Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

Every year my mom would ask me what kind of cake I wanted for my birthday and for the past 10 years or so, I have had the same request, coeur a la creme. Coeur a la creme is a smooth and silky dessert made with cream and cream cheese, a little mousse-y in texture. Traditionally it was not sweetened and served with fresh fruit. My mom always added a little chocolate too, she would use half white chocolate and half dark chocolate, and finished it with raspberry sauce and some fresh raspberries. This year, I decided I wanted to try making it myself so I spent my free time on my birthday making coeur a la creme as well as a couple of other treats.

The coeur a la creme was so simple to make. First, I melted a little bit of white chocolate and semisweet chocolate (separately,) while that was cooling I mixed the cream cheese and powdered sugar together until it was nice and fluffy, then I added a little bit of heavy cream and vanilla and mixed again.

I split the mixture into two bowls and added white chocolate to one and dark chocolate to the other.

I whipped the rest of the cream and folded it into the mixture. I spooned it into the special heart-shaped molds lined with cheesecloth and set them in the fridge to drain. (The molds are equipped with lots of little holes in the bottom.)

I took them out of the fridge (about 8 hours later), turned them out onto a plate and removed the cheesecloth. This was the interesting part, the dark chocolate mixture set up and held its form but the white did not. I am not sure why this happened, I did the exact same thing for both types. The white chocolate variation still tasted delicious so I put it in a bowl to serve.

For the other treats, I made a couple of littleĀ  fresh fig tarts and lemon meringue pie. I have been drooling over this recipe out of The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern by Claudia Fleming, it is a fresh fig tart with a cornmeal crust, yum! I ended up using a different recipe for the crust, one without egg. I love the added texture that cornmeal adds to baked goods, it is so crunchy! (The crust made 4 x 4″tart shells.) I pricked the shells and pre-baked them so they would be ready for their respective fillings.

I didn’t have quite enough figs to make the “jam” for the bottom but, I did have a jam of fig jam from Tunisia so I mixed a little of the jam with a little bit of orange zest and juice and spread it on the crust. I nestled in the quartered figs and called it done.

Lastly, I made a couple of little lemon meringue pies. These were inspired by the gigantic egg that I got in the morning. (I am working a couple of mornings a week at Radiance Dairy, hanging out with cows is a wonderful way to start the day! Francis, the owner of the farm, and i had just been talking about his chickens when he called out to me, the next thing I knew, there was an egg flying through the air. It was one of the biggest eggs I have seen, and it was still warm!) I thought a lemon meringue pie would be the perfect use for it, spotlighting both the yolk and the white.

I made a simple curd using the egg yolk, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and butter. While the curd cooled, I whipped up the egg white with a touch of cream of tartar and sugar. I smoothed the curd over the crust (cornmeal .and spooned on the meringue topping, being sure to overlap with the crust a little so that the meringue wouldn’t pull away and shrink while it baked.I baked it for about 15 minutes, until it was golden.

Out for delivery…

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Peach pit ice cream

Thank you, Lee Bailey! (Author of Country Desserts) His cookbook continues to inspire me to make outrageously decadent treats.

I started by selecting some deliciously ripe peaches. I peeled them, this time with a paring knife, I figured I was using the skins so I didn’t mind if a little meat was clinging to the skin. I placed the skins and pits in one bowl and the shiny halves in another.

I put the peeled and pitted peach halves in my food processor, squeezed some lemon juice on them and pureed them. I poured the puree into a bowl and set it in the fridge to chill.

I poured equal parts milk and heavy cream into a heavy bottomed sauce pan and added the peach skins and pits.

I brought the mixture to a simmer and kept it there for about 20 minutes. I added some sugarĀ  and then took it off the heat. I added a little bit of the hot liquid to a couple of egg yolks to temper them before adding them to the pan. I put it back on the heat and cooked it, stirring frequently until the custard coated the back of a spoon. I transferred the hot custard to a mixing bowl and put it in the fridge. When it was nice and cool, I strained out the skins and pits and mixed it with the peach puree.

I put it back in the fridge for some serious chilling. The cooler the mixture is when you put it in the ice cream maker, the better. Once you put the mixture in the ice cream maker all you have to do is wait and watch the mixture get thicker and thicker until it climbs over the blade and onto a spoon (for quality control, of course.)

When the mixture was sufficiently chilled, I transferred the ice cream into two bowls, one for later and one for immediate use. I cut up some fresh peaches and picked some mint from the garden to finish it with.

