Concord Grape and Peanut Butter Crumble

October 4, 2015 at 1:13 pm | Posted in cobbler, sweet things | 5 Comments
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concord grape and peanut butter crumble

Concord grapes are one of the highlights of fall in the Northeast.  Every autumn, I’m sure to make a pie and a batch of jam from them.  Thinking about what else I could do with the purple-blue beauties, a crumble seemed like the next logical experiment.  A peanut butter crumble, of course.

I prepped the fruit for the crumble in much the same way I do when I make the pie.  It sounds a bit tedious to seed the grapes one-by-one, but it’s only about a quart of grapes, so it doesn’t take too long.  It’s one of those zone-out prep tasks that’s really worth the step.  After a stint in the oven, the fruit bakes up jammy and deeply purple and the crumble topping tastes like peanut butter cookies.  This one’s definitely added to the annual list.

Concord Grape and Peanut Butter Crumble- serves 4-6

Steph’s Notes:  You can mess around with this crumble topping a bit if you want or need to.  For instance, you can sub AP flour for the whole wheat or chunky PB for smooth. And if you don’t have peanut butter powder, just leave it out.

for the crumble topping
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
3 tbsp rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick)
1 tbsp peanut butter powder
2 tbsp coarsely chopped peanuts
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon

pinch of salt (bigger pinch if your peanuts are unsalted)
3 tbsp smooth peanut butter (I used a “natural” one)

3 tbsp (1.5 oz) unsalted butter, melted

for the fruit mixture

4 cups stemmed concord grapes (about 1 1/4 pounds), rinsed well and patted dry
1/4 cup+ 2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 T cornstarch
pinch of salt
squeeze of lemon juice

-Start by making the crumb topping.  Combine all dry ingredients for the topping in a medium bowl, then stir in the peanut butter and the melted butter.  It will resemble a soft peanut butter cookie dough, but after chilling briefly, you’ll be able to break it into clumps.  Put the topping in the fridge while you preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare the fruit filling.

-For the filling, slice grapes in half and remove the seeds.  As you work, put the seeded grapes (and their skins, which tend to easily slip off–don’t worry about it) into a large sieve set over a medium bowl.  Drain off grape liquid, saving 2 tablespoons.

-Whisk the sugar, cornstarch and salt in another medium bowl to blend.  Mix in drained grapes, reserved juice and squeeze of lemon juice.

-Put the fruit mixture in the bottom of a greased ceramic or glass baking pan, approximately 8-9″ in diameter.

-Sprinkle the chilled topping evenly over the fruit mixture, breaking it up into clumps and crumbles.  Bake until topping turns golden and juices are bubbling, about 35-40 minutes, turning at the halfway point.

-Let cool on a wire rack at least 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Apple Kuchen

September 22, 2015 at 3:53 pm | Posted in BCM, cakes & tortes, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 16 Comments
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apple kuchen

I have to say that I wasn’t too sure about this Apple Kuchen when I started putting it together.  I did not doubt that it would be tasty…I mean, apples and custard inside a sweet crust….yeah, that’s good, obvi.  This sounded like it would be the high-rise cousin to the low-rise Alsatian Apple Tart.  It’s just that I did not get off to a very good start making it.

The crust was easy enough to make and roll out, but let me tell you that getting a soft, delicate crust pressed neatly into a tall springform pan is a pain in the you-know-what.  It was frustrating enough that the dough cracked into like a 1,000 pieces, but while I was pressing them back together into something crudely resembling a crust, the clasp on said springform decided to pop and now will not stay closed (actually, now it’s in the recycle bin).  Ugh.  I needed to go with it at that point, so I put a tight rubber band around the pan to hold it closed, dusted cookie crumbs on the bottom, piled it full of apples and chucked it in the oven to par bake.  Not my most brilliant idea, as within a few minutes, the rubber band popped in the heat and the buckle opened up again, cracking the crust.  I scrambled around and found a small pie pan that was big enough to hold the springform but tight enough to keep the buckle in the closed position.  The dough was still soft at that point and seemed to come back together when the pan was re-closed, but with all those apples in there, I really couldn’t tell what condition it was in.

