October 19, 2010 § Leave a comment
This past weekend our friendly downstairs neighbors/landlords were kind enough to invite us over for dinner. They offered to prepare a delicious feast, complete with tasty margaritas, and in return, we offered to bring dessert. Since I didn’t have a lot of time to be slaving over a dessert, but I wanted to bring something that both appeared and tasted impressive, I opted for this chocolate raspberry tart. (It also didn’t hurt that we had recently purchased a full flat of raspberries as a last-ditch effort to hang on to summer.)
I have made this before for another dinner party, and posted some photos of it earlier (here), following a recipe from Fine Cooking Chocolate!, but I wanted to change it up just a bit. The original recipe calls for a gingersnap crust. I’m a pretty big fan of gingersnaps, but for my taste, I felt like this detracted from the main show here: chocolate and raspberries. So, in this version, I substituted a chocolate cookie crust, which I think added the same great texture as the gingersnap crust, but kept the flavors balanced and highlighted the richness of the chocolate. This tart could be made in many different ways, so feel free to use your own favorite crust, but here’s how I did it:
For the crust:
- 6 oz. finely ground chocolate cookies (I used Newman’s Own Chocolate Alphabet Cookies)
- 2 1/2 tblsp granulated sugar
- 4 tblsp melted, unsalted butter
For the filling:
- 2 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
- 10.5 oz chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- pinch of table salt
To prepare the crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 11 inch tart pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, use a fork to mix together the
ground cookies and sugar.
3. Drizzle the melted butter over the cookie crumbs and mix well with a fork.
4. Pour the cookie crumb mixture in to the tart pan and spread it evenly over the bottom. Use your fingers or a hard object to press the crumbs in to the bottom of the pan and up the sides of the pan, trying to achieve just under 1/4 inch thick crust.
5. Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Set aside to cool.
1. Process 1 1/2 cups of fresh raspberries in a food processor or blender and then pass through a fine sieve. Collect 3/4 cup of strained, raspberry puree and set aside.
2. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat it until it just boils. In the meantime, chop the chocolate and place it in a medium size bowl. (I used this 73% Dark Chocolate Cacao from Alter Eco. We are limited to soy-free and non-nut contaminated chocolates in our house, so this often means splurging a bit for chocolate-centric desserts. This chocolate also has some cacao nibs in it, which adds a very small amount of crunch.)
3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk quickly, melting all of the chocolate.
4. Mix in the raspberry puree and the salt.
5. Pour the ganache in to the cool tart shell. Refrigerate until the ganache is firm (approximately 1 hour).
5. Add the raspberries (as many as you’d like! I accidentally ground up too many of them and didn’t have as many left as I wanted for tart decoration) around the edge of the tart and chill again in the refrigerator before serving to make sure the ganache is firm.
Notes on this tart: This tart is really quite simple, but tastes decadent, so there’s no reason not to make it. I also recommend adding a dollop of softly whipped cream as a sweet complement to the rich chocolate. My only complaint about this particular recipe is that the crust turned out a bit too crumbly. Keeping the crunch in the crust is very important for having some contrasting texture in the tart, but I was a little worried about it crumbling in to too many pieces (mostly on the sides were the crust was a bit thinner) and ruining the otherwise elegant presentation. So, I might add more butter next time, or maybe just make a larger amount of the cookie crumbs to make it a tad thicker. I’ll definitely be sticking with the Chocolate Alphabet cookies though– they aren’t overly sweet and they have a deep chocolate flavor. And who doesn’t want alphabet cookies in their dessert?
September 20, 2010 § 2 Comments
Scones are one of my favorite breakfast treats to bake on weekend mornings. They aren’t too challenging to make, even if you still aren’t quite awake, and most of the ingredients will already be in your pantry and fridge. Even better, you can put just about anything in them, satisfying your every whim. This Saturday, I tried some fresh raspberry scones with a hint of lime. I also tried out a new scone recipe, which I adapted from Baking Illustrated, compiled by the trusty authors of Cook’s Illustrated. Here it is:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tblsp baking powder
- 3 tblsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 tblsp unsalted butter (cold, cut into 1/4 in cubes)
- 3/4 cup fresh raspberries
- lime zest
- 1 cup half-and-half**
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
3. Cut the butter into the mixture using a pastry blender (my preferred method, but you can also use two knives or a food processor), until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
4. Add the raspberries and zest of one lime and mix gently with a fork.
5. Add the half-and-half and mix with a fork until dough begins to form.
7. Cut in to wedges using a dough scraper or sharp knife.
8. Place on to a baking sheet (with parchment paper or silpat). Brush with half-and-half and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Zest more lime over scones if desired.
9. Bake in middle rack at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until scones are light brown on top. Cool for 10 minutes on a cooling rack before consuming.
**I normally would have used heavy cream, but we were out. And, honestly, I couldn’t taste the difference. So half-and-half might be a lighter way to go.
Notes on these scones: I really enjoyed the raspberry and lime combination, and the texture of the scones was great– not very dense, but still rich and buttery.
Although not very professional looking, I really liked the craggy, nook-and-cranny look and feel of these scones. I found the dough to be very sticky, so it was quite difficult to mold in to a neat disk, and also to transfer the wedges to the baking sheet, which most-definitely contributed to their mis-shapenness.
My usual scone recipe is essentially the same except it has 6 tblsps of butter, 2/3 cup of cream (or half-and-half), and 5 tablespoons of sugar. Amazingly, I did not miss the extra butter or sugar of my other recipe. I might need to play around with the amount of liquid in the recipe though, as the additional 1/3 cup in the new recipe probably contributed to the dough being more difficult to handle.