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I got some of the last of this seasons peaches yesterday, went home, got into bed and browsed through several cookbooks. When I woke up this morning, I was still surrounded by books. I decided to go with a recipe out of Deborah Madison‘s Seasonal Fruit Desserts, a great cookbook that features the best of the harvest. She had several tempting recipes using peaches but I settled on the Peach Frangipane Galette, never having made frangipane before I thought it would be fun to try.

I put almonds, sugar, a touch of flour and a pinch of salt in my food processor and pulverized the almonds.

I added some eggs, a touch of almond extract and a splash of kirsh and mixed it again until it was nice and smooth. I turned it out into a bowl, covered it and set it aside in the fridge while I made the dough.

Today was the first time in over a year that I have made pie dough in a food processor, it definitely speeds things up! After whipping up the dough (I separated it in two, one smaller and one larger piece) I put it in the fridge to cool.

I blanched the peaches for about 10-15 seconds and then plunged them into an ice water bath. I slipped them out of their skins and sliced them into quarters.

I rolled out the dough, spread some of the frangipane in the center, nestled in some peaches and folded the edges over.

I brushed the crust with a bit of melted butter and sprinkled a little sugar on it and slid it into the hot oven and pulled it out when it was bubbly and golden.

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I was introduced to buckles recently and I can’t seem to get enough of them! The idea behind a buckle is that you load the (coffee cake) batter with so much fruit that it buckles in on itself. My sister got a big box of Missouri peaches the other day so this morning I crept into her house while she was still sleeping, and snatched several. I had to resist an urge to take one of her pies from her kitchen counter.

I rinsed the peaches and cut them into little pieces about the size of blueberries (which also make really really good buckle!) I prepared the streusel topping (brown sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon) and then mixed up the batter.

I folded in the peaches, poured the batter into a buttered baking dish..

… sprinkled on the streusel, and put it in the oven at 350*F. 55 minutes later…

I made a pot of coffee while it was cooling at sat down and devoured a piece with my coffee.

(I am feeling a little guilty that I don’t have anyone home to share it with.)

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blueberry-peach pie

A friend asked me to bake a birthday pie for this morning, I was glad to do it! I love the taste and look of blueberries and peaches together so that is what I chose. I made the pie dough last night, so I would have a one-up this morning. For pie, I like to skin the peaches. I plunged the peaches in boiling water for roughly 30 seconds to a minute and then set them in an ice water bath, this way the skins slide off really easily.

I never really “measure” my ingredients for pie filling, I always mean to but for some reason it never happens. (I think it may be because each fruit has a different level of sweetness and juiciness so the ratio is constantly be adjusted.) This pie was no exception. I like to prepare the fruit and put it in an extra pie pan, this way I keep going until it is heaped up nicely. I rolled out the pie crust and set it aside in the freezer until I was ready for it.

I used xylitol to sweeten the pie, this was the first time I have done any baking with it. I did a little research and everyone said that it is equally sweet as sugar, though I tasted it and I think it is a bit sweeter so I used a little less than I would use if I was sweetening the fruit with sugar. The thing that I thought really interesting that people had to say about xylitol is that is soaks up a lot of moisture. If there is one thing I don’t like, it is a pie that has too much flour or corn starch, so I was pleased to be able to use a little less flour. I mixed a little flour, xylitol, cinnamon, and lemon zest together and tossed it lightly with the fruit. I took the pie crust out of the freezer and filled it.

I scattered several tiny bits of butter on it and topped it off with a lattice crust and a sprinkling of cinnamon-xylitol. I baked it at 425*F for about 15 minutes and then dropped the temperature to 375*F for another 45 minutes. I pulled it out and let it cool for about an hour, pies always take longer to cool than I expect.

I like my pies full of fruit, sometimes you have to go for a fruity pie with some juices that bubble up over a pristine looking pie with less fruit. If you ask me, the juicy bit along the crust is delicious! Now, it’s off for delivery! (My sister lent me her beautiful pie basket that our friend Duncan made.)

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Ever since I was little I have loved my moms peach dumplings! (The recipe actually comes from my mom’s neighbor, not her Aunt, who we always called Auntie Merle.) With peaches in full swing I can’t help but make some myself! I got up early this morning to make the dumplings to have for brunch along with some crepes.

I started by putting the farina (cream of wheat) in a pot with some milk and a little salt. I let it cook down until it was pretty thick. (Next time I will cook out a little more moisture before I take it off the heat.) I transferred the farina and milk mixture to a large mixing bowl and set it aside to cool.

