No-bake peach and almond tartlets

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 3/4 cup 35% cream
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp orange-blossom water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large ripe, firm peaches, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

METHOD:

  1. Stir crumbs with butter in a medium bowl, until mixture is moist. Line 8 cups in a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Scoop a scant 3 tbsp crumb mixture into each cup. Firmly press from centre of liner to edges and up the sides until crust is even with rim. Refrigerate until firm.
  2. Beat mascarpone with cream, honey, orange-blossom water and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high until fluffy, about 2 min. Remove muffin tin from refrigerator and fill prepared crusts with mascarpone mixture up to the rim. Smooth tops. Refrigerate for about 1 hour.
  3. Stir peaches with sugar in a small bowl. Let sit until peaches soften, about 15 to 20 min. Drain liquid and stir in almonds.
  4. Unmold tartlets onto individual dessert plates. Scoop mixture over each tartlet.
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Apricot and Blackberry-Marzipan Hamantaschen

INGREDIENTS:
makes ~30 hamantaschen total (~15 of each flavor)for cookie:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 385 gr (2 1/4 cups) AP flour
  • dash of salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 8 oz butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces
  • zest of 1 lemon, freshly grated
  • 1 large egg, beaten

METHOD:

  1. Combine the powdered sugar, flour, salt, egg yolks, butter, and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a dough begins to form.
  2. Remove the dough from the food processor and wrap in parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
  3. In the meantime, prepare the fillings–recipes included below.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Prepare cookie sheets lined with silpats or parchment paper.
  5. Lightly sprinkle your workspace with powdered sugar or flour. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter (~2.5 – 3 inches in diameter), cut out rounds.
  6. For apricot hamantaschen, spoon about a teaspoon of filling into the center of each cookie. For blackberry-marzipan hamantaschen, place about a teaspoon of almond paste in the center of each cookie round and top with a small amount of blackberry preserves.
  7. Fold the edged of the cookie rounds up and pinch the corners together. Place the cookies on the prepared lined cookie sheets. Brush the outsides of the cookies with the beaten egg.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the edges are lightly golden.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Note: Despite tasting really good, this is perhaps one of the most temperamental doughs I’ve worked with. It likes to be rolled out cold (otherwise sticks to everything, even parchment paper) but folded into cookie form when it’s a little closer to room temperature.
Note: Don’t roll the dough out thinner than 1/4 of an inch, either, which will make it difficult to work with.

for dried apricot quick jam filling:

  • 1/4 lbs dried (California) apricots (~7 gr)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • sprinkle of lemon juice, freshly squeezed

METHOD:

  1. Combine the dried apricots, water, and sugar in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Over medium-low heat, cook covered for about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and continue cooking for about 5-10 minutes more, until the liquid has reduced.
  4. Pour the contents of the saucepan into a food processor. Add a small sprinkling of lemon juice. Pulse until the apricots are roughly chopped but do not process until smooth.
  5. Let cool before filling cookies.

for blackberry-marzipan filling:
blackberry preserves
almond paste (marzipan)

or
Another filling could be:
Poppyseed
Mascarpone
figs

Passionfruit tapioca and lemon cream tarts

INGREDIENTS:
makes six 4.5-inch tarts

for tart shells:

  • 9 Tbspn (4.5 oz/127 gr) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 gr) sugar
  • 1/8 tspn salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cups (250 gr) AP flour

METHOD:

  1. In a mixer bowl, combine butter, sugar, and salt. Beat on medium until smooth.
  2. Mix in egg and beat until smooth.
  3. Add flour to the bowl, mix on low just until incorporated.
  4. Wrap the dough in parchment paper or cling wrap and chill for at least two hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 165 degrees C.
  6. Working quickly, roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thick. Press down into six 4.5-inch tart pans and prick the bottoms all over with a fork. Keep the dough cold, and if necessary, place in freezer for a few minutes before baking.
  7. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, rotating once half-way through for even baking, until the crusts are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

for passionfruit tapioca filling:

  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbspn (5 oz.) passionfruit puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup (170 gr) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup tapioca pearls (not instant tapioca)

METHOD:

  1. Prepare a double boiler, with water simmering in the bottom half.
  2. In the bowl of the double boiler, whisk to combine the passionfruit puree, eggs, egg yolk, sugar, and salt. Whisking constantly, cook in the double boiler over simmering water until the mixture becomes very thick and reaches 85 degrees C.
  3. Remove from the stove and whisk to cool, until 60 degrees C. Place the mixture in a blender or a food processor. While the blender/food processor is running, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to fully incorporate into the curd before adding the next tablespoon.
  4. Meanwhile, fill a small pot with two inches of water. Bring to a simmer and add the tapioca pearls. The pearls should be well-covered with water. Simmer and stir for about 12-15 minutes, until the tapioca pearls are al dente, with a mostly translucent outside. Drain in a mesh strainer.
  5. Stir the drained tapioca pearls into the finished passionfruit curd. Pour into the cooled tart shells and refrigerate for at least one hour, until the filling is set.

