crostata

For Lucia: gianduja and salted hazelnuts crostata

I instagrammed and FB'd the picture of a tart a couple of days ago and my beloved friend Lucia asked for the recipe.

Enjoy, Lucia and by the way, here's where you can buy gianduja chocolate.

 


Crostata al gianduja con nocciole salate

Gianduja tart with salted hazelnuts

 

for a 9" tart pan

Crust

2 cups (270 grams) flour

½ cup (115 grams) sugar

½ cup (135 grams) butter

4 egg yolks

pinch of salt

grated zest of a lemon

Filling

2/3 pound gianduja chocolate

1/2 cup roasted salted hazelnuts

1/3 pound heavy cream

1 pat butter

 

Prepare the pasta frolla: place all ingredients in the mixer with a paddle attachment, work on medium to high speed until they start coming together.

Empty on top of a piece of plastic wrap and press together with the tip of your fingers, then form a flat round ball with the palm of your hands.

Wrap tightly with plastic and place in the refrigerator to rest for at least 30 minutes.

If using a food processor, pulse until the ingredients start coming together, and then proceed as above.

Roll the pasta frolla to about 1/4" and line the tart mold with it. Cut off excess crust and keep it to make cookies. Prick the bottom and return to the refrigerator.

In the meantime, chip the chocolate and place it in a stainless steel bowl.

Chop the hazelnuts.

Heat the cream to the boiling point and pour it over the chocolate. Whisk until you have a smooth silky mixture.

Stir in the butter.

Keep the ganache runny by placing the stainless steel bowl over a pot of warm water, whisking occasionally to keep from separating.

Line a 9" removable bottom tart pan with parchment paper.

Roll the pasta frolla to about 1/8" and line the tart mold with it. Cut off excess crust and keep it to make cookies. Prick the bottom and bake in a 350˚F pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes, until it starts turning a slightly golden beige with darker edges and the smell of sugar cookies is wafting to your nose.

Cool the crust and gently transfer it to the tray from which you will be serving it.

Pour the ganache into the tart shell and let set in a cool dry place until it is firmly creamy. If you are pressed for time, you can put it in the refrigerator, away from strong smelling foods.

When it is set, scatter the hazelnuts on it and serve.

NOTE:

  • If you can't find roasted toasted hazelnuts, make them yourself as follows: toast the nuts in a 325˚F oven just until you smell them. Rub them in a dry kitchen rag to remove the skins. Sprinkle generously with sea salt and place back in the oven for 5 minutes.

Blogblock no more! Caramel walnut tart with chocolate ganache

The unfinished tart I instagrammed last night and with fingers crossed that it would get me blogging again? Crostata caramello, noci e ganache a metà

 

It was a hit with the indomitable moms gathered around my table for a send off to our children's 4th grade teacher, fabulous Mia Straghalis, the stunning blond in the middle of the group pictured below.

Celebrating the teacher

 

The evening was a blast and the tart beyond easy.

So from #blogblock, I hope to now be back to #almostweeklyblogging-or as close to it as possible...

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Crostata di caramello e noci con ganache di cioccolato amaro Caramel and walnut tart with chocolate ganache

for a 10" tart mold 1 dose pasta frolla 1.5 cups walnuts

The whole cake was eaten to quickly for me to take a full picture!

1 cup salted caramel sauce (see note) 250 ml cream 250 grams bittersweet chocolate 1/2 tablespoon butter

Make the crust. Wrap it tightly and place it in the refrigerator to rest for at least half an hour.

Line the tart mold with parchment paper.

Roll the pasta frolla into a disk about 1/8" thick. Carefully roll it around the pin then unroll to drape over the mold. Gently press it in to line the bottom and sides.

Let the excess dough fall over the edges, then press all around with a rolling pin to let the overhanging dough fall off. Prick the bottom and place in the freezer.

Pre-heat the oven to 325˚.

Roughly chop the walnuts.

Gently heat the caramel sauce in a small sauce pot. Pour in the walnuts and mix to coat. Let cool to lukewarm.

In the meantime, par-bake the tart shell for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and spread the walnuts and caramel on the bottom of the tart shell in a thin, even layer.

Return to the oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.

In the meantime, chop the chocolate and place in an aluminum bowl with the cream.

