Tags: dessert, holiday
I’ve never gotten super excited (or super upset, either) about Valentine’s Day. It’s kind of a non-event, but I do like to use it as an excuse to make my sweetie something luxe and a little girly for dessert….coeur à la crème seems quite appropriate, non?
If you’ve never had coeur à la crème, it’s kind of a cross between a mousse and a cheesecake filling. It’s a soft cheese and cream mixture that’s not cooked, so it’s very fresh…it’s also a little tangy and barley sweet. It belongs to that group of traditional French desserts that is so elegant yet so unfussy. Several years back, I found some individual coeur à la crème molds on the post-Valentine’s Day clearance shelf at a local kitchenware shop, and even though (or maybe especially becasue) they’re kind of uni-taskers, I’ve made it a point to use them many times since. Although they are cute, you don’t even need the molds to make this dessert…a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl will work fine (but you will give up the traditional heart-shape). Cheesecloth is important here, though, since the excess liquid needs to drain from the mixture so it’s as thick and creamy as it should be. That also means that resting time is necessary…you’ll need to chill and drain your cream hearts for several hours…I do it overnight.
I like to make my base with a soft, fresh cheese called fromage blanc. Vermont Butter & Cheese makes a nice (non-fat!) one that I can find at several shops, but if you don’t have access to fromage blanc, I think a combo of cream cheese and sour cream could approximate it. The creaminess and gentle tang of this dessert calls out for fresh fruit. Fresh berries or even a berry coulis would be great in summer, but here I used blood oranges, both becasue they are in season and becasue a heart with blood seemed fitting in a twisted sort of way.
Happy Valentine’s Day! xoxo
Coeur à la Crème– makes four servings
Steph’s Note: If you don’t have individual coeur à la crème molds, you can use a larger mold or a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. You may, however, need to make a 1.5x or 2x batch of the coeur mixture, depending on the size. If you can’t find fromage blanc, try substituing with 6 oz of soft cream cheese plus 2 oz of sour cream.
8 oz fromage blanc
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
squeeze fresh lemon juice
seeds of a quarter of a vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 oz heavy cream
fresh fruit or fruit coulis to serve
-Cut four squares of cheesecloth (about 8-inch squares). Rinse each square of cheesecloth under water and squeeze until just damp. Line each of four 4-inch coeur à la crème molds with one square of cheesecloth.
-In a food processor (or with a whisk or hand-held mixer) process the fromage blanc, powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla until very smooth. In another bowl, whisk the cream until medium-soft peaks form. Gently fold the cream into the fromage blanc mixture until evenly combined.
-Place molds on a rimmed baking sheet or in a shallow baking dish. Spoon the mixture into the prepared molds and fold the corners of cheesecloth up and over the top.
-Chill for several hours or overnight to allow the mixture to drain.
-To serve, unwrap the molds and invert onto plates. Garnish with fruit.
Tags: breakfast, snacks
It was hard for me not to make this week’s FFWD recipe. It’s toast– heck, I can make time for that! Toast with yummy stuff on top, that is. This tartine is a thick slice of brioche with butter, marmalade, Nutella, nuts and salt. You could buy everything and simply assemble it, but I happened to have a couple of the components in homemade form (but already on hand). I still had some homemade brioche in the freezer, and over the holidays, my BFF and I made a big pot of mixed-citrus marmalade to give to family. A bit of sweet, a bit of sour and a bit of salt…this is toast at its finest. Dorie says this is a typical after-school snack for French children, but I ate mine for breakfast. Then I went to the dentist and he found no cavities. Breakfast of champions.
Tags: baking, bread
Here we go…the next round of Tuesdays with Dorie starts today, and this time we’re Baking with Julia! I’ve had this book for years, and have made several things from it, so I’m looking forward to getting to know it better. And also to getting to know a new group of TWDers!
First up, we’re doing Craig Kominiak’s White Loaves. I’m really excited about the bread section of the book, so I was pleased to tackle this one at the get-go. This is your basic sandwich loaf, perfect for PB&J, as you can see above. It wasn’t hard to make. I halved the recipe to do one loaf instead of two, and my mixer had no problem getting the dough together quickly (the full two loaves probably would have made it whine). A couple of rises later, and the dough was ready to become bread! Seriously, the hardest part here was waiting for my loaf to cool so I could get my lunch together (it’s always important to let bread like this cool properly or the texture won’t be right). I loved the crust on this…a nice crispy top. And the bread was so soft inside. I have half the loaf stashed in the freezer, and am looking forward to a turkey and cheese sandwich next.
