DOUGHNUTS WITH VANILLA ORANGE CRÈME PÂTISSIÈRE

  There’s nothing quite like a fresh, warm doughnut.  With their golden skin and sugar-dusted tops; their daintiness cannot be matched.  Even more so when they’re filled with a scrumptiously smooth crème pâtissière, with its subtle hint of vanilla bean flavor and tangy zest from a plump mandarin orange.  Just writing about it and looking through the photos has me wanting to make a dozen of them again and it’s only been three days since the last one was devoured.  Is it acceptable to fry doughnuts twice in one week?  Considering the gross amount of ingredients I went through to get this recipe working, it’s probably not such a bright idea when I put my cravings aside and face reality.

  Writing recipes and testing their outcome can be quite the beast sometimes.  It’s definitely not easy, but it is fun to learn.  Yes, even when the majority of the tests are failures over success.  I remember when I first began baking, I was afraid to bake something using my own formula.  I  couldn’t see myself baking from scratch and having it turn out edible(low self-esteem much?).  Recipe writing, I thought, was something you had to have a special brain cell for, much like how some can draw a cat but others just draw a stick figure(that’s so not me).  It is silly, I know, but I have my naive, fifteen-year-old self to thank for that.  My current nineteen-year-old self would love to go back to that {extremely} naive fifteen-year-old and explain to her just how you don’t need a special brain to do anything.  You’re fully capable of anything with the brain you have as long as you have the drive and determination to do it.  All it takes is stepping out of the wall you safely sit behind, even when it looks scary.  I still have much to learn on the basis of baking, but I am thankful I’m much more confident in what I do.  There’s so much freedom when you regain your confidence in something.

  I was so relieved when they turned out, it was my third try in one day.  I threw so much dough away as it was unusable; I really wanted to hit myself(I absolutely despise food waste of any kind).  I already have a few doughnut recipes on this blog, but these ones have to be the best I’ve come up with so far.  They rose so beautifully and each doughnut had the “proof line” when I removed them from the hot oil.  I’ve tried many times to get that line around the centers of my doughnuts, it’s taken a year or so of revising my own recipe to do so.  If I seem overly excited about this recipe, this is why.  Call me peculiar, if you may.  Alas, they’re still not as quintessential as your favorite bakery doughnut, but I feel I am getting pretty close to it.


DOUGHNUTS WITH VANILLA ORANGE CRÈME PÂTISSIÈRE

makes 12 doughnuts

doughnuts:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup water, hot(110 – 115°F)

2 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast

3 tablespoons whole milk, warm

1 whole egg, room temperature

1 egg yolk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

vegetable oil for frying(about 5 cups)

powdered sugar for dusting

 

crème pâtissière:

1 cup whole milk

1/2 of a vanilla bean

1 tablespoon fresh orange zest

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1 tablespoon unbleached cake flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 large egg yolks

3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

METHOD:

for the doughnuts 

  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and nutmeg; set aside.  Add the whole egg and egg yolk together and slightly whisk with a fork, set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric standing mixer/KitchenAid with a dough hook attached, add the hot water and sprinkle in the yeast, slightly whisk the two together then add the whisked egg yolks and turn the mixer on low to mix until just combined.  Add the flour and 3 tablespoons of warm milk and turn the mixer on low.  Mix the ingredients together until a firm but moist dough forms, this will only take a few minutes.  It’s done when the dough wipes clean the sides and bottom of the bowl.  If the dough happens to be too dry, add a tablespoon(or more) of warm water until it comes together.  Turn the mixer on medium speed and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time.  Before adding each new tablespoon, be sure the previous tablespoon has been fully incorporated.  Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if needed.  The dough should be smooth, shiny, and elastic with a slight stickiness to the touch.  Lightly butter a large bowl and place the dough inside.  Let the dough rise, covered with a thin cloth, in a warm, dry place until doubled in size; 50 minutes to an hour.  Once risen, punch down with your fist.  
  3. Lightly flour a large, flat surface and divide the dough into two halves.  Roll the first half out to 1/2-inch thickness and cut out rounds with a glass cup or a large cookie cutter.  Cut out as many rounds as possible and place them two inches apart on a large baking sheet covered with a thin, non-terry cloth towel, just lightly dusted with flour.  Cover the doughnuts with a thin cloth and let them rise in a warm, dry place for 35-50 minutes.  While the doughnuts are rising, you can begin making the custard.
  4. Once the doughnuts have risen, uncover and let them “dry out” until the oil is ready.  Place the oil in a large pot/fryer until it is a few inches deep, the oil should be heated to 375°F.  Once heated, add two doughnuts at a time and fry 50-60 seconds on each side, until they are a medium golden color.  Place them on cooling racks with towels underneath to catch the grease drippings.  Repeat this process until all the doughnuts have been fried.  Cool them completely before filling with custard.
  5. When the doughnuts have cooled completely, poke a hole through the side of the doughnuts and pipe in the custard until they’re filled.  Dust with powdered sugar.

