Saturday, 17 July 2010

Recipe 23 - Little Strawberry Meringue Tarts

For this weeks treat I chose little strawberry meringue tarts from the fabulous technicolor kitchen. I encourage you to give it a read. The author, Patricia Scarpin lives in Brazil and posts in both portuguese and english on mirrored versions of the site. The photography is stunning. I've not posted a picture here to encourage you to go see for yourself. Go on and have a look!

I chose this recipe because the strawberries here in England are delicious right now. While we were baking last week I mentioned it seemed a little silly to be making something with dried and preserved cherries in the middle of cherry season. This week I thought I'd take advantage of what I have around me.

The recipe is, as I already mentioned, from the technicolor kitchen

Little strawberry meringue tarts

400g strawberries, hulled and quartered
½ cup (88g) brown sugar, packed – you might need more depending on how sweet the strawberries are
1 vanilla bean, scraped seeds only
juice of ½ small orange
juice of ½ lime

Brown sugar pastry:
50g soft unsalted butter
50g brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup (140g) all purpose flour

Italian meringue:
¼ cup (50g) caster sugar
2 tablespoons (24g) demerara sugar
1 egg white

For brown sugar pastry, beat butter and brown sugar, using an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until pale, then add the egg and beat to combine. Add flour, beat until just combined, turn onto a lightly floured work surface, form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, place strawberries in a heavy-based saucepan. Add brown sugar, vanilla seeds and orange and lime juices and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5-8 minutes or until strawberries are soft and liquid is reduced. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Roll pastry on a lightly floured surface to 2mm thick and use to line ten 6.5x3.5cm deep pie pans (see note), trim edges and pierce crust all over with fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and cut roughly into ten squares; place the foil squares, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Bake blind for 10 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool for 5 minutes in pans, then remove from pans and place on a baking tray. Using a fork to remove some of the liquid, transfer strawberry mixture into pastry cases and set aside*.
For Italian meringue, combine sugars and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook until syrup reaches 115°C/239°F on a sugar thermometer, then remove from heat. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, whisk egg white until soft peaks form, then, with motor running, slowly add hot syrup and whisk for 5 minutes. Spoon meringue over strawberry filling, forming into peaks. Place pies under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes or until meringue is golden or use a blowtorch to brown meringue lightly.

* since this is a very moist filling, assemble the tarts as close as possible to serving them - the juices in the filling will make the pastry soggy

Note: If you’re unable to find pie pans of this measurement, use individual fluted tart cases instead (they’ll hold less filling).

Serves 10

I have neither of the two cases discussed here so I'm going to give it a try with a bun pan. Fingers crossed that'll work OK. I might also only make half since there's a limit to how many I can, or should, eat and i'm on holiday so there are no colleagues to hand things onto.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Her Results - Striped Icebox Cookies

Calling all cherry lovers!

I didn't eat all three dozen, but I could have.

I enjoyed making these. There were more steps than I prefer, but it gave us more time to chat, and that's half the point of this project!

First we made the sour cherry mixture. The recipe called for sour cherry preserves or something of that sort, and I found sour cherry "spread" in the jam area at Whole Foods. It was a good pick.

Before heating:

After heating:

Then we made the dough, which was nothing out of the ordinary, apart from the addition of the corn meal. It was a very thick dough that easily formed a ball and did not stick to the bowl.

I used my scale to weigh and divide it into four equal parts. Rolling it out was easier than I'd imagined it would be. After freezing it was somehow simultaneously brittle and sticky, and was an all-around drag. Luckily my few moments of duress passed quickly.

Spreading the cherry mixture onto the slabs was not easy. The dough got soft very quickly, and the fruit mixture was thick and hard to spread. It went best if I dabbed it onto the dough in small clumps before trying to spread it.

Stacking and trimming it was fun. So was slicking it!

I used the scraps to make balls.

And I laid my sliced cookies out in tidy rows.

They turned out as good as I could have hoped.

It didn't take me long to scarf down quite a few. The sour cherry filling works really well in these. You get some in every bite, but it doesn't try to steal the show. And the cookies are really nice and chewy. So tasty!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

His results - Striped Icebox Cookies

This was a super simple recipe. We managed to make it a little more complicated for ourselves but it was still really easy.

I used dried sour cherries and some preserves which were labelled 'red cherry' but I'm pretty sure were exactly right. This stuff was pretty tasty!

A little sheet production line. Here was where we made a little error. I thought it seemed like a huge waste of paper so instead of having paper on each side of a dough sheet I just stacked them up alternating paper and dough. It worked kind of OK but made getting the dough off pretty tricky. It's much easier if you use two sheets of paper so you can peel them off. It's hard to keep it straight enough to avoid cracking the sheets (they're a little brittle after chilling) and separate the layers.

