Archive for August, 2007

Daring Bakers – Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart

August 29, 2007

I had a dream one night about a tart with a chocolate layer on top of a caramel layer.  I don’t normally dream about desserts, but I knew I had to search out a recipe for this one.  I looked, but didn’t find anything that matched what I saw in my head.  And then, the August Daring Bakers challenge was announced and it was the tart from my dream! 

The only thing I needed to buy for this recipe was a tart pan. I went to Williams Sonoma because I wanted a nice pan. Cost – $18.00

I was making this for a family gathering. I made the crust Wednesday evening, then baked the tart Thursday evening. I was rushed and it showed in the final product. It tasted good, but I knew it could be better. Because the crust recipe makes enough for three crusts, I jumped at the chance to make it again for a barbecue. This time I took my time, corrected my mistakes and voila! It turned out so much better.

For the full recipe, visit Veronica or Patricia.

Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart

The crust is a chocolate shortbread pastry that was made the day before, then refrigerated. First step, grind the hazelnuts.

This wasn’t a traditional crust recipe, it had more of a cookie dough like consistency until the cake flour was added.

The next day, I rolled the crust out and pressed it into the pan. Off to the oven!

I caramelized the sugar using the dry method first. It would have been fine except the pan I used wasn’t wide enough. I think. Either way, the sugar didn’t fully crystallize and I rushed it and added the cream which wasn’t room temp so it seized.

Try #2 with the alternate caramel method worked perfectly and my cream was room temp this time. But, I didn’t let the caramel cool before adding in the egg/flour mixture. Consequently, it went into the oven a little too hot and never really set.

The chocolate mousse didn’t turn out so well either. I cooled the chocolate too much. When I folded it into the whip cream it froze into little chocolate chips. Bah. It tasted good though!

On Saturday I made the tart again, this time cooling the caramel before adding the egg/flour mixture, and not cooling the chocolate so much. Perfection! I also made sure to roll my crust a little thinner so my layers could be more even.


My Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies

August 15, 2007

When most people reference a recipe from the Magnolia Cookbook, they’re usually talking about the vanilla cupcake recipe.  I have a different favorite recipe from that cookbook, their peanut butter cookies. Now I love peanut butter, and therefore peanut butter cookies. If I had to pick an absolute favorite cookie it would be a toss up between these and the Reese’s chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips. What makes the Magnolia peanut butter cookies different from others? Peanut butter chips. Clearly, they make everything better.

I made these tonight, it was warm in the kitchen and thought ahead enough to really let the butter soften. I think that made all the difference because when I creamed the butter and the peanut butter, it was creamy bliss. Also, I used a scoop! The consistency in size made me very happy.

Perfect drops!

Peanut Butter Cookies
from the Magnolia Bakery

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (for sprinkling) sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter chips. Place sprinkling sugar on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crissscross pattern, but do not overly flatten cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not.

Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Peanut butter cookies

Raspberry Tart

August 14, 2007

My parents live on a lake and so, end up entertaining quite a bit during the summer.  Everyone loves to come out to the lake, go on a boat ride and enjoy the beautiful scenery.  For this gathering, she needed a dessert.  I recommended a raspberry tart.  I do love my chocolate, but I love lighter, fruity desserts for summer and since they have a raspberry patch, what better?  It ended up that someone else brought dessert to the gathering, so I made the tart this past weekend.  This tart turned out perfectly!  The crust was easy to work with, it was not labor intensive, it looks gorgeous and tasted even better.  We had the neighbors over and the guys, after declaring the tart perfect, had seconds.

Raspberry Tart
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine

For crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

For filling:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 tablespon water
2 – 3 cups raspberries, picked over

Make crust: In a food processor*, blend together flour, sguar, and butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 2 tablespoons water and toss utnil incorporated. Add enough remaining water if necessary until mixture begins to come together, but is still crumbly. Refrigerate dough, wrapped in plastic for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out crust until large enough for an 11-inch tart pan. Press crust evenly onto bottom and sides, patching as needed. Prick the crust with a fork, then place in the freezer for five minutes. Line the dough with aluminum foil and weigh it down with pie weights or beans (or rice if you’re in a pinch like we were). Bake in middleof oven until golden, about 30 minutes.

To make the filling, in a bowl with an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and egg until smooth. Add flour and blend mixture well.

Pour the filling into the warm crust, spreading evenly, and bake in middle of oven until set, about 15-20 minutes. Cool the tart in its pan on a rack.

In a small saucepan, heat jam with water over moderate heat, stirring until melted and smooth. Remove pan from heat and cool jam slightly. Arrange raspberries decoratively on top of tart and brush gently with jam.**

* If you are lazy like me and hate washing food processors, you can easily do this with a pastry cutter or by hand.

** Try to keep the jam only on the tops of the raspberries. Anywhere it touched the cheesecake it stained. While not a big deal, it definitely marred the perfection.

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

August 8, 2007

I’ve not been feeling the best.  I’m taking some antibiotics that make my stomach a little queasy, so when Amy agreed to come over and cook, my only menu request was that it veer to the carb side of things.  Maybe some people crave protein when they aren’t feeling well, but not me!  We were going to page through Giada’s cookbooks, but Amy ended up in Barefoot Contessa at Home and found the perfect recipe.  It’s creamy, lemony, and fresh – very summery.  We added chicken to make it more of a stand alone dish, but for lunch you could easily do without. Since we had tons of leftovers, I reheated this multiple times and it was perfect for lunch.

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula and Chicken
by Ina Garten
Makes 6 servings

1 T. good olive oil
1 T. minced garlic
2 cups heavy cream
2 lemons
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound dried fusilli pasta
1/2 pound arugula (stems removed and leaves cut into thirds)
1/2 cup freshly greated Parmesan cheese
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lb chicken breasts

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds, then add the cream, the zest and juice of the lemons, 2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.

Grill the chicken over medium high heat until no longer pink inside. Cut on the diagonal into 1/2 inch strips.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta, and cook al dente according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. (We actually used a large enough saucepan above, so that we were able to add the pasta to the sauce instead of the other way around.) Immediately add the cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until the pasta has absorbed most of the sauce. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl and add the arugula, Parmesan,chicken and tomatoes. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.