for lemon cream:

  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbspn powdered sugar
  • 2 tspn fresh lemon juice
  • fresh zest from 2 lemons

METHOD:

  1. In a bowl, combine the mascarpone cheese and whipping cream. Beat until very soft peaks.
  2. Whisk in the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat just until stiff peaks but do not overwhip.
  3. Spoon or pipe the cream onto the prepared tarts.

Apple & Cinnamon Layer Cake

INGREDIENTS:
For the crisps:

  • 65g caster sugar
  • 40ml water
  • 1 firm eating apple
  • a few pinches of ground cinnamon

For the cakes:

  • 4 eggs
  • 340g plain flour
  • 2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2-3 eating apples – you need 200g grated
  • 200g coconut oil, solid
  • 340g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

For the icing:

  • 350g mascarpone
  • 40g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 130C for the crisps. Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves and it starts bubbling. Pour into a bowl to cool.
  2. Cut the apple in half, top to bottom, and remove the stalk. Use a mandolin to cut thin slices of the apple – I used my thinnest setting. Set the slices onto a parchment lined baking tray. Use a pastry brush to thinly coat the slices with some of the syrup. Sprinkle over a little cinnamon. Put the tray into the oven and bake for 30 minutes then turn the oven off and leave to cool inside. Remove from the oven and place into a sealed tin or box.

  3. To start the cakes, preheat the oven to 180C. Grease two 6″ cake tins and line the bottoms with baking parchment. Wipe a clean mixing bowl down with a piece of lemon (to remove any little bits of grease). Separate the eggs, putting the egg whites into the lemony bowl (to be whipped later) and the yolks into a cup/bowl. Sieve the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sea salt onto a plate or bowl. Peel the apples then grate them – weigh and make you have 200g (don’t add extra, it’ll throw the liquid balance off
  4. Put the coconut oil and brown sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium until fluffy and paler than before – about 4 minutes. Add the yolks one by one, beating well and scraping down in between each addition. Take off the machine and tip in the 200g of grated apple and the lemon juice. Fold together. Get your egg whites and whip them (I do this by hand because I think it’s simpler, but you could transfer the apple mix to another bowl and very throughly clean the mixer bowl and use the machine, or use a hand beater) until they hold stiff peaks (be careful not to overdo it – a spike on the end of the beater should hold upright with a little waver – it won’t be as firm as meringue).
  5. Fold half of the sieved dry ingredients into the apple mix, carefully but throughly, scraping the sides and bottom. Add half of the whipped egg whites and fold them in, followed by the rest of the flour, then the rest of the egg whites. It takes a little bit of patience but you need to get it evenly combined (no lumps of flour or big streaks of egg white) without losing too much air. Divide the mixture between the two tins, level, then form a dip in the middle.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes until domed, cracked, golden and a skewer comes out cleanly from the middle. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes then remove from the tin and leave to cool. When the oven has turned off and cooled down a little, I gave the crisps a crunch boost by leaving them in there for a few minutes.
  7. Make the icing as the cakes bake or cool. Place the mascarpone into a bowl and beat until smooth. Sieve over the icing sugar, pour in the lemon and beat again. Keep in the fridge until you need it.
  8. When the cakes are barely warm (or cold) you can start cutting – use a sharp serrated knife to cut the dome away from the top, trying to keep as flat as possible. Work out where the halfway line is on the remaining cake and carefully score all the way around with your knife, then go around cutting deeply to split the cake (this should help guide the knife so you get an even cut).
  9. Place one of the cakes onto a clean serving plate. Smooth over 1/4 of the icing, going right out and almost over the edge. Add the next layer and repeat until finished. Finally arrange the crisps on top. Best immediately, keeps assembled for a day in the fridge (will be quite different to fresh), plain cake for 3-4 days in a tin.

