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cacakes

Baking, I’m starting to realize, is a lot like good looks. Either you have it or you don’t. In fact, when it comes to baking, it’s all about the pretty. Who amongst us hasn’t whipped up a cake that tasted scrumptious but was a little lopsided? Or made a tart that shrank coyly away from its shell, leaving an uneven, unfillable mess. If you haven’t, then you are a talent, indeed. But if I struggle with anything in the kitchen, it’s baking.

Some people are naturals, others need a little extra help. There’s a reason most French women would never dream of doing their own baking, besides the fact that in France the accessibility of excellent bakeries can make it seem pointless. The fact is, baking is hard.

Most of the time, my creations fall short of my vision for them. Yet sometimes a recipe comes along that is simple, requires no complicated techniques or ingredients, yet turns out beautifully enough to make you look like a baking rock star. I feel like that about these little chocolate cakes. Served up individually, there are no worries about lopsidedness. Topped with a rich chocolate glaze, there’s no chance of crumbs marring the icing. If you have some little brioche tins kicking around to bake them in, even better–for they will look unbearably elegant just topped with a sprinkling of icing sugar and and a few raspberries on the side.

Does the applesauce in this seem strange? The fruit taste in this is so subtle; what the applesauce really does is give the cakes an easy slicing texture and a moisture that keeps them fresh for days. Adding applesauce can also be a great way to reduce sugar or fat in baked goods, if that’s your thing.

This recipe is adapted from two recipes: Anna Olson’s “Applesauce Coffee Cake” and “Chocolate Applesauce Cakes”, both from her wonderful book Another Cup of Sugar.

Chocolate Applesauce Cakes

chocapplesauce

Serves Six

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (125 ml)  vegetable oil

1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar

1/3 cup (75 ml) light brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 cup (250 ml) unsweetened applesauce

1 2/3 cup (400 ml) pastry flour

1/2 cup (125 ml) Dutch process cocoa

2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla

1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder

3/4 teaspoon (4 ml) baking soda

1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) ground ginger

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 325F (160C). Grease 6 brioche tins or large muffin cups.

2) Whisk vegetable oil, both sugars, whole egg, egg yolk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in applesauce.

3) In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and ginger. Incorporate cocoa and stir gently into applesauce mixture.

4) Spoon batter into prepared tins and bake for 18-20 minutes, until cakes spring back when pressed. Allow cakes to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

5) Just before serving, drizzle with chocolate glaze. Se

Chocolate Glaze

1/2 cup (125 ml) whipping cream

6 ounces (175 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup (60 ml) unsalted butter, room temperature

1) Heat cream to just below a simmer and pour over chopped chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir to smooth out. Stir in butter to melt and thicken glaze. Pour over top of cakes and allow to drip down the sides.


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boule 

Recently I have taken up a perilous hobby, one that leaves my heart palpitating with fear, a constant sweat on my brow. My hobby requires consummate skill and know-how; one misstep can mean disaster. No, I’m not talking about race car driving or jumping out of planes with a parachute.  My new hobby is bread making.

It all starts with yeast. For as long as I have been interested in the goings-on of the kitchen, I have been afraid of yeast. Okay, perhaps afraid is too strong a word, but certainly intimidated. Yeast is what causes breads to rise and makes delights such as pizza and brioche possible. But its fickle and mysterious powers can lead to disappointment if you don’t know exactly what you are doing. It has led me to be the creator of more than a few leaden loaves of bread, of cinnamon rolls that resembled hockey pucks. I can tell you that for a long time, I gave up on yeast.

When it comes to bread, yeast is just the beginning. If you’ve ever tried to make your own, then you know that there are other crucial factors, such as the type of flour you use (protein is a big issue, I have discovered), the temperature of the room where you give rise, the ratio of the ingredients you use. Things can go wrong–and they often do–which is why I had once largely avoided bread making.

Yet every time I went to the bakery I was enraptured by the heavenly smell of bread baking in the oven. I wanted that smell in my own house. As much as I loved taking a fresh, crusty loaf home and eating it with my lunch, I wanted to pull my own bread out of the oven, to break off a chunk of it and slather it with sweet butter while it was still hot. What in life is as pure, as elemental?

