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Archive for August, 2011

Time for the monthly Bakers Challenge. Already?? !  Tempering chocolate AND candy?!!!

When I first saw what this months challenge was going to be I must admit I wasn’t all that excited. Who really wants to fooling around with melted chocolate and boiling sugars in the middle of the summer? Not me. So I kept putting it off, and putting got off, and then thinking about – and then putting it off some more. Man, am I mad at myself for that. It was really fun (and messy)  and produced some really tasty chocolate candy treats in the house. There were two components to this challenge- one had to be chocolate (preferably tempered) and one candy. I knew all along I wanted to make lollipops, though I had much grander visions in my head than I allowed myself time for. The chocolate part was another matter. I have made truffles before so I knew I wanted to try something different. I have also tempered chocolate before , but for dipping, so I ended up with making filled chocolates. While  La Maison du Chocolat has nothing to be worried about, I must admit they came out mighty tasty. I just wish now that I had given myself more time to make many more flavors. Oh well, I can’t cry over spilt chocolate now, can I? I’m sure my husband is happy this is all I got done  since I ended up with bits of splattered chocolate and lollipop bits everywhere.
Three flavors of filled chocolate  were completed; milk chocolate ganache and pistachio paste, white chocolate-cardamom ganache with cashew butter, and vanilla butter rum caramel. Wow… All three were insanely creamy and delicious.  I still need to work some more on coating my molds, as I found that the outside coating was a little on the thin side. I think I was worried  about it being to thick and went a little too far the other way.  That being said , all else was fine.  As far as the lollipops go, they are so super easy and fun! I went with the old window pane look. We used to do this in 4-H when I was a little kid with the inside of cookie cutouts, except we used broken bits of lifesavers instead of homemade lollies. When I read about this old technique in Sugar Baby I totally knew this was the way I was gonna go. While you can go crazy with flavors I just went with orange and lemon for summer. Come Halloween time though, I know I will be making anise, cinnamon and clove versions.

BEFORE GOING ANY FURTHER, PLEASE NOTE: YOU NEED A CANDY THERMOMETER FOR BOTH LOLLIPOPS AND TEMPERING CHOCOLATE. Treat yourself to one, they come in very candy, err… I mean handy.

For this challenge, I am going to let Lisa and Mandy explain how to temper chocolate. I don’t think I could properly explain it without making it sound confusing. Just remember, it’s not that difficult.

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage,Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two fine ladies challenged us to make candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy.

What is tempering?
“Tempering is a method of heating and cooling chocolate in order to use it for coating or dipping.Proper tempering
gives chocolate a smooth and glossy finish. Tempered chocolate will have a crispsnap and won’t melt on your fingers as easily as improperly tempered chocolate.Properly tempered chocolate is also great for molding candies because the candies will release out of the molds more easily and still retain a glossy finish.” – Ghirardelli

Why is it necessary?
If you simply melt chocolate and let it cool it will set with unattractive grey streaks or spots, called blooming. If
eaten, the texture will be grainy and it won’t melt smoothly in the mouth.
When you temper chocolate the end result is shiny, even colored, smooth melting and with a crisp snap.Basically,tempered chocolate is what you want because it’s better in every way.
The reason for the difference is a bit complicated, it has to do with different types of crystals forming in the cocoa butter at different times, to understand it fully you’d have to learn about the behavior of the chocolate
crystals at a molecular level.
For our purposes all that we need to know is that with tempered chocolate the crystals have formed in a uniform way which gives us great looking and tasting chocolate.

What is couverture chocolate?
“Couverture chocolate is a very high quality chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter (32-39%). The higher percentage of cocoa butter, combined with proper tempering, gives the chocolate more sheen, firmer “snap” when broken, and a creamy mellow flavor.
The total “percentage” cited on many brands of chocolate is based on some combination of cocoa butter in relation to cocoa solids (cacao). In order to be properly labeled as “couverture”, the percentage of cocoa butter must be between
32% and 39%, and the total percentage of the combined cocoa butter plus cocoa solids must be at least 54%. Sugar makes up the remainder, and up to 1% may be made up of vanilla, and sometimes soy lecithin.
Couverture is used by professionals for dipping, coating, molding and garnishing.

