South African Milk Tart

Okay, so technically this milk tart is a pie and was ALMOST a baking fail, but I saved it!

My Reddit bake challenge was South Africa, hence this South African Milk Tart. It has a sweet shortcrust pastry and a vanilla custard-type filling, finished with a liberal dash of cinnamon.

The recipe went swimmingly at first – nicely thickened custard and beautiful crust. I popped it into the fridge to firm up.

Next morning I lift off the parchment to see LIQUID SOUP. No firming whatsoever overnight.

I had the thought of just pitching it, but decided to scrape it out of the pastry and re-cook the filling on the stove. Another 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch dissolved in water and then added to the boiling custard totally worked!

I took it out of the fridge next day and it was nice and firm. I was able to cut it cleanly, and I’m so glad I didn’t just bag the whole thing and throw it out 🙂

Final verdict – this was a tasty bake. The filling was creamy, cold, and definitely full of vanilla flavor. The heavy dose of cinnamon put this over the top, though. I absolutely wouldn’t leave that out! The shortcrust pastry added a great crunchy texture to an otherwise very smooth pie.

Hopefully the filling will set up for you the first time! I’m going to assume I didn’t cook it long enough the first time, which is why I was able to salvage it the next day.

Original recipe here.

 

 

 

Mango Charlotte Russe

Have you ever seen a Charlotte Russe before? I saw it once on the Great British Bake Show (best baking show in the world, BTW). It’s mainly ladyfingers with mousse or something else creamy, plus gelatin layered inside sponge cake. I’m pretty sure this Mango Charlotte Russe isn’t authentic, but oh well!

Continue reading “Mango Charlotte Russe”

Baking Fail – Brazilian Carrot Cupcakes

I suppose these weren’t terrible cupcakes, but none of us were really a fan. My bake challenge was a very difficult Brazil this week, hence the Brazilian carrot cupcakes.

I had high hopes for these! Original recipe stated self-rising flour, which I completely ignored. It did have baking powder in them, but not enough apparently to get a good rise. The glaze also never set up for some reason. Glaze was still tasty, BTW, just drippy!

There’s one thing I did enjoy about cupcakes – the carrots are pureed. If you aren’t an enormous carrot cake fan because of the texture, see if you can find a recipe with pureed carrots. Carrot flavor and beautiful orange color minus the shreds 😉

Maybe you’ll have better luck then myself! Original recipe here.

 

Almond Toffee Sea Salt Brownies

Not to be dramatic, but I’m pretty sure these almond toffee sea salt brownies were the best brownies I’ve ever had. Seriously.

Bake challenge was brownies or blondies this week and Google images led me straight to these. Salty + sweet is always a winner in my book, and these did not disappoint!

The chocolate layer is sweet, fudgy and dense, while the top layer is crisp, crunchy, and salty. My batch took about 40 minutes total to bake.

I wish I could take credit for these, but I can’t! Original recipe is here. This one is a keeper!

Hazelnut Dacquoise with Chocolate Mousse

My bake challenge from WEEKS AGO (that’s how behind I am!) was Bastille Day. I know very little nothing about this holiday other than it is French, which brings me to this extremely rich hazelnut dacquoise with chocolate mousse!

Day-who?

A dacquoise sounds really fancy, doesn’t it? Pronounced like “day-kwaz,” it’s French, apparently meaning “of Dax,” a French town. I printed out a recipe from Fine Cooking and about choked on my coffee when SIX PAGES spit out of my printer. Then began my foot-dragging on baking said daquoise; I knew it would be a production to make. Continue reading “Hazelnut Dacquoise with Chocolate Mousse”

Baking Fail – Blueberry Hand Pies

These sad little blueberry hand pies were a bust, and borne out of my impatience 🙁

I generally have excellent results with King Arthur Flour recipes. This one would have been pretty fabulous had I worked the dough properly.

The recipe has multiple steps – make your pie dough, let it chill, make your filling, let it cool down, put your pies together, then bake. You’ll need a bit of patience!

Winging It Always Works…

I did everything right until rolling out the dough into squares. Instead of measuring correctly, I eyeballed it CUZ THAT’S HOW I ROLL. So I had some thick dough pieces, some thin, and some with no tops because I ran out of dough 🙁

At this point I had to roll and re-roll the dough to correct my sizing issue, but by then my dough was soft and half-melted while I rolled them back out.

I even thought to myself, ‘Maybe I should chill these first…the butter in the dough isn’t firm anymore,’ but ignored that sage advice because I was in a rush to get it done.

My result was a mass of too-quickly-browned blueberry hand pies that were raw in the middle.

