Rosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon Sugar

Rosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon Sugar 

  Spring has always been a favorite season of mine.  It gives me a great amount of inspiration to see things sprout from the loneliness of winter and flourish into something beautiful and vibrant.  It’s like painting with an entirely new set of colors.  “What will I paint this month?”, is a metaphorical question I ask myself at the beginning of each month, as each new month brings its own palette of colors in various form. In the baking and photography sense, these forms are the vegetables, fruit, and flora that each month has to offer.   

  Now, here we are, stepping into the month of April. To be completely honest, it never felt as if I was in March all this time. It was so warm most of the month, with a few cold days here and there, even a bit of snow.  Many flowering trees that normally bloom in April have lost most their petals and have begun the next step unfurling their green leaves.  The crabapple trees are on the verge of blossoming, this I’m particularly excited about as they’re breathtaking in full bloom. I often enjoy this view in mid-April, but I’ll be seeing it a little earlier this year. 

Rosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon Sugar

  I’m excited to start combining the different flavors and scenes April has to offer. Much of my recipes these past couple weeks have focused mainly on citrus with some sort of herb or spice to accompany it. The last thing I baked was this Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze, and this week I bring to you these soft and feather-light Rosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon sugar. 

  Beignets are rather easy to make, especially if you are familiar with homemade doughnuts.  Both are processed in a similar manner, though, beignet dough is left to rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight, giving the end product a pleasant yeast flavor. Once they’ve been taken out of hot oil, they are rolled around in sugar which is given a subtle lemon flavor by rubbing the sugar granules in lemon zest. Lastly, they’re filled with a luscious pastry cream flavored using fresh lemon zest and rosemary leaves. They are, in a sense, an adieu to the citrus season for me.  A delicious one at that.

Rosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon Sugar  Rosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon SugarRosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon SugarRosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon SugarRosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon Sugar

ROSEMARY LEMON CREAM FILLED BEIGNETS WITH LEMON SUGAR


 beignets:

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (110°F)

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

3 large egg yolks

2 1/4 cups unbleached bread flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup warm water

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed + softened

oil (canola, vegetable, etc), for frying

 

 rosemary lemon cream:

1 cup whole milk

1 rosemary sprig, slightly mashed

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1/4 cup whole milk 

2 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon cake flour

1 tablespoon corn starch

1/4 cup sugar

lemon sugar:

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 cup granulated sugar

 

 method:

 for the beignets

  1. In the bowl of an electric standing mixer, add the yeast and warm water and slightly stir to combine.  Sprinkle in the flour and let it sit until it’s dry looking about 10-15 minutes.  Add the sugar, egg yolks, flour, sea salt, and water.  Mix the ingredients on medium speed with the dough hook attached; the dough should come together quickly, but if it looks dry within the first minute of mixing, add extra water until it comes together(you don’t want it clumpy).  Continue mixing the dough for 5 minutes, then stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a spatula and sprinkle with a bit of flour. Mix for another 5 minutes.   Afterward, it should be smooth, soft, and elastic with a slight stickiness to it. Once again, scrape down the bowl.  Add the softened butter and mix on medium-high until it all comes together.  This may take a few minutes and it will look separated at first, but it will soon come together forming a shiny, smooth, and elastic dough.  Remove the dough from the mixer and place in a large bowl lightly greased and floured.  Cover with a thin towel and let the dough rise in a warm, dry place for 1 hour to an 1 and 2o minutes.  Once doubled in size, release the gasses by gently punching down the dough.  wrap the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.  After two hours have passed, release the gasses one last time, then cover again(tightly) and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Lightly flour a large, flat surface and turn the dough out onto it.  Set aside a large baking sheet covered with a thin cloth and then dusted with flour.  Cut golf ball sized pieces of dough out.  To shape, simply cup your hands and roll a dough piece in between your palms, until it’s a smooth ball.  Gently flatten the ball between your palms until you have a sphere shaped piece of dough.  Place it on the prepared baking sheet and repeat the process until all the dough has been shaped.  Space each piece about 3 inches apart.  Prepared another baking sheet if needed.  Cover with a thin towel and let them rise again in a warm, dry place for 1 hour to an 1 and 15 minutes.  On the last 20 minutes of rising, fill a medium sized pot with a couple inches of oil and heat to 340°F(you want to keep it around this temperature to evenly cook the beignets through).
  3. Meanwhile, set aside a large plate and add the sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon zest.  Rub the zest and the sugar between your fingers until all the sugar has a coating of lemon flavor to it.  
  4. Once the beignets have finished rising and the oil preheating, gently scrape one beignet from the baking sheet and slide into the hot oil, quickly flip the beignet once in the oil.  Cook 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and just slightly dry the oil from the surface of the beignet, then roll around in the lemon sugar until coated.  Set on a wire rack to cool completely before filling.  Continue this process until each beignet has been fried and sugar coated.

