Chocolate Tart with Sugared Cranberries

Back to back labor and delivery rotations mean the blog got placed on the back burner. Thus, my return to posting photos of delectable holiday treats had to be with a bang! Hence – the chocolate tart with sugared cranberries.

IMG_5719This baked good epitomizes the holidays! Sugared cranberries! I mean, come on. They look like they fell out of a Christmas tree. IMG_5737I went to Williams Sonoma recently and they had a bunch of things on sale so I came home with a cake stand (YES!) and a tart pan (double yes!). I was so excited to use both of this for this recipe and pictures.

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This chocolate tart is perfectly lightly sweet and not at all overwhelming. Made with semi-sweet chocolate, it’s a perfect pairing with the slightly tart contrast of the sugared cranberries.

The sugared cranberries, by the way, are fresh cranberries coated in sugar. They turn fresh cranberries in a holiday treat that you can pop into your mouth. Not to mention, they make one heck of a garnish.

Chocolate Tart with Sugared Cranberries

Adapted from Tyler Florence

Tart Shell Pastry:
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
1 large egg, separated (save both parts)
2 tablespoons ice water

Combine your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt) in a bowl. Add the butter cubes and using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut into your dry ingredients until it looks like coarse crumbs. Make a well in the middle your pastry. Add in your egg yolk and ice water. Keep the egg white! Using your hands, work it into the dough and squeeze together until it comes together to form a disk. You will see still chunks of butter in the dough. Ask more ice water (1 tablespoon at a time) if you need to form the disk. Wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll out your dough into approximately a 12 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Place into a 9 inch tart pan. Press into the bottoms and sides making sure to get each nook and cranny to get a pretty edge when you take out the finished product. I also used this step to even out the dough a little bit. Take the extra dough off the edges by pressing against the sharp edge or your pan or with a knife. Cool in the fridge for 15 minutes and preheat your oven to 350.

Using pie weights or dried beans, bake for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and using your egg white, brush your tart pastry. Bake for another 8 minutes. The crust should not be golden brown, but still light in color. Let the pastry cool and reduce your oven temperature to 325.

For the chocolate filling:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
10 ounces semisweet chocolate (bar or chips)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, beaten

Heat the heavy cream and milk in a pot over medium heat until it slightly bubbles at the edges. Remove from heat and add in your chocolate. Whisk until completely melted and silky smooth. Sprinkle in the salt. Very, very slowly add your eggs until completely blended. Be sure not to add it too quickly or they may scramble!

Pour into your prepared shell and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until surface is shiny. Cool while making your sugared cranberries.

Sugared Cranberries
1 package fresh cranberries, rinsed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
sugar for coating cranberries (approximately 2 cups)

Over medium heat in a medium pan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar completely dissolved to make a simple syrup. Remove from heat. Add your cranberries in until all of them are coated in the syrup. Using a slotted spoon and working in batches, toss them in sugar until completely coated. Let cool on a baking sheet for 1 hour until the sugar has hardened.

Sprinkle on top of the baked good of your choice.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Pear Galette

Being on night shift means sleeping all the time. Literally, 20 hour shifts of just sleeping. I’m like a newborn baby. Happily, I stayed awake for more than 2 hours today and baked all the fruit in the fridge that I’ve been too sleepy to eat. Namely, a bag of pears.
IMG_4833A pie crust, some cream cheese, pears and spices. It’s like a grown-up fruit pizza! Just prettier. Also, I’m still getting a huge kick out of the new camera. Trying out all kinds of lighting tricks and what-not.

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The combination of a flaky crust, delicious cream cheese and the caramelized pears was perfect for my window of being awake.

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IMG_4842Not that I had any issues before, but going to bed is even easier after eating this and filling the house with smells of the holidays. Also, I recommend baking this while Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas” is playing on repeat in the background.

Pear Galette

2 pre-made pie crusts at room temperature
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
3-4 small bartlett pears
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Sanding sugar for spinkling

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Combine your two pie crusts into one big pie crust ball. Flatten and shape gently into a pie crust rectangle. Using a rolling pin, roll into a rough rectangle shape on a lightly floured surface. Your crust should be around 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut your cream cheese into thin stripes and press onto your crust, leaving about 1 inch around the edges to fold over later.

Slice your pears into very thin slices and toss in sugar and spices. Layer your pears on top of the cream cheese. Overlaying the pears on top of each other makes for the prettiest of effects! Fold over the edges to make a rustic looking galette and bake for 30-40 minutes or until your crust is golden brown and caramelized fruit juices are spilling over the edge.

Optional: sprinkle your galette with sanding sugar for a gorgeous effect.

Enjoy!

Gingerbread Marina City

Also known as the corn cob buildings. So two years ago, I was involved in the making of a geodesic dome gingerbread house.

