Archive for the ‘Pies / Tarts / Pastries’ Category

Mascarpone Love

September 7, 2010

While very common, tiramisu is not “old school” Italian fare by any means. A quick wiki search shows that the layered dessert is maybe thirty, forty years old max. Which means that when my Gram and I decided to make this, we did not have a family recipe to refer to. Based on everyone’s feedback, I think we managed just fine with Gale Gand’s recipe. It’s ridiculously good. Coffee, whipped cream, chocolate, mascarpone, KAHLUA… I mean how can you go wrong? And the best part is, you don’t even have to turn on your oven. Just get you hand/stand mixers ready. Make this for people you really REALLY like.
Tiramisu
Recipe barely adapted from Gale Gand’s for the Food Network. WARNING, this recipe uses RAW eggs, and lots of ’em. You MUST splurge on the pasteurized, salmonella-free eggs at your grocery store. No poisoning people, K?  Also, the gelatin won’t add any flavor to the tiramisu, but it will help your mousse set, so don’t skip it!

7 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 cups mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 Tablespoons unflavored gelatin powder
4 1/2 Tablespoons water
3 egg whites
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 1/4 cup, cooled espresso or strongly brewed coffee
1/4 cup Kahlua
20-24 ladyfingers
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2- 3/4 cup dark chocolate shavings

Using a hand or stand mixer, beat together the egg yolks and one cup of the sugar until color pales and “ribbon stage” is reached.  This is at the point in beating when a spatula drawn through the yolks will leave a trail that lasts a few moments.  Add mascarpone and mix until combined, set aside.

In a small heat-safe bowl combine gelatin and water.  Let sit for 15 minutes.  The gelatin will firm.  Fill a slightly larger, microwave-safe bowl with an inch or two of water.  Heat in microwave until water is boiling, about two minutes.  Remove from microwave, placing smaller bowl with gelatin in larger one, creating a double boiler.  Stir gelatin well.  Gelatin will begin to soften, and then liquefy.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks and then mix in 1/4 cup of sugar.  Slowly add gelatin.  Whip egg whites to stiff, glossy peaks.  Gently fold in whipped cream, and then the egg yolk mixture until combined.  Now you’re ready to assemble your tiramisu.

In a small bowl, combine Kahlua and espresso.  Quickly dip both sides of the ladyfingers into the espresso mixture and arrange in the bottom of an 8″x10″ pan in a single layer.  Ladyfingers should be close to each other, using 10-12 in the first layer.  Cover the ladyfingers with half of the mascarpone mixture.  With a sifter, dust the layer with 1/2 cup of cocoa powder.  Then create a second layer with 10-12 more espresso soaked ladyfingers and the rest of the mascarpone.  Sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Chill in the fridge 2-3 hours until the layers have set.

Sooooo good.  Thanks Gram for making it with me!

Happy Thanksgiving & Ma’s Guest Blog

November 26, 2009

Fellow thankful and grateful Americans: Are you currently unable to move from your couch, tryptophan coursing through your veins, pants unbuttoned? Have you spent most of your day watching Home Alone or football, only breaking to re-eat or nap? When you doze off do you have visions of yams and dancing green bean casseroles in your brain?

I have just the thing for you… PIE! So here’s my Ma to talk about one of the pies she made. She’s awesome, but a bit blog-shy. Take it away Ma…

Hi, I’m Carly’s Mother. I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. My memories of Thanksgiving are filled with thoughts of my own mother baking many delicious treats. My favorites were always the pies! She made everything from lemon meringue to chocolate cream. With family out of town, this year our Thanksgiving gathering was smaller than usual, but we had a great time. And great food!

Normally, for Thanksgiving we do traditional pumpkin, but this year we added a French Apple Pie. My husband “hinted” that I hadn’t baked an apple pie in a long time, so here goes…

French Apple Pie


Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook

For Pastry:
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon shortening
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 Tablespoons cold water

For Filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of salt
6 cups of thinly sliced tart apples (about 6 medium-sized apples)

For Topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 425°

Mix flour and salt (for pastry) in a medium-sized bowl. Cut in shortening until well-combined and crumbles are pea-sized. Add water, 1 Tablespoon at a time until mixture is moistened evenly.

Form a ball with your dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out—two inches larger than inverted pie plate. Fit into plate.

Prepare your Filling. Mix dry ingredients together and then stir in apples. Spoon into pie crust. In a new bowl, mix Topping ingredients together until crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of your pie. Bake for 45-50 minutes until brown and bubbly.

Easy peasy, right? And delicious. Be sure to serve with ice cream.

Thanks Ma, you’re the best! And happy holidays everyone.

First Daring Bakers Challenge

September 28, 2009

So, I am back in Chicago and apparently it’s Fall!  You leave for a week and the weather drops 20 degrees and the leaves start turning.  Crazy, but I spose it’s time to start baking with cinnamon and pumpkin.  And apples.  Lots and lots of apples.  Soon!

