RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow

Thoughts on Food, Words from the Heart, 'The Little Winged Ones'….

Tag: Pastry

Blackberry Pie

T has been hinting about when was I going to use the blackberries in the freezer and asking what I was going to make with them.  I need to make some more blackberry balsamic vinegar… we have consumed the lot that I made last summer and the blackberry syrup was finished up right after the New Year.   Since each was such a hit I was going to repeat exactly what I had done this past season.  I sure hope that we have another big blackberry chop again this year!

T had some errands he needed to run and I decided to surprise him with a blackberry pie.  He loves pie of any kind… especially fruit pies.  He was so kind in giving up some of his fishing time to help pick blackberries last summer… I have to be honest here… he picked most of the blackberries. 

Blackberry Filling:

  •         5 cups Blackberries, fresh or frozen
  •         1 cup white sugar
  •         ¼ cup brown sugar
  •         ¼ cup flour
  •         ¼ cup quick cooking Tapioca Pearls
  •         just a little fresh ground nutmeg (does not take much)
  •         pinch of Lemon Zest
  •         small pieces of cold butter (about 1 tablespoon)
  •         1 Egg beaten with just a dash of cold Milk
  •         A little Sugar for dusting on the pie crust

I mix or whisk all the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  Put part of the blackberries in a very large bowl.  Spread about ½ cup plus of the dry mixture on top of some of the berries and toss a little, add some more berries and sprinkle some more of the dry ingredients over the top of the berries until you have used up all the berries and dry ingredients.  I do not mix the mixture too much; you want the berries to stay whole as much as possible.  Set this aside to absorb and mix together on its own while you get the tart ready with the bottom crust:

Pie Dough:

  •         3 ½ cups All Purpose Flour, plus extra for dusting
  •         1 cup Icing Sugar, sifted
  •         1 cup plus 2 tablespoons good-quality cold Butter cut into small cubes
  •         1 Lemon zested
  •         Vanilla Beans ~ scrape from one Vanilla Bean
  •         2 large Eggs, beaten
  •         splash Milk
  •        All Purpose Flour for dusting
  •         Sugar for top of pre-baked pie

I doubled the recipe, wanted to do some extra details on pie and would freeze any leftovers and use for the next time I do some little tarts.  Makes for less work next time around!

Sift the flour, powder sugar into a bowl.  Pour into your food processor.  Add the cubes of butter a few at a time pulse a few times and then add more cubes of butter until you have all the butter added.  The mixture should be crumbly, pea size.  You can at this point add different flavors to the mix if you are so inclined.  I am adding only the zest of lemon at this point.  I mix the eggs, milk and vanilla beans and then add to the processor.   Gently work the mixture together until you have a ball of dough, you do not want to overwork the dough.

Flour your counter lightly and place dough on top.  Pat it into a flat round, flour it lightly, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it into the refrigerator to rest for at least one hour.

When ready to use put flour on counter and flour the top of the dough disk and cut in half; roll out until about 1∕8 inch thick.  Place in tart pan and fit the dough, take the rolling-pin over top of tart pan with dough over hang to cut off, save the extra dough that you have rolled away for making dough pieces to decorate the top of the pie.   Roll out another half of dough for the pie top.  Once I had the dough rolled out I took my cookie press/cutter and with just a little pressure cut through dough to leave a little of the pattern.  I rolled the dough onto my rolling-pin.

Once I have the filling in the pan, I put several small pats of butter on top of the filling and then covered the top with the pastry dough on my rolling-pin.  Once I have the top on the pie, I placed some leaves (one side brushed with egg mixture to glue to top pastry) around the top and then  I brush the beaten egg and milk mixture all over the top.   Sprinkle a little sugar on and put in the oven (on a baking sheet) that has been preheated to 375˚.  I bake for about 40-45 minutes and start watching depending on the oven it could take a few more minutes.  Once it is nicely golden brown it is done. 

T asked as soon as he walked in what I was baking and took a peek.  The look on his face was worth every bit of the effort to make this pie.  It was delicious….