 for the cream filling:

  1. In medium sized saucepan, add the milk lemon zest and rosemary sprig.  Bring to a boil over medium heat then remove from heat.  Let it sit for 10 minutes, then remove the zest and rosemary.  Bring the milk back to a simmer over medium-low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and a pinch of sea salt.  Add the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of milk and whisk until smooth. Pour half of the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly.  Then using a strainer, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan of milk.  Turn the heat to medium and continue to whisk the mixture constantly until it becomes thick.  Stop stirring for a few seconds to see if the mixture is boiling, if so, continue whisking for 1 minute, then remove from heat and pour into the prepared pan and evenly spread around. Place another piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream to ensure a skin doesn’t form.  Place in the freezer until fully cooled(about 15 minutes).  
  3. Stir the pastry cream and spoon into a pastry bag with a large, round piping tip attached.  Poke a hole into the side of each beignet and pipe in the pastry cream until all the beignets are filled.  Enjoy.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

  Monkey bread has long been a favorite recipe of mine, with its warm, gooey, cinnamon goodness.  It’s one of those foods you savor in your childhood and long crave into your adulthood and the rest of your life, but never find yourself enjoying it as often as you would like.  As a child, it was a rare treat; my mom didn’t really bake many things outside of muffins, cookies, or birthday cake.  Cinnamon rolls almost always came from a can and homemade doughnuts weren’t a thing until I began to bake for fun.  Although this pull-apart cinnamon grapefruit bread with earl grey lavender glaze isn’t monkey bread, it closely resembles it (sans the gooeyness) in way of the process.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

  I recently realized there aren’t any recipes on my site with grapefruit as an ingredient.  I thought it best I post at least one including grapefruit before the season runs out, which is when I decided on this pull-apart cinnamon grapefruit bread with earl grey lavender glaze.  When it comes to grapefruit Florida ruby red is the best(in my opinion) and it’s what I used for this recipe.  Though it’s only the zest you need for the bread, still, I’ve found that that variety is what holds the flavor in the peel the best.

  I wish this bread had lasted longer than it did.  It was taken rather well by my family, my mom especially.  Which is surprising because she doesn’t like lavender and this had dried lavender sprinkled all over the top to add more flavor.  In any case you don’t have lavender on hand, just make a trip to your local garden center.  Most stores where plants are sold have small pots of lavender growing as of now and you can find them rather cheap as I did.  Once you have one, pluck as many buds off as you can and set them out to dry, then use.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze


PULL-APART CINNAMON GRAPEFRUIT BREAD WITH EARL GREY LAVENDER GLAZE

 bread

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

3/4 cups whole milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar

zest from 1 grapefruit

3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

 sugar, cinnamon, and butter coating

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

 earl grey + lavender glaze

tea:

