Tart Time

My sister got me a beautiful new pie/tart pan for Christmas, so when I set out to bake a dessert for a New Year’s party, I immediately wanted to try out my present. After a while of browsing the interwebs, I decided to go with a cranberry pear tart.

IMG_0273Cranberry Almond Pear Tart

You will need:

  • Pie crust
  • 4 lbs Bosc pears
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp ginger, plus a little extra
  • Cranberries (fresh)
  • Almonds (chopped)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and chop pears. In a large bowl, combine pears, sugar, and 2 tsp ginger. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and add pear mixture. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until pears are soft and easily pierced with a fork.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees. I’m lazy and used a store-bought crust, but if you’re more ambitious, make a lovely homemade pie crust. Poncie has a delicious pie crust recipe that she will hopefully share on this blog at some point. Either way, roll out your crust and line your tart pan with it. Lift the pears out of the roasting pan with a slotted spoon and put them into the crust. Add a handful of cranberries over the mixture and press them down into the pears. Sprinkle chopped almonds and remaining ginger over the top. Bake for an hour and serve warm or chilled. Happy 2013!

tart

Fig Almond Toffee Bars

New Years has come and gone yet again. Last night, I celebrated by watching the fireworks at Boston Harbor with friends. It was fantastic, but I woke up today with a cold. Whenever I’m stuck at home I  get restless, so as a remedy I cook. I don’t start out with anything in mind–when I cook, it’s a haphazard affair. Luckily, most of my experiments turn out pretty well. People brave enough to try the final product are generally pleased.

Tonight’s pièce de résistance is a modified toffee bar recipe from cooks.com.

What You’ll Need:

– 1 package water crackers

– 1 jar fig butter (I used Trader Joe’s because that’s what happened to be in my refrigerator)

– 1/2 cup regular butter

– 1 cup brown sugar

– 1 cup diced toasted almonds

– 1 bar dark chocolate (I used Trader Joe’s 85% Dark)

Baking:

– Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×12 pan with aluminum foil and line the bottom of the with crackers.

– In a small frying pan on high heat, whisk together butter, fig butter, and brown sugar until liquefied. Pour over crackers.

– Bake the pan in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes. (In the original recipe, it says the crackers should float. Because the fig butter is so viscous, they won’t so don’t worry about it).

– Take the pan out of the oven and break up the chocolate bar into pieces and scatter on top. Once it starts to melt, take a spatula and spread out over the top.

– Sprinkle the diced almonds on top and put in the refrigerator to cool then move to the freezer to harden. Once firm, slice into bars and take pretty pictures (if you’re into that sort of thing) and serve.

Here’s to kicking off 2013 with a kick-ass new recipe!

–Cassie

Grandma’s Famous Scotch Shortbread

Good day! My name is Cassie and I’m a contributing writer to this delicious blog.

I’m here to introduce you to the world’s best and easiest scotch shortbread recipe. It was my English Great Grandmother Florence Harper’s recipe, and I make it every holiday with my Grandma. (Fun Fact: My Great Grandma was named after Florence Nightingale). This year I brought it to a holiday party and it was gone within minutes.

Grandma's hand

 

What You’ll Need:

– 4 sticks of salted butter

– 1 cup of granulated sugar

– 4 cups of flour

 

Baking:

– Mash the butter (at room temperature) and sugar together with a fork in a large mixing bowl.

– Add flour one cup at a time, kneading in-between additions. Knead the dough until all of the flour is thoroughly worked into the dough.

– Place the dough into a cake pan and pat the dough down evenly into the corners. With the tips of your fingers, pinch around the edges to make a “fancy border” as my grandma says

shortbread

– Poke the dough with a fork and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 30 to 35 minutes until golden. If you have a convection oven, bake at 325°.

I made it on my own for the first time tonight, and it turned out well. The texture should be dense and moist. Wait 5 to 10 minutes after taking it out of the oven to slice it into fingers. If you wait longer than that, the outside will become harder and more difficult to cut, but if you slice it too soon it will crumble. I enjoy a piece with a hot cup of strong tea.

I hope this makes the cold weather a little more bearable. Happy holidays!

–Cassie

Hurricane Cookies

My favorite cookies have tons of stuff in them.  So when we made them in the midst of Hurricane Sandy, we decided they should be hurricane cookies…because nothing brings rubble like a hurricane.

A few of my favorite things: chocolate, walnuts, and dried cranberries.

This recipe originated in Cook’s Illustrated Magazine but of course it includes some editing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 14  Tbsp (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (toast them if you can; it makes all the difference)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preparation:

Move oven racks to middle positions. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line two flat baking sheets with parchment paper. Stir flour, oats, and baking soda together in medium bowl (or the large measuring cup you used to measure them, if you’re lazy like me).

Heat 10 Tbsp butter in skillet until melted.  I always attempt to brown the butter and then I get wimpy because I think that it’s burning. Remove from heat and transfer butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir in remaining butter until completely melted.

Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining. Let stand  minutes, then whist 30 seconds. Repeat resting and whisking twice more (4 times total) until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Don’t skip this step! It allows the sugar time to dissolve in the melted butter mixture. Dissolved sugar caramelizes at a lower temperature than undissolved sugar, so that when the cookies bake the sugars caramelize. This makes your cookies extra delicious…and who doesn’t like caramelized sugar?

Use a rubber spatula to stir the flour mixture into the butter/sugar/egg mixture.  Only mix until just combined, but make sure not to miss any pockets of flour. Stir in chocolate chips, nuts, and cranberries.

I didn’t have any chocolate chips so I chopped up a baking bar. What’s up, 65% cacao?

Drop dough onto cookie sheets, and bake until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, 8-10 minutes.  Edges should set but centers should be soft. Let cookies cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.