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!
(This post may have affiliate links; if you purchase something through the link, you’ll help support my site – thank you!)
Fresh Fruit Tart
A versatile seasonal fruit tart with a light and tangy filling.
Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl.
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.
Add browned butter to flour mixture and stir well. Let sit until cooled down, about 10 minutes.
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.
Over a double boiler, carefully melt white chocolate, cream, lemon juice, zest, and salt.
Whisk in a small amount of marscapone and stir. Add the rest and stir until nice and smooth.
Pour filling into tart pan and smooth into a nice layer.
Add whatever cut fruit you have to filling, setting gently on top.
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.
Carefully dab the preserve mixture over the fruit only.
Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated fresh fruit tart recipe from the July/August 2017 issue.
These salted caramel apple hand pies were DELICIOUS! Consider them a bit more work than just dumping apples in a crust, but I think its worth it.
BTW, if you need a look-no-further salted caramel sauce recipe, here it is. I’ve never made another version of this caramel, cuz it’s perfect already. It’s sweet, salty, and drippy, perfect for filling cupcakes, putting on brownies, or eating it by the spoonful. Not that I have experience in that last one, ahem.
This recipe is part of my Reddit bake challenge, said challenge being caramel this time.
Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies
Combine flour and salt in a bowl.
Using a pastry cutter, your cold fingers, or 2 forks, add cubed butter to flour and salt. Work it until it's crumbly, with some pea- and bean-sized pieces of butter left.
Using a fork, add ice water 1 tbsp at a time until it forms a ball. You may need a little more or less than 6 or 7 depending on the humidity.
Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Combine apples, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon in a small saucepan.
Cook and stir over medium heat for 2-3 minutes; you want them a bit softened, but definitely not squishy. They will finish cooking in the oven.
Mix cornstarch and water together in a small cup and drizzle into apple mixture. Cook and stir an additional 2 minutes or so. The cornstarch will thicken up the juices.
Set aside to cool for a 10 minutes or so.
Putting Pies Together
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place parchment paper on a rimmed cookie sheet and set aside.
On a lightly flour surface, roll out your dough to about 12 inches in diameter, give or take.
Using a 3 inch biscuit cutter or similar size, cut out circles and set on the parchment paper.
You can re-roll out your dough as needed and cut more circles; I got 9 total from my ball of dough.
Place roughly 1 tbsp apple mixture on one side of the circle and fold over. Drizzle about 1 tsp of salted caramel on top of apple mixture.
Use a fork to press the edges together into half-moon shapes. They will pop open if you don't seal them well. Still yummy, but not quite as pretty 😉
Poke a single hole with a skewer in each pie, to let some juices escape.
Brush top of each pie with the beaten egg.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, starting with 15. Check every few minutes for a beautiful, golden brown color.
Let cool and drizzle more salted caramel on top.
I was never actually into the Hostess cupcakes that much as a kid. I was definitely more of a Nutty Buddy type. Wafers plus peanut butter plus fake chocolate tasted fabulous!
Now I prefer to bake stuff from scratch when I can, mainly because I like to know what’s in the food I’m eating and it’s weird that something can last for years on a shelf. Time for a copycat version that’s homemade!
This week’s Reddit bake challenge was childhood favorites. Hostess Cupcakes have been around quite a while and look really monochromatic and cool. My husband fondly remembers eating the rubbery chocolate layer off them first as a kid, so I’m going to assume these count as a childhood favorite 🙂
Your cupcake base is a FABULOUS chocolate cake recipe simply in cupcake form. I actually use this particular recipe for all my chocolate cakes because it’s so good. Don’t be afraid of the instant espresso; you won’t taste it and it just intensifies the chocolate flavor.
Each little cake is filled with a simple 7-minute frosting, cooked over the stove and whipped. The recipe for that is here. Save your leftovers after filling them, cuz you’ll need it to pipe the little swirly on the top to decorate. They aren’t the real deal without the swirl 😉
They are all topped off with a 2-ingredient ganache. I used bittersweet chocolate chips, but I bet you’ll get an even more “authentic” flavor if you use semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips instead. Let them sit in the fridge for about 10 minutes to firm up the ganache, and pipe your curly-cues on top for the finishing touch with the leftover frosting.
(Weird measurements in the recipe are from scaling it for exactly 12 cupcakes; we definitely didn’t need 24 of these sitting around 🙂
The finished product really does taste amazing, and we had exactly none leftover from the dozen we made. There’s something SO satisfying about whipping up something that’s typically made in a factory 🙂
Copycat Hostess Cupcakes
A homemade twist on the classic childhood favorite!
Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
Preheat oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large measuring cup, combine the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla, and 1 egg.
Using a mixer, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combined.
Bring the 1/2 cup water to boil and add the espresso to it. Immediately add this to the batter and mix until combined. It will be thin and watery.
