Mini cherry pies

Mini cherry pies

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I’ve always adored miniature versions of things, especially desserts. When a friend introduced me to Tiny Kitchen a few months ago, my data plan needed to be upgraded because I couldn’t stop watching the videos on the bus. Pies are the perfect subject matter to miniaturize — you can make so many designs with lattice, and more if you invest in 1/2″ shape cutters. Swoon. These pies are only 5″ each, the perfect size for a single generous serving (or two small servings for wanton school children). You’ll also have room left on your plate for ice cream!

This recipe is adapted from the Food Network. I didn’t modify the pastry, but I changed the quantities for the filling because I prefer a less respectable ratio of carbs to fruit.

Ingredients
Makes six 5″ pies

Pastry 
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk, plus 1 beaten egg for brushing
8 tablespoons ice water
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling

Cherry filling
4 1/4 cups fresh bing cherries, pitted
1/2 cup granulated sugar (Note: start with 1/3 cup sugar and gradually add more to taste if necessary)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest, plus 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract

Method

For the crust

Whisk the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter to incorporate one stick of the butter and the shortening, until the dough resembles pea-sized pieces. Cut in remaining butter. Add the egg yolk and ice water, using a wooden spoon to incorporate. Using your hands, knead dough until it is smooth and uniform. Roll into a 2″ x 12″ cylinder and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

For the filling

Toss cherries in granulated sugar, cornstarch, and lime zest in a large bowl Add almond extract and lime juice. Set aside to let the sugar dissolve.

Assembly

Remove half the dough from the refrigerator. Cut into 6 equally weighted pieces. Roll out each portion on a lightly floured surface until it forms a diameter slightly larger than the 5″ pie plate. Gently place each round into the pie plate, letting the excess dough spill over the edge. Trim excess with pastry scissors (or a sharp knife) and use extra dough to reinforce the bottom of pie. Divide the filling among the pie shells. Note: These pies will not be too full (I appreciate a good ratio of pastry to berries!)

Remove the remaining dough from the fridge and repeat the process above to form 6 rounds of dough. Use this dough to form the tops of the pies. You can either create a lattice pattern or simply drape  on top of pie to form a double crust. Brush pies in egg wash and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Let stand in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake the pies for 55-60 minutes or until bubbly, reducing oven temperature to 375 degrees F after the first five minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Serve with dark chocolate or vanilla ice cream.

Mint chocolate stracciatella ice cream pops

Mint chocolate stracciatella ice cream pops

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I’ve been making a lot of ice cream this month, partly to beat the heat, and partly to celebrate National Ice Cream Day, which every year falls on my birthday weekend (some things are kismet). It turns out these are the perfect post-dinner snack for children, if only to satiate them so you can watch Netflix. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh mint leaves
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 5 ounces dark chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • Trace amount green food colour (optional)

For the chocolate drizzle

  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted

Method

Bring whipping cream and milk to a near boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, adding mint leaves and steep for two hours.

After nearly two hours is over, start beating the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale yellow. Set aside. Pass the cream mixture through a sieve into a large saucepan, pressing on the mint leaves to release flavour. Add the egg yolks and sugar.

Whisk ingredients over medium heat until the temperature reaches 170°F, then remove from heat. A thick custard should form on the back of a spoon. If you’re a purist, you can skip the green food gel, but it never killed anyone, or if it did we’d never know. Do add salt.

Store custard in an airtight container in the fridge for about 4 hours. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions, piping in the melted chocolate combined with coconut oil during the last couple minutes.

Pour custard into 6 popsicle molds and freeze overnight. Right before serving, drizzle with melted chocolate combined with coconut oil, using a piping bag or cornet to draw thin lines that are hopefully smoother than the ones my 5-year-old made.

Coconut vanilla cake with strawberry buttercream

Coconut vanilla cake with strawberry buttercream

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Strawberries are my favourite fruit because they remind me of Strawberry Shortcake cartoons and I am literally still five years old. The combination of strawberry and vanilla bean in this cake is timeless and made even better with a subtle hint of coconut. This cake recipe is adapted from My Name is Yeh and then I added strawberry swiss meringue buttercream into the mix.

