Posts Tagged 'pastry'

Pipe Dream #130: To Savor a Rich Evening – Bumble Berry Napoleons

This dessert came to me at a well-timed moment. It was one of those rare, glowing summer evenings.

Picture it! It’s a balmy July dusk; the sun is nearly below the horizon. You’ve just had a meal full of grill marks and witty conversation. You’re not wearing any blue clothing, so there are no mosquitoes pestering you (double bonus). As you pour yourself a glass of sweet red wine by the fire, a delightful concoction of flaky pastry, jumbled berries and creamy filling is presented. The flavors and textures contrast and meld together in a  creamy symphony of flavor, fulfilling all of your wildest dreams about how life should be.

It was ideal. But because nights like these are few and far between, I do my utmost to appreciate them to the full.

Thus, this dessert has stuck with me. This is the reincarnated version of the dessert my mum made a few years ago. Frozen puff pastry makes it easy-schmeasy. Because we were feeding a crowd, we cut the pastry into 12 parts, rather than six. It went further, and really, it was a better portion size than the original recipe suggests, I think. Unless you are feeding tha men. Size at your discretion. We also used cream cheese this time around, because I was too lazy to run to the store and get mascarpone. It was still, great, but hey, if you wanna be cheesy and elegant, you go for it, man.

P.S. I hope I haven’t been overwhelming you with berries. I mean, there was The Trifle, not to mention the various lessons in fake frugality I have been obligated to share, all of which include berries, fresh or otherwise. I think this speaks to the fact that I have been somewhat overwhelmed with berries this summer. Not that I’m complaining. These bright bulbs of goodness are in season, after all.


Enjoy these Havana nightttts,

L

Bumble Berry Napoleons

Adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine

1 sheet  frozen puff pastry, thawed and cut into 6 equal rectangles (or 12)
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons ruby port
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (4 ounces) Mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees . Arrange the puff pastry on a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes; split each piece into 2 layers.
In a large bowl, combine the berries. In a large, nonreactive skillet, combine 3 cups berries, 1/4 cup sugar, the lemon juice and port over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cool.
Using an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream, mascarpone, vanilla and the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar until stiff, about 2 minutes. Fold in 3/4 cup berry compote.
Spread the remaining berry compote on the pastry bottoms. Top them with some berry cream, the remaining fresh berries and the pastry tops. Dollop with the remaining berry cream before serving.

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Pipe Dream #16: To Love My Neighbor, Revisited – Rhubarb Meringue Tart

We-he-ell, if that ain’t the nicest, smoothest, most grain-free meringue you ever did see. (Lauren 3 Meringues 2). Seriously, this is the nicest meringue I have ever made. It’s appropriate that the first recipe I made out of the Great British Bake Off cookbook should turn out so well. It works on paper (like Communism) and in my stomach (unlike Communism).

Before I continue, I am just going to tell you a little life story. Upon my return from England, I found two new items in my parents’ kitchen that have brought me endless delight and have contributed enormously to the ease of my kitchen life. One is the $7 bottle of truffle oil that my mum bought, unaware of the deep appreciation for truffles that I acquired in Europe. The other is this little scale she bought, unaware that I would need to measure out dozens of different recipe ingredients from English recipes. It makes nearly every aspect of my life more exact and digitized. The lesson learned here is this: Keep doing things. Maybe you will bring someone endless delight sometime.

We had a little neighborhood barbeque, and I had some strawberry rhubarb compote to use up, so I decided to take a stab at shortcrust pastry. Luckily, this one gave me no trouble and was surprisingly short to prepare. One of my neighbors is gluten intolerant, so I made her a little mini dish full of the strawberry rhubarb filling and meringue so she could partake of the awesome.

The meringue calls for golden sugar (I think I used white instead), which potentially would make the meringue brown up a little more golden than mine did. I left if in the oven a titch too long. Don’t be like me.

