Scottish Shortbread, variation

I posted a recipe for Scottish shortbread around the Holidays back in 2012. Since then I’ve been reading recipes that include rice flour so I thought I’d see if it makes any difference even though I couldn’t find any reason why.

I called my friend Shirley Corriher to ask what the deal was for such an addition. She’s a biochemist and author of BakeWise and CookWise. She said it would make the shortbread more crisp. Sure enough it makes it lighter in texture and has a crisp snap when broken. However, by all means if you don’t have rice flour you can still make delicious shortbread.

1 cup (4 1/2 ounces or 130 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces or 35 grams) rice flour
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounce or 35 grams) semolina flour
5 tablespoons (2 1/4 ounces or 60 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (*if using salted butter omit the fine sea salt)
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) salted* or unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla, optional

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Have handy a 7- or 8-inch cake ring, springform pan or removable bottom cake pan. If using a springform or cake pan, lightly butter the bottom and line with a round of parchment paper.  If using a cake ring, set it on a parchment lined sheet pan.

Weight or measure the flours, sugar, and salt into a large bowl; whisk to combine.  Cut the butter into 8 or 10 pieces and scatter on top of the flour mixture; pour the vanilla over the mixture as well, if using.  Using your fingers, incorporate the butter and vanilla into the flour mixture until all the ingredients are completely combined and dough comes together when pressed.

Crumble  the dough evenly around the prepared pan or cake ring. Firmly press the dough into the pan with your fingertips.

Prick the dough all over with a fork to prevent it from puffing and bake until the shortbread is golden, about 32 to 38 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool it in the pan (or ring) for about 10 – 15 minutes on a cooling rack. If a cake pan was used, loosen the edges of the shortbread with a sharp knife and carefully turn it out onto a cutting board.

If using a cake ring, loosen and remove the ring while the shortbread is still warm and move to it a cutting board. Cut the round into 8 (or more) wedges using a serrated knife and set on a cooling rack. Store shortbread, well wrapped, for up to a week; freeze for longer storage.

Posted in Desserts, General Blog, Ingredients | Leave a comment

Lemon-Lavender Curd Meringue Tart

IMG_0036I have researched, tested, and tweaked many variations of this recipe with several experts contributing to its success including recipes from David Lebovitz, Dave Blom, Pastry Chef at the Fairmont Sonoma Inn and Spa, and my friend Pierre, who lives in Nice. He gets to pluck lemons off the tree on his terrace, which just happens to overlook the Côte d’Azur.

Before diving in (which is what you’ll want to do after your first bite) here are a few recipe hacks to ensure your tart turns out delicious. 1) Making pastry dough is not an exact science. Adding more or less liquid is determined by the moisture content of the four being used; 2) the curd has gelatin and cornstarch in it and will set-up quickly so be sure the tart shell has been blind baked before you start making the curd; 3) infusing lavender into the curd gives it a delicate floral accent which complements the tartness of the lemon; however, it is totally optional; 4) it’s important to allow the curd to boil for a good minute so that the cornstarch fully cooks. It won’t boil like water, it will be more like bubbling lava; 5) whisk in the “bloomed” gelatin while the curd is hot to that it melts.

Simca’s Pâte Sublime (Delicate Sweet Pastry Dough with Cream)
Yield about 1 ½ pounds pastry dough, enough for two 8 to 9 inch tart shells or 8 individual 3-inch tart rings

9 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 ounce (1/4 cup) cake flour, not self-rising
1/8 ounce (1 teaspoon) baking powder
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
5 ounces (10 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
zest of one medium orange, preferably organic (optional)
4 – 6 tablespoons heavy cream, beaten with 1 large egg yolk*
2 tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed (optional)

Place dry ingredients in bowl of a food processor and process 2 seconds to combine.  Evenly distribute the butter around the bowl of the processor and pulse on/off for 8 to 10 seconds (about 20 pulses) or until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal.

*If using 2 tablespoons orange juice cut back on the amount of cream by the same amount.   More or less liquid may be needed depending on the amount of moisture already in the flour.

With the processor running, add the egg mixture through the pour-tube and process just until the mixture starts to hold together. Turn the motor off, remove the lid, and pinch the dough with your fingers. If it doesn’t hold together pour another tablespoon of cream (or orange juice) over the mixture and pulse again.

