The Café au Lait Tart

INGREDIENTS:
makes one 14 x 5-inch tart

for oatmeal praline:

  • 40 g rolled oats
  • 75 g sugar
  • 1 Tbspn honey

for oat crust:

  • 100 g oat flour
  • 160 g all-purpose flour
  • 50 g sugar
  • 7 Tbspn (99 g) unsalted butter,cold and cut in pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ tspn vanilla extract
  • 3–4 Tbspn cold water

for milk jam:

  • 460 g whole milk
  • 100 g sugar
  • ¼ tspn baking soda
  • scant ¼ tspn salt
  • wild blueberry jam

for dark chocolate espresso ganache

  • 200 g 68–72% bittersweet
  • chocolate
  • 45 g 99% unsweetened chocolate
  • 227 g heavy cream
  • 1½ Tbspn unsalted butter
  • 1 tspn espresso powder
  • 2 Tbspn honey
  • flaked seasalt

METHOD:

  1. for oatmeal praline. Preheat oven to 180° C. Spread the oats on a baking sheet. Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. In a light-colored bottom saucepan, combine the sugar and honey over medium high heat. Do not stir—if necessary, swirl the pan to cook the sugar evenly. Cook until the sugar has turned a deep caramel color. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the toasted oats. Working quickly, spread the oats in a thin layer on the prepared baking sheet and let cool completely. Once cool, break into very small pieces.
  2. for oat crust. Using a food processor or pastry cutter, mix the flours and sugar together. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the size of small peas. Add the egg yolk and mix to combnie. Gradually add the vanilla extract and cold water while mixing just until a dough begins to form when pressed between two fingers. Do not overmix. Form the pastry into a disc, wrap with parchment paper or plastic wrap, and chill for at least one hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 220° C. Roll or press the cold dough into the tart pan to for a ¼-inch-thick crust. Trim off and discard the excess dough. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork, cover with parchment, and weigh down with pie weights. Chill again if the dough has softened. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes until the edges have turned golden. Remove the weights and the parchment paper, and continue to bake for 5 to 7 minutes more until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  4. for milk jam. Combine the milk, sugar, and baking soda in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and let simmer, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom with a spatula, for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the milk has turned a medium light caramel and is the consistency of jam. Stir in the salt, remove from heat, and let cool.
  5. Spread the milk jam onto the bottom of the cooled crust, smoothing with the back of a spoon or spatula. Top with a very thin layer of wild blueberry jam.
  6. for dark chocolate espresso ganache. Chop the chocolate and melt in a double boiler. Keep warm. In a saucepan, combine the heavy cream and butter. Bring just to a simmer, remove from heat, and stir in the espresso powder. Gradually pour the hot cream over the melted chocolate, stirring constantly with a spatula. Add the honey and stir until smooth.
  7. Immediately pour the warm ganache on top of the jam layer, being careful not to disturb the jam. Do not overfill the tart; there may yet be a few teaspoons of leftover ganache. Just when the ganache starts to set, sprinkle the top of the tart with flaked seasalt and pieces of praline. Save any leftover praline for later use. Let the tart set at room temperature completely before serving, about 1 to 2 hours.
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Blueberry Rhubarb Deep Dish Pie

INGREDIENTS:
makes three 4.5″ deep dish piesfor pastry:

  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 2/3 cups butter, cold
  • 6-7 Tbspn ice cold water

for filling:

  • 12 oz. rhubarb, chopped into small, 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 lb. blueberries
  • freshly grated zest of 1 orange
  • 3 Tbspn orange juice
  • 1/2 cup (100 gr) sugar
  • 4 Tbspn corn starch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbspn heavy cream, and more for serving
  • turbinado sugar

METHOD:

