Pumpkin Cheesecake and Chocolate Tart

Pies and Tarts

Yield: one 9-inch tart
Recipe: 133/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 122

    Fall is truly my favorite season. The beautiful trees changing colour as the weeks go buy, the breezy but still warm air, the walks and the crunchy leaves, the hot chocolates, sweaters and long coats. But also, I feel like baking in autumn is just that much better, for some reason. A warm tray of cookies or a hot pie coming out of the oven just taste and smell better when it is a bit more chilly, I think. In any case, someone at work mentioned that they liked pumpkin, which I do not, and I was reminded of the pumpkin tart recipe that I have flipped through and ignored several times in the cookbook throughout the years. Since I never really liked pumpkin it was not a recipe that I was interested in doing. However, as it is my challenge to complete all the recipes in this great book, I thought that now would be a great opportunity to get it out of the way and at least one person at my workplace would enjoy it.

    Oh how misguided I was. This recipe for pumpkin cheesecake chocolate tart sounds… unusual, to say the least. Pumpkin, cheesecake and chocolate?! Seems a bit much. Anna Olson says as much in her cookbook. Nonetheless, I followed the recipe as prescribed and everything went as smooth as the pumpkin cheesecake mixture. One aspect that was undeniable is how pretty this tart looks, especially with the exposed pumpkin edge underneath the chocolate ganache. The tricky thing with tarts, pies or cakes is that you cannot try it before you bring it to its final destination, as it would be very apparent that it was tried beforehand and would ruin the look of the dessert. So I just had to trust the recipe and my skills and hope that it would taste okay. I had some doubts, of course, because of the pumpkin, but I brought it anyways. I kid you not, 3/4 of the tart had disappeared within 10 minutes. I have never in my life made a dessert that was devoured so rapidly and that received so much praise. People were going out of their way specifically to come tell me how delicious it was. It appears that I severely underestimated how much people like pumpkin-flavoured desserts. People were taking pictures and saving a piece for later, it was very surprising to me. Of course, I had to taste it myself just to see, and by golly were they right. Somehow, everything fits together exactly as it should in this tart. The autumnal flavour of the pumpkin, the fragrant spices of fall, the richness of the cream cheese and the sweetness of the chocolate. What a perfect mariage of flavours and textures! Turns out I do, in fact, like pumpkin. This dessert was truly one of a kind, scrumptious and not too guilty at the same time. It made a pumpkin convert out of me, after all! This is now my official fall dessert that I will bring to all and any party or gathering that occurs during this season.

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Chocolate-Crust Tart Shell, baked and cooled
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup plain pumpkin purée
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks

Ingredients for ganache topping:

  • 2 oz (60 g) bittersweet chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Using electric beaters or a food processor, combine the cream cheese and brown sugar until the brown sugar dissolves.
  3. Stir in the pumpkin purée, cornstarch, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. Mix well to combine.
  4. Add the whole egg and egg yolks, and stir until homogenous.
  5. Pour this mixture into the cooked, cooled chocolate crust, and bake the tart on a baking tray for 20 minutes until, like a cheesecake, it is set around the outside with just a bit of a jiggle in the centre. Cool the tart to room temperature.
  6. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a metal or glass bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring with a spatula until smooth. Pour this gently on the centre of the pumpkin cheesecake, and carefully spread it toward the outside, leaving 1 inch of the pumpkin visible at the edge. Chill the tart for at least 2 hours in the pan before removing the outer ring of the pan and slicing the tart to serve.

Valerie

Cooked Fruit Pie

Pies and Tarts

Yield: one 9-inch pie
Recipe: 132/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 90

    What a weird time to be alive. In any case, baking keeps me sane and always makes me happy, so better keep calm and keep baking. As is known fact by now, I am not by any stretch of the imagination an expert at making pies. Regardless, at some point I would have to make this recipe anyways, so I finally decided to jump in and try to make this cooked fruit pie recipe. I don’t think I’ve ever made a pie where the fruit is cooked prior to baking, so I did not really know what to expect. I tried to use up what I had in my fridge and freezer, so I used a mixture of peaches, raspberries and blackberries.

    I’m not sure if I did it right, but I was imagining that the fruits would still maintain some of their shape and structure while cooking. Perhaps it is because I used frozen fruits, but the mixture was very liquid and everything kind of meshed together. It is also likely that I stirred the simmering fruits a bit too much, thus destroying them in the process. Nonetheless, I let the whole thing thicken as much as I thought reasonable, then put it in the pie shell and baked as instructed. I have to admit that, at first, I was not a fan of the pie. I found the texture to be strange and the flavour confusing. However, I think this might only have been due to the fact that I didn’t know what to expect, because all the following slices I had I found to be actually delicious and very pleasant to eat! Just warmed a little bit with some tea, it is truly a treat and a good way to get something sweet with a little buttery taste from the crust.

