Chocolate Cream Tart

IMG_5746

This chocolate cream tart has a crisp, buttery shortbread crust and smooth filling.  You can serve it with or without the whipped cream topping, but be forewarned that without, the chocolate flavor is very intense!

 

Chocolate Cream Tart
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 9-inch tart

For tart crust:

  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For filling:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 7 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and at room temperature

For topping (optional but recommended):

  • 1/2 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

 

  1. Butter a 9-inch springform pan or 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.  (I skipped this step and it was fine.)
  2. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until creamy.
  3. Beat in egg yolk.
  4. Add flour, cocoa, confectioners’ sugar, and salt and beat on low speed to start mixing the ingredients together.
  5. You won’t be able to beat in most of the dry ingredients, so use your hands to knead until you have a dark brown ball of dough.  (At this point, you can wrap the dough well and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.)
  6. Press dough into the bottom of the pan, spreading dough evenly across the bottom and 1-2 inches up the sides.  Save a little piece of dough in case the crust cracks during baking and you need to patch it later.
  7. Freeze crust in pan for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.  (At this point, you can wrap the unbaked crust and keep it in the freezer for up to 2 months.  Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.)
  8. While crust is freezing, make the filling.  In a small pot on the stove, bring the milk to a boil.
  9. Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar, cornstarch, and salt until well-blended and thick.
  10. Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk — this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they don’t curdle — then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream.
  11. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking constantly (make sure to get in the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1-2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.
  12. Whisk in the melted chocolate.
  13. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the custard is smooth and silky. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the custard to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the custard or, if you want to cool the custard quickly, put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the custard occasionally until it is fully chilled, about 20 minutes. (At this point, you can keep the custard, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
  14. While filling is cooling, center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375°F.
  15. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust.  (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.)
  16. Put pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes.
  17. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon.  If there are any cracks in the crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges, and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust.
  18. Bake for another 8 minutes, or until it is firm.  Again, if there are any cracks in the crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges, and very gently smooth the edges into crust.  Bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to take the rawness off the patch.
  19. Transfer pan to a wire rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.
  20. When you are ready to assemble the tart, whisk the chocolate cream vigorously to loosen it and to bring back its velvety texture.
  21. Spoon the cream into the tart shell, stopping just short of the crust’s rim (you may have some left over) — you want to leave room for the topping. Smooth the top and, if you are not serving the tart immediately, press a piece of plastic wrap against the cream and refrigerate the tart until needed (or up to 6 hours).
  22. If desired, make the topping.  Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream until it just starts to thicken.  Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream holds firm peaks.  Spread the whipped cream over the tart and smooth it with a metal icing spatula or, if you prefer swirls, go for them.  Serve the tart now or refrigerate it for up to 2 hours before serving.
  23. When you are ready to serve the tart, lightly dust the top with cocoa powder.

 

Advertisements

Mexican Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Mascarpone Frosting

IMG_5547

This is one of my favorite cakes, with the hint of spiciness coming from the cayenne pepper in the cake itself, and the wonderful cinnamon mascarpone frosting.

Original recipe

 

Mexican Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Mascarpone Frosting
Adapted from Baked Bree

Yield: Two 8-inch two-layer cakes

For cake:

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 – 1 1/4 cups sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (chili powder works if you don’t have cayenne pepper)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil OR vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

For topping:

  • 1 (8-oz) tub of mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Extra cinnamon for sprinkling on top (optional)

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350ºF.  Spray two 8-inch round pans with cooking spray.  Put a piece of parchment on the bottom of the pan and spray again.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl, stir together cocoa powder, flour, sugars, cinnamon, baking soda, cayenne powder, and salt.
  3. Add milk, oil, eggs, balsamic vinegar, and vanilla extract.
  4. Mix on medium speed until batter is smooth.
  5.  Pour batter into pans.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Let cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove cakes from pans and let cool completely on rack.
  8. When cakes have cooled, make the frosting.  Whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
  9. In another bowl, use a sturdy rubber spatula to stir together mascarpone, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and sugar.  Whisk mixture until smooth.
  10. Add one large spoonful of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture and stir in with spatula to lighten the mixture.
  11. Gently fold remaining whipped cream into mascarpone mixture in 3 additions.
  12. Using a long serrated knife, split each cake in half.
  13. Use half of the frosting to fill and frost each cake.
  14. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of each cake for garnish, if desired.

