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Posts tagged ‘Dessert’

Apple Tart with Salted Caramel


My January was packed and I am just now getting a chance to feel that urge to get organized and start the new year off on the right foot!  I cleared out my entire email inbox yesterday.  I’m going to repeat that!  I CLEARED OUT MY ENTIRE INBOX!  The last time that happened was two years ago.  So now, my inbox is nearly empty (less than 15 emails sitting in there just waiting to be archived), but it seems as though I’ve got some photos to sort through (yikes)!  In my sorting and organizing, there are a couple of dishes that were ignored and never made it into a post, so this is a Throwback Dish – as in I cooked it sometime in the last year…and am just now getting around to posting it!

Deb over at Smitten Kitchen posted this last fall while I was visiting my brother and his family in Portland, OR…it was too much to resist!  (disclosure – cell phone pics – please excuse!)

Mosaic Apple Tart with Salted Caramel

Tart base
14-ounce package puff pastry, defrosted in fridge overnight
3 large or 4 medium apples (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small bits

Salted caramel glaze
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or salted, but then ease up on the sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt (or half as much table salt)
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Heat the oven to 400°F.  Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and roll out your puff pastry dough to about the size of your sheet pan, use flour to prevent the pasty from sticking to your counter.

Peel your apples, core them and cut them in half.  Slice the apple halves thinly…a mandoline makes quick work of this…or slice thinly with a knife.  Now…the puzzle begins.  Starting on the outer edge, lay the apples around the border slightly overlapping each other, spiraling inward until you reach the center.  We  didn’t fit every apple slice in after circling in, so we went around and tucked in the extra slices wherever the tart needed them.  Sprinkle the apples with 2 tablespoons of butter and then dot with the butter.

Bake for 30 minutes, the edges of the tart should have started to brown a bit.  The tart will look dry – don’t worry…you’re fixing this problem with the salted caramel!  

About 10 minutes before the tart comes out of the oven, start the caramel.  In a saucepan, melt 1/4 cup of sugar over medium high heat, continue cooking it until it is coppery in color.  

 Off the heat, add the sea salt and butter and stir until the butter melts and is incorporated. Add the heavy cream and return to the stove over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until you have a lovely, bronzed caramel syrup, just another minute, two, tops. Set aside until needed. You may need to briefly rewarm it to thin the caramel before brushing it over the tart.

After the tart has baked, transfer it to a cooling rack, but leave the oven on. Using very short, gentle strokes, and brushing in the direction that the apples fan to mess up their design as little as possible, brush the entire tart, including the exposed pastry, with the salted caramel glaze. 

Return the apple tart to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes, until the caramel glaze bubbles. You should let the tart cool completely before serving…but I won’t tell!  Serve it up plain or give it a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.  

Very delicious right after it came out of the oven topped with the salted caramel sauce…but equally good the next day, and the day after as well.  I may have had a slice whenever I walked through the kitchen.  It also tasted even sweeter since I had some little hands helping me lay out all the apples thanks to my niece!

Pumpkin Pecan Biscotti


Pumpkin Pecan Biscotti are an annual tradition for us. It would not be autumn without pumpkin cookies and my husband is a sucker for biscotti.  Also…I’m guessing that you’ve got an extra can or two of pumpkin lying around from Thanksgiving.  These biscotti are perfect as it seems just a teensy bit too early for christmas cookies – it’s barely December!

Full disclosure…original recipe comes from my family cookbook and stops a few steps short of making biscotti.   I love the original pumpkin cookie, which turn out a bit cakey and only get better the second and third day.  Feel free to make those as well – only difference is you spoon the batter into dollops on the sheet pan – they end up looking a bit like scones!  We came up with the biscotti idea as Woody prefers crunchy cookies…not cakey ones!

1½ cups brown sugar
½ solid shortening (crisco)
2 eggs
1 lb. canned pumpkin (I’ve gotten away with the 14.5 oz. can)
2¾ cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground ginger
1 cup pecans, chopped (or more)

Preheat the oven to 400° F.  Mix sugar, shortening, eggs and pumpkin thoroughly.

Mix dry ingredients and add to pumpkin mixture; blend well.

Chop the pecans and fold in to combine.

I like my biscotti pretty nutty!

