Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Daring Bakers bake well!

Yes, the Daring Bakers bake well and bake Bakewell Tarts!

Or in my case, Bakewell Tart Bites

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

This tradicional UK tart has 3 components: a pastry crust, a layer of jam and frangipane (an almond cream). I’m crazy about anything with frangipane (I’m a nuts girl after all) so I love Bakewell Tarts! I used to do it a lot when I was working in a hotel in the UK to serve with the afternoon teas. I can not tell you how many scraps from the borders of the tarts ended up on my hips…

For this DB’s challenge I decided to transform the tart into chocolate covered bites, because everything is better with chocolate, right? My frangipane had hazelnuts besides almonds and as for the jam I’ve used an homemade raspberry curd.

Raspberry Curd


Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

  • 225g (8oz) all purpose flour
  • 30g (1oz) sugar
  • 2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
  • 110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
  • 15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside. Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Almond & Hazelnut Frangipane

  • 125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
  • 3 (3) eggs
  • 2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
  • 125g (4.5oz) ground almonds (I’ve used half almonds, half hazelnuts)
  • 30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

An inside look

Raspberry curd

  • 100 gr (3.5 oz) fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 120 gr (4.2 oz) sugar 2 egg yolks
  • 60 gr (2 oz) butter cut into small cubes
  • ½ lemon (juice)

Cook all ingredients on a bain-marie until it thickens and boils for about 5 minutes. Let it cool.

Assembling the tart

Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatized for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 200C/400F.Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter.

For the bites

Cut the cooled tart into squares and dip into semi-sweet chocolate. Decorate with slivered almonds or as you wish.

Bite me, bite me!

It was delicious! Much better than the scraps I used to eat...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's a chocolate? It's a cookie? It's a chocolate cookie!

You know when you don’t know if you feel like having a chocolate bar or a cookie? Well, this might solve that problem!

It’s a chocolate bar made out of chocolate cookie dough!

This idea came to me when I had some sugar cookie dough left. I decided to add a bit of cocoa powder to the dough and shape it as a chocolate bar.

As for the sugar cookie recipe I like to use this or this, but your favourite recipe will work as great, just add a bit cocoa powder and you’re set!

To shape the cookies, roll out the dough and cut it in rectangles. Use a wood skewer to make the indentations that will form the typical squares of a chocolate bar. Bake them according to the recipe you’re using.

I’ve made them in 2 sizes: small ones (the size of normal cookies) and big ones (almost the size of a chocolate bar), and both worked out great. Next time I think I might cover them in actual chocolate or use royal icing to make a fake wrapper, just to add some charm but even “naked”, I think they’re quite cute!

It's the perfect chocolate bar to take to the beach, it doesn't melt in the sun!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

From Italy with love...

Just a tease...

Just a small Italian tease...

My sister who lives in Rome came to visit this last week and I really had to share with all of you what she brought me. But hey, this is only a “virtual sharing”, I don’t plan to actually share my goodies with anybody! And I don’t think you can blame me!

Here’s what I got:

  • Rosemary focaccia
  • 3 bottles of Bellini (a cocktail from Venice made sparkling wine and peach)
  • White chocolate liqueur
  • A bag of tarallini (crunchy savory cookies from the south of Italy made with wine. These ones are pizza flavored)
  • A bag of friselle (thick round toasts that look like half bagels, intended for making bruchetta)
  • Gianduja hot chocolate
  • White hot chocolate
  • A chocolate-hazelnut spread (like Nutella) from Magnum

See that?! You can’t really blame me for not sharing, can you?

So have you ever tasted or heard of any of these? Witch one would you like to try the most?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pooh cookies

A while ago I wrote a post about doing Hello Kitty sugar cookies without a proper cookie cutter and it turned out to be one of my most popular and visited posts. So I guess you will also be interested in knowing how to do Winnie the Pooh cookies the same way.

Here's some step-by-step pictures:

Start with a round shaped cookie.

Cut both sides at an angle, narrowing it at the top.

Use a small tear drop shaped cutter to cut half way on each side of the top, with the point of the drop facing down.

Use the same tear drop cutter to cut tear drop shaped pieces of cookie dough and place the on the holes you’ve made, kind of like a puzzle, creating the ears. Do it already in the baking sheet and don’t worry, while it bakes it will glue together. Press slightly with your finger on the fatter side of the ear.

They’re ready to go to the oven. I’ve also put sticks on mine.

Baked and ready for the frosting, mouth, nose and eyes.

And here it is, a happy Pooh ready to be eaten by a happy child (or adult).

I've also made a cake with a Pooh face to go with the cookies:

Winnie the Pooh and friends cake

Heffalump (don't you just love his name?)

Tigger and Piglet

And as Pooh loves honey so much, I wish you a week as sweet as honey!