A Remiss is as Good as a Re-mile

I was remiss in not documenting the baking I did for our synagogue’s Oneg (celebration of the joy of Shabbat after Friday night services) a couple of weeks ago. All of the recipes are posted elsewhere. Search this blog for the various key words for more detail.

We were one of three families providing pastries etc for the Oneg. I made Gooey Strawberry Brownies. (Previously I made raspberry brownies so tried strawberry this time.)  Due to the size of the strawberry jammy bits the brownies ended up very moist and “gooey,” which is not a bad thing. Somehow, only half of the brownies made it onto the serving tray, so sadly, the other half had to come home with me.

I also made sweet whipped cream filled, chocolate drizzled profiteroles. I find choux pastries easy to make and freeze well for a last minute snack when invited out, or if friends stop by. I actually saw them online a few weeks ago and decided they would be good to add to my Oneg selection.

There is nothing like a couple of dozen tartlets with cream patisserie filling and blueberry topping. Tartlets and cream patisserie are quick and easy to make, and again the tart shells freeze for future use, if necessary.  It wasn’t necessary to freeze any, they were decimated at the oneg. I like to glaze pastries with apple jelly to add that nice shine. Last year I could not find any apply jelly in the stores, or even anyone who had heard of it, so I made a couple of pints and am still using it.

And finally I decided to make some fig newtons with some of the huge store of figs I have in the cupboard prior to this year’s harvest.

Oh! I almost forgot.  I had some sugar cookies in the freezer so added them to the mix on a whim. A few months ago I froze them in cylinders so I could just cut them into disks and bake them. I used them all up so need to make another batch.

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Busy Bakery Day

Here are some samples of one and two bite pastries I am making for a party of about 200 people. We are meeting tonight for a party progress meeting. I decided to give the group a sample of some of the varieties of desserts I am baking for the event.

 

I have both lemon and mango curd filled profiteroles, cream patisserie filled eclairs and tartlets, vanilla cake with pink icing and raspberry drizzle and vanilla cake with chocolate drizzle. There are mini-raspberry cheesecakes, blueberry and apply mini pie bites, chocolate brownie cups with chocolate mousse and a raspberry drizzle. Some of these were made ahead and frozen until today. The tartlets, eclairs, profiteroles and all icings, drizzles and frostings were made this afternoon.

A productive bakery day!

Guess Who Came to Dinners?

We just had a weekend guest, and sadly, put her on a plane to return to her home last night. This woman prefers to eat healthy, in moderation and occasionally diet. Boy did she come to the wrong place!

We started with some rugelach. I made apple/cinnamon, chocolate and hand pies
chocolate/blackberry. They are very similar except the for filling.  I added an apple tart, (I got to use my new spiralizer so am happy.) Fran and I had some fruit dumplings from Apple Hill (much like my hand pies but bigger, so I added blueberry, apply and blackberry hand pie/filled rough puff pastry dumplings. For dinner we had my homemade pizza margherita: sweet/salty sauce, home made dough (ala pizza 2 Independent Pizza in Seattle), basil and fresh mozzarella, baked 6 minutes at 600 degrees in my gas grill. I added some garlic bread knots to accompany.  It was so good, I made second one for Sunday night.  Unfortunately, we at all the garlic bread knots, so I made some chocolate mousse with pink whipped cream topping. Oh, we also had a salad.

mousse

RUGELACH

INGREDIENTS

CRUST

  • 16 tablespoons (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature (2 T cream cheese = 28g. 3/4 Cup = 12 T, ¾ C = 4oz.)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flourrugelach1

FILLING CINNAMON RAISIN

  • 1/2 cup brown sugarrugelach2
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or currants
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • water for brushing dough

DARK CHOCOLATE:

  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp unsweetened cocoa power
  • ¼ Tsp cinnamon (optional)