On my crusade for the perfect loaf I consulted many books. Every one of them, I felt, made things more complicated than they had to be. I’m the type of person that wants to know why I’m doing something when I do it. Why do you have to punch dough down? Why do some breads need two, three risings and others just one? How do you really know when to stop kneading? Why knead at all? I wanted something simple, a dough I could quickly mix together and forget about until it was time to put it in the oven. At one point, I thought that the No knead bread published in the New York Times, the one that took the blogging world by storm a couple of years ago, was going to be the answer. The problem was that I didn’t have a Dutch Oven and I wasn’t about to go out and buy one. One-hundred-and-fifty dollars can get you a lot of bread.

So I did what I should have done a long time ago. I turned to Grandma.

My grandmother has been baking bread since she was old enough to see over the kitchen counter top. I have never known her to eat bread from a bag or buy a loaf from the bakery. Back in Serbia, where she spent the first half of her life, bread baking was a daily affair. I thought she might have some wisdom to impart to me. I was right.

This recipe is even simpler than I could have dreamed. You don’t need a scale, you hardly have to knead the dough at all, and you can plunk it right into the pan for its second rise. The work is minimal, really. You just need to pick a day when you are home for a few hours. The result will be delicious and ultimately satisfying.

Now, it’s not one of those really rustic loaves–the kind with the bubbly interior and a crust that saws into the roof of your mouth when you bite into it. We leave that to the baguette. This bread has a delicate yet chewy crust, with a soft and mealy interior, perfect for slathering with butter. It’s the kind of bread you want to mop your plate with, hearty yet light, great for sandwiches and lovely as toast. Try this recipe; it just might make you into a bread baking convert.

Note: You will notice that I use live yeast in this recipe because I think it gives the best flavor, however you can use one package of regular dried yeast if you wish.

 

Grandma’s Country Boule

slices

Ingredients:

2 ounces fresh yeast

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 cups all-purpose whole wheat flour

2 cups all-purpose white flour

1/2 cup ground flax seeds

1 teaspoon salt

olive oil

 

Directions:

1) In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1 cup warm water. Add sugar. Mix together with a whisk.

2) Sift the white flour and add to the mixture. Add whole wheat flour, flax, and salt.

3) Mix in 1 cup of water with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Coat hands with a bit of oilve oil and mix, scraping the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle with additional flour.

4) Knead until combined, not too soft or tough. This will really only take a minute or so. Cover the bowl with a cushion and leave to rise for one hour. Preheat oven to 375F.

5) After one hour, oil hands again and punch the dough down. Knead on oiled board or countertop for a few seconds. Shape dough to a greased 9 or 10-inch springform pan. Allow to rise another three-quarters of an hour, covered with a tea towel.

6) Wet hands with cold water and smooth over the top of the dough. Make three slits or a checkerboard pattern on top with a sharp knife. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.

7) Allow to cool on a rack for five minutes, then brush the top with butter. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt or wheat bran, if desired.

Japtart

I have many memories of my trip to Paris. Taking a boat ride along the Seine river, touring the cobblestone streets of the Marais, sitting in the pew of the Sacre Coeur on Easter. I’m not much of a diarist but during my trip to Paris I recorded every detail so as not to forget all those moments that seemed so significant at the time but are already fading like the edges of an old piece of vellum. You can’t choose what you want to remember; as my first glimpse at the Mona Lisa slowly recedes from my mind, the memories of what I ate in Paris will remain. To my mind, food and memory are inextricably linked. Strange to some people, perhaps, but I think it makes perfect sense. If you are to truly experience a culture, you must experience its food. A nation’s cuisine is a confluence of centuries–sometimes even millennia–of tradition and history. It bears witness to whether a nation lives in wealth or poverty, whether it has been well endowed by nature. Culinary traditions teach us about a nation’s cultural level, about how people cultivated their fields and grazed their livestock, and about whether the land was crossed by main trade routes bringing in other nationalities, customs, foods, and spices. In other words, to eat a country’s food is to glimpse into its past.

