Tag Archives: Dessert

Orange Tian – My First Daring Bakers Challenge!

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The challenge for March was hosted by Jennifer from Chocolate Shavings. This recipe is based on the one she prepared at the Alain Ducasse Cooking School in Paris, France. As Jennifer said, this is a “scrumptious” dessert and it truly is!

With this being my first Daring Baker’s Challenge, I must admit that when I checked in at the end of February to get my “orders” for the challenge, I rather felt like Jim Phelps (played by Peter Graves) from the original Mission Impossible! If you are much younger (and you just might be!), you probably can relate to Tom Cruise in the updated version of the movie. The Daring Bakers Challenge is supposed to be a secret until the “reveal” a month later. In other words, I did not utter a word to anyone about this dessert and kept it totally under wraps (at least to anyone that would know or care!) until now. Shhhhh……

I was excited about my first challenge, but not so sure about a dessert with oranges. I love citrus desserts made with lemons (especially Meyer lemons!), but this, well…oranges are just not my favorite fruit. I still remember way too many doses of orange penicillin when I was a kid, so I always relate anything that includes orange to that nasty stuff. Anyway, I was willing to give it a try! There’s always Mikey if I don’t eat it!

There were quite a few steps and this was done over a two-day period, but the results were phenomenal. The Tian was just divine (oranges and all!). I have thoroughly enjoyed having the leftover homemade orange marmalade as well. It was fabulous and nothing like the goop that you purchase in the store. Just forget about that junk and make this recipe for orange marmalade! That recipe alone was worth participating in this month’s challenge.

I offered to bring dessert to a neighbor’s dinner party the day these were prepared, so the guests were oh so fortunate to be able to enjoy this lovely treat. The only thing I wish I had done differently was to add a layer of dark chocolate to a few of the molds (on the pastry circles) to see how that might have tasted! I will have to try that next time!

Orange Tian

For the Pate Sablee:

Ingredients U.S. Imperial Metric Instructions for Ingredients
2 medium-sized egg yolks at room temperature
granulated sugar 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon; 2.8 oz; 80 grams
vanilla extract ½ teaspoon
Unsalted butter ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams ice cold, cubed
Salt 1/3 teaspoon; 2 grams
All-purpose flour 1.5 cup + 2 tablespoons; 7 oz; 200 grams
baking powder 1 teaspoon ; 4 grams

Directions:
Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in the food processor.

Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.

Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle.

Using your cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the circles of dough are just golden.

For the Marmalade:

Ingredients U.S. Imperial Metric Instructions for Ingredients
Freshly pressed orange juice ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams
1 large orange used to make orange slices
cold water to cook the orange slices
pectin 5 grams
granulated sugar: use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked

Finely slice the orange.

Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes.

Blanch the orange slices 3 times. This process removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so it is essential to use a new batch of cold water every time when you blanch the slices.

Once blanched 3 times, drain the slices and let them cool.

Once they are cool enough to handle, finely mince them (using a knife or a food processor).

Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar . If you don’t have a scale, you can place the slices in a cup measurer and use the same amount of sugar.

In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice and the pectin. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes).

Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.

For the Orange Segments:

For this step you will need 8 oranges.

Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.

For the Caramel:

Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
granulated sugar 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
orange juice 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons; 14 oz; 400 grams

Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.

Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.

Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.

[Tip: Be very careful when making the caramel — if you have never made caramel before, I would suggest making this step while you don’t have to worry about anything else. Bubbling sugar is extremely, extremely hot, so make sure you have a bowl of ice cold water in the kitchen in case anyone gets burnt!]

For the Whipped Cream:

Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
heavy whipping cream 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
3 tablespoons of hot water
1 tsp Gelatine
1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar
orange marmalade (see recipe above) 1 tablespoon

In a small bowl, add the gelatine and hot water, stirring well until the gelatine dissolves. Let the gelatine cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.
[Tip: Use an ice cold bowl to make the whipped cream in. You can do this by putting your mixing bowl, cream and beater in the fridge for 20 minutes prior to whipping the cream.]

Assembling the Dessert:

Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.

Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone.

Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.

Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.

Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.

Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer. Leave about 1/4 inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.

Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough.

Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.

Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10 minutes.

Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter. Add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.

Add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.

An elegant, impressive dessert!

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Filed under Caramel Sauce, Daring Bakers Challenge, Desserts, French, Orange Tian, Oranges, Recipes

Life Is Too Short – Eat Dessert Before Dinner!

I recently had a dinner party for some good friends, so I was going to write about what I served for dinner. However, I was not feeling the love to talk about lamb this morning, so I decided to write about the dessert course before the main dish! After all, everyone loves dessert! 😉 (And the pictures are way better to look at, especially early in the morning!)

