Strawberry Archives - Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Let’s Gel, Panna Cotta and Strawberries Three Ways

February 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Cookies, Daring Bakers, Dessert, Fruit, Jams/Jellies, Puddings | 74 Comments
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First I want to start by saying that I’m officially making this a very late Valentine’s Day post. I didn’t have one this year, so since this dessert is all red and pink and soft and creamy, it’s ideal. Let’ pretend, ‘Ooohh, hearts, love, kisses!’. Now onto the challenge.

Ahh…the things you can do with a few gelatin leaves or gelatin powder are endless.  You can turn just about anything with liquid into a gelatin meal or dessert. – not that you’d want to, but you could!  Jellied grits, jellied marinara sauce (thoughts of aspic..oh, yum!), jellied liquid laundry detergent, jellied…ummm, errrr.

The actual name for this luscious dessert is Panna Cotta (meaning –  cooked cream.  It’s an eggless cream and/or milk custard stabilized with gelatin).  Eighty-six the laundry detergent gelee – panna cotta is cream GELEE (I’ve also been known to call it JELLO cream) whic is a good gelee, as long as it isn’t too jellied.

Phew, wasn’t that annoying?  I’m sure you can tell I’m in the midst of sort of a writer’s block.

Triple Strawberry (Mousse, Gelee, Coulis) Vanilla Bean Yogurt Panna Cotta Parfaits

Speaking of ‘too GELEE’D’ did any of you see the season of Top Chef where Marisa, a pastry chef, which is a rarity and a hinderance on Top Chef, was so pumped and thrilled when she was able to finally make a dessert?  She huffed and puffed, bragged about how she had this one in the bag etc.   The dessert she had to make was, you guessed it, panna cotta!  Now, I’m not a professionally trained pastry chef, but panna cotta is pretty simple to make, so I would have been chuffed too.

Well.if you saw it, you know what happened – she botched the panna cotta – it was hard and rubbery.  She claimed it turned out fine, but when challenged via the obvious, a spoonful by each judge, she blamed everything/one but herself.  Maybe it was the gelatin or temperature of the kitchen OR the planets had not aligned in a way that turns out creamy, soft panna cotta aka every excuse in the book.

I digress, I couldn’t help referring to that moment since it always pops in my head at the mention of panna cotta, these days.  I actually saw her on a Food Network cake, sculpture, whatever..challenge, and she botched that too.  However, I think she’ll always be known as the rubbery panna cotta girl. least she got her 15 and then some.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Triple Strawberry (Mousse, Gelee, Coulis) Vanilla Bean Yogurt Panna Cotta Parfaits

I tried Giada’s panna cotta recipe before, and felt it was too sweet, so I decided to take a direction I’ve been DYING to take for months, especially ever since I saw THIS.  I love it, I think it looks awesome, and I love the fact that you prepare a fruit three ways along with a tangy (could be buttermilk, yogurt or creme fraiche) panna cotta.  Perfection, and I get to play!  I’ve been looking for an excuse to tackle this for some time now, and here it is!

Here’s the kicker, it did not originate from Evan, although she’s pretty amazing, isn’t she?  She got the idea from HERE, another gifted pastry goddess who in turn got some of her original idea from HERE.  That’s three amazingly talented and creative ladies I’m going to copy.  Yeah…kind of funny, isn’t it?  Sometimes I look at these blogs in complete awe and think ‘Why am I even blogging and photographing food?’  GIve me the towel so I can throw it in!!  Oh, wait, it’s something I enjoy!  Chill.

In any event, I was so excited to make these, I even ordered 24 carat edible gold leaf.  It’s usually pretty pricey, unless you hit ebay and catch an auction from another country, which I did.  I ended up getting 10 small sheets of edible gold leaf from Thailand for less than half the price I would have paid in the US.  When my father, who happened to stop by, saw the scruffy, international airmail envelope it was sent in – he said “Umm..I wouldn’t open this, it could be anthrax, it looks fishy to me”.  I explained it was gold leaf, but he still maintained it could be anthrax and what a perfect way to disseminate it throughout the US, via gold leaf via ebay.  Ok, I’m stopping now.

Triple Strawberry (Mousse, Gelee, Coulis) Vanilla Bean Yogurt Panna Cotta Parfaits

I didn’t have any cool, square verrine glasses, just plastic, rectangular 4 oz cups.  I poured in way too much panna cotta, ruining the cool sorta’  ‘mosaic’ thing they got going on.  But, you know what?  I loved making it, and I loved how it tasted.  It was like excavating and depositing a huge heap of soft, creamy, jelly, saucy, tangy strawberry patch on the tastebuds – a strawberries and cream gelatin sundae, so to speak. I was incredibly happy with the final result.