crème pâtissière:

  1. Line a rectangular pan(that has edges)with plastic wrap and set aside.  
  2. Cut a vanilla bean in half and split it open; scrape out the seeds and set them both aside(the pod and seeds).  Reserve three tablespoons of the milk in a bowl and add the remaining milk to a medium-sized saucepan along with the butter, 2 tablespoon sugar, orange zest, and vanilla bean pod with the seeds.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then remove from heat to steep for five minutes.  Remove the vanilla bean pod(and zest, if wanted).  Bring the milk back to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and remaining sugar in a small bowl.  Place the egg yolks in a large bowl, add the flour mixture and the three tablespoons of milk and whisk until combined.  Remove the simmering milk from the heat and stream half of it into the egg mixture while whisking.  Pour this egg mixture back into the remaining milk and continue to whisk over medium heat.  Once you start to feel the mixture begin to thicken, remove from heat and whisk constantly until you have a thick, smooth custard.  Return custard to medium heat and whisk continuously until the mixture begins to boil and cook for one minute(this is to cook the starch flavor out).  Immediately pour the custard into the prepared pan and evenly spread around.  Cover with another layer of plastic, making sure that it sticks to the custard(this is so it will not form a skin).  Place in the freezer until completely cool, this may take 15-20 minutes.
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SPICY VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHUNK GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES

  Today’s recipe is a start to a new path, a path I’m really excited to journey down when it comes to baking.  I’m not switching over to a completely different baking method, mind you- I just wanted to start including the more alternative ways you can bake, whether it’s a completely plant-based recipe, a more traditional one, or somewhere in between.  I’m always looking to open my mind and try new things, well because that’s how you learn!

When I think of ginger molasses cookies, I think of round, flat, cracked tops(much like the ginger cookies I created last year); and their texture and taste just right.  I was prepared to be challenged as I’d never veered off the path of your usual ingredients: wheat flour, eggs, milk, and butter.  And I was, indeed, challenged by it.  I read so many different articles of what I should be pairing with what and to be honest, I was about to pull every hair off my scalp.  I now have a much higher reverence for those that must bake this way due to their health or conscious; you really do sacrifice a lot of things, one of them being your product won’t always look as dazzling as the original.  But, that doesn’t always mean the taste and texture aren’t delicious, they may even be better than the original!  “All that glisters is not gold”, as Shakespeare wrote, right?

  Anyway, I tried my hardest to get these cookies posted before New Year’s Eve(and I did!).  Originally, they were to be posted the beginning of this week, but I sat down and uploaded the photos I had taken before I left for Christmas, only to find I was very displeased at how they turned out.  I spent all of Thursday revising and testing the recipe I wrote out and finally, after the fourth baking attempt, they came out as I wanted- Slight crunch around the edges, but the middle soft, chocolatey and spicy.  You’re probably thinking what made me want to put chili pepper inside a cookie.  Well, I love spicy things and chocolate, so I thought I’d give the molasses cookie a slight twist.  Also because I picked a bunch of chili peppers out of the garden this summer and let them sit in the kitchen to dry and they looked so nice, so I crushed them up and threw them in.  It goes so well with the other spices!