Ingredients

Cake
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 large egg
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup coconut milk
1 small vanilla bean, scraped
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (lukewarm or cool, but not hot)
1/2 tsp coconut extract

Strawberry swiss meringue buttercream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
5 ounces egg whites (about 4 to 5 eggs)
1 lb salted butter, room temperature and cut into 1″ cubes
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons strawberry preserves

Garnish
Toasted coconut flakes and strawberries (optional)

Method

Cake
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 6″ cake pans, line the bottom with parchment and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, lemon juice, coconut milk, coconut extract, coconut oil and scraped vanilla bean. Make sure the coconut oil isn’t too hot or it will cook the egg. Stir the wet ingredients into the the dry ingredients until combined.

Pour the batter into three cake pans and bake for 23–24 minutes, or until a fork or comes out clean. Cool cakes on a rack for 10 minutes and then revert onto rack.

Buttercream
Heat sugar and egg whites in a heatproof glass or metal bowl fitted tightly over a saucepan of 2″ water. Whisk constantly until the egg white mixture reaches 140–150 F. The sugar should be dissolved and the mixture very warm, but the water shouldn’t reach a boil — that is too hot. Remove from stove. Beat using a whisk attachment in a stand mixer for about 10 minutes, until stiff peaks form.

Incorporate butter slowly into the meringue, adding one cube at a time. If using a stand mixer, beat on medium speed with a paddle attachment. The buttercream will look like it’s curdling — you’ll think you’ve made an atrocious error and will be tempted to throw it all away! Just keep going and the frosting will emulsify into heavenly silk. Add vanilla.

Assembly
Spread the buttercream evenly between each layer of cake and garnish with additional buttercream and rosettes, toasted coconut and strawberries.

Vegan chocolate cupcakes

Vegan chocolate cupcakes

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There’s always one person in a crowd who can’t eat eggs, milk, or butter. They show up when you least expect them to, after you’ve made 400 custard tarts. Or there’s someone on a cleanse, usually your aunt. To be safe, you can now just make these vegan cupcakes for any event. They’re delightful, and you don’t even need to tell anyone they’re vegan. But please whisper it in your aunt’s ear because she’ll be smitten.

Ingredients
(Makes 12 cupcakes)

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold coffee
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar

Vegan chocolate ganache

  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 6 ounces high quality semi-sweet vegan chocolate or regular dark chocolate (check the label to see if it contains milk ingredients).

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper cups and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Stir in the coffee, oil, vanilla and vinegar. Using a spatula, mix until smooth. Chill batter in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Spoon into muffin cups, filling only 2/3 way to the brim (they will rise a lot).

Bake on the middle rack for approximately 20-22 minutes, until a fork comes out clean.

For the ganache

Break up chocolate into small pieces. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from heat and temper with coconut milk until smooth and combined. Set aside to cool for 15-20 minutes, then beat on medium for about 5 minutes using a stand mixer. Ganache should be fluffy and hard enough to pipe. Spoon mixture into a pastry bag fitted with an open or closed star tip. Note: Make sure cupcakes are fully cooled before you add the icing.

Raspberry shortbread ice cream

Raspberry shortbread ice cream

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Raspberry ice cream isn’t as popular as strawberry ice cream, but he’s more charming if you really think about it.

It’s March and it’s snowing, and my first impulse was to make an ice cream reminiscent of Summer. This recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz’s book “The Perfect Scoop.” If you need a good ice cream bible, this is it.

I replaced the lemon juice with vodka (because it adds texture) and added shortbread cookies (because hey, cookies!)