TOPPING

  • granulated sugar or coarse white sparkling sugar
  • milk or cream

METHOD

  1. To make the dough using a mixer: Beat together the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and salt until smooth. Add the flour, mixing to make a stiff dough.
  2. Divide the dough into three equal portions. Press each gently into a disk. Make the disks as round as possible, smoothing their edges; this will allow you to roll the disks into a perfectly round circle, making the resulting rugelach more attractive.  (Note how :perfect this dough circle is.) Wrap the disks in plastic, and chill the dough for about 1 hour, until it’s firm but not rock hard. Or chill longer (up to overnight), then warm for about 45 to 60 minutes at room temperature, until the dough softens enough to roll out without cracking.
  3. To make the CINNAMON RAISIN FILLING: process the sugar, walnuts, dried fruit, and cinnamon in a food processor or blender until finely chopped and well combined (but not pasty). Don’t have a food processor? Simply stir together the filling ingredients; your filling will be chunky rather than smooth.
  4. To make the CHOCOLATE FILLING: Whisk together 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder; add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, if desired. Sprinkle atop rolled-out dough. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) mini chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate.
  5. Working with one piece of dough at a time, place it on a generously floured surface. Roll it into a 10″ circle and brush it lightly with water. For a flavorful touch, brush the rolled-out rugelach dough with a thin layer of boiled cider, warmed apple or 

    currant jelly, or puréed fruit preserves, instead of water.

  6. Use your fingers to spread about 1/3 of the filling onto the round, going all the way to the edges and gently patting the filling to help anchor it to the dough.
  7. Using a pizza cutter, baker’s bench knife, or sharp knife, divide the dough into 12 equal wedges. Roll each wedge up, beginning with the wide end and ending with the narrow end. Place the rolls point-side down on a baking sheet; lining the baking sheet with parchment will help with cleanup. Repeat with the remaining two pieces of dough.
  8. Brush the rugelach with milk or cream; and sprinkle with granulated or coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Refrigerate the rugelach while the oven is preheating.
  10. Bake the rugelach for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and cool right on the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  11. Store leftover rugelach in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

APPLE TART

TART SHELLS

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 100 g cold butter cut into small cubes
  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 60 g icing sugar (Splenda?)
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg (50g)

APPLE FILLING

  • 3 apples (sliced thin or spiralized with skins on)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon

METHOD

  1. Mix butter with sugar
  2. Add salt then vanilla
  3. Add egg
  4. Stir in flour.
    1. Mix by hand until incorporated
    2. Add 3-5 Tbl water to make dough sticky
  5. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 min
  6. Butter tartlet pans
    1. Roll dough to about ⅛” thick
    2. Lay over tart mold and press into all crevices
    3. Roll top to cut off excess
  7. Prick holes in bottom and sides of formed dough
  8. Add pastry weights to each pan
  9. Bake in preheated oven 350o F (175o C) for 17 min
    1. Remove pastry weights with 5 min left in the bake
    2. Remove pastry shells from pans and let cool on wire rack
  10. Fill cooled tart shell with sliced apples. I put them in a spiral shape but any way will do
  11. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the apples.
  12. Cover exposed edges of tart with aluminum foil to prevent over browning.
  13. Back at 375 F for 20-30 min. When apples have reduced and mixture is bubbling.
  14. Remove from over and cool on a wire rack.

Sweet and Salty Pizza Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons (4 large leaves) fresh basil, coarsely chopped

METHOD

  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over a medium heat until hot.
  2. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring and mashing tomatoes with potato masher until crushed.
  4. Stir in basil.
  5. Place in small bowl; cool to room temperature This sauce may be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated or up to 2 months ahead and frozen.

What The Fig!!

Well, it finally happened. The figs in our backyard tree are ripe and ready for harvest. To date, we have harvested about 55 pounds (about 25 Kilos) of figs. Let me be clear. That is the first harvest. We probably have 2 or 3 more to go.  Prolific tree, I just wish the apricot and plum trees would take a lesson. I made several pints of fig preserve and several fig newton filling (alone with some homemade fig newtons), fig and brie tarts and froze a few pounds for future consideration.

Picking the figs proved somewhat challenging. It turns out many people are allergic to the sap and/or leaves of the fig tree. As luck would have it, all of us were, some more than others. Soap (Dawn dishwashing detergent) and water and time worked well to remove the itch and rash. It was gone the next day. Next time, long sleeves and gloves.

After the figs were washed, dried and sorted the best were sliced (about ½” thick) and frozen. Some were laid out on parchment lined baking sheets and put in the freezer. Others were sliced and put into zip lock bags and a simple syrup with Fruit Fresh added were frozen. We shall see which method we like better.

