Tag Archives: pastry

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

9 Feb

Self-discipline implies some unpleasant things to me, including staying away from chocolate and keeping my hands out of women’s pants.
~Oleg Kiselev

When a dear friend asked me to make “something chocolatey” for his birthday, I immediately thought of my Rich Chocolate-Blackberry Torte with Raspberry Sauce. But since going flexi-vegan-vege-pescatarian, I’m reluctant to have animal products in the house. Luckily, my recent Christmas gift to myself – a vegan pie cookbook – provided a good solution.

I decided to make Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s chocolate raspberry tart with the almond crust variation. Since I had a cocoa-cinnamon-nutmeg mixture leftover from her chai spice cupcakes recipe, I decided to mix that into the crust as well.

food processor doughCrumbly, delicious almond crust is so easy to whip up in the food processor!

In her book, Ms. Moskowitz garnishes the tart with raspberries. But it’s not raspberry season, and I’ve already had a three-layer cake ruined by raspberries that molded the next day – in the summer! Since I was using frozen raspberries, I took the sauce from my former recipe and drizzled it over the top instead.

half-eaten tartThis is how the tart looks, half-decimated.

The coconut milk and coconut oil lent this ganache such an amazing creaminess, you’d never know it was non-dairy. And fear not, coconut-haters, there was no coconut flavor co-mingling with the chocolate. This tart was quickly devoured by the dozen guests at the party, super easy to make, and cruelty-free – I couldn’t be happier with it!

cafe & tartPairs well with Bailey’s coffee!

RECIPE – Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Adapted from Vegan Pie in the Sky.
Makes one 10-inch tart.

PRESS-IN ALMOND CRUST
2/3 cup sliced almonds
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cocoa
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons canola oil
3 or more tablespoons cold almond milk

CHOCOLATE GANACHE FILLING
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons water
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
extra fresh raspberries, for garnish (optional)

RASPBERRY SAUCE
4 oz raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Chambord
2 teaspoons sugar

Prepare the crust.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Pour the almonds into a food processor and pulse into a fine meal, then add the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and salt, and pulse to combine. Continue to pulse and stream in canola oil, then pulse in 3 tablespoons of the almond milk. The mixture should hold together when pressed between your fingertips; if it still feels too crumbly, mix in one additional tablespoon of almond milk at a time.

Lightly spray a tart pan with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle in the crust mixture. Press it into the bottom and sides of the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until crust is lightly browned, then set aside to cool.

Prepare the ganache.
In a small (2-quart) saucepot, bring the coconut milk, coconut oil, and water to a rolling boil.

Place the chocolate chips in a mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, mash the raspberries into small pieces with a fork.

When the coconut milk mixture comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Cover the bowl with a place or lid and let sit for five minutes. Then, whisk the mixture together to create a thick ganache. Fold in the raspberries.

Pour the ganach into the baked tart shell. Smooth with a knife of spatula, if needed. Let chill for at least two hours before cutting. If you like, add fresh raspberries to the circumference of the crust to decorate. Or, combine all recipes for raspberry sauce into a food processor until liquid, then drizzle over the tart.

Slice the tart into 16 thin slices, dipping a knife into warm water and wiping it clean after each cut.

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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!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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.

-apple illustration-
http://www.inkart.com/pages/food/apple.html

Portobello or Chicken Pot Pie

22 Jan

Recipe Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com

For my first recipe of 2011 – albeit a bit tardy – I want to share with you my last meal of 2010. (Boy, that sounds morbid!) After New Year’s Eve plans with friends fell through and our enthusiasm for celebrating increasingly waned, the prospect of staying in with a home-cooked meal and fire in the fake electric fireplace became increasingly attractive. We decided to perfect our pot pie-making skills.

I originally made a portobello version of this pie for a group of my best friends, which includes a vegetarian. But the recipe can easily be adapted for meat-eaters by substituting chicken and chicken stock for the portobello caps and vegetable stock.

I also made a number of modifications based on consistent reviews from allrecipes, such as increasing the amount of flour for the gravy, using stock in place of water, and adding a splash of wine. The proportions here are half of what they were in the original recipe, since we made two pies with it!

filling pot pie

Part I: Make your own crust. It’s worth it.

My go-to recipe for crust is David’s go-to recipe, which he and his mother have perfected after years of baking amazing apple tarts. If you’re pressed for time, the crust can be made partially or entirely overnight.

