Saturday, August 14, 2010

Crunchy & Custardy Peach Tart

Stop reading. Go make this tart. Now.

It was that good. Sweet and creamy with a little crunch, heavenly. I picked up a bag of peaches at the farmers market yesterday and have been dying to bake - I knew I'd use some of these beauties in a dessert. I've been taking an exceptionally difficult graduate class over the last 13 weeks, and I finally finished! My treat - baking, an entire tart. So with my fresh, ripe peaches ready to go, I grabbed my favorite cookbook - Dorie's Baking - From My Home to
Yours - flipped to the index, looked up peaches, and found this tart.

Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart

from ‘Baking From My Home to Yours’ by Dorie Greenspan

1 9” tart crust, partially baked and cooled* (See recipe below.)

Streusel Topping:

2 Tbsp. All-purpose Flour

2 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar

2 Tbsp. chopped almonds (I had slivered on hand and roughly chopped those)

2 Tbsp. Cold unsalted butter cut into pieces


3 large ripe peaches, peeled, halved and pitted

½ cup heavy cream

1 large egg

¼ cup sugar

1/8 tsp. Almond extract

Place the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.

Preheat the Oven to 425F

To make the streusel: Working with your fingertips, blend all the ingredients together in a small bowl until evenly combined. Cover the streusel tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until needed. (Wrapped well, the streusel can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

To make the tart: Slice 5 of the peach halves crosswise. The best way to do this is to place each peach half cut side down on a cutting board and slice it crosswise into thin slices, keeping the sliced half intact. Then lift each half on a spatula, press down on the half lightly to fan it just a bit and place it in the crust, with the edge of the outer peach slice almost touching the edge of the crust, so you have 5 peach "spokes" and an empty space in the center. Trim the remaining unsliced peach half so it will fit into the center of the tart and, using the tip of your knife, cut a little tic-tac-toe pattern in the center of the peach. Set aside while you make the creamy filling.

(Okay - so Dorie's method for fanning the peaches was not translating for me. I just thinnly sliced the peaches and arranged them attractively over the crust. In reality, the layout of your peaches is mostly hidden by the streusel topping, so I wouldn't worry too much about how pretty it looks!)

Whisk the cream, egg, sugar and almond extract together in a small bowl. When blended, rap the bowl on the counter to knock out the air bubbles, and pour the filling over and around the peaches.

Bake the tart for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and bake the tart tor another 20 minutes, at which point you should add the streusel.

Remove the streusel from the refrigerator and using your fingers break it up into small bits. Carefully pull the baking sheet to the front of the oven and sprinkle the streusel evenly over the creamy parts of the tart.

Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes (total baking time is 50 to 55 minutes), or until the filling is set and the streusel is golden. Remove the tart from the oven and transfer t he pan to a rack to cool until barely warm or at room temperature.

Just before serving, dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Sweet Tart Dough With Nuts

Makes enough for one 9-inch crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely ground almonds
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in--you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses--about 10- seconds each--until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change--heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

To Press the Dough into the Pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don't be too heavy-handed--press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To Partially or Fully Bake the Crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet, and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).

To Fully Bake the Crust: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, until it is firm and golden brown. (I dislike lightly baked crusts, so I often keep the crust in the oven just a little longer. If you do that, just make sure to keep a close eye on the crust's progress--it can go from golden to way too dark in a flash.) Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

To Patch a Partially or Fully Baked Crust, If Necessary: If there are any cracks in the baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to take the rawness off the patch.

Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer--it has a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Garlic Knots

On nights when we're having leftovers, I always like to have a little something new, to liven up the meal. When spaghetti & meatballs were on the menu for the second night in a row, I decided to bake up some dinner rolls to keep dinner at least a little interesting.

I don't have a lot of experience with yeast breads. I've had two massive fails, and luck just once. But I think I finally got the hang of it. There's something so oddly rewarding about watching your yeasted dough rise. Only a baker would get it!! Others probably think I'm nuts.

But here they are - Garlic Knots - in all thier crunchy outside, soft & warm inside, glory. I think bread-making might be a new addiction! Off to the library to flip through some cookbooks!

Garlic Knots - the recipe

For the dough -


1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt


In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, honey, and 1 tablespoon oil, stirring to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until the dough is smooth but still slightly sticky. You may not need all of the flour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes.

Oil a large mixing bowl with remaining olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place, free from drafts until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Making your garlic knots -


Basic dough recipe (above)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesean cheese


Combine butter and garlic in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Cover, remove from the heat and set aside. Keep warm.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly grease 2 large baking sheets. Set aside.

Remove risen dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough out into a large rectangle, about 16 by 12 inches. Brush the dough lightly with the olive oil. Cut the dough in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into strips about 1 1/4 inches wide. Tie each strip loosely into a knot, stretching gently if necessary, and place on prepared baking sheets about 2-inches apart. Sprinkle the tops of the knots with salt. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 30 minutes.

Bake until golden brown and risen, about 20 minutes. Brush each roll with the warm garlic butter & sprinkle with parmesean cheese. Add salt to taste if necessary. Serve immediately.

Adapted from: Emeril - on

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chocolate Martini

I have a wicked sweet tooth. I crave chocolate, and tend to indulge in a square of good-quality dark chocolate at least once a week. Last Friday, we had finished dinner, the baby was sound asleep, my husband was heading out to his buddy's the watch the Yankee game (blasphemy to a sox fan!). There was not a morsel of chocolate to be found in my house, and I was dying for some. What I did have was godiva chocolate liquer, and creme de cocoa, and vodka. Chocolate martini - problem solved!


1 part Godiva Chocolate Liquer

1 part Creme de Cocoa

2 parts vodka

splash of milk


Combine all ingredients in a chilled shaker. Shake, shake, shake (shake, shake, shake... ).

Pour into a chilled martini glass. I like to set my glass in the freezer for 5 minutes before I pour my drink, or if I forget, I'll fill my glass with ice and a bit of cold water to chill first.

Top with shaved chocolate if you are feeling festive - or get right to drinking if you just can't wait!!