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

Cranberry Orange Muffins

I’m not sure what prompted my love of baking muffins. I think it may have been because I was too lazy to ice cupcakes once. Whatever the reason, I spent the entire summer making a different batch of muffins every week (much to the joy of my coworkers). Last week after a long day, I came home and decided to give cranberry orange muffins a try. Most of my muffin recipes are adapted from Williams-Sonoma.

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You will need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup skim milk
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir the flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, and zest.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, melted butter, milk, and orange juice. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until evenly mixed. Fold in the cranberries (and nuts) until just mixed. Don’t overmix!

Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, filling it level with the rim. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Unmold and enjoy!

Makes about 12 muffins.

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.