Tuesday, April 29, 2008
PS Don't tell Alex about this post. For the past 5 years I have been on his case about how absurd his desire to have a house like this is. The man must have rubbed off on me, because I secretly want a house like this now. Only I want it with a built-in maid ;-)
Everything started out fine. I was excited to finally make something with figs and to use my little tart pans again. I decided to halve the recipe and who would have thought that was the best decision I made all weekend. First of all, I was distracted because I was talking to my sister and didn't butter the tart pans (not a problem since they were nonstick and there was enough butter in the batter to grease it up) and I added 2/3 cup of ricotta versus the 1/2 cup the recipe calls for. Did I mention that I added 2/3 cup of ricotta twice? "How did you do that Stephanie?" you ask. Well let me tell you...I blame it on my kitchen. One wrong move and my bowl full of ricotta, water, honey, sugar, and lemon zest fell all over the kitchen floor. GREAT. Since I halved the recipe I had just enough ricotta and lemon zest to make a second batch. Good thing too because I wasn't in the mood to leave the house again. This time everything went smoothly and the little suckers baked to perfection. Because they looked so plain to me I decided to make a fig spread and this was a great touch because it complemented the cornmeal consistency perfectly.
For the full recipe click here and check out all of the amazing blogs.
Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake
Source: Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking From My Home to Yours”
About 8 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed (Since I used small tart pans, I sliced the figs)
1/2 cup medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal (I used cornmeal)
1⁄4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup ricotta
1/6 cup tepid water
1⁄4 and 1/8 cups sugar
1⁄4 and 1/8 cups honey (if you’re a real honey lover, use a full-flavored honey such as chestnut, pine, or buckwheat)
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 large eggs
Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 1⁄2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. (By halving the recipe I had enough batter to fill 3 small tart pans)
Check that the figs are, indeed, moist and plump. If they are the least bit hard, toss them into a small pan of boiling water and steep for a minute, then drain and pat dry. If the figs are large (bigger than a bite), snip them in half. (I sliced them)
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the ricotta and water together on low speed until very smooth. With the mixer at medium speed, add the sugar, honey, and lemon zest and beat until light. Beat in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are fully incorporated. You’ll have a sleek, smooth, pourable batter.
Pour about one third of the batter into the pans and scatter over the figs. Pour in the rest of the batter, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, if necessary, and dot the batter evenly with the chilled bits of butter.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake should be honey brown and pulling away just a little from the sides of the pan, and the butter will have left light-colored circles in the top. Transfer the cakes to a rack and remove the sides of the pans after about 5 minutes. Cool to warm, or cool completely.
3/4 cup sliced dried figs
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp honey
Bring the water and honey to a boil, then add the dried figs and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Place the figs and fluid in a food processor and blend until thoroughly mixed.
Scrape the mixture out of the food processor and scoop some onto the tarts.
Serve and enjoy!
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I have found the secret to making the perfect cheesecake. The first time I made cheesecake wasn't a disaster per se because it tasted good, but it wasn't pretty. The cake didn't bake evenly and I ended up having very brown edges and a center that didn't set. I was especially nervous because this was my attempt at impressing Alex's family with yet another dessert. Luckily enough, the cherry topping I used hid all the imperfections. After making this month's challenge I realize that what I missed out on was a water bath. I have never made a prettier cheesecake and all credit goes to the water bath. The cake baked evenly and beautifully. I was actually sad to have to break it up and scoop it into balls, but duty called and the Daring Bakers challenge called for it. So on I went scooping away (and licking my fingers and washing my hands between each scoop) and building excitement for the final dipping. I chose to use white chocolate because I wanted to make sure that my pink and black sprinkles showed and, plus, I love white chocolate. Dipping them was the funnest part for me and waiting for them to set was torture. It was all worth the wait because they tasted great! Again, I halved the recipe, so if you'd like to see the whole recipe go check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll and have a field day looking through all the delicious blogs.
Thanks to Elle of Feeding my Enthusiasm and Deborah of Taste and Tell for picking April's challenge.
Source: Jill O'Connor's "Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey"
Makes 20 – 25 Pops
- 2 8-oz. plus 4 oz packages cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 cups sugar
- 1⁄8 cup all-purpose flour
- 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
- 2.5 large eggs (I scrambled the third egg and just used half of it)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1⁄8 cup heavy cream
- Boiling water as needed
- Twenty to twenty-five 8-inch lollipop sticks
- 1/2 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)
- 1 Tbsp vegetable shortening
- Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional
Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.
Grease a 9-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose its shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.
Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I wrote a paper this semester about the Prudential building (middle building). You can see that building from just about any location in Boston. I consider it the North Star of Boston because as long as I can see the Prudential building I know how to get home. On an incredibly sunny day these three buildings look like they are painted in the sky. They look good year round too:
The best part of this view? Prudential has a restaurant on the 52nd floor (Top of the Hub) and we ate there the night Alex proposed to me.