Although food historians surmise that the precursor to modern pastry was the Mediterranean paper-thin phyllo brought to medieval Europe by way of the crusaders, it was the Renaissance chefs who are crediting for developing puff and choux pastries. For me, the tart is the crown jewel of pastries, and none as quintessentially French as the tarte aux pommes.

You only have to be in Paris for a very short time to realize that there is a pâtisserie on every streetcorner, the windows displaying a variety of tarts and tartelets, each crafted with tradition and the utmost care.  I spent many a day in Paris with my nose pressed up to the glass of a pastry shop, trying to figure out which one beckoned the most. They all seemed too pretty to eat.

Although I have never been much of a baker, when I returned home I was determined to master the tart. No more Tenderflake crusts with all their bad fats for me. I wanted the real thing, and I wanted to be able to make it myself. Your first attempts at pastry hardly ever turn out the way you want them to, but it doesn’t take long to master a good sweet short paste. And what can be easier than filling it with some sliced apples, sugar, and a coating of apricot jam?

Which brings me to Julia Child’s tarte aux pommes. This week I continue to cook with Julia from Mastering the Art of French Cooking in anticipation of Julie & Julia, written and directed by Nora Ephron of Sleepless in Seattle fame and highly awaited by foodies everywhere. This classic French apple tart is, well–forgive the pun–easy as pie.

Tarte aux Pommes

from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

appletart

Serves 8

Ingredients:

10-inch partially cooked pastry shell

4 pounds cooking apples (Golden Delicious)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup apricot jam/preserves

1/3 cup Calvados, rum or cognac (or 1 tablespoon vanilla)

2/3 cup granualted sugar for topping

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 375F. Quarter, core, and peel the apples. Cut enough to make 3 cups into 1/8-inch lengthwise slices and toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice and sugar. Reserve them for the top of the tart.

2) Cut the rest of the apples into rough slices. You should have about 8 cups. Place in a pan and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.

3) Beat in apricot jam, Calvados, sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Raise heat and boil, stirring, until applesauce is thick enough to hold in a mass in the spoon.

4) Spread the applesauce in the pastry shell. Cover with a neat, closely overlapping layer of sliced apples arranged in concentric circles, as illustrated below:

aptart

5) Bake in upper third of preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the apples have browned lightly and are tender. Slide the tart onto a serving dish and paint over it with a light coating of apricot glaze. Serve warm or cold with whipping cream or a scoop of ice cream.

Apricot Glaze

1/2 cup apricot preserves, forced through a sieve

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Stir the strained apricot preserves and sugar over moderately high heat until thick enough to coat the spoon with a light film, and the last drops are sticky as they fall from the spoon (225-228 degrees on a candy thermometer). Do not boil past this point or the glaze will become brittle as it cools.

Apply the glaze while it is still warm. Unused glaze will keep indefinitely in a screw-top jar.

figtart

I have had my fair share of disasters with pastry dough, beginning in adolescence, when my early attempts resulted in rock hard pie crusts and exploding Pyrex dishes. Almost losing an eye while you’re making a quiche certainly can put you off baking, as it did for me–at least for a good couple of decades. That is, until I started this blog.

I had many motivations leading me to the blogosphere, but most notably, it was a way for me to teach myself to cook and bake. I considered myself a pretty good cook, I just wanted to be a better one. I realized I didn’t have a very wide repertoire. Whatever I knew to cook I made often, and although I had shelves full of cookbooks, I never followed their recipes; I simply used them as a springboard for ideas. But I was tired of inconsistent results in the kitchen, and decided to go back to square one. Find a new recipe, try it, post it. Try it again.

And it’s been working. With Ina, Julia, and Martha at my side, I’ve figured out how to make my own hollandaise, the most scrumptious scones, even how to bake my own bread. I’ve even got the pastry dough down.

Now this is not to say that I haven’t had my struggles, particularly when it comes to shrinkage. Oh, that dreaded shrinkage! But with a box of newly acquired pie weights and a good oven thermometer, I’m finally on my way.

