Strawberry Passionfruit Tart

INGREDIENTS:
makes one 9×9-inch square tart

for tart shell:

  • 1 1/2 cups (210 g) flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbspn dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 2 tspn freshly grated meyer lemon zest
  • 10 Tbspn butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1 Tbspn fresh meyer lemon juice
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla
  • 1 – 2 Tbspn cold water

METHOD:

  1. Combine the flour, dark brown sugar, salt, and lemon zest in a bowl. Mix.
  2. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture until butter is the size of small peas.
  3. Mix in the lemon juice and vanilla into the flour mixture. Gradually add the water just until a dough forms when pressed between your fingers. Do not overmix.
  4. Form the dough into a flat disc, wrap with parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until about 1/8-inch thickness and place in the tart pan, pressing the dough gently into the sides. Trim and discard any excess dough. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork. Return to the refrigerator and chill for at least 10 – 15 minutes.
  7. Place a piece of parchment paper over the dough and weigh down with pie weights or dry beans. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until the edges begin to turn golden. Remove the weights and parchment paper and continue to bake for 3 – 5 minutes more, until the entire tart crust is golden.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

for filling:

  • 2 – 3 punnets strawberries
  • 1 Tbspn water
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tspn gelatin powder
  • 1/4 cup passionfruit pulp or puree
  • 1 1/2 Tbspn sugar
  • whipped cream, optional

METHOD:

  1. Trim the green end off the strawberries and arrange in the cooled tart shell.
  2. Place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin powder over the water and let sit briefly.
  3. In a small saucepan, stir to combine the passionfruit and sugar. Add the gelatin and warm over low heat until, stirring until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Do not let boil.
  4. Once dissolved, remove from heat and let cool briefly. Spoon or brush a thin layer of the passionfruit onto the strawberries–do not use all of the passionfruit. Place the tart in the refrigerator to let the first layer of jelly set. Keep the passionfruit at room temperature. After about 20 – 30 minutes, brush another layer of passionfruit jelly onto the tart and return to chill. Repeat once more, using the remainder of the passionfruit. Tart is ready to serve when the jelly has set completely. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Strawberry-Lemonade Meringue Pie

INGREDIENTS:
makes one 9″ pie

for pastry:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 6 Tbspn ice water

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 230 degrees C.
  2. In a food processor, combine flour and salt. Cut in the butter in ~Tbspn-sized chunks.
  3. Process the flour, salt, and butter for a few pulses.
  4. Slowly add in water, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing between each addition.
  5. Process just until water is integrated and the mixture is the texture of tiny pebbles. When you press the mixture between your fingers, it should form a dough.
  6. Dump the dough onto a piece of parchment paper or a lightly floured board and form into a ball. If the dough has warmed up too much during this process, freeze for ten to fifteen minutes before continuing.
  7. Roll out the pastry dough and place into pie plate. Prick the bottom of the pie several times with a fork. Return to the freezer for ten to fifteen minutes if the dough has warmed up too much in the rolling process.
  8. Before baking, line the inside of the pie crust with a piece of parchment paper and weigh down with pie weights (or dry beans, which is what I use).
  9. Bake in the oven for ~15-17 minutes, until the outside rim of the crust begins to turn a golden brown. Carefully remove the pie weights and parchment paper, lower the oven temperature to 190 degrees C, and continue to bake for 5-7 minutes more, until the pie crust has turned golden brown and is no longer shiny. Remove from the oven and let cool.

for strawberry-lemonade curd filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbspn cornstarch
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbspn butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 Tbspn freshly grated lemon zest

METHOD:

  1. In a food processor or blender, puree the strawberries until smooth.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually blend in the strawberry puree and 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 mix in the lemon zest. Let cool.

for lemon curd filling:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbspn cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tbspn freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 Tbspn butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 Tbspn freshly grated lemon zest

METHOD:

  1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually blend in the lemon juice.
  2. Add the egg yolk and butter, blending until smooth.
  3. Gradually add 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 meringue and assembly:

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

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 165 degrees C.
  2. Place egg whites in a large bowl and sprinkle in the cream of tartar. Stir using a whisk until the surface of the egg whites is completely covered with foam.
  3. Increase speed and whip the egg whites, gradually adding the sugar, until the whites hold glossy stiff (but still a bit rounded) peaks. Do not overbeat!
  4. Add in the vanilla extract with a quick stir.
  5. Fill the pre-baked pie crust with strawberry-lemonade curd and then swirl in the lemon curd.
  6. Top with meringue, making sure to seal the meringue to the pie crust at the outer edges.
  7. Bake for fifteen minutes, until the meringue is just barely golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool for at least one hour at room temperature before serving.