This is one of the best and easiest desserts that I make. It is Ina Garten’s Brownie Tart (click for the link to the recipe). I thought about baking a flourless chocolate cake, but I was not interested in buying 28 ounces of top-notch chocolate. I had already gone big time over the budget on this dinner party and was receiving many lectures from my hubby on how much I was spending on dinner (again!) This is a great alternative and a little less intrusive to your wallet.

The presentation is beautiful served on top of a small puddle of Creme Anglaise (click for the recipe, also by Ina Garten). Don’t drown it in the stuff, just a few tablespoons will do! The brownie tart is best served warm, but you can make it ahead. Pop the slices in the microwave for a few seconds to slightly warm up the yummy and gooey chocolate center before your serve it to guests!

I serve the creme anglaise chilled as a custard in the traditional manner (and not frozen, as the recipe suggests). Of course, making the ice cream version is delightful as well, but this is still my personal favorite. You can always find a brownie topped with vanilla ice cream (can you say fern bar dessert??). I know that a half of vanilla bean is optional in Ina’s recipe, but it really makes a difference. The vanilla flavor is much more pronounced and it certainly looks more attractive knowing that real vanilla is in the sauce!

There has been some discussion between several bloggers and chefs about the proper way to make creme anglaise. Should it be made with cream or milk? You can read this blog by Michael Ruhlman on the subject. I really did not know that it was such a hot topic!

I have made creme anglaise for many years and have always made it with whole milk. I find that when the custard is properly thickened there is no need for cream (at least not for the desserts I serve it with). The consistency is perfect. Besides that, who needs the extra calories? We eat enough fattening stuff around here! I would think that there might be times when making it with cream would be preferable, but I think this particular version is wonderful with the chocolate in the Brownie Tart.

This is a beautiful and easy dessert to make. It is perfect for a larger dinner party because it can serve between 10 and 12 guests (I think it is best served in smaller slices). You can bake it and make the creme anglaise in advance and assemble the plates when you are ready to serve your dessert. It is always a huge hit and looks fussier than the time it takes to make it. Most of my friends are not big cooks, so it is easy to fool them into thinking you spent many long hours preparing this dessert when you didn’t! 😉

I feel better already now that I have had my dessert first!

Bon Appetit!

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Filed under Baking, Brownie, Chocolate, Creme anglaise, Desserts, French, Recipes, Vanilla

Meyer Lemon Sorbet

This recipe is entered in the Best of Foodista Food Blogs Cookbook Contest!

I was afraid that we were past Meyer lemon season since I had not seen them in any of the stores lately and then Voila! there they were again! Of course, I bought a half-dozen of them. I feel like I am bringing home something special when I buy Meyer lemons. I look forward to finding ways to cook with them and especially enjoy their flavor in desserts. And once they are gone (usually by the end of March), they will not be available again until next Winter. Just in case you are not familiar with them, they are believed to be a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange and originated in China.

I wanted to make something sweet, fresh and light with my unexpected purchase. I was craving a dessert that reminded me of Spring (since the Winter has been really long, miserable and cold here this year)! So, I decided to make a frozen dessert and after playing around a bit I had Meyer Lemon Sorbet. WOW! This sorbet has such a wonderful flavor! It is a delightful burst of lemon and orange along with a little tartness and sweetness.


I added vodka to the sorbet to prevent it from freezing too much. Because of that, the texture will be at its best if you take the soft sorbet from the ice cream maker and put it in a container and freeze overnight. The sorbet almost has the consistency of a true Italian ice. It was soft enough to scoop, but was not at all icy. You can see how smooth is was in the pictures!

I would also add that the flavor was more intense the next day as well. We really thought it was fabulous after sitting for a day. The 2 cups of sugar were perfect for our tastes, but you could reduce that if you prefer a more tart flavor. You could also use a little less of the zest if you do not want as much of the Meyer lemon flavor. I thought at first I might have been a bit over zealous with the zest, however, it was wonderful the next day. I would definitely make it again exactly as I did this time with no changes.

You better hurry up and get your Meyer Lemons and make this sorbet before they all disappear! 🙂

Meyer Lemon Sorbet
Serves 8

1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 large egg white, at room temperature
3/4 cups fresh Meyer Lemon juice (about 4 Meyer Lemons)
2 tsp. freshly grated Meyer Lemon zest
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vodka

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Raise the heat and boil 1 minute. (Be very careful as this mixture will boil over very quickly!). I remove it from the heat as soon as it has boiled.

In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg white until foamy. Slowly beat in the hot syrup mixture. Continue to beat until the mixture cools down slightly. Add the Meyer Lemon juice. Cover and chill until cold or overnight (I chill mine overnight. The colder the better). The mixture will have the egg white foam on top, but it will mix in when placed in the ice cream freezer.