If the dough holds together when pinched turn out onto a floured surface and quickly smear together with the heel of your hand to blend, gathering it back onto itself with a bench knife. If making two tarts, divide it evenly into two disks, otherwise it’s fine leaving it in one disk for the individual tartlets.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Chill for at least 1 hour prior to rolling or up to one day in the refrigerator.  It can also be frozen for up to one month.

If making an 8 or 9-inch tart, roll out one disk of dough in a circle about 1½ inches larger than the tart pan.  Roll the dough over the rolling-pin and unroll on top of the tart pan.  Gently work the dough into the pan pressing the dough up the sides and folding any excess back onto itself.

If making individual tartlets, roll out to about 3/16-inch.  Set a tart ring on the dough and cut around it about 1-inch larger than the ring.  Gently form the dough in the ring. After it is formed, cut off any dough sticking above the ring.


Set on a parchment or Silpat lined sheet pan.  After the tart(s) have been formed, prick them with a fork and place them in the freezer for at least an hour.  As well, once frozen they can be tightly wrapped and kept for up to a month.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the tart(s) with parchment paper and pie weights and cook for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove the pie weights and parchment paper and return to the oven for another 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. If the edges start to get too brown, cover the edges with a “pie-shield”, pieces of aluminum foil or an inverted tart ring that is the next size larger.

Lemon-Lavender Curd

4 ounces (8 tablespoons or 130 grams) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
3 egg yolks (from large eggs)
zest of 2 lemons, organic if possible
180 ml (3/4 cup) fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lavender buds (optional)
210 grams (1 3/4 cups) powdered sugar
2 1/2 grams (1 1/2 teaspoons) cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 gelatin sheet

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and allow to cool.  In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolks; set aside. In another small bowl add the gelatin sheet and submerge in cool water.  Allow to completely soften (to bloom, as they say) about 10 minutes. After it has completely softened pour off some of the water so that it doesn’t disintegrate and set aside.

In the saucepan with the cooled butter add the lemon zest, juice, lavender (if using), powdered sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the beaten eggs.   Place the mixture on a low to medium fire and constantly whisking slowly bring the mixture to a boil.  Allow the curd to boil for about a minute. Remove from the heat.  Squeeze how any remaining water from the “bloomed” gelatin sheet and whisk it into the hot curd mixture.  Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer directly into the blind baked tart shell.

Italian Meringue*

3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
2 egg whites (2 ounces) at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

In a small pot over low heat, combine sugar and water.  Swirl the pot over the burner to dissolve the sugar completely.  Once the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring.   Increase the heat and boil to 240°F using a candy thermometer to get it right.  Wash down the inside wall of the pot with a wet pastry brush, which helps prevent sugar crystals from forming around the sides and falling in, causing a chain reaction.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the eggs whites on low speed until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium, and beat until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over fluffed egg whites. Beat on medium-high speed until the egg whites are stiff and glossy, about 4 -5 minutes.  *Meringue can easily be doubled (use 5 egg whites though) if you like a lot on top of your tart.

If making individual tarts, divide curd between them.   Meringue can be spooned on or use a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch star or plain tip and pipe any design that you like.  Using a blowtorch (the same kind as is used for crème brûlée), brown the meringue and serve immediately.


Posted in Cooking Classes, Desserts, General Blog, Ingredients | Leave a comment


In the 10 minutes I spent searching on the interwebs, I found an article in the New Times where the author retold a couple of theories on the origin of this little cake.  Some book on the history of pastry; no really, there’s such a book by Pierre Lacam called, “Memorial Historique de la Patisserie” (found one on Amazon for 350,00 €) published in 1890 has one theory.

Lacam wrote that this cake was created by a baker named Lasne.  His bakery was on the Rue St.-Denis near the Bourse, the financial center of Paris.  He wanted to suck up to the bankers so he created this little nibble in the shape of a gold brick.

Nick Malgieri, pastry chef extraordinaire and culinary instructor, believes the nuns of the Order of the Visitation created them and called them visitandines. Both seem plausible and I would happily thank either for their creation.