Pour and scrape the batter into two logs on a parchment lined half-sheet pan.

Using a spatula, flatten out the batter so the biscotti loaves will cook evenly.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the tops are just beginning to brown.  You want the loaves to be cooked through, otherwise slicing them cleanly will be difficult and gooey, but not so cooked that they will burn when you put them back in the oven!

Once removed from the oven, let them cool completely (they will smell really good…and it will be very difficult to not nibble the edges)!

When the loaves are cool, gently lift onto a cutting board and slice in 1/3 to 1/2 inch slices.

Lay the slices sideways on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 325º for 25 to 35 minutes.  I know that is not very specific, however, this is the part of the recipe that takes a bit of experience to get it right.  You want to dry out the biscotti without toasting them too much – so think low temperature for longer.  Every oven is different and you could probably do this at 250º for much longer.  It is also important to note that they might not seem done when you remove them from the oven, but remember that as they cool…steam (i.e. moisture) is escaping and they will continue to dry as they cool.

Cool the finished biscotti completely before storing them in any airtight container.  Serve up with a steamy cup of coffee and enjoy at all hours of the day!

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-y8Bn8yy5wCo/Tuhhkg81j0I/AAAAAAAAOiQ/1T3fI8mVJMU/s504/IMG_7969.jpg

Okay…now it is on to the next holiday…Christmas, OF COURSE!

 

 

Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake


Prompted to bring a dessert over to a friend’s house for a small potluck dinner, I began scheming to find a dessert that was not overly sweet, involved a bundt pan (the husband’s been asking for of a bundt-something-or-other), and brought out the best of late summer (no pumpkin or other quintessential fall ingredients involved).

Thank you Interwebs…and Martha Stewart!

I stumbled upon her recipe for Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake and it seemed perfect!  A buttery, citrus cake with the added brightness of ginger.  I am definitely adding this one to my recipe box, it was quick, a bit intriguing with the crystallized ginger and had just the right amount of sweetness.  Don’t you just hate it when Martha is…well, Martha?

Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake (via marthastewart.com)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest and 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a standard 12-cup bundt pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, lemon zest, ginger, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix in lemon juice.
  2. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in three parts and sour cream in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until incorporated (do not overmix). Spoon batter into prepared pan, and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Firmly tap pan on a work surface to level batter.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes (if cake browns too quickly, tent loosely with aluminum foil). Let cake cool in pan 30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. (To store, wrap cake in plastic, and keep at room temperature, up to 3 days.) Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

As previously mentioned, we carted this bundt over to our friends and let it cool a bit more before dusting with powdered sugar (as Martha suggests), and unfortunately ended up with no pictures of the sliced cake as it disappeared quite quickly.

I just love how bundt cakes get that lovely dark crust on the outside and hide their fluffy cake texture inside.  I think I’ll be making this again soon!

Orange Polenta Cake with Blackberries & Plums


Desserts in the summer should be delightful.  Fresh and vibrant.  I think you get a little more leeway with summer desserts…it can be an unexpected little something to try…so serious expectations.  So I say, run with it.  Try something new, be a little different and surprising!  Polenta cake fits the bill.  Think of this as somewhere in between corn bread and a citrus cake.

(Although I did not get the post up right on time, this cake was inspired by the Daring Cooks August Challenge…credit where credit is due!)

Rachael of pizzarossa was our August 2012 Daring Cook hostess and she challenged us to broaden our knowledge of cornmeal! Rachael provided us with some amazing recipes and encouraged us to hunt down other cornmeal recipes that we’d never tried before – opening our eyes to literally 100s of cuisines and 1000s of new-to-us recipes!

Original recipe can be found here at from the Bon Appetit website and is also on epicurious!

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup medium-fine polenta or organic cornmeal (such as Bob’s Red Mill)1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons (packed) finely grated orange peel
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup whole-milk greek yogurt
3 plums, sliced with pits removed
½ pint blackberries

Preparation

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan.  (I used a mini bundt pan and a quarter size loaf pan which seemed to hold all the batter.)  Dust pan with flour; tap out excess.

Whisk 1 1/4 cups flour, polenta, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

I used Golden Pheasant Polenta and the texture was perfect – coarse enough to notice but not so much that it ruined the texture of the cake batter!

Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and orange peel in large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with yogurt in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Spread batter evenly in pan.Bake cake until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes (my mini pans took less time…I started them with 35 minutes and tested every few minutes after).

In the meantime, prepare the plums and blackberries so they have enough time to macerate.

Halve the plums (I used 3) and remove the pit and then slice somewhat thinly.  Add in a handful of blackberries and sprinkle with 2-3 tablespoons of sugar.

Toss gently and let sit for at least an hour.

Transfer to rack; cool in pan 15 minutes.

Run knife around cake edges to loosen. Invert cake onto rack, then invert again on rack (top side up). Cool completely. 

Cut cake crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; serve with sugared plums and blackberries.

And for a little extra ummmpffff…top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

{Epilogue}

This cake was delicious the next morning, sliced, toasted and spread with just a bit of butter.  I may have eaten it for a week straight this way!

Enjoy!

3rd Time’s a Charm (almost) – Coconut Milk & Key Lime Panna Cotta


Update:  Recipe should have included 1/4 cup of sugar…correction made below!  

Apparently, I am a glutton for punishment…I tried again.

But wait, you say, that doesn’t look like a vanilla bean buttermilk panna cotta…why didn’t you attempt the same recipe?  Well, because I am difficult.  I figured something had to go my way if I made a completely different recipe that included no dairy whatsoever, right?  Hmmm…the answer is not as clear as one might think – yes and no.

Success…YES!  (as it did not separate).  And FAIL…it didn’t actually totally set…but I have only myself to blame for this one.

In “collaborating” (read: angrily discussing) with my brother who seems to end up with nothing but perfection when he makes panna cotta (all varieties, I might add) at his restaurant…he may have mentioned that the amount of gelatin can be tricky when using coconut milk.  What seemed to be like an extreme amount of gelatin…was apparently necessary.  I did not believe the recipe and (of course) thought I knew better…so this one is completely.my.fault!  There’s always room for a 4th or 5th or 27th attempt, right?

Nonetheless, it tasted spot on!  Recipe can be found here (see below)…and I recommend following the recipe to the letter…and I’m sure that your panna cotta will work out absolutely perfectly!  (mostly due to the fact that I am nowhere near your kitchen and therefore my luck (or lack thereof) will have absolutely no influence on your end-result!)  I repeat…follow the directions!

I searched and searched to find the recipe I used…and to no avail…so unfortunately…you won’t have the opportunity to make the exact recipe that I managed to flub up…so find your own.  Go, make panna cotta and succeed!

From my memory and photos….here is the recipe!

Key Lime Coconut Milk Panna Cotta
1 can (15 oz.) of Coconut milk
I packet of gelatin
2 tbsp.’s of fresh key lime juice
1 tsp. of key lime zest
1/4 cup of sugar 

Pour lime juice into the sauce pan and sprinkle in the gelatin.  (my recipe indicated an entire packet of gelatin should be used…but I (incorrectly) assumed that I would end of milk bricks if I added it all since I was using half the milk previous recipes had called for with the same amount of gelatin.  Once it is bloomed, add in the zest and stir around a bit to make sure it is completely dissolved.

Next add in the coconut milk and sugar; heat gently until you see bubbles forming and there is steam rising.  Make sure you continue to stir during the heating so the gelatin, lime juice and zest remain suspended in the mixture.

Remove from heat and pour into small dishes or ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set.  I pulled one out later that evening to try it.  Once again, we had guests and I was trying to avoid another big let-down of serving what appears to be a delicious panna cotta hiding a secret gelatin layer…or ending up a soupy disaster.

That evening, the panna cotta had not set and I convinced myself that it obviously needed some more time in the chiller.  I unmolded it in a shallow bowl and we all nibbled spoonfuls.  Flavor…perfect – refreshing, lime-y and not overly coconut-y.  Texture…too soft…a little like thin yogurt.

The next morning when I pulled one out and plated it, it was certainly more set than the previous evening…but not that heavenly texture that panna cotta should be!

I will not give up.  I will not give up.  I will not give up.

Stay tuned for attempt #4.  I believe everyone has a cooking nemesis…like Kryptonite for Superman…perhaps panna cotta is my kryptonite!

