Tag Archives: pie

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

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.

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart

7 Dec

Recipe source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Ina Garten on tradition: “Every family has traditions–events that they repeat year after year. These traditions give us all a sense of place and community…. Traditions reassure us that we belong together, and for me, that’s so grounding. I love them all.”

One of my family’s traditions at Thanksgiving is that I make dessert. This is mostly because I volunteered, because for a lot of years, dessert was the only kind of food I really liked. As you know from a few posts ago, I made pecan pie for my family and co-workers this year. But I was still left with another Thanksgiving dessert-making opportunity at my monthly cooking group, Gourmet Friends. We have a Thanksgiving-themed get-together every November, and it’s a great chance to test-run the recipes we might be considering for our families.

pumpkin banana mousse tart

This pie is a really nice subtle, elegant twist on classic pumpkin pie, which let’s face it, is a bit pedestrian. My palate is a bit too snobby nowadays for plain ol’ pumpkin pie.

The crust is a basic graham cracker crust, though, to which I can only say, why mess with a good thing? All that’s involved here is graham crackers, butter, sugar, and cinnamon. If you have a food processor, it takes about 5 seconds to break up the crackers, and another two minutes to blend it all together.

pie crust

The filling is a bit more complicated, but not impossible. The most important thing to know about it is to make it in advance. You’ll need to heat half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a double-boiler, then add in egg yolks (being careful to temper them so they don’t scramble), then a mixture of dissolved gelatin, banana, and orange zest. The orange zest was one of the things that really attracted me to this recipe!

pie filling

After that mixture has cooled, you will fold in a whipped cream mixture, pour it into the baked crust, and chill for 2 hours or overnight.

pouring pie filling

Finally, the last step is to cover the pie with a whipped cream topping and chill again. Ina suggests sprinkling the top with orange zest, which I think is a classy idea.

whipped cream

I don’t have a picture of a cut slice because I was too busy noshing on it… always a difficulty for me when pie or cake is concerned! But inside this looks very similar to a traditional pumpkin pie. Actually – it’s kinda like this picture I’m shamelessly stealing from a Google search:

pie slice

Ina’s recipe doesn’t call for a pecan-caramel topping, but now that I’m looking at it, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea! I guess I’ll just have to make this again… pity…

RECIPE – Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart

I wrote this recipe for my entertaining series for California magazine. It was inspired by a pumpkin mousse that my mother had made for years for Thanksgiving. It’s lighter and much more flavorful than that cloying old pumpkin pie. People really do go nuts for it.

Crust
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (14 crackers)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 package (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 ripe banana, finely mashed
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar

Decoration
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Orange zest, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter in a bowl and mix well. Pour into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and press evenly into the sides and then the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes and then cool to room temperature.

For the filling, heat the half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir some of the hot pumpkin into the egg yolks to heat them, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the double boiler and stir well. Heat the mixture over the simmering water for another 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly. You don’t want the eggs to scramble. Remove from the heat.

Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Add the dissolved gelatin, banana, and orange zest to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside to cool.

Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture and pour it into the cooled tart shell. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.

For the decoration, whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Pipe or spoon the whipped cream decoratively on the tart and sprinkle, if desired, with orange zest. Serve chilled.

Pecan Pie, two ways

26 Nov

Recipe Source (pie #1): Bon Appétit
Recipe Source (pie #2): Food and Wine

Pecan pie is a favorite at Thanksgiving, and since I made two this year, you’re getting two recipes for the price of one! The first is a tried and true favorite, made for a work potluck – toasted pecan pie with cinnamon whipped cream. The other is a new and exciting recipe for my family, scouted out by my mother, Thanksgiving hostess extraordinaire – bourbon pecan pie.

pecans

Both recipes involve toasting pecans, which brings about a different flavor than using them raw. I like this first recipe because it uses a combination of raw and toasted pecans.

chopped pecans

A key ingredient for most pecan pies (besides pecans) is corn syrup. A good amount of it – 1 to 2 cups, depending on the recipe. The point where I hear the glug-glug-glug of the corn syrup bottle is usually the point where I wish I was just blindly eating this pie, without knowing what went into it.

corn syrup

The crust for this one is a basic mixture of flour, cold butter, and water. I add in a little nutmeg for interest, but it’s probably not necessary because the filling is so rich and filling. I think I will stop wasting my nutmeg in the future. 🙂 Although the recipe doesn’t call for pre-baking this crust, it can’t hurt – this year my filling oozed through the crust and made it difficult to remove from the pie dish.

toasted pecan pie

This second pie has *just enough* bourbon to give interest and a little a grown-up guilty pleasure. For example, you can tell the kids in your family to back off, because this pie has alcohol and it’s for adults only!!! If you’re evil that way, I mean. Not that I know anybody who would do that.

