Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mini apple tarts!

This is a recipe I have been making for years. It is super easy, delicious, and makes people think your a really impressive baker. My parents had a potluck this weekend and asked me to make this tart for them to bring. I made one big one for them and several little ones just for me! The recipe takes a whole stick of butter so its not low on calories but its worth it! You can make this tart in a tart pan or free form. I prefer the free form, it tastes the same I just like the rusticness ( really word? of it.

Apple Tart
Adapted from smitten kitchen (this is one of my favorite food blogs, always has great recipes)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
3/4 stick of unsalted butter (6 tbsp)
3 tbsp cold water

3 large apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)
2 tbsp melted butter
5 tbsp sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1. Mix flour and sugar for the crust together. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to flour mixture. Rub butter and flour together until mixture resembles bread crumbs with large pea sized lumps. Add the  water a little bit at a time mixing until a dough is formed. You may not need all the water or you may need a little more, add a little at a time. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a least half an hour. 

2. Prepare your apples, saving the peel and cores. Once dough is sufficiently chilled, take out of the fridge and begin to roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Now this is where you can make the choice of either mini tarts or a big tart and if you want to use a tart pan or make it free form. 

  • Free form (my fav): Roll dough out into a rough circle. Fan apples out about and inch from the edge of the dough, over lapping them in a circular pattern to the center. Fold the edges over the apples and place tart onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. 
  • Tart Pan: Roll dough out slightly larger than the size of your tart pan. Carefully drape the dough over a rolling pin and the over the tart pan. Fan apples out at the edge of pan and work your way into the center. Fold the extra dough that is overlapping the edge over the apples.
  • For mini tarts follow the directions for free form or a pan only divide your dough into 8 equal parts.
3. Brush tart with melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake in a 400 degree over for about an hour (30 minutes for minis). Pay attention and pull the tarts out of the oven when the edges are golden brown and the center apples are just showing some color.

4. While tarts are baking, put the peels and cores in a sauce pan with 1/2 cup sugar and just enough water to cover the peels. Simmer on low for 30 minutes and strain. When tarts come out of the over pour a few tbsp of the glaze over the tart while it is still hot. 

5. Let them cool and enjoy!

Try varying the recipe a little for your own tastes:

  • Add raspberries to make it an apple raspberry tart.
  • Try a completely different fruit like peaches or pears
  • Use cranberries and some orange zest and replace the glaze with orange juice
  • Remove the sugar and add some cheddar cheese for a savory tart.
  • Let your imagination run wild!!!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Coconut Chocolate Cake

I made this cake a while ago for my dad's birthday. His birthday is so close to my brothers and Christmas that by the time we make it to his I've been baking for a whole week. This year he requested anything with coconut and chocolate. I decided to go with a simple chocolate cake, filled with coconut custard, and covered in cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut. It turned out amazingly well and was the favorite cake of my family's holiday season.

I used my basic chocolate cake recipe for the base (seen here) bake in a 8 inch round pan.

Coconut Custard
2 egg yokes 
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp + 2 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk
1 handfull-ish shredded coconut

1. Whisk together the yokes, cornstarch, and 2 tbsp sugar in a small heat proof bowl (glass is preferable).
2. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, bring milk and the rest of the sugar to a simmer.
3. Pour a small bit of the hot milk into to the egg mixture whisking constantly. Add the remaining mixture, continue mixing.
4. Pour the entire mixture back into the sauce pan and add in the coconut. Continue whisking the mixture over medium heat. It will thicken quickly so make sure you are paying attention and keep stirring!
5. When custard has reached the desired consistency, remove from heat. Cover the mixture tightly with plastic wrap and press down to remove air. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Cream Cheese Frosting (one of my favs)
4 oz salted butter (room temperature)
8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

1. Beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
2. Add sugar a little bit at a time, beating until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract.