Are you ready for the Golden Proportion?

200g all-purpose flour
100g cold butter (or 1 stick)
100g cold water

This will make enough crust to fill the bottom of an 11-inch tart pan. For the pot pie, which uses a 9-inch pie dish and needs a top and bottom crust, we used 1.5 times the recipe, so 300g flour, 1.5 sticks butter and 150g of water. (Yes, you need a scale. Every real cook should have one, and if you want to make your own crust, you are a real cook! :))

There are a couple of ways to accomplish mixing the dough together. The easiest method is to beat the flour and butter in a food processor while slowly pouring in the water. Be careful not to overbeat the butter – coarse crumbs will result in a flaky dough. It’s better to undermix than overmix, at this stage.

Or, for a more “rustic” method, you can cut the butter into the flour in a large bowl using a pastry cutter then form a well in the center, pour in the water, and continue mashing the flour mixture to incorporate. Note: you’ll want to avoid using your hands during this process, as their warmth will melt the butter and reduce the flakiness of the finished crust. And when it comes to crust, it’s good to be flaky!

Form a ball with the dough and turn it out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Flatten the ball into a disk, wrap it tightly, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight. Then remove the dough from the fridge and, on a smooth, floured surface, roll it into a thin strip, about 5 inches wide, 10 inches long and 1/2-inch thick. (If the dough has been chilling overnight, let it sit out for about 5 minutes so it will be easier to work with.)

rollling dough

Fold the top and bottom ends over to meet in the center, then fold in half. Roll the dough out again, repeating this process twice. You’ll want to do this step quickly, so the butter does not melt. Wrap the dough again and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

folding dough

At this point, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Finish the crust with one more round of rolling and folding, then cut 1/2 off the end to save for your top crust. Wrap and refrigerate this portion.

cutting dough

Roll the dough into a thin disk large enough to fill your pie dish on the bottom and up the sides. When the dough is about the size you want, let it “relax” for a minute or two. The dough will shrink slightly, then you can roll it a second time. You don’t want it shrinking in your pie dish!

Finally, fold the disk into quarters (a dough scraper can be a great help with this, if you have one, otherwise use the thinnest scraper you have) and place it in the pie dish. Unfold the dough and gently adjust it as needed to evenly fill the dish.

quartered dough

Lightly prick the bottom of the dough with a fork. Cut a piece of parchment paper (not wax!) into a circle the size of the bottom of your pie dish, and place it onto the dough. Over that, pour enough pie weights to cover the parchment paper. Large, raw beans such as black or pinto are great to use as pie weights and inexpensive – but avoid small legumes such as lentils, and especially avoid popcorn!

pie weights

Bake the crust for 15 minutes, remove the parchment paper and weights, and bake for another 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Part II: Make the filling.

To make the filling, start by boiling three potatoes. I like red potatoes for this, but you can use any kind you like. (If they are larger, account for the difference by using two.) Lightly steam the peas, if frozen. If you are making a chicken pot pie, lightly salt and pepper both sides of a chicken breast, and cook through in a pan over medium-low heat. Cut into bite-size pieces and set the meat aside for later.

potatoes

Next, chop the onions, celery, carrots, and shiitake and portobello mushrooms (if using). I like everything in this pie to be a fairly fine dice, slightly smaller than bite-sized.

veggies

Saute the carrots and celery for about five minutes, then add in the all remaining veggies except portobello mushrooms and saute another 5-8 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. If you’re making the portobello version of this pie, add the portobellos last. Otherwise, add in the chicken here. To make the gravy, whisk the flour into the stock and wine in a medium bowl, then pour into the vegetables and stir to incorporate everything. Finally, pour the filling into your pre-baked pie crush.

pot pie filling

Remove the reserved dough from the refrigerator, roll it into a disc large enough to overlap your pie dish by about one inch on all sides, and gently drape the dough over the pie.

baked pot pie

Part III: Bake, eat.

Bake for 40 minutes in a 350-degree oven, until the crust is golden brown. Then chow down on that baby!

pie slice

RECIPE – Portobello or Chicken Pot Pie

For crust:
300g all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter
150g cold water
OR 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

For the filling:
3 small red potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sliced onion
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, cubed
1/2 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms (or a blend)
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 portobello mushroom cap or 1 small chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup peas
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Press one of the pie crusts into and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Prick holes into crust with a fork, cover with parchment paper and Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, and cut into cubes. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and shiitake mushrooms, cover, and let the mushrooms sweat for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk flour into stock and pour mixture along with wine and soy sauce into saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add portobello or chicken pieces and sauté briefly until mushrooms are browned on the outside or chicken is cooked through. Add to the gravy mixture along with the peas and potatoes. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Cover with the other pie crust, and crimp edges to seal. Make a few slits in the top crust to vent steam.

Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until crust is golden brown.

Frozen Key Lime Pie

12 Dec

Recipe source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Ina Garten week The closest I’ve come to a homemade key lime pie was my mother’s, circa 1992, for a church potluck. It came out brown. And tart. VERY tart. Like, mouth-puckering, face-scrunching tart. I don’t know what happened, because my mom followed the recipe and she is a good cook. Maybe it was a bad recipe. But it was very, very bad. So I’ve been a bit scared. But a good key lime pie really can be a heavenly thing, so I decided to attempt it with Ina.

limes

Plus, key lime pie reminds me of my favorite show, Dexter! So I began my quest for the best key lime pie recipe… sans sodium pentathol, that is.

Ina Garten frozen key lime pie

I served this pie with my last post, tequila lime chicken. (Are you sensing a theme?) I loved the crust – graham cracker – an unbeatable classic. And flavor-wise, the filling was about right: tart, but sweet enough to avoid the pucker. I was not crazy about the texture, however. When I first read this recipe, I thought ‘frozen key lime pie’ was a weird title and planned to omit the ‘frozen.’ But it really is an important descriptor. The inner parts of this pie can get a slightly flaky, icy texture, which hurt my sensitive teeth. And somehow the crust was extremely hard to scrape out of the pan, making for messy servings. I think the butter may have frozen to the pan. So, my quest for the perfect key lime pie continues…

Ina Garten frozen key lime pie

RECIPE – Frozen Key Lime Pie

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
6 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons grated lime zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 to 5 limes)

For the decoration:
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Thin lime wedges

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Press into a 9-inch pie pan, making sure the sides and the bottom are an even thickness. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

For the filling, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for 5 minutes, until thick. With the mixer on medium speed, add the condensed milk, lime zest, and lime juice. Pour into the baked pie shell and freeze.

For the decoration, beat the heavy cream on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until firm. Spoon or pipe decoratively onto the pie and decorate with lime. Freeze for several hours or overnight.

Rich Chocolate-Blackberry Torte with Raspberry Sauce

5 May

A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.
-James Beard

Recipe source: unknown

In the spirit of calories and tarts, check out the fabulous dessert I’m making for the second anniversary with my man! I’ve had this recipe for so long, I don’t even know now where it came from. My apologies for plagiarizing. The one and only other time I’ve made this dessert was for Bosses Day circa 2002. I was working in an office and our boss had taken us out for a beautiful Italian lunch at a very authentic restaurant where he knew the chefs and they made us custom dishes. We didn’t order anything from the menu, except for dessert. There were eight desserts to choose from, and the three of us could not decide. So he said “get them all.”

It was such a great gesture that we decided to do something equally great for him in return. We brought in linens, fancy dishes and silverware from home, and spent most of the morning cooking rather than working. I made a goat cheese bruschetta (hmmm, I should find that recipe again) and this dessert. My mom helped me and at the time… well, let’s just say I didn’t have the confidence then that I have now. We even had to borrow a food processor for the crust! How our kitchens have evolved… So I’m hoping the recipe will be less terrifying this time around, because it’s so, so worth it. (Jump to recipe.)

To start, you’ll make the crust in a food processor by blending unsalted butter, superfine sugar, salt and vanilla extract until creamy, then adding in unsweetened cocoa powder, then flour until you have a crumbly dough.

crust prep

Dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, form into a flat, round disk with your hands, and wrap. Refrigerate for one hour. Then remove from fridge and allow dough to warm on counter for 10 minutes. Unwrap, place another piece of plastic wrap on top, and roll with a rolling pin into a 13-inch circle. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap and flip into an 11-inch tart pan with removable base. Then peel off the remaining wrap and piece together the oops pieces with your fingers. Prick crust with a fork and refrigerate for another hour.

crust

Around the 50-minute mark, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. When crust has been chillin’ for an hour, remove it from the fridge. Make a piece of wax or parchment paper to cover the bottom by tracing around the tart pan and cutting just inside the line. Place the paper into the crust, then top with pie weights or raw, dry beans. And when I say beans, I mean beans. Not popcorn, which I almost did… for an inevitable, yet comedic popcorn-throughout-the-oven disaster – and not lentils, which I did… and ruined, as they don’t require the pre-boiling that beans do.

