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Hi all! I am excited to tell you that I was invited to be a guest blogger on my friend, Luisa Ormonde’s blog– Tales of Three Bakers. It is my very first guest blog and I feel very honorable. The recipe I chose was chocolate hazelnut tart. I am only posting the pictures here, for recipe please visit her website 🙂

I met Luisa through the Nishihiras, close friends of our family. She is a very good cook, and runs a gourmet food catering business. We are always drooling over the pictures of delicious food that she made. If you have catering needs for any occasions, check out her catering website. I am sure you won’t be disappointed!

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

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My neighbor gave me some lemons, and I just happened to have a little sour cream leftover, so I decided to make a lemon tart. This is by far one of my best tart crust recipe (actually it’s same ingredients as in my Tarte aux Noix II). The crust has a much flakier/crumbly crunchy texture (even eaten the next day) than traditional pastry recipes that call for cold butter and cold water. Tips: don’t fork the dough too hard, or the filling will leak through the crust and the tart will stick to the pan. Also, always place a baking tray under the tart while baking to prevent leaked filling dripping down to the bottom of the oven.

Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart Recipe (makes one 9.5 inch tart)

Ingredients:

for Crust:
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter– softened
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp beaten egg
1/2 cup toasted ground almond
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

for Filling:
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp sour cream
4 eggs– beaten

powder sugar for dusting

Method:

Prepare crust:

  1. Whisk butter with a hand whisk until smooth and creamy, add sugar and continue whisking until fluffy. Add beaten eggs, one tbsp at a time, and mix well. Sift in 1/3 of combined dry ingredients (flour, ground almond and salt). Use a spatula to gently mix to combine. Sift in remaining dry ingredients in 2 batches, but use the spatula to gently stir and press down so the dough will stick together to form a dough.
  2. Transfer dough onto a work surface cover with large sheet of plastic wrap. Pat dough into a disc of 1 inch thick, then place another large sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough (this is to keep work surface cleaner, see picture 1). Use a rolling pin, roll out the dough large enough to cover the bottom of tart pan, plus extra 1.5 inch extra around the bottom tart pan for the side of tart shell (place the removable tart pan bottom on top of roll out dough– plastic wrap will keep the pan clean).
  3. Remove the top plastic wrap and carefully flip the dough into greased tart pan (at this point the bottom plastic wrap will end up on the top, see picture 2). Peel away the remaining plastic wrap and tuck in/trim the over hang dough (picture 3 & 4).
  4. Prick the bottom with a fork. Blind bake in preheated 350°F oven for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden, piercing with fork if crust bubbles. Cool crust on rack for 15 minutes before adding filling.

Prepare filling:

  1. Add lemon juice and sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in sour cream. Slowly pour in beaten eggs and whisk to blend well. Strain the mixture into the cooled crust.
  2. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 30-35 minutes until the filling is set. Cover the crust edge with foil if it browns too quickly. Cool tart completely in the pan on a rack then chill in the fridge. Dust with powder sugar before serving.

Regina’s Note:

  • For the pastry, make the side of the tart slightly taller than the rim since it will shrink after baking.
  • To prevent lemon tart from sticking to the tart pan, always grease the tart pan, and don’t prick the dough too hard, or the filling will leak through the crust.
  • Always place a baking tray under the tart pan while baking, this will help transporting the tart and also to prevent leaked filling dripping down onto the oven racks.
Making almond tart shell-- picture 1.

Making almond tart shell-- picture 1

Making almond tart shell-- picture 2

Making almond tart shell-- picture 2

Making almond tart shell-- picture 3

Making almond tart shell-- picture 3

Making almond tart shell-- picture 4

Making almond tart shell-- picture 4

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French Apple Tart

French Apple Tart

French Apple Tart: recipe by Barefoot Contessa

I was watching Barefoot Contessa on Foodnetwork and Alexander suddenly grabbed a pencil and piece of paper and started writing down the recipe as we watched along (with many pauses of course). He said he was writing down the recipe so I could make it:). I originally wasn’t into it , but for the hard work that Alexander put in to write the ingredients and steps of making it, I decided to give it a try.

Some recipes calls for round tart with apple slices fanned out and formed a flower at the center. But this version of Ina Garten is a rectangular tart with apple slices fanned out diagnoc pattern. I made some changes to the tart pastry by adding some ground almond, and I just rolled it out to be roughly rectangular without any trimming. Apple slices certainly made beautiful presentation. However, I think the oven temperature stated in the recipe is too high. My tart pastry was pretty much burnt except for a few spots:( The apples didn’t taste as good as they look, kind of plain in my opinion… I still prefer apples in Tart Tatin. Sorry Ina, but hey at least I tried…

I suddenly got an idea: There are some yellow peaches on the trees in the backyard, maybe I’ll make a peach with almond cream tart, using similar design…

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Tarte aux Noix

Tarte aux Noix

Yes, I made this again with some changes–  increasing ingredients portions to1.5 times of original recipe to fit my tart pan. I also remembered to toast the ground almond this time; it does make a difference. I found the tart tastes much better the next day with the rum adding depth to the flavor.

