June 21, 2011
Seems like just yesterday when I was ranting and raving about how hard schedules are for me, and how I need to always keep in mind that the reason behind my blogging is the fun-factor and not the need to have constant pressure applied to my life in areas that are normally relaxing. Oh, right, it was JUST yesterday that I declared the end of Variety Flour Thursday and a return to baking as the cathartic and wonderful activity it once was. Even after all these epiphanies and vows and admissions, come Tuesday morning I’m putzing around my kitchen, rummaging through ingredients, not feeling like making anything at all, and thinking, “What the heck am I going to make for breakfast this morning?! It’s Breakfast Tuesday and I have zero plans! Help!”
I remembered the pint of strawberries in my fridge and, lacking any sort of motivation whatsoever, typed “strawberries” and “breakfast” into the google machine. Lo and behold! A recipe for baked strawberries! I’ve never even heard of such a thing! Look! There are hardly any steps at all! The author of the recipe recommends making this dish at the end of summer, or when your strawberries are on their last legs, languishing in your fridge, but I had to try it out. If you are able to get the strawberries into a pan without eating them first, I’d give these guys a go.
I realize that baked strawberries lend themselves to dessert-type dishes, but I felt like you could eat them with most breakfast foods as well, such as pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, yogurt, etc. And I was right. Not only was Breakfast Tuesday accomplished, but Tuesday dessert as well! The longer you let the strawberries cool after coming out of the oven, the more syrupy the strawberries become, and I can’t wait to try the syrup over ice cream, or milk, or really any sort of delicious dairy product that comes my way!
(Recipe adapted from A Life (Time) of Cooking)
1 pint of strawberries – they don’t have to be hulled if you prefer not to do so
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. If hulling strawberries, do so, then place them in a single layer in a flat-bottom glass/pyrex baking dish.
3. Sprinkle sugar and lavender over strawberries.
4. Bake strawberries for 30 minutes.
Note: The strawberry syrupy goodness thickens the longer you let the strawberries cool. By the time my strawberries came to room temperature, I had a nice strawberry syrup that I can’t wait try with all sorts of things… or mainly ice cream.
Store extra strawberries refrigerated in an airtight container up to a week (that is just a guess, judging how long my homemade preserves last in the fridge, and I tend to gobble jam up pretty quickly).
March 21, 2011
If you’re reading my blog, you are either a recipient of the multitude of baked goods produced in my kitchen from week to week or bake enough to completely understand how quickly sweets build up in your kitchen and freezer (and belly). I’m always looking for ways to keep baking while making sure everything I bake gets eaten. My friends understand my conundrum, and one in particular presented me with a book dedicated just to baking in small batches! She loves me, she really loves me! Or is just very sick of getting bombarded with over the top sweets and ridiculous taste inquiries. I hope it’s the former. Anyway, it certainly beats having to do math when all I want to do is eat something gooey and fresh from the oven.
I decided to post this recipe, for chocolate lavender cream tarts, for a variety of reasons, even though dried lavender is an ingredient not usually seen on the spice rack. Lavender makes a great addition to glazes and adds a little something something to cake batter. Apparently it’s also amazing with chocolate! I needed to try this tart; it called to me. Another reason for posting this recipe is that it might make a great dessert for those playing the dating game. It’s decadent, plates well, is slightly out of the flavor norm, and, well, is totally adorable.
Chocolate Lavender Cream Tarts
(Recipe adapted from Small Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers)
Yields 2 tarts, baked in 4 ½ inch individual tart pans with removable bottoms
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tablespoon honey (lavender honey, if you have it!)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
For chocolate filling:
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon dried lavender (McCormick sells dried lavender blossoms. I found them in the spice section of a big name grocery store.)
1 ½ ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips*
½ ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped*
1 tablespoon honey (again, lavender honey if you have it)
1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt
*My kitchen scale is not digital, so it’s hard to measure anything under 2 ounces accurately. I used 2 tablespoons chocolate chips and 1 scant tablespoon unsweetened chocolate. Be warned, however, because I did not do any math here. My tart came out fine, so my guess is that you can
Sifted confectioners’ sugar or lightly whipped cream
1. Move an oven rack to the center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, mix melted butter, honey, granulated sugar, and salt with a spatula or fork. Add flour and stir until blended. Dough will be crumbly, just mix well enough to make sure all ingredients (especially the flour) are incorporated.
3. Divide dough evenly between two individual tart pans with removable bottoms. Press dough evenly in the pans, along the bottom and up the sides, until you feel like you can’t compress the dough any more. Prick bottoms with fork.
4. Place tart pans with pressed crust on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven until dry and just starting to brown, 7 to 8 minutes.
5. If crust puffs, press gently to release air underneath (as happened with one of my crusts). Let cool in tart pans on wire cooling rack while you prepare chocolate filling.
6. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F. (Being paranoid, I made sure the oven was at 325 degrees F on the oven thermometer before baking entire tart. The recipe didn’t specify whether you had to have an exact temperature or just make sure the oven was turned down.)
7. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring cream and lavender blossoms to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes.
8. Place chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl. Strain lavender infused cream over chocolate, catching all the lavender in the strainer. Stir until chocolate is melted completely.
9. Stir honey, egg yolk, and salt in to the chocolate mixture until well blended.
10. Pour equal amounts of filling between baked pastry crusts.
11. Bake filled tarts in preheated oven until centers of tarts are just set, 14 to 15 minutes.
12. Transfer tarts to a wire rack and let them cool completely before removing from tart pans.
Tarts will store at room temperature for up to three days in an airtight container, and maybe longer in the fridge, though I highly doubt you will need to store them for long!