I hadn't made dinner reservations because Alex was supposed to be on call Sunday and I didn't think he'd want to go out on Saturday night. I was surprised when he said he wanted to go out and I was even more surprised when he took the initiative and made the reservation! Let me tell you that he made a great decision! We went to Beehive and it was such a great dinner that it made me reconsider all my prior opinions about the South End. My only regret was that our reservation was so early that we didn't get to enjoy the live music. Not a problem though, because we will definitely be going back.
We were seated in this cozy table about 10 feet from the stage. The restaurant has a very vintage, New Orleans feel so I can only imagine how great it must be to sit there with a cocktail in hand listening to live music. I started off the night by getting their Blonde Sidecar martini. Wow. That's all I have to say about this drink. Just wow. This has to be one of my favorite drinks. It was so good. The flavors blended so well; it tasted like an alcohol soaked star fruit. Delicious!
We shared the Mini Beef Wellington appetizer. I have never had beef wellington so I didn't know what to expect. Alex has had it several times and was hoping that it would be good. Well, they brought it out and at first we were disappointed because it seemed like such a small serving. Fear immediately set in that the entrees would be small servings as well and that Beehive was just like every other South End restaurant. The appetizer was three mini beef wellingtons soaking in some kind of au jus. Over discussion about how puff pastry is made we ate the appetizer. I couldn't believe it was possible for such a little thing to taste so good. My taste buds were jumping in joy as the flavors filled my mouth. Alex said this was how a beef wellington should be made.
Alex ordered the Grilled Hanger Steak with potato gratin. He order it medium but it came out medium rare. Don't worry though, the man has never turned down a steak. The steak was tender and, for the first time ever, the steak was so big that Alex couldn't finish it. I could barely believe my eyes and ears when I looked at Alex's plate and then his face as he said "I can't eat anymore." This was definitely a first in the South End.
picture of Alex's food before he shoots me the evil eye.
I'm assuming that they have different desserts nightly because there is no official dessert menu. We were offered three things and I can only remember two of them. One was a cheesecake and the other was an apple-cranberry crisp. Because we had cheesecake at home I ordered the apple-cranberry crisp. It was such a great choice because this dessert was fantastic. The apples were tender and the cranberries were tart. The crispy crust was amazing. Don't laugh at this description, but it was very crisp! The oats and the cinnamon were the dominant textures and flavors in the crisp crust. It was topped with a spoonful of whipped cream.
Beehive is located in the South End and is a great place for dinner. If you are looking for a restaurant with great prices and great food I definitely recommend going there...you won't regret it!
I halved the recipe because it would have been too much for the two of us to eat. The cake was delicious. I knew it would be good because the batter was good (yes, I eat batter and I'm not ashamed!). My only gripe was the addition of the lemon juice/extract to the frosting. In my opinion, carrot cake is best with a frosting that tastes strongly of cream cheese. The lemon juice/extract overpowered the cream cheese taste. I was pleasantly surprised to taste that the cake had a rich enough flavor to downplay the lemon taste in the frosting. If you want to see the original recipe I recommend going to the Tuesday's With Dorie website and checking out all the great blogs.
Bill's Big Carrot Cake
Source: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
For the cake:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1⁄4 and 1/8 tsp salt
1.5 cups grated carrots (I used about 20 baby carrots)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1⁄4 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries (I omitted)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
For the frosting:
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 stick (4 Tbsps) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 pound or 1 3⁄4 cups plus 1/8 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or 1⁄4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1⁄2 cup shredded coconut (optional) (I omitted)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter one 9-x-2-inch round cake pan, flour the insides, and tap out the excess.
To make the cake:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake will have just started to come away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the cake to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cake and unmold it. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
The cake can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.
To make the frosting:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.
If you'd like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.
To assemble the cake:
Using a serrated knife cut the cake in half and put the top layer on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the bottom layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top the bottom layer with the top layer, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.
Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.
This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it's good plain, it's even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.
The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it's firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.
Pretty little cake
Like I said, I have made many cookies, but these cookies struck Alex in a way that I never thought a cookie could. After one bite, the words "best cookie ever" slipped out of his mouth. He was hooked. I've never seen the man go after cookies like he did with these cookies. I mean, I thought the cookies were good, but I didn't think they deserved the label "best cookie ever."
Joelen, thank you once again for hosting!
