Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lemon and Tangerine Pates de Fruit

Pate de fruit

Silly, I know, but I debated over the title of this post. I made lemon pate de fruit and tangerine pate de fruit, so is the plural pates de fruit or pate de fruits? Or maybe it's pate des fruits. I wish I'd paid better attention in French class...

...but then again, who needs to remember anything anymore - we've got Google! And Google says it's pates de fruit in this case. Pronunciation however, is not so easy to find. That is to say that I couldn't find it in less than 39 seconds and that's about all the time I have to spare these days, so if you know how to pronounce it, please say so in the comments and we can all learn some French today!

Pate de fruit
Now that we have our French lesson out of the way, let's talk about these delectable little pates de fruit.

First, they are delicious bites of real fruit juice mixed with sugar and pectin. The lemon are the thicker of the two (I used a slightly different sized pan) and I preferred them just a bit over the tangerine flavor.

Pate de fruit

Second, they are fun to eat, fun to play with and beautiful to photograph as you can see from all the different photos here.

Pate de fruit

Third, they can be made with any fruit juice. Add a little citric acid (used in sour candies and can be found in candy-making supply stores) if you want to see your friends pucker their lips!

Sherry Yard in The Secrets of Baking makes one from a Blackberry Merlot sauce which I'd love to try. I'd love to bake my way through that entire book someday but then, instead of SMS for Sweet Melissa Sundays, or TWD for Tuesdays with Dorie, or DB for Daring Bakers, I'd have to name the group SOB for Secrets of Baking and that sounds more to me like cussing than a baking group. But I digress...

This recipe for pate de fruit, however, comes from cookbook author and editor of Dessert Professional magazine, Tish Boyle, and her delicious blog named Sweet Dreams.

Pâte de Fruit
from Tish Boyle, original recipe here
Makes 45 confections

2/3 cup fruit juice, such as fresh tangerine or pomegranate (or lemon)
6 tablespoons apple sauce (smooth, not chunky)
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 3-ounce envelope liquid pectin
2 teaspoons lemon juice

1. Lightly oil a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Line the pan with plastic wrap, letting it extend beyond the short ends of the pan, and lighlty oil the wrap.
2. In a medium, heavy saucepan, stir together the juice and apple sauce until well combined. Stir in 1½ cups of the sugar. Open the packet of liquid pectin and stand it up in a glass so it can be added quickly to the mixture when it’s ready. Cook the juice mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture registers 238°F on a candy thermometer. Add the pectin and continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Immediately pour the hot mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top of the candy with a thin layer of granulated sugar. Let stand until set, about 1½ hours.
3. Using the ends of the plastic wrap as handles, carefully lift the confection out of the pan. Cut the pâte de fruit into 1 inch squares (or any size or shape you like) and roll them in the remaining sugar until they are well coated on all sides. Store the pâte de fruit in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Here's another delicious way to use up those ripe bananas. My kids and I loved this recipe - a moist quick-bread with pure banana flavor with a little chocolate in every bite. Yum.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Makes one 9x5-inch Loaf

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan with cooking oil spray. Set aside. ( I always line the bottom of the loaf pan with parchment, and lightly spray the parchment as well.)

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until the mixture looks light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, beating well each time. Add the vanilla and bananas to the mixture and mix well on medium speed.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer running on its lowest speed, add the flour mixture to the bowl little by little, until just combined.

Add the chocolate chips to the batter and mix until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread with a spatula to even it out.

Slide the pan into the preheated oven and cook for about 1 hour. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool before slicing and serving.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Coconut Cream Tart and a recipe for Pecan Crust

Coconut Cream Tart

This past Easter is the last one we'll spend in this house, the house we built 10 years ago. What memories were made in this house - basically our kids grew up here. Annie, our youngest, is almost 8 -- pretty much all grown up-- as she sees it anyway.

