Tags: baking, fruit, holiday, tart
I’ve had my Thanksgiving dessert plotted out for weeks now (predictably, it will be a pumpkin pie), but if I didn’t, I think that this Pear-Cranberry Roll-Up Tart would be making another appearance on Thursday. Yes, a “roll-up tart”…intriguing, right? I’ve never made a roll-up tart before. I imagined forming it would be like making a strudel with pie dough, but actually it was more like rolling up a burrito.
The filling here is made from seasonally appropriate pears– I used Bosc– and cranberries. I think baked pear desserts are pretty awesome, and the orange and ginger flavorings in this filling really compliment the pears (and the cranberries, too).
The fruit is rolled inside the very same galette dough we used for our Apple Pielettes last month. I’m big on this dough. It couldn’t be easier to handle and it bakes up really flaky (the sanding sugar on top here is a nice sparkly, crispy touch). Also, it slices cleanly, so you get a good presentation instead of a crumbly mess. I’ll certainly be trying it out on a regular pie at some point.
Tags: holiday, savory, snacks
It doesn’t matter if I’ve made it myself or if I’ve bought it at the store, I try to never waste a scrap of puff pastry. So much potential in those little buttery off-cuts…pigs in a blanket, palmiers, Michel Richard’s Parmesan Puffs…I could go on, but let’s focus on the Parm Puffs. Take your leftover bits of puff, cut them into willy-nilly shapes and fry them up in a bit of oil till they’re puffed and golden. Then sprinkle them with salt and shower them in good grated parmesan. Cheesy, buttery and salty– they are the perfect holiday party nibble. My hostess-with-the-mostess tip of the day: Champagne and fried stuff is a match made in heaven. Continue Reading Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Parmesan Puffs…
Tags: baking, cake, dessert, holiday
It’s almost Christmas, and that means it’s time to get fancy in the kitchen! Something like a Gingerbread bûche de Noël sounds like the right way to celebrate. Way back in the early days of this space, I made another bûche. That one was all done up with stumps, meringue mushrooms and faux wood grain…this one’s easier in that it’s just a roulade but it’s still a showstopper and, of course, it still has several steps. In addition to a gently-spiced geniose-style gingerbread sponge cake, there’s a cream cheese filling, a marshmallow meringue frosting and, for crunch and sparkle, a pecan praline.
If you’re the organized type, you can actually break up the steps and knock out the praline and filling a day in advance, but I did it all start to finish in one afternoon, so I can tell you that it’s procrastinator-friendly, too. I did kind of goof up the cake a bit, and you can see it in the center of the spiral. I deflated the cake batter while mixing in the butter at the end. I was pretty annoyed with myself, and worried it would be like eating a rubber mat, but there’s a lot going on with this cake and we also had it with a scoop of eggnog ice cream, so it really wasn’t that noticeable. Next time, I’ll do better with that. Although the marshmallow makes a stunning, glossy, snow-white frosting, I had a lot left over…next time, I’ll also try cutting that amount in half. I’ll reduce the cream of tartar in the frosting a bit as well because I think it gave the marshmallow a slightly acidic taste. If you’re on the fence about gingerbread (I know not everyone is crazy about it), the flavoring here is very subtle…no molasses or cloves or other dark and mysterious flavors.
Tags: baking, dessert, holiday, tarts
If you’re still on the fence about what to make for this Thursday’s dessert, let me make your decision harder by throwing one more option your way. This Cranberry Crackle Tart from Baking Chez Moi is for people who don’t mind breaking a bit with Thanksgiving tradition. It has a cookie-like base of sweet tart dough (fondly known to those in professional pastry circles as “STD”…we keep it classy), a layer of jam (which you can’t see here) and a meringue topping with cranberries folded though. The topping is like a crispy-edged marshmallow– the sweetness is interrupted by little bursts of softened, tart berries. This is meant to be a larger tart, but I didn’t need so much for the two of us on a random weeknight, so I just made a couple of individual tartlets (they took quite a bit less time to bake, btw). The big one, with its pretty, swirly meringue top and ruby-colored berries peeking through, would make an impressive dessert for a crowd. And it’s a light one, too, after a big dinner.
The hidden jam layer can be any red jam, really, like strawberry, raspberry or cherry. I made a cranberry sauce ahead of time from the extra berries that weren’t going into the tart and I used that instead. We ate our tarts with whipped cream, and my husband said it reminded him of pavlova with a cookie crust.