Bake crust for 10 minutes, remove beans and parchment paper, and bake for another 5 minutes. Then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. And when I say use a cooling rack, I mean… not a small, round trivet which will press the removable base up and out of the pan and crack your crust. Like I did. Thank you.

Now you can make the ganache filling and berry sauce. For filling, boil heavy cream and seedless preserves. I decided to use blackberry this time, but you can use any berry of your choice. Then remove from heat and add in semisweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli, yum) and unsalted butter, to melt. Pour into cooled crust. (You will likely have a little extra, so be careful… like I wasn’t.)

torte

For the berry sauce, you will process fresh or frozen berries of your choice (I used raspberries), lemon juice and superfine sugar.

Then place a strainer over a bowl, pour the sauce into the strainer, and add berry-flavored liqueur (I used Chambord). Doing it this way will add a little more liquid to help in straining through the seeds. If necessary, you can also add a little water.

berry sauce

And lastly…. (drumroll please)… serve up that puppy! Remove torte from pan by lifting up removable base and holding on to the edges. Arrange fresh berries on torte and serve with sauce on the side, or in an artistic drizzle over the top.

Whew…

finished torte w/ berries & sauce

RECIPE – Rich Chocolate-Blackberry Torte with Raspberry Sauce

Raspberries, blackberries, wild strawberries, boysenberries, loganberries, or any combination can be used to top this torte. Likewise, the sauce can be made with the same berry or from a berry with a complementary flavor.

Serves 10

DOUGH
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup superfine sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ cups flour

CHOCOLATE GANACHE FILLING
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup seedless blackberry/raspberry preserve
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces

BLACKBERRY/RASPBERRY SAUCE
8 oz fresh or frozen blackberries/raspberries, plus extra for topping
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp superfine sugar
2 tbsp blackberry/raspberry-flavor liqueur, such as Chambord

Prepare pastry. In a food processor fitted with metal blade, process butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla until creamy. Add cocoa and process for one minute, until well blended; scrape side of bowl. Add flour all at once and using the pulse action, process for 10-15 seconds, until just blended. Place a piece of plastic wrap on work surface. Remove metal blade and turn out dough onto plastic wrap. Use wrap to help shape dough into flat disc and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for one hour.

Lightly grease a 11-inch tart pan with removable base. Soften dough for 5-10 minutes at room temperature. Roll out dough between two sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap to a 13-inch round, about ¼-inch thick. Peel off top sheet of plastic and invert dough into prepared pan. Ease dough into pan. Remove plastic wrap.

With floured fingers, press dough onto base and side of pan, then roll rolling pin of edge of pan to cut off any excess dough. Prick base of dough with fork. Refrigerate for one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line tart shell with foil or parchment paper; fill with dry beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes; lift out foil with beans and bake for 5 minutes more, until just set (pastry may look underdone on the bottom, but will dry out). Remove to wire rack and cool completely.

Prepare filling. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring cream and blackberry/raspberry preserve to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate all at once, stirring until melted and smooth. Stir in butter and strain into cooled tart shell, smoothing top. Cool torte completely and refrigerate to set.

Prepare sauce. In a food processor combine blackberries, lemon juice, and sugar and process until smooth. Strain into a small bowl and add blackberry/raspberry-flavor liqueur. If sauce is too thick, thin with a little water.

To serve, remove torte from pan. Place on serving plate and arrange with the berries on top of the torte. With a pastry brush, brush berries with a little of the blackberry/raspberry sauce to glaze lightly. Serve remaining sauce separately.

[red] Spaghetti Bolognese, Strawberry Tarts

11 Apr

Hola! Today starts out ROYGBIV Week with red, which awesomely, is an easy color to find in the vegetable family. Red foods include strawberries, tomatoes, apples, red peppers, pomegranates, radishes, rhubarbs, cherries and raspberries, to name several.

