Category Archives: tarts

Thanksgiving Mini Desserts

By the time I get to dessert at Thanksgiving I’m always stuffed. I want to try everything but it seems impossible since there isn’t any room in my tummy. This year I got smart and made everything as miniature bite-size desserts. Each of these deserts uses the same mini muffin tin for a consistent size. We had a sea of mini pastries, simply delicious.

Mini Stout Gingerbread 
Cupcakes

Gingerbead:
1 cup Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3 large eggs

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil


Boil the beer and molasses in a large pot. Then remove it from the heat and add in the baking soda. Whip the mixture and let it sit to cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the eggs, sugar and oil. Then add the flour, baking powder and the rest of the spices. Pour in the beer mixture and mix to combine.

Fill cupcake liners to half way and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks. Make these cupcakes one day in advance and let them sit overnight at room temperature before frosting. The cake gets better after a day.

Caramel Butter Cream Icing:
1 cup sugar
½ cup heavy cream
2 1/2 sticks butter
3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla Extract

Heat the cup of sugar on medium high heat in a heavy bottom pan. When the edge starts to turn brown and bubble, swirl the pan and keep heating to make an even caramel. The sugar will met totally and caramelize, take the sugar off of the heat and swirl the pan to make sure that all crystals dissolve and that the sugar doesn’t get too dark or burn.

Pour the cup of cream into the sugar and let it continue to cook. After 10 minutes, stir to pull the sugar off of the bottom of the pan and continue to cook so that the mixture thickens. Take it off the heat and set it aside to cool.

Beat the butter and margarine together on high, till fluffy, with an electric mixer, set aside.

In a heat proof metal bowl, over simmering water, like a double boiler, wisk the egg whites and remaining sugar. The sugar crystals will dissolve and the mixture will get thick and turn white. Be careful not to cook the eggs.

Wisk the vanilla into the egg whites using an electric mixer. The egg whites will thicken and form soft peaks. Add the egg whites and the caramel to the butter mixture. Beat on high until well combined and fluffy.

Using a star tip and a zip lock bag, pipe the icing onto the top of the cupcakes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Mini Carrot Cupcakes

Carrot Cake:
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots (4 carrots)
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs in a large metal bowl. Add the sugar, oil and vanilla. Fold in the carrots. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and whisk to form a smooth batter. Fill cupcake liners to half way and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks to room temperature before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 package of powdered sugar (1 lb)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat the cream cheese and butter on high in an electric mixer until fluffy and combined. Slowly add the powdered sugar, stirring on low speed after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat it on high again for about 3 minutes till fluffy. Using a plain tip and a zip lock bag, ice the cupcakes. Store the finished cakes in the refrigerator before serving.

Mini Poached Ginger Pear and Chocolate Tarts

Crust:
1 ½ cups flour
1 stick of butter, slightly cooler than room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
¼ cup water

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large metal bowl, mix all ingredients, except the water with a fork or pastry cutter. The goal is to incorporate the butter until it is the texture of course meal. Slowly sprinkle in the water and quickly mix. Making sure not to put in too much water, briefly kneed the pastry so that it forms a cohesive ball. Pull out about 1 tablespoon of dough and flatten into a round, place it into a mini-muffin pan to form a miniature pie shell. Fill your pans and cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Poached Pear:
½ cup rose wine
1 cup sugar
¼ piece of fresh ginger, pealed
½ cinnamon stick
3 cloves
water
1 ripe pear, pealed, seeded and cut in half
caramelized ginger

In a medium heavy pot, mix the wine and sugar and a little water to dissolve. Add the spices and pear. Add enough water to cover the pear, place a small plate over the pear to keep it submerged. Cook the mixture on medium heat for 30 minutes to cook the pear until tender. Cool to room temperature. Drain the pear on a paper towel. Cut the pear and ginger into small chunks.

Ganache:
1 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 heavy cream

Place a small metal bowl over a small pan of water on medium heat. Heat the chocolate and cream until the chocolate melts. Remove the chocolate from the heat. Whisk, starting in the center of the bowl till it forms a silky ganache.

Fill the tart shells with a spoon full of the chocolate ganache. Place one chunk of pear and ginger in each tart. Serve at room temperature.

Mini Pumpkin Pie

Crust:
3 cups flour
2 sticks of butter, slightly cooler than room temperature
2 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup water

In a large metal bowl, mix all ingredients, except the water with a fork or pastry cutter. The goal is to incorporate the butter until it is the texture of course meal. Slowly sprinkle in the water and quickly mix. Making sure not to put in too much water, briefly kneed the pastry so that it forms a cohesive ball. Pull out about 1 tablespoon of dough and flatten into a round, place it into a mini-muffin pan to form a miniature pie shell.

Pumpkin filling:
1 15oz can of pumpkin puree
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 5 oz can evaporated milk
¼ cup sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Fill the mini pie shells 2/3 of the way full and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and serve at room temperature.