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Using a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour, until the size of small peas.
  3. Gradually add the water, 1 Tbspn at a time until, when you press the dough between your fingers, it holds together. Do not overmix!
  4. Wrap the dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 205 degrees C.
  6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out, about 1/8″ thick. Place dough into the pie plates (preferably springform), reserving the leftover dough for the lattice top. Keep the prepared dough cold.
  7. To prepare the filling, combine the chopped rhubarb, blueberries, orange zest and juice, granulated sugar, and corn starch in a bowl.
  8. Spoon the filling into the pie crusts. Top with cut strips of pastry.
  9. Whisk together the egg yolk and 1 Tbspn of heavy cream. Brush the egg wash lightly over the lattice crust. Sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar.
  10. Bake for 205 degrees C for about 45 minutes. If the tops start to get brown, around 30 minutes, place a layer of foil over the pies and continue to bake until the rhubarb is cooked through.
  11. Remove and let cool. Serve with a splash of heavy cream.

Basil, Macadamia Nut, and Olive Oil Dark Chocolate Tart

INGREDIENTS:
makes 1 large 9″ tart

for pastry crust:

  • handful of fresh basil
  • 240 grams AP flour
  • 65 grams macadamia nuts, dry roasted and unsalted
  • 6 Tbspn butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2-3 Tbspn water

METHOD:

  1. Place the fresh basil on a paper towel in the microwave.  Heat on high for three minutes.  Remove the basil from the microwave and crush finely (it should do this easily with your hands).  You should end up with about 2 Tbspn of dried, crushed basil.
  2. Combine the flour, macadamia nuts, and basil in a food processor and pulse until the macadamia nuts are completely ground.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except the water and process until the butter is the size of small peas.  Add the water one tablespoon at a time and pulse just until a dough begins to form.
  4. Remove the pastry dough from the food processor, form it into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
  6. Roll out the pastry crust.  Prick the bottom of the crust several times with a fork.  Then, line the pastry with parchment paper and weigh down with pie weights (or dry beans, which is what I use).
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the pastry looks golden.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool.

for chocolate ganache filling:

  • 12 oz. bittersweet or dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 10 oz. heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse sea salt

METHOD:

  1. Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat the heavy cream on medium high, stirring and scraping the bottom constantly until it reaches a gentle simmer. Remove from heat.
  3. Pour the hot cream onto the prepared chocolate. Let sit for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and evenly distributed.  Stir in the olive oil.
  5. Pour into the prepared tart crust.  Once the ganache begins to set, about 15-20 minutes, sprinkle on the coarse sea salt.  Let set until completely cool, about 1-2 hours.  Serve at room temperature.

Apricot Plum Crisp with Maple Nut Froyo

INGREDIENTS:
Apricot Plum Crisp
makes one 8 x 8″ baking dish

for filling:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 lb. apricots and plums, combined, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 Tbspn corn starch

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 205 degrees C.
  2. In a bowl, toss and combine all of the filling ingredients. Spoon into an 8×8″ baking dish. Set aside and make the crisp topping.

for crisp topping:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbspn buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tspn baking powder
  • 3/4 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup 2% Greek yogurt

METHOD:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the butter and yogurt in a bowl.
  2. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the butter and yogurt into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of small peas and evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Do not overmix.
  3. Spoon the topping over the fruit in the baking dish, patting it down if you need to pile more on.
  4. Bake for ~20-30 minutes, until the top is brown and the insides are bubbly. Remove and let cool briefly before serving.
Maple Nut Froyo
for stir-in walnuts:

  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbspn dark amber maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cup walnuts (~150 gr), toasted for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven and then chopped coarsely
  • large pinch of salt

METHOD:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the maple syrup just until it comes to a boil.
  2. Add the chopped walnuts and salt and return to a boil. Stir and cook for 10 seconds, then remove from heat and let cool completely.

for froyo base:

  • 3 cups 2% Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup dark amber maple syrup

METHOD:

  1. Whisk together the yogurt and maple syrup. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
  2. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions. Fold in the prepared maple walnuts in the last few minutes of freezing.
  3. If needed, put frozen yogurt in freezer to continue freezing until about the consistency of soft serve, about 1-2 hours. Serve with apricot-plum crisp.

