Wednesday, May 28, 2008

1AM Cherry Tart.

1AM Cherry Tart.

1AM. Bored, couldn't sleep. Had some leftover cherries in the refrigerator. (Just a few months left before my brother's wedding and I need to start building up those egg whites for the vats of buttercream frosting I need to make for the cake...) What is it about early morning that I love about being in the kitchen? Maybe it's the fact that no one is around, that I'm creating something while everyone else is asleep. I'm not sure, but I do know this tart came out very beautifully. I made the tart dough using my hands because I didn't want to turn on the food processor, but I'm sure that way is much easier. But perhaps a bit less satisfying.

These recipes are slightly based on the ones in Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking: From My Home to Yours" and if you want to do things the right way, you should probably follow her instructions instead. I am allergic to doing things the way they say in a cookbook, apparently.

Sweet tart dough:
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
Pinch of salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk

Stir together the flour, sugar and salt until combined evenly. Drop the butter on top and start pinching the pieces with your fingers until you have almost combined the butter with the dry ingredients... a few pieces looking like oatmeal, a few looking like peas. That's okay. Add the egg yolk and combine with your hands until a ball of dough forms. Press this into a lightly greased 9-inch tart pan and freeze it for about 20 minutes to a half hour. Or until the oven is done preheating to 375 degrees, like I did.

Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until dark golden brown around the outside and almost golden brown in the middle of the tart.

Pastry cream:
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 stick unsalted butter cut into pieces

Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt together until combined well. Drizzle in about a 1/4 cup of the hot milk to temper the yolks and whisk. Then add the rest of the milk slowly, and eventually add this mixture back into the saucepan. Bring to a boil and whisk frequently for about 1 minute until very thick. Add the vanilla and the butter a few pieces at a time until it's all melted and combined.

Scrape into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap on top and refrigerate until cold.

For the cherries (or any other berry you might want to use):
2 cups cherries, pitted, cut in half
A few tablespoons red currant jelly (you could use apricot too probably)

Melt the jelly in the microwave or whatever, and then stir in the fruit, and toss to make sure all the fruit is about evenly glazed with the jelly. This will make the fruit nice and shiny, and will also help it to keep a bit longer if you're refrigerating a while before serving.

To assemble the tart, take the tart shell out of the pan and place it on a serving platter or plate. Spoon in the pastry cream, spreading to the edges and mounding a bit in the middle if you have a lot like I did, and then pour the fruit on top, letting it fall naturally where it wants to. I think it looks prettier than being arranged. Dig in and enjoy the fruits of summer.

1AM Cherry Tart.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Real Rugelach.


I live in an area with a high Jewish population. So where I work, many Jewish people come in looking for rugelach. We have something that LOOKS like rugelach, yes. Maybe it even has some cream cheese in the dough. But dear Pete they do not TASTE like rugelach. Granted I'm not Jewish, I'm not an expert on this subject, but I have always made my own rugelach from scratch. It's no more difficult than making any other cookie and homemade are always sooooo much better. I honestly couldn't believe how gross (weird aftertaste, weird texture) the ones are that are baked (they come in frozen) where I work. (As a side note, I can't believe people actually pay $9.99 a pound for cookies!)

Anyway, if you're looking for real rugelach, make this recipe. I've seen versions like this where the cream cheese and butter are creamed together, and then I've also seen recipes where the dry ingredients are mixed together first and then cold butter and cream cheese are added in, like a biscuit dough. Both give delicious results and taste much better than the kind from a store :)

Rugelach (basic dough recipe taken from Tish Boyle's "The Good Cookie")

1 1/3 cups AP flour (the original calls for cake flour, I didn't have any, turned out fine with AP)
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar together until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, egg yolk and vanilla and combine. Add the dry ingredients and stir until everything comes together in a nice dough.

Divide the dough into three equal parts and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate for 6 hours. (Or actually this is what the recipe says to do. I wrapped each and threw them in the freezer for 1 hour because I'm impatient and wanted rugelach TODAY dammit.)

Filling: You can have lots of fun with this!
3/4 cup any jam you have around (I used raspberry, seeds strained out)
1 tablespoon cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar, combined in a small bowl
1 cup toasted, finely chopped nuts (I used walnuts and almonds) combined with 1 cup finely chopped dried fruit (I used cranberries)

When the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it out on a floured surface to about 12 inches in diameter. Spread about 1/3 of the jam on the circle, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar, and about 1/3 of the nut/fruit combination. Press into the jam lightly so it doesn't spill out too much. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the circle into fourths, then each fourth into fourths, so you end up with 16 triangles all together. Take each triangle and roll it up starting at the wider end and tuck the little point underneath the roll, then place that side down onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Continue with the other pieces of dough.

Bake each sheet for about 20 to 30 minutes or until nice and golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack. These are good with just about any beverage and although I have a mug of milk in this picture, my drink of choice was actually YooHoo.