chocolate – cranberry tart

I LOVE this recipe.  LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Layers of rich chocolate ganache and tart cranberry curd, topped with fluffy whipped cream; all a-top a light and flakey pastry.

Mother of pearl!

One bite will make you *oh so* happy.  The kind of happy that only chocolate, cranberries and whipped cream can make you.

It’s the kind of tart that not only tastes perfectly delicious; it looks gorgeous as well.  This should be on your holiday baking list.

It’s not even an overly complicated recipe.

Pastry dough.  Easy.

Chocolate ganache.  Easy.

Cranberry curd.  Easy.

Whipped cream.  Ridiculously easy.

All you need is a little time.  Time to blind bake your pastry dough.  Time to allow your ganache to set.  Time to top the ganache with the curd and allow that to set.  Once all those things are done … whip the heavy cream and top the tart.

Seriously … with the curd and pastry dough made in advance, this tart took me only 2 hours to complete from start to finish (and the prep work of curd and dough the night before was a total of 30 minutes).

You see?!  So little effort for such a spectacularly beautiful tart!

Imagine … presenting this to your friends and family.  The oohs and aahs …. and that’s before you give them a slice.

That’s when the real praise will begin.

I started by making the cranberry curd (thank you Kitchen Confidante for the original recipe)… that way it cooled in the fridge overnight and was ready for use when I was baking and assembling the tart.

chocolate – cranberry tart

ingredients:

basic pastry dough

cranberry curd

Combine the cranberries and water in a small saucepan, and cook, covered over medium heat ( juice and zest of an orange added to this step would be brilliant).  The cranberries will start to pop as they cook.  That’s when you know it’s ready to be taken off the heat.

Pass the cranberries through a strainer – you want to keep the liquid.  Use a spoon to push the cranberries through, remembering to scrape the underside of the strainer and keeping all those little bits for the curd.  Allow to cool slightly. 

bakers note: toss out the cranberry skin that stayed in the top of your strainer.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the yolks and egg until combined.  Add the sugar, and continue to whisk.  Add the cranberry purée to the saucepan and place over medium heat, stirring constantly.  The mixture will start to thicken, you don’t want it to start to boil, but you do want the curd to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Remove from heat.

Whisk in the cubes of butter, ensuring that everything is well incorporated.

Pass the curd through a strainer, cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool in the fridge.

While it cools you can make your pastry dough, allowing it to rest for at least one hour before rolling it out.

Once that’s all done … the really fun part begins.

Heat your oven to 350 F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out your pastry dough.  Line your tart pan (you’ll notice that I rolled the dough out larger than the circumference of my tart pan); line it with parchment paper, and fill with dried beans.

Blind back on the lower rack of your oven for 20 minutes.  Remove the parchment paper and dried beans from the tart pan, return to the oven for a further 10 minutes of baking on the middle rack.

Once done.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

bakers note: I used the entire batch of chocolate ganache … to have a bit more of a balanced tart (aka to taste the cranberry curd more) use less.

chocolate ganache

1 c. heavy cream

splash of vegetable oil

8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

In a small saucepan, gently heat the cream and splash of oil.  You don’t want it to boil … just simmer.  Pour the heavy cream over the dark chocolate, using a spatula to stir the chocolate and cream together.  The ganache will thicken and smooth as you stir.

Pour it directly into the pre-baked tart shell.  Allow to cool and set (I usually put it in the fridge for this stage).

Once the chocolate ganache has set … top it with the cranberry curd.

I ended up returning the tart to the oven and baked it for a further 10 minutes at this stage. Middle rack at 350 F.  Once that was done, I cooled the tart on a wire rack.

whipped cream

3/4 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. powdered sugar

In the bowl of the stand-mixer, using your whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream at a fast speed, adding the powdered sugar.  You want the whipped cream to be stir enough that it holds its shape when piped on top of the tart … but you don’t want to over-whip it.

Once you get to that stage, fill a piping bag with a large star tip, and pipe the entire tart.  Working from the outside in … until the entire chocolate – cranberry tart is covered.

A thing of beauty to look at … and to eat.  The *perfect* kind of dessert.

Store this tart in the fridge.  Most of it disappeared within a few hours of slicing into it … but I did manage to keep a couple of slices for a few days.  It tasted just as good as the day I made it.

spiced brown sugar cookies

Ok … so I totally meant to post this recipe before Christmas.

It’s true! 

I made it for my Christmas cookie exchange at work,  and I even shared it on Rogers Daytime Ottawa on the 21st (Lois, Tom and I had a blast making these) … with the intention to post the recipe the next day.

Only … I got caught up in some of my holiday baking (scones, monkey bread, cranberry orange upside down cakes, sticky buns, squares, cheesecakes, and lots of lemon meringue tarts) … and blogging was the last thing on my mind.

Until today. 

I realized … better late than never with this recipe … it makes a really delightful little cookie … full of spice, a little sweet … a little crunchy yet still soft in the centre.

Mother of pearl I heart this cookie.

Plus … it’s really (and I mean REALLY) good as the base for a lemon cheesecake (the spices and the lemon are a great contrast).    

You see … I’ve re-functioned the cookie for post holidaysjust don’t cover the cookies in the powdered sugar / cinnamon mixture.   