Picking Figs

Picking 2

Picking

Frances and I picked the first half of the harvest. Daniel, The Young and Tall, joined us after his work the next day to  help with the high fruit. Rosie, the Supervisor as ever vigilant.Supervisor

 

Washing, Sorting and Processing

The fruit was washed, dried (wet fruit spoils faster) and spread as a single layer on paper towels in the refrigerator for processing the next day (after rash). Note to self: Use gloves on day two also.

The cut figs were boiled to 220oF and either mashed with a potato masher (Frances’ method) or food processed with a couple quick pulses (my method) and canned. I added a couple more pulses for the newton filling, which seemed about right in the final product.

Here are a couple of tips about making the fig newtons. The recipe makes just the right amount of cookie batter vs. filling, try it. After cutting the rolled dough to an 8”x14” sheet, roll it as rectangular and with as straight edges as possible. It will make the cookies look better.  Also, before trying to fold the dough over and pinching shut cut the sheet in half, or ever thirds, crosswise. This makes the soft dough easier to fold smoothly. More also, be bold when folding. Like flipping eggs in a frying pan. Just go for it. If you don’t fold far enough for the un-filled edges to meet, it’s a bear to try to stretch the top layer to meet the bottom to seal.

For the tartlets, be sure to use enough Brie (or other cheese) to fill half the shell. Too little and the cheese does not add enough flavor. You can always add a piece of cheese to the top to compensate. I also sprinkled the tartlets with a little flaked sea salt to offset the fig sweetness.

Homemade Fig Newtons – HGTV

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pint fresh or preserved figs or 12 ounces dried figs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

If you are using:

  • Fresh figs: Remove stems and boil figs with a cinnamon stick and 2 cups of sugar in 1 cup of water for 45 minutes. Drain and cool.
  • Dried figs: In a bowl, pour boiling water over figs (stems removed) and let rest 10 minutes. Drain all but 2 tablespoons water and stir in 2 tablespoons corn syrup + ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.
  • Preserved figs: Drain syrup.

METHOD

  1. Puree figs in food processor until a thick paste forms (if too thick or thin to spread evenly, add a little water or flour until spreadable consistency is reached).
  2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  4. Add egg and vanilla, mix until smooth
  5. Add orange juice and combined dry ingredients to bowl and mix until dough forms.
  6. Optional: for dough into a flat thick disk and chill to set butter and make it easier to roll and fold.
  7. Roll dough out on a floured surface into a 8”x14” rectangle about ¼” thick.
  8. Cut rectangle in half lengthwise.
  9. Spread fig paste onto half of each rectangle, lengthwise.
  10. Cut the rectangle in half crosswise, or even thirds to facilitate folding.
  11. Fold dough in half lengthwise to cover fig paste and pinch edges to seal.
  12. Slide each newton log onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  13. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees until crust begins to brown.
  14. Slice into cookie-sized segments and cool. Slice while warm to reducing flaking.

More Hookers! NYT Fake News! Sad!

A couple of weeks ago, while reading the NYT online I saw this recipe for a Chocolate/Salted Caramel tart. I thought, how could you go wrong with this combination? I mean, salted caramel, chocolate and hookers (tarts), plus wanting to support the poor failing NYT! I planned on making this the first weekend my crack QC/Taster panel was back home. Tada!!

nyt-revenue-report.jpg

Unsurprisingly, the recipe posted in the successful, reliable and accurate NYT made anBroken Baked Tart Shell excellent tart. I made two error with this pastry. First I removed it from the tart pan too soon. The shell was still very fragile and I put a thumb through the side.

Repaired Filled Tart Close Up

 

I used a little foil to dam the flow of caramel and chocolate, plus I tipped it away from the breach so there is a thinner layer on that side of the tart. SAD!

 

I also poured the chocolate ganache when it was a little too thick. That may have helped plug the leak in the damn dam, but did not have the nice smooth, shiny top I was looking for. Finished Tart I also added some white chocolate ganache in a spiral and cut it through with a clean knife to make the star like pattern.

 

 

Hover your mouse over these three pictures to see the caption.

Anyway, here is the recipe. I followed it pretty closely and really wouldn’t change anything, except adding the white chocolate starburst. Oh, I did use sour cream instead of creme fraiche. Any notes are in red below.