Ingredients:

FruitSugarCornstarchOther
6 cups blueberries1 ½ cups3 ½ tbsp3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
6 cups raspberries1 ½ cups3 ½ tbsp¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 cups pitted tart cherries1 ⅓ cups4 tbsp¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups blackberries1 ¼ cups2 tbsp1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 cups peeled and sliced peaches1 cup2 tbsp1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Directions:

  1. While the pie dough is chilling, prepare the fruit. In a saucepot, bring the fruit up to a simmer. In a bowl, stir the sugar and cornstarch together, and gently stir this with the fruits.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the simmering fruits and continue cooking until the mixture has thickened, stirring gently so as not to break down the fruit too much. Scrape the fruit into a bowl and cool the filling to room temperature. 
    • Note: the filling can be made ahead of time and chilled until ready to assemble. 
  3. Pull the pastry from the fridge 30 minutes before rolling. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a 9-inch pie plate onto a parchment-lined baking tray and dust the pie plate with flour. 
  4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the first pastry disc to just under ¼ inch thick and line the prepared pie plate. Sprinkle the oats on the bottom of the pastry shell. Gently spoon the filling into the shell.
  5. Roll out the remaining pastry disc and cut out a small hole in the centre of the pastry so that the steam can escape as it bakes. Place the rolled pastry overtop the fruit and press the edges together. Trim away any excess dough, and pinch the edges together to create a pattern.
    • Alternatively, you can make a lattice pattern with the top dough if you prefer. 
  6. Whisk the egg and water together, and brush the surface of the pastry with this mixture. Sprinkle the pie with turbinado sugar. 
  7. On the prepared baking tray, bake the pie for 12 minutes at 400°F, then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake for about 40 more minutes, until the crust is a rich golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Cool the pie for at least 2 hours before slicing. 

Valerie

Portuguese Custard Tarts

Custards, Puddings and Soufflés, Pies and Tarts

Yield: 12 tarts
Recipe: 114/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 102

DSC_2208

    Not one to waste egg yolks that I had leftover from making a Swiss buttercream, I decided to finally try making this lovely recipe for Portuguese custard tarts, also called natas here in Quebec. This recipe was actually a little bit more challenging to make. I found it quite interesting to add softened butter to the top of a rolled out pie dough to ultimately convert it to a flaky dough once baked. Pretty ingenious! This recipe is a bit more time consuming than your average cookies or tart, but I much enjoyed the process, especially rolling out the 12 littles pieces of dough individually and filling them with custard. A word to the wise, because of all the added butter, when rolling out the individual dough pieces they will become soft very quickly, so make sure that you flour the surface that you are rolling on and the you don’t overwork the dough!

    The taste of the tarts is very good and the custard itself is tasty and just right, not too eggy or creamy. However, it is evident that I did not roll out each of the 12 portions thin enough (I never know what 1/4 inch looks like and I am too lazy to take out a ruler and measure), because when baking them the dough almost doubled in size and is a bit too thick. As a result, my tarts don’t have the pretty overhangs to be expected based on the recipe and the dough-to-custard ratio is a bit too high. Nonetheless, they taste very good. If I do these again I would just make sure to roll them out thin enough so that I don’t have very thick tarts.

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Double-Crust Pie Dough, wrapped in one piece and chilled
  • 5 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons +1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Pull the dough from the fridge 30 minutes before rolling. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the entire piece of pie dough into a rectangular shape that is about 20 inches by 12 inches long (50 x 30 cm), and 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Evenly spread 5 tablespoons of the softened room temperature butter over the surface of the dough, and roll up the pastry from the short end. Wrap and chill the dough while preparing the filling.
  3. Heat the cream and milk in a pot over medium heat to just below a simmer.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla extract.
  5. While whisking the egg mixture, slowly pour in the hot cream, then pour everything back in the pot. Whisk the custard constantly over medium heat until it thickens and just begins to bubble, about 4 minutes.
  6. Strain the custard into a bowl and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Cool the custard on the counter at room temperature, then chill for 1½ hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
  8. Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut 12 discs from the log. Roll out each portion on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Trim with a 5-inch round cutter and press each portion into the muffin tin so that the edges of each tart shell are about 1/2 inch above the edge of the muffin cup.
  9. Spoon the chilled custard into each pastry.
  10. Bake the tarts for 35 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the custard has browned on top somewhat. Cool the tarts in the tin before removing to serve at room temperature or chilled.