Usually on Easter, the Easter bunny will leave a note for the kids - a rhyming limerick with clues indicating where the baskets are hidden. My husband always comes up with clever plays on words which I've saved through the years.

Easter 2010

This year, the Easter bunny (you can see his shirt in the background - the traditional Easter rugby pulled out every year just for the occasion) thought of another idea. He commissioned his cartographer to draw a map of our yard with the house on it. The map was made into a puzzle and the pieces were hidden all over the house. The kids were to find the pieces, put the map together, and find out where their baskets were according to where their name was located on the map. I've never seen such teamwork! Not to mention the added bonus of sharpening their map-reading skills!

Easter 2010

It was the warmest Easter in recent memory, so he hid the baskets outside - Annie's by the hammock, Ben's by the basketball hoop, and Ellen's by her favorite flowering dogwood tree in the front of the house.
And voila! more memories are made - oh happiness!

Easter 2010

This coconut cream tart was unbelievably good. The filling was light and creamy, perfect for a Spring holiday dessert. The filling is made in two steps. First make a vanilla pastry cream and refrigerate overnight. Next add the chilled pastry cream to some heavy cream and sugar, essentially making a whipped cream filling with a bit more substance to it. Add the toasted coconut and fill the pre-baked tart shell.

Coconut Cream Tart

The original recipe is adapted from the recipe for Coconut Cream Pie with Pecan Crust in the cookbook Luscious Creamy Desserts by Lori Longbotham. I chose to use a plain tart dough only because I had the dough already made in the freezer, but I imagine the pecan crust would be fantastic.

A tart holds less filling than a pie therefore you get a higher crust to filling ratio - the perfect balance in my opinion. Only I had lots of extra filling leftover. I managed to get two tartlet shells out of the leftover dough and filled them, but still had extra filling which I ate, a spoonful here and there, until I'd had my fill and decided I needed to stop eating calorie-dense foods right from the container! To make a 9-inch tart, you might want to cut the filling recipe in half.

Coconut Cream Tart

Coconut Cream Tart with Pecan Crust
Serves 8 with extra filling left over
Adapted from Luscious Creamy Desserts by Lori Longbotham

For the filling:
1 1/4 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 3/4 cups whipping cream, divided
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the coconut for 5-7 minutes on a baking sheet, stirring once or twice during that time.

Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and the cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup of the cream and and egg yolk in a medium bowl. Whisk in the sugar/cornstarch mixture.

Heat 1 1/4 cups cream in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot. Slowly pour the cream into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan, reduce the heat to medium low and cook, whisking constantly for 5-7 minutes, or until thickened. Pour the pastry cream through a coarse strainer set over a bowl. Whisk in the vanilla, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to keep a skin from forming. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate the pastry cream for at least 2 hours, or up to one day.

Once the pastry cream is thoroughly chilled, place the pastry cream in a large bowl with remaining 1 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until the mixture forms soft peaks when the beaters are lifted. Fold in the toasted coconut and spoon the mixture into the pie crust. Sprinkle with a small handful of sweetened shredded coconut. Chill the tart for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours before serving.

For the crust:
Note: I used a basic pate brisee tart crust for this recipe 'cause I had it in the freezer. Use your favorite tart dough recipe or use the one below. Just be warned that this part of the recipe was not "Marzipan-tested".

1 cup pecans
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk

Pulse the pecans and flour in a food processor just until the pecans are finely ground. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and the salt until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and beat until well combined. Add the pecan mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in wax paper, and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to one day.

Roll out the dough between two sheets of wax paper to a 12-inch circle. remove the top shhet of paper and invert the crust into a 9-inch tart pan. Gently ease the dough into the pan, and remove the remaining wax paper. Trim the excess dough.

Press a piece of aluminum foil snugly into the bottom and up the sides of the pastry shell and fill with uncooked rice or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the foil and beans, and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown. Prick the dough with a fork if you see the dough starting to bubble. Let cool on a wire rack.


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