Jim Beam bourbon

I decided to follow this recipe faithfully the first time, because it was new, so now I can say with confidence that this crust recipe is wacked out. For one thing, I would not spend the money or effort on scraping fresh vanilla bean for the crust, because you can’t taste it anyway. It might be a great idea for a simple custard filling, but for pecan pie, no. I have also never seen a pie crust involving powdered sugar. This dough was very sticky to handle, and the filling oozed out of the tart pan (sad face). So next time, I’ll stick with the crust recipe for pie #1. I liked the size and shape of the tart pan vs. my 9″ glass pie dish though, so the jury is still out on that one… as long as the tart pan is placed on a cookie sheet, it will catch the ooze. And surprisingly, I was able to lift the bottom out of the pan with no problems.

pecan pie filling

All in all, I loved the filling for this pie. It uses less corn syrup, fewer eggs, and brown sugar vs. white. The heavy cream is an interesting addition that is supposed to give a custard-like texture, although it didn’t seem that way to me. My original idea for the decoration was to stack pecans all around the top, like this, but as soon as I started I realized 11″ diameter is big! So I lined the outer edge and stopped there. I was really happy with the end result. This is an elegant tart and highly recommended, with a few modifications.

bourbon pecan tart

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


bourbon pecan tart slice

RECIPE #1 – Toasted Pecan Pie

FILLING
3 cup pecans (about 10 oz), divided
6 large eggs
2 cup sugar
2 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted better, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
CRUST
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons (or more) ice water
WHIPPED CREAM
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350º

MAKE THE CRUST: Blend flour and salt in processor 10 seconds. Add butter; cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 4 tablespoons ice water; blend just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if mixture is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk.

Wrap in plastic; chill 1 hour. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)

MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING: Coarsely chop 2 cups pecans and reserve. Spread 1 cup pecans on rimmed baking sheet. Toast in oven until nuts are aromatic and darker in color, about 12 minutes. Cool, then grind nuts finely in processor. Maintain oven temperature. Roll out crust on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round (crust will be thin).

Transfer crust to 10-inch-diameter pie dish. Fold overhang under, forming high-standing rim. Crimp edges decoratively. Freeze crust 20 minutes.

Whisk eggs in large bowl until frothy. Add sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, salt, and ground toasted pecans; whisk until blended. Mix in chopped pecans. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is puffed and set (center may still move when dish is shaken), about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool at least 3 hours. (Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM: In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream, sugar and cinnamon until stiff peaks form. Cut the pie into wedges and serve with the whipped cream.

Cut pie into wedges and serve slightly warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

RECIPE #2 – Toasted Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Cream

CRUST
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 large egg white
FILLING
2 cups pecan halves
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
WHIPPED CREAM
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon

MAKE THE CRUST: In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter until creamy. Add the 1 1/4 cups of flour and the confectioners’ sugar, salt and vanilla seeds and beat at low speed until smooth. Beat in the egg white. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap; press into a 6-inch disk. Wrap up and freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°. On a well-floured work surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch round. Ease the dough into an 11-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom; press it into the pan. Trim the overhanging dough and use it to patch any tears or holes. Freeze the tart shell just until firm, 10 minutes.

Line the dough with parchment paper and pie weights and bake for 20 minutes, until nearly set. Remove the weights and paper and bake for 20 minutes, until golden.

MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING: Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool, then chop the nuts. In a bowl, whisk the corn syrup, brown sugar, cream, eggs, bourbon, vanilla and salt. Stir in the butter and pecans.

Set the tart pan on the baking sheet and set it in the oven. Scrape the filling into the tart shell and bake for about 35 minutes, until the custard is set and puffed; cover the edge with strips of foil if it’s browning too fast. Transfer to a rack to cool, then remove the ring and slide the tart onto a serving plate.

MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM: In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream with the confectioners’ sugar and bourbon until stiff peaks form. Cut the tart into wedges and serve with the whipped cream.

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.