Valerie

Mocha Latte Mousse Tart

Pies and Tarts

Yield: one 9-inch tart
Recipe: 112/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 119

20190803_214546

   So many months have gone by without me baking from the cookbook, or almost nothing at all for that matter. My boyfriend was on a no-sugar diet (self-imposed!) and thus I had much left motivation to bake something just for myself. However, I recently rewatched Julie & Julia and felt inspired to go Back to Baking (hehe…), which was how this blog started in the first place. As my boyfriend is now eating sugar again, thank the dessert gods, I asked him what he would like me to bake for him and he was keen on trying the mocha latte mousse tart. I do not like coffee at all, but I did it anyways because love.

    This tart is very pretty-looking and quite fun to make. I enjoyed making the different components of the tart and the mousse was particularly enjoyable to whip up. The different textures (crunchy shell, soft ganache and airy mousse) also make it a pleasure to eat. I chose to not add cinnamon because I thought that it wasn’t necessary and honestly at the end I forgot about it because we just wanted to try a piece. A point to note is that I found that the ganache layer was a bit thin relative to the crust and the mousse. You could probably multiply the ingredients for the ganache layer by 1.5x or even double it if you would like a thicker ganache layer. Perhaps I am biased due to my preference of chocolate over coffee! Even though I don’t like coffee, I still liked this tart. I wouldn’t have too many pieces of it because the flavour is quite pronounced, but I enjoyed it anyways. My coffee-loving partner simply adored it and did a lot of damage to the tart in a matter of days. A must-try if you know anyone that enjoys coffee and/or dessert!

Ingredients:

Ingredients for ganache layer:

Ingredients for latte mousse:

  • 2 tablespoons hot, strong coffee
  • 1 ½ tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 teaspoons gelatin powder
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • Ground cinnamon, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. For the ganache layer, place the chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small pot to just below a simmer, then pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then gently stir the mixture until the chocolate has melted.
  2. Pour the ganache into the cooled crust and spread it evenly across the bottom. Chill while preparing the latte mousse.
  3. For the latte mousse, stir the hot coffee with the instant coffee in a large bowl until it is melted.
  4. In a small bowl, stir the gelatin powder and cold water and let sit for 1 minute.
  5. Add the gelatin mixture to the hot coffee and stir until dissolved. If it does not dissolve completely, re-heat the coffee over low heat.
  6. Stir in the condensed milk and vanilla extract, and cool to room temperature.
  7. Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the cream to a soft peak and fold this into the cooled coffee mixture.
    •  Note: The mousse will be very fluid. This is normal.
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and chill in the pan for at least 3 hours. Sprinkle the top of the tart with cinnamon, if desired, before removing the outer ring of the pan and serving. Enjoy!

20190803_212614

Valerie

Vanilla Crème Brûlée Tart

Pies and Tarts

Yield: one 9-inch tart
Recipe: 111/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 109

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    The other day I had a lot of cream in my fridge and was looking for a recipe that would allow me to use it up. I found this recipe and thought that it sounded delicious – crème brûlée in the form of a tart, so more portions?! I’m in! I was not disappointed with this recipe. The vanilla flavour is very present but does not overwhelm the caramel crème brûlée flavour, rather, they are in perfect harmony. The texture of the tart itself is very pleasant and soft, and with the added crunch of the crème brûlée it is very pleasant. We found that this tart makes for a perfect late night snack! Definitely recommend.

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Sable Tart Shell, baked and cooled
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup + ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whipping cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Place the tray containing the baked and cooled tart shell on  a baking tray lined with parchment or foil.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks, whole egg and ⅓ cup sugar together.
  3. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the egg mixture and whisk them in. If using vanilla extract, whisk it in the egg mixture.
  4. Pour in the whipping cream while whisking the eggs. Pour this carefully into the pastry shell and use a paper towel to dab away any air bubbles that are on the surface of the custard.
  5. Carefully carry the baking tray to the oven and place it on the centre shelf. Place a dish filled with 1 ½ cups of boiling water near the tart pan. It can be placed below, above or besides the tart pan.
  6. Bake the tart for 40 minutes, until the tart is set but about 3 inches in the centre still have a little jiggle. Cool the tart to room temperature before chilling it in the pan for at least 2 hours.
  7. When you are ready to serve that tart, sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of sugar evenly over the top of the tart. Use a butane kitchen torch to carefully melt and then caramelize this sugar. Once it cools for 1 minute, it will be crunchy.

 

Valerie