Saturday, 14 October 2017

Hibiscus Apple Tahini Frangipane Tart (and a Trip to Willow View Farms)


Frangipane. No matter where you put it — inside a double baked almond croissant, nestled inside a shortcrust pastry tart, or tucked inside a galette, my heart will always belong to frangipane. The moment I saw this Food52 recipe for an apple galette with tahini frangipane, I knew I had to make it. I love traditional almond frangipane and I also love tahini so the marriage between the two sounded more than perfect. Instead of making a galette, I transformed the components of the galette into a tart. A classic pâte sablée crust filled a layer of tahini frangipane and topped with thinly sliced apples. The tart is finished with a hibiscus honey glaze, which adds the most beautiful colour to the apples.

Making an apple tart also seemed like the right thing to do after visiting my friend Kelsey, which you may know as The Farmer's Daughter, on her farm earlier this apple harvest season. I have been to her farm once before but that was for a blog shoot more so than an apple picking experience. Kelsey lives in Abbotsford, which is an hour drive away from where I live. I do not go to Abbotsford often but every time I am there, I make a promise to myself I would go back soon because they have the cutest bakeries and coffeeshops. I started my day exploring downtown Abbotsford and picking up some pastries from Duft & Co. Bakehouse. Their Honey Bee Danish could have easily been one of my favourite pastries I have had in a long time. (Oh, and a pro-tip is that they make doughtnuts every Saturday!) After picking up some pastries I was off to Oldhand, a coffee shop that is always lovely every time I visit. With a perfect Americano in hand, I lingered for a bit longer inside Oldhand before heading to Willow View Farms to see Kelsey and to have many, many apple slushies.

Kelsey's farm was bustling — with people and apples. And goats. But I will save my ode to these goats for another time. I had an apple slushie (which I swear was a gateway slushie because I had many more after that first one), picked some Elstar apples (Kels said those are the best for baking), and bought some Honeycrisps from the farm store so I would have a snack for the drive back. I also got a large bag of kettle corn but let's not talk about that because I inhaled the entire bag quicker than you can say 'kettle corn' five times. I did not get to pick apples with Kelsey because she was working. Spoiler alert: she does not just pose in pretty dresses in the orchard all day. Kels actually works on the farm (and sometimes will send me photos of her digging up potatoes in the rain) and makes caramel apples for the blog when she has spare time. Though I am not sure if she has free time in the midst of apple season. Perhaps next time I go back, she will make a little cameo in the photos.

Enjoy these little snippets from my afternoon at Willow View Farms and a tart that is the perfect fall dessert.














Hibiscus Apple Tahini Frangipane Tart
Yields 9-inch tart

Pâte Sablée
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Beat the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy.

Beat in the egg yolk and mix until fully combined.

With the mixer on low speed, beat in the salt and flour just until the dough comes together and there is no more visible flour. Careful not to overmix. Remove dough from the bowl and press the dough into the tart pan, making sure it is evenly distributed. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell to prevent the bottom from puffing up when baking.

Wrap the pan loosely in plastic and chill 30 minutes.

Bake the tart shell at 350F or until the crust is a light golden brown (approximately 13 minutes). Remove carefully from oven and let rest on a wire rack.

Tahini Frangipane
From Food52
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 
1 egg
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the tahini on high speed for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened.

Gradually add the sugar and beat to combine. 

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and whisk again—all of the sugar should be dissolved (and no longer visible). 

Add the butter, piece by piece, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until fully incorporated. [Note: I found that adding 2 additional tablespoons of butter was helpful, especially if the brand of tahini you have on hand is on the drier side]

Add the egg and salt and beat until well combined.

With an offset spatula, evenly spread out the tahini frangipane in the tart crust.

Apple Layer
4 - 5 medium sized apples (I used Elstar)

Quarter and core the apples, then thinly slice the apple quarters. Fan them out on top of tahini layer before baking.

Bake the tart for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the crust is a deep golden-brown. If the apples are browning too quickly, place a piece of aluminum foil loosely on top.

Hibiscus Glaze
1 tablespoon dried hibiscus flowers
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch salt

Place hibiscus in small saucepan with 1 cup of water. Simmer until the hibiscus has imparted a deep pink colour. Strain through a fine mesh sieve.

