Monday, September 24, 2012

Rum Raisin Almond Tart

The other day I had a craving for Rum Raisin ice cream.  I am not a big fan of raisins but for some reason I really like the ice cream.  Off I went to the store to get some to squelch the craving. Nowhere to be found, so I asked around.  No one had ever heard of the stuff.  You would have thought I was asking for a piece of the moon with sprinkles on top!

Now I had to head back home, still carrying the same craving as I had started with.  Well, that just would not do.  So I went about looking for recipes and landed on this particular one.  It was not ice cream, but it sure did get rid of the craving.  Also, it had just enough raisins to add some flavor but not be overwhelming.

To me, the recipe is really something unique.  It is almost like a almond pie but with an occasional pop of flavor from the rum soaked raisins.  Also, the sweet pastry dough could just as well be sugar cookie batter.  The recipe does have a few components. Yet once those are made, the dessert comes together quickly and easily. The first component does require that this recipe should be started the night before to serve the next day.

Rum Raisin Almond Tart
adapted from Simply Sensational Desserts

Sweet Tart Dough (actually enough for two tarts)
9 tbs butter, softened
1 3/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
1 cup plus 1 tbs powdered sugar
1 large egg

Almond Cream Filling
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dark rum
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 cups slivered almonds
1 cup and 1 tbs butter, softened
1 egg yolk
2 large eggs
1 tbs flour

1/3 cup apricot preserves
2 tbs rum
3 tbs powdered sugar
1 tsp water

Place the raisins and 1/4 cup rum in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let soak overnight.

The next day, start on the dough by placing sugar, flour and salt in a sifter.  Sift ingredients into a medium size bowl and set aside.  Take out a food processor and fill with the butter.  Process butter for about 20 seconds or until smooth.  Pour in the sifted ingredients and add the egg.  Process mixture again until it turns into a dough and lumps up into a ball inside the bowl.  Divide the dough in half and flatten each into a disk.  Cover in plastic wrap and place in fridge to chill for 2 hours.

During the chilling time, the filling can be prepared.  Use the food processor again, grind the almonds with 1/4 cup of sugar.  It should take about a minute to grind the almonds into fine bits. Set aside.

Fill a bowl of a stand mixer with the remaining cup of sugar and add the butter.  Beat for about one minute on high.  Pour in the ground almonds and beat for another minute on low.  Then add the egg yolk and beat for 30 seconds.  Repeat the same process for each egg.  After this, beat the mixture for 3 more minutes and scrape down sides of bowl at one minute intervals.   Lastly, sprinkle the flour on top of the batter and use a wooden spoon to fold it in.  Once all is blended, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  After the dough has chilled, take out one disc and roll out on a floured surface. You can seal and freeze the other dough disk for future use. The rolled disk should be 1/8 inch thick and the size of a 10X20 inch rectangle. Using a 9 inch tart ring or 9 inch ring from a springform pan, place on the dough and cut around to form a circle.  Make two circles.  Place one on a baking sheet by itself.  Place the ring on the other baking sheet and put the dough circle inside the bottom.

Take the almond cream mixture from the fridge.  Then drain the raisins from the rum and fold the raisins into the almond cream batter. Spoon the mixture into the dough lined ring and smooth the top so all is even.

Place baking sheet with dough disk on top rack in oven and tart filled one on the next lower rack.  Once the dough disk has a golden brown edge, it is done baking.  This should take about 15-17 minutes.  Remove and place pan on cooling rack.  The tart round should continue to bake until tester comes out clean.  This should take 18-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and place it on a cooling rack as well.

Brush the two tablespoons of rum over the top with a pastry brush while still hot out of the oven.  Then take the apricot preserves and microwave for 20-30 seconds.  Remove and pour into a sieve placed over a small bowl.  Use the pastry brush again and brush the strained apricot over the top of the tart.

Place the plain tart round over the top.  Should it not fit correctly into the pan, shave the edges with a paring knife until it fits inside the pan on top of the tart.

Sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl and add the water, mixing until all is smooth.  In order to get the correct consistency, you may have to add additional water.  Pour glaze over the top of the tart and smooth out evenly by using the back of a spoon.  Then  place back in the oven for about 5 minutes.  This should result in an opaque center and clear edges on the top.

Cool and remove the tart ring when ready to cut and serve.
                                  **LAST YEAR: B52 Cookies***

Monday, September 17, 2012

Peach Tarte Tatin & Lemon Ice Cream

Recently I was struck by the fact that I have nearly missed out on peach season.  They are almost gone at the market and I have not made a thing with them.  That is until now.

Thumbing through some magazines I landed on a recipe for Peach Tarte Tatins.  What really got my interest was the fact that the recipe was so easy to put together and that they were made in individual servings.

These little desserts are a great alternative to a big pie.  The layers all come together for something tasty and unique.  The base is puff pastry, then it has a caramelized peach sitting atop of it. To create t those layers, the assembly is the opposite in a ramekin because the dessert is inverted onto a plate.

While they are satisfying enough by themselves, a dollop of ice cream makes them even better.  Vanilla a la mode may be tradition, but the dessert really pops with a homemade lemon ice cream topping.  The complimentary flavor blend really does make you question the traditional.

The equipment needed to make the complete dessert  is 8 ramekins that hold 3/4 cup and an ice cream maker. It is best to prepare the ice cream the day before, the recipe makes about 6 cups.

Lemon Ice Cream
adapted from Bon Appetit

8 egg yolks
5 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs lemon zest (packed)
1 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cup sugar (divided)
3 cups heavy whipping cream

Fill a large saucepan with 1 cup sugar, whipping cream, lemon zest and milk.  Place over medium heat and stir.  The mixture should come to a simmer and the sugar dissolve. One it reaches that point, remove from heat.

In a medium heatproof bowl add egg yolks, remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and lemon juice.  Whisk until blended.  Take the saucepan of warm cream mixture and pour a slow stream into the egg yolks and stir together.

Pour custard back into saucepan and place over medium heat.  Let mixture cook, while stirring constantly.  The custard should become thicker and reach a temperature of about 170 to 175 degrees. This process should take about 5 minutes.  Take caution to make sure the mixture does not boil.

Pour custard into a heat proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill in refrigerator for 3 hours. Then pour into a ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions.  Place ice cream in a bowl and cover and freeze until firm.

Peach Tarte Tatins
adapted from Bon Appetit
1 17.3  oz package of puff pastry (thawed)
1 cup sugar, plus 2 tbs
4 ripe peaches, peeled, halved and pitted
1/4 cup water
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp water for glaze
6 tbs butter

Put sugar and water in a saucepan and place over medium heat.  Stir mixture until all the sugar has dissolved.  Prepare a cup of water along with a pastry brush to occasionally wash down the sides of the mixture from the pan while it cooks.  Increase the heat and let mixture boil without stirring.  In about 7-10 minutes, it will turn a deep amber color.  Remove from heat and add the butter. Wait a few minutes for the butter to melt.

Place pan back on low heat and stir, making sure all the caramel chunks dissolve.  Once the correct consistency, pour caramel in equal increments into each of the 8 ramekins.  The place 1 peach half on top of the caramel, with cut side facing up. Complete the process until all peach halves are in the ramekins.  Set ramekins aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Then take out puff pastry and cut into 8 rounds that are the same diameter as the ramekins.  Put one round on top of each of the peach halves and tuck in the edges.

Brush the dough tops with egg glaze and sprinkle some sugar on top.  Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet, spacing evenly.  Put in oven and bake about 25 minutes.  Pastry should have a golden color when done. 

Remove pan from oven when done. Using oven mitts, invert each ramekin onto a dessert plate.  Let cool for about 10 minutes.  Then top with a scoop of ice cream and serve.
                         **LAST YEAR: Cranberry Invasion Cake**

Monday, September 10, 2012

Apple Butterscotch Bundt Cake

Well the Texas weather has finally cooled down, giving me thoughts about all the fall baking that is coming up and the great holidays.

