Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pomegranate White Tea & Honey Ginger Yogurt Verrines

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope everyone was able to spend time with those they love the most. It was a very low key day in our household, but very nice nonetheless. It's hard to imagine that 6 years ago, I would be going on my first date with my future husband. I remember going to dinner and splitting a wonderful blueberry cobbler for dessert (he's lucky he didn't pass up dessert), then heading off to a movie.

These have been on top of my list of things to make for over a year now, and I finally got a chance to a week ago. However, I think they are so pretty and would make a wonderful, understated dessert for Valentine's Day. These verrines, a layered dessert usually presented in a small glass, were delicious. Tart, smooth, and balanced. They made for a great breakfast the next day as well...hey, they're yogurt!

Pomegranate White Tea & Honey Ginger Yogurt Verrines (Adapted from Tartelette)
Makes 6 verrines

For the Pomegranate White Tea Jelly:
1 1/2 cups brewed white tea (I used a pomegranate white tea)
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
1/4 cup cold water

Add the cold water to a small bowl and sprinkle powdered gelatin over it and set aside. Meanwhile, add the tea, juice, sugar, and lemon zest in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture and stir until completely dissolved. Let mixture cool to room temperature. Divide mixture among glasses and refrigerate for about 2 hours until set. If desired, position the glasses at an angle in an empty egg carton to set at an angle.

Honey Ginger Yogurt Gelee:
1 1/2 teaspoon gelatin
2 tablespoon cold water
2 cups Greek yogurt
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

In a bowl, combine 1 cup yogurt, the honey and the ginger and mix until combined. Set aside. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold water and set aside. In another bowl, heat the remaining yogurt in the microwave for one minute. Then heat the gelatin mixture in the microwave for 12 seconds. Mix the melted gelatin into the hot yogurt mixture and stir until well combined. Add the gelatin and yogurt mixture to the yogurt-honey-ginger mixture and combine. Spoon the yogurt gelee over the pomegranate white tea jelly and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until set before serving.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

French Silk Tarts

My birthday was Monday and I don't think it could have been a better day. The large snow storm that dumped over 30 inches of snow in my yard allowed me to stay home and bake. It's now Wednesday, and I'm still off of work because of even more snow, so I'm spending my days trying to craft, bake and clean, however, the kittens are excited that we're not leaving in the morning and have been sabotaging any attempts to do anything but play. They're taking a quick nap, so I thought I'd at least start this post.

I understand many people think I'm crazy for being so excited about the snow, but you see, I'm a Midwest girl at heart, and always will be. I truly miss the snow. The views out my back deck are serene and perfect and I just love making comfort food and blankets and snuggles with the kittens. However, I'm starting to see the downsides of living here with this much snow...they just don't have the resources and are trying their best to clear the roads, but it takes so much more time.

French Silk Pie is probably my second favorite dessert, just slightly behind Creme Brulee. I used to have a slice every time we went to Baker's Square Restaurants, and usually "bugged" my mom into letting us take a whole pie home. I decided I was going to make myself something to celebrate my birthday since going out was a bit treacherous. I decided on French Silk Tarts to share with Steve and my sister Lauren.

These were extremely close to the original...very rich and very delicious. If the snow keeps up, I might have to make these again because were gone so fast.

French Silk Tarts
Makes six 4-inch tarts or one 9-inch pie

For the short crust:
5 1/2 oz (about 1 1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 oz (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2-4 tablespoon cold water

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour and salt to combine. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 5-10 short pulses. (You can also mix pastry by hand, by cutting butter into flour and salt with a pastry cutter)

Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse to incorporate. Do not over pulse. Test dough by pinching a small amount of dough together; if it is too crumbly add a a little bit more water and pulse until combined.

Turn dough on to a clean surface and form dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll dough 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick and cut circles large enough to fit into tart pans. Line with parchment and fill with baking beads or dry beans. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden. Allow to cool to room temperature before adding filling.