I can honestly say that when I made these tarts that they were absolutely dreamy. The crust was light and flaky, not the least bit soggy, and the perfect envelope for all this silky chocolate. Topped with honey balsamic figs and a dollop of cream, they were nothing short of spectacular.

I have been using Donna Hay’s recipe for shortcut pastry for my pies and tarts, but you can use any recipe you prefer, such as Martha Stewart’s pate brisee. Line the tart pans with the dough and bake according to the recipe directions. 

The chocolate filling is adapted from Epicurious, from Bon Appetit’s December 1998 issue. The filling is enough to fill 6 tarts or one nine-inch pie shell. Be sure to use really good quality chocolate for the filling–it’s the key to a truly delicious tart.

 

Chocolate Tart with Honey Balsamic Figs

serves 6

chocolatetart

 

Ingredients:

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

6 pre-baked tart crusts

 

Directions:

1) Combine the chocolates and cream in a heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until melted and smooth. Cool to just lukewarm.

2) Beat next 3 ingredients in a large bowl until well blended. Beat in chocolate mixture. Spoon filling into baked tart crusts. Smooth top with a spoon.

3) Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 2 days. Serve chilled with honey balsamic figs and a dollop of whip cream.

 

Honey Balsamic Figs

balsamicfigs

Honey balsamic figs are delicious not only in baked goods but also with cheese and crackers, in salad, even with pork or chicken. Try them with some pistachio crisps and a good lemon or pear Stilton.

 

Ingredients:

8 figs, quartered

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon white sugar (optional)

Directions:

1) Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and allow to marinate for at least an hour. Add white sugar if you find the figs are not sweet enough for your liking.

chocolatecake

We are at battle, cake and I. Although I’ve tried a variety of cake recipes over the years, I can’t say that most of them have turned out the way I’ve wanted them to. I’m not talking about carrot cake, pound cake or other types of cakes that require a bowl, a pan, and a few simple ingredients. I’m talking about layer cakes, filled with delights such as cherries, custard, or cream. I’m talking about cakes decorated with edible flowers, marzipan, swirls of rich, buttery icing. Cakes that are feast for the eyes and make your knees buckle with the rapture in each heavenly bite.

I have always wanted to make one of those cakes.

My attempts have been less than satisfactory. Something always goes amiss; the cakes comes out lopsided, I run out of icing, the layers puff out so much while they’re baking that they look like hats. The cakes themselves usually taste okay, they just look nothing most people would want to eat. I’ve mastered pies and tarts, can make the most delicate crepes, but the beautiful layer cake eludes me.

I am convinced that there is a perfect-cake-making gene. Either you have it or you don’t. My friend Elissa at 17 & Baking is a prime example. This girl makes the most wonderful cakes and she’s only seventeen! Every time I read one of Elissa’s blog posts I want to run to the kitchen and reproduce her creations. They’re that divine. The fact that her writing is also exquisite shows what a talented soul she is.

I’m not one to back away from a challenge, though. I’ve been reading up on the science of baking and I’m in the middle of Michael Ruhlman’s new book Ratio. My reading brings to light a lot of things I hadn’t really considered before; for example, how the amount of protein in the flour you use can drastically affect how your cakes turn out. Michael’s book is all about the basics ratios used in cooking as well as in baking. Once you know one ratio, it’s like knowing a thousand recipes. It can also help you spot a recipe that just won’t work–which often seems to be my problem. See! It’s not me. It’s the recipe!

I’m going to keep working on the perfect layer cake. In the meantime, Donna Hay’s Easy Chocolate Cake is going to stay front and center of my repertoire. I love Donna’s books. Her recipes are always simple, producing beautiful results, and the pictures are exactly the type of photography I aspire to–clean and minimalist, with the food taking center stage.

Donna Hay’s Easy Chocolate Cake

easycake

 

Adapted from Off the Shelf: Cooking from the Pantry

Ingredients:

8 ounces (250g) butter

1 1/3 cups brown sugar

3 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted

1 cup sour cream

8 ounces (250g) milk or dark chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup cream

edible flowers for garnish, if desired

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 325F (160C). Grease a 9-inch round cake tin. Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the eggs and beat well.