This particular cake is a tasty way to welcome fall.  Anything that has cinnamon and nutmeg does the trick for me every time.  Not only does this cake have spices but also walnuts and apples, which add great taste and texture.

It is not difficult to make and does not require a lot of fancy ingredients, so it is a perfect recipe to go to when you are in a bind for time.

In my mind, bundt cakes have such great flavor that they really do not require any icing.  While I did not make the icing as stated in the recipe below, I did use a caramel drizzle. I will be serving the cake with the drizzle on the side, so people can make their own choice.  Some of the crowd is dieting and some have a big sweet tooth, so I think this was a good solution.

Apple Butterscotch Bundt Cake
adapted from Cake Simple

Ingredients/ Cake
1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
4 cups chopped and peeled apples (I used Granny Smith)
1 1/2 cups canola oil
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
3 cups flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Ingredients/ Butterscotch Icing
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup or 1/2 stick of butter /cut into small cubes
1/4 tsp salt

Prepare a 12 cup bundt pan by greasing the inside with melted butter, you can use a pastry brush or dip a paper towel into the butter and coating the pan.  Then dust the interior with flour and tap out the excess.  Set aside and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl. Then fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the canola oil and both sugars.  Using the whisk attachment, blend for 30 seconds on medium speed.  Add one egg and whisk for another 30 seconds.  Continue with the same process for each egg addition.  Once all the eggs are blended, whisk in the vanilla extract.

Add the sifted ingredient to the batter and stir with a wooden spoon until no dry streaks remain.  Then add the walnuts and apples, folding in until all is evenly distributed.

Then spoon batter evenly into prepared bundt pan.  Place pan in oven and bake until tester comes out clean.  With my oven it took about 55 minutes.  The recommended baking time with the recipe is one hour and 15 minutes.  Remove cake from oven and place on a wire rack.  Let cool for 20 minutes and then invert cake onto rack and let cool completely before icing.

For the icing, fill a saucepan with the heavy cream, brown sugar, butter and salt.  Place pan over medium low heat and let cook, stirring constantly.  When the sugar and salt have completely dissolved, remove pan from heat and let cool.   Once mixture reaches room temperature, sift the confectioners sugar over the top, then whisk until smooth.

Take the icing and drizzle over the top of the cake, now it is ready to serve!
                    **LAST YEAR: Big Brahman Rolls** 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Trucker Cookies

The best thing about cookies is that no one ever complains that there are too many add ins.  I can't even imagine anyone saying: "There is too many chocolate chips in these cookies..".  Based on that there are so many varieties out there-the possibilities are endless.

Due to the age of this recipe I am unable to link directly back to it.  Actually if you search on "trucker" cookie in the net it pulls up several different recipes, so the name is far from being unique.

Along with all the tasty add ins, I think that grains in a cookie does add a little touch of healthiness as well as texture.  These particular cookies actually have rice crispies in the batter along with the oats. The recipe also calls for butter flavored crisco.  I rarely use this ingredient, but it does seem to give the cookie batter an extra rich flavor.

These cookies prove to be a pretty tasty snack for all ages, so do not just limit them to the kids lunchboxes!   Another benefit is that they do not require a lot of time in the kitchen to make. This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Trucker Cookies
adapted from

1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup shredded sweet coconut
1 tbs milk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter flavored shortening
1 cup Rice Krispies cereal
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare pans by lining with parchment paper or greasing lightly.

Sift together the baking soda, salt and flour.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together the shortening with the two sugars.  Once it reaches a fluffy consistency, beat in each egg.  Then add the milk and vanilla extract.  Beat again until all ingredients are thoroughly blended.

Using a wooden spoon, mix in the rice krispies and rolled oats.  Then stir in the sifted ingredients. Once no more dry streaks remain, fold in the chocolate chips, nuts and coconut.

Place tablespoon sized scoops of batter onto baking sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart.  Bake cookies for about 10-12 minutes or until the edges have turned golden and toasty.  Remove from oven and place baking sheet on rack to cool.  After 2 minutes, transfer cookies to rack to finish cooling.
                        **LAST YEAR: Harvest Spice Bites**