1 cup water

2 earl grey tea bags

1 sprig of fresh lavender

glaze:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons of the tea you made

dried lavender buds (optional)

 method:

 for the dough

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and heavy cream until warm.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the yeast and pour in 1/2 cup of the warm milk, stir slightly and let it sit until the yeast dissolves and is foamy(5-7 minutes).  Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl, set aside.  Once the yeast has dissolved, add the egg yolk, sugar, and remaining milk and whisk until just combined.  Sprinkle in 1 cup of flour, the grapefruit zest, and the soften cubed butter; mix on medium-low speed with the dough hook attached and slowly pour in the remaining flour.  Continue to mix until the dough begins to wipe the sides of the mixing bowl clean.  It should be very soft, but not sticky.  Remove from mixing bowl and place in a lightly buttered bowl.  Cover with a thin towel and let it rise in warm, dry place until doubled in size, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  2. 10 minutes before the dough has finished its rising process, preheat the oven to 350°F / 177°C.  Butter well the sides and bottom of an 8-inch by 4-inch loaf pan.  Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper, lightly buttering this as well.  Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a small bowl and set aside.  On a plate, combine the sugar and cinnamon.  
  3. Once the dough has finished rising, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands for 1 minute.  Begin to tear various sized pieces (medium to small sizes) of dough in your hands and roll into a ball.  Dip the dough ball into the melted butter and cover with the sugar mixture, lastly place the dough ball in the pan.  Continue this process until all the dough is used and is evenly distributed in the loaf pan.  Place the pan on the lowest rack in the oven and bake for 55 minutes to an hour, until nicely browned.  Cool 10 minutes in the pan.  Using a sharp knife, carefully loosen the bread from around the edges of the pan.  Invert onto a plate and drizzle generously with the glaze.  Top with dried lavender and enjoy warm!

  for the glaze:

  1. Bring the water to a boil with the lavender sprig, then remove from heat and add the two tea bags.  Steep for 10 minutes then remove the lavender sprig and the tea bags.  Cool the tea completely before using.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, sift the confectioner’s sugar.  Add two tablespoons of the cooled tea to the sugar and whisk until smooth, it should drizzle thick and not runny.  If it’s runny, add a 1/4 more of powdered sugar.  if it is to thick, add 1/2 teaspoon more of tea.  Drizzle onto the bread when it’s still warm and top with dried lavender buds.

Lemon Layer Cake with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

  With the vast amount of flowers on display for Valentine’s Day, there was only one reasonable excuse for me to buy a lovely bouquet: cake.  It is nothing extravagant, just a simple lemon layer cake.  Four, delectable and moist layers might I add, with the right amount of lemon to them.  I about gave up on the recipe, to be honest.  Twice it failed on the density and moist scale, with a mouthfeel like cornbread.  The lemon flavor was just right, though.  The third time was the charm, and with the addition of applesauce, the outcome was just as I wanted: a moist, tender crumb with layers that rose nicely.

  Over time I have tried many buttercream methods, from meringue buttercreams to your standard American buttercream.  One of my favorites will always be German Buttercream, it’s absolutely amazing.  So, I have gotten in the habit of basing most my buttercreams on a flavored custard.  It’s easy to infuse with different flavors and is never too sweet.  For this lemon cake, I infused coconut flakes into the milk, which then goes into eggs and sugar to create a smooth custard.  Due to the presence of egg yolk, I wasn’t able to keep it white in color, instead, it’s a pale yellow.

lemon layer cake from afar

lemon layer cake from afar

These warm February days have had me aching for spring to arrive.  It was one of the reasons that spurred me to create this very spring-like cake.  I’ve already noticed changes everywhere, however small they may be.  The days are getting slightly longer and the tulips have begun peeking out from beneath the loose soil; the birds have become even more melodious in song as the days grow increasingly warm and longer.  Those may be just a few changes, but they’re enough to fuel me through the remaining days of winter.  I love spring as it inspires me to continually change and grow, whereas in winter something seems to die within me, along with the fallen leaves.  It’s hard to find inspiration, so I always feel stuck, like nothing can grow.  But, come spring or just things that remind me of spring, I find that those parts of me were just dormant, like buds on the trees and shrubs; just by a few days exposure of warmth, they are reminded their time to bloom is near.  