Milk Chocolate Chunk-Peanut Bitter Cookies
Source: Carol Bloom's The Essential Baker
3 oz (6 Tbsps) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted natural-style chunky peanut butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 and 1/8 cup granulated sugar
1 extra large egg, at room temperature (1 extra large egg = 1 large egg)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz milk chocolate, cut into small chunks (I love chocolate so I added 5 oz)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick liners
2. Beat the butter in a large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes
3. Add the peanut butter to the butter and mix together well. Scrape the sides and bottom of the the bowl with a rubber spatula
4. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar to the butter mixture and cream together
5. Use a fork to lightly beat the egg and vanilla together in a small bowl. Add this to the butter mixture and blend thoroughly
6. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add this to the butter mixture in 4 parts, blending well after each addition. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula
7. Add the chocolate chunks and stir to distribute evenly
8. Using a scooper, scoop out mounds about 2 inches in diameter. Place the mounds on the baking sheets, leaving 2 inches of space between cookies
9. Bake the cookies for 5-7 minutes
10. Serve yourself a glass of milk and enjoy!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Everything started off great. I had everything ready to go. Once I had everything mixed together I tasted it and it tasted like liquid marshmallow. I was all happy pouring the mixture in the baking pan and setting it in a "cool, dry" place. I let it sit over night and woke up Saturday ready to cut it into pieces. I was convinced it came out great because the top looked so nice. But alas, I cut into it and was disappointed. I stood there in my kitchen trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Did I want to give up on the marshmallows or did I want to make the best of it? I decided to not let the goods go to waste and I took out some of my pretty glasses and made mini smores. Great choice because I was able to use the leftover ganache frosting from my Kahlua Cupcakes. Plus, they looked so cute and pretty :)
Thank you Judy of Judy's Gross Eats for hosting this week.
Source: Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours
I'm giving you the recipe for a basic vanilla marshmallow. See Playing Around (below) for raspberry, chocolate, cappuccino and pumpkin marshmallows.
Makes about 1 pound marshmallows
About 1 cup potato starch (found in the kosher foods section of supermarkets) or cornstarch
2 tbsp light corn syrup
2 1/4-oz packets unflavored gelatin
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup cold water
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tbsp sugar
Getting Ready: Line a rimmed baking sheet -- choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high -- with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.
Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup -- without stirring -- until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.
While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)
Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy -- don't overbeat them and have them go dull.
As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.
Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won't fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups).
Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They'll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.
Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you'll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you'd like -- into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they're cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you've got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.
Serving: Put the marshmallows out and let everyone nibble as they wish. Sometimes I fill a tall glass vase with the marshmallows and put it in the center of the table -- it never fails to make friends smile. You can also top hot chocolate or cold sundaes with the marshmallows.
Storing: Keep the marshmallows in a cool, dry place; don't cover them closely. Stored in this way, they will keep for about 1 week -- they might develop a little crust on the outside or they might get a little firmer on the inside, but they'll still be very good.
Raspberry Marshmallows: Fruit purees are excellent for flavoring these candies. For raspberry marshmallows, you'll need a generous 1/3 cup of puree; reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon. After the batter is mixed, gently fold in the puree with a rubber spatula. You can use the same measurements and technique for other purees, such as strawberry, mango and passion fruit.
Cappuccino Marshmallows: Sift 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon together into a small bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water and mix until smooth. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/2 teaspoon, and add it to the espresso mix. After you add the sugar syrup and gelatin to the meringue, beat in the espresso mixture and continue.
Light Chocolate Marshmallows: Melt 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon, and after the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the chocolate mixture with a large rubber spatula.
Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows: Whisk together 1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of ground allspice. After the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the spiced pumpkin with a large rubber spatula.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Thank you Mary of Starting from Scratch for making this week's selection.
The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart
Source: Dorie Greenspan's 'Baking: From My Home to Yours'
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature
1 9-inch tart shell (see below for recipe)
Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.
Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk - you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling - you'll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point - the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don't stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience - depending on how much heat you're giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.
As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.
Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going - to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.
Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator).
When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.
Sweet Tart Dough
Source: Dorie Greenspan's 'Baking From My Home to Yours'
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in—you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses—about 10 seconds each—until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change—heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
To press the dough into the pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don't be too heavy-handed—press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
To partially or full bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).
To fully bake the crust: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. (I dislike lightly baked crusts, so I often keep the crust in the oven just a little longer. If you do that, just make sure to keep a close eye on the crust's progress—it can go from golden to way too dark in a flash.) Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Kahlua Cupcakes with Kahlua Ganache Icing
Source: Carole Bloom's "The Essential Baker"
9 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 extra large eggs, at room temperature
1/8 cup Kahlua
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line the muffin pan with muffin cups.
2. Place the butter in a large bowl and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the sugars to the butter and cream together thoroughly. Stop occasionally and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
4. One at a time, add the eggs to the butter mixture, stopping to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
5. Add the Kahlua and vanilla to the mixture and mix thoroughly.
6. Sift the flour and baking powder. Add the salt and toss together.
7. In 3 stages, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk to the butter mixture, blending well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom.
8. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
9. Bake the cupcakes for 10-15 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in a cupcake comes out dry. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and cool completely.
4.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/8 cup Kahlua
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1. Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl
2. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil over medium heat. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate. Let it stand for 1 minute, then stir together with a rubber spatula or whisk until well blended.
3. Add the Kahlua and mix completely.
4. Cover the ganache tightly with plastic wrap and cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator until the mixture is firm but pliable, about 1 hour.
5. Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixture and beat on medium speed until fluffy. Add the ganache in 2 or 3 stages and beat until the mixture holds soft peaks, about 1 to 2 minutes.
6. Use a spatula or spoon to spread the top of each cupcake with the ganache frosting.
7. Serve and enjoy!