The term “couverture chocolate” should not be confused with “confectionery chocolate”, “compound chocolate” or “summer coating”: these products have a lower percentage of solids, and they may also contain vegetable oil, hydrogenated fats (“trans fats”), coconut and/or palm oil, and sometimes artificial chocolate flavoring.
Some brands of couverture chocolate are packaged tempered, and others are packaged un-tempered. Subsequent tempering may or may not be required, depending on the usage and the desired characteristics of the final product.” –
Wikipedia

Why is it important to use couverture for chocolate
making?

It is by far a superior product to the average chocolate bar like Cadbury’s etc. which may also contain ingredients like vegetable/coconut/palm oil, hydrogenated fats and sometimes artificial chocolate flavoring which can have unpredictable results when tempering and used to make your own chocolates.
As far as flavor, couverture chocolate is also superior in this regard as manufacturers like Valrhona, Callebaut etc. are very strict with sourcing their cocoa pods and only buy the best.
Make sure that if you’re using chocolate chips or callets that they are also couverture and specifically meant for chocolate making. For the above reasons as well as that normal chocolate chips have other additives in them that help them maintain their shape in baked goods like cookies. These additives stop the chocolate from tempering properly. If you’re not sure, rather buy your couverture in bars or slabs.
Basically, to get a great end result you need to use the best ingredients that you can get. That applies to all baking and cooking, and especially to chocolate making.
If you can’t get couverture or a higher end chocolate and would simply prefer to get your chocolate at the local market, choose brands like Lindt, Ghiradelli or Green & Blacks. Just remember, don’t get ordinary chocolate chips, they have additives in them that will hinder the tempering process. One thing, Ghiradelli does not liquefy as much as couverture chocolate when in temper, so you’ll have to do a lot of tapping off to get a thin, even coating.
There are other methods of tempering that don’t require a thermometer and can either be melted in a double boiler or in the microwave, but here are two  methods of tempering that use a thermometer for very accurate tempering.

I use Trader Joe’s bittersweet chocolate (72%). This is one of my favorite chocolates. It contains Cocoa, Sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithen and 72% cocoa solids. For the milk and white chocolate I used callebaut

Tempering Chocolate ——— Method 1
you will need a marble or granite slab, bench scraper, and chocolate thermometer

Tempering Ranges:

Celcius
Dark: 45°C-50°C > 27°C > 32°C
Milk: 45°C > 27°C >
30°C
White: 45°C > 27°C > 29°C

Fahrenheit
Dark: 113°F-122°F > 80.6°F > 89.6°F
Milk: 113°F >
80.6°F > 86°F
White: 113°F > 80.6°F > 84.2°F

Chocolate is melted and heated until it reaches 45°C / 113°F. It is then poured onto a marble surface and moved around the surface with a scraper until it has thickened and cools to 27°C / 80.6°F. Once cooled it is then put back into the bowl and over heat to bring it back up to 32°C/30°C/29°C /89.6°F/86°F/84.2°F depending on the chocolate you’re tempering. It is now ready for using in molds, dipping and coating.

Watch this excellent video on tempering your chocolate this way:
http://www.ghirardelli.com/bake/videos/temper.aspx

Method 2 – seeding with tempered chocolate

Tempering Ranges:

Celsius
Dark: 45°C-50°C > 27°C > 32°C
Milk: 45°C > 27°C >
30°C
White: 45°C > 27°C > 29°C

Fahrenheit
Dark: 113°F-122°F > 80.6°F > 89.6°F
Milk: 113°F >
80.6°F > 86°F
White: 113°F > 80.6°F > 84.2°F

Chocolate is melted and heated until it reaches 45°C / 113°F. Tempered un-melted chocolate is then stirred and melted in until it brings the temperature down to 27°C/80.6°F. It is then put back over heat and brought up to its working temperature of 32°C/30°C/29°C /// 89.6°F/86°F/84.2°F depending on the chocolate you’re using. It is now ready for using in molds, dipping and coating.