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Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Tart

Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Tart

With a Short ~ A Life Time Full of Senses

(Recipe follows my short)

It seems strange to me that something as simple as just the beginning notes of a song or the slight smell of something cooking how many memories can be nudged to the forefront of one’s mind.  Those things that happened in times past are brought to present time in a blink of an eye.   It does not take much to rattle ones thoughts through our senses.   The senses we each have (usually) of sight, touch, taste, smell, and what we hear are markers in memory from our everyday lives.   Senses are normal functions each a way of us processing information and each sense participates and operates in our perception and the storage of this information.

In addition to our traditionally recognized five senses we too have the ability to sense temperatures, too the sense in knowing where our limbs are oriented in space, we know when we have pain, our balance (inter ear,) and to know oneself and the emotions, that make knowing if we are happy, sad or even having a bad hair day.  We can perceive what time it is, how fast we are going, the direction in which we are going and so much more.  Each and all make up how we relate to everyone and everything in our lives.   What a wonder it would be if humans used all of their senses, I wonder how many we are not aware of?

It is amazing the wonder of smells and tastes of which both summons one for the other.  When you think about it our sense of taste is really about our sense of smell.  It would be hard with one and not the other and life would be rather dull without either, more so once I think about it.   When I am eating Shrimp Fettuccini in Alfredo Sauce one of my favorites the smell is delicious and too the taste is delicious, do they go hand in hand.  Does the smell dictate the taste or vice versa? Or do they work more independently?  If I like the smell will I like the taste or the possibility of me trying something new by smelling first, if it smells good will I at least take one bite just to see.  I do not think I have eaten something that smelled good and then tasted bad.   Although, that is not saying I would like the taste of perfume.

Then I have those times when I really need to “Come to my Senses!”   Each one of my senses is collecting information about everything that surrounds me from when I was just an infant to present-day and the data is stored and brought to the forefront each time I perceive or recognize a sense that uses anyone of my five plus senses.  They too collect and detect changes within my own body, how much of our knowledge comes from senses?

I remember as a very young girl taking my grandfather’s hand as we walked to the city park.  I remember how strong it felt, you could feel the muscles and the skin was taunt and thick and too he had callous on his hands from hard work.  His hand to me was very large. When he was in his nineties as I held his hand it was so much thinner, the muscles long gone the skin now relaxed and thinned and the callous were no more.  The size was not dramatic any more.  I had not forgotten his hand as I had felt it years ago and have not forgotten his hand of age years later.  Each was imprinted in my memory from touch.  Too, his smell that never changed of pipe tobacco and leather.  He has been long gone now for over thirty-five years and when I smell the same pipe tobacco as he smoked it makes me take the time to think of him.  It always will.

When one thinks of the past, it conjures up everything that makes up the full of what your life has been to date.  Your family, friends, your friends’ family, school, and people you knew, people who influenced your life in one way or another and too those that just passed through our lives each and all have contributed to the wholeness of whom we are at present.  Think of all the places you have visited and or lived and worked, and even those that you have dreamt about  (I can dream about a place from recall of a book or brochure and have a mind’s eye to what I ‘perceive’ the actual is until I see it in person, then  the realized is what clears the thoughts of what was perceived unless scents and such were used in description they would still be the same)  each and all contributes to your senses in memory that have made up your life to date. 

The loves in your life, your past loves and too those loved ones of today are each held in memory through one sense or another.  The loved one departed, some long ago others in the present, each and all loved and missed none the less.  The past also invokes so much through thoughts of the songs you sung or listened to or the song that you danced to and with whom. What you have physically and some mentally touched along the way you have hung on to, never to let go. 

I need not be standing by a rose-bush in full bloom to remember the silken feel of its petals, or to see the color of its faint veins nor does it need be in present form for me to remember its delicate scent.   Taking a rose scented bath makes me feel the rose-bush is right there with me.  Too, just in thought it can provoke the mind to remember the data left from my sense of sight and smell from long ago.