Ingredients

1 ½ cups half and half
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cups heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1 ½ cups raspberry puree (you will need 6 cups fresh or frozen thawed raspberries)
2 teaspoons vodka
Shortbread cookies, crumbled

Method

1. Puree the raspberries in a food processor. Work mixture through a sieve to remove all the seeds. Hint: you can’t make friends with seedy ice cream.
2. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a sieve on top. Set aside.
3. Warm the half and half and sugar in a medium saucepan until just before a boil.
4. Whisk together egg yolks and temper with warm cream and sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Quickly transfer mixture back into saucepan.
5. Continue to stir over medium heat with a spatula until mixture resembles custard and coats the back of a spoon. Hint: You want to use enough heat that a custard forms in good time, but if you use too much heat, the eggs will overcook.
6. Pour custard through sieve into cream. Add raspberry puree and vodka. Set on top of an ice bath.

Once the custard is cool, transfer it to the fridge for 3-4 hours. At this point, you can churn the ice cream. For best results, leave the ice cream in the freezer overnight before serving. Top with crumbled shortbread cookies.

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Orange chocolate pistachio croissants

Orange chocolate pistachio croissants

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This week in pastry class, we learned to work with laminated dough — the base for croissants, danishes, and pains au chocolat. If you like instant gratification, none of this is for you. But there is something inherently satisfying about making croissants from scratch. At least this is the lie I told myself after grueling over a ball of butter for eight hours, only to realize I could walk across the street and buy a croissant at Starbucks for $2.10.

To make these, I used Izy Hossack’s amazing croissant dough recipe and made a few modifications, mainly changing the way the butter layer is made, reducing the number of folds from 4 to 3, and adding steam to the oven.

Ingredients

Détrempe (dough layer) 

  • 1 cup cold milk
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast (make sure not to use active instant dry yeast, which is for bread machines.)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt

Beurrage (butter layer)

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp. European-style butter at room temperature

Filling and toppings

  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • ½ cup crushed salted pistachios
  • Good quality orange-flavoured dark chocolate, chopped
  • Apricot jam for glaze
  • Icing sugar, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Combine yeast, boiling water, sugar and milk into a large bowl and let sit until frothy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add flour and salt to the above mixture. Make sure to stir salt well into flour first so it’s evenly distributed.
  3. Using your hands, work dough into a sticky ball. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead softly until all flour is incorporated, about 2 minutes.
  4. Shape dough into a rectangle about 1.5″ thick , cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  5. Start shaping the beurrage (butter block) into a 8″x5″ rectangle. To do this, I cut a sheet of parchment to 16″x10″ and folded it down the center line. Place butter on one side of the fold line, fold the other side over, and use a rolling pin to press butter to the edges of parchment. It’s OK to use your hands. Calories from butter are not absorbed through skin! Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and unwrap.
  6. Roll out on a floured surface into a 16″x10″ rectangle.
  7. Place beurrage in the centre of the rectangle (remove the parchment!).
  8. Fold one third of the dough over it, locking in the butter at the seams by pinching the edges of the dough. Fold the other third of the dough down over the top layer to make a letter fold. This is called “one turn.” See Izy’s GIFs if you need a demo.
  9. Turn the dough 90 degrees and complete steps 6&8 once again (roll out dough and complete letter fold). This will be the second turn. To roll the dough, be careful not to displace butter. Tip: Do to this, use the rolling pin to press down on the dough at regular intervals to make indentations. Then press down at regular intervals again, but this time, on the high peaks to flatten them down. If butter leaks out one of the sides, fold this side in next time you do a “turn.”
  10. Once you have completed two letter folds, wrap the dough and place it back in the fridge for one hour.
  11. Remove the dough from the fridge, roll to 16″x10″ and complete one more turn (steps 6&8). Place dough back into fridge for one more hour.
  12. Remove dough from fridge cut into quarters. Each quarter will make six croissants. Depending how many croissants you’d like, decide how many quarters of dough to use and how many to freeze. Tip: You can freeze the dough for up to a month. Place in the fridge overnight to dethaw it before shaping.
  13. Roll out each quarter in to a 16″x6″ rectangle. Cut this rectangle into thirds using a sharp knife. Cut diagonally down each third to make 6 (isosceles!) triangles.

