from the start. FAIL. (Not pictured due to  panic. But it looks oily when overheated. My advice, use a low heat. See my overly thorough tips on melting chocolate  here.) Once the Nutella and water are  melted and well incorporated, stir in about 1 tablespoon of soft butter and remove from heat. The butter can help if  you, too, have a chocolate-melting nightmare, so take heart!

Off the heat, stir in two eggs yolks, one at a time, then stir in finely minced ginger. I used a microplane grater to  get my ginger soft and paste-like.

The next step is to beat eggwhites and sugar into stiff peaks. This was accomplished beautifully with the help of  an immersion blender (with whisk attachment) and a pinch of cream of tartar. Unfortunately, again, it was done too  early, and the whites began to collapse a bit by the time I folded them into the Nutella mixture. My advice, follow  the recipe steps in order. Mousse is a tricky thing!

Nutella mousse

Lastly, pour the mousse into serving cups and freeze for two hours or more. If I were to make this a second time, I  think I could perfect the texture. But while I love Nutella and I love ginger, the combination didn’t really do it for me.

Nutella mousse

(Click here to jump to this recipe.)

Nutella-Banana Crepes
Recipe Source: French chef and boyfriend extraordinaire, David

This crepe is a classic, and for a lot of people, their first introduction to both Nutella and crepes. The exciting thing  is, once you’ve mastered the art of making a crepe, the possibilities for filling it are endless!

Much like the pie crust recipe I featured on my pot pie post, this batter has a magical 2:1:1  proportion:

2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk

This batter is much like pancake batter, in that you’ll want to whisk it gently to prevent it going flat. Ultimately, it  needs to be smooth, but in this initial mixing, a few lumps are just fine. It’s best to let the batter sit overnight in the  refrigerator, or at least for several hours. The next day, you can gently whisk out any remaining lumps, and add  about 1/4 cup milk to thin it down. Runny is what we’re going for.

crepe batter

An ideal pan for crepes is round and flat, about 12 inches in diameter, like this one:

crepe pan

Spray the pan with a light coating on nonstick spray or run a light coating of butter over it, and warm over a  medium heat. Your crepe will cover the entire surface of the pan. To pour it on, ladle the batter onto the top edge of  the pan, tip the pan and let the batter run down the surface. Rotate the pan and repeat this step until you have a  thin coating with no holes. It will take about one or two ladles, depending on the size of your ladle and pan.

pouring crepe batter

Let the crepe lightly brown on medium heat, about 2-3 minutes…

checking crepe

…then carefully flip it over to lightly brown the other side. While it’s browning, run a stick of butter over the surface  to give it a thin coating, and – this is the really yummy part – sprinkle a thin layer of sugar over that. The sugar  gives the crepe a wonderful, slightly crunchy texture. If you like a simple crepe, you can stop here – butter-sugar  crepe is one classic variety.

But we’re not going to stop there, are we? No… not on World Nutella Day!

SO. Once both sides are nicely browned, slide the crepe onto a serving dish, and fold it in half (butter and sugar  inside). Quickly, while the crepe is still warm, spread the Nutella over one side – as much as you like! A large,  flexible device is best for this, so you don’t tear the crepe; think pie server or frosting spreader. Place bananas over  the surface and fold in half again. (Strawberries are also a lovely fruit to add to a Nutella crepe.)

Nutella-banana crepe

If you’re eating these with someone you love, or someone you’ve just started dating, I must warn you – the point of  the crepe is the best part. It’s where all the Nutella, sugar and butter are concentrated, and it can make or break  your relationship. It’s best if both parties understand from the get-go: this point is not for sharing. It’s for savoring,  last, after you’ve gotten past the outer flaky edges of crepe and diplomatic, evenly spread middle parts. Whatever  you do, when you make crepes, make two.

Nutella-banana crepe

(Click here to jump to this recipe.)

Chocolate and Chickpea Cupcakes with Nutella-Sour Cream Frosting (gluten-free!)
Recipe Source: Lucullian Delights

If you’ve been cruising this blog for a while, you might have already seen my gluten-free brownie recipe, which is also based on  chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). Unlike that recipe, this one uses chickpea flour. If you can’t find chickpea flour at  the store, you can make your own by grinding dried chickpeas in a food processor. (I wrote a how-to on the  subject, as I found it to be an interesting experience…)

On her blog, Ilva made one plain and one orange version of cupcakes. I wasn’t sure about the orange-Nutella  combo, but I do love cooking with booze, so I opted to use Amaretto. If I’d had Frangelico, that would be even  better.