Return the liquid back to the pot, then add the honey, lemon juice, sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Bring to a simmer and reduce, stirring very frequently with a rubber spatula, until thick and syrupy.



Happy baking and apple picking!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Pumpkin Pecan-Hazelnut Pie Bars


Pumpkin pie. The debut of a pumpkin pie recipe means I have committed to fall right? It means that I cannot go back to rhubarb and sweet summer berries until next summer? This could have easily been a pumpkin pie recipe. It could have been a full 10-inch pie with a rustic crimp edge or braided lattice but I chose not to. I chose to make them pumpkin pie bars because it sounds much less committal than an entire pie. Bars are easy. They are portable, they are a great snack, and they feel less like an ordeal than a whole pie. I will also feel less guilty finishing off a few bars than an entire pie myself. 

I never had pumpkin pie growing up. The first bite of pumpkin pie I had was when I was 16, working in a grocery store as a cashier. The grocery store's employees' lounge was always filled with day old baked goods that was leftover from the day before. Day old apple strudels and Nanaimo bars always made an appearance. When fall came around, there were pies. Apple pies and pumpkin pies. I decided my first bite of pumpkin pie would be a day-old grocery store pumpkin pie, retail price probably around $4.99. I took a small sliver from the aluminum tray of "real butter" crust pumpkin pie. Hm. It was okay. I did not love it but I did not hate it. After that first bite of pumpkin pie I have had many more slices of pumpkin pie. Not necessarily of the $4.99 day-old variety but more of the worth-your-calories variety. I think the reason why I was never keen on pumpkin pie (besides the fact I dislike fall) is because I never really liked the texture, or lack there of. So if I were to make pumpkin pie myself, it would be a texture bomb. A rich buttery shortbread crust, classic pumpkin pie filling, topped with the most textural pecan and hazelnut streusel. It is nutty, it is creamy, it is fall in the way I will accept it the most. These bars are extremely easy to make and you can whip up a batch real quick, just in time for your Thanksgiving dinner. Cut them up into squares or even triangles and serve à la mode.

The recipe for these Pumpkin Pecan-Hazelnut Pie Bars can be found over on Food Network Canada and are perfect for Thanksgiving.












Happy baking and Thanksgiving!

Friday, 29 September 2017

Mango Rose Tart with Crème Chantilly


Please forgive me because I am here again with another tart. The next post you will see on here might feature more tarts. Do not get me wrong - I love making cookies, cakes, and pies but there is just something, an inexplicable something about an elaborate looking (but in reality, easy in execution) tart. It might be the rich and sandy crust. Or it might be that the sweetness of summer fruits at their peak simply sing. It also seems like the possibilities of whatever you want to fill inside the tart are endless. They are endless but it does not mean you cannot fill it with something simple like a sweetened whipped cream. Sometimes simple is all I crave. No multiple layers of sponge. No batter that requires three days of preparation. All I want is a simple treat necessitated by nothing more than fruit, unadulterated, straight from the market that morning, and a whipped cream, flecked with vanilla bean, dreamier than the most.

I am going to hang onto these summer tarts for as long as I can and I might not be apologetic about it by the time I am eighteen consecutive tart recipes in. I promise I will throw in a few autumnal tarts in the mix. I am making an Elstar apple and tahini frangipane tart today and my biggest goal for next little while is making and perfecting a pear and frangipane tart. I am obsessed with this pear tart because I had it last winter at a restaurant and I have been thinking of that tart ever since. It had a pumpkin seed frangipane filling topped with pear slices arranged like blossoming flower petals. It was served with a fig leaf ice cream but trying to recreate that might be another blog in itself. But we will see. Frangipane tarts served alongside ice cream are always worth the effort.

Originally there was going to be an even greater delay on this tart. I started running out of words to say about tarts, though my love for them will never fall short. FeedFeed reached out and asked me if I could share the recipe for this tart — so here you have it. If you stumbled upon this blog because of Feedfeed, here is a little welcome. Welcome to my little corner of the internet and I warmly welcome you with a slice of summer tart, even if the weather outside is trying to convince me that it is time to move on. 