Upside – they tasted pretty good! Which tells me it’s not King Arthur Flour’s fault – it’s most definitely my own. Note that the original recipe even TELLS YOU to refrigerate the dough if at any time it becomes too hard to work with. See how perceptive I am?? 😉

The moral of the story is once I start rushing through a step in my baking (which I truly love doing!), then maybe it’s time to take a break and call it a day 🙂

Original recipe here.

 

Fresh Fruit Tart

Last year my attempted fresh fruit tart was pretty good, but had to be chiseled out of my ceramic pan…not fun! That experience led me to the wonders of metal tart pans with removable bottoms – MIND BLOWN!

Bake challenge last week was fresh fruit. This recipe is one of the few of mine that calls for fresh fruit…maybe only the napoleon I made last year? Fresh fruit is so summer-y – nice and refreshing compared to hot fruit dishes.

The only baking here is the crust, which has browned butter in it. Have you ever used browned butter in a recipe? You are just lightly browning butter on the stove top. It really adds a different flavor – nutty? aromatic? My first batch burned beyond belief, as I walked away for just a minute to probably multitask. Watch that butter!

Original recipe called for lime juice and zest, and I only had lemons, so used those. Result was still fabulous! Next time I’ll test with limes instead.

The filling is marscapone cheese and melted white chocolate – YUM. I’m not a white-chocolate-by-itself fan, but dig it in combination with marscapone.

Feel free to try whatever tart pan you have for this bake. I particularly love and use this one!

This was better the next day, BTW. Perhaps not quite as pretty with a bit of fruit juice bleeding through the tart, but the flavors have a chance to meld together. Enjoy!

 

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Print Recipe
Fresh Fruit Tart
A versatile seasonal fruit tart with a light and tangy filling.
fresh fruit tart marscapone white chocolate
Course Desserts
Servings
Ingredients
Crust
Tart
Course Desserts
Servings
Ingredients
Crust
Tart
fresh fruit tart marscapone white chocolate
Instructions
Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Brown your butter in a saucepan - melt over medium high heat and swirl the saucepan. Foaming will subside. Cook while scraping bottom of saucepan until your butter is a golden brown and has a great nutty smell. This will take less than 5 minutes - keep watching, as it burns easily! Remove from heat and add water - this will bubble vigorously but then calm down.
  4. Add browned butter to flour mixture and stir well. Let sit until cooled down, about 10 minutes.
  5. Using your fingers, press dough on bottom and sides of a tart pan. Original recipe calls for 9 inch round, but I used my long and skinny tart pan with no problems. Bake on a rimmed cookie sheet until lightly browned for 25 minutes or so. Let crust cool completely.
Tart Filling
  1. Over a double boiler, carefully melt white chocolate, cream, lemon juice, zest, and salt.
  2. Whisk in a small amount of marscapone and stir. Add the rest and stir until nice and smooth.
  3. Pour filling into tart pan and smooth into a nice layer.
  4. Add whatever cut fruit you have to filling, setting gently on top.
  5. Gently warm up the preserves with 1 tsp of lemon juice until runny, either on stove or microwave. Strain the preserves to get a very thin, liquid mixture.
  6. Carefully dab the preserve mixture over the fruit only.
  7. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated fresh fruit tart recipe from the July/August 2017 issue.

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Apricot Baklava With Orange-Cardamom Syrup

This was my 2nd attempt at baklava and MUCH IMPROVED! Yay for progress 🙂

I have this hangup where I really like to bake a certain way, i.e. nothing premade in it at all. So last year when one of my Reddit bake challenges called for something Middle Eastern, I made chocolate cherry baklava.

Baklava itself isn’t so difficult – its really just layering things, baking, and pouring a syrup over top. Where I made my life much more difficult was attempting to make the phyllo dough myself. You have to get the dough this thin, like be able to read a newspaper through it kinda thin.

Needless to say, the phyllo was not nearly as thin or crisp as it was supposed to be. I found this out the hard way by hitting up a bakery shortly thereafter and trying their baklava…there was no comparison and it was obvious I had officially botched my own bake.

This time around was much better! I sucked it up and bought frozen phyllo sheets from my local grocery store. The result gave me crispy, flaky layers, filled with chopped apricots and 3 kinds of nuts. The original recipe called for pistachios, but I just used what I had on hand and it turned out great – almonds, walnuts, and roasted pecans.

Many baklava recipes incorporate honey into the syrup on top, which makes for a delicious but very sweet dessert. This batch has a sugar and orange juice syrup, along with some cardamom mixed in, so not quite as sweet.

All in all I would definitely make this again, and probably try some different chopped fruits.

BTW – I have found store-bought cardamom to be crazy expensive. I got a small little box that is affordable and has lasted me forever here. I keep it in a little baggie in my pantry.

Original baklava recipe here.

Enjoy!

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