Regardless of who created them, there’s a couple of details to keep in mind when baking these little “gold bricks”. First off, when cooking the butter melt it on medium-low heat until it starts to smell nutty and the milk solids begin to brown. Watch it like a hawk though as it will go from brown to burnt very quickly. Once it’s the color of a chestnut remove it from the heat and pour it into a bowl to stop the cooking. Don’t be timid either and under cook the butter. It needs to achieve the necessary aroma and color for a successful baking outcome.

The second detail is to mix the batter as little as possible. It should be stirred just until blended. If you are over zealous, gluten formation will occur and these little darlings will be tough.

The batter needs some time to rest in the refrigerator. This will allow the flavors to harmonize and the batter will firm up, making it easier to get the batter into molds. I use a pastry bag for this step but a teaspoon would work too in a pinch.  Trust me though the pastry bag is easier.

The classic shape is rectangular (for the gold bar reference) but the batter can also be baked in mini muffins tins. Though I have non-stick molds (which are 1″ x 2″ x 3/8″), I brush each of them with a little melted butter just for removal insurance.

Of course the size of the mold will determine the number that can be made.  With the molds I have I made about 7 dozen.


13 tablespoons or (6 1/2 oz or 187g) unsalted butter, plus enough to butter the molds
1/4 cup or (2 1/4 oz or 63g) all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups or (4 1/2 oz or 125g) almond powder
3 1/2 cups or (14 oz or 212g) confectioners’ sugar
pinch of kosher salt
3/4 cup (6 1/2 oz or 187g) egg whites

Place the butter in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until it turns brown and has the aroma of toasted nuts. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking and set aside to cool.

In the same pan melt a little more butter.  Brush each mold with some of the melted butter using a small pastry brush. Set aside.

In a medium bowl using a whisk mix together the flour, almond flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt.  Add the egg whites and mix just until combined. When the brown butter has cooled, add it to the dry ingredients and whisk again, just until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.

Fill the batter 3/4 full into prepared financier or muffin molds. Cook in molds at 350°F for 15 minutes. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes then using the tip of a paring knife carefully remove each “cake” to a rack to cool. They taste their best when served the day they are baked though no one has ever complained when I served them the next day.

Posted in Desserts, General Blog, Ingredients, Recipes | Leave a comment

Roasted Pecan Maple Ice cream

Ice cream bases (aka crème anglaise) that I’ve run across use anywhere from 2 to 5 to 8 large egg yolks. Since I’m a fan of anything that Shirley Corriher suggests I decided to follow her recipe in CookWise. It calls for 8 large yolks. Her book is such a wealth of information with another tidbit being the necessity to scald milk but not heavy cream when making crème anglaise. That helps tremendously as ice cold cream speeds up the process of chilling down the finished anglaise.

I continue to use David Lebovitz’s suggestion of starting with room temperature eggs and milk which prevents the need of tempering the eggs in the hot liquid. It works great but you still have to be careful not to go above 175°F on your instant read thermometer otherwise you may scramble the eggs.

Lou Miranda Photography

Lou Miranda Photography

Of course it’s not necessary to steep the pecans in the milk, but I wanted to extract as much flavor from them as possible. You can absolutely skip this step if time or energy does not allow it.  Either way enjoy the ice cream on it’s own or on your favorite crisp.  The one pictured is made with fresh peaches.

Makes about 1 quart

For crème anglaise:
1 cup (about 3 1/2 oz) pecan halves
1 cup (8 oz) pure maple syrup
1 3/4 cups (14 oz) whole milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
8 large (about 5 oz or 145 grams) egg yolks
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, cold
Pinch kosher or sea salt

Place an oven rack on the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350°F

Place pecan halves in a heavy duty skillet (I used cast iron) and roast for about 15 minutes. While the pecans are in the oven pour  maple syrup in a medium heavy-duty saucepan, place on medium heat and reduce to 3/4 cup.  This should take about 5 minutes.  Pour syrup into a heat proof liquid measuring cup to ensure that it’s at the correct amount. Add or subtract maple syrup as needed to equal 3/4 cup. Set aside.

In the same saucepan add the milk and toasted pecans. Set back on medium heat and bring just to a simmer.  Remove from the heat and allow the pecans to steep in the milk for at least an hour.  Pour mixture over a sieve reserving both the pecans and the milk. Measure the milk to equal 1 1/2 cups adding a little more or less as necessary.  Place the sieve over a large bowl and set bowl in an ice bath.

