Tags: baking, cupcakes
Cupcakes…it’s been a while. They don’t get the same love that they used to, but I still like them. I especially like them when there’s booze involved, and here it’s limoncello, the sweet Italian after dinner drink. This one was missing from my little digestivo collection, but now I have a bottle of limoncello hanging out in the freezer for whenever I might want it!
The cupcake batter is simple to make. It gets it’s moisture from yogurt and oil, so there’s no pesky creaming involved and it comes together in a flash by hand. There’s a little dollop of marmalade hidden in the center of each cupcake, but if you have some lemon curd, I bet it would be good, too. As I was making the batter and scooping the cupcakes, I realized that it’s pretty much the same deal as another Dorie cake– her yogurt loaf cake with marmalade glaze— that I’ve made several times before, just tweaked into a different form and with a bit of limoncello added. The cupcakes rose perfectly. They had a nice dome and the yogurt/oil combo gave then a springy, moist texture. They get brushed with a limoncello simple syrup while they’re still warm to boost that citrusy flavor.
What’s a cupcake without frosting, right? Well, due to an unexpected powdered sugar shortage, I really only made frosting for the two in the picture. The others we ate naked, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and an extra drizzle of the limoncello syrup all over. We actually liked them better that way, so if you don’t want to make frosting, they are great as-is…but I’d still recommend the syrup for a little extra spike of limoncello.
Tags: baking, pie
This Sweet Ricotta Pie from Nick Malgieri is the dessert version of his Pizza Rustica, which we made a few Easters ago. It’s made with the same sweet, cookie-like pasta frolla dough and also has a ricotta-based filling. Apart from the ricotta (and few eggs to bind), the filling is pretty simple and is just flavored with sugar, anisette and cinnamon. I’m not wild about anisette, and thought the filling could use a little more pizzazz anyway, so I tweaked it a bit. I had a small handful candied orange peel left from this year’s batch of Hot Cross Buns, so I soaked that, along with some golden raisins, in a good amount of Grand Marnier. I kept the cinnamon, but stirred it into the filling along with the dried fruit (rather than sprinkling it in a layer on top).
This pie has good orange flavor, but the filling’s a little dry. If I make this one again, I may try adding a few tablespoons of heavy cream to the batter or try swapping out a couple of the whole eggs for just yolks to see if that adds more moisture. I like the pasta frolla dough, too, although I wish the lattice strips had gotten a little more color in the oven. Looking back, I see that with the Rustica, I eggwashed the lattice for some browning action…seems I always look back a little too late.
Tags: fruit, pie, tarts
I’ve done a pretty traditional LMP here before, so I guess it’s time to try out Gale Gand’s Not-Your-Usual Lemon Meringue Pie. Forget about making pie crust for this– lemon curd and meringue are sandwiched Napoleon-style between layers of crispy sugared phyllo dough. BTW, based on the previous Gale Gand stuff we’ve made, I was not at all surprised to see phyllo pop up here.
This is a pretty dessert and it’s pretty straightforward, too. It does need to be served fairly soon after it’s stacked up, but you can make the lemon curd and bake the phyllo crisps plenty ahead of time. Wait till the last minute to get the brown sugar Swiss meringue done, though.
We liked this “pie” a lot. The pretty layers do smoosh as soon is they’re hit with a fork, but that’s okay. The lemon curd is a gentle one…not too puckery. The recipe left me with extra curd, which is no problem in my books, but I would recommend reducing the meringue amount by at least a couple of whites, if not by half.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Here’s a video of the BWJ episode (this dessert is in the second half). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, citrus, tart
I only seem to get my hands on a few blood oranges each winter and when I do, I always think I should to do something special with them. That’s why last week I took Dorie’s Pink Grapefruit Tart and turned it into a blood orange one. This tart is a take on a favorite of hers called Pétale de Pamplemousse from Hugo & Victor, a swanky shop in Paris. It has a sweet tart shell with a layer of lemon-almond frangipane cream hidden under a rich citrusy crémeux. Frangipane we’ve done before, but crémeux is a pastry cream luxuriously enriched with heaps of butter and softly set with gelatin. These several steps each have their own wait times as well, so it’s best to spread the process out over two days.
OK, here’s where I ran into trouble on this one…I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat red meat so I try to avoid gelatin, too. I also try to not get too crazy about it, because I’ve worked in kitchens for years and I know that gelatin gets slipped into things one would never even suspect. But if I know it’s in there, I don’t go for it on a menu and I don’t make it at home. The word “crémeux” is a tip-off that gelatin is involved (although some chocolate ones don’t need it to set), so I wanted to find my way around that to make this tart. I tried agar-agar once, likely messed it up, and haven’t tried it again (although Zosia did and it looks great!). I tried fish gelatin another time, had good success, but have since decided that I’m creeped out by it. Poking around, I found that I had half a packet of a plant-based kosher gelatin in the cupboard. I have absolutely no clue what I did with the other half of the packet…I remember buying the stuff but have no memory of using it….but it was about equal in amount to half the gelatin called for in the recipe, so I made a half-batch of everything (for a 7-inch tart) and added that to my cremeux base. The next morning, however, my crémeux was still very loose, so either the setting ratio is different (the packet didn’t compare it to regular gelatin), or it was too old (I admit that I’d had it in the cupboard for quite a long time). I broke down and brought home a leaf of sheet gelatin from work that night, scraped the cremeux back into the mixer, blitzed in the bloomed gelatin leaf and poured it straight into the crust to set. Fine, that worked.