Shaping dough

  1. One triangle at a time, gently stretch the two corners at the base of the triangle. Place small amount of chopped dark chocolate in the center of the base, slightly up from the margin of the base.
  2. Roll the base up toward the point.
  3. Place shaped dough on parchment lined baking sheet.
  4. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight (8-12 hours).

Baking

  1. To create steam in your oven, place a large pan filled halfway with water on the bottom rack of your oven.
  2. Preheat over to 450 degrees. The water in the pan will heat quickly, so remove it after a few minutes.
  3. Remove pastry from fridge and lightly brush each croissant with beaten egg (egg wash). Do not add too much egg or the croissants won’t rise well.
  4. Lower the oven heat to 400 and bake croissants for 10 minutes. Lower temperature again to 350 and bake for another 10-12 minutes until brown.
  5. Remove croissants from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Apricot glaze and decoration 

  1. While the croissants are baking, heat about ½ cup apricot jam in a pan, combining with a bit of water to loosen. Once the jam is almost boiling,  reduce heat, creating a simmer.
  2. Let glaze cool and run through a sieve. You should have a thin, bright and glossy glaze remaining.
  3. Once croissants are cooled, brush with a thin layer of glaze. Top with crushed pistachios and sift icing sugar over half of each croissant.

If you legit made it through this entire process, you have now earned every croissant. Enjoy!

Chocolate cake with nutella cream cheese buttercream

Chocolate cake with nutella cream cheese buttercream

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Ingredients

Chocolate sour cream cake

  • 1 ¾ sticks butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 ⅔ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ⅔ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup hot coffee

Chocolate filling

  • 75g semi-sweet chocolate (50%)
  • 2½ tbsp. butter
  • pinch of salt

Nutella cream cheese frosting

  • 1 ¼ sticks butter, softened
  • ½ cup cream cheese, cold
  • ⅓ cup + 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup + 2 tbsp Nutella
  • pinch of salt

Dark chocolate glaze

  • 75g dark chocolate (70%)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • pinch of salt

Decorations

  • Crushed roasted hazelnuts
  • Milk chocolate bar, broken into pieces

Instructions

Chocolate sour cream cake

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Butter three 6-inch (15 cm) cake pans, dust with cocoa powder and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter, add milk and set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Add the butter mixture, eggs and sour cream and beat until smooth. Add the hot coffee and stir.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans. Bake the cakes on the lower rack for 32-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for at least 15 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate filling

  1. Coarsely chop the semi-sweet chocolate and place it in a saucepan together with butter, over low heat. Stir often until everything is melted. Add a pinch of salt. Let cool to spreadable consistency, around 15 minutes, while you start preparing the frosting.

Nutella cream cheese frosting and assembly

  1. Beat butter until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese, powdered sugar, nutella and salt and beat until frosting is completely smooth and fluffy. Place the bowl in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to help frosting set.
  2. Set aside a small amount of frosting in a bowl to decorate the top of the cake with rosettes.
  3. Place the first cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Spread with chocolate filling, then pipe or spread a layer of frosting on top. Don’t pipe or spread all the way out to the edge as the weight of the cake will make it spread.
  4. Place the second layer on top of the first layer. Spread second layer with chocolate filling, then pipe or spread a layer of frosting on top. Put the third layer on top. Put the cake in the fridge to stabilize it while you start making the dark chocolate glaze.

Dark chocolate glaze and decoration

  1. Coarsely chop the dark chocolate and place it in a saucepan with the butter, over low heat. Stir often until is melted. Add a pinch of salt. Let cool to room temperature but make sure it is not too thick. Pour the glaze over the cake and quickly spread it over the edges of the cake to make it run down the sides.
  2. Pipe remaining nutella frosting rosettes on top of the cake. Decorate with whole roasted and crushed hazelnuts and milk chocolate shavings.


Recipe from Linda Lomelino with changes to the topping.