Return the pecans to the skillet and place back in the oven, stirring occasionally until they become dry, about 30 minutes.

Return the milk to the saucepan and add the salt.  In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Pour the mixture into the pan of milk and place over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat-proof spatula until the anglaise thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Pour the anglaise through the sieve into the bowl set over the ice bath.  Add the cream, maple syrup, and vanilla to the anglaise, stirring to combine and to cool the liquid.  When cool, cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the anglaise and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 8 hours or preferably up to 12 hours.

Churn the cold anglaise in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Add half the chopped maple glazed pecans in the last few minutes or wait and sprinkle them over the top just before serving. Transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze.

Caramelized Maple Pecans
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Coarse salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
generous 2 cups (about 7 oz) pecans (those that were steeped in the ice cream base and dried, plus another 3 1/2 oz)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Stir in maple syrup, cinnamon, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer (mixture will be frothy), about 3 minutes. Add pecans and toss to coat using a rubber spatula. Cook, stirring, until sauce is syrupy and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract.

Transfer pecan mixture to a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet, and spread into a single layer. Bake until pecans are caramelized, about 10 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack. Stir, and let stand until cool and hardened, about 30 minutes.  Chop into pieces.

Posted in Desserts, General Blog, Ingredients, Recipes | Leave a comment

Salad Niçoise

This is a salad that I have enjoyed repeatedly during my travels in Provence.  It is the epitome of summer in the south of France when the herbs from the garden or market are abundant.   The potatoes, lettuces and green beans (haricots verts) are tender and the tomatoes are juicy and ripe having been kissed by the Mediterranean sun.

Nicoise Salade

According to some purists, seared tuna is never served on a classic salade Nicoise.  It’s only canned tuna and purchase the best you can afford.  If you are serving  tuna, including anchovies is also a no no according to some.  Though I have seen both on salads in Provence.  Also, from what I have been told the classic version would only be drizzled with Provençal olive oil not combined with vinegar.

When it comes to cooking, I have never been one to follow the rules exactly and since I am not in Provence, I do not have to follow the rules of appellation d’origine contrôlée or (AOC.)  Therefore, if you have some seared tuna in the fridge or have cucumbers, but not red onions or want to add tuna and also anchovies, by all means do so.

Zest of one lemon, preferably organic
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small shallot, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons minced fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
2 – 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk lemon juice, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano, tarragon, and mustard in medium bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle in oil and whisk to emulsify.  Taste with a piece of lettuce to determine balance of acidity.  Set aside.

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved or quartered (set aside until ready to assemble the salad)
12 small new red potatoes (each about 2 inches in diameter, about 1 ¼ pounds total), scrubbed
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed
2 medium heads Boston lettuce or butter lettuce leaves washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
1 small red onion, sliced very thin
¼ – 1/2 cup niçoise olives
2 to 3 cans of tuna, best quality available
12 anchovies, preferably salt packed and the best quality available
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped, preferably salt packed

Bring potatoes and 4 quarts cold water to boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cook until potatoes are tender, 5 to 8 minutes, depending on their size. When cool enough to handle cut potatoes in half or quarters and transfer them to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon (do not discard boiling water). Toss warm potatoes with ¼ cup vinaigrette; set aside.

Make an ice bath. Return water to boil and add the green beans. Cook until tender but crisp, 3 to 5 minutes or better yet taste one to see if it’s perfectly cooked. Drain beans, transfer to reserved ice water, and let stand until just cool, about 30 seconds; dry beans well. Toss beans in about 3 tablespoons vinaigrette. Salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Toss lettuce with ¼ cup vinaigrette in large bowl until coated. Arrange bed of lettuce on a serving platter or individual salad plates. Toss tomatoes, red onion, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

Arrange the tomato-onion mixture on the salad greens, along with the beans, and reserved potatoes.  Next arrange the hard-boiled eggs, olives, and anchovies.  (Oftentimes the anchovies are draped on top of the eggs.) Drizzle eggs with remaining 2 tablespoons dressing, sprinkle entire salad with capers (if using), and serve immediately.