Putting it all together!!!
1 8 inch chocolate cake
coconut custard
cream cheese frosting
shredded toasted coconut

1. Cut the fully cooled cake in half horizontally.
2. Spread the custard on top of the bottom half evenly, then replace the top.
3. Cover the entire cake in cream cheese frosting. Don't worry about making it pretty, just slap it on. 
4. Take a hand full of toasted coconut and press it into the sides of the cake. The flakes will stick to the frosting. Sprinkle all over the top as well until you have a beautiful toasted coconut mountain of deliciousness!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lets be British!

(please read the following in the most obnoxiously cheesy British accent you can imagine)

For those of you don't know, this weekend marked Her Majesty the Queen's diamond jubilee. She has ruled for a cracking 60 years. To celebrate the occasion, events have been planned across England for the past four days, including a smashing boat parade down the Thames, a lovely church service, and a brilliant concert in front of the palace.

Miles away in sunny Florida, my family decided to get into the spirit of it all and had our own little tea party in honor of the queen. We sat in front of the telly with our scones, dainty tea sandwiches, and pimm's cups watching the boat parade.

The delightful sandwiches had three different fillings; 1st was turkey, avocado, and boursin cheese, 2nd was a traditional egg mayonnaise, and 3rd was cucumber and laughing cow cheese. All cut into little triangles and tasted delicious!!

For drinks, we made the traditional Pimm's cup. This is an English summer drink which combines Pimm's (a spiced, gin-like liquor), english lemonade, and fruit. For ours, I mixed a cup of Pimm's, 3 cups of ginger ale, and slices of lemon and cucumber. If you do a google search you can find a load of different recipes and things. I suggest you just mixing until you get the taste you want.

Of course I made homemade scones because what English party would be complete without them? I have never made them before and I was a little nervous to be honest. I know how easily they can turn dry and become as hard as rock. My mother referred me to her go to recipe and somehow they turned out perfectly! 

English Scones
from my Mum's old recipe book
12 oz self rising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
3 oz cold unsalted butter
6 fl oz milk

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl.
2. Add sugar and butter to the flour. Rub butter into the mixture until it resembles fine bread crumbs. To do this literally mix the butter and flour with your hands, rubbing the butter with your figure tips to break it up.
3. Add the milk a little bit at a time, mixing until a dough is formed. You may not need all the milk. You want just enough to form a ball of dough.
4. Dump mixture out on to a lightly floured surface and kneed until smooth.
5. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until a 1/2 an inch to 3/4 of an inch think. Using a round cut, punch scones out of the dough. Repeat this with the scraps until all the dough is used. Place scones on baking sheet.
6. Brush the tops of scones with milk before placing them into the oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the tops are slightly brown.
7. After cooled fill them with jam and freshly whipped cream or butter or anything you like!

For the centerpiece of our celebrations I made a Victoria Sponge. This is the first cake I ever learned to make and the recipe is about as traditionally English as it get. Its a sponge cake cut in half and filled with jam ( we used raspberry). The top is sprinkled with granulated or powdered sugar. I used powdered and created a Union Jack pattern on top using paper strips of different widths. 

Victoria Sponge 
Instead of a list of ingredients like normal, this is a basic ratio. For the cake above I used a three egg recipe
2 oz self rising flour
2 oz sugar
2 oz butter
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your pan.
2. Beat together the butter and sugar until pail and fluffy.
3. Add in each egg, one at a time until incorporated.
4. Add the flour in three different intervals making sure the flour in fully combined.
5. Pour the thick batter into the prepared pans and place in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minute rotating half way through. Remove from oven when toothpick comes out clean after sticking it in the middle. 
(At this point in the process lick the bowl and beaters clean if you so choose to risk salmonella poisoning. I did. and it was delicious)
6. Let the cake cool completely. Slice in half vertically. Remove the top half and spread jam in an even layer across the now exposed half. Place the top back on the cake and sprinkle entire cake with powdered or granulated sugar. 

I hope everyone has had a smashing weekend and I hope these recipes inspire your own British tea party! The london Olympics are coming up and an opening ceremony party would be a great time to break these out!


PS My lovely friend Annelih has started her own little food blog. Her first post is about another dish from across the pond, shepherd's pie! Take a moment and check it out