Fill each cupcake liner with about 1/4 cup of batter.
Bake about 18 minutes, until toothpick stuck in the center is mostly clean. Let cool in tin for 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a rack.
When your cupcakes are cooled, get started on the 7-minute frosting. Recipe I used is up above in instructions, but any basic 7-minute frosting would be fine.
If your cupcakes have a dome, use a serrated knife to shave a bit of the top off and level them. Now core out each cupcake for the filling. I just use a small metal veggie peeler and carve out of a little rough circle shape from the center of the cupcake. Fill with frosting.
Place your chocolate in a small bowl and set aside.
Bring your heavy cream just barely to a simmer and take off the heat.
Pour heavy cream over chocolate and cover the small bowl with a lid. Set aside for 3 minutes to soften the chocolate.
Using a whisk, gently mix the cream and chocolate together in one direction, not vigorously. It will eventually come together in a smooth, glossy, beautiful ganache.
Let cool for a few minutes until firmed up just a bit for spreading over cupcakes. I used an offset spatula to spread it just to the edges; dunking the whole cupcake upside down in the ganache resulted in a mess, so I would avoid that way with this recipe 🙂
Put the ganache-covered cupcakes in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up the ganache. Make the swirl on top using the leftover white frosting.
Week 5 of the Reddit 52-week baking challenge was trifles. I have never made one of these before, but have drooled many a time at pictures of them. Mint isn’t generally a winter favorite of mine (cool and refreshing are for summer!), but my son is a huge fan of mint so I threw him a bone this week 😉
The dark chocolate layer you see is a fabulous Taste of Home chocolate chiffon cake – http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chocolate-chiffon-cake – The icing was left off since I was just going to cut it up into chunks anyway. This cake was so light and airy, and my daughter actually (almost) requested this specific cake for her birthday. A winner!
The white layer is just a standard homemade whipped cream, i.e. heavy cream tossed with a bit of sugar and whipped up.
Finally, the Leprechaun-green color is a mint pudding. I had to “wing it” for this, as the only recipes I found online were for chocolate mint pudding, and that wouldn’t get me a cool green color 🙂 Layers are alternated, and a few crushed Andes candies are on top for good measure.
An easy and versatile recipe! Just cake, pudding, and whipped cream in alternating layers.
In a medium saucepan off the heat, whisk together your sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Slowly add in milk while whisking. Add your food coloring now; I used about 3 drops of green leaf gel coloring.
Cook on medium heat while whisking. It will thicken and start to boil. Boil for 1 minute more while stirring.
Take about 1/4 cup of the hot pudding and mix with your egg yolks in a separate small bowl. You are "tempering" them so you don't get scrambled eggs! Now add your yolks back into your saucepan of boiling pudding. Keep whisking and boil for 1 more minute.
Stir in the cut up butter and peppermint extract.
Strain your hot pudding into a separate bowl to get rid of lumps. Pour into dessert cups, Pyrex container, another bowl, etc. Let cool for 2 or 3 minutes and place plastic wrap on top to prevent a skin from forming.
Refrigerate for at least an hour to firm up and get cold.
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker's vanilla pudding.
Something about winter makes me crave lemon/lime/orange stuff. Maybe my body trying to avoid scurvy during these cold and gray Pennsylvania days? I’m not entirely sure, but it will be my excuse for making these lovely little lemon pudding cakes!
You may be asking, “Wait…is this PUDDING or CAKE? Make up your mind, woman!” They are in fact both – light springy cake on top and creamy lemon pudding hiding underneath. Perfect for 35 degree weather and pretending it’s another season entirely!
You will find exactly zero lemon zest in this recipe because I truly hate zesting anything. Maybe I have the wrong tools,
maybe probably I’m too lazy to scrape my knuckles against my grater for a teaspoon of fruit peel, but I’ll pass on that nonsense. I have, however, found a close second to zesting…CITRUS OILS. Think extracts but stronger and much less is needed. They give fabulous flavor without the hassle 🙂
Little Lemon Pudding Cakes
Easy to bake lemon pudding cakes in individual portion sizes.
Grease 6 ramekins and lightly dust with a bit of sugar. Set aside.
Using a hand mixer, gently blend together egg yolks, milk, bottled lemon juice, and lemon flavoring oil. You want a smooth consistency.
Sift your flour, sugar, and salt into the egg/milk mixture and blend the batter briefly.
In another small bowl, mix your egg whites until the soft peak stage. Fold the whites into your lemon batter.
Ladle your batter into your ramekins and place them into a large pan. I just used a glass 13 x 9, but you could use something smaller as long as the ramekins fit inside with room around them.
Pour water into the pan around and halfway up the sides of the ramekins; you are making a water bath to gently bake your cakes.
Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until your cakes are lightly browned and springy to the touch. Lightly dust powdered sugar on top. Enjoy warm or room temp!