Tags: baking, brownies, cake, chocolate, dessert, holiday
For Saint Patrick’s Day, I turned the Mocha Brownie Cake from Marcel Desaulniers into a Baileys Brownie Cake. Oh yeah! It was as easy as just replacing the coffee in the ganache with Baileys…plus a swig more to taste. I’m lucky I’m a fast baker, because I pushed the clock on this one. All those resting and chilling times didn’t really register when I read through the recipe. Thanks to my BFF, the freezer, I managed to get a photo while it was still light(ish) out.
I made a half recipe in six-inch form. It only took about 35 minutes to bake (I watched it closely, cuz no one likes a dry brownie). The cake is a cake-brownie hybrid. It starts out with whipped eggs– sort of like those Best-Ever Brownies we made awhile back– and also has baking powder for lift. I was kind of nervous to cut the cake into three layers, but it rose nicely in the oven and after it was chilled and firm, it was really no problem to slice…it helped that it was a small cake, I’m sure.
The filling and glaze is a dark chocolate ganache flavored with coffee (or Baileys for me, thanks). Delicious! I just realized after reading another blogger’s post that I completely forgot to add the extra sugar in the ganache. Oh well– it doesn’t need it, especially if you like your chocolate on the dark, bitter side (or you use sweet Baileys to make it). Even thought the recipe said to make sure the ganache was still pourable when filling the layers, mine was definitely spreadable– the consistency of thick custard. I didn’t see any problem with using it that way, and in fact it set up nicely. I didn’t need to build the cake up in a springform pan and it was ready to glaze quickly. I did reheat the remaining ganache so I’d have a shiny, pourable glaze for over the top. And then I sprinkled the cake with green luster dust for extra shimmer.
I’m really impressed with this actually. It looks great cut (use a hot knife) and it totally satisfies my ever-present chocolate craving. Also, it’s a heck of a lot easier to put together than Marcel D’s “Death by Chocolate Cake,” which I made once and is waaaay more involved.
Tags: baking, dessert, holiday, pie
I’m not making Thanksgiving dinner myself this year. You never know what you’re gonna get when you’re not in charge, so I had to make a pre-Thanksgiving pie for the two of us here at home.
I mixed things up from the typical pumpkin pie by making a sweet potato one. To tell you the truth, I think that pumpkins and sweet potatoes can make pretty interchangeable pie fillings in terms of taste, because they’re often identically spiced. This pie, though, mixes it up a bit in the spice department. It’s a little more ginger-heavy than most– a little more zippy– and leaves out the traditional cloves entirely. When I make a pumpkin pie I normally reach for a can-opener, but this filling uses a fresh-roasted sweet potato. If you have a big potato left over from last night’s dinner, you can use that, no problem. Using a fresh sweet potato for a custard pie gives a slightly different texture than canned pumpkin does. The sweet potato filling is not quite as velvety smooth as pumpkin filling– it’s a little more dense and substantial.
Sweet Potato Ginger Pie– makes a 9-inch pie
adapted from the wonderfully reliable Melissa Clark
Steph’s Note: To speed things along, you can cook the sweet potato in advance or use a leftover one for this pie. Just bring it to room temperature before processing the filling.
single-crust recipe of your favorite flaky pastry dough, well-chilled
1 c cooked sweet potato
3/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c milk
2/3 c light brown sugar
2 tbsp brandy, bourbon or rum
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp salt
-To make the filling, cut a slit into one large sweet potato and wrap tightly in foil. Bake at 400°F until sweet potato is very soft, about an hour. Let cool.
-Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the piecrust to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp as decoratively as you can manage.
-Prick the crust all over with a fork and freeze it for at least 15 minutes. Cover the pie with aluminum foil or parchment and fill with pie weights. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes (you can do this while the sweet potato is also in the oven). Remove the foil or parchment and weights and bake until golden, about 5 to 10 minutes more. Cool on a rack until needed.
-Scoop 1 cup of cooked, cooled sweet potato into food processor, discarding skin. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Add all remaining filling ingredients to food processor and puree until smooth. You can skip this, but if you want to smooth the filling out a bit more, strain it by pressing through a fine sieve.
