Archive for November, 2010

Crostata con la Crema – Daring Bakers Challenge November 2010

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Spring is almost over, before it even really begun. This year we had two lovely days of Spring weather at the beginning of September, followed by many days of rain, cold days and lots of windy days.

This last week has been beautiful. Quite warm, but not too hot (I say this, even though I work in an air-conditioned building). Our garden is going crazy – plants and weeds alike. Three plants in particular are quite exciting at the moment: our fig, blueberry and raspberry. All three plants are in their second Spring season and are very happy, we have a number of figs forming, quite a few blueberries and many raspberries.

One thing I didn’t understand when I bought the raspberry is the shop assistance’s advice: Watch out, the raspberry can take over… What? Isn’t that a good thing? Surely people aren’t unhappy about loads of raspberries.

What he should have said was: Watch out, the raspberry sends suckers through the lawn and new plants shoot up more than one metre away from the original plant meaning you have no control of where are how far it will travel… Whoops!! Luckily running the mower over them have stopped new plants forming in the middle of our yard – I hope!

Although my baking (and blogging) has been hindered by the lovely weather and constant maintenance of our yard, this recipe chosen for the daring bakers this month was great, as many components can be made the day or night before, and cooked while everyone is eating dinner.

My family are huge fans of Portuguese custard tarts, so I had no trouble picking pastry cream to fill my tart shell.

I must admit I used the food processor for the dough to make the tart shell. It seemed a bit dry and wasn’t coming together, so I added a touch more egg white (ok, accidentally – a bit more than a touch – making it a little too soft).

I didn’t blind bake my tart, I just added the pastry cream and cooked it for 40 minutes or more, until the pastry cream was set and the pastry golden. The pastry was lovely in texture and taste – very lovely. I thought I needed more pastry cream for the tart, although perhaps because the pastry was a little soft, it shrunk or fell a little at the sides, making it more level with the pastry cream when cooked.

I was very happy with the length of time required for this challenge and was more than happy to try out another pastry and pastry cream recipe – and my family was more than happy to have it for dessert 🙂

Thanks to our host for this month, for trialling so many recipes for people to choose from and be inspired from.

Crostata con la Crema (crostata with pastry cream filling)

Recipe Source: There are many recipes for pasta frolla and different ideas about how to make it. I will give you two versions that I have been using for some time. They have been inspired by those in the book La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene by Pellegrino Artusi (1820-1911). The book was first published in 1891, and is available in English translation as Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well (further details are given in the Additional Information section).

Pasta frolla

1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar (see Note 1) or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar
1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
grated zest of half a lemon (you could also use vanilla sugar as an option, see Note 2) (I didn’t use this)
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl

Note 1: Superfine sugar is often also referred to as ultrafine, baker’s sugar or caster sugar. It’s available in most supermarkets. If you cannot find “superfine” sugar, you can make your own by putting some regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender and letting it run until the sugar is finely ground.

Note 2: There are different ways of making vanilla sugar. I keep vanilla beans in a jar half-filled with sugar until I need to use them, for example, to make vanilla ice cream. After I remove the split bean from the custard that will go into the ice cream maker, I rinse it, dry it and put it back in the jar with sugar.

Making pasta frolla by hand:

Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.

Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.

Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).

Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.

Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.

Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.

Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.

Making pasta frolla with a food processor:

Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.

Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.

Empty food processor’s bowl onto your work surface

See step 3 above and continue as explained in the following steps (minus the lemon zest, which you have already added).

Pastry Cream

2 eggs
1/2 cup caster sugar
500ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 tablespoons plain flour

Heat milk in a saucepan until almost bubbling. Whisk eggs with caster sugar, then whisk in plain flour. Slowly pour half the warm milk over the egg sugar mixture, mixing well to stop the eggs cooking. Pass the egg mixture through a sieve back into the saucepan. Place the saucepan back over medium heat and continue stirring the mixture until it bubbles. Pour the pastry cream into a bowl and place the bowl in a sink or bowl with cold or icy water, add the vanilla essence and stir the pastry cream until cooled. Refrigerate until cool.