Peach and Lemon Verbena Pie

INGREDIENTS:
makes one 8-inch deep dish pie

for pastry:

  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks (226 g) butter, cold
  • ½ tspn salt
  • 1 Tbspn almond extract
  • 6 – 7 Tbspn water, cold

for filling:

  • 3 lb (1.36 kg) ripe but firm large yellow peaches
  • 10 – 12 lemon verbena leaves
  • ½ cup (100 g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (30 g) tapioca flour
  • 1 tspn almond extract
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 2 Tbspn heavy cream
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

METHOD:

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour until the size of small peas. Add the almond extract and mix briefly. Gradually add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together when pressed between two fingers. There should still be chunks of butter. Do not overmix! Form the dough into a disc, wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and pit the peaches, and cut each peach into 8 slices. Toss the peach slices with the lemon verbena and sugar. Transfer the peaches to a strainer suspended over a saucepan. Let macerate for 1 hour.
  3. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator. Reserve about  ⅓ of the dough. Roll out the other ⅔ of dough on a lightly-floured surface to ⅛-inch thick. Place the dough in a 8-inch springform pan, trimming the excess. Combine the excess dough with the reserved dough and roll out to ⅛-inch thick. Return both the pan and the prepared dough to the refrigerator to chill.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220° C, with the baking rack in the bottom-most position.
  5. Transfer the peach slices to a bowl. With the juices in the saucepan, cook over medium high heat for 12 – 15 minutes, until bubbling and thickened. Pour the reduction over the peaches. Add the tapioca flour and almond extract and toss to combine.
  6. Separate the egg. Whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream. Remove the prepared pie shell and pre-rolled dough from the refrigerator. Brush a layer of egg white on the bottom of the pie shell. Fill the pie shell with the peaches. Cut strips of the rolled dough and create a lattice pattern on top of the pie. Brush the top with the egg yolk wash, and sprinkle very generously with turbinado sugar.
  7. Bake the pie on the bottom-most oven rack for 20 minutes. When the top of the pie turns brown, place a piece of foil lightly on top. Reduce the oven to 190° C and bake for 40 more minutes, until the fruit is bubbling. Remove from oven and let cool briefly on a wire rack. Serve warm or cooled, but preferably on the same day the pie is made.

Pumpkin pie with caramel brandy hard sauce

INGREDIENTS:
makes two 4.5″ piesfor pumpkin puree:

  • 1 small pumpkin

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 165 degrees C.
  2. Split the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Discard the seeds.
  3. Place the pumpkin halves face down on a baking sheet with sides.
  4. Bake for 1 hour until fork-tender. Remove from oven and let cool.
  5. Puree the pumpkin pulp in a food processor until smooth.

for pastry:

  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold, in small cubes
  • 4 Tbspn water, cold

for pumpkin filling:

  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbspn dark brown sugar
  • white sugar, to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • pumpkin pie spices, to taste (try: ginger, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, white pepper)
  • heavy cream, opt., for crust
  • turbinado sugar, opt., for crust

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. Meanwhile, make the pumpkin filling. Combine the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, white sugar (if using), eggs, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 1/4 cup whole milk into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
  7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out, about 1/8″ thick. Place the dough into the pie plates and crimp the edges. Using a fork, pierce the bottom of the crust several times.
  8. If the dough has become soft from rolling, place in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes.
  9. Line the inside of the pie crusts with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dry beans.
  10. Bake for 15-17 minutes, then remove from oven. Remove the beans and parchment paper and, if desired, line the edge of the pie crust with foil. Return to the oven for 5-7 more minutes until the crust is golden. Remove and fill with pumpkin filling.
  11. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake the pumpkin pies for 30 minutes, then brush the exposed crusts with heavy cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar, if using. Return the pies to the oven and continue to bake for ~10-15 additional minutes until pie is mostly set but jiggles just slightly in the middle when gently bumped.
  12. Remove from oven and let cool briefly. Serve warm with caramel brandy hard sauce (recipe below).
Caramel brandy hard sauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbspn butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1-2 Tbspn brandy, to taste

METHOD:

  1. Have all ingredients pre-measured and ready next to the stove.
  2. In a small light-colored saucepan (with tall sides, preferably), wet the sugar with just enough water to make it the consistency of wet sand (~1 – 1 1/12 Tbspn water).
  3. Cook the sugar on medium heat.  Do not stir once the sugar starts boiling–swirl the pan around gently instead to insure even cooking. Cook until the sugar is a deep amber color. Immediately add the butter and whisk thoroughly. Be careful–this will splutter!
  4. As soon as the butter has completely melted, remove from heat and carefully add the heavy cream, whisking continuously.
  5. Once the cream has incorporated, pour the caramel into another heat-resistant container to cool, straining through a fine mesh sieve to remove unevenly cooked sugar, if necessary. Let cool briefly and whisk in brandy to taste. Caramel will continue to thicken as it cools.