…and from that, the non-traditional gingerbread house tradition was born. I spent this holiday season with my husband’s family which includes a family of architects, designers….and one molecular cellular biology graduate student. When we sat down to brainstorm what to make out of gingerbread this year, the graduate student suggested that we do Marina City in Chicago. For those of you unfamiliar….(feel free to google)

…annnndd….

The water is made of royal icing dyed blue!

That’s Phil of http://philipdelosreyes.blogspot.com/! He did all the math and designing of Marina City, I was the cheap hired labor. For those of you interested, Phil is also a designer in real-life and does freelance work for real (or gingerbread) things. Enjoy!

8:40 PM

Cranberry Orange & Pecan Coffee Cake

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is one of my favorite holidays. Probably because of the cooking involved…and the baking. I spend all Thanksgiving in the kitchen with loved ones as dish after dish comes out of the oven and stovetop. Of course, that means snacking along the way as well!

This coffee cake is a new addition to the Thanksgiving spread this year. It’s full of fresh cranberries and fresh orange juice and zest. It just looks festive and with a streusel topping how can it not be?

Mmm mmm good. I can’t wait to dive into this after dinner with a good cup of coffee. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Cranberry Orange & Pecan Coffee Cake

Adapted from joythebaker
Makes 1 9×5 inch loaf

For the Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature and cut into cubes
1 egg
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper and grease with butter. Set aside. Make sure to leave some overhang all around the pan for easy cake extraction.

In a bowl, mix together your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Time to get messy and use your fingers! Using your hands, incorporate the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs.

In another bowl, mix together your egg, orange juice, zest, and extract. I’d recommend recruiting helpers to squeeze your juice and zest your zest. It keeps everyone busy in the kitchen!

Case in point, my brother and husband helping to squeeze and zest.

Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients. Stir just until incorporated and fold in the cranberries and pecans into the batter. Pour this thick, luscious batter into your prepared loaf pan and set aside while preparing the crumb topping.

For the pecan streusel topping: 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into little cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Simply combine all of your ingredients until your butter is well incorporated and your mixture looks once again like bread crumbs. Sprinkle all over your batter!

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 20 minutes – 1 hour 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean or the cake bounces back at you when pressed on. Let cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes and simply use your overhang parchment to lift out of the pan and let your cake cool completely.

Optional glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon of milk

Simply mix and drizzle over your streusel topping.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

S’mores cupcakes

Santa wasn’t getting cookies this year.

Merry Christmas!

This may be my favorite recipe to date…and that’s saying a lot.

These s’mores cupcakes are filled with a graham cracker crust bottom, a chocolate cake middle, topped with a chocolate ganache glaze, graham cracker crust dusting, and finally a homemade toasted marshmallow topping. Yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds.

I know this is a picture heavy post but they’re just so gorgeous I had to keep snapping! I made them in both mini and regular form.

Now that is blow torch beautiful.

S’mores cupcakes

Adapted from bakersroyale

Makes 24 regular cupcakes/48 mini cupcakes

 

For the graham cracker crust
7 tablespoons of melted butter
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs

Mix these ingredients together and pat a little bit into the bottom of each cupcake tin. Press into the bottom of the tin and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes for regular cupcakes, 5-7 minutes for mini ones.

For the chocolate cake

Here I took a shortcut: chocolate cake mix! You can go harder and use your favorite cake batter recipe but I used it from a box since I was in the midst of so much christmas baking.

Fill your cupcake tins until it just covers your graham cracker crust. You don’t want to over fill your tins as you want a relatively flat cupcake top for optimal glazing and frosting. Bake in a 350 degree oven until your cakes are done (this will depend on whether you’re making full or half size cupcakes – bake according to your original recipe)

For the chocolate glaze
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons skim milk
4 tablespoons warm water
4 tablespoons powdered sugar

In a double boiler, melt your dark chocolate chips. Slowly add in your skim milk and water until it becomes a pourable consistency. Finally, whisk in your powdered sugar and incorporate everything over your double boiler.

Remove from heat and let cool slightly

For the marshmallow topping

5 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar

Over your double boiler whisk together your egg whites and sugar until your mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Thermometer is highly suggested! Remove from heat and then mix with a hand mixer at high speed for 10-15 minutes until your mixture doubles in size and gets shiny, puffy, and forms semi-stiff peaks!

Putting it all together

1. Take your cooled cupcakes and flip them upside down to give them a swim in the chocolate glaze. Quickly plop them onto an assembly surface right side up and sprinkle some graham cracker crumbs on top for a festive look.

2. Let your glaze set for 10-15 minutes.

3. Pipe your marshmallow frosting onto your cupcakes with your pipping tip of choice! Have fun with this – squealing encouraged

4. Take a blow torch and toast your marshmallow topping until it’s perfectly golden brown and given the most wonderful holiday touch to these adorable cupcakes.

Enjoy!!