Meanwhile, I rinsed the peaches. Do not peel them! Their fuzzy little skin is what keeps the dough from slipping off. Now that the farina was cool, I beat in two eggs. (This is when I knew that the dough was too wet.) I added the flour, it was still going to be too soft so I added an extra half cup.

I turned it out onto the counter with a very generous amount of flour and kneaded it into a pretty soft dough and loosely shaped it into a little loaf. Next, I cut off a little slice of dough…

…and gently pressed it around the peaches, making sure not to leave any holes. I repeated this until all the peaches were covered.

When they were all finished I popped them into boiling water for about 15 minutes.

They are best served hot with a little bit of melted butter and a sprinkling of sugar on top!

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The other day I went over to my friend Monica’s house, we put up all kinds of fruit. Peaches, cherries, greengage plums, and apricots!

About a week earlier, Monica had a preserving party. She canned peaches as well as making a variety of jams.

I had never preserved whole fruits so when Monica and I got together to make preserves we decided to can our fruit whole. We started by preparing the fruits. We blanched the peaches and apricots to remove their skins.

The plums and cherries have skins that are tender enough so we left them on. Meanwhile, we made a light sugar syrup and brought it up to the softball stage (238*F.) When the syrup was hot enough, we poured it over the prepared fruit, covered it, and let it sit.

After about 20-30 minutes, we drained the fruit, packed it into jars, and brought the syrup back to a boil.

Next, we poured the hot syrup into the jars and processed them for about 25 minutes. We both now have a healthy stash of canned fruit for the winter months.

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For the frosting, we made an Italian meringue. We had thought about making an Italian buttercream but, after a practice run, decided we liked the frosting better before we added the butter. An Italian meringue is really simple to make, though, on such a large-scale and with a hand mixer, it did take a while. I started by making a simple syrup that we heated until the soft ball stage. While the syrup was heating, I separated and beat the egg whites. When the whites were nice and frothy, I added some cream of tartar (to help stabilize the eggs.)

I continued beating the egg whites until they were pillowy.

At this point, I slowly added the hot simple syrup to the fluffy whites and continued beating them until they had cooled completely and they were nice and glossy.

Time to assemble the layers!

We placed the bottom half of the layers on their boards with bits of paper lining the edges for easy clean-up. We started with a layer of raspberry jam and a sprinkling of cocoa nibs (we didn’t put any nibs on the vanilla layer.)

Then a layer of the sour cream pastry cream…

Each layer was topped with rows of fresh raspberries.

The layers were then covered with their respective tops…

…and frosted with the chilled meringue.

After frosting all three layers, we measured dowels and placed several of them in the bottom and middle layers for support. Then we carefully stacked the cakes onto their posts and measured and sharpened one final dowel to act as the support for all three layers.

We put the cake in the fridge and made a little bit of colored frosting for decoration. There was a small gap between the layers so we hid it with meringue and raspberries. (We would have put the meringue and raspberries on for decoration anyways.)

We topped it off with a couple of daylilies.

Birds eye…

Rebekah and David, cutting the cake…

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Last September, Sarah and I picked a lot of red raspberries and made them into jam.

We saved a couple of jars to use for the wedding cake.

We made a simple vanilla pastry cream..

..the we lightened with some sour cream.

And since it was the beginning of raspberry season, we couldn’t leave out fresh raspberries.

With all of the fillings ready, we were ready for the frosting and the assembly.

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Since I already made enough strawberry jam, I decided to make a fresh tart with some of the remaining berries. I was wanting to play around with a new crust recipe and ran into Faith from the kitchn while I was at the Deli, she told me about a oat shortbread crust that she had found some while back. It sounded tasty so I went for it!

I toasted and chopped the oats and mixed them with flour, salt and brown sugar (it called for dark so I added a little molasses to the light brown sugar I had.) I cut in the butter and patted the mixture into a pie pan and popped it in the oven until it was golden.

While the crust was cooling, I chopped the berries and tossed them with a little sugar and some mint. I whipped together some greek yogurt, lime zest and juice, sugar and vanilla and set it aside. I whipped some heavy cream and folded it into the yogurt mixture. I poured the whipped cream and yogurt into the pie crust and topped it with the berries.

I took it to the park for a picnic with a couple of friends. We found the first of the season black raspberries and added a few to the top. It was so good that none of it made it home!

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