 On the subject of seasonal change, there will be much change to this blog come summer: a complete renovation, including a new name.  It has been in the back of my mind for some time now.  When I started this blog, I really needed a name to get things moving, so I pulled one from thin air, and as it turns out, one I’m very unhappy with.  To me, ‘The Sticky Spatula’ is a bit hollow.  I would like a title with meaning, one that’s flexible with the content I want to produce.  I would like to share more of my photography that isn’t strictly baked goods, and I feel my current title keeps me in a box, so to speak.  None of this is in the works yet, but it will be in the next month or so, hopefully.  I’m excited about these changes, but at the same time frightened as I’ll be switching to a different platform.  I can only hope the move will be smooth and without losing any of my current content.

close up flowers on lemon layer cake

top of lemon layer cake

sliced lemon layer cake view

slice of lemon layer cake

slice of lemon layer cake


LEMON LAYER CAKE WITH COCONUT BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

cake

260 grams cake flour ( 2  1/3 cup ) 

30 grams unbleached all-purpose flour  ( 1/4 c )

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

300 grams sugar ( 1  1/2 c )

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp.

2 large, whole eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temp.

2 teaspoons pure lemon extract

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

130 mL almond milk, room temp. ( 2/3 c ) 

coconut buttercream

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

2 cups whole milk

3 teaspoons cake flour

3 teaspoons cornstarch

1 large egg yolk

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temp.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

pinch of salt

METHOD:

for the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and line with parchment paper two, 6-inch (or two eight-inch) pans.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric standing mixer with whisks attached, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 6-7 minutes.   Scrape down the bowl with a spatula and add the lemon extract and egg yolk, beating on low until just combined.  Add the two whole eggs and beat until combined, about 20 seconds.  Add one-third of the flour, half the milk, the applesauce, and lemon zest; beat on medium speed until just combined, then scrape down the bowl.  Add the remaining milk and another third of the flour and beat until just combined.  Scrape down the bowl once more and add the remaining third of the flour, beating until no flour is seen(about 10 seconds).
  4.  Pour the batter equally amongst the two prepared pans, making sure they’re no more than half full.  Spread around evenly.  Bake for 30-37 minutes, checking for doneness at 30 minutes.  They’re done when the cake springs back up when lightly touched with your finger.  Remove from oven and let them cool in their pans for 10 minutes.  Then, using a sharp knife, loosen the cake from around the edges of the pan and invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

for the buttercream

  1. Line a tall baking sheet with plastic wrap and set aside.
  2. In a medium sized saucepan, add the milk, coconut flakes, and sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Once boiling, remove from heat and let it sit until cool to the touch.  Once cooled, pour into a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour the milk through a very fine-meshed sieve or a straining bag over a clean, saucepan.   Discard the coconut pieces(or re-use by toasting in the oven).  Measure out 1/4 cup of the milk and set aside, then bring the saucepan back to a boil; removing from heat once it begins to boil.  
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cornstarch, egg yolk, and the 1/4 cup of cooled milk.  While whisking the egg mixture, pour in half of the hot milk.  Strain the egg mixture back into the remaining milk and continue to whisk over medium heat until thickened and smooth.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread around evenly.  Cover with another layer of plastic so it doesn’t form a skin.  Place in the freezer until cool to touch(it should not have a hint of warmth to it, nor should it be cold).
  4.  With an electric hand mixer with whisks attached, beat the butter along with a pinch of salt, until smooth.  Add the cooled custard and powdered sugar and beat until pale in color and fluffy.  It may look curdled in the first stages, but continue to beat until it comes together.  

assemble the cake

  If the cakes have a dome, be sure to level it off before commencing the second step.  Once each cake has been leveled off, carefully halve each cake into two smaller layers.  You should have four, equal layers in total.  Place the first layer bottom side down on a cake board/stand/plate.  Spread about 1/2 cup of the buttercream around evenly using an offset spatula.  Place the second layer evenly on top of the first, and add the same amount of frosting.  Continue to frost and stack each layer until all the layers are intact.  Use the remaining frosting to frost the top of the cake and around the edges.  Decorate with fresh flowers and coconut flakes, even dried lemon slices.

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.

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.

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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.