For the french silk filling:
4 oz (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 oz (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
4 oz (2/3 cup) semisweet chocolate wafers or chips, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
4 oz (1/2 {liquid} cup) heavy whipping cream

Break eggs into heatproof bowl and whisk to blend. Set the bowl over a simmering water in a saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Cook the eggs, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 140 degrees F. Maintain the temperature of the mixture for 5 minutes, making sure the temperature does not increase over 150 degrees F. If the mixture climbs above 150 degrees F, remove from heat while continuing to stir. After 5 minutes, place the bowl in an ice bath and stir the eggs until cool.

In a large bowl, beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and beat on high for 4 minutes. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Add the egg mixture slowly and beat for 2 minutes on medium-high speed until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. Slowly add the melted chocolate and mix until incorporated. Pour the heavy cream in a thin stream and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes.

Spoon filling into crust(s) and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

For the stabilized whipped cream: (Adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum)
Makes 2 cups
3/4 tsp powdered gelatin
4 teaspoon water
8 oz (1 {liquid} cup) heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Refrigerate the mixing bowl and beater (whisk attachment if using stand mixer) for at least 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water and let sit for 5 minutes to soften. Microwave the gelatin and water on high in 5 second intervals, stirring in between each, until gelatin is dissolved. Cool to room temperature. The gelatin must be liquid but not warm when added to the cream.

In the chilled bowl, add the cream, sugar, and vanilla and whip until the traces of the beater marks begin to show distinctly. While continuing to whip the cream mixture, add the gelatin in a steady stream. Beat until stiff peaks form. Be careful to not over beat, as a few seconds past stiff peaks will not allow for a velvety smooth consistency.

Pipe whipped cream onto tart filling using a large star tip (I used tip 1M). Garnish tarts with chopped chocolate or curls.

Note: When using the stabilized whipped cream, the tarts can be refrigerated for up to 2 days without the whipped cream watering out. If desired, tarts can be topped with non-stabilized whipped cream immediately before serving. When ready to serve the tarts, let sit at room temperature for a few minutes to let the filling soften.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Meyer Lemon and Pistachio Shortbread

Every year, around Christmas time, I get this craving for pistachios. It must come from my childhood memories. Every year, my mom, sister and I made a point to ALWAYS get my father a selection of nuts from a local nut shop. Of course, we always had to make sure there were pistachios in the box. We actually usually got enough to last a month. I think Dad always thought he was extra special, when in reality, it was for us to snack on during the days to come. That fact does not diminish his awesomeness, by any means, because eating the pistachios was always more fun because I did it with him. I think my craving was stronger this year since I wasn't able to make it home and I was a bit homesick.

It just so happened that a friend of mine was having a procedure a few weeks ago, and I wanted to send something to help with the recovery. I started to go through my list of recipes I've been waiting for the right time to make and came across these. They were perfect...quick, easy and shippable, not to mention they were pistachio!

These definitely hit the spot and the care package was well received. I'm hoping to make these again soon and ship some off to my Dad.

Meyer Lemon and Pistachio Shortbread (Adapted from Cannelle et Vanille)

227 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
60 grams (1/2 cup) powdered sugar
2 Tbsp meyer lemon juice
zest of 2 large meyer lemons
4 grams (about 2/3 tsp) fine sea salt
60 grams (1/2 cup) pistachios, finely chopped
280 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour


In a large bowl, cream the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and zest and cream for an additional minute until smooth. Add flour and salt and mix until just combined. Add the chopped pistachios and mix until well blended.

Divide the dough into two parts, and roll each into a log about 2-inches in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and referigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the dough is chilled, use a sharp knife to cut 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick disks from the log. Bake on a parchment covered cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden.

As you can tell, I've been a little distracted and my baking has become sporadic at best, and my blogging non-existent. Well, I think I have a very good reason, as we've had an addition to the family...well 3 to be exact. Last August, we found 5 kittens under our back deck, the results of strays in the neighborhood.

They were only 4 weeks old and had to be bottle-fed for awhile, but since everyone has found their homes and we're not outnumbered by cats any more (one is my sister's), things seem to be looking up. I hope you start to see a lot more of me.