Posted in General Blog, Ingredients, Main Courses, Recipes, Salads | Leave a comment

Roasted White Chocolate and Sour Cherry Blondie on Rosemary Shortbread

All this craziness started because I read David Lebovitz’s blog about roasting white chocolate. Of course, I had been storing 11 pounds of the premium coverture for too many months and had yet to bake with it. When I saw David’s post, I thought why not roast it all and maybe it would give me inspiration to then use it.  Well, there the container of roasted chocolate sat staring at me until I had a weekend free to experiment.

I made my first batch of blondies or as some would call them “bars” using the chocolate, toasted pistachios and semi-sweet chocolate chips folded into the batter.  The pistachios were lost and the chips were too sweet for my taste.  Mind you, no one complained but I felt there was something missing, some je ne sais quoi.

White chocolate and macadamia nuts are also a classic pairing.  Rosemary in shortbread is delicious. And, it was just sour cherry season and I had dried a few. Why not put them all together with the rosemary adding a savory component and the bittersweet chocolate and sour cherries countering the sweetness of the white chocolate. I haven’t yet tried it but I bet you could leave out the shortbread and they would still be delicious.

Rosemary Shortbread Dough
8 tablespoons (4 oz, 112 g) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup (2 ounces, 55 g) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon (1/4 ounce, 5 g) finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ¾ ounces, 160g) unbleached all-purpose flour

The dough needs time to rest in the refrigerator so preheat the oven accordingly to 375°F.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar for 3 – 4 minutes, or until pail and creamy.

Add the flour and mix until crumbly. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and shake to distribute evenly. With your fingertips press into an even layer. Prick the dough with a few times with a fork. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 8 hours.

Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool.

1 cup (4 ½ oz, 135 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
6 ounces premium roasted white chocolate, chopped
5 tablespoons (2 ½ oz, 70 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 large eggs (3 1/2 ounces)
1 cup (7 oz, 200 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (2 ¼ oz, 65 g) macadamia nuts, toasted lightly and chopped coarse
Generous 1/3 cup (2 oz, 55 g) chopped dried sour cherries
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz, 75 g) bittersweet chocolate chips

When ready to finish the blondies, preheat oven to 350°F. If not using the shortbread crust, butter a 9-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper, extending the ends over on two sides.

Measure  flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk to combine. Set aside.

In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt white chocolate and butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove the bowl or top of double boiler from heat. Cool chocolate mixture to room temperature.

In a large bowl with a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla until thickened and pale. Reduce the speed and stir in the cooled white chocolate. Stir the flour mixture into chocolate mixture until batter is just combined. Stir in nuts, chocolate chips, and cherries. Spread batter evenly in over cooled shortbread or into prepared pan if not including the shortbread.

Bake blondies in middle of oven 30 to 35 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool brownies completely in pan on a rack before cutting into 32 squares or 16 or 8 squares. Brownies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container at cool room temperature, 5 days.

Posted in Desserts, General Blog, Ingredients | Leave a comment

Crème Fraîche-Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I made a pint of crème fraîche the other day to serve with a rhubarb tart. The tart made it to a friend’s dinner party however, I left the crème fraîche in the fridge. I thought, what the heck I’m I going to do with all this deliciousness because of course the tart was long gone?

Then I remembered that my baking buddies were going to be testing pie recipes soon, so I re-purposed  the creamy goodness in this ice cream. I knew the tartness of the crème fraîche would cut some of the sweetness of the pies.

Also recently, I was reading an article (it may have been by David Lebovitz) that questioned the need to heat milk and then temper the eggs into the hot liquid. Why not just start with cool/cold milk and cold eggs.

Slowly heat them together until thickened.  Voila! you’re done. This method worked beautifully. I also poured the ice cream base in the bowl that had held the crème fraîche thereby saving me from having to wash at least two bowls.


1 plump vanilla bean, organic if possible
1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk, organic if possible
¾ cup (5 ¼ ounces) granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
5 large egg yolks (freeze the whites for say…angel food cake)
2 cups (16 ounces) crème fraîche*

Prepare an ice bath and grab a fine mesh strainer.

Split the vanilla bean from end to end, open it up and scrap the seeds from the pod with the back of a paring knife. Place the seeds and pod in a medium saucepan along with the milk, sugar, and salt. Heat and stir just until the sugar melts. Remove from heat and allow the vanilla bean to steep until liquid is cool to the touch.