Assembling and baking the crostata con la crema:

Heat the oven to 350ºF [180ºC/gas mark 4].

Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, unwrap it and cut away ¼ of the dough. Reserve this dough to make the lattice top of the crostata. Refrigerate this dough while you work on the tart base.

To help roll the crostata dough, keep the dough on top of the plastic wrap that you had it wrapped in. This can help rolling the dough and can also help when transferring the dough to your pan. You can also use parchment paper for this. However, you can also roll the dough directly on a work surface if you prefer.

Lightly dust the top of the dough and your work surface (if you’re rolling directly on a work surface) with flour. Keep some flour handy to dust the dough as you go along.

If the dough is very firm, start by pressing the dough with the rolling pin from the middle to each end, moving the rolling pin by a pin’s width each time; turn the dough 180 degrees and repeat; when it softens, start rolling.

Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8th inch (3 mm) thick.

If you used the plastic wrap or parchment paper as rolling surface, flip dough over the pan, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the plastic wrap.

Trim the excess dough hanging over the edges of the pan. Press the remaining dough around the border into the sides of the pan making sure the border is an even thickness all the way around.

Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places.

Take out of the fridge the reserved pasta frolla you had cut away earlier. Roll it with your pin and cut into strips or use cookie cutters to make small shapes (this is not traditional, but it looks cute); or roll with your hands into ropes.

Instead of jam or fruit preserves, cover the bottom of the crostata crust evenly with the pastry cream.

Use the prepared strips or rolls of dough to make a lattice over the surface, or decorate with the cut shapes. (Note: You can use dough scraps to make cookies: see the Additional Information section for some pointers)

Brush the border and strips of dough with the reserved beaten eggs. You can add a drop or two of water to the beaten eggs if you don’t have enough liquid.

Put the tart in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

After 35 minutes, check the tart, and continue baking until the tart is of a nice golden hue. (Note: Every oven is different. In my oven it took 45 minutes to bake the tart until golden.)

When done, remove the tart from the oven and let cool. If you have used a tart pan with a removable bottom, then release the tart base from the fluted tart ring. Make sure the tart is completely cool before slicing and serving.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart + Win a Ferrero Hamper

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

This post is sponsored by Nuffnang.

As soon as you know it, the end of the year is almost here, with it bringing Christmas holidays and New Years. I loved last year’s holiday season, I had a bit of time off and ate lots of great food with my family. I never got around to posting the huge amounts of food we ate, although you might remember I did post about the chocolate swirl croquembouche.

I have no idea what I could make this year to come close to the croquembouche – except for maybe making a smaller one (as we didn’t get through the large one I made). It is a favourite dish of mine and my families. Although, perhaps I should make something with chocolate…

There aren’t too many things that work quite as well as chocolate and hazelnut, which inspired along with Ferrero products to make this chocolate and hazelnut tart.

Ferrero have just launched a new website, Ferrero Boutique, which showcases their different hampers available in time for Christmas.

Ferrero Gourmet Christmas Hamper by Tobie Puttock - Image from Ferrero

One of interest is the Ferrero Gourmet Christmas Hamper by Tobie Puttock, which includes Ferrero Panettone & Torrone, Ferrero Rondnoir and Rochers. Tobie uses the Panettone in his recipe: Grilled Peaches with Caramelised Panettone recipe from his latest cookbook, Cook Like An Italian and is also available on the Ferrero Boutique site. This hamper along with the others on the website are limited in number though, with 500 originally being available, although this number has already decreased. $5 from each hamper also will be donated to OzHarvest, which exists to rescue excess food which would otherwise be discarded, and distribute it to charities supporting the vulnerable in Australia.

