Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Little Rhubarb Custard Tarts

My rhubarb is finely up and ready to be picked.  I've had something in mind to make with it but couldn't find a recipe to satisfy my vision.  I came up with this recipe using a combination of two fillings from two different recipes.  I'd hoped for a layered effect inside the crust but alas, what I ended up with was a fusion of vanilla custard and sweetened rhubarb uncased in a tender flaky crust.  The result, not the layered look I was going for but the taste, is truly divine!  The recipe makes 12  3 inch tarts using a medium sized muffin pan.  I cut the recipe in 1/2 to bake for my husband and I wish I hadn't.

Makes 12 3 inch tarts

For the Rhubarb filling...
1 cup of diced fresh rhubarb
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons corn starch, sifted

For the custard filling...
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch, sifted
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the dough...
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold cut into 1/2 inch dice
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup milk

Egg wash...
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk

Rhubarb filling...
1.  Combine the rhubarb, sugar and lemon juice in a small heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Set aside for 30 minutes to allow juices to emerge. 

 2.  On medium heat, cook the rhubarb, stirring with a wooden spoon until it begins to soften.  Add the cornstarch and quickly stir it into the rhubarb.  Continue to stir and cook until thickened.  Remove from heat and pour in a small bowl, set aside to cool.

Custard filling...
1.  In a small heavy bottomed sauce pan, whisk together cornstarch and sugar.  Gradually whisk in milk.  Add the butter.  Place on medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until thickened.  Temper the beaten egg yolk with a little of the hot custard stirring as you pour.  Combine the remaining custard to the tempered egg and stir well.  Add the vanilla.  Set aside and allow to cool.

The dough...
1.  In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar baking powder, salt, lemon zest and butter bits.  With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles course crumbs.

2.  Add the milk to the flour mixture and mix together with a fork until the dough starts to come together.  With your hands gather together the dough and form it into a ball, flatten it into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To assemble and bake the tarts...
1.  Divide the dough in half and roll out on a lightly floured work surface, into an 11 inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick.  Using a 3 inch fluted cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and press them centered into the bottoms and up the sides of the muffin pan, rolling the scraps and cutting and filling all 12 sections.

2.  Spoon a small amount of rhubarb filling in the bottom of each shell, just covering the bottom, then with a clean spoon, spoon the custard filling over the top of the rhubarb being careful to fill just below the rim of the shell.

3.  Roll the second half of dough out as before and cut 12 pieces of dough with the 3 inch cutter.  Using a pastry brush, one circle at a time, brush egg wash on the back side of of the edge of the circle and place the egg wash side down onto the tart and press the edges together carefully.  Egg wash the tops of each tart.  Refrigerate the tarts for 30 minutes.

4.  10 minutes before the tarts are ready to come out of the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 425° F.  When the oven is ready, transfer the tarts to the oven and bake for 6 minutes.  Turn the pan and bake another 6 minutes or until a golden brown.  Remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack to cool completely.  When completely cooled, run a small sharp knife around the tart shell between the shell and the pan to loosen the tarts.  Enjoy!  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Chocolate Babka for World Baking Day

Sunday May 18th is World Baking Day 2014 and they ask the question, Who Will You Bake For?  Who is special in your life that you would like to bake for?  I'm baking Chocolate Babka for my husband Jim, because as a carpenter, his work is very demanding physically, he always puts forth his best and well, he deserves chocolate!

 This recipe's origin is associated with the Eastern European Jewish tradition.  Chocolate Babka is a rich Brioche like yeast cake with a chocolate filling, rolled, twisted and baked in a loaf pan, topped with Streusel.  So now I ask the question, who will you be baking for?


For the dough...

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 egg at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons butter at room temperature

For the chocolate filling...

1/3 cup (3/4 stick) butter
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour 
2 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup chocolate cookie crumbs, ground in a food processor until fine

For the Streusel...

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract  

For the egg wash...

1 egg
1 teaspoon water
pinch of salt 

Spray an 8 inch bread pan with pan spray.

1.  To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, salt and the yeast in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  On low speed, stir to combine.  In a small bowl, with a whisk, combine the egg, milk, almond extract and the lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture along with the butter and mix on medium speed until a soft smooth dough is a achieved, about 5 minutes.  Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball.  Place the dough into a clean bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  let the dough rest for an hour in a warm draft free place.

2.  While the dough is resting, make the filling by melting the butter in a small saucepan on low heat.  When melted, remove from heat and allow to cool.  In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, cocoa and salt.  In a small bowl combine the cooled melted butter, egg, honey and vanilla whisk to combine.  Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture and mix until smooth.  Add the cookie crumbs and mix.  Set aside.


3.  To make the Streusel, in a medium bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar,  salt and flour.  Add the softened butter and vanilla and with your fingers, work together the dry ingredients with the butter until a sandy texture is achieved and the butter bits are all incorporated into the flour.