Place the mixture in a well chilled ice cream freezer. Mix in the zest and the vodka and freeze until it is the consistency of a soft serve custard. Remove from ice cream freezer and place in another container. Freeze overnight.

Enjoy!

Meyer Lemon Sorbet on FoodistaMeyer Lemon Sorbet

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Filed under Desserts, Meyer Lemons, Recipes, Sorbet, Uncategorized, Vodka

Forelle Pear and Almond Cakes with Muscat Wine Reduction

I saw a Forelle pear for the first time about a month or so ago at our local International Market. I must say that I had never even heard of a Forelle pear until that day. I knew of Seckel pears, but not Forelle pears. Well, of course, I had to buy a bag full and then decide what to do with them once I was home!

After some research, I did find out that they are a bit sweeter and larger than Seckel pears and their season runs from October to March. So, I decided we better cook and bake with them while we can! My husband tasted one as soon as it was ripe and he was hooked! I took a bite and they were so delicious!

I did see a few recipes online with a few types of small pears and some called for Forelle pears, however, they did not necessarily show off the pears themselves. Why slice these cute little pears on the top of a tart? I did, however, find a recipe at Epicurious for an almond cake with a poached Seckel pear tucked neatly inside. The recipe said you could substitute a Forelle pear cut in half, but why do that? I left the pear whole.

The original recipe is for making the cakes with the poached pears and reserving the Muscat reduction for another use. I made some changes and served the cakes with vanilla ice cream and drizzled both with the Muscat reduction. The pears had a delightful flavor from poaching and the cake had a texture and taste almost similar to a sweet cornbread. The Muscat reduction really added another layer of flavor to the pear cakes and ice cream.

It also would make a lovely dessert for guests since the presentation is so attractive and everything can be prepared in advance. One important note, you must serve this the same day you make it. The recipe says to serve within 8 hours. We had a few left over and tried to eat them the next day. The cake was still very good, but the pear was not very pretty on the inside, so be sure to either have enough guests to finish them off or do that yourself! 😉 Also, you would be wise to remove them from the ramekin once they are cooled, and not attempting to do it after only resting 10 minutes. They did not stick at all by allowing them to cool first.

Although the cakes were not as good the following day, I still had some Muscat reduction left, so I poured that over vanilla ice cream and we enjoyed it almost as much! I would definitely make the Muscat reduction again and serve it with the pears and ice cream as a simple and lovely dessert.

By the way, the original recipe made 12 cakes. I have changed the proportions to make 6 cakes.

Here is the recipe adapted from Epicurious:

Small Pear and Almond Cakes

Makes 6 servings

For poached pears
6 firm small Seckel pears (I used Forelle pears)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup Muscat wine
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

For cakes
3/4 cup whole blanched almonds (4 oz.)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing ramekins
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
1/4 teaspoon salt

Vanilla ice cream (use a really good one)

Special equipment: a small melon-ball cutter; 6 (4-oz.) ramekins

Poach pears:

Peel pears, leaving stems intact, then core from bottom with melon-ball cutter. Toss pears with lemon juice in a bowl as peeled, then arrange on their sides in a 10-inch heavy skillet. Add wine, butter, and lemon juice from bowl (liquid will not cover pears) and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until pears are just tender, 10 to 20 minutes (my pears were tender in 10 minutes). Transfer pears with a slotted spoon to a dish. Boil poaching liquid, uncovered, until just syrupy and reduced to about 1/4 cup, 12 to 15 minutes. Spoon syrup over pears and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Prepare cakes:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Pulse almonds with 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor until finely ground, then transfer to a bowl (do not clean processor).

Process butter with 1/4 cup sugar in processor until pale and creamy, then pulse in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition, then pulse in almond mixture, flour, and salt until just combined.

Lightly butter and flour ramekins, knocking out excess flour, then arrange in a baking pan. Divide batter among ramekins (about a slightly rounded 1/2 cup per ramekin), then gently nestle a pear, leaning it slightly and pressing it very lightly, into batter in center of each cake. (Cakes will rise around pears as they bake.) Reserve reduced poaching liquid for another use serve it over vanilla ice cream!). Sprinkle pears and tops of cakes with remaining tablespoon sugar.

Bake, rotating pan halfway through baking, until cakes are just firm and pale golden with slightly darker edges, about 20 minutes.

Transfer ramekins to a rack and cool 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of each cake and invert on a plate. (I let mine cool completely before removing). Turn cakes right side up and serve warm or at room temperature.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did! It is a perfect dessert for a Wintry night!
This dessert was featured on Tastespotting today!

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Filed under Almonds, Baking, Cakes, Desserts, Ice Cream, Muscat, Pears, Poaching, Recipes, Wine