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Posts Tagged ‘cornstarch’


Fruit tarts are probably my favorite dessert ever. I remember birthdays when I wanted a fruit tart instead of cake. This one has a flaky crust and pastry cream that isn’t too heavy. Plus, I found some delicious strawberries at the farmers market. I thought about just strewing them on top stems and all because they were so beautiful, but who wants to de-stem strawberries as they eat a tart? It’s one thing to create beautiful pictures, but my goal is to make food I want to eat above all. So, standard strawberry formation.

I love when the summer fruit starts coming in, there are endless desserts to make. When they look this pretty, you can’t go wrong!

Strawberry Tart

1 quart strawberries, hulled and halved

1 1/4 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 9-inch pie crust from this recipe

Roll out the dough into a round large enough to fit into your tart shell with some excess. Don’t pull it because it will shrink more, just coax it into the corners and cut off any excess. Place a piece of buttered foil into the shell and put dry beans or rice into it to hold the shape while it bakes (it’s called blind baking). Bake at 375 for 10 minutes and then remove the beans and prick with a fork to allow air out if it puffs up. Bake for another 20 minutes until it starts to brown. Remove and cool.

For the pastry cream, bring the milk to a boil. In a bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and cornstarch with a whisk. Slowly add a bit of the hot milk and whisk vigorously to temper the eggs. Pour into the remaining milk in the pan and continue to whisk until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Pour through a strainer if you wish, and add the vanilla and any additional flavorings you wish (cognac or brandy are nice). Add the butter and whisk until incorporated and melted. Refrigerate until cool.

Pour the pastry cream into the cooled shell. Arrange the strawberries however you want on top. Optional, you can heat some apricot jam with a little water until a little runny and brush it over the top.

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Pudding is so easy to make that it almost seems like more work to make it from a box. Seriously, you can make it so many ways and you should. It’s so delicious,  I might make more tonight. I added a sprinkle of sea salt to the top just for fun because I love the salty-sweet combination.

Chocolate Pudding with Sea Salt

6 ounces chopped semi-sweet chocolate

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder

1 tablespoon Frangelico or flavored alcohol of your choice (optional)

sea salt (optional)

Combine the cornstarch, sugar, salt, and milk in a pan and cook for a few minutes until it thickens. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Off the heat, add the vanilla, cinnamon, coffee powder, and Frangelico. Pour into ramekins and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Sprinkle sea salt over the top right before serving.

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It’s peak stone fruit season, so I came home from the farmers market with peaches, nectarines, and plums. The plums were already ripe so I immediately set to work on a tart. I made some delicious sherbet with the peaches and nectarines, as well. But now for the plum tart.

I intended to leave a piece of this to photograph in the morning, but it was a little runny and I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit to make it less so. I will hopefully make another one soon and update the post, but until then, here’s the new recipe. It’s loosely based on a tart recipe from Ina Garten, I originally used another recipe for the pastry cream.

Plum Tart

For the pastry dough:

1 1/4 cups flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and cold

2 tablespoons Crisco vegetable shortening, cold

1/4 cup ice water

For the pastry cream:

5 egg yolks, room temperature

3/4 cups sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup 1% milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon Bourbon

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 pint plums, sliced

1/4 cup Apricot jam

1 tablespoon hot water

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until combined and the pieces are the size of peas. Slowly add the ice water in a drizzle just until it comes together. Turn out on a floured board and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour and up to a day.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar together with a hand mixer for a couple minutes until thick. Add the cornstarch and combine. Bring the milk and cream to a simmer and then slowly add to the egg mixture. Return the whole mixture to the pan and cook over low heat with a wooden spoon until it thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Switch to a whisk when it starts to get thicker. Cook for another couple of minutes until it is the consistency of pudding. Stir in the vanilla, bourbon, and butter, and then strain through a sieve. Chill in a bowl with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. Keep rotating the dough as you roll it out so that it doesn’t stick to the surface. Put into the tart pan making sure not to stretch the dough because it will shrink. (Mine did anyway) Cut off the excess and patch any holes carefully. Line the tart shell with a buttered piece of aluminum foil and fill with baking beans (beans reserved just to use for blind baking). Place tart shell on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, then remove the beans and dock the bottom of the tart (prick with a fork so that it doesn’t create steam bubbles). Bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the shell is lightly browned. Let cool.

Spread a layer of chilled pastry cream on the chilled tart shell. Arrange the slices of plum around the tart. Combine the jam and hot water to create a glaze and brush over the tart so that it doesn’t dry out.

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I had some lavender lying around and was looking for a new recipe. Usually, I just make something creamy with lavender by steeping it in the milk- ice cream and panna cotta both work well with lavender. I was in the mood for cookies though, and I had just seen Giada De Laurentiis make these so I thought I would try them out. They’re a little crumbly and crunchy with a really strong lavender and lemon flavor. My one caution is to make sure you have edible lavender, some kinds are not. If you’ve gotten it in the spices section of your supermarket, you’re safe.

Lavender and Lemon Cookies inspired by Giada De Laurentiis

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup ground almonds

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon dried lavender

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and cold

1 lemon zested

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

Combine the almonds, flour, sugar, lavender, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder in a food processor. Just pulse to combine, don’t overwork the flour. Add the butter and lemon zest and pulse until it’s like a coarse meal with little bits of butter.

Add the honey and lemon juice and pulse to combine. Form the dough into balls and press into discs onto the baking sheet. Bake until light brown, about 10 minutes.

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I had a craving for berry pie this weekend, but I was too busy to make a traditional one from scratch. So I adapted a couple different recipes and came up with this one. It was absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to make it again next week. Although I may actually make it with crust from scratch next time. But I’m a firm believer that frozen pie dough is better than not making a dessert. Sometimes you just don’t have the time.

Quick and Easy Berry Pie

2 pints blueberries

6-8 strawberries (you can substitute more strawberries if you leave out some blueberries)

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons butter

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 frozen pie crust or make pie dough

Blind bake the pie crust using beans or pie weights for 10-12 minutes, until it’s completely cooked. Let cool.

Combine half the blueberries, the strawberries, sugar, honey, cornstarch, water, salt, and cinnamon in a saucepan and cook for 5-6 minutes. It should thicken up and become jam-like. Add butter, vanilla, and lemon juice and zest. Stir to combine and melt the butter.

Refrigerate the mixture until it starts to gel, about 1 hour. Pour into cooled pie shell and spread out. Spread remaining blueberries over the top. You can sift some powdered sugar on it, but that’s optional.

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