And now for a bit of wisdom I picked up this year: Always cut huge pieces/put out extra cookies for males. That way, they don’t have to feel guilty about taking seconds, which they almost always desire. Just another way to love your neighbor. We could even take this a step further and say “Love your neighbor as yourself,” but I don’t want to be accused of advising the blogging community give themselves extra dessert.

On the other hand, of course I do. And besides, this is meringue we’re talking about. Go ahead and slice it up big, friends.

Love,

L

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue Tart

Adapted from The Great British Bake Off

For the tart crust:
400g/14oz plain flour
250g/9oz cold butter, cut into cubes
100g/3½oz icing sugar
1 heaped tsp ground ginger
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
For the filling:
2kg/4lb 8oz rhubarb (I used half rhubarb, half strawberries)
225g/8oz caster sugar
2 oranges, zest only
For the meringue:
8 free-range eggs whites
400g/14oz golden caster sugar
4 tsp cornflour

1. Grease a 30cm/12in loose-bottomed tart tin.
2. To make the pastry, sift the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar and ground ginger, mix thoroughly then add the beaten eggs and just enough cold water to form a dough.
3. Turn the dough onto a floured board, knead gently into a smooth ball then roll the pastry out and use it to line the tart tin. Prick the base with a fork, line with foil and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the filling. Preheat the oven to to 150C/300F/Gas
2. Cut the rhubarb into 5cm/2in lengths and place in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the sugar and orange zest then cook, uncovered, in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until the rhubarb is just tender but still holding its shape. Increase oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
5. Add baking beans to the tart case and bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and the beans and return the tin to the oven for about eight minutes or until pale golden-brown. Remove the tin from the oven and increase the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 .
6. For the meringue, place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks. Gradually add half the sugar, whisking all the time, then fold in the cornflour and remaining sugar and whisk until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
7. To assemble the pie, fill the tart case with the rhubarb, standing the pieces on end. Pile most of the meringue on top of the pie, keeping enough back to then pipe pointy peaks over the surface. Bake in the less than 30 mins preparation time 1 to 2 hours cooking time

Rando Tuesdays: Italian Bakes

The pastry you see above is the inspiration for yesterday’s recipe. In addition to my regular diet of pizza, gelato and pasta, Italy afforded me a constant stream of ‘bigne con chantilly,’ otherwise known as ‘choux avec chantilly’ if you are in France. While I kept up the tradition in France, I first discovered these little balls of joy in Venice. And I was a literal ball of joy after eating like that for three weeks.

Bakeries in Europe are just so different compared to bakeries in the states. In Italy, there was a bakery around every corner, it seemed, and picking up a pastry and espresso for breakfast was the norm. How I wish that were the norm in Minnesota!

Speaking of coffee, I had one called a ‘caffé nutté,’ which was essentially a double shot glass spread with Nutella inside, then filled with espresso, whipped cream, hazelnut sauce and hazelnuts. My relationship with hazelnuts can never now be the same.

I also had sfogliatelle a number of times. I was so excited to try them after seeing the ‘lobster tails’ on Cake Boss. They were filled with anything from lemon pastry cream to chocolate and taste just as you’d imagine that many layers of delicious pastry to taste.

I think I’ll go running now,

L

Pipe Dream #114: To Stay Flated – Choux Chantilly (Cream Puffs)

I will tell you tomorrow how obsessed I was with these pastries. But until I reveal my ultimate shame, I suggest you find out for yourself how easy this pastry is to work with and how addicting these little babies can become.

Especially if you have some spare strawberries lying around.

I have to say, pastry dough in any form is usually pretty intimidating to me. You know, don’t chill it for long enough or handle it too much and it’s all to waste. But all you really need to watch with choux dough is its consistency. It should be really soft, but not so soft that you can’t pipe it into shapes. They key is to add the eggs slowly and test the consistency often. If you pull a spoon out of the dough, the tip of the peak should fall over. If it stands up, you need more eggs.