What is your culinary nemesis?

Panna Cotta – Under Construction! {a little help over here…please!}


Okay readers.  Clearly, I am in need of your help, your collective knowledge and wisdom, your trial and error experience with the seemingly simple (any-idiot-should-be-able-to-make-it) Italian dessert – panna cotta.

Don’t get excited…I did not make this one…

{via}

I made this one.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that a perfect panna cotta is not supposed to look like this…

Seriously…I’ve searched and searched for clues as to why it separated…and I can find none.  I repeat…NONE!  I followed the recipe exactly.

Okay not e-x-a-c-t-l-y…but very close.  Instead of using vanilla, I used Meyer lemons as the flavoring, the juice and some of the zest.  I bloomed the gelatin and heated the milk, stirred it altogether to make sure it was good and mixed…I poured it into little ramekins and let it cool a bit and then put them in the fridge.

(and what’s worse…I served them to my in-laws who were visiting…who were more than polite and delved right in as if eating gelatinized milk with a weird-looking yellowish layer on top was nothing other than sheer delight – luckily they are good-humored individuals!)

It tasted fine as well…but the bi-level layering and the yellowish top layer was a bit hard to get past.

So what happened, huh?

Attempt number two is happening this afternoon…but, if that one doesn’t turn out.  I may have to throw in the panna cotta towel.

{I’m counting on you, readers, to pull me out of panna cotta hell and tell me what went wrong!  Puh-lease!}

oh…and Happy Mother’s Day!

—– UPDATE—–

I made a second batch yesterday afternoon using a Mark Bittman recipe for Vanilla Buttermilk Panna Cotta.  The process varied quite a bit, and I was sure it would work out this time.  Many have thought that my issue may have been caused by the acid in the lemon juice – but yesterday’s recipe contained no lemon at all!  I was feeling very confident and pulled one out of the fridge after dinner and dug my spoon in…only to find that once again…full separation.

At this point, panna cotta and I are in a fight…a big one, and currently, I’m holding a big grudge.  We’ll have to talk it over at some point but I think right now I need some space!  GEEZ!

So I now request your help once again…or I’m going to start email-stalking Bittman himself until he discovers the error of my ways!

Help!

Mom’s Oatmeal Comfort Cookies


You know the days when all you want to do is come home to some cookies made by someone who loves you, and enjoy them just out of the oven while you sit there and complain vent discuss your crappy day…?

I seem to have had more than my fair share of those lately.  Why wait for someone to come along and cheer you up…when you can just make some yourself.  (This has the added bonus…that maybe, just perhaps, no one knows exactly how many cookies you made and therefore can’t accuse you of eating the whole batch…just saying!)


Mom’s Oatmeal Cookies*

1 cup rolled oats
¾ cup flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (room temp.)
¼ sugar
1 egg
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. vanilla

Beat living crap out of sugar and butter, add egg and everything but flour and oats, then flour, then oats.  (Mom usually doubles, or even quadruples the recipe.)

Spoon onto baking sheets.  Bake at 375° for 12 minutes (‘though Mom finds this too long sometimes).  Be generous with sugar for more thin/lacy/crunchy cookies.

{*recipe is taken word for word from the Connelly Family Cookbook (my maiden name)}

Quick tip…when my mom was making cookies regularly for the 5 of us to nibble on after school…sometime during the day, she would plop the stick of butter into the Kitchenaid bowl on the counter and by the time she started the cookies, the butter was room temperature and ready to mix!

There was strong disagreement in our house growing up about whether oatmeal cookies should inherently contain raisins.  I think of oatmeal cookies like cake…there are many kinds and they can all be good for different reasons.  Coffee cake vs. red velvet vs. chocolate decadent vs. ice cream cake – the list goes on.  My Dad is on team raisin  and my Mom – her opinion is that adding raisins to these cookies is ‘just wrong’.  I’ll let you decide.  (and I promise, I won’t hold it against you!)

Perfect cookies to enjoy with just a small glass of milk!

{I actually had trouble eating less than two okay three anytime I walked by the cookie jar!}

What is your go-to comfort cookie?

 

 

Poppy Seeds + Strawberries + Mascarpone = Cake!