INGREDIENTS

  • FOR THE CHOCOLATE DOUGH:
    • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
    • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
    • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
    • 1 large egg yolk
    • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
    • Optional: water, a tablespoon at a time until the dough is pliable.
  • FOR THE CARAMEL FILLING:
    • 2 cups sugar
    • ½ cup water
    • ¼ cup corn syrup
    • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
    • ½ cup heavy cream
    • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
    • Pinch of salt
  • FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
    • 3 ½ ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate (70 to 85%), chopped
    • ½ cup heavy cream
    • Sea salt

PREPARATION

  1. Prepare chocolate dough: In bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar and cocoa. Beat until smooth. Add egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until blended.
  2. Sift flour into dough mixture. Beat on low speed until combined. (Note: next time I will add a little water here to make the dough a little more pliable. I will also rest in in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.) Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch tart pan. (You can use a 9-inch pan, but the crust will be thicker and the caramel may take longer to set in step 4.)
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line tart with foil, and fill with dried beans, rice or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, and bake until pastry is dry and set, another 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. The shell is fragile. Be sure to wait until it is cool before handling.
  4. Prepare caramel filling: In a large saucepan, bring sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil. Stir or swirl the pan occasionally, until mixture is a medium amber color, about 12 minutes. Remove from the heat. Caramel will continue to cook and darken off of the heat. Carefully but quickly whisk in the butter, cream, creme fraiche and salt until smooth (mixture will bubble up). Pour hot caramel into tart, and allow to cool and set, at least 1 hour.
  5. Prepare chocolate glaze: Place chocolate in a bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour hot cream over chocolate and whisk until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Pour glaze over tart, tilting tart for even coverage. (At this point, I piped a spiral of white chocolate ganache on the tart and used a butter knife to cut through the ganache to make the starburst design.) Refrigerate until tart is set, at least one hour, then sprinkle with a few granules of sea salt. Keep refrigerated until serving.

Have a Very Independent Day

Happy Independence Day family and friends! Have a wonderful day, full of independence, liberty, personal freedom, free speech and remember our government is OUR government, NOT our elected representative’s government.

For Daniel and Frances’ 4th of July BBQ yesterday I made a U.S. flag tart with crème patisserie filling, raspberry and meringue stripes and blueberry and meringue stars. I also made red, white and blue macarons.  The only new recipe I incorporated into these two desserts (the other recipes can be found elsewhere in this blog) was the Italian meringue used to fill the macarons and make the stars for the flag.  I wish I had kept the 4 star, 3 star, 4 star pattern, but miscounted in the middle of piping. Yeah, I miscounted on the way to 4. Oh well, next time.

 

As you probably know, there are 3 common methods of making meringue. French meringue is the most common which is made by whisking sugar into beaten egg whites. While the easiest to make, it is the least stable meringue and is perfect for filling or toppings, or folded into batters for sponges, jocondes etc. Italian meringue is made by beating egg whites to stiff peaks then drizzling a simple sugar, heated to 2400 F, into the whipped egg whites. This is the most stable meringue and is great for frosting cakes, top filling pies and mousse. Swiss meringue is made by gently beating egg whites and sugar in a bain marie until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture reaches 1300 F. The mixture is then removed from the heat and whisked at high speed to create volume, then lower speed to cool the meringue and is very stiff. Swiss meringue is often used as a base for buttercream frosting.

ITALIAN MERINGUE

Makes about 360 ml (or 1½ cups), Author: The Tough Cookie

INGREDIENTS

  • 150g (or ¾ cup) granulated sugar
  • 60ml (or ¼ cup) water
  • 60g (or ¼ cup) egg whites (about 2 large egg whites)

METHOD

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to medium-high and allow the syrup to come to a boil.
  2. In the meantime, add the egg whites to a medium-sized, heatproof bowl and mix (with a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment) until foamy and the whites are almost able to hold soft peaks.
  3. Once the syrup is boiling, clip on a candy (or sugar) thermometer.
  4. Cook until the syrup reaches 240°F, then take the pan off the heat and slowly drizzle the hot syrup into the bowl with the foamy egg whites, mixing continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Don’t pour the syrup onto the whisk, or the syrup may splatter against the sides of the bowl (or into your face!). Instead, aim for a spot close to the whisk.
  5. Once all the syrup has been added, keep mixing until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch and the meringue has cooled down to body temperature.
  6. Use immediately or keep in the fridge (covered) until ready to use. It’s a very stable meringue, so it won’t start weeping, leaking or collapsing.