2) Sift the flour, baking powder, and cocoa over the butter mixture. Add the sour cream and chocolate. Mix until just combined.

3) Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake for about 1 hour or until set. Cool in the pan.

4) To make the chocolate glaze, combine the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over and cook over low heat, stirring until smooth. Allow the glaze to cool for 5-10 minutes before spreading on the cake.

lavaI was in desperate need of a chocolate fix when I stumbled upon this recipe for Molten Lava Cakes by Paula Deen. For some reason anything with the word ‘lava’ in it makes me think of the seventies. Because of lava lamp, maybe? Anyhow, because of this association, this dessert first struck me as very retro, liked baked Alaska or those jello molds. But the more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me. It seemed incredibly easy and who can resist cutting their fork into a piece of cake to have their plate flood with a thick, oozing stream of warm chocolate heaven? Not me!

With a bit of poking on the Internet, I discovered that this is basically a French dessert, otherwise known as Moelleux au Chocolat. We call them lava cakes because the batter is not completely cooked, causing that liquid center to run out, like lava from a volcano.

The cakes are baked in custard cups, but ramekins or even a muffin tin can be used. The trick is to serve them fresh from the oven. Cool them slightly and then run a knife around the edges to loosen; invert each cake onto serving plates. The cooking time may be as little as 10 minutes but up to 14 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center wobbly.

I like to dust mine with a little icing sugar and serve them with strawberries or raspberries, if they’re in season. They’re also wonderful with creme anglaise or a raspberry coulis, if you want to bother.

 

Molten Lava Cakes

Adpated from Paula Deen courtesy of The Food Network

Serves 6

Ingredients:

6 (1 ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate

2 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons orange liqueur

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 425F. Grease 6 (6 ounce) custard cups. Melt the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler.

2) Add the flour and sugar to the chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and liqueur.

3) Divide the batter evenly among the custard cups; it should come up about three-quarters of the way.

4) Place in the oven and bake for 10-14 minutes, until edges are set and have shrunk slightly away from the custard cups.

5) Invert each cake onto a dessert place and serve immediately.

sconeclose

Last Saturday I actually baked something fabulous. This was a very big deal. I never bake anything fabulous. Maybe decent.  Maybe tasty-but-ugly. But never fabulous. At least, I never think of it that way. This is partly because of my over-arching perfectionism.  I’m no pastry chef but I always expect to bake like one. Last week saw a good couple of disasters in the kitchen, which is why I haven’t posted much of anything lately. I bungled a lemon yogurt cake and some cupcakes I made ended up largely in the garbage.

I had been thinking about making Ina Garten’s recipe for Cheddar-dill scones for ages. I’d been wanting to bake something savory, something different from what I ordinarily bake. The thing is, I’m generally not a fan of scones.  The handful of times I’ve bought one at a coffee shop I was disappointed.  They were so dry and crumbly that I needed a huge cup of tea to wash them down with, and they were often stale.  Ina Garten, I reasoned, would not let me down.  Almost everything I have made from the two recipe books of hers that I own has turned out wonderfully. The one caveat is that I think she often uses an excessive amount of fat. This recipe, for example, calls for a cup of heavy cream. I substituted the cream with buttermilk, not sure what the result would be, but take my word for it–the scones were amazing. I couldn’t stop eating them. In fact, I gobbled down six of them while they were still warm. Six! Granted I halved the recipe and made small scones–my stab at portion control–but still …

Needless to say, I spent a very long time on the treadmill the next day.

 

Ina Garten’s Cheddar-Dill Scones

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Makes 16 large scones

Ingredients:

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

4 extra-large eggs, beaten lightly

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 pound sharp yellow Cheddar cheese

1 cup minced fresh dill

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

coarse sea salt

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400F. Combine the flour, the baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.

2) Toss together the Cheddar and dill with 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture in a separate bowl.