Mini Pecan Pie

Crust:
1/2 cups flour
1 sticks of butter, slightly cooler than room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup water

In a large metal bowl, mix all ingredients, except the water with a fork or pastry cutter. The goal is to incorporate the butter until it is the texture of course meal. Slowly sprinkle in the water and quickly mix. Making sure not to put in too much water, briefly kneed the pastry so that it forms a cohesive ball. Pull out about 1 tablespoon of dough and flatten into a round, place it into a mini-muffin pan to form a miniature pie shell.

Pecan Filling:
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
8 oz chopped pecans

Pre-heat the over to 350 degrees. Add all of the ingredients, except the pecans to bowl and beat with a whisk until combined. Fill the tart shells with the chopped pecans. Cover with a spoonful of the sugar minter. Bake for 30 minutes until the pies are golden brown and crisp. Cool on a wire rack and serve at room temperature.

The Way to a Co-Worker’s Heart is Through the Stomach

Last summer I was known at my job for being a baker. I would make cookies and cupcakes. Now that I’m back, but on a different team, I wanted to endear myself to my new co-workers. At the same time I was hoping that being nice would help me get a computer faster and relieve my boredom! You can make this into little 1 inch pies or do a larger mini tart using a 4 inch spring form pan or pie dish.

Mini Peach and Blackberry Tarts

Crust:
3 cups flour
2 stick of butter, slightly cooler than room temperature
2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
½ cup water

Mix the flour, butter, salt and sugar in a mental bowl with a fork. Mash in the butter until it forms course meal. Gradually add in the water, you may not need all of it. Mix the dough together till it forms a ball. Pinch off 1-inch balls of the dough and press it out into a flat layer with your hands. Fill mini muffin tins with the dough, fluting the edges to make mini pie shells.

Filling:
2 bags frozen peaches, thawed
1 bag frozen blackberries, thawed
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon
1/2 cup flour

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Chop the peaches into chunks, about the same size as the blackberries. Mix all of ingredients in a large bowl. Using a spoon, being careful to not pick up too much liquid, fill the pie shells with 3 pieces of peach and 1 blackberry.

Cook the pies for about an hour. Once the shells are golden brown, remove from the oven. Let them cool in the tins for 5 minutes then move them to a rack and cool completely.

Sweet Tart

Tarts are a quick solution for that impressive desert. There is something about the arrangement of glossy fruit that make’s people’s mouths water. My crust recipe can be use to make a double crusted pie, so why not make two tarts instead. The more the merrier.

Christmas tarts: Apple Hazelnut and Chocolate Raspberry

Crust
1 ½ cups flour
1 stick of butter, slightly cooler than room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
¼ cup water

In a large metal bowl, mix all ingredients, except the water with a fork or pastry cutter. The goal is to incorporate the butter until it is the texture of course meal. Slowly sprinkle in the water and quickly mix. Making sure not to put in too much water, briefly kneed the pastry so that it forms a cohesive ball.

Separate the dough into two equal rounds. On a well flowered counter top, roll out each round of dough till it fits into each tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough into the corners and trim off the top. Set each aside.

Apple and Hazelnut Filling
1 cup shelled hazelnuts, toasted
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 large egg
1 stick unsalted butter, divided
¼ teaspoon vanilla
3 large granny smith apples, pealed, cored and sliced into 1/8 inch slices
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
¼ cup water

Toss the apple slices in the lemon juice and set aside.

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a blender puree the hazelnuts, sugar, egg, ½ stick of butter and vanilla until they form a paste. Spread the hazelnut paste over the bottom of the pastry.

Starting from the outside arrange the apple slices, over lapping to make a rose pattern. There should be no pastry or hazelnut peeking through. Really pack in all of the apples. Sprinkle the apples with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and dot the remaining ½ stick of butter over the apple. Back in the over until the apple and crust are golden brown, about 1 hour.

When the tart is close to being finished, heat the jam and water in a small saucepan until melted. Once the tart comes out of the oven brush the jam mixture over the apples, coating lightly, so that they apples are shinny. Let the tart cool to room temperature before serving.

Chocolate Raspberry Filling

1 lb semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup of cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 pints raspberries
2 tablespoons apricot preserves 

¼ cup water

Fill the tart shell with beans or pie weights. Bake in a 350 degree oven until it is golden brown.

Place the raspberries into a colander and lightly rinse. Cover with paper towels and let dry.

While the tart shell is cooling, place the chopped chocolate into a metal or heat proof bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan on medium high until scalding. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and add the vanilla. Let the chocolate sit for 5 minutes so that the chocolate melts. Using a whisk, submerged vertically in the center of the bowl, whisk in a circular motion until the cream combines with the chocolate to form a silky ganache. Pour the chocolate into the tart shell.

Starting at the outside, arrange the berries, stem side down, in concentric circle till all of the chocolate is covered as much as possible.

Heat the jam and water in a small saucepan until melted. Brush the jam mixture over the berries, coating lightly, so that they are shinny. Let the tart cool so that the chocolate sets, before serving.