Since spring made her presence known this year the scents of her spring bulbs, flowering trees and shrubs have magnified what my mind has held on too for the length of my lifetime, each scent well-remembered, those new scents put to memory as soon as acknowledged through smell.  The scent of bread baking, chocolate tarts and the grill all recently lead me to ponder the thoughts of how incredible each of my senses are.  I have always been fascinated with ‘senses’ since I was just a child. 

Each sense defines to the immeasurable amount of how we perceive and the ways in which we live our lives.  What are likes and dislikes are and what lulls us into bliss.   I have lived in more than six states, each place I have had roses, I plant my flower gardens to bring the scents that I love and too those that mean much to me or for just plain desire and pleasure.  The same with what we eat, or those of us who love to cook, I like to make bread not only to enjoy but to have the comforting smells of home-baked breads filling my home.   Our senses help to determine so many decisions, what we eat, where we go, what we read, what we listen to, physical love and so much more. 

Tomorrow I think I will listen to a long sonata while letting the sun heat my skin as I leisurely lounge  in the chase and  indulge myself with a chocolate caramel tart that I enjoyed baking, knowing full well how much I will truly take pleasure in each one.  All of my senses I will indeed be using, I will see, smell, taste, touch, and hear and so much more….

Here is the recipe for my Chocolate Macadamia Nut Tarts, enjoy….

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Tarts

Adapted from smittenkitchen ~ Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust

These Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Tarts waken up yours sense of smell while they are cooking, they too wake up your taste buds while you are eating, they look more than just inviting, the texture while you are savoring this stimulating (yes!) tart that is overwhelming and gratifying, and you will indeed hear ahhhh of delight from those that are eating. The tarts use each and every one of our senses to the highest degree!

This tart is more like a brownie, I agree with Deb the tart is almost like a crackly brownie and the center being more like a truffle.  I too loath ginger, so Deb and I are off to a good start… This Chocolate tart is very extreme in chocolate taste, it definitely is very rich and I could only eat a very small slice (per sitting!)

One thing I did different besides the Macadamia Nuts was I drizzled caramel sauce  on top of the filling once it was in the shell before I baked.  The sauce is the same caramel sauce that is used in my Brioche Bread Pudding recipe.  Then I scattered the nuts on top.

I used my regular tart pastry and am glad I did.  It is always very flakey; it is not overly rich and is perfect for this tart that has all the intensity of the rich dark chocolate filling you could want.  The pastry is very simple and seems to be full-proof.

So I used no ginger crust and no ginger seasoning of any kind in the filling.  I drizzled some of the caramel sauce on top of the filling and I did use Macadamia Nuts mixed in and scattered on top and what a wonderful mix.  It is melt in your mouth good, but remember this is a very rich, indulgent dessert and a little goes a long way.  My six-inch tarts were cut into fourths and were the perfect size and everyone enjoyed each and every bite.  They agree, per sitting a quarter is plenty of this decadent dessert, this is not saying that it does not call your name for a return the next day….

Deb made a large tart, I decided to make six 6 inch size tarts and the amount of filling was perfect.  You can go by smittenkitchen if you would like to do the ginger crust for this tart.

For my pastry recipe please click.   Follow recipe all the way through the pre-baking and sitting aside for when needed.  You will have more than enough pastry for a large tart or small tarts with some left over.  You can refrigerate for a few days or put in the freezer any leftover dough.

Chocolate Tart Filling:

                Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4  cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I recommend using!)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup chopped macadamia nuts, several tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts to scatter on top of each tart

Soft whipped cream, for serving.

Caramel Sauce dizzled on if it calls to you, like it did me!

Pastry for tarts.

To make Chocolate Tart Filling:

Combine the finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and heavy whipping cream in a heavy medium saucepan.  Whisk on low heat until chocolate is melted, mixed and smooth.  Whisk the egg yolks, egg, sugar, flour, ground black pepper, salt and cinnamon in bowl just until blended.