Whisk the egg yolks into the cooled steeped milk and return the mixture to medium heat. Stir constantly with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. If using an instant read thermometer as a guide it should read no hotter than 170°F (any hotter and the threat of scrambled eggs increases dramatically).

Remove from heat and whisk in the crème fraîche. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir to cool over the ice bath. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  It can stand on it’s own or serve with your favorite fruit pie or tart.

*Crème Fraîche
1 pint heavy cream, pasteurized but not ultra-pasteurized
2 tablespoons buttermilk

Combine the cream and buttermilk. Pour into a clean glass or non-reactive bowl.  Partially cover with a clean dishtowel and let stand at room temperature (between 65 and 75 degrees) for 8 to 24 hours, or until thickened.

Posted in Desserts, Ingredients, Recipes | Leave a comment

Rhubarb Frangipane Tart

Rhubarb was still available at the Farmer’s Market last week.  Actually, it’s still available in my garden. I’ve tested this recipe four times and since practice makes perfect, it’s time I got this recipe posted before the season is over for another year.

IMG_20150711_125545-4 (1)

Tart Dough, Pâte Sucrée
1 large egg yolk
4 tablespoons heavy cream, divided
1 3/4 cups (7 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) sugar
1/4 teaspoon koaher salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

Frangipane (Almond Cream):
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (4 ounces/112 grams) almond flour*
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 large egg, preferably organic
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
zest of one lemon

To Finish:
About 15 stalks of rhubarb, cleaned of leaves and washed

For the tart dough:
In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of cream. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

In the bowl of a food processor using the metal blade, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse a couple of times to combine. Toss the pieces of butter evenly over the flour. Pulse until the mixture looks crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of peas. Don’t over-process or your crust will be tough. Add the egg yolk mixture and pulse just until the dough comes together.

The dough should begin to hold together. Stop before it forms a ball around the blade. Turn the dough out onto a counter. With the palm of your hand smear the dough away from you. Using a bench scraper, fold it back onto itself and smear again until the mixture is combined. Flattened and form it into a rectangle, wrap with the plastic, and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit for 10 minutes or until it becomes malleable for easier rolling. Lightly dust a smooth surface as well as a rolling pin. Roll out a 10 x 13-inch rectangle of dough. Use your bench scraper and flip the dough over on occasion to prevent it from sticking. The trick is to work quickly so that the butter does not start to melt. Once rolled out to the correct size carefully place it in the tart pan. Fold the overhang back into the pan and pinch to form a ¼-inch rise above the pan. Return the tart shell to the refrigerator or freezer for at least 1/2 hour.

When ready to blind bake the tart dough preheat the oven to 400ºF.  After the oven has pre-heated, remove the tart shell from the refrigerator and place it on a sheet pan. Line it with parchment paper and pie weights. Bake for about 15 minutes or until it just begins to brown. Take out of the oven, remove the pie weights and parchment paper and set on a cooling rack. While the tart shell is cooling make the frangipane.

For the frangipane:
In the bowl of a food processor, using the metal blade whiz the butter and sugar together until the mixture is smooth. Note that if you make the frangipane soon after making the dough there’s no need to wash the processor bowl before making it.

Add the ground almonds and continue to process until well blended.  Add the flour and cornstarch, process again and then add the egg.  Process for about 15 seconds more, or until the almond cream is is smooth and fully combined.

Add the almond and vanilla extracts, salt, zest and process just to blend. Scrape the frangipane into a container and either use it immediately or refrigerate it until ready to use.

To finish the tart:
Set the cooled tart shell on a sheet pan. With and off-set spatula, spread the frangipane evenly in the cooled tart shell.  Cut the rhubarb to fit the size of the tart. Bake at 375ºF for about 1/2 hour or until the rhubarb can be easily pierced with a knife and frangipane is puffed and golden brown.  Allow to cool before serving.

*If you are unable to find almond flour is can easily be made. In the bowl of a food processor using the metal blade, combine the 4 ounces of blanched almonds with 1/3 cup of granulated sugar. Pulse until the almonds are finely ground.  Be careful not process so long that it becomes oily. Proceed with recipe above where the butter and sugar are combined.

Posted in Desserts, General Blog, Recipes | Leave a comment