Cream Scones

IMG_5542

Serve these scones fresh out of the oven with clotted cream, jam, and Earl Grey tea for an English tea party.

 

Cream Scones
From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 12 scones

  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • 3/4 cup moist, plump currants OR dried cranberries

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together egg and cream.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour.
  5. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly.  The pieces will range in size from oatmeal flakes to peas.
  6. Add currants OR cranberries and toss with a fork to mix in.
  7. Pour egg and cream over dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together.  Don’t overdo it.
  8. Still in the bowl, gently knead dough by hand, or turn it with a rubber spatula 8-10 times.
  9. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out dough.
  10. Divide it in half.
  11. Working with one piece at a time, pat dough into a rough circle about 5 inches in diameter, cut it into 6 wedges, and place it on the baking sheet.  (At this point, the scones can be frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight. Don’t defrost before baking; just add about 2 minutes to the baking time.)
  12. Bake scones for 20-22 minutes, or until their tops are golden and firm-ish.
  13. Transfer them to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving, or wait for them to cool to room temperature.  They’re best soon after they’re made.
  14. Scones can be cooled to room temperature, wrapped airtight, and frozen for up to 2 months.  They can be reheated in the oven at 350ºF.

 

 

 

Lamb Chops Sizzled with Garlic

IMG_4756

Garlic lovers, this one is for you!  If your lamb chops are thicker than the recommended 1/2 inch, use the cooking directions from here.

Original recipe

 

Lamb Chops Sizzled with Garlic
From Food & Wine

Yield: 8 lamb chops

  • Eight 1/2-inch-thick lamb loin chops (about 2 pounds), fatty tips trimmed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, extra-virgin if you have it
  • 10 small garlic cloves, halved
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh if you have it
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)

 

  1. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and sprinkle lightly with thyme.
  2. In a very large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering.
  3. Add the lamb chops and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until the chops are browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes.
  4. Turn the chops and garlic and cook until the chops are browned, about 2 minutes longer for medium meat.
  5. Transfer the chops to plates, leaving the garlic in the skillet.
  6. Add the water, lemon juice, parsley, and crushed red pepper (if using) to the pan and cook, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom, until sizzling, about 1 minute.
  7. Pour the garlic and pan sauce over the lamb chops and serve immediately.

Quick and Easy Pizza Crust

IMG_5416

The beauty of making pizza at home is that you can customize it to your heart’s content.  This pizza dough is quick and easy to make (probably the most complicated step is rolling it out), and the spices make it particularly fragrant and delicious.

Original recipe

 

Quick and Easy Pizza Crust
Adapted from All Recipes

Yield: 12-13″ pizza crust

  • 1 (.25-oz) package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110ºF if you want to be precise; I just stick my finger in it to check that it feels warm)
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning  (I use McCormick’s Perfect Pinch blend, which doesn’t have salt)

 

  1. Preheat oven to 450ºF.  Lightly grease a pizza pan, if it is not non-stick.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.
  3. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in salt, Italian seasoning, and oil.
  5. Stir in flour and mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes.  If the dough feels sticky or tacky, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough should feel soft and smooth to the touch.
  6. Let dough rest in bowl for 5 minutes.
  7. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat or roll into a round.
  8. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out dough into a 12-13″ circle.
  9. Transfer crust to pizza pan and spread with desired toppings.
  10. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
  11. Let baked pizza cool for 5 minutes before serving.