Mango Rose Tart with Crème Chantilly
Yields one 9-inch tart

Pâte Sablée
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Beat the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy.

Beat in the egg yolk and mix until fully combined.

With the mixer on low speed, beat in the salt and flour just until the dough comes together and there is no more visible flour. Careful not to overmix. Remove dough from the bowl and press the dough into the tart pan, making sure it is evenly distributed. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell to prevent the bottom from puffing up when baking.

Wrap the pan loosely in plastic and chill 30 minutes.

Bake the tart shell at 410F until the crust is golden brown (approximately 15 minutes). Remove carefully from oven and let rest on a wire rack. Let cool completely before filling with cream.

Crème Chantilly
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped

In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine whipping cream, icing sugar, and vanilla bean. With the whisk attachment, whisk mixture on medium-speed until stiff peaks form. 

Keep cream chilled until ready to use.

Mango Rose
2 large mangoes, halved, cut into 1cm slices

Wash and peel two large mangoes. Mangoes that are not overly ripe work best.

Stand the mango on your cutting board stem end down and hold. With a sharp knife, cut from the top of the mango, down one side of the pit. Then repeat with the other side. You will have two large pieces of mango.

Take a mango half and cut thin 1cm slices width-wise, so you get half circle slices. Save the smaller slices for the centre of the 'rose' and use larger slices for the outside petals.

After you have filled the cooled tart shell with cream, start arranging mango slices flat side down from the edges of the tart shell. Have the end of each mango slices overlap a bit. Continue building the flower until you have reached the centre of the 'rose.'

If tart is not being served right away, a simple glaze or melted apricot/apple jelly glaze should be brushed on with a pastry brush to prevent mangoes from browning.


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Matcha Mascarpone Cream Tartlets


Mini fruit tarts. I love them so much and not just because they always feature the brightest and plumpest fruits placed on a velvety custard-like cream, all nestled inside a rich chocolate-lined shortbread crust, but also because of nostalgia. If you grew up in an Asian household, there is a high chance you can relate to what I am about to describe - ‘a pack of 8 mini fruit tarts encased in a somewhat flimsy see-through plastic container organizing the tarts in to two orderly rows.’ Oh, and do not forget that you only had to pay $4.80 for all of that. This was the expected after school snack if you knew your parents recently visited an Asian bakery. I have had countless mini fruit tarts growing up. I always wanted the one topped with a cantaloupe or honeydew ball. I liked the strawberry-adorn tart too but not as much. Kiwi and pineapple topped tarts meant I would shamelessly peel off those fruits and consume only the custard and tart shell. You will not find any kiwi-topped tarts here today.

The tarts here today are slightly different. They keep a similar aesthetic to the ones I ate growing up, but I would like to pretend that I have matured a little and that these tarts are the slightly more grown-up version of those tartlets from the bakery. I kept the rich buttery shortbread-like crust of those tartlets because you do not want to mess with that component. Instead of a vanilla custard filling though, an airier and lighter matcha mascarpone cream is piped into the tart shells. The matcha provides a nice grassiness to contrast the otherwise simply sweet filling. The matcha also gives the mascarpone cream the most beautiful colour. The tartlets are then topped with berries and slices of white peaches because I wanted to take advantage of what was season. If you are not serving these right away, I would brush a simple glaze over the fruit to prevent them from turning colour and keep them in the fridge. 

These tarts are the perfect accompaniment for a cup of hot tea but they are also great if you decided to pop three (or more) of them in your mouth in one sitting. The recipe makes approximately 16 smart tartlets, but you might get more or less depending on the size of your tart moulds.











Matcha Mascarpone Cream Tartlets
Yields 16 tartlets

Pâte Sablée
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Beat the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy.

Beat in the egg yolk and mix until fully combined.

With the mixer on low speed, beat in the salt and flour just until the dough comes together and there is no more visible flour. Careful not to overmix. Remove dough from the bowl and press the dough into the tartlet pans, making sure it is evenly distributed. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell to prevent the bottom from puffing up when baking.

Chill tart shells for roughly 30 minutes.

