Tart with Figs and Sweetened Lemon

Ingredients

Pastry Crust (enough for two 9-inch tart shells)

1/2 lb pastry or all-purpose flour
9 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp finely crushed fennel or anise seeds
pinch of salt
1 large egg

Sweetened Lemon

1 large (6-oz) lemon
9 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt

Filling

1 egg yolk
1 large egg
1-1/2 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tbsp almond meal or 1-1/2 tbsp flour
1-1/2 lbs (about 24) fresh green or black figs
2 tsp lightly crushed fennel seeds

Method

  1. To prepare the lemon, use a 1 mm slicing blade fitted on a food processor, or a mandolin, to make paper thin slices. Remove all seeds and put slices in a bowl. Mix with sugar and a pinch of salt and let sit at least 24 hours, covered, at room temperature.
  2. To make the pastry crust: Pulse the butter with the sugar, seeds and a pinch of salt in a food processor 4 or 5 times. Then add 1 egg and pulse 2 or 3 times to combine.
  3. Add the flour and pulse until crumbly, 3 to 4 times. Dump into a sealed baggie and press the mixture to form a dough, adding a tablespoon of water if necessary.
  4. Chill for 1 hour. Divide and form each half into a flattened round. Wrap up individually and chill overnight.
  5. The next day, butter a 9-inch shallow tart pan. Remove 1 pastry round from the refrigerator and let soften for 10 minutes. Roll pastry out until it is an 11-inch round and fit it into the prepared pan. Chill in the coldest part of the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. (The second round of pastry can be kept up to 3 days in the refrigerator, or frozen for up to 6 weeks.)
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  7. Prick the bottom of the pastry shell in several places with a fork. Use a foil or parchment paper liner and weights, then put the pastry shell on baking tile or the bottom rack of the oven to bake for 12 minutes.
  8. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.
  9. While the pastry shell is cooling, drain the lemon slices and reserve the juices. In a food processor, combine the egg yolk, egg, butter, drained lemon slices, almond meal or flour and pulse until well blended. You will have about 1 cup filling. Taste for sugar and correct if necessary.
  10. Raise oven heat to 400°F.
  11. Spread the lemon filling over the cool tart shell. Top with halved figs, sprinkle with the fennel seeds and bake for 40 minutes.
  12. In a small saucepan, heat the reserved lemon juices, reducing it to 2 tablespoons glaze. Let cool to just warm to the touch.
  13. Remove the tart from the oven. Coat with the lemon glaze and serve at room temperature.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Met Home magazine

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Light, Flaky and Buttery Mille Feuille with Chocolate and Blackberry

Ingredients

1 (1-pound) package ready-to-bake all-butter puff pastry
all-purpose flour, for dusting
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2-3/4 cups blackberries
confectioners’ sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Chocolate Cream

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup light cream
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons creme de cassis, plus extra for drizzling

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle and sift half of the cocoa powder over it. Fold one end of the rectangle into the center and repeat with the opposite end, so that each end meets in the middle. Repeat the process, adding another dusting of cocoa powder, then roll out the pastry to a thin rectangle, about 13-1/2 x 11 inches.
  3. Place the pastry on a large baking sheet and trim to fit if necessary. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, cover with a sheet of parchment paper, and weigh the pastry down with a second baking sheet.
  4. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the pastry begins to brown.
  5. Remove the top baking sheet and parchment paper, then return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes, or until cooked. Let cool.
  6. To make the chocolate cream, put the chocolate into a large heatproof bowl. Put the light cream into a saucepan and heat to just below boiling point.
  7. Pour the cream onto the chocolate, stirring gently until smooth. Let cool.
  8. Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Mix the cooled chocolate mixture into the whipped cream, then fold in the creme de cassis.
  9. To assemble, cut the cooled pastry into 16 small rectangles. Using a pastry bag or spatula, pipe or spread a thick layer of the chocolate cream onto all the pastry rectangles.
  10. Arrange the blackberries on half of the rectangles, reserving eight for decoration, then add a little more chocolate cream between the berries.
  11. Sandwich the cream-covered pastry rectangles on top of the berries and dust with confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder.
  12. Cut the reserved berries in half, drizzle with cassis, and use to decorate the mille feuille.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: Chocolat

A Moist and Fudgy Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

1/3 cup vegetable oil
8 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
3/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped nuts, optional

Method

  1. Heat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Heat oil and chocolate in an 8-inch square cake pan in oven for about 4 minutes, until melted.
  3. Add water, sugar, egg, flour, salt, baking soda and vanilla. Beat with a fork until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in 1 cup chips. Spread evenly in pan. Sprinkle with remaining chips and nuts. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 40 minutes or until tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: Canadian magazine

Shortbread Crust with Pecan and Maple Syrup Topping

Ingredients

1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour

Topping

2 sticks (1 cup) butter
2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
1/3 cup good-quality maple syrup
1/4 heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecan halves and/or pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF and heavily grease a 9-by-13-inch pan.
  2. To make the crust, cream butter and sugar in a big bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in salt and gradually mix in flour until incorporated.
  3. Crumble mixture into the bottom of the pan, then press it firmly into pan with your fingers.
  4. Bake crust for 12 to 15 minutes, or until it is very pale gold. Set aside.
  5. To make topping, in medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with brown sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, cream and salt. Bring to boil and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved, 1 minute or so. Remove from heat and stir in nuts and vanilla.
  6. While topping is still hot, pour over crust. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until top is just starting to bubble, then set aside to let cool completely.
  7. Run a knife around the edges and invert entire baking pan to remove the block instead of trying to pry the squares out of the pan. Flip the block so it’s right-side up and cut the squares as you will.

Makes nine bars.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

Chestnut Pudding with Brandy Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup candied chestnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk

Brandy Sauce

1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. To make batter, chop chestnuts coarsely. In a bowl, combine sugar, flour and baking powder and mix in butter, milk and chestnuts. Set aside.
  3. To make sauce, combine brandy, butter and sugar with 1-1/4 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes and remove from heat.
  4. Pour sauce into 2-quart shallow casserole and drop in batter by tablespoons. Bake pudding for 35 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and top is firm and lightly browned.
  5. Remove pudding from oven and let stand for 1 hour before serving.
  6. To serve, spoon pudding onto dessert plates and serve with scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Source: Met Home magazine