Trader Joe’s carries this brand of Amaretto, and I think it’s great for baking because 1) it’s cheap, and 2) it’s  sweeter than DiSaronno and slightly caramel, so the flavor comes through well in baking. I save the expensive stuff  for after-dinner cordial 😉

I also lightened up this recipe a bit by substituting applesauce for half of the oil, and gave you U.S. measurements  below.

gluten-free chocolate cupcakes

The nice thing I discovered about using chickpea flour, as opposed to canned chickpeas, is that the cupcakes  resemble the more crumbly, cake-like texture achieved with all-purpose flour, than a dense, brownie-like texture.  The method for making this frosting was unique to me, and hands-down the easiest frosting I’ve ever made from scratch! The Nutella really comes through, and it’s just heavenly.

Bottom line: I loved this recipe and will be back for more of Ilva’s chickpea flour creations!

gluten-free chocolate cupcakes w/ nutella frosting

(Click here to jump to this recipe.)

Other quick and easy ways to enjoy Nutella

Nutella is delicious on a graham cracker…

Nutella graham

Or, you can try making a how-wide-can-you-open-your-mouth Nutella-graham sandwich:

Nutella graham

If you’re feeling a bit fancier, try topping a butter or shortbread cookie with Nutella, sliced banana and hazelnuts:

Nutella butter cookie

For health-conscious types, Nutella is delicious on sliced apple or pear. So I hear. Note lack of picture.

You can read more about World Nutella Day and find hundreds of recipes on the official site,  www.nutelladay.com
Also check out the haps on Twitter @nutelladay

RECIPE– Nutella and Fresh Ginger Mousse

125g Nutella
2 eggs, separated
Pinch salt
15g sugar
15g butter, softened
2t. water
1T. fresh ginger, finely chopped or pureed

In a double boiler, melt the Nutella and water until thoroughly melted. Add softened butter and mix thoroughly.  Take off heat.

Separate the eggs while the mixture cools down. After it has cooled down, add one egg yolk at a time to the mix,  incorporating it fully. Add the fresh ginger and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites with 30g of sugar until you have stiff white peaks. Fold the egg whites  slowly into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mousse into glass cups or bowls to set up in the fridge or freezer.

Serves 4.

Ms. Adventures in Italy, adapted from “La classica Mousse” of Sale e Pepe

RECIPE – Nutella-Banana Crepes

2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk, plus more to thin
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Nutella
1 banana

In a medium bowl, beat two whole eggs, then gently stir in 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of milk until well-mixed. Don’t  worry about lumps at this point; you don’t want to overmix. Place the batter in the refrigerator for several hours or  overnight.

Spray a flat, round pan with nonstick spray and warm over medium heat. Thin the crepe batter by slowly adding  milk, until the consistency is runny (around 1/4 cup usually does the trick). Be careful to remove all lumps at this  point.

Hold the pan at an angle and pour on ladle-fulls of batter, letting it run down the pan and become thin. Rotate the  pan and keep ladling and running the batter until the pan is covered. Warm the crepe about 2-3 minutes, checking  the bottom for a medium-brown color. Once the bottom is lightly browned, flip the crepe and brown the other side.

Run a stick of butter along the surface of the crepe to add a thin coating on one side. Sprinkle a thin layer of sugar  over the surface, and slide the crepe onto a serving plate.

Immediately fold the crepe in half, so the butter and sugar are inside. Spread Nutella over the folded surface, cover  with bananas, and fold in half again. Serve warm.

Serves 2, with extra batter leftover

RECIPE – Chocolate and Chickpea Cupcakes with Nutella-Sour Cream Frosting

3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup of vegetable, sunflower seed, or canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup chickpea flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
2-3 tablespoons chopped candied orange peel, optional
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other liqueur

3/4 cups Nutella
1/2 cup sour cream

Whisk eggs and sugar until fluffy in a bowl. Add the oil and applesauce, and mix well.

Sift chickpea flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into the batter and stir until well incorporated. If you choose  to make the orange version, this is when you add the candied orange peel and the liqueur.

Spoon the batter into cupcake forms and bake in a pre-heated oven (175°C/350°F) for about 10 minutes. but do  check with a toothpick to see if they are ready – they don’t need to be completely dry as they are even nicer if  they are a little on the moist side.

While the cupcakes cool down, whisk sour cream and Nutella until smooth and shiny, then pipe the cream on top  of the cupcakes.