The filling ended up pretty sticky and thick so it was a bit awkward to spread. It's easier to dot it about over the surface than try to spread it from one lump in the centre

All layered up and ready for an hour in the freezer! It was fun doing the layering and trimming. The offcuts tasted exceptional too!

They looked really cool like this. Unfortunately they spread quite a bit and didn't look quite as great when they came out. For the second batch I decided to make them half as long hoping they'd be more squarish.

That turned out pretty good I think. These are very, very tasty things. They taste of pure decadence really. They're apparently almost pure sugar and fat and they taste it. That's not a bad thing even in the tiniest way! I liked the texture the cornmeal gave them too. I'd definately recommend them. I put in a bit of extra salt when I made mine and it made them exceptionally delicious. I'd advice you to do the same if you try them. Which you definately should!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Recipe 22 - Striped Icebox Cookies

I hope I don't eat all three dozen myself...

Picture taken from

Striped Icebox Cookies
Recipe care of
Makes 3 dozen


3/4 cup dried sour cherries
1/3 cup sour cherry jam, or preserves
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make the filling: In a food processor, combine dried sour cherries, jam, and sugar. Process until coarsely pureed. Transfer to a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat, and stir in almond extract. Let stand until cool.

Make the dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 4 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; incorporate. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture; mix to combine.

Transfer dough to a clean work surface, and divide into four equal portions. Place one portion between two pieces of parchment paper that are at least 12 inches square. Roll out dough to a 3 1/2-by-9-inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining three portions dough. Transfer to a baking sheet and freeze for about 30 minutes.

Assemble the cookies: Remove dough from freezer. Remove top pieces of parchment from dough. Spread one-third of the filling evenly over one portion of dough. Invert second rectangle over the first; remove parchment on top. Repeat layering process, leaving the top rectangle uncoated. Trim to a 3 1/4-by-8 1/2-inch brick. Wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to freezer for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with Silpats (French nonstick baking mats). Cut the brick into 1/4-inch-thick rectangles; place on baking sheets, spaced 2 1/2 inches apart.

Bake until light golden around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Her results - Eclairs

I apologize in advance; I took the most random pictures of the eclair baking process.

So, I was a little nervous about making eclairs. It seemed like there were a lot of steps and more than a couple of things that could go wrong. But in the end, the process wasn't so hard (though it was messy!) and it was rewarding.

First we made the custard. I was able to use one of the wallet-friendly vanilla beans that I bought in England. Even though my David Lebovitz book warned me against cheap vanilla beans, mine seemed to work just great.

Unfortunately, my custard went a teeny bit too thick right at the end, and I lost a little custard to that. Thankfully, the eggy bits strained out very easily in my new sieve.

I covered it, chilled it, and all was well with the custard. Score!

Then it was time for the choux paste. If you're a nerd like me, you might wonder where the name choux paste comes from. It turns out that it translates into cabbage paste, thanks to the shape chefs used to pipe it into back in the day. Not particularly appetizing but it's okay. More interestingly, I found out that the high moisture content of the paste steams it during cooking to puff the pastry. Being a novice, I'm not so sure that this is different from all the other kinds of pastry... Nonetheless, the choux pastry making process went just fine. I only got a picture near the beginning of the process.

Piping the dough onto the baking sheet was easy. Watch out, it puffs up a lot during baking!

Making the chocolate sauce was super easy. Piping the cream into the pastries and dipping them was similarly easy. I had a lot of cleaning to do afterward, but it was fun using the pastry bag, etc, so it was worth it. When I ran out of custard, I filled the remaining pastries with whipped cream. Here's what the pastries looked like:

Yum! They were so good. I ate a lot all at once and basically felt sick all day long. I think it was probably worth it. I agree with His comment that the chocolate was a little overpowering. If I made these again, I would dip them into the chocolate sauce a little less liberally. But it's all good! I endorse this recipe.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

His results - Eclairs

It turned out that the weekend we were due to make these was crazily busy for me so we had to postpone it. They were worth waiting for though!

There were a fair few steps to making these and I think She was a little worried it'd be too complicated. It's not though. Every step was nice and simple. You just need a bit of time and plenty of bowls to make dirty!

The pastry cream was truly delicious!

Make sure to put the pastry shells far enough apart on the sheets. as they were here they were just barely touching each other when the emerged from the oven.


It was pleasing to play about with the pastry bag piping out the shells and then filling them. I really enjoyed putting these together. It was a good day for sampling as you went along too!

These were really, really delicious delights. The cream was superb and the shells beatifully light. For me personally the chocolate was a little too intense. I'd probably actually have enjoyed them a little more without it I think. The topping was just so rich it kind of masked the rest.

That's just nit-picking though really. These really were yummy. People I gave some too were really impressed. I think they look a lot fancier and more complicated than they are. Why not impress your friends and family too!
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