After the par bake, I poured in the crème fraiche custard (confession:I replaced 1/3 of the crème fraiche amount with buttermilk to lighten the calories a bit) and scattered on some plumped raisins.  I was amazed that the custard did not immediately leak out the pan, so I hoped for the best.  I was just making a half-recipe (6″), but I left it in the oven the full time.  A knife poked into the center still didn’t come out completely clean after an hour, but I took it out away.  After it came to room temp, I popped my springform-in-pie-plate contraption it into the fridge for extra insurance that the custard would be fully set.  And then the moment of truth…

Guess what.  The crust was perfect.  There was not one spot torn or cracked and not a drop of custard had leaked out.  How this happened, I do not know.  It’s like it self-healed in the oven.  It was very handsome, actually, and delicious…chockablock full of chunky apple pieces with rummy custard seeped around them.  Now that I know to relax about the crust, next time, I’ll either mix the raisins in with the apples at the start or I’ll skip the final step of running the kuchen under the broiler with extra sugar and butter on the top…or maybe I’ll do both.  The raisins were a little too brûléed for my tastes…they started off as golden raisins, but you can see in the picture what happened to them under the broiler!

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Cherry Crumb Tart

August 11, 2015 at 1:25 pm | Posted in BCM, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 13 Comments
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cherry crumb tart

We’re on a roll with tasty tarts from Baking Chez Moi and this week we’re continuing to make the most out of summer fruit with a Cherry Crumb Tart.  Here, we have our old friend STD (sweet tart dough, that is) housing lots of fresh cherries that are nestled in an almond frangipane filling and topped with streusel crumbs.  Yum, right!?!   This tart sounds like it has a lot of components, but you can make your dough (and roll and pan it, too), frangipane and crumb topping all a day or two ahead of time.  Then when you’re ready to go, just par-bake your crust, pit your cherries and follow the bake-off instructions.

When I came home from vacay, I was pretty sure the summer’s cherries were a thing of the past (just like that gorgeous Montana view…boo) and I planned to pick up a punnet of blackberries to use in this tart instead.  But lo and behold, I found some sour cherries at the greenmarket and snapped them right up.  Sweet cherries would be just as good here, btw.  My streusel didn’t really keep it’s crumbly, piecey shapes in the oven but kind of melded together into a (quite sweet) crispy shell.  Not sure why, since I used cold ingredients and chilled it overnight, but it was still delicious.  I flavored it only with cardamom, no orange zest, and thought it was the perfect subtle flavoring to go with the cherries and almonds.  I liked the tart with a little whipped cream and thought it held up just fine in the fridge for a couple of days, as we cut off slices after dinner and whittled it down to nothing.

I’m wishing now that I’d taken a side view photo of a slice.  It really was full of red cherries!  For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Apricot-Raspberry Tart

July 14, 2015 at 12:22 pm | Posted in BCM, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 30 Comments
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apricot-raspberry tart

A full-on fruit tart is never one of my go-to desserts.  I don’t know why, since I’m big on the combo of fruit and crust…I can certainly get behind a good slice of pie or a big scoop of crisp.  But I just don’t really think of fruit tarts.  It takes the peer pressure of organized group baking to get me to make one, like this Apricot-Raspberry Tart, and remember how spectacular they can be.