Homemade yeast bread smells so good in the oven. You won’t get that from a store-bought loaf, so for the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read our founder Laurie’s blog, slush, and our group manager Julie’s blog, Someone’s in the Kitchen, as they are co-hosting the first recipe. Thanks, ladies! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.
Tags: baking, dessert, tarts
When Kayte chose a Honey-Almond Fig Tart for TWD pick last month, I didn’t bake the recipe because figs were out of season and I was drawing a blank on a good sub. Then it dawned on me that prunes would be a delicious partner for a honey-almond cream tart…especially if those prunes were quickly poached in simmering red wine and that almond cream had a little orange zest in it. So that’s exactly what I did. And it was great. I’m a fan of frangipane tarts (here’s another good one), and I could really taste the honey in this almond cream. The prunes gave the tart a bit of sticky chewiness.
Tags: cake, dessert
Yowzer– it’s been ages since I’ve had an FFWD post. I happened to notice this week’s recipe, Quatre-Quarts, and it looked like good a point to jump back in. I guess quatre-quarts is most often compared to pound cake. I’m sure every grand-mère has her own version of quatre-quarts, but I thought this one was much lighter and springier than an American pound cake typically is. In fact, it seemed quite like a sponge cake, thanks to the beaten egg whites that are folded into the batter. I only made half a recipe, thinking a full would be too buttery and heavy for us to eat for more than a couple of days. I was wrong–we could have easily polished of the whole thing. Also, I flavored it with a glug of good Cognac, which made it pretty easy to enjoy!
P.S.: If you don’t already have it, enter my BOOK GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a copy of Baking with Julia!
Tags: baking, bread
Bread is definitely my favorite food group. I’m not sure why, then, I skipped Raisin Swirl Bread when Susan picked it for TWD over the summer. Maybe I was away…maybe it was too hot out for bread baking…I can’t remember. Anyway, now is prefect bread baking weather, so I thought I’d give it a try. Also, I wanted to brush up on my yeast skills before we get going on the white loaves from Baking with Julia in a couple of weeks.
This is just a straight-forward dough technique (no sponge or starter) with a couple of proofs. I used my mixer for it, so I didn’t even break a sweat. Scented with a little orange zest and of course a cinnamon-raisin swirl, it smelled really good baking. I was so proud of myself for waiting until the bread had cooled completely before cutting into it. I was even more proud of its perfect texture and beautifully hypnotic swirl. There was a time when I would have skipped the raisins altogether and this would just have been a cinnamon swirl bread, but raisins and I have gradually made peace over the last couple of years. We’re good now…I’m glad I gave them a second chance.
This makes fabulous toast (with a little salty butter, of course)! I could probably have downed the whole loaf that way, but I tried it out as French toast, too. Good stuff. Really, I can’t wait to make this again. For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Food Baby, as it was Susan’s pick from back in June.
P.S.: If you don’t already have it, don’t forget to enter my Baking with Julia BOOK GIVEAWAY!
Next month, Tuesdays with Dorie is diving full-force into Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Have you signed up? If not having the book is keeping you from getting onboard, then I want to help. I’m giving away one brand-new copy of Baking with Julia before the group gets going with the first two recipes.
Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Monday, January 23 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list. Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you!
***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner. It selected comment 32, so congratulations to Emily. I’ll be sending your book soon!***
By the time Wednesday rolls around, I’m usually thinking seriously about my weekend breakfast options. Geez, that sounds pretty lame, but I eat granola and yogurt every morning during the workweek, so I’m more than ready for a switch-up by the time Saturday arrives. Usually I’ll go with pancakes over French toast, but last weekend I couldn’t resist the photo of ”French toast sandwiches” in a great breakfast cookbook I have. This is a lot like stuffed French toast, except here you just sandwich together two slices of bread (I used homemade brioche that I had in the freezer) rather than making surgical-style incisions and injections into one fat slice. The filling is just a schmear of soft cream cheese and your favorite jam. I think a marmalade or a tart jam works best…I used my homemade plum jam here…especially if you plan to slosh it with maple syrup.
Cheese-and-Jam French Toast Sandwiches– makes four servings
adapted from Williams-Sonoma Breakfast Comforts by Rick Rodgers
1 cup milk
finely grated zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice or orange-flavored liqueur
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 slices challah, brioche or other egg bread
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons jam or orange marmalade
canola oil or butter for cooking
unsalted butter, at room temperature, for serving
maple syrup for serving
-Preheat the oven to 350°F.
-In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla. Lay one bread slice on a work surface and spread with one-fourth each of the cream cheese and jam. Top with another bread slice. Repeat with the remaining bread, cream cheese and jam.