Now watch this video:
http://video.about.com/candy/How-to-Temper-Chocolate.htm

Tips:

• If you’re using the chocolate to dip a lot of truffles etc. which means the chocolate will be sitting off heat for a while it will naturally start to thicken as it cools. To keep it at an ideal viscosity for even coating, put the bowl over steam for 30sec – 1min every 10 – 15mins, just do not let the temperature go over the working temperature!
• Having the chocolate in a warmed glass bowl and wrapped in hot kitchen towel can also help keep the chocolate at its working temperature for longer
• It is also easier to keep the heat if you work with larger amounts of chocolate rather than small amounts. Any leftover chocolate can be kept to be used later and then re-tempered
-Remember, don’t let any water get into your chocolate at any stage of the tempering process!
• Unless you’ve been working with chocolate for a while and have developed a feel for the tempering process and can tell the chocolate’s temperature by touching it to your lower lip like a pro, it’s imperative that you use a thermometer to determine the temperature, as going a few degrees either way can ruin the temper.
• If at any stage you do make a mistake with the tempering process you can simply start again from the beginning.
• While a marble or granite top is ideal for cooling the chocolate in the first method, you can also cool it on a countertop that’s laminated, glass or steel. It will take longer to cool, but it’s possible! (but I definitely wouldn’t recommend a wood or rough textured counter top  )
• Any chocolate left over after making your molded or dipped chocolate can be stored away in a cool place and then re-tempered before using again. There’s no need to ever waste chocolate!
• Wooden spoons can retain moisture so it’s best to use a rubber spatula while tempering

How to fill the molds:

 Equipment:
A small brush,Chocolate molds,A Ladle, Bench or plastic scraper OR A small brush or spoon

Directions:

1. If using colored cocoa butter and plastic molds, paint designs at the  bottom of the wells in each mold. Let dry. You can also use lustre dusts mixed with a bit of extract or vodka, instead of colored cocoa butters for a nice sheen. Let painted molds dry.
2. When coating the molds with the tempered chocolate, I like to do it how the chocolate pro’s do it (much faster and a lot less tedious). While holding mold over bowl of tempered chocolate, take a nice ladle of the chocolate and pour over the mold, making sure it cover and fills every well. Knock the mold a few times against a flat surface to get rid of air bubbles, then turn the mold upside down over the bowl of chocolate, and knock out the excess chocolate. Turn right side up and drag a bench or plastic scraper across so all the chocolate in between the wells is scraped off cleanly, leaving you with only chocolate filled wells. Put in the fridge to set, about 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, you could take a small brush and paint the tempered chocolate into each mold, or spoon it in if you’d like.
3. Remove from refrigerator and fill each well with the filling of your choice. Again take a ladle of chocolate and pour it on top of the filled chocolate wells, knocking against a flat surface to settle it in. Scrape excess chocolate off the mold with the bench scraper then refrigerate until set.
4. When set, pop your beautiful filled chocolates out of each well and enjoy!

Ganache

you can use this for either filling your chocolates or for making truffles

Ingredients
1 ¾ cup (9 oz/250 gm) Dark/Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup (5 oz / 160 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% -48% butterfat)
OR
1 ¾ cup (9 oz/250 gm) Milk Chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (4 oz / 120 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% – 48% butterfat)
OR
1 ¾ cup (9 oz/250 gm) White Chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup (2 oz / 60 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% – 48% butterfat)

Finely chop or grate the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl In a saucepan, heat cream until just about to boil (it will start bubbling around the
edges of the pot) Pour the cream over the chocolate and gently stir the mixture until all the chocolate has melted and it is smooth
Stir in your desired flavorings. For my white  chocolate variation, I steeped the cream with 1/4 tsp cardamom.

Vanilla Butter Rum Caramel

3/4 C (150g)  granulated sugar
1/8 C (30 ml) water
squirt fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped (I know I sound like a broken record, but save your pods!)
1/2 C (120 ml) heavy cream
1 Tablespoon + 1 tsp dark rum
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

In a medium sauce  over medium heat, combine sugar, water, lemon juice, vanilla seeds and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves and then stop stirring. Bring to a boil and let it it go until it is a light-medium caramel color. DO NOT LET YOUR EYES WANDER- IT GOES FROM LIGHT TO BURNT VERY QUICKLY.