Adapted from Savory magazine, Light Lemon Pudding Cakes, January 2017 issue
I find meringue to be fickle sometimes. I went through 2 batches of another meringue recipe on a drizzly day and it refused to make stiff peaks both times! Almost weekly I whip up egg whites for macarons, so I’d like to THINK I have my technique down at this point. I’ll blame it on the rain that day 😉
This recipe was used to make tiny mushrooms for a Buche de Noel for Christmas…they were the best meringues EVER. They literally melted in my mouth, which was quite a change from other dry, hollow hockey pucks I’ve made in the past. I’ve narrowed it down to temperature being important here; too high a temp seems to create giant gaps in meringue cookies. So go low and slow!
Like macarons, this recipe only uses whites and you’ll need to either throw out your yolks or save them to make this deliciousness.
Shockingly enough, these are even better dipped in chocolate and the bottoms bathed in nonpareils. The texture rocks on these – crunchy sweet bottoms with light and airy meringue on top. I really enjoy the contrast! I also just drizzled some bittersweet chocolate on a few of them, because why not?
One more tip – make sure your cooled meringues are stored in an airtight container. They like to absorb moisture from the air and become sticky, although still tasty 😉
Chocolate-Dipped Meringue Cookies
Meringue cookies are both easy to make and impressive to serve to guests! A batch of these would make a welcome gift.
Preheat oven to 200 F and cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Place your egg whites and cream of tartar in a very clean bowl; any fat/oil/grease in the bowl will prevent your eggs from peaking.
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, start to mix on low and inch your way up to medium speed until soft peaks form.
Increase your speed to high and slowly add your granulated sugar. I just hold the small bowl over the mixer while it's running and just sprinkle it in small amounts until gone. Mix until you get stiff peaks.
Now you can either use a spoon to place small teaspoon-sized mounds on your parchment, or you can use a piping bag with tip to make a small "kiss" shape on your parchment. I made these about 3/4 inch in diameter.
Bake for 1 hour at 200 F and turn your pan around; my oven has "hot spots" and this keeps one side from browning before the other. Bake for another 30 minutes and turn the oven off, leaving them inside another 15 minutes. Depending on the size of your meringues, you may need more or less time in the oven. When they feel light, crisp and airy and come off the paper easily, they are done. They will start to shrivel a bit if overcooked, although taste will still be yum 🙂
Dip the bottoms of your cooled meringues into the melted chocolate and then into nonpareils, or alternatively you can drizzle the chocolate over them. They will rock either way!
If you have leftovers (why would you??), then keep them in an airtight container to prevent "chewiness" from absorbing the humidity.
Adapted from Chowhound's Meringue Mushroom recipe.
Leb-a-who?? Lebkuchen, i.e. German gingerbread cookies. The baking theme this week (see https://www.reddit.com/r/52weeksofbaking/) was Germany. I’ve always been interested in all things Deutschland related. With 2 years of German language in high school and a love affair with marzipan, I am almost German, right??
I also happen to have a brand new sister-in-law from the UK that brought my attention to Lebkuchen. According to all-knowing Wikipedia:
Lebkuchen or Pfefferkuchen, is a traditional German baked Christmas treat, somewhat resembling gingerbread.
These lebkuchen are soft when they first come out, but quickly harden and become more crisp as they cool. Eating the cookies plain was a bit underwhelming to me, but the chocolate on top converted me 🙂 There is a reason most pics of Lebkuchen are smothered in icing and it’s because they are definitely tastier 🙂 Having something on top adds moisture that seeps into the cookies and softens them up nicely.
Lebkuchen (German Gingerbread Cookies)
Spiced German gingerbread cookies iced with either powdered sugar or bittersweet chocolate.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Add the molasses and corn syrup to your melted butter and stir. Set aside.
Mix your flour, brown sugar, spices, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Add your butter mixture to your dry ingredients and mix well.
Add your eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.
Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop spoonfuls onto your cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them for spreading.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack before icing.
To make your chocolate icing, melt your chocolate and coconut oil together either in the microwave or over a double boiler on low heat.
Add your melted chocolate to a piping bag, snip the tip off, and pipe in a swirl fashion. Start from the inside and work your way out to the edge for half of the cookies.
Decorate with almond slices while chocolate is still wet. You can also take a few almonds and drag them through the excess melted chocolate to set aside for later.
To make your white icing, mix your powdered sugar with a few tablespoons of water to get a flowing icing consistency. Either add a bit more water or a bit more icing to get the thickness you want.
Add your icing to a piping bag, snip the tip off, and pipe in a swirl fashion to the other half of your cookies.
You can either add plain almond slices to the wet icing or use the chocolate dipped almond slices you made earlier for a nice black/white contrast.
Recipe inspired by Just Like Oma.