  It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming to an end, I feel it was just yesterday we were all celebrating the start!  A lot has happened in these twelve short months, but I’m ready for 2017.  I’m looking forward to trying new things, things that challenge me to think, see, and achieve differently.   Like many other’s, one of my goals in 2017 is to be healthier, happier, and more responsible in the way I’m eating.  Which of course, will affect what ingredients I use in the recipes I create and post.  Hoping you have a wonderful New Year!  One that’s hopeful(the next four years may look a bit bleak here in the United States), full of positive change, love, and happiness.  xo


SPICEY VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHUNK GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon chili pepper, ground(I used 1 dry chili pepper blended in a food processor)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance), room temp.

3/4 cup demerara cane sugar

1/2 cup blackstrap molasses

1 tablespoon finely ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons water, warm

5-ounces dark chocolate chopped into chunks

method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare one large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the ground flaxseed and water and set aside for five minutes(this is your substitute egg).  
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, salt, baking soda, and spices and whisk well; set aside.
  4.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and molasses and beat with an electric hand mixer until smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated.  Add the flaxseed and beat until combined, then add half the flour; beat until combined.  Add the remaining flour and beat until just combined.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chopped chocolate.  
  5. Using an ice cream/cookie scoop, scoop out the dough and place them 2-inches apart from each other on the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle the tops with sugar.  Bake for 11-18 minutes until the edges are slightly darker than the center.  Cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
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Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Cake with Ganache

  December, despite being born in this month, there’s not much I really look forward to in it except for my birthday, Christmas, and the closing of another year and the beginning of another year alive.  It can be a depressing month, mainly due to the scenery and the weather.  It gets quite windy where I am located and the house is surrounded by a forest of trees so everything becomes quite dull and lifeless looking blowing in the wind.  The grass turns brittle and the trees gray and spiritless without their coat of leaves.  Winter reminds me just how quickly the other seasons fade, as it always seems the longest.  It also makes me appreciate the other seasons a lot more.

  When it comes to my creativity, it usually relies on the mood of the day.  I’m somewhat one with the weather, all it takes is a cold, cloudy day to bring me into the depths of despair.  For photography, especially food, December light can be difficult to work with.  By the time I’m back from work and done test baking, the light is practically gone and I hadn’t even decided what backdrop to use.. and it’s only four o’clock in the afternoon.

  Anyway, I could honestly go on about the depressing things about December and just the season of winter in general, but let’s skip that because I’m sure you probably share the same if you’re not a winter person; if you happen to be a winter person, well, good for you!  I won’t understand why, but that’s okay.  I once was, but I honestly don’t know why I enjoyed it.  I think it was because I was a child, born and raised without knowing what cold actually felt like.  Up until I moved to Virginia, wearing a sundress and flip flops to my Grandmother’s Christmas dinner was normal.  Now, I actually have to wear pants.

  Now, let’s talk chocolate cake.  My birthday was just last week and I decided to bake my own cake for the occasion for the very first time.  I think it’s a tradition I should start doing every year.  My youngest sister insisted I wasn’t allowed to do such a thing, but by who’s authority, I persisted!  I did most everything the night before to save time, but really, I don’t think I saved much time at all.  I still found myself with this cake four hours later while the rest of the family anxiously awaited its arrival onto the kitchen counter top so they could eat it.