Remove from the heat and add the cream and rum. It will bubble up and spit like wild. When the volcano stops, clip on the candy thermometer, add the butter, and stir vigorously until everything is well blended. Place back on the heat . Boil the caramel until the temperature reaches 240 F(116C).

Pour into a bowl and let cool completely before filling the chocolates.

Whooooo… this is a long post…..

Onto the lollipops!   These were a big hit

2 C (400 g) granulated sugar
3/4 C (180 ml) light corn syruo
squirt of lemon juice
1/2 C (120 ml) water
food coloring
extract of your choice (I used orange and lemon oil

In a large saucepan (the heavier the better) over medium heat, add the the sugar, corn syrup lemon juice and water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring. Increase the heat to high and heat the sugar syrup to 300F (149C). I CAN’T STRESS ENOUGH THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING SUPER CAREFUL AROUND BOILING MOLTEN SUGAR!!!!!

For various colors, pour the molten candy into a few heatproof containers with spouts and add 1 or 2 drops of food coloring and 1/2 tsp extract. Give it a quick stir and pour into your lollipop molds with the sticks.

For just one color, just pour all of your hot syrup into large heatproof container and add your color and flavor. Stir and pour into your molds.

You need to work really quickly as this will start to set almost immediately. Do not under any circumstances be tempted to touch your candy- you will be severely burned!

To make the patchwork lollipops, Just pour the various colored syrups directly onto a parchment lined sheet, being careful not to have the colors touch each other. Let it sit overnight to set (it was nighttime when I made the syrup), then smash hell out of them with a covered hammer into  smallish sized bits.

Preheat the oven to 250F

Lightly spray cookie cutters with vegetable oil and lay on baking sheet lined with parchment. Lay down pieces of the colored candy inside the molds, trying not to overlap the pieces. Bake for 10 minutes or until the candy melts. Let cool and pop out. Take a few more pieces of broken candy and heat them up in the oven for about 5 minutes. Dip the tip of a lollipop stick  into one of the melted bits and stick onto the back of the lollipops. Let set.

Couverture Chocolate Supplies Online: UK
http://chocolatefalls-scotland.co.uk/choccart/index.php?main_page=index&…
http://www.squires-shop.com/ibf/index.php?p=product&id=530&parent=59
http://www.cakescookiesandcraftsshop.co.uk/acatalog/Chocolate-Making.htm…
https://www.vantagehouse.com/chocolate-ingredients

Couverture Chocolate Supplies Online: US
http://chocoley.com/
http://www.chocosphere.com/
http://www.worldwidechocolate.com/

Equipment & Moulds Online: UK
http://www.squires-shop.com/ibf/index.php?p=catalog&parent=76&pg=1
http://www.squires-shop.com/ibf/index.php?p=catalog&parent=74&pg=1

Equipment & Molds Online: US
Everything and anything you need
chocolate related:
http://chocoley.com/

More places to purchase:
Thermometers
http://www.amazon.com/CK-Products-81-178-Ateco-Dipping/dp/B0000E2OF1
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dgarden&field-k…

Molds
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%253Dgarden&field…

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Today is supposed to a beautifully hot day here in Calgary. At least 28C (which is around 85F) by midday – way above for the end of summer. It’s funny how I now think of the end of August as the end of summer. Back east the end of summer is more like the middle of October, but since my little one is starting kindergarten next week (Aghh!) it seems that the time is right for summer weather to start coming to an end. Just not today. So… it’s perfect weather for ice cream. We make a lot of ice cream in this house. I should write more and post way more recipes, but then, there are a lot of things I should be doing. I am a clumsy writer, and find it painstaking to take the time and write as often as I should. I am always amazed when I look at other blogs and people post everyday. Where do they find the time?! I can’t imagine myself ever getting that focused. One can always dream though…  Okay, back to ice cream. I made this a few weeks ago for a BBQ along with some other flavors and this one was the clear winner. After receiving a phone call the other day from my friend for step by step instructions, I promised that I would post the recipe. Andrea (my friend) just bought herself an ice cream maker after our discussion about the benefits of owning one and making your own vs. buying at the store. So I made the base the other evening and whirled this up last night.