Also make sure to bake the choux to an even golden brown–no light sides. They’ll deflate like a week-old birthday balloon if they have light sides. Sad, really. But once that is out of the way, you’re really golden any way you look at it.

Oh dear,

L

Choux Chantilly

Adapted from Food Network

1 cup water
3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon sugar plus 1/8 teaspoon salt (for sweet)
1 teaspoon salt (for savory)
5 3/4 ounces flour
1 cup eggs, about 4 large eggs and 2 whites

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Boil water, butter, and salt or sugar. Add flour and remove from heat. Work mixture together and return to heat. Continue working the mixture until all flour is incorporated and dough forms a ball. Transfer mixture into bowl of a standing mixer and let cool for 3 or 4 minutes.

With mixer on stir or lowest speed add eggs, 1 at a time, making sure the first egg is completely incorporated before continuing. Once all eggs have been added and the mixture is smooth put dough into piping bag fitted with a round tip.

Pipe immediately into golfball-size shapes, 2 inches apart onto parchment lined sheet pans. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown. Once they are removed from the oven pierce with a paring knife immediately to release steam.

When cool, whip 1 cup (or more as needed) heavy cream with 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. When ready to serve, cut the cream puffs in half and pipe cream onto the bottom halves of the pastries. Replace top half and dust with powdered sugar. Serve immediately, as the pastry will become soggy once it is filled.

Rando Tuesdays: Glazed Berry ‘Sperry

Continuing in our theme of French baked goods, I decided to try a little experiment. I told you that while in Paris, I visited La Durée, this cuter than cute bakery that sold the most perfect pastries. Well, I was inspired. See that strawberry tartlet thing on the right? And see how the berries look shiny? I have always wanted to know how they do that. I also want to know where they found so many teeny tiny strawberries, but that is beside the point.

I did some research and found out that all you need is a bit of apricot jam (or any flavor, probably) and a pastry brush. Just heat up the jam, brush it on, and voila! Shiny berries. Having all of these ingredients, I undertook the experiment.

A little sloppy, but all in all, I was pleased with the result. I will have to try it on a real dessert sometime.

Au revoir mes amis,

L

Rando Tuesdays: French Bakes

All the pastries in France were beautiful. I mean, compared to Germany, where it seemed like everything was heavy bread and cream cakes, France was full of whipped cream and puff pastry. I tried croissants here (clearly), and ate a multitude of other pastries for breakfast every day. Beignets, profiteroles, meringue tarts, you name it.

La Durée was one of the best pastry shops I visited. Everything was cute and pastel and perfect. The pastries were immaculate, and the attention to detail astonished me. Look at them! And they were 10 euros each, or something ridiculous like that.

The macaroons were also really fun. They come in all colors and flavors. They seem really fussy to make, so I’m glad I could try them without doing the work.

And I visited one place with walls full of chocolate and caramels. Yes please. I couldn’t help myself. I bought a little jar of caramel sel here, which is heaven in a jar.

Happy Tuesday,

L

 

Pipe Dream #110: To Not Burn Out (And Pay Damage Deposits) – Apple Tarte Tatin

Please please please follow the directions on this recipe. I promise it will turn out for you. I know because it is smittenkitchen’s recipe, and they always turn out. I also know because half of it (the pastry) turned out for me. The other half was clearly my fault, and due to my lack of proper utensils. I know, I know. A bad cook always blames her tools, right? But in this case, it was so true. And I was having a bad day. So despite the awful-looking, burnt pictures of this classic French tarte tatin, please make this. It is yummy and apple-y and caramel-y.

Not burnt and broken, like mine.

Here’s what went down: I knew I didn’t have the right pan, but I decided to MacGyver the thing anyway. I was in France, I wanted to make something French, ok? My heart was set.

I cut up the butter, and subsequently cut in the butter and made the pastry. After I had arranged the apples in the pan and set it on the stovetop, I got somewhat distracted by this, the other half of our dinner. There was also a whole chicken involved in the mix.

You too? It’s ok.