-Spoon filling into pie crust and spread until flat and even. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the custard is mostly firm and set but jiggles slightly when moved, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and serve with whipped cream.
Tags: baking, cake, holiday
What–December already?!? Seems I am refusing to belive it, because every time I went to label the stuff I made at work today, I wrote “11/” and then had to turn that second one into a goofy two. I feel not quite ready to tackle this month.
Johanne Killeen’s Gingerbread Baby Cakes should help me get into the December spirit. These cakes may be little, but they are strong, with a spicy molasses, ginger and black pepper punch. Espresso and cocoa add extra dark, bitter notes. I want to say that I loved these, because they came out so darn cute, but really, they were too intense for me…too adult for my juvenile taste buds. I don’t have baby cake molds, but I do have baby tube pans, which made a fine substitute. I have two cakes left, and I’m thinking they will be cubed for a trifle with sweet cream and stuff to temper their spicy bite.
Tags: baking, bread, holiday
Every year I think about making Hot Cross Buns for Easter (or Good Friday, I guess), but I never get to it. Well, finally, this is my year! And let me tell you that eating one of these sweet, spiced buns freshly homemade is a real treat. I made these with currants and candied orange peel, although you could use raisins or craisins or whatever dried fruit and zest you choose. If you are British or Australian, you may not like what I’ve done on top here. A “traditional” English hot cross bun has a cross made not of icing (like mine), but of a flour and water paste that is baked on. But what can I say– I’m American and I like my icing!!
You’ll see that this recipe begins with preparing a sponge starter. It is really easy…there’s nothing to it but a little added resting time. The sponge lets the yeast get some extra fermentation, which is better for flavor and makes for nice soft buns. The rest of the dough is a snap to put together in a stand mixer. These aren’t so complicated to make, even if, like me, you don’t do a whole lot of bread baking at home…the hardest part is waiting for them to cool completely. You bet I devoured this guy with a little salty butter just as soon as he was cool enough to “cross”!
Hot Cross Buns– makes 12
adapted (quite a bit) from Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman
Steph’s Note: There’s no real need to soak your currants or orange peel unless they are very dry. If that’s the case, I’d put them in a small bowl with a couple teaspoons of orange juice or Grand Mariner and microwave for ten seconds (cool before using).
for the sponge
38 g AP flour
190 g milk, about 85°F
9 g sugar
7.4 g (2 1/4 t) instant yeast
for the final dough
340 g AP flour
60 g butter, softened
57 g sugar
3 g salt
2 g ground allspice
2 g ground cinnamon
110 g dried currants
40 g candied orange peel, finely chopped
for the icing (amounts are approximate)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy
4 teaspoons milk
-For the sponge, combine the milk and yeast in a medium bowl. Whisk in the flour and sugar. The mixture will be very loose. Cover and let rest until it is about 3 times its original volume, 30-40 minutes.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix final dough flour and softened butter until the butter is evenly distributed through the flour.
-Add egg, sugar, spices, and salt. Continue to mix until combined. The mixture will be quite dry at this point.
-Switch to the mixer’s dough hook. Add the sponge and mix on low speed. Mix until well combined, about 3 minutes.
-Up the mixer to medium speed, and mix about 8 minutes. You can occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl, if needed. The dough will start to leave the sides and come together around the dough hook, and the gluten should have reached a medium level of development.
-Add the currants and orange peel and mix on low speed just until they are evenly distributed through the dough.
-Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled, covered container. Ferment in a warm place for one hour, giving it a fold (kind of like a letter) after 30 minutes.
-Turn the dough onto an unfloured counter and divide it into 12 pieces (about 70-75 g each).
-Form each piece into a ball. To tighten the ball, place it on the counter with your cupped hand loosely around it, and move your hand in a tight circle several times.
-Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet (I used a 1/4 sheet tray…they did not touch when I arranged them on the tray, but as they proofed, they expanded to gently touch.)
-Cover and proof in a warm place for about an hour.
-Preheat the oven to 400°F . Bake the buns on the parchment-lined sheet at 400°F until the tops are browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking until browned all over, about another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
-When the buns are completely cool, whisk together the icing ingredients. You can add extra confectioners’ sugar or milk as needed to make a thick, but pipeable paste. Put it in a piping bag with a medium-small round tip and pipe it in a cross over the buns. They are best when eaten fresh (although I did freeze a few for the weekend).