Bake the tart shells on a baking sheet at 360F until the crust is golden brown (approximately 12-13 minutes). Remove carefully from oven and let rest on a wire rack. Let cool completely before filling with cream.

Matcha Mascarpone Cream
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
6 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 ½ tablespoon cornstarch
140 grams mascarpone

Place the milk and vanilla in a medium sized saucepan set over medium-low heat. Bring the mixture to a light simmer.

In separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until smooth.

When the milk reaches a light simmer, ladle in a bit into the egg yolk mixture and whisk vigorously to prevent the eggs from cooking. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the milk and continue to heat the mixture until thick and glossy, making sure to whisk constantly.  
When the mixture becomes thick and glossy (about 5 minutes), transfer the mixture to a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let mixture cool before folding in the mascarpone. Fold until mixture is smooth.

Transfer mascarpone cream into a piping bag with tip of choice to fill cooled tart shells.

Garnish
Strawberries, halved
Blackberries, halved
Raspberries
Peach

Garnish each tartlet with an assortment of berries and peach slices. 


Thank you AIYA Matcha for supporting Constellation Inspiration! 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Brown Butter Peach Tea Cake with Honey Mascarpone


It rained for the first time in a long time this past weekend. It rained, it got a lot colder, and condensation formed on the window panes. It inevitably led me to believe accept the fact that it is no longer summer. The mere thought of bidding farewell to farmer’s markets, berry tarts, and sunlit après dinner strolls immediately put me in some sort of denial mode. What do you mean summer is coming to a close?

I am not a fall person. I may not win the popular vote in that front but I have no fear in admitting that I am not a fall person. Golden-hued leaves, crisp morning air, and fall baking, separately and collectively, do not pull at my heart strings. I love a slice of apple pie or luscious pumpkin with chantilly cream but they will almost always come second to a slice of strawberry rhubarb à la mode or no-bake summer berry cheesecake.

I do recognize that I will come to a point (usually in October) where I can no longer deny the arrival and existence of fall. I ease myself into fall. I will not trade peach pie for pumpkin pie overnight. I ease myself by creating transitional treats. This is one of them. I am not willing to let go of summer peaches just yet because we get the best local peaches here. End of summer peaches meet a brown butter and cinnamon type of situation. Brown butter is always a good idea and especially so when it is fall. It is warm and it has nutty undertones that pair so beautifully with warm spices. I did not want to go overboard (just yet) so I took the dash of cinnamon I always add to my peach pies and added it to the brown butter cake. The cake is also made with Pure Leaf Peach Iced Tea and this is where the peach flavour comes in. Each cake layer also gets brushed with the tea before getting enrobed in the most velvety honey mascarpone. Sometimes I would dice some peaches, cook it down into a compote, and fold it into the honey mascarpone. Both version are equally delicious and will let you hang onto summer for just a tad longer.













Brown Butter Peach Tea Cake with Honey Mascarpone
Yields four layer 6-inch cake

Brown Butter Peach Tea Cake
3 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cup brown butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 egg whites
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 350ºF and prepare four cake pans.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. 

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg whites and full egg one at a time, until well combined. Mix in vanilla extract. 

On low speed, alternate adding flour mixture with the milk and peach iced tea, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until combined.

Evenly distribute batter among the four cake pans. Bake for 26 – 28 minutes.

Peach Iced Tea Soak

Honey Mascarpone Frosting
1 cup whipping cream
275g mascarpone, room temperature
1/3 cup honey
Pour whipping cream into bowl of standing mixer. With the whisk attachment whisk the whipping cream until it becomes fluffy and forms stiff peaks. Transfer whipped cream into a different bowl.

With a paddle attachment on your mixer, beat mascarpone until light and fluffy. Gradually add in honey and beat for 2 - 3 minutes. In the same bowl, gently fold in the whipped cream.

Assembly
With a pastry brush, brush on Peach Iced Tea before layering the brown butter cake layer with frosting. Alternate between cake layer, tea soak, and frosting until you finish off with the final cake layer. 

Using a bench scrapper, apply more frosting on the sides of the cake and smooth it out. 

Garnish with flowers and macarons.


Thank you PURE LEAF for supporting Constellation Inspiration!