When I say this is good, that really is an understatement. It’s rich and creamy, with an almost vanilla pudding like flavor, offset by the bright tanginess of the raspberries. The bits of dark chocolate round the whole thing out. This is one recipe with great “mouthfeel”. What I really love about this is that it does not contain eggs. I am not a big fan of custard style ice cream (sorry David Lebovitz), since  what I really want to taste is cream, not eggs. I find this style much more refreshing than egg based ice creams. So get out your ice cream maker and,  Bake on!

Ice Cream Base

1 Cup (8 oz) heavy whipping cream (32-36%)
1 3/4 Cup (14 oz) whole milk, divided
1/2 c (4 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 Cup (2 oz) light corn syrup
1/8 tsp salt
2 Vanilla beans or 1 vanilla bean + 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract or 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 C (3 oz/90 g) chocolate chips (I like to use bittersweet chocolate not so finely chopped)

Raspberry Swirl

1 1/2 c (12 oz) fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 C (2oz) light corn syrup
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon cornstarch

In a small dish, mix together 3/4 whole milk, milk powder, cornstarch and vanilla extract (if using) together, stirring until everything is dissolved and smooth. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, remaining whole milk, corn syrup, and salt. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the cream mixture (save the pods for your sugar bowl or add to your bottle of vanilla extract.
Cook over medium heat, stirring every few minutes, until the mixtures gets hot and starts to steam (but do not let it come to a boil). Whisk

the cornstarch slurry

in the cornstarch mixture (also called a slurry), and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil over medium-low heat.  Simmer over low heat for about 2 minutes until it thickens up. Oh, don’t forget to keep stirring; this prevents any lumps from forming. Take it off the heat and pour into a storage container to cool. Getting back to the lumpy thing I just mentioned, if you see any lumps just strain the mixture should a sieve. This should not happen if you stir the whole time, but no big deal if it does..

Once in a storage container, place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the mixture to prevent a “pudding skin” to form. Refrigerate until completely chilled before moving on.

A note on chilling: I pop mine in the fridge overnight to get cold. Not only is it chilling the base but it also lets the flavors bloom. Now, that being said, if you just can’t wait you can always give a cold water bath. To do this, place a metal bowl in the freezer to get cold while you cook the base.  Get a larger metal bowl and fill it with ice and salt (just like the they used to make it). The salt makes the ice colder; don’t ask me how. Place the smaller bowl on top and fill with your hot mixture and stir until the mixture has cooled to below 40 F. Just be careful not to get any salty ice water into your ice cream…

Make the Raspberry Mixture

Combine the raspberries ,corn syrup, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for a few minutes. Combine the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and mix well. Add to the raspberries and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until lighlty thickened. Strain the sauce through a sieve to remove the seeds. You should have about 1/2 cup left. Chill until cold.

Make your Ice Cream!

Freeze the base according to the instructions on your ice cream maker. It seems like these days they are all pretty much the same; pour it in and press the start button… I usually check mine after about 15-20  minutes to see if it’s firm and creamy. Add the chocolate and whirl for another minute to combine.

Spoon about 1/6 the ice cream into an airtight container. Top with a few spoonfuls of the raspberry sauce and repeat until everything is finished and nicely layered.

Serve right away for soft serve of place in the freezer for a few hours to set up. when ready to serve let it sit out for 10 minutes to let it soften a bit for easy scooping. dig in vertically so you get the swirl effect.

One for me….

and one for you….

Recipe adapted from: Scoop by Ellen Brown. A great book to own.

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Cherries, cherries, and more cherries! It’s that time of year again here, cherry season that is. It’s a relatively short season so it really is a time to rejoice. I love that this is a fruit that actually has a season, and you can’t buy them all year round. No, in North America cherries only grow in the summer, and only for a short time. I think this makes me appreciate their juicy goodness that much more.