Tarte aux Noix Recipe (makes 1 tart of 9.5 inch diameter)

Ingredients:

Tart shell:
1 cup cake flour
5 tbsp ground almond (with skin)– toasted
3 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter (room temp.)
2 tbsp beaten egg (see note below in almond cream ingredients)

Almond cream:
2 tbsp cake flour
1 cup ground almond(with skin)– toasted
1/2 cup brown sugar
9 tbsp unsalted butter (room temp.)
1 1/2 beaten egg (I beated 2 eggs in a bowl, scooped 2 tbsp for tart shell and used the remaining for almond cream)

4-5 tbsp raisin– soaked in rum, drained but keep the rum
4-5 tbsp chopped walnuts– toasted
2 tbsp rum (I used the ones that I soaked the raisin with)
extra almond flakes to sprinkle on top

apricot jam for glazing

Method:

Make tart shell:

  1. Combine cake flour and ground almond then set aside. Using a whisk, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Slowly add beaten egg, whisk to combine.
  2. Sift in 1/3 of flour mixture. Using a spatula gently mix the flour on the top, then press down the flour to the bottom of the bowl to combine. Repeat with the remaining flour in 2 batches. When all mixture starts to form a dough, take it out and shape it to a ball with both hands (avoid kneading the dough!).
  3. Put the round dough between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, roll it out large enough to fit tart pan. Remove plastic wrap and transfer the dough to tart pan and fold inwards any extra dough so all sides have same thickness.
  4. Brush the edge with egg wash, prick the bottom of tart and blind bake at preheated 350°F oven for about 15 minutes. Cool the tart in the tart pan.

Make Tarte aux Noix:

  1. Cream butter and brown sugar with a whisk until fluffy. Slowly add beaten egg and whisk to combine.
  2. Add ground almond. Using a spatula, mix until all incorporated. Sift in cake flour and mix gently until just combined.
  3. Add raisin, walnuts and rum and mix gently.
  4. Pour filling into baked tart shell. Smooth the surface and sprinkle almond flakes on the top.
  5. Bake at preheated 350°F oven for 40 minutes until almond cream is nicely browned. Cool in the pan on the rack. When completely cool, glaze tart with apricot jam.

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Tarte aux Noix

Tarte aux Noix

I searched tarte aux noix online but couldn’t find out much about it because a lot of search results show the websites are not written in English. All I know is that it is a French tart. A lot of pictures online shows the tart is made with walnuts, but the recipe I followed uses almonds. Maybe there are several versions of tarte aux noix??…

Anyway, this recipe is from one of my cookbook titled “Oishiixtu!! Yakikashi” by Ikuko Omori (mine is Chinese version). When I was making the tart shell, I made a boo boo: I thought all tart pans are pretty much standard size, it’s only until I rolled out the dough that I realized my tart pan is quite larger than the suggested 18cm diameter by the recipe. Since the dough could barely cover the bottom of my large tart pan, I opted to use 2 small personal size tart pans instead. Next time when I make it again, I will increase the original recipe portion by 1.5. One thing worth mentioning: the tart shell recipe is very easy and doesn’t require chilling at all, and yet it is crispy and full of almond flavor even the next day. I think I might keep it as my default tart shell recipe.

Tarte aux Noix

Tarte aux Noix

Tarte aux Noix Recipe (makes 1 tart of 18cm diameter, or 2 small personal tarts)

Ingredients:

Tart shell:
2/3 cup cake flour
3 tbsp ground almond (with skin)– toasted
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter (room temp.)
1 tbsp beaten egg

Almond cream:
1 tbsp cake flour
2/3 cup ground almond(with skin)– toasted
1/3 cup brown sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter (room temp.)
1 beaten egg

2 tbsp raisin– soaked in rum, drained
2 tbsp chopped walnuts– toasted
1 tbsp rum
extra almond flakes to sprinkle on top

apricot jam for glazing (I didn’t have apricot jam, so I brushed the tart with remaining beaten egg from tart shell before baking)

Method:

Make tart shell:

  1. Combine cake flour and ground almond then set aside. Using a whisk, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Slowly add beaten egg, whisk to combine.
  2. Sift in 1/3 of flour mixture. Using a spatula gently mix the flour on the top, then press down the flour to the bottom of the bowl to combine. Repeat with the remaining flour in 2 batches. When all mixture starts to form a dough, take it out and shape it to a ball with both hands (avoid kneading the dough!).
  3. Put the round dough between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, roll it out large enough to fit tart pan. Remove plastic wrap and transfer the dough to tart pan and fold inwards any extra dough so all sides have same thickness.
  4. Brush the edge with egg wash, prick the bottom and side of tart and blind bake at preheated 350°F oven for 10-12 minutes. Cool the tart in the tart pan.