I’m hardly an expert on the chakras, but here’s what I’ve come to understand. The theory comes from Samkhya philosophy, which influenced yoga and tantrism. In it, the human body has several hundred spinning chakras (chakra being the Sanskrit word for “wheel”) positioned throughout. These are part of the ethereal, not physical, body, although they have influence over the physical body. The chakras spin in a circular vortex, absorbing and radiating energy from the surrounding environment. Of the hundreds of chakras, seven have been identified as most important. They are stacked from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, and each is associated with a specific color and sound, as well as physical organs and aspects of the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual life. Chakras have been called lotus flowers, and when a chakra is healthy, the lotus is opened. An imbalance in any area of life can weaken the chakra system. One of the ways to nourish the various chakras is to eat foods associated with their color. A plant’s color is representative of the rays of sun energy that gave it life.

For a deeper explanation and test of your own chakra energy levels, check out ChakraEnergy.com.

Today’s chakra: Muladhara – Root of Tree (Root)
Color: Red: vitality, strength & courage
Location: Base of Spine
Associated body organs: Legs & feet, large intestine, adrenal gland, lymph & blood
Controlled emotions: Physical identity and self-preservation

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For the first recipe of this week, I decided to go with a classic bolognese sauce. (I don’t think Indians eat beef, but…) I can’t say for sure if I’ve ever actually made one. My end result was a combination of a few different recipes I found online.

My mamma never put red wine in her spaghetti sauce, but when it occurred to me to do it, the choice was a no-brainer.

Two-Buck Chuck!

I also never would have thought to add carrots and celery to this sauce, but since I saw it in a few recipes, I thought what the heck.

Cook the meat and veggies together until the meat is no longer pink. Drain, then add wine, diced tomatoes and tomato paste, herbs and spices, and reduce to desired consistency. Also begin cooking pasta around this step.

Voila!

1 lb lean ground beef
1 cup white onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seed
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
grated parmesan to sprinkle on top

For dessert, I decided to make strawberry tarts, because we went to San Diego Desserts recently and got a tart that was to-die-for. What I ended up making was a modification of Ina Garten’s recipe; modification because I didn’t have time to make the tart shells from scratch, don’t own any kind of tart pan even if I’d had the time, and then couldn’t find frozen tart shells at the store. (Good grief, Charlie Brown!) So I bought frozen puff pastry shells instead. Was still delish. I like puff pastry. 🙂

The recipe for the shell is below. But if you decide to use puff pastry shells, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, then bake them for 20-25 minutes. They will go from looking like this

womp, womp

to this!

Magic!

Scoop out the “tops” out and let them cool.

For the pastry cream, I didn’t have cognac, so I substituted brandy instead. Unfortunately, step-by-step pictures of this process are conspicuously missing from this blog because I was napping while David did this part. But I can tell you that Ina Garten’s instructions are VERY good. Be sure to look at the link for scalded milk too, because we had no idea what that meant.

The pastry cream is a long process, but really does come out exactly like the Contessa says. The pre-whisking “curdling” part happens extremely fast – the cream went from liquid to chunking in “two seconds,” apparently, so just stick patiently with the stirring. Here’s the end result:

Beautimous

Cover the cream with plastic wrap placed directly on the cream and refrigerate until cold. Then scoop into shell and top with strawberries. Final product:

That's MRS. Tart to you!

Tart Shell
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons cold shortening (recommended: Crisco)
1/4 cup ice water
2 cups Pastry Cream, recipe follows
2 pints whole strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 cup apricot jelly
3 tablespoons shelled pistachios, halved, optional

TO MAKE TART SHELLS – Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put the flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and shortening and pulse about 10 times, or until the butter is in the size of peas. Add the ice water and process until the dough comes together. Dump on a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough and fit into four (4 1/2-inch) tart pans with removable sides, or one 9-inch tart pan. Don’t stretch the dough when placing it in the pans or it will shrink during baking. Cut off the excess by rolling the pin across the top of each pan. Line the tart shells with a piece of buttered aluminum foil, butter side down, and fill them with dried beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and foil, prick the bottom of the shells all over with a fork, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Pastry Cream
5 extra-large egg yolks, room temp.
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups scalded milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cognac
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream

TO MAKE PASTRY CREAM – In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don’t be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, cognac, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold. Yield: 2 cups

ASSEMBLE – Before serving, fill the tart shells with the pastry cream. Arrange the berries decoratively on top of the cream. Melt the apricot jelly with 1 teaspoon of water and brush the top of the tarts. Sprinkle with pistachios, if using, and serve.