Blood orange honey-glazed five spice tart with almond cream

INGREDIENTS:
makes one 9″ tart

for pastry:

  • 260 grams AP flour
  • 1 1/2 tspn five spice powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 7 Tbspn butter, cold and cut in pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3-4 Tbspn cold water

METHOD:

  1. Using a food processor or pastry cutter, mix the flour, five spice powder, and sugar until combined. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the size of small peas.
  2. Add the egg yolk and gradually add the water just until a dough begins to form when you press it between two fingers. Do not overmix.
  3. Form the pastry into a ball and refrigerate for at least one hour. (or stick it in the freezer for a shorter amount of time.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
  5. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and press the dough into the tart pan. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork, cover with parchment paper, and weigh down using dry beans or pie weights. Return to freezer for a few minutes if the dough has softened.
  6. Bake for ~13-15 minutes until the edges just begin to turn golden. Remove the beans and parchment paper and continue to bake for 3-5 minutes more, until the crust has completely turned golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

for filling:

  • 8-12 small or medium thin-skinned blood oranges, in 1/8″ thick slices
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar

METHOD:

  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add the orange slices to the boiling sugar water and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the pith turns translucent. Be careful not to overcook the oranges because they will become mushy.
  3. Strain and remove the orange slices from the liquid. Reserve 2 Tbspn of the liquid. Lay the orange slices out on a wire mesh rack to drain and cool.

for glaze:

  • 2 Tbspn orange candying liquid, reserved from oranges
  • 1/4 cup honey

METHOD:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the reserved liquid and the honey. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the top.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. The mixture should be syrupy.

for almond cream:

  • 1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbspn powdered sugar
  • dash of almond extract

METHOD:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the chopped almonds and 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover tightly with a lid, and let cool. Continue to let the cream steep, covered, in the refrigerator until cold, preferably overnight.
  2. Strain out and discard the almond pieces from the cream. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream.
  3. Whip the cream just until you reach soft peaks (I like mine extra soft for this purpose.) Gently stir in the powdered sugar and almond extract.

To assemble the tart, layer the orange slices in the cooled tart shells, brushing the honey generously on each layer. Serve with almond cream.

Blackberry Lemon Meringue Pie

INGREDIENTS:
makes two 9″ pies (halving the curd recipes for one 9″ pie was a bit awkward to write because the curds use three egg yolks each, but it’s actually pretty easy in practice.  Prepare three egg yolks, then use only one and a half yolks per halved curd recipe–that’s roughly a Tablespoon and a half of yolk.)

for pastry crust:

  • 520 grams All Purpose flour
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 14 Tbspn butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 Tbspn freshly grated meyer lemon zest
  • 2 Tbspn freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
  • 4 Tbspn cold water

METHOD:

  1. Combine the ingredients except the water in a food processor and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.
  2. Gradually add the water and pulse just until a dough begins to form.
  3. Remove the pastry dough from the food processor, form it into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
  5. Roll out the pastry crust. Prick the bottom of the crust several times with a fork. Then, line the pastry with parchment paper and weigh down with pie weights (or dry beans, which is what I use).
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the pastry looks golden.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool.

for lemon curd:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbspn corn starch
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbspn butter
  • 1 1/3 cups boiling water
  • 1 Tbspn freshly grated meyer lemon zest

METHOD:

  1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Gradually blend in the cold water and lemon juice.
  2. Add the egg yolks and butter, blending until smooth.
  3. Gradually add in the boiling water, stirring constantly.
  4. Place the saucepan on medium high heat and bring to a full boil, stirring gently with a spatula and scraping the bottom (to prevent burning).  Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat and simmer for one minute.
  5. Remove the curd from heat and mix in the lemon zest. Let cool.

for blackberry curd:

  • 2 cups fresh or thawed, frozen blackberries*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbspn corn starch
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 1 Tbspn creme de cassis
  • 1 Tbspn freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbspn butter
  • 1 1/3 cup boiling water

METHOD:

  1. In a food processor or blender, puree the blackberries until smooth.  If desired, pour through a sieve to take out seeds (I actually like the seeds for texture, so I don’t strain them out.)  You should have one cup of blackberry puree; if there is extra, set aside for other uses.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Gradually blend in the blackberry puree, creme de cassis, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  3. Add the egg yolks and butter, blending until smooth.
  4. Gradually add in the boiling water, stirring constantly.
  5. Place the saucepan on medium high heat and bring to a full boil, stirring gently with a spatula and scraping the bottom (to prevent burning).  Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat and simmer for one minute.
  6. Remove the curd from heat and let cool.

for meringue and assembly:

  • 7-8 egg whites
  • 1/2 tspn cream of tartar
  • 5 Tbspn sugar
  • 1 1/2 tspn vanilla extract

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.
  2. Place egg whites in a clean mixer bowl with the whisk attachment. Begin to whip at low until the egg whites start to foam.
  3. Add the cream of tartar and increase speed to medium high. Gradually add the sugar.
  4. Whip the egg whites until glossy stiff peaks, being careful not to overwhip.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and whip the egg whites on high for about three seconds, “sealing” the meringue.
  6. Spoon the blackberry and lemon curds alternatively into the prepared pie crusts. Top with meringue, making sure to seal the meringue to the pie crust at the outer edges.
  7. Place pies in the lower shelf of the oven, and bake at 220C for three minutes, until the tips of the meringue become golden.  Then, lower the oven temperature to 180 degrees C and continue to bake for 7-8 more minutes, until you reach the desired color on the meringue.  Remove and let cool.

Apricot Pistachio Chocolate Mousse Tart

INGREDIENTS:
makes six 4.5-inch tartlets
Chocolate mousse recipe adapted from Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger’s Essence of Chocolate.

for pastry:

  • 240 gr All Purpose flour
  • 65 gr pistachios, raw and removed from shells (measured without shells)
  • 50 gr sugar
  • 7 Tbspn butter, cold
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3-4 Tbspn water, cold
  • 1-2 oz. dark chocolate, optional

METHOD:

  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, pistachios, and sugar and process until the pistachios are finely ground.
  2. Using the food processor or a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour and pistachio mixture until the size of small peas.
  3. Add the egg yolk and gradually add the water just until a dough begins to form when you press it between two fingers. Do not overmix.
  4. Form the pastry into a ball and refrigerate for at least one hour. (or stick it in the freezer for a shorter amount of time.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
  6. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and press the dough into the tart pans. Prick the bottoms of the dough all over with a fork, cover with parchment paper, and weigh down using dry beans or pie weights.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven, remove the beans, and let cool.
  8. Once the pastry crusts are cool, melt the dark chocolate, if using. Brush melted dark chocolate on the bottoms of each of the tarts. Let cool.

for chocolate mousse:

  • 12 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbspn sugar, opt*
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, cold

[*if you are using >70% dark chocolate, I recommend adding the sugar. for chocolate <70% dark, either skip the sugar or decrease the amount.]

METHOD:

  1. Place chopped dark chocolate in a bowl with a fine mesh sieve on top and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan on medium high heat, bring the milk and sugar to a simmer.
  4. Temper the egg yolks by pouring in a small stream of simmering milk to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Once the yolks and milk are combined, return to the saucepan and to heat. Cook, scraping the bottom constantly with a spatula until a custard forms and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat immediately.
  5. Pour the custard through the fine mesh sieve onto the chopped and prepared chocolate. Let sit for one to two minutes. Whisk the chocolate and custard together until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
  6. Meanwhile, chill a large balloon whisk and bowl.
  7. Once the chocolate custard has come to room temperature, whip the cold cream in the chilled bowl until soft peaks form.
  8. Gently fold the cooled chocolate custard into the whipped cream until combined. Do not overmix.
  9. Cover and chill the mousse to set in the refrigerator for at least four hours before using.

for assembly:

  • 12 medium-sized ripe but firm apricots
  • apricot jam
  • pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped

METHOD:

  1. Pipe or spoon the mousse into the prepared tart shells.
  2. Slice the apricots and arrange on the chocolate mousse.
  3. Warm the apricot jam and, using a pastry brush, lightly coat the apricot slices with warm jam.
  4. Top with roughly chopped pistachios.