We decided to take a quick trip this past weekend to the Flathead Lake region of Montana and get in on some of those amazing berries. While we were there we also took in the Swan Lake Huckleberry Festival and the Whitefish Huckleberry Days Arts Festival. What is not to love about Montana?! The drive along the eastern side of Flathead Lake is just one cherry orchard after the next; a truly beautiful drive. We stopped the Cherry Hill Orchards (hobug@montanasky.com), owned by the lovely Heidi and Jim.  After a few fun-filled hours there we left with 12 pounds of cherries (plus the 5 lbs we already had in the car!) and headed back home.We are definitely going back  next year and making that an annual summer jaunt.

Needless to say, I have been pitting cherries like a madwoman. So far I have a large bag in the freezer, made a clafouti (I’ll get to that another day), and oven dried a portion. Here is another amazing dessert using fresh cherries. At first glance it looks very complicated and time-consuming, but I promise you – it isn’t. In fact it is quite simple to make. Make the tart dough the day before if you want to spread it out. Bake this, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Oh, and I must tell you…. I made the tart shells in the morning, planning on baking them later in the day. Well… I forgot. I made the filling and poured it onto the rectangle shaped tart and then realized, “I forgot to bake the shell first!!!!”. Oh well, it was too late for that one, and into the oven it went anyway. I baked the other crust. Funny thing is, they both tasted great, and no one was any the wiser…. Bake on!

CHEERY CHERRY CHOCOLATE TART

Yield: One 9 1/2 inch tart, 8 to 12 servings

Chocolate Tart Pastry

1 egg white
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 C + 2 Tbls (5 ounces/140 g) all-purpose flour
3 Tbls unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder (I like to use black cocoa)
3 Tbls firmly packed light brown sugar
3 Tbls granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 ounces (3/4 stick/85 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white and vanilla; set aside

In a food processor, combine the flour, cocoa, sugars, and salt. Pulse a few times to blend. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture kind of looks like cormeal. With the motor running, pour in the egg white mixture and process until it starts to come together and form a ball (this is one of those times that I appreciate having a food processor; it takes so little time and effort to make this). Transfer the dough to a work surface and press the dough together, using the heel of your hand to help you. Shape it into a disk. You are now ready to roll out your dough! You can always just press the dough into your pan with your fingertips, however it’s much faster to roll it our using a rolling pin. If you don’t want to use the dough right away, wrap it up in plastic  wrap and place in the fridge for up to 3 days, or, wrap it in foil and freeze for up to three months.  Just make sure that either way you dough is nice and pliable before rolling out.

Here is a great method (thank you Flo Braker!) to follow:

You will need 1 piece of parchment paper and 1 piece of plastic wrap. Put the plastic wrap down,place the dough down, cover with the parchment paper,  and roll out to your desired shape. This will depend if you are using a round/square/rectangle shape pan. Center the rolling pin and push out from you in one stroke. Rotate the dough slightly and roll again. Keep rotating (in the same direction) and rolling until your tart dough is 1/8 thick. With a tart, you want a thin crust so you don’t end up with more crust than filling.

Peel off the parchment paper. Using the overhang of the plastic wrap as handles, invert the dough, pastry side down, over the center of you tart pan. Gently ease the dough into the pan, fitting it into all the nooks and crannies. Peel away the plastic wrap (how easy is that?). Trim away any excess. Now you place the dough into the fridge to get nice and cold (at least 1 hour).

You need to partially bake this tart shell (but remember my error…). Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prick the bottom of the shell all over with a fork. This allows the steam to escape while it is baking. Place in the oven and check after 7-8 minutes to see if the shell is bubbling. If it is, just prick the center to deflate it. Continue to bake for another 10 minutes or until it is no longer shiny and looks dry. Take of the oven and let cool completely.

