Monday, June 22, 2009

Sugar High Fridays - Fruit and Nut

It has been a while since I participated in Sugar High Fridays. Unfortunately, I missed the deadline again... Work, family and a new hobby – gardening, are keeping me very busy. I baked a couple cakes last week which made me feel so rejuvenated and I decided to not let “busy” be my excuse for not doing something that I really enjoy doing. When I knew the theme of this month’s SHF was Fruit and Nuts from our host Mansi, Fun and Food Blog, I couldn’t stop thinking about Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut bar. I almost wanted to recreated a home version of it until I saw the macadamia nut tart recipe from Claudia Fleming’s book.

What wonderful about Fleming’s book is that it includes serving suggestions for every recipes in the book. For her Macadamia Nut Tart, Fleming suggested the Coconut Sorbet and the Roasted Pineapple with Pink Peppercorns.

When we say, “what grows together, goes together”, this composed dessert is definitely singing that song. Macadamia nuts, coconut and pineapple, it is Hawaiian! At the same time, the warmth from the tart and pineapple contrasts the cold of the sorbet; the rich, silky tart filling, crunchy yet soft nuts, flaky tart crust, meaty pineapple, crunchy peppercorns and melt in your mouth sorbet makes every bite so satisfying.

I did all the baking, churning and roasting in one day. It seemed like a lot of work but it was straight forward. (I made the tart dough and the sorbet base the night before.) One tip for making the roasted pineapple: have every ingredient ready before making the caramel because if the caramel overcooked and it will lend a burnt taste to the pineapple which is not part of the taste contrast.

After all, it was a great success and I wish you'll give it a try.

Macadamia-nut Tart

Tart Dough
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
7 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
2 to 3 Tbsp milk

Macadamia Tart Filling
1 ¼ cups macadamia nuts (toasted and roughly chopped)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 whole eggs
1 large egg yolk
¾ cup light corn syrup
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ tsp dark rum
¾ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt

1. To prepare the tart dough, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the egg yolk and 2 Tbsp of the milk and pulse until the dough comes together and begins to leave the sides of the bowl. If the mixture is too dry, add more milk to the dough, ½ Tbsp at a time. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, form it into a disk, and wrap well. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour, and up to 3 days.
2. Preheat the oven to 350F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11-inch disk. Press it into a 9-inch tart pan, trimming away any excess dough. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Chill for 10 minutes. Line the tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pie weights and foil and bake for 12 to 15 minutes more until set. Let the tart shell cool on a rack.
3. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to let the butter cook until some of the white milk solids fall to the bottom of the skillet and turn a rich hazelnut brown. Strain the browned butter through a fine sieve into the bowl of an electric mixer. Let the butter cool for a few minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients and using the whip attachment, beat until blended, then strain through a fine sieve. (The filling can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.)
4. Preheat the oven to 325F. Spread the nuts in the bottom of the tart shell, then pour the filling over them. Place the tart pan on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the filling is set and golden brown on top, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Coconut Sorbet

Yield: 1 pint

2 cups whole milk
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon fresh lime juice

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, coconut, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer the mixture until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for 1 hour.
2. Strain the mixture into a bowl and discard the coconut. Stir in the lime juice, cover, and chill until thoroughly cold, at least 3 hours, or overnight. Strain again and freeze in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Roasted Pineapple with Pink Peppercorns

1 cup sugar
1 tsp light corn syrup
1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 rings
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, pulp scraped
1 bay leaf
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp dark rum (preferably Myers’s)
1 Tbsp pink peppercorns
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Place ¼ cup water in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over low heat. Add the sugar and corn syrup and increase the heat to high. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture is a deep amber-brown caramel, about 7 minutes. Add the pineapple, vanilla pod and pulp, and bay leaf, then bake, basting every 10 minutes, until the pineapple is tender and translucent, about 40 minutes.
2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pineapple to a serving platter and either place in a low oven or tent with foil to keep warm. (Alternatively, let the pineapple cool in the pan, then reheat for a few minutes before making the sauce.)
3. To prepare the sauce, whisk the butter, rum, pink peppercorns, and salt into the hot pan juices until smooth. Serve the sauce spooned over the roasted pineapple.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rhubarb Rose Cobbler

I'm not only obsessed with baking from scratch, I'm also very obsessed with using fresh ingredients in my baking whenever I can.

It's rhubarb season. You'll see them every time you turn around at the produce section in grocery stores. However, I just want to use those freshly cut from the garden. I want to do that because I hear people talked about what they made with their "garden fresh" rhubarb and how onderful they are all the time.

I don't have any rhubarb in my garden but my friend Karen does. Karen was generous enough to picked a big bunch of rhubarb for me to make this beautiful dessert.

I have tried rhubarb dessert before but this is my first time using it in my baking. I did a bit of research on the internet on how to prepare rhubarb and trimmed all the rhubarb that Karen gave me. I can't tell you how excited I was: nothing beats fresh vegetables or fruit from the garden!

Again, this is another recipe from Claudia Fleming's The Last Course. Did anyone other than Fleming had thought about using rhubarb and rose together? I have to say this is one of the best food combination. For once, rose is playing the supportive role. The earthiness from the rose preserves and rose water rounded out the sharp, tart flavour of rhubarb beautifully. Rose also makes an ordinary rhubarb cobbler become an elegant dessert that's romantic enough for a proposal dinner.

I'm terrible with gardening but for sure next year, I'll plant my own rhubarb!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Valentine's Day Cupcakes

Since I was back to work after my 13 months long maternity leave, I have not had a chance to update my blog. It was hard to find time to bake too.

I was into making cupcakes after Sarah's birthday. I made some cupcakes for Valentine's Day, using rolled fondant. I also used rolled fondant to make mini ladybugs for decoration. Maybe I shouldn't say "mini" because they are real-size ladybugs.

I made 2 dozen regular size and 1 dozen mini cupcakes, planning to sell them at the office. I was going to donate the proceeds to charity. However, it took me two nights to finish decorating them (my evenings are very short now because of Sarah) and I didn't feel right to sell "day-old" bake goods. So, I simply gave them away at the office to whoever has kids at home.

It was really fun working with rolled fondant. I bought a 4lb-tub fondant and ready to roll!