I’ve become a big blog reader.  It is certainly cutting into my reading of real pages made of paper…but it is still reading.  From the moment I read the title of this blog – Not Without Salt…I was hooked!  I have a small addiction (read: complete obsession) with salt and the amazing things it can do.  Anywho…she made this amazing cake with mascarpone and poppy seeds, and anything with this much fruit has to be (somewhat) healthy…right?  That’s what I thought!  With the impending quarter century birthday of this lady, I had the perfect occasion to bake this beauty up.

As mentioned…the recipe for Poppy Seed Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone Frosting can be found here and is the work of Ashley over at Not Without Salt! (I’ll let you visit her blog yourself and discover it for yourself!

In a similar fashion to red velvet cake, there is a touch of vinegar in the cake recipe and she uses Champagne Vinegar…which just makes everything a bit fancier.

The buttery, eggy color of this makes me think it would be a great wall color…maybe just not for me!  I added in a little bit of lemon zest into the batter as well.

Can we talk about poppy seeds, please?  Small, crunchy and delicious…they add interest to everything from bagels to cookies, cakes and muffins, and one of my favorite applications is tossing them with buttered and salted wide egg noodles served alongside pork chops!  Since I love poppy seeds, a recipe that calls for ¼ cup could use up the entire small spice bottle that these little-stick-in-your-teeth-seeds typically come in.  If you can, try to buy them in bulk.  I’ve had good luck finding small bags at World Market (aka Cost Plus).

The recipe can make either 3 cakes in 8 inch cake pans or 2 cakes in 9 in cake pans.  I only had the 9 inch pans, and wish I had gone with the 8 inch ones for an additional layer.  Next time, I’ll still use the 9 inch pans, but perhaps slice them horizontally to make it a full 4 layers…’cause who doesn’t like more strawberries and mascarpone frosting!?

Another trick is to grease the pans but also use a parchment round on the bottom.  I know they sell these rounds already cut out and perfect…but there’s no need to buy when you can DIY!  Get out your parchment paper, and tear off a piece that is plenty big to cover the bottom of the pan.  Fold in half width-wise, then fold in half again, and again, and again, and maybe even again!  You should end up with a thin and very long triangle’ish shape.  Using the point of the parchment and getting it close to the center of your pan, estimate where you should trim it – cut the shortest side of the triangle.  Now, unfold, you’ll have something pretty close to a circle, and you can see if it will fit into the pan – if not, fold it back up and cut a little more off the edge…I try and err on the side of it being just slightly too small rather than smushing the corner of the cake by wrapping around.  (see photo above for parchment that is slightly too big)  This trick works well as an impromptu lid on a pan…and is perfect for glazing carrots – it nests right now on top of the veggies!  (thanks Cordon Bleu!)

Yummmm…strawberries!  It’s berry season…actually, it’s now getting a little past some of the berries prime.  These beauties came from our CSA and were perfect for the job of adorning this cake!

All they needed was a quick wash and some drying time!

Most anyone who knows me realizes that frosting is not my thing.  Chocolate is better than plain old buttercream, but I actually prefer cake with little to no frosting…which is why I’m shocked that I liked this frosting.  Let me repeat…I. Liked. This. Frosting.  It’s even hard for me to write it.  But I did…I can’t lie.  Sweet, not overwhelming, good texture…delicious!  From here on out…mascarpone frosting and I are besties!

Spread the frosting all over the first layer.

Pluck the tops off the strawberries and slice them into quarters.

Pile them on top of the first layer, squeezing as many in as you can.  (Unless you have a couple more layers in there…then ration them to make sure you have enough for all layers and for the top as well.)

This looked so good, I had to hold myself back from cutting a slice right there and then…this was after all, a birthday cake!  Patience!

Add the second cake layer on top and press down just a bit.  Frost the top generously and top with the prettiest strawberries of the bunch!

Since I was taking this into work, I refrigerated it overnight, brought it in and left it on the counter for an hour or so before we served it!

Happy Birthday Miss Jennie!  I will eat cake for you anytime!

Apologies for the cell phone picture…but is was delicious and needed documenting – also…this photo reinforces my recommendation for slicing the two 9 inch cake rounds horizontally to get more layers of frosting and strawberries!

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