This tart was beautiful and perfectly delicious, and fresh citrus can certainly brighten up a frosty late Februaury day. Dorie says you could omit the almond cream to skip a step and keep it simpler, but I really think the flavor adds a lot to the tart. All that said, while I’m willing to tinker around with different gelatin alternatives (has anyone tried Natural Desserts Vegan Jel??), I’m not sure this will be a repeater for me. If I make something this butter-heavy, generally I want it to be because frosting is involved…yeah, yeah, I’m a cake person.
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Tags: baking, bundt, cake, chocolate, dessert
This Crème Bruléed Chocolate Bundt is the first, no second, no make that third Mary Bergin chiffon cake we’ve made. I’ve liked them all…I think I just really like the spongy, fluffy softness of chiffon cakes. And it also helps here that I love chocolate and Bundts. And crème brulée, too…who am I kidding? I knew this would be good.
If you watch the video of the BWJ episode, you’ll see that this chocolate chiffon Bundt gets its center stuffed with raspberries and then a big glug of vanilla crème brulée custard is poured over top of the whole shebang and torched. I figured that as soon as the brulée was poured on, the cake pretty much needed to be eaten up…This would be very dramatic and impressive for a crowd, but since I was just making it for two of us, I had to both reduce the recipe and settle for adding the custard to order. I made a half recipe of the cake (in my 6-cup Bundt pan) and a half recipe of the brulée cream, too. I was convinced, even though I’d sprayed the heck out of my Bundt pan and coated it well in cocoa (which I prefer to use instead of flour for a dark chocolate cake), that the cake would stick like crazy and rip when I tried to unmold it. It didn’t! I made sure to kind of gently nudge it from the sides with a little offset as it started to cool and shrink in a bit, and it released perfectly– phew!
I used my darkest cocoa powder (Valrhona) and my Bundt had great flavor. The chiffon was easy to make, too…in fact, I did the whole thing in my bathrobe (TMI??). I’d happily make it again on its own, just to have with ice cream or whipped cream. I liked the stovetop water bath method for thickening the crème brulée…that was new to me, and it came out nicely. After the better part of a day in the fridge, the brulée had thickened up well and I was able to pour it over a single slice without it looking a mess. All in all a winning dessert for Valentine’s Day weekend.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here, along with a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll! (Update: I see from the blogroll that some folks wound up with a thinner custard, in which case I’d just serve it as an anglaise sauce on the plate.)
Valentine’s Day calls for something super-chocolatey, right? Chocolate mousse, maybe? Or perhaps frozen chocolate mousse? Would it sound sexier if we said it in French? Mais bien sûr…Marquise au Chocolat it is.
This is a delicious and decadent dessert. Butter, dark chocolate, sugar, whipped cream– it’s all in there, baby. Oh, and raw egg yolks, too. This was a hot topic for our group, and if you’re concerned (I wasn’t really), some alternative ideas were floated around. I thought about making a whole recipe in a loaf pan because it can keep for a month in the freezer, but decided to just make a few servings worth and set them up in the little molds I use for coeur à la crème.
I think the deep chocolate flavor and the creamy texture are best enjoyed after the marquise has had several minutes to temper outside of the freezer. You’ll probably need to do that anyway to get your plastic wrap liner to easily release from the mold. If you make a larger loaf, Dorie says dental floss or a warm knife is the way to cut nice slices. This would be lovely with berries or crème anglaise or whipped cream. I had a can of coconut cream that I tried unsuccessfully to whip…it wouldn’t get anymore volume than a foamy sauce, so I just went with it.
Tags: baking, cake
A weekend cake- I love it! A good cake does make the weekend even better, if you ask me. (Hopefully it will make the nor’easter we’re about to get socked with better, too!) This one’s a simple loaf cake, but it’s flavored with brown butter, vanilla bean and rum. Simple but special.
I have a French blue steel loaf pan, and I thought it naturally appropriate to use for a French cake. I like that the pan has perfectly straight, not flared, sides. It’s longer and slimmer than the standard 9×5, so I was sure to check it in the oven plenty early.
The ingredients are lovely and fragrant, and the cake smells so good out of the oven, that it’s hard to wrap it up and let it sit overnight like Dorie suggests. It’s less buttery and heavy than a pound cake but has a similar delicious crust. This cake is good on it’s own or with a sauce. (I’m going to try it in early summer as a strawberry shortcake base.) If you can’t eat it all up over the weekend, don’t worry because it freezes nicely. Dorie also says stale slices are good toasted, although I don’t plan on testing that out this time.