Chocolate cupcakes with lemon mascarpone frosting

INGREDIENTS:
makes about 18 cupcakes

for chocolate cupcakes:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1 tspn baking soda
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.  Prepare 18 cupcake molds and liners.
  2. In a mixer bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Mix to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the beaten egg, vegetable oil, and milk.  Stir to mix.  Then, with the mixer on low, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Mix on low until evenly distributed.
  4. Pour the boiling water into the batter and mix on medium low until smooth.
  5. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes.  When a toothpick inserted at the center of the cupcake comes out cleanly, the cakes are done.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Tip: I highly recommend using cupcake liners for this because the cake is so moist and fluffy that it would probably stick to the cupcake molds and create much trouble!

for lemon mascarpone frosting:

  • 1/2 lb. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • freshly grated zest of 2 large lemons
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixer bowl.  Beat on high until soft peaks form.  Do not overmix!
  2. Immediately after the frosting forms, pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.

Chocolate Tuxedo Cream Cake

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa (or use 1/2 cup ground cocoa powder and increase the total amount of sugar below to 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Flour Cake Enhancer (optional)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Prepare two 8″ x 1 1/2″ round cake pans by spraying with non-stick cooking spray and then lining with parchment or wax paper circles.  Into a mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, sift flour with ground chocolate, cake enhancer, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.
  3. Add butter and 3/4 cup buttermilk. Beat on low speed to combine ingredients. Scrape sides of bowl and then beat on low-medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup buttermilk, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat additional 2 minutes.
  4. Spread batter into prepared pans. Bake at 180ºF for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on racks for 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pans.
French Silk Pie Layer Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, but cool
  • 1/4 cup white C & H sugar
  • about 3 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

METHOD:

  1. In a double boiler, melt dark chocolate about 2/3 of the way.  Remove top of double boiler and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted.  Set aside to cool further.  I recommend cooling until the chocolate starts to thicken slightly so that it won’t melt the butter and will be firm enough to withstand the next cake layer on top of it without smooshing out the sides.
  2. Cream butter.  Gradually add sugar, creaming well.  Blend in melted and cooled chocolate and vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating 4 minutes after each addition with an electric mixer on medium speed.
  3. Start assembling–see below.
Mascarpone Cream Frosting Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

METHOD:

  1. In a mixer bowl, cream mascarpone, vanilla extract & sugar.  Add cream and whip on high until stiff.

Cocoa Whipped Cream Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup powdered cocoa
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup hot tap water
  • 2 cups cold heavy whipping cream

METHOD:

  1. In mixer bowl with a wire whisk attachment, mix cocoa, sugar & hot water, mixing to form a paste.  Allow to cool before adding cream.  Add cream and start mixing on low to incorporate cream into cocoa paste.  Stop the mixer and scrape the bow.  Mix on high until stiff peaks form.

Assembling the Cake:

  1. Once you’ve made the French silk pie layer, start the assembly process.
  2. Cut each of the two cakes in half so you have four layers. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate or cake stand.  On the bottom layer, spread the French silk pie filling to within 1/4-inch of the edge.  Place the second layer on; cover & refrigerate until the mascarpone layer is ready.
  3. Spread on the mascarpone frosting to about 1/4-inch of the edge.  Place the third cake layer on top of that.  Spread half the cocoa whipped cream on the cake and top with the final cake layer.  Frost the sides of the cake with the remaining cocoa whipped cream.  Cover the cake and refrigerate.

Ganache Ingredients:

  • Dark Chocolate roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

METHOD:

  1. Place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
  2. In a small pan over medium heat, bring the cream and butter just to a simmer.  Pour cream over chocolate and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir to combine chocolate & cream.
  4. Pour ganache directly in the center of the top of the cake.  As it spreads and drips over the sides, if there are spots with no ganache, make sure you drip or spread some over there.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Whoopie Pies with Cocoa Mascarpone Filling

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 3/4 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 recipe Cocoa Mascarpone Cream Filling (recipe below)

METHOD:

  1. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa powder.  In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light-colored and fluffy.
  2. Add egg, buttermilk, and vanilla and beat until combined.  Slowly add dry ingredients, mixing until combined.  Scoop into an airtight plastic container and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 205 degrees C.
  4. Using a medium sized cookie scoop drop 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.  Bake at 205 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until puffed and cracked on top.
  5. Allow to cool a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet and then carefully move to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Once all cookies are baked and cooled, work on the filling.

Cocoa Mascarpone Cream Filling:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 16 oz. mascarpone cheese
  •  1 cup heavy whipping cream

METHOD:

  1. In a mixer bowl thoroughly mix cocoa, sugar, and hot water.  Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes.  Add cream, mascarpone & vanilla.  Mix slowly at first to incorporate ingredients and then beat on high until very thick.
  2. Place frosting in a large zip-top bag and cut one of the bottom corners 1/2 inch.  Squeeze about 4 tablespoons of frosting on each of 16 cookies.  Then top with the remaining 16 cookies.  Now you have yummy whoopie pies.
  3. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, if they last long enough.