NOTES

Italian meringue can be made two days in advance and stored in the fridge until needed (covered with plastic wrap).

 

 

 

Tart vs. Prostitute

I decided to make a new dessert for Passover this year. Of course, leavening agents, such as flour, yeast etc are prohibited from Passover foods, so the chocolate/orange tart I was considering was out… or was it?

My research into Passover prohibitions and tarts logically led me to a discussion of the difference between tarts and prostitutes. Using the Wiki dictionary (the source of all truths) I find the word prostitute, as a verb, is to use one’s talents in return for money, or fame, or perhaps a few nights lodging, whereas a tart, as a noun, is a small open pie, or piece of pastry. Dictionaries are like statistics: what do you want them to say?

This research actually stemmed from looking at the story of Solomon deciding which woman was the real mother by offering to split the child with his sword and giving half to each woman. The women were actually prostitutes, but their profession was either superfluous to the story, and Solomon’s decision, or not, depending on the interpretation. And, of course, as usual in midrash, there are many more opinions than “opinioners.”

I find it interesting that a judge can rule on a case 3000 years ago by purely considering the facts of the case and not the legal standing of the two women. Some say wisdom began flowing from his mouth when he threatened to cut the child in half. Today so many people with questionable legal standing are unable to appeal to the legal establishment for fear of reprisal due not to the injury they may have sustained but rather for the superfluous state of their resident status. And therefore, so often judgement is rendered without any wisdom present.Almond Flour Tart Shell

Anyway, I decided an almond flour tart shell with chocolate mousse and orange zest swirl is appropriate and fitting for our Passover this year. I made a shell to be confident it would have the taste and texture required, and it did. It doesn’t roll our like a standard AP flour
dough, but can be formed into the tart shell by hand and pastry weights should keep the shape well enough to form the final tart. Because there is less binding agent in almond flour, I doubled the amount of egg.  I will probably increase the almond flour content by 25-50% to make the dough easier to handle and hopefully a little more pastry-like. The chocolate and orange ingredients are allowed anyway, substituting almond flour for AP flour where appropriate.

Please pass over me when the gefilte fish is served!

INGREDIENTS

For the Tart Shell

  • 100 g cold butter cut into small cubes
  • 200 g almond flour (I may increase this by 50g, not sure yet)
  • 60 g icing sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs (100g)

For the Chocolate Filling

  • 75g butter
  • 115g dark chocolate (no more than 60% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 55g almond flour
  • 4 medium eggs

For the Orange Filling

  • 25g butter
  • 50g white chocolate
  • 1 orange, finely grated zest only
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 25g almond flour
  • 2 medium egg yolks

METHOD

Tart Shell

  1. Mix butter with sugar (I break up the chunks of butter by rubbing them into the sugar with my hands)
  2. Add salt then vanilla
  3. Add egg and mix well
  4. Stir in flour. Mix by hand until incorporated. I did this in 3 parts mixing well between each.
  5. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 min until it firms up a bit.
  6. Butter (spray) tartlet pan
  7. Coat hands with flour and press the sticky dough into tart mold
  8. Prick holes in bottom and sides of formed dough
  9. Add pastry weights to the pan
  10. Bake in preheated oven 350o F (175o C) for 17 – 20 min
    1. Remove pastry weights with 5 min left in the bake
    2. Remove pastry shells from pans and let cool on wire rack

Chocolate Filling

  1. Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water until melted and smooth.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and flour.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and leave to stand.

Orange Filling

  1. Melt the butter and white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water until melted and smooth.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest, sugar and flour.
  3. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time and pour the mixture into a bowl.

Assemble and Bake the Tart

  1. Place the tart shell on a baking tray.
  2. Pour the chocolate mixture into the shell.
  3. Drizzle or pipe the orange filling over the chocolate filling to create a swirl effect.
  4. Draw a tooth stick through the filling to create a marbled effect.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just set around the edges, but still slightly wobbly in the centre.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, until warm but not piping hot, then serve. It is actually very good cold also.