This post has actually nothing to do with apples.  I joined the Daring Bakers, and September’s challenge was puff pastry Vols-au-Vent.  Little cups of puff pastry that you can fill with anything, savory or sweet.  I spose you could fill them with apples, that would be delicious.  I filled mine with mango mousse, blackberry puree, & chocolate ganache.  Also delicious.  I guess I was still feeling summery.

Making the puff pastry was a bit time consuming.  And melty.  My butter kept oozing out of the dough (a bad thing), and I kept having to toss it back into the fridge.  The key to making puff pastry is keeping it cold.  Also, be sure to really flour your rolling surface.  That helped a bunch.  Thanks Ma for assisting and letting me use your more spacious kitchen.  This post is already really long, so instead of listing the recipes I used for the filling, I will just link to them, both of them I found on AllRecipes.com.  For the puree, I just mashed up blackberries with a bit of sugar.  I layered the ganache, puree, and mousse–in that order.  I drizzled a bit more ganache on the top.  I really liked the combination of flavors.  The sides of my Vols-au-Vent were slightly thick.  Next time I’ll try to make a more delicate case.  They did rise quite a bit though.  All in all I think my first challenge was a success!  Here we go…

Chocolate Ganache

I let this cool for a few minutes and then I poured it into the empty Vols-au-Vent.  I didn’t use the rum.

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Chocolate-Ganache/Detail.aspx

Mango Mousse

I let this set in the fridge for an hour before spooning in into my Vols-au-Vent

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Cuban-Mango-Mousse/Detail.aspx

Vols-au-Vent

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

Equipment:
-food processor (or you can mix by hand like me)
-rolling pin
-pastry brush
-metal bench scraper (optional, but recommended)
-plastic wrap
-baking sheet
-parchment paper
-silicone baking mat (optional, but recommended)
-set of round cutters (optional, but recommended)
-sharp chef’s knife
-fork
-oven
-cooling rack

Prep Times:
-about 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule)
-about 1.5 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent

Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d’oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)

Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.

Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)

Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.

Fill and serve.  Voila!

Here’s what my tops looked like, I dipped the bottoms in the Chocolate Ganache…

Look at all those pretty air pockets!

*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to “glue”). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.

*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.

*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

Steph’s note: This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity of vols-au-vent stated above. While I encourage you to make the full recipe of puff pastry, as extra dough freezes well, you can halve it successfully if you’d rather not have much leftover.

There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book. http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter

plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:

Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that’s about 1″ thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:

Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10″ square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with “ears,” or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don’t just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8″ square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:

Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24″ (don’t worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24″, everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24″ and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:

If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you’ve completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

A Tart for August

August 31, 2009

My amazing kid sister graduated yesterday!  Congrats J!  Not only did she graduate, but she was class valedictorian(!) and gave a great and very sweet speech.  So proud!

So of course the family celebrated.  We cooked, and we baked, and we ate lots of good food. It was such a great Sunday, I hardly thought about the weekend ending.  Some of us were so tuckered out from food & festivities, we even needed a bit of a nap after dinner.

I powered through though and made a crostata.

“A What-A?” you may be thinking to yourself.

A CROSTATA.

Does it help if I all-caps it?  Sorry.  A crostata is a sort of rustic, free-form tart.  If you’re intimidated by the thought of baking a pie, make a crostata instead.  It’s super easy, and just as delicious.  Your friends will be impressed.  You can do it!  Make this before summer is gone and the peaches and blueberries disappear.  A sad thought…

Rustic Peach & Blueberry Crostata


adapted from a Tyler Florence Recipe

Don’t even think about making this recipe without the lemon zest.  Seriously.

For Pastry:
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and divided
1 large egg yolk
2 Tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

For Filling:
2-3 large peaches, pitted and sliced
1 cup blueberries
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon flour

For Glaze:
1 egg whisked with 1 Tablespoon water
2 Tablespoons sugar

Start by preparing your crust.  Mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in a large bowl.  Using a pastry cutter, food processor, or two forks (old school method), cut the butter with the flour mixture until combined and crumbly.  Add egg yolk and 2 Tablespoons of ice water.  Mix together until just combined.  Try forming into a ball.  If still crumbly, add more ice water, one teaspoon at a time.  You don’t want your dough too moist, so don’t go crazy with the water.  Form dough into a disc and wrap with saran.  Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

To make the filling, combine the peaches and blueberries in a mixing bowl.  Pour the lemon juice over the fruit, and toss with the sugar and flour.

Preheat your oven to 400°.

Now it’s time to assemble your crostata.  Sprinkle your counter and rolling pin with flour.  Remove dough from fridge, and roll out, about a 1/4” thick.  This should get you a circle with a 12”-14” diameter.  Transfer the crust to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Spoon the filling into the center of your crust, leaving a 2” space from the edge, all the way around.  Brush the egg onto the fruitless edge of your crust, and then fold up the sides.  You should have an exposed fruit center.  Pinch together any cracks in your crust, and brush with more of the egg wash.  Sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons of sugar.  Bake 30-35 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

Cool on a baking rack.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.  Or else.

Pie Carnage.