  A little while ago I began adding a fruit jam to my cakes.  It adds an exceptionally moist and tender crumb when you do so!  The frosting includes chocolate pudding, then once it is on the cake, more chocolate in the form of ganache.  As you probably know if you take a brisk scroll through my blog, I am chocolate obsessed.  I also happen to love cake, so I have quite a few chocolate cake variations on this site.  I’ve learned so much about baking cake in the year that has passed since I’ve started this blog journey- so much so, that I look back to a few of the cakes I’ve made and think to myself, “why the heck did I make it that way?”.  You live and you learn, as C.S. Lewis so truthfully wrote, 

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”

DARK CHOCOLATE POMEGRANATE CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE


cake:

100 grams dark cocoa powder ( 1 1/4 cups )

1 cup boiling water

175g unsalted butter, room temp.

500g granulated sugar 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

4 large eggs, room temp.

250g cake flour ( 2 cups + 2 tablespoons )

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

300g milk, room temp.

pomegranate jam

pomegranate jam

1 pomegranate

1/2 cup sugar

1/4  teaspoon lemon juice

Chocolate frosting and Ganache:

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup cocoa powdered 

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup heavy cream

salt

 

method:

for the jam:

  1. Scrape the seeds out from the pomegranate and place them in a small saucepan along with the 1/2 cup sugar and the lemon juice.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring the mixer often, until the sugar dissolves; reduce to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until the fruit is soft and has broken down some.  Remove from heat and press the jam through a fine mesh sieve with a bowl underneath.  Discard the seeds from the sieve and bring the jam to room temperature.
  2. In a medium-sized, heat-proof bowl, add the cocoa powder; pour the boiling water over the cocoa and let it sit for 10 minutes, then stir until smooth; set aside and bring to room temperature. 

 Once all the ingredients have reached room temperature, begin on the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare three, 8-inch round cake pans in the usual way:  grease, parchment paper, then a light coat of grease over the paper. 
  2. Using an electric standing mixer with whisks attached, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy- about 7-8 minutes on medium-high speed.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, set aside.  Once the butter and sugar have been creamed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium-low speed after each addition as well as scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters with a spatula.
  3. Add the cooled cocoa mixture, pomegranate jam, a third of the flour, and a third of the milk to the butter mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.  Scrape down the bowl and add the remaining flour on medium speed while streaming in the rest of the milk, beat until combined.  Pour batter equally amongst the three prepared pans and evenly spread around.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops of the cakes quickly spring back up when lightly touched.
  4. Cool the cakes 10 minutes in their pans then gently use a knife to loosen the cakes from around the edges of the pan and invert onto cooling racks to cool completely for about 1-2 hours. 

for the frosting and ganache:

  1. Place a medium-sized heatproof bowl in the freezer so it will be chilled for later use.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the milk, vanilla, and cocoa powder to a simmer over medium-low heat then turn off the heat.
  3. Heat a double boiler over medium heat and add the egg yolks and sugar.  Stir with a whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is pale yellow.  Continue to whisk the mixture and slowly stream in the milk.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir constantly until thickened.  Once, thickened, remove from heat and immediately pour the pudding into the chilled bowl and whisk briskly till the pudding is cool to the touch.  
  4. Now, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cooled pudding(be sure it doesn’t have the slightest warmth to it or else the butter will melt) on medium speed until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of extra cocoa powder and a pinch of salt; beat on medium-high speed till the mixture is fluffy and becomes slightly pale in color(about 4 minutes or so).  
  5. For the ganache:  finely chop the bittersweet chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl.  Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in the microwave or on the stovetop.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for five minutes undisturbed then stir until smooth.  Let the mixture cool so it can reach a spreadable consistency.

Assemble the cake:

  Place the first layer on a cake board/cake stand/plate and spoon about 3/4 cup of frosting onto the top.  Evenly spread around then place the second layer, top-side down onto the first layer.  Spread another 3/4 cup of frosting and place the third and final layer on top, again, top-side of the layer facing down onto the previous layer.  Add the remaining frosting to the top and sides of the cake.  Place the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes so the frosting can firm up some.  Once the frosting is somewhat firm to the touch, add the ganache and spread around the top and sides of the cake.  Decorate with edible flowers and greenery(optional).