This tart is really all about the apricots.  Luckily, they’re in season now where I live, and at the farmers’ market I found baskets of the tiniest blushing apricots.  Even though I made a small tart using a half batch of sweet dough, I was able to stuff it full of the little guys.  At the bottom of the tart shell. a layer of cake or brioche crumbs (or even ladyfingers) acts as a sponge to absorb any juices from the baked fruit.  At the restaurant where I work, cakes for specials orders are usually baked off as sheets that are then punched out and assembled in ring molds.  That means there’s always some cake off-cut or trim in the walk-in that’s up for grabs.  I took home an square of hazelnut cake last week with this this tart in mind.  My apricots and raspberries held shape pretty well and didn’t release too much juice, but I liked the added flavor that the hazelnut cake crumbs gave.  Having used it, I garnished my tart with some candied hazelnuts instead of the pistachios Dorie suggests.

apricot-raspberry tart

Really, this tart was so pretty I hesitated to cut it!  It’s a fine treat to celebrate Bastille Day today.  Even though it may be best eaten up the day of baking, we had a couple of slices left over and I don’t think they suffered too much from a night in the fridge.  For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

TWD Rewind: Gâteau Basque

June 30, 2015 at 7:04 pm | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 9 Comments
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gâteau basque

Okay, so this recipe isn’t from BWJ, BCM or even BFMHTY, but it is from another Dorie book,  Around my French Table, so I’m trying to pass it off as a rewind this week and hope no one calls me out on it.  Also, I’ve made it before, but I liked it enough to play around with it again.

I don’t have a lot of new insight or commentary to add here.  It’s still so tasty!  I just wanted to show that, even though cherries (which I used last time) are the traditional Gâteau Basque fruit filling, you don’t have to be bound by tradition.  Here, along with pastry cream, I used roasted strawberries that I had leftover from last week’s shortcake.  The delicious cookie-like double crust would be great sandwiching so many different fruits.  Using fruit that’s cooked in some way, whether that be candied, roasted, jammed or sauced, is most ideal, since the fruit is concentrated and you’ll have less liquid seeping into the crust.  I plan to try jammy plums next time.

For the recipe, see Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll to see if anyone else did a rewind this week

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Not-Your-Usual Lemon Meringue Pie

March 3, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Posted in BWJ, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 24 Comments
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not-your-usual lemon meringue pie

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

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Raspberry-Plum Crostata

September 30, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in BWJ, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 13 Comments
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raspberry-plum crostata

I’ve had a busy September.  It’s one of the nicest months of the year in New York City, but I’ve hardly been home to enjoy it. (Not that I’m complaining…I’ve been here and here instead, and it was all in the name of fun.) Luckily, I was able to squeeze in the Raspberry-Plum Crostata from Leslie Mackie before I began running around.  This crostata recipe originally called for a raspberry-fig combo, but I swapped out the figs for plums, just because I already had them.  I also tweaked the proportions a bit, and instead of a 1:1 ratio of each fruit, I used 2 parts plums to 1 part raspberries (keeping the combined weight the same 1.5 pounds called for in the recipe).  I decreased the sugar in the filling a little, too.

The crust dough is soft and needs to be worked with gently and quickly.  Despite its fussiness, it’s easily patched, and I liked the interesting sesame-almond flavoring it has going on.  The filling was tasty, too, and that hot pink color makes me a happy girl.  I’ll make this one again, and maybe next time I’ll go buy the figs.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here and there’s a video, too). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes

September 2, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Posted in BWJ, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 11 Comments
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oven-roasted plum cakes

These Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes from Marcel Desaulniers were an easy little treat to make with my CSA plums.  The batter was a simple butter cake, flavored with orange zest.  I made half a recipe (6 cakelettes), so I just mixed it by hand.  I had to sub some plain yogurt for the buttermilk, but that worked out fine.  The recipe calls for the cakes to be baked in ramekins or custard cups…I was worried that I’d never get them out (although sounds like I needn’t have been), so I used some shallower mini pie tins instead, buttered and floured.