3) Mix the eggs and buttermilk and quickly add to the flour mixture. Combine until just blended. Incorporate the Cheddar and dill.

4) Dump the dough on a well-floured surface and knead for 1 minute, adding more flour if needed, to prevent sticking. Roll the dough into a 3/4 inch thick square. Cut into four squares and then in half to make triangles.

5) Brush the tops with egg wash. Sprinkle each scone with the coarse salt. Bake on a sheet lined with parchment paper for 20-25 minutes until crusty and golden.

strawcake1

I did something incredibly stupid on the weekend. It was Saturday and I was trying to shoot a photo to go with an article I had written for a local magazine. Although I have a beautiful bay window, the light in my place is not always conducive to taking food pictures. I decided to take my things outside to the courtyard of my building. My mind was on gathering everything that I needed as I headed out. The second I shut the door I realized I’d left my keys inside.  I had locked myself out.  In my slippers.

I knocked on the doors of three neighbors, hoping one of them would lend me their phone so I could call a locksmith. Of course, no one was home. With trepidation, I finally knocked on Carol’s door. I hadn’t seen her since Easter, when I had taken her some of my tiramisu.

I felt bad about bothering Carol. Her husband died suddenly at Christmastime, leaving her with two small children to take care of. Carol is from the Philippines.  She’s a homemaker and doesn’t drive. A couple of weeks earlier she had fallen at the supermarket and broken her leg. Feeling foolish, I explained what had happened. Carol sympathized with my plight. She let me use her phone and offered me tea. We chatted until the locksmith came.

I wanted to thank Carol for her kindness so I made this Strawberry Mascarpone Tart from the April 2009 issue of Gourmet magazine. I had been wanting to make this tart since I’d seen it on the cover but hadn’t been presented with the opportunity. Piled high with fresh strawberries drizzled with port glaze, this easy tart was truly impressive. Tomorrow I will go get my tart pan from Carol and see how she liked it.

I don’t know about you, but this economic downturn and financial instability have left me with a persistent sense of unease. But now when I feel sorry for myself, I think of Carol.

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart with Port Glaze

Adapted from Gourmet, April 2009

Serves 8

strawplate

Ingredients:

for tart shell:

1 1/4 cups flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

7 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 large egg yolk

for filling:

1 1/2 lb strawberries, trimmed and quartered lengthwise

1/3 cups sugar

3/4 cup ruby Port

1 lb mascarpone cheese (about 2 cups)

1/4 cup icing sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1) To make tart shell blend together flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a bowl with a pastry blender, or in a food processor, until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

2) Beat together yolk, vanilla, lemon juice, and water with a fork. Drizzle over the flour mixture and blend until the ingredients come together. Knead gently with floured hands on a floured surface until dough forms.

3) Press into a 5-inch disk and place in the center of a tart pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Using your fingers and the bottom of a measuring cup, press out dough to evenly cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Prick bottom of tart shell several times with a fork and freeze for about fifteen minutes.

4) Preheat oven to 375F. Line tart shell with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for about 20 minutes, until set and lightly golden in color. Remove foil and continue to bake until the shell is deeply golden all over, about another 20 minutes. Cool in pan for 45 minutes.

5) While the tart shell cools, make the filling. Stir together strawberries and sugar in a bowl and let stand for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain over a sieve set over a small saucepan, reserving berries. Add Port to liquid in saucepan and boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 10-15 minutes. Cool slightly.

6) Whisk together mascarpone, sugar, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until stiff. Spread mixture evenly in cooled tart shell, then top with strawberries. Drizzle Port glaze all over tart.

stcakebright

Cooks Notes:

*Be sure to add the strawberries to the pie just before serving, otherwise the tart will end up looking messy if it sits around.

*Make sure the liquid is strained adequately from the strawberries. Too much liquid on top of the tart will make it look soupy and messy.

*For a lighter version, use half mascarpone, half ricotta cheese.

*The tart shell can be baked a day ahead and kept at room temperature.

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  • Našla sem vso tvojo korespondenco, ne znam pa naprej ne nazaj. D 6 years ago

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