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Cherry Filling

2 ounces (1/2 stick/55 g) unsalted butter
1 C (3/12 oz/100 g) powdered sugar
2 Tbls whole almonds, finely ground to yield 6 Tbls (1 ounce/30 g)
1/3 C (1 1/2 oz/40 g) all-purpose flour
1/3  C (2 1/2 fl oz/75 ml)egg whites (3 large)
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
2 Tbls cocoa nibs, finely chopped (optional)
10 ounces (280 grams) fresh sweet cherries, stemmed, pitted, and left whole (about 25)

Preheat your oven to 350F

Follow the directions here to make brown butter. Pour the butter into a small bowl and set aside to cool, about 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, ground nuts and flour. In another medium bowl, whisk the egg whites just until foamy (this takes about 30 seconds by hand). Add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Gradually add the browned butter to blend thoroughly. Stir in the extracts and cocoa nibs. Let the mixture rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to thicken slightly.

Spoon the filling into the tart shell and spread evenly. Press the cherries all around the perimeter of the tart, saving a few to place decoratively down the middle. The filling should reach about half way up the cherries.

Bake the tart for 22-25 minutes, or until the surface is dull and springs back when lighlty pressed. Place on a wire rack and let cool completely.

Chocolate Drizzle

2 ounces (60 g) bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tbls heavy cream

Place the cream in a small pan and bring to a boil (I admit that I always use the  microwave for this; 1 minute). Pour the cream over the chocolate, let it sit for 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth and creamy.Set aside at room temperature until the mixture cools a bit and starts to thicken.

Drizzle the chocolate over the tart in a zig zag pattern. this can be done using a disposable pastry bag, the corner of a small ziploc bag, or even just a spoon.

I also made a square version using a small cake pan that had a removable bottom. I just used my fingertips to get the sides.


Recipe source: Baking For all Occasions by great Flo Braker

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Raspberry Ricotta Tart

Summer is pretty much in full swing right now, and the berries on our raspberry bush are in abundance this year. It seems that no matter how many you pick, there seems to be that much more the next day. I think I have frozen at least 8 -10 pints so far, besides all of the ones eaten fresh daily. Ahhh… the life. It helps that raspberries are one of the easiest things to grow. Basically, leave it alone. My kind of plant.

For the BBQ the other night I made a raspberry ripple ice cream and this, a raspberry ricotta tart. I’m calling it a tart but it could also be a crostata, I think.  This is real simple, rustic, beautiful summer eating. I wasn’t even planning on posting this until one of my guests stated that this was his favorite thing of the entire meal. If you have the ingredients on hand it only takes moments to put together. Again, perfect for summer. The base is puff pastry (who doesn’t love that?), so you can either make your own or use store-bought. While I actually like making my own (I am a glutton for punishment) and keeping it in the freezer, I had a sheet of store-bought sitting in the freezer and used that. Whatever you have will work. Bake on!

1 sheet puff pastry
1 small container ricotta cheese (I think mine was 225 g)
1/4 cup runny honey
1/4 granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 egg yolks (save or freeze the whites for another use)
2 pints fresh raspberries, divided

Preheat your oven the 425 F

Roll out your sheet of puff pastry to approximately 12 x 15. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make a small lip by folding over the pastry about 1/3 of an inch all around. Lightly prick the center portion with the tines of a fork. Place the sheet into the freezer while you prepare the filling.

In a medium-sized bowl add the ricotta cheese, egg yolks, honey, sugar and corn starch. Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the bowl (Do not throw out the pod-save for another use). Stir everything together for about 1 minute, making sure it is fully smooth and blended.

Take the pastry out of the freezer and gently pour the cheese mixture into the middle of the tart. Using a spatula, spread the mixture evenly out, to about 1/8 inch of the border. If some goes onto the border, don’t worry, this will add to its rustic charm. Evenly sprinkle one pint of the raspberries over the top. Brush the border with a little cream or an egg wash (this helps to give it that golden brown color).
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. As soon as it comes out,immediately sprinkle the other pint of raspberries over the top and drizzle a little more honey (if you wish) over the top. Let cool completely. Enjoy!

P.S.- since writing this 45 minutes ago, I have picked another 1 pound 4 ounces!!!!!

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