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Monday, July 7, 2014

Cherry Nectarine Tart

I think one of the most hysterical insults you can hurl at someone is 'tart.' Though isn't exactly a colloquialism, I would like to put it forth as your new barb of choice when you sit down to a session of slanderous gossip. I've had occasion to use the word tart quite a bit lately, and, let me tell you, I ain't even mad. It encapsulates my sentiments perfectly.

In addition to serving as glorious jibe, a tart just so happens to be one of my favorite ways to end a meal. I'm not particularly partial to cake, and I find pie a bit overwhelming. But a tart? Well, that's almost always exactly what I want. 

They're not too sweet. They have a nice balance of a crisp, crunchy crust and sweet, smooth filling. And the addition of ripe summer fruit both makes them pretty and rounds out the flavors. This particular tart is nice because you can use whatever fruit you have on hand, and it will still be delicious. Even if you don't happen to have almonds on hand for the filling, you could really substitute any kind of nut. This tart is quick and versatile and pretty wonderful.

Cherry Nectarine Tart
Makes one 9-inch tart 

For the pâte sucrée:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup caster sugar
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

For the almond filling:
1 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg white
1 teaspoon almond extract

For the tart:
2 nectarines, washed and cut into thin wedges
1/4 cup cherries, pitted and quartered
Turbinado sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. In three additions, beat in flour until dough forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Once chilled, roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface until 1/4-inch thin. Drape over a 9-inch tart pan and press into pan. Pierce bottom lightly with a fork. Place a sheet of parchment paper over dough and fill with pie weights or rice. Bake tart for 15 minutes, until golden at the edges. Remove from oven to cool.

While the crust cools, make almond filling. In the bowl of a food processor pulse slivered almonds, powdered sugar, and butter until almonds are ground and mixture is smooth. Add egg white and almond extract and pulse until the mixture has thinned slightly and is smooth and spreadable. Dollop almond filling over tart crust and spread to cover the bottom. Arrange nectarine slices in concentric circles. Scatter quartered cherries over the tart and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, until fragrant and the nectarines and cherries have softened. Let cool completely.

More Summer Tarts

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Maple-Coconut Granola


Now, I realize this isn't a particularly exciting post for many of you. I mean this blog is called Baking the Book, for god's sake. And the past few recipes haven't even really been baking either, though the ice creams aren't exactly something to turn your nose up at. But let me explain myself before you click back to more...well...exciting food porn.

If you've been reading for a while, you'll probably already know that indulgent food is one of my greatest vices. When something delicious is placed in front of me, all willpower I may have once possessed (though realistically, I'm not sure I had much to begin with) disappears as quickly as the salted caramel brownies or oatmeal cookies before me. So, on occasion, when I head into the kitchen, I like to pretend to be a bit more virtuous.

Instead of delving straight into a recipe for a black forest gateaux or a cheesy pull-apart bread, I test my abilities, hoping to create something that is both irresistible and marginally less artery-clogging. A tall order, if you ask me. Despite the arduous journey to virtuosity and deliciousness, I finally landed on a recipe that ticks every box you could hope for. Enter Maple-Coconut Granola.

Like many granola recipes out there nowadays, this one uses olive oil as the fat. It tones down the sweetness and gives the granola a full-bodied robustness that's just what I want in the morning. Or the afternoon. Or at midnight. The maple syrup is a little bit funkier than honey or brown sugar and just so happens to be (sort of) good for you. You can obviously use any nuts you like, but I've found that the combination of macadamia nuts and pistachios strikes the right balance between rich and buttery and salty-crunchy. So, if you ever considered taking my advice, now is most definitely the time.

Maple-Coconut Granola

6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3 cups unsweetened thick coconut chips (these have a nice heft in the granola that shredded coconut won't give you)
1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts
1 1/2 cups shelled, salted pistachios
1 cup dark amber maple syrup
2/3 cup olive oil
A pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large roasting pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss together oats, coconut chips, macadamia nuts, and pistachios. In a measuring cup, stir together maple syrup, olive oil, and salt. Make a well in the oat mixture and pour maple syrup mixture in. Fold until all dry ingredients have been coated. Spread mixture evenly over prepared roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container- it will keep for up to a week, though it certainly won't last that long

More Granola

Friday, July 4, 2014

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream with Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Do you ever get something, whether it be a word or a song or a person, so stuck in your head that it's all you can think about? My brain is currently preoccupied with this song by Glass Animals called Gooey. Now it's not because I like the song all that much, though it is pretty catchy. The only reason this song has been running through my head for the past month or so is because the words 'peanut butter vibes' appear over and over again.

And, as any of my friends can attest, I have a penchant for peanut butter. When I was considering which recipe I would use for my re-entry into blogging society, I just so happened to be listening to that very song, and I knew it had to be something chock full of peanut butter. My apologies to those of you with nut allergies (I'm looking at you Hannah and Courtney), but I can honestly say this is one of the best ice creams I've ever made.

The base is creamy and heady with a deep chocolate flavor. The chocolate base is rippled through with a sweet-salty peanut butter swirl and studded with chocolate covered pretzels and tiny nuggets of buttery toffee. Too rich? Never. After all, I like my ice cream like I like my men: rich and fat.

Happy 4th to all- I hope it's full of peanut butter vibes.

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream with Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Makes about 1 Quart

For the peanut butter swirl:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (something like Skippy or Jif works best)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 light brown sugar
3 tablespoons corn syrup

For the ice cream:
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup caster sugar
Pinch of sea salt
5 egg yolks, lightly beaten

Chocolate covered pretzels, roughly chopped
Toffee, roughly chopped

To make the peanut butter swirl: In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine peanut butter, heavy cream, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Stir until sugar has dissolved and mixture comes together. Transfer to a heat-proof container and chill until ice cream base is frozen. If you have any extra left, it is equally good poured over vanilla or caramel ice cream.

To make the ice cream: In a large saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together heavy cream and cocoa powder and bring to a simmer. Once the cream is simmering, remove from heat and stir in chocolate until smooth. Transfer chocolate mixture to a large, heat-proof bowl and set a strainer on top. In a small saucepan set over low heat, heat milk, caster sugar, and salt until sugar has dissolved. Once warm to the touch, quickly whisk in egg yolks. Continue to stir over low heat until custard coats the back of a spoon. Pour through strainer into chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Chill ice cream base until completely cool. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Once frozen, fold in chocolate covered pretzels and toffee. In a quart-sized container, layer 1/3 of ice cream. Drop tablespoons of peanut butter swirl over ice cream and swirl through with a knife. Repeat until all ice cream and peanut butter swirl has been used. Freeze until ready to eat.

More Frozen Peanut Butter Treats