So there it was, bubbling away, when I noticed a funny burnt smell coming from the stovetop. 30 seconds was the difference between a dark caramel and a half-burnt caramel.

It took three hours, two knives and a heart full of remorse to fully remove the burnt caramel from that Pyrex. I was also potentially motivated by the fact that this was not my flat and that I would pay the damage deposit on it were there any, ahem, damage to the flat and the baking utensils therein.

For rainy days,

L

Apple Tarte Tatin

Adapted from smittenkitchen

Crust
1 stick plus two tablespoons cold salted butter (5 ounces), cut into cubes and chilled in freezer
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 1/2 cup flour
3 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Filling
7 medium apples
1 stick (4 ounces) salted butter
1 cup sugar

Prepare Crust: You can definitely use a food processor for this, but I used knives as I didn’t have a food processor. Pre-mix the flour and sugar in the food processor container, and cube the butter on a plate. Then put the dry ingredients and the butter in the freezer for a while. This will get everything, including the blade and container, nice and chilled. The colder everything is, the flakier and more tender your crust will be. Prepare about 1/3 cup ice water and refrigerate.

After you’ve chilled everything for at least 20 minutes, add the cubes of butter to dry ingredients and pulse until the largest pieces of butter are no bigger than tiny peas.

Add the ice water a little at a time, processing just until the dough starts to come together into a mass. Don’t overprocess it. Turn out onto well-floured surface and pat together into a ball. Don’t handle the dough too much, or the warmth of your hands will start to melt the butter. Flour the top of the dough and use rolling pin to quickly press and roll the dough out into a 10 to 11-inch circle. Keep turning the dough as you do this to make sure it doesn’t stick to the rolling surface. Throw more flour underneath the dough if necessary. Check the crust to make sure it’s just big enough to cover the top of your tarte tatin pan. Move the crust onto a piece of parchment paper or onto a floured rimless baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Prepare filling: Preheat oven to 375° F.

Peel, core and quarter the apples. Don’t cut them into smaller pieces than quarters–the quarters shrink considerably during cooking. You can squeeze a bit of lemon on them, but it’s not necessary.

Over low heat in a heavy, ovenproof skillet measuring 7 to 8 inches across the bottom and 10 to 11 inches across the top, melt the stick of butter. Remove from heat, add the sugar and stir until blended.

Shake the pan so the butter-sugar mixture distributes evenly across the bottom. Arrange apple quarters in pan, first making a circle inside the edge of the pan. Place them on their sides and overlap them so you can fit as many as possible. Then fill the center of the pan; you may have some apple left over. Keep at least one extra apple quarter on hand–when you turn the apples over, they may have shrunk to the extent that you’ll need to cheat and fill in the space with an extra piece. This one piece won’t get quite as caramelized as the other pieces, but don’t worry–it will still cook through and no one will notice.

Return your pan to the stovetop on high heat. Let boil for 10 to 12 minutes or until the juices in the pan turn from golden in color to dark amber. Remove from heat. With the tip of a sharp knife, turn apple slices over, keeping them in their original places. If necessary, add an extra slice of apple to keep your arrangement intact. Return to the stovetop on high heat once more. Let cook another 5 minutes and then remove from heat.

Place the crust on top of the apples and brush off excess flour. Tuck edges under slightly, along the inside of the pan, being careful not to burn fingers. You can use your knife.

Bake in oven until the top of the crust is golden-brown in color, about 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack about 30 minutes.

Run a sharp knife along the inside edge of the pan. Place a plate or other serving dish on top of the pan and quickly flip over the whole shebang so the tarte drops down onto the plate. The pan will still be hot, so use potholders and be careful! Don’t burn yourself or drop stuff! If you are feeble and clumsy, get someone stronger and more coordinated than you to do this. Peek under the edge of the pan to see if the Tarte came out. If there are any pieces of apple left behind in the pan or otherwise out of place, carefully put them back where they are supposed to be.

This keeps well for about a day at room temperature; if you have to refrigerate it, warm it up slightly before serving.


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