This is another Donna Hay recipe.  I know … my love of Ms. Hay continues (as does my love of her ipad app) … and these cookies certainly solidify her awesomeness. 

I think you’ll like them too.  

spiced brown sugar cookies

ingredients:

1 c. powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 1/4 c. flour

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp baking soda

120 g butter, room temperature

1 c. brown sugar

1/3 c. corn syrup

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Place the icing sugar and ground cinnamon in a bowl and mix well to combine.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer (or with your handheld mixer) beat together the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup until pale and fluffy – about 3 minutes at medium speed (don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time).

Add the egg and vanilla to the batter – beating at medium speed to combine well.

Turn off the mixer: add the flour, baking soda and spices, mix in until incorporated.

Roll small amounts of the cookie dough into balls – about the size of a small chocolate truffle.  Place on a cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper), leaving room to spread. 

Bake for 8 minutes – rotating halfway through baking.  You’ll know they are ready when they are slightly cracked. 

Allow the cookies to sit on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.  You want the cookies to still be slightly warm when you coat them in the icing sugar mixture.If you’re making these cookies for a cheesecake base – this is where the recipe ends.  Simply allow to cool, pulse in the food processor to a fine crumb, add some melted butter and mix to combine.  Press into the base of your cheesecake pan.  You won’t be disappointed.  I promise.

However … feel free to make these cookies as they were originally intended … Put the cookies (a few at a time) in the powdered sugar / cinnamon mixture – gently tossing the cookies until they are coated in the sugar.

Place them on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Makes 84 truffle sized cookies.  Absolutely delightful cookies!

I’m glad these cookies are my first blog entry in 2012 … a recipe I truly love to share with all of you :0) 

Enjoy … et bonne année!

higgledy-piggledy cranberry-orange cake

Or better known as a cranberry – orange upside down cake :0)

No matter what you call this … it’s AWESOME.  Actually … it’s FANTASTICALLY DELIGHTFUL!!!!

Yes … writing it all in uppercase letters will hopefully convince everyone to try this cake for the holidays.  It’ll be a great addition to your holiday spread … the tart cranberries and the sweet orange … with that brown sugar caramel glaze … mother of pearl.  This one is a keeper.

I first made it a couple of weeks ago … we were celebrating my uncle’s birthday and quite a few people came into town … my mother, her sister, her brother, my brother, my cousin (a grand total of 12 people around the table) … it was a Dumas family reunion of sorts … and one thing the Dumas Clan loves … is dessert.

My grandmother always baked up the perfect dessert … so I’ve taken it upon myself to keep her memory alive and come up with something I think she would like.

This is one of those recipes.

And the best part … it is quick and easy.  Simple really.

I promise.

After all … if you tuned into ctv ottawa morning live yesterday you would have seen me whip up the batter with Kurt Stoodley in about 5 minutes … ok … for reasons of accuracy … it does take longer than 5 minutes … but this is still a quick and easy one.

Even Kurt felt confident enough to whip this up at Christmas.  And to be honest … I hadn’t fully committed to making this recipe yesterday until about 60 minutes before I had to be in the studio … and I was able to make it, bake it, transport it, and serve it in just under 75 minutes.

Not bad.  And it makes for a pretty funny story.

I’ve made this as both a regular 9 – inch round cake and as a bundt cake (it resembles a holiday wreath) … both work really well.  The bundt is great because it doesn’t need as much baking time … and I needed to get that cake in and out of the oven as quickly as possible yesterday!

bakers note … if using a regular round pan … don’t use your  spring form pan … that’s not such a great idea … the caramel will likely leak out of the bottom and cause a mess in your oven.  We learned that lesson when I made that mistake for my uncle’s dinner.   :0)

higgledy-piggledy cranberry – orange cake

ingredients:

topping

1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 package cranberries, fresh or frozen (don’t thaw if using frozen ones)

batter

1/2 c. butter, room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
1 orange, zest and juice, use the entire orange.
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. buttermilk

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.  Spray your pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

Make your topping.

In a pan over low heat, melt the butter.  Remove from heat and add the brown sugar.  Stir the brown sugar – butter until you get that wet sand texture.

Spread the brown sugar mixture along the base of the pan and then spread the cranberries on top of that.

In the bowl of your stand – mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the orange zest, eggs and orange juice and beat again until everything is incorporated.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the mix, beat until just incorporated.

Add all the buttermilk.

Once slightly incorporated, add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat everything together (always at a slow speed once you start adding flour to your batter).

That’s it.  Spoon the batter over the cranberries, take a spatula to smooth it out and then bake.

If it’s a bundt pan it should take between 40 – 45 minutes.  If it’s a regular round pan it should be closer to 60 minutes.  I always check a little before, just to make sure.  You want the batter to be firm but bounce when you touch it with your finger.

Allow to cool in the pan for 15 – 20 minutes on a wire rack.

Run a knife around the outside of the cake and then invert it on a serving plate.  I find that sometimes not all the cranberries come off – I just take them off the bottom of the pan and place them back on top of the cake.

Then dig in and enjoy.

I don’t think I’ve ever had so many requests for a recipe …  or for a cake.  I’ll be making this one again tomorrow and over the weekend.  It’s a real winner!