Gradually whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until smooth and well blended. Mix in the chopped macadamia nuts.  Now pour the chocolate filling into the pre-cooked tart shell(s.) I fill to just below the rim so they do not run over while baking.  Scatter a few chopped Macadamia nuts over the top of each tart.

Bake the tarts (or large tart if that is what you are making) until the filling is slightly puffed from center to edge of tart(s), a soft center set, about 30 minutes.  Once the tart(s) are done transfer to rack and cool tart(s) in pan(s) for twenty minutes.   Gently remove the tart(s) from pan(s) and cool tart(s) completely.  It is about this time after smelling it cook that I want to go ahead and take a bite or two, no one would miss one of the tarts.  Better not!  Wait until you smell the deep chocolate scent filling your home as it bakes, it makes you so hungry…

Cut the tart(s) into thin wedges and serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream for those pleasure-seeking souls, the mix is heavenly….

As Deb said you can make the chocolate tart(s) ahead of time, 1 day ahead. Cover tart and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.  Thanks for the wonderful recipe Deb!  It sure was a hit….

Pecan Tarts

Southern Pecan Tarts

 Southern Pecan Tarts

 

This past Christmas family from Texas sent a big 5 pound bag of ‘Texas Size Pecans.’    Beautiful fresh pecans, they were solid and the halves were huge (Texas Size) and there were only a  few broken pieces in the bottom of the bag where you would normally find more.   A million recipes went through my head all at once.  First thought was Pecan Pie or Tarts, than a maybe a variety of spiced pecans from sweet (maple)  to a hot kick habanero blend or  I could coat them in chocolate or…. muffins, bars, and breads each and all came flooding into mind all at once.   I just could not keep up with all the recipes that popped into my head at first sight of this large bag of pecans.   This past weekend I finally decided to make my tarts.  I had not made Pecan Tarts in years.  They were a hit.  I am lucky to have three left to take a photo of.   This recipe is easy and it has the flakiest pastry and the true richness of pecan pie can be had from first bite to last.   There is no need for a topping on this tart ~ it holds its own…. (Thank you Carol and Steve!!)

 

Pecan Tarts

Ingredients:

     Pastry:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1-2 tablespoons ice cold water

     Filling

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½  cup light corn syrup
  • 5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • Seeds from 4” vanilla bean
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Enough whole pecans  to top each tart

Directions:

Pastry:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F   (I preheat when I am starting to roll out the     pastry for the tarts)

Place flour, sugar and butter in food processor.  Pulse until pastry is coarse crumbs, pea size is good.  Add egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of ice cold water and pulse until dough comes together, you can add a little more water as needed until the dough comes together.

Pat the dough into disk shape and put into Ziploc bag and refrigerate for thirty minutes or so or until you need.   Any leftover pastry can be kept, frozen for up to 1 month. 

Divide pastry into forth’s.  Roll out pastry to the thickness of ¼ inch.  Line the tart pan (with removable bases) with the pastry.   Once pastry is in place I take my rolling pen and roll over the top of the tart pan to cut off excess pastry.  Continue to roll out pastry until you have lined 6 ~ 4” tart pans. 

Line the pastry shells with parchment paper and fill with baking weights or you can use dried beans.

Bake 10 minutes.  Remove pastry shells from oven.  Remove the weights and paper and set aside.

Filling:

Beat the eggs, add the brown sugar, light corn syrup and vanilla beans and beat together with wire whisk.  Stir in butter and chopped pecans and combine thoroughly.  I use a ladle to fill each tart; there is just enough mixture to fill 6~ 4” pastry shells.   Arrange the pecan halves in a pattern on top. 

Place all six tarts in a jelly roll pan and place in oven.   Bake the tarts for 20~25 minutes, until the pastry is lightly browned and the middle of the tarts are set.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before unmolding.  

You can serve with whipped cream or I love a small serving of vanilla ice cream.  But like I said, you do not need a topping; these hold their own and are already very, very rich first bite to last….

  Southern Pecan Tarts

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