Set the bowl on a sauce pot over simmering water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water and the water does not come to a boil.

The steam will warm the cream and melt the chocolate. Whisk everything together to a homogeneous color and velvety appearance. Stir in the butter.

Pour the chocolate ganache into the tart shell and over the walnuts in caramel. Let set until thick enough to be cut without running.

NOTES:

  • I used a shelf stable salted caramel sauce I made in a canning class with the great Shakirah Simley. If you are inclined to make fresh caramel sauce, there are many great recipes to follow.
  • The completely assembled tart is best left to set at room temperature, but, if in a pinch, do place it in the refrigerator to thicken more quickly.
  • While butter is not necessary for the ganache, I find it gives it a sheen finish I enjoy.

 

 

A summer tart or The importance of being Lewis

I am not always happy, indeed there are times when I feel downright disheartened. But I have always considered myself lucky. Lucky because I live, I cook, I love, I share. Lucky because my mindset and my circumstances have afforded me a life I enjoy. Lewis with tart

And lucky because in 2013 and I got to spend my Friday afternoons cooking with Lewis. You all know Lewis, he is that 13 year old into whom every mother hopes their boy will turn.

Lewis is keen, curious and polite. He's not shy but knows when to say nothing. He is engaged and engaging. He's always properly groomed but not fussy. He washes his hands when appropriate and never leaves anything on his plate. Lewis speaks 2 languages fluently and a 3rd not so shabbily. And, as if that wasn't enough, he loves to cook. He is, in short, a perfectly delightful human being and cooking companion.

I have looked hard for what is wrong with Lewis (as the mother of a 9 year old boy, I know perfection is not an innate trait in children). And though I am sure his mother will beg to differ,  I have yet to identify any flaw with which to fault him.

I am taking off to Italy for the summer this Wednesday, which makes today the last of Lewis I get until September. We are ending it sweetly, with tarts and the fruits of summer.

And by the way, I will be in touch from Italy, so stay tuned.

Crostata frangipane bionda alle albicocche Toasted almond cream and apricot tart

Let me preface that I am a less than artful baker, so this recipe relies not on originality but in putting together the well tried techniques of those whose work I find impeccable.

The pastry crust is an old Italian classic, from Pellegrino Artusi's The Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, a 19th century compendium, which is one of my cooking bibles.

I have tried a number of frangipane recipes and the perfect one for my taste remains the one from Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts. It is simple, easy and delicious. I do toast the almonds to a dark blond before grinding and use vanilla bean instead of almond extract, but the balance of ingredients is all Martha's. If you can find them, or have the patience to collect them when apricots are in season, you can make this with apricot kernels.

By the way, Lewis and I will be using apricots simply because I have a large bag of them hanging around, but any type of fruit will work for this recipe, so just go with your preference and your fruit bowl.

for a 9 to 10” tart pan:

Crostate frangipane

Crust: 2 cups (270 grams) flour ½ cup (115 grams) sugar ½ cup (135 grams) butter (or, even better, 90 grams butter and 45 grams lard) 4 egg yolks pinch of salt grated zest of a lemon

Filling: 1 cup almonds 10 apricots 1 vanilla bean 1 stick unsalted butter 1/2 cup sugar 1 egg 3 tablespoons rum 1 tablespoon flour

Prepare the pasta frolla: place all ingredients in the mixer with a paddle attachment, work on medium to high speed until they start coming together. Empty on top of a piece of plastic wrap and press together with the tip of your fingers, then form a flat round ball with the palm of your hands. Wrap tightly with plastic and place in the refrigerator to rest for at least 30 minutes.

If using a food processor, pulse until the ingredients start coming together, and then proceed as above.

To make the filling, blanch the almonds, remove the skin and toast them to a dark blond in one layer. Grind them very finely and let cool. Stone and quarter the apricots. Score the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape off the contents.

Cream the butter and sugar until the are pale and fluffy. Mix in the almonds, egg and vanilla. Then add the rum and lastly work in the flour.

Roll the pastry crust to about 1/4" and line the tart pan. Prick gently. Spread the almond cream in it into an even layer rising a just above half way up the sides of the crust.

Arrange the apricot quarters attractively in rows or concentric circles. Bake at 375˚F for approximately 45 minutes, until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center exits slightly wet but clean and clear otherwise.