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CARDAMOM LINZER COOKIES WITH CINNAMON PERSIMMON JAM

  With Christmas quickly approaching, I thought it relevant to bake some Christmas inspired cookies.  With Linzer cookies being so popular around this time of year, I decided to try them out for myself.  I’m not often one to post holiday inspired recipes, I have a few here and there on my site, but I don’t do it often.  I’m not sure why, though; I feel it’s something everyone does and for some reason, I’m adamantly opposed to doing things as everyone else is doing.  But alas, when I look at the big picture I do it more often than I realize and here I am doing it now.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, though- just a pet peeve of mine; a strange, contradictory one, I will admit.

  Linzer cookies are probably one of my favorite cookies to look at; their shapes with the colorful jam exposed, the dusting of sugar that brings thoughts of snow.  While I do love the original Linzer cookie, I also love to experiment, which I did do with these.  Instead of using cinnamon I used cardamom, and the lemon and cinnamon went into the jam which is made using persimmon(raspberry is commonly used).  The perfect cookie to get you into the holiday spirit, and entertaining to make.

  I chose persimmon as the jam because I felt it fit the season more accurately than raspberry; they are in fact, in season during this time of year.  I’ve met many people who do not even know what persimmons are, or what to do with them.  I’ve honestly never seen them in the supermarket until recent years, or maybe I just wasn’t looking.  I’m more familiar with the common persimmon, as those are the ones I grew up eating straight off the tree.  I would throw rocks at the fruit so it would drop down whilst one of my siblings would catch them with a container before they hit the ground.  We would then enjoy a few of them. 

  The persimmons in the supermarket are cultivated to be non-astringent, meaning the tannins residing in the fruit is lowered to an exceptional degree, so they can be eaten at any time without extreme bitterness.  The wild ones here on the east coast of the United States are extremely astringent due to their high levels of tannin and unpleasantly bitter on the tongue when eaten unripe.  I wanted to use wild persimmons for these cookies as they’re really sweet when ripe, with a unique flavor not found in the supermarket persimmons.  Sadly, the tree is completely bare by the end of November as birds(and other wildlife)feast on the ripe ones that fall to the ground.  But still, I am quite pleased with how the cookies turned out.  They’re delicate but delicious!


CARDAMOM LINZER COOKIES WITH CINNAMON PERSIMMON JAM

cookies:
2 cups almond flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, room temp.

jam:
2 large, ripe, persimmons
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

METHOD

1. In an electric standing mixer with whisks attached, add the butter, vanilla, and salt; beat on low speed until smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula and add the powdered sugar and beat until just combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour, all-purpose flour, and cardamom. Add half the flour to the butter and mix on medium speed, scrape down the bowl once more.  Add the egg, then add the remaining flour slowly.  Once combined, scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two equal halves. Shape them into a rectangle and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate an hour or two until firm.
2. Once the dough is firm, flour a flat surface and roll out the dough until it’s a large rectangle(just don’t roll it too thin). Using a round, 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as possible and place them on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper, placing each cookie about 1 inch apart.  Re-roll the scraps and continue to cut out as many cookies until there isn’t any dough left.  The first half should make around 12-15 cookies.  Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350°F.
3. Repeat the rolling process with the remaining half of dough. Cut out an equal amount so all the cookies will be in pairs.  Use a smaller round, 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to cut out the centers.  Place the rings on another prepared baking sheet and place in the refrigerator.
4. Bake the cookies for 12-13 minutes. The edges should be a light golden color when done.  Leave on the pan to cool for three minutes and transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.
5. Wash, peel, and mash the ripe persimmons(it’s okay if it’s a bit chunky). Place them in a small saucepan along with the sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is somewhat thickened, stir often.  Turn off the heat and stir in the cinnamon and lemon juice.
6. Once the jam has cooled(it should have thickened while it cooled), take a whole cookie and spread a thin layer of jam over it. Gently place one of the cookies with the center removed on top and fill with a little more jam. Repeat until all the cookies are assembled. Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar.

