For someone who doesn’t like to bake as much as she likes to cook, I’m doing an awful lot of baking. The first order of business today was to test out some little tartlets that are on the tentative menu for the November tasting lunch I’m planning. I’m using the dough from one recipe, the filling from another, and then I’m also modifying that filling slightly. But I’m very, very happy with the results. These are Cranberry, Orange, and White Chocolate Tassies, scheduled to be served with a tiny dollop of nutmeg-flavored whipped cream.
If I may be permitted an aside before going on with the other item I baked–I have a new little kitchen gadget that I just love. I bought it at the grocery store on impulse one day–it was all of about $3.00–and I’ve used it for various things since then. It is called a “tart tamper”, and here it is:
Now, I have used it since I bought it, but not for what it was born to do–tamp tarts. Today I used it to tamp tarts. It worked and made these little tarts a breeze to make. Here it is in action:
You just make a ball of the dough, press down with the tamper, and the little tart crust is all ready to be filled. These were super-easy.
Cranberry, Orange, and White Chocolate Tassies
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons brandy
1/3 cup orange marmalade
3 ounces white chocolate chips
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup flour
In a small saucepan, place cranberries and brandy. Add about 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and allow to soften for 5 minutes. Drain and cool. Combine cranberries with marmalade and white chocolate and set aside.
Combine cream cheese, butter, and flour. Form into a ball and refrigerate for at least an hour. Divide into 24 balls and place a ball in each cup of a lightly greased mini-muffin tin. Push dough up sides of muffin cups to form crusts (or tamp with tart tamper). Preheat oven to 375. Divide filling between 24 crusts. Bake 15-20 minutes. Remove while still warm and cool on rack. Makes 24.
Then I made this Tropical Carrot Cake, from Rebecca Rather’s decadent cookbook, The Pastry Queen. If you are a fan of over-the-top desserts, you need to buy this book.
The cake is for my neighbor, who commissioned it to feed her bunco group tonight, so I can’t photograph the inside, but I can attest that there is all kind of moist gooey goodness in there. Here is the recipe:
Tropical Coconut Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather
1 cup macadamia nuts (I used toasted chopped pecans)
3 cups all purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
4 large eggs
2 Tablespoons vanilla
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil, such as canola or safflower
1-1/2 cups shredded peeled carrots
1-1/2 cups diced fresh pineapple or drained crush canned pineapple (this is one 20 oz. can)
1/2 cup sweetened cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez
Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature (I used 4 packages)
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar (I used 2 cups)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sweetened cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez
To Make the Cake: Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange the nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden and aromatic. Set aside to cool.
Place one oven rack one-third from the bottom of the oven and the second two-thirds from the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper rounds, grease with butter, and dust with flour (or spray with Baker’s Joy).
Stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut, and nuts in a large bowl. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, oil, carrots, pineapple, and cream of coconut. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Stagger the cake layers on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another. Set 2 layers on one rack and the third on the other. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cakes are done when they are golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on racks for 5 minutes, then invert them onto the racks and cool completely, about 15 to 20 minutes.
To Make the Frosting: Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed about 1 minute. Add the whipping cream, and cream of coconut; beat until combined.
Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate and spread a thick blanket of frosting on top. Add the second layer, spread thickly with frosting, and top with the third layer. Cover the top and sides of the cake with an even layer of frosting. If you’re feeling energetic and there is frosting left over, use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip to pipe a decoration around the top rim of the cake.
The cake can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 4 days. Let it cool in the refrigerator about 1 hour before covering, to ensure the frosting has hardened and will not stick to the plastic wrap.
Yield: 12-14 Servings.
And…last thing for today was a tryout of these very easy and tasty corn blini. These are going to go on the plate as a base for a salmon dish I’m working on. It will involve seared salmon, caramelized onions, spinach, and preserved lemon. I think these are really cute for the tasting party and they are super-easy to make.
Here’s the recipe:
1 teaspoon yeast
2 Tablespoons warm water
7 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
3 Tablespoons melted butter
Sprinkle yeast over warm water in bowl and allow to proof for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine flour, cornmeal, and salt. When yeast is proofed, add yeast, butter, and milk to dry ingredients. Allow to stand for 10 minutes. Make pancakes of desired size (mine were a little less than 1 Tablespoon) and cook in non-stick pan for 2-3 minutes per side.