These were good, although the plums (even though they turned very soft in the oven) wanted to jump onto our forks all in one piece.  I liked them best with whipped cream.  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (there’s also a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

French Fridays with Dorie: Gâteau Basque

August 1, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Posted in french fridays with dorie, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things | 20 Comments
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gâteau Basque

Somehow I almost never miss a week of TWD but I hadn’t made an FFWD recipe in like forever.  When I saw that Gâteau Basque was up, I thought it would be a good time to pop back around and say hello.  Not surprisingly, Gâteau Basque is a traditional pastry of the French Basque Country.  You can read up on it here and here, but it’s basically a layer of either pastry cream or cherry jam sandwiched between two almost cookie-like tart crusts.  Hmmm…I wonder if it was the inspiration for Dorie’s Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake?

We made Gâteau Basque on weekends at the shop where I used to work (and they probably still do).  We used a bit of almond flour and almond extract in our dough there, so I had assumed that flavoring was traditional…but that’s not in Dorie’s version, so maybe it’s not.  Sometimes less is more, but sometimes more is more, so at the shop we always filled ours with pastry cream and fruit.  I can admit that I’m a little greedy when it comes to sweets, and “more is more” is the way I like it, so that’s what I did here at home, too.  I didn’t have cherry jam but I did have some dark cherries that I candied a couple of weeks ago…I dropped them on top of the pastry cream and they worked nicely.

This is pretty easy to make, and you can bust out all the components a day ahead of time.  The dough is sticky, but forgiving, and you can even more or less pat it into the round shapes you need without too much rolling.  It’s really delicious, and beautiful, too, with a pretty crosshatch pattern on top of the golden crust.  For the recipe, see Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Don’t forget to check out my fellow francophiles’ posts.

Raspberry Brûlée

July 23, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Posted in puddings & custards, sweet things | 9 Comments
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raspberry brûlée

The promise of a blueberry pie made my husband finally agree to drive me out to the country for some berry picking last Saturday.  It’s good to know that bribes do work, although I still haven’t made good on my end…this is obviously not blueberry pie.  We came with a quart of U-pick raspberries, too, so using those delicate jewels became my first priority.  Not turning on the oven became my second priority.

You may see the words “raspberry brûlée” and think immediately of Prince, or you may see them and think of crème brûlée…I assure you this is far less fancy than either, even though it looks and tastes like a million bucks.  In fact, apart from straight-up fresh fruit, this might be one of the easiest summer desserts out there.  It’s simply whipped cream folded with fresh raspberries and given a torched sugar top.  It’s fresh and light as air, but with but with a sweet crunch.

A lot of times the broiler works as a reasonable alternative to a kitchen torch.  I’m not sure how it would do in this case though, since whipped cream is not as sturdy as a custard.  You want a bit of runny, melted cream just under the crispy brûléed top, but I suspect the boiler may take melting the cream a step further than a torch would.

Raspberry Brûlée- serves 6-8
adapted from Saveur Magazine, Issue 94 

Steph’s Notes:  The dish can also be made with tayberries (which I have never seen here before) or blackberries, and I’m sure diced peaches or nectarines would be tasty, too.

1 ¼ cups heavy cream
¼-½ cup powdered or superfine sugar (depending on how sweet you like it and how sweet your berries are)
splash of cassis or frambiose (optional)

2 pints raspberries
⅓ cup demerara sugar

– Put the heavy cream into a large bowl and beat until medium peaks form. Add the powdered or superfine sugar and the booze (if using) and continue beat to stiff peaks.

-Add the raspberries to the whipped cream and fold gently to coat.  Carefully transfer raspberries to a wide serving dish or divide them between 6-8 individual gratin dishes and liberally strew the top with demerara sugar. Using a kitchen torch, evenly caramelize the sugar until it gets bubbly and darkened in some spots.  A bit of the top layer of cream will start to “run” in this process, but if you don’t hold the torch too long in one place, what’s underneath will stay whipped.

-Refrigerate brûlée for about 15 minutes to let the sugar harden. If you’ve used one large serving dish, scoop servings into bowls, making sure that each scoop includes some of the crunchy sugar topping. If you used individual gratin dishes, just grab spoons.  Serve immediately.

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