Strawberry and Rosemary-Caramel Buckwheat Tart

INGREDIENTS:
makes one 9″ round tartfor tart crust:

  • 100 gr buckwheat flour
  • 160 gr AP flour
  • 50 gr 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 buckwheat and AP flours 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.
  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/refrigerator 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 the 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 rosemary-caramel:

  • 100 gr sugar
  • ~2 heaping Tbspn fresh rosemary leaves (~1 1/2 large sprigs of rosemary)
  • 3 Tbspn butter
  • 1/2 tspn coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tspn freshly squeezed lemon juice

METHOD:

  1. Have all ingredients pre-measured and ready next to the stove.
  2. In a small, light-colored saucepan, wet the sugar with just enough water to make it the consistency of wet sand (~1 – 1 1/2 Tbspn water). Add the rosemary leaves.
  3. Cook the sugar and rosemary on medium heat. Do not stir once the sugar starts boiling–swirl the pan around gently to insure even cooking. Cook until the sugar is a deep amber color, right before it is about to burn. Immediately add the butter and salt and whisk thoroughly. Be careful–this will sputter!
  4. As soon as the butter has completely melted, remove from heat and carefully add the heavy cream, whisking continuously.
  5. Once the cream has incorporated, pour the caramel into another heat-resistant container to cool, straining through a fine mesh sieve to remove unevenly cooked sugar, if necessary. Let cool briefly. Stir in the lemon juice. Let cool briefly, and spread a thin layer onto the bottom of the tart crust. Save any extra caramel for other uses. Let the caramel cool to set.

for cream:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • 150 gr sugar
  • 2 Tbspn AP flour
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract

METHOD:

  1. Bring the milk and cream to just a simmer.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar. Whisk in the flour.
  3. Using the simmering milk, temper the egg mixture by adding a little bit of the hot liquid at a time, whisking constantly.
  4. Return the milk and egg mixture to heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the saucepan until the mixture thickens and can thickly coat the back of a spoon.
  5. Immediately remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  6. Let cool. Once cool, pour on top of the caramel in the tart crust and smooth. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let it set.

for strawberry syrup and final assembly:

  • 12 oz. (~285 gr) frozen strawberries, thawed with juices
  • 1 tspn (~5 gr) lemon juice
  • 1-2 Tbspn sugar, to taste
  • fresh strawberries, sliced or whole

METHOD:

  1. Extract all the juice from the frozen strawberries by pressing them through a fine mesh strainer. You should have a little more than a 1/2 cup of juice. Set the pulp aside for other uses.
  2. Boil the strawberry juice until it has reduced by more than a half (~3-4 Tbspn left).
  3. Stir in the lemon juice and then stir in the sugar to taste. Let cool briefly.
  4. Arrange the fresh strawberries on top of the prepared tart. Brush the strawberries with the slightly warm strawberry syrup.

Raspberry Rose “Hidden” Chocolate Tart

INGREDIENTS:
makes one 9″ tart for pastry crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups AP flour (~6 oz/260 grams)
  • 7 Tbspn butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3-4 Tbspn dried rose buds
  • 1 Tbspn rose extract
  • 1-2 Tbspn water

METHOD:

  1. Combine the ingredients in a food processor and pulse just until a dough begins to form.
  2. Remove the pastry dough from the food processor, form into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.
  4. 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 it down with pie weights (or dry beans, which is what I use).  If making tartelettes, just prick the bottom of the pastry without weighing them down.
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the pastry looks golden.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool.

for “hidden” chocolate ganache filling:

  • 3 oz. bittersweet or dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2.5 oz. heavy cream
  • 1/2 Tbspn butter
  • 1/2 Tbspn Godiva chocolate liquor, optional

METHOD:

  1. Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, combine heavy cream and butter. Heat 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 liquor, if using.
  5. Immediately pour the chocolate into the bottom of the prepared tart crust and let cool.

for pastry cream:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbspn AP flour
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract

METHOD:

  1. Bring the milk to just a simmer.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar.  Whisk in the flour.
  3. Using the simmering milk, temper the egg mixture by adding a little bit of the hot milk at a time, whisking constantly.
  4. Return the milk and egg mixture to heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the saucepan until the mixture thickens and can thickly coat the back of a spoon.
  5. Immediately remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  6. Let cool.  Once cool, pour on top of the chocolate in the tart crust and smooth.  Refrigerate for at least an hour to let it set.

for assembly:

  • raspberries
  • raspberry-apricot jam (or, just apricot jam)

METHOD:

  1. In a large saute pan, melt a few tablespoons of jam–how much you’ll need will be proportional to how many raspberries you dare to pile on top of your tart.
  2. Once the jam has melted, add the raspberries and gently! roll them around the pan so that they are evenly coated with melted jam.  Remove from heat immediately and pile away!

Key Lime Pie

DSC_4141

INGREDIENTS:

makes ~24 mini hearts
for graham cracker crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

METHOD:

  1. Combine graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Mix in butter.
  2. Press the crumb mixture into (sprayed and lined) the bottoms of the pans, about 1 Tbspn per heart.  Use something like the side of a small rolling pin to press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and a little bit up the sides.
  3. Put the crust in the freezer while making the filling.

for filling:

  • 2 14oz. cans condensed milk
  • 8 large egg yolks (save those whites for meringues/macarons!)
  • 2-3 Tbspn key lime zest
  • 1 cup key lime juice (~25 key limes… have fun!)
  • green food coloring

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 165 degrees C.
  2. Combine milk, yolks, zest, and juice in a bowl.  Whisk until smooth.  Whisk in one to two drops of food coloring for a light green color.
  3. Pour mixture into the crumb-prepared pans, filling about to about two-thirds full.  Bake for 13-15 minutes until the center looks set but moves like jello when you give the pan a bit of a gentle shake.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Keep the pies in the pans until you are ready to serve.