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CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY ORANGE TART

  I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving quickly crept up on me this year.  I feel that was 2016 in general as everything flew by so quickly; birthdays, the seasons, holidays.  It makes me somewhat sad, but happy at the same time.  I would say Thanksgiving is somewhat bittersweet for me.  I love the food and family time(even though it can be a bit crazy at times), but it pains me to say goodbye to autumn and hello to winter, which happens to be my least favorite time of the year due to the cold.

img_0807 img_0814-0

  Anyway, this recipe was sort of a last minute idea and something I wanted to post before I hop on a plane and head south for Thanksgiving.  It’s a deliciously tart, cranberry tart with the addition of citrus and bittersweet chocolate- two, very complementary flavors to cranberry if I do say so.  It reminded me so much of my favorite chocolate bar: dark, not-so-sweet, with crunchy pieces of dried orange peel speckled throughout each bite.  The crust is crumbly with a nutty and slightly sweet flavor.  It almost reminds me of cherry pie.

img_0828 img_0837

  I will say I’ve never once liked cranberries.  Well, until recently.  The only time we’d eat them would be at Thanksgiving and they were in the form of the ever so popular canned cranberry sauce.  Incredibly sweet stuff and not at all of my liking.  But, like most things, you have to start with fresh ingredients and see if you truly like or dislike them.  I despise most anything that comes in a can now, so it’s my motto to always use fresh when possible.  I try to bake by the seasons.  And so, I found my love for cranberries when I decided to use them fresh.  The filling for this tart I could eat by the spoonful as it’s just so delicious!  While simmering away in the saucepan with the citrus, cloves, and cinnamon it lets out the most amazing scent as it floats about the house.

  Speaking of cloves, be sure to remove all of them before pouring the filling into the tart shell.  I accidently left two or three pieces inside and they made their way into my mouth.  Biting into cloves isn’t very appetizing, as they’re a bit potent, to say the least.

img_0829


CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY ORANGE TART

crust:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup super-fine almond flour

4-ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup confectioners sugar

1 large egg (+ 2 tablespoons of a smaller, slightly beaten egg), room temp.

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

cranberry-orange filling:

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 orange slices

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks 

3 cups fresh cranberries

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon cornstarch

 

chocolate topping:

8-ounces bittersweet chocolate; chopped finely

4-ounces heavy cream

sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

 

method:

  1. With an electric standing mixer, add the softened butter, vanilla, and salt.  Cream till smooth and just combined.  Add the confectioner’s sugar and almond flour and mix on medium until just combined.  Add the flour and large egg, mix until it comes together, and add the two tablespoons of the beaten egg.  Mix on medium until the dough comes together(don’t over beat).  It should be a very soft dough.  Once finished, tightly wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours(until firm).  Once firm, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a large rectangle or circle(depending on the tart pan you’re using).  Gently roll the dough onto the rolling pin and place into the tart pan.  carefully press the dough into the pan till it’s fitted, then using a fork, poke holes all around the bottom.  Place in the refrigerator until firm again; while it’s doing so, preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C.  Once preheated, brush the tart with egg wash (1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, beaten) and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the edges shine and are slightly golden and the bottom is cooked through.  Cool completely.
  2. Bump the oven heat up to 375° F.
  3. In a medium sized saucepan, add the freshly squeezed orange juice, orange slices, cloves, cinnamon, and then the cranberries.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cranberries have popped; remove the orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and cloves.  In a small bowl add two teaspoons of water to the cornstarch and stir until combined.  Add this mixture to the cranberries and cook, stirring over medium heat until somewhat thickened.  Pour the cranberries into the cooled tart shell and evenly spread around.  Sprinkle the orange zest over the top.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and cool completely.  Once cooled, remove from tart pan. 
  4. Chop the chocolate finely and place in a bowl that holds heat well.  In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it begins to steam.  Pour over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth.  Spread around the top of the tart and let it harden.  Garnish the top with flaked sea salt or orange zest and serve.
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