Make Tarte aux Noix:

  1. Cream butter and brown sugar with a whisk until fluffy. Slowly add beaten egg and whisk to combine.
  2. Add ground almond. Using a spatula, mix until all incorporated. Sift in cake flour and mix gently until just combined.
  3. Add raisin, walnuts and rum and mix gently.
  4. Pour filling into baked tart shell. Smooth the surface and sprinkle almond flakes on the top. (I brushed the top with remaining egg wash before baking since I don’t have apricot jam for glazing)
  5. Bake at preheated 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes until almond cream is nicely browned. Cool in the pan on the rack. When completely cool, glaze tart with apricot jam.

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I had some ganache leftover from making Alexander’s birthday cake, and there were some strawberries and blueberries in my fridge. All I had to do is to make the tart crust and assemble them together. They are a treat to the eyes and to your stomach. Best of all these tarts can be prepared ahead of time for party and you’ll definitely get a wow from your guests.

Chocolate Fruit Tarts

Chocolate Fruit Tarts

Chocolate Fruit Tart Recipe (makes 12 tarts)

Ganache Ingredients (use equal part of chocolate and whipping cream – by weight):
1/4 lb semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used half bitter-sweet and half semi-sweet)
1/4 lb whipping cream

Method:
Warm whipping cream over a double boiler, pour in chocolate chips and stir until chocolate melted. Take care not to let the chocolate have contact with water. Set aside to cool. The chocolate sauce will thicken as it cools and can even be a frosting. Alternatively, you can warm whipping cream in microwave too.

Tart shells:
from my Pineapple Tart pastry recipe and it makes about 24 tart shells. Bake them at preheated oven 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from molds and cool on the rack completely before use or store in air-tight container.

To assemble:
Spoon 1 tbsp of ganache into the tart shell and arrange fruits nicely on the top.

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Pineapple Tarts

Pineapple Tarts

Pineapple tart filling

Pineapple tart filling

This is one of the items I made this year for Chinese New Year– everything is from scratch… it’s very time consuming and yet the result is very rewarding. This is one of my family’s favorite.

Pineapple Tart Recipe (makes 75 pieces):

Pastry Ingredients:
2 (4oz)sticks + 2 tbsp butter
2 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk powder
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 egg

Filling: cooked pineapples (see below for recipe)– make into 75 small balls.

Glazing: 1 beaten egg yolk + few drops water

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, microwave butter until soft (not melted).
  2. Cream soften butter and icing sugar. Add egg and mix until well blended.
  3. Sift flour and milk powder into butter mixture. Use a spatula to mix well to form a dough. The dough should be very soft (like play dough) and not sticky.
  4. Divide dough into 75 portions and wrapping in the pineapple filling. Shape the tarts into log shape, use a fork to press on the top to make pineapple pattern, glaze the tarts and bake at 340°F for 20 minutes till golden.

Pineapple Filling (2 pineapples from Costco will yield about 90 small balls for pineapple tarts):

Ingredients:
2 large pineapples ( I used Golden Pineapples– 1 ripe and 1 unripe)
4 cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 1/2 cup sugar

Method:

  1. Remove the skin, “eye” and core of pineapples, cut into pieces and blend in food processor until no visible chunks.
  2. Cook blended pineapple in a big pot on medium high heat uncovered, add in cloves and cinnamon powder. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until most of the juice almost dry out (yeah it’s very time consuming– it took me about 2.5~3 hrs).
  3. When the juice is drying out and turning into pineapple jam like, turn the heat to medium or med. low. This is the point when you have to keep stirring to prevent burnt at the bottom. Add sugar (use more or less according to your taste, the flavor should be sweet and tangy) and keep stirring until the jam get thicker– you will feel it as your arm will be getting sore :). For enclosed pineapple tarts, cook the jam a bit more to get a drier consistency. Every cook top has different levels of heating elements so please adjust the heat according to your stove.
  4. Let the jam cool completely before using in pineapple tarts. Keep in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze until ready to use.

Note:

  • Use ripe pineapple for flavor and unripe pineapple for texture/fiber. Squeeze out the juice before cooking definitely will cut down the cooking time, but the jam won’t be as flavorful… ok, to compromise maybe use only 1/2 or 2/3 of the juice next time?…
  • Use a pot with larger surface for the liquid to evaporate faster. I use wooden spoon (with long handle) and let it stay in the pot the whole  time. It’s easy to stir and won’t pass the heat during the long cooking process.
  • Corner Cafe posts a microwave method of cooking the filling, and it takes much less time of course…will try it out next time. (Note: my friend tried the microwave method, the filling is lighter in color but because pineapple juice was squeezed out, thus the pineapple filling is not very flavorful… hmmm maybe next time I will cook pineapple (with juice) on the stove till 1/3 of juice left then pop into microwave to cook some more– making the painful process a little faster??)
  • Cook the filling a bit drier for enclosed pineapple tarts.
  • Glazing: adding a couple drops of water will thin down the mixture and easier to glaze the tarts.
  • I made the tarts smaller than usual so my boys can finish it in 1 bite then there will be less crumbs falling everywhere 🙂

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