Ferrero Gourmet Christmas Hamper by Tobie Puttock - Image from Ferrero

Ferrero are giving away two Ferrero Gourmet Christmas Hampers by Tobie Puttock Ferrero worth $75 each! Two lucky readers (from my site or these two blogs: The Food Pornographer and Here comes the Food) could win one of these fabulous hampers. All you have to do is answer the following question in a comment below:

What is your favourite Christmas recipe and/or how do you celebrate the holiday season?

Ferrero will choose the most creative responses from all three sites, to give a hamper to. The competition finishes on Friday 10th December 2010 at 5pm. Winners will be notified by email. Please see here for Terms and Conditions.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Recipe by Anita @ Leave Room for Dessert

Serves: 16

Recipe best made the day before (or a few days before serving)

Hazelnut Pastry
200g plain flour
40g hazelnut meal
40g icing sugar
120g butter, chilled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg yolk + 1 teaspoon of egg white or water, if required

Toffee layer (optional)
100g caster sugar

Chocolate Hazelnut Filling
250g Nutella
220g milk chocolate, chopped
50g dark chocolate, chopped
300ml thickened cream

80g caster sugar
50g water
8-10 hazelnuts (or more for practicing)
8 Ferrero Rocher chocolates

For the pastry, process the flour, hazelnut meal and icing sugar in a food processor. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and process until just combined. If it is not coming together, add a teaspoon of egg white or cold water at a time until it is just combined. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disk. Cover the disk and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Roll out the pastry to 3mm, or enough to line a 22-25cm (diameter) round fluted tart tin. Line the tin with the pastry, making sure to press the pastry into the sides. Remove excess by rolling a rolling pin over the top of the tin, or by hand – smoothing any edges if needed. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven at 180C.

For the toffee layer, place the sugar in a small saucepan and place on high (or medium high). Once the sugar starts to caramelise on the outer edges, slowly mix in small amounts of the unmelted sugar, until it is all caramelised. Pour onto a sheet of baking paper. Once cooled, process in a small food processor.

Place a sheet of baking paper over the pastry lined tart and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove the weights and baking paper and return the tart shell to the oven and cook for approximately 5 minutes until the bottom of the tart has started to brown. Place the processed toffee over the bottom of the tart shell and place back in the oven for 3 minutes or until the toffee has melted into a even layer. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

For the filling. Place the Nutella and chopped chocolates into a large bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just starts to bubble. Pour the cream over the chocolate and Nutella and stir gently until it forms a smooth mixture. Pour the mixture into the tart shell. If there are some bubbles present, you can carefully use a creme brulee torch to remove them. Refrigerate overnight.

The hazelnut corkscrews need to be made as close to serving as possible. To make these, roast the hazelnuts in a 180C oven for 5-10 minutes, until they are roasted and the skins start to come off. Remove from oven and place onto a clean tea towel. Rub the hazelnuts through the towel to remove the brown skins. Place a tooth pick into the base of each hazelnut.

Heat the sugar and water in a very small saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. (I used a 10-15cm based saucepan, if you are using a larger one, you may need to increase your toffee ingredients to allow for a higher toffee level to allow easier dipping of the hazelnuts). Once the sugar is dissolved, place the mixture on high and cook, without stirring until the toffee turns a caramel colour. Place the bottom half of the saucepan into a sink filled with cold or tap water – this will stop the toffee from becoming too dark. Mix the toffee with a spoon and test the consistency of the toffee by trying to slowly spin the toffee around a clean knife steel. (Hold the steel in your left hand and rotate the spoon with toffee clockwise around the steel until a corkscrew is made).

Once it is at the right consistency, dip a hazelnut into toffee and make a corkscrew at the end of it. It is easiest if you can get someone to help you with this, as they can remove the corkscrew while you hold the hazelnut (as the toffee on the hazelnut doesn’t solidify as quickly as the thin corkscrew). If you don’t have a second pair of hands, place the hazelnut onto a piece of baking paper and slowly remove the corkscrew from the steel.

Place the Ferrero Rochers and caramel hazelnuts over the tart and serve with vanilla ice cream.

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