-Preheat a griddle over medium-high heat until hot. Lightly oil the griddle.
-One at a time, dip the sandwiches into the egg mixture and turn gently to coat evenly, keeping the sandwiches intact. Let stand until the bread has soaked up some of the egg mixture, about 30 seconds.
-Remove the sandwiches from the egg mixture, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, and place on the hot griddle. Cook until golden brown underneath, about 2 minutes. Turn the sandwiches over and cook until browned on the other sides, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
-When all four sandwiches are on the sheet, place the sheet in the oven and bake until the cream cheese melts, about 10 minutes.
-Serve the French toast sandwiches immediately with butter and maple syrup.
Tags: baking, cheesecake, dessert
Happy New Year! After the rush-rush of the holidays, things seemed to have returned to normal around these parts. I’m back to my regular days off from work, and even at home, it’s back to my regular living room. I took down the Christmas tree yesterday. Sad, but it was becoming more cactus than pine….so dry and prickly. My vacuum smells like it has a built-in air freshener thanks to all the needles that are whirring around in there.
TWD may have made it through the book as a group, but I still have a few recipes left to catch-up on before I can personally say the same. One of them is this Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte that was chosen a couple weeks before I joined on. I have been wanting to make this for four years…yes, I’m a little slow to get moving. Since I needed to come up with a dessert for Christmas dinner, I thought it would be a good opportunity to finally try it out.
I liked telling my dinner guests that we would be having a ”torte” after dinner…made it sound super fancy and exotic. But this really is a familiar dessert–a slim and elegant cheesecake. It had the extra step of making a dough crust (rather than a crumb one), but the cheesecake batter itself was simply whizzed in the food processor. That’s my favorite way to mix cheesecake batter, actually, because you never get any lumps. A layer of jam hidden in the middle (I used some of my homemade plum jam) made a nice surprise when I cut the first slice. Because it wasn’t t four inches tall like a NY-style cheesecake, I didn’t feel uncomfortable eating it after a big dinner.
This recipe was so nice, I made it twice! I had to make up for that whole four years late thing, I guess. Since, I’d made a half recipe the first time, I still had half the ingredients remaining to do another small cake. For the second go-round though, I put my own little twist on it. This time I used a crumb crust (made from some gianduja cookies I took home from work because we…ummm…screwed them up…it happens sometimes). And instead of spreading on a layer of jam, I mixed a couple tablespoons of nutella (really a single packet of Justin’s) into the batter. I didn’t know how intense the flavor would be, so topped it off with a little hazelnut ganache, which also handily disguised the little crack that formed in the middle. It was New Year’s Eve, so I tossed on some stars.
I think this recipe was picked so early on, that there wasn’t really a host-post system set up yet, so here it is…
Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte– makes a 9″ cake
adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
for the crust:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (6 oz) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
for the filling:
1/3 cup thick berry or cherry jam
9 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz (1 cup) cottage cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)
-Butter a 9-inch springform pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
-Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse just to blend. Toss in the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir the egg yolks and vanilla together with a fork, and, still pulsing the machine, add them and continue to pulse until the dough comes together in clumps and curds – restrain yourself, and don’t allow the dough to form a ball.
-Turn the dough out onto a work surface. If you want to roll the dough, gather it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about 20 minutes before rolling. Or simply press the dough into the pan. The dough should come about 1 1/2 inches up the sides of the springform. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
-Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
-Fit a piece of buttered aluminum foil against the crust, covering it completely. Fill the crust lightly with rice, dried beans or pie weights and slide the sheet into the oven. Bake the crust for 20 minutes or so – you don’t want the crust to get too brown. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the filling.
-Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
-Stir the jam, and spread it over the bottom of the crust – it’s okay to do this while the crust is still warm.
-Put the cream cheese and cottage cheese into the food processor and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times, for 2 minutes, until you’ve got a smooth, satiny mix. Add the sugar, salt and spices and process for another 30 seconds. With the machine running, add the eggs and process, scraping the bowl as needed, for a final minute. Pour the filling over the jam.
-Bake the cake for 60-70 minutes, or until the filling is uniformly puffed and no longer jiggly. Gently transfer the springform pan to a cooling rack and allow the torte to cool to room temperature, during which time the filling will collapse into a thin, elegant layer.
-Run a blunt knife between the crust and the sides of the pan, then open and remove the sides of the springform. If the sides of the crust extend above the filling and you don’t like this look, very gently saw off the excess crust using a serrated knife. Chill the torte slightly or thoroughly before serving and, if you’d like, dust the top with confectioner’s sugar. Wrapped well, the torte will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days.