4.  To assemble the Babka, lightly flour your work surface.  Roll out the dough to a 10 by 24 inch rectangle.  With the long edge facing you, spread the filling over the dough with an off set spatula, leaving a 1/2 inch boarder around the edges. 

5.  Starting at the long edge closest to you, roll the dough up carefully only as far as the middle of the dough, then roll the top edge down to meet the first roll in the middle.

6.  Fold the left third of the dough over the middle third, then fold the right third over the left. 

7.  Turn the folded dough over onto the seam side. Pick up the dough at each end and give it a single twist in the middle and place it in the prepared loaf pan.  

8.  Whisk together the ingredients for the egg wash in a small bowl and brush the dough lightly.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set in a warm draft free place, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  It will be ready to bake when the dough holds a dimple when pressed lightly with your finger.  Reserve the remaining egg wash in the refrigerator for later use.

9.  Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375° F.

10.  Brush the Babka again with the egg wash and spread the Streusel evenly over the top.

11.  Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, turn the pan and bake for another 25 minutes.  Babka should be a deep golden brown color.  Internal temperature taken with a probe thermometer should read 190° when inserted in the middle of the loaf.  Remove from the oven and cool slightly on a wire rack, then remove from the pan and cool completely before cutting.
This ones for you Jim, Enjoy!

My friend Patricia over at Pattern Pattisserie
for World Baking Day posted a fabulous looking 
Twice Baked Banana Cake for renowned primatologist  
and very much admired
Jane Goodall.
Click the links to check out this and all of Patricia's wonderful British inspired baked goods recipes!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Chocolate Sables

Chocolate Sables are a French shortbread biscuit.  It has a sandy texture and a rich chocolatey explosive flavor due to the dark cocoa powder and the chunks of bittersweet chocolate bits.  Chocolate Sables are a slice and bake cookie that can be made and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to a month.  Just pull out a roll, slice and bake (as long as it's defrosted) and enjoy a luxuriously chocolate sensation anytime!  


by Alison Pray and Tara Smith 
Makes 72 cookies

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/3 cups (2 2/3 sticks) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 2/3 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

1.  Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into bowl or onto a piece of parchment paper.

2.  In a mixing bowl, using a paddle attachment at medium speed, cream butter until smooth.  Add the granulated sugar, the dark brown sugar and the vanilla to the butter.  Beat until light and fluffy.

3.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients and beat just until blended completely.  Add the chocolate chips and mix until mixed through, (dough will be loose).  

4.  Transfer the dough to your work table and divide evenly into 6 equal portions.  Gather each portion into a 6 inch log and wrap with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate the logs for 1 hour until firm or up to 3 days.  At this point you may freeze some or all of your logs for up to a month, frozen logs should be defrosted before slicing.

 5.  Position two baking racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375° F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

6.  Remove two of the logs from the refrigerator and place on a cutting board.  Cut 1/2 inch thick slices with a sharp knife.  Place slices on the parchment lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  Approximately 12 slices on each sheet pan.

7.  Bake for 8 minutes then rotate pans top to bottom and front to back.  Bake 4 minutes longer until the centers are just firm to the touch.  Remove from the pans to a wire rack and cool completely.                                                 

Repeat with the remaining logs using the cooled baking pans, you can reuse the parchment paper.  Enjoy!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Butterscotch Meringue Pie

This old fashioned Butterscotch Meringue Pie is made with a meringue topping and filled with a delicious homemade brown sugar and butter pudding.  It sits on top of a flaky spicy crust.  This easy to make pie will easily become a favorite with your family.


For the crust...

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) very cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch butter bits
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
4-6 tablespoons ice water

For the filling...

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 egg yolks slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the meringue topping...

4 egg whites
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1.  To make the crust, combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Mix to combine.  Add the butter bits and with a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

2.  Add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and mix with a fork until dough comes together when pressed into a ball.  Flatten the dough ball into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap then refrigerate for 20 minutes.

3.  Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Remove dough from refrigerator and unwrap.  Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll out to a 12 inch circle.

Center the dough over a 9 inch pie plate.  Turn under the edges and crimp as desired.
Prick the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork.  Place a piece of parchment paper over the crust and fill with pie weights.  If you don't have pie weights you can use dried beans, filling the bottom and up the sides.  You can also use a second pie plate that nestles inside the pie shell over the parchment paper.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and carefully remove the weights and parchment paper.  Continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the crust is a light golden brown. 

4.  To make the filling, in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, blend together the brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Stir the milk and heavy cream into the egg yolks and add to the dry ingredients whisking until smooth.  Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  As the mixture thickens it will get lumpy, just continue to stir until smooth.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla.  Stir well to combine.  Cool slightly, then turn out into your baked pie crust.

5.  To make the meringue, combine meringue ingredients in a mixing bowl and with a whisk attachment whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Gently spread meringue over filling right to the crust edge, sealing in the filling.  Feel free to swirl and make meringue points with your spatula.   Bake in the oven for about 15 minute until meringue is golden brown.   Allow pie to cool completely on a wire rack until filling has set before serving.  Refrigerate leftovers.  Enjoy!