Triple Strawberry (Mousse, Gelee, Coulis) Vanilla Bean Yogurt Panna Cotta Parfaits

The corkscrew cookie on the napkin is a cocoa – black sesame florentine.  Unfortunately, that was the only one left to photograph.  I preferred the macadamia lace cookies anyway.

I forgot to mention, I kicked up the strawbeerry mousse with a little heat.  Little meaning that I used one ground Tepin pepper.  A Tepin  chile pepper is the cutest, little pink pepper I’ve ever seen.  It’s about the size of half a pinky nail.  Don’t be deceived, this is one of the hottest peppers in the world.  Last year, Marx foods sent me some samples of the hottest, dried chile peppers known to man.  Well, I had a choice…mild, medium or hot,hot, hot.  Of course I had to go all the way – wanting to find ways to incorporate these dried peppers into dishes, where they wouldn’t kill you.  I found just one wittle, ground tepin pepper in the cool, fluffy mousse, which when combined with the cool gelee and smooth and creamy panna cotta, makes it the perfect bite of heat.  No pain, no eyes watering, no premature passing, just  – WOW – a good wow.

We were also asked to bake a cookie.  I suppose a cookie was integrated because there’s not one facet of panna cotta that’s baked.  I loved the idea because it provides another texture to my creamy, moussey, GELEE mouthful.  The hostess asked us to make Florentine cookies.  I decided to nix the oats for finely chopped toasted macadamia nuts, omit the flour to achieve a more delicate, lacey look.

Ooops, I suppose it’s not a typical Florentine cookie any longer, is it?

A Florentine is simply a heartier, less delicate cousin to the lace cookie, so I’m keeping it in the family, right?  I sandwiched them with a white chocolate – strawberry filling, but be warned, if you choose the added strawberry puree option in the filling, it must be eaten almost immediately since the puree in the white chocolate turns the florentine cookies to mush!  I found out the hard way when I picked up the stack of filled cookies after they had sat for a few hours. The stack literally disintegrated in my fingers  – plopping to the floor with thud.  Zombie eats came to mind.  Definitely try to find dried strawberries, in this case.

Now, it’s time to give a huge shout out to my friend, Audax, who converted this recipe to US measurements for me.  He is amazing – he covered every little corner.  Aud, you are the best!

Homemade Strawberry Puree to use in loads of desserts!  You can freeze it too!

Finally, since this is strawberry based.. every component, except the panna cotta, contains strawberry puree.  Below is a base recipe for strawberry puree.

Strawberry Puree
1 20 ounce bag (570 grams) of frozen unsweetened strawberries or 20 ounces of fresh strawberries
2 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup (25 to 50 grams) granulated white sugar, or to taste
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, optional

1. Place the unsweetened frozen strawberries in a large bowl and thaw. Once thawed, put the strawberries and their juice in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process the berries until they are pureed. If you want it completely seedles, crank through a foodmill or push through a fine wire mesh strainer.

2. Pour the puree into a 2 cup measuring cup. You should have about 1 1/4 cups of puree. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar to start and stir until the sugar dissolves. Taste and add more sugar if needed. Add a little lemon juice to taste.

3. If not using immediately, store covered in the refrigerator for one week. The puree can also be frozen for several months.

Strawberry and Panna Cotta Verrines
Recipe from Evan’s KItxhen Ramblings via L’ Atelier Vi

Vanilla Bean Yogurt or Creme Fraiche Panna Cotta

3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (200ml) (200 gm) (7 oz) heavy cream
3 tablespoons + 1 3/4 teaspoons (55 ml) (45 gm) (1.6  oz) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3g (0.1 oz) sheet gelatin OR 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons ice water
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (100 ml) (100 gm) (3 1/2 oz) plain yogurt or creme fraiche

Strawberry Gelee with Diced Strawberry
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon (225 ml) (150g) (5⅓ oz) fresh strawberries, diced
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (100 ml) (100g) (3½ oz) strawberry puree
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (25g) (0.9 oz) sugar
2g (0.07 oz) sheet gelatine OR ½ teaspoon + 2 dashes powdered gelatin
1 1/2 Tablespoons ice water

Strawberry Mousse
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon (225 ml) (150g) (5.3 oz) strawberry puree
3 1/2 teaspoons (17 1/2 ml) (15g) (1/2 oz) sugar
3.5g (0.125 oz) sheet gelatine OR 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
2 Tablespoons ice water
1/2 cup (120 ml) (120g) (4 1/4 oz) whipping cream
1 tepin pepper, ground (optional)

Strawberry Coulis
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (100 ml) (100g) (3 1/2 oz) strawberry puree
4 3/4 teaspoons (23 3/4 ml) (20g) (0.7 oz) sugar

1. In a small saucepan, cook the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla bean until it comes to a boil. In the meantime, soak the gelatin in ice water. When the cream has come to a boil, remove the pan from the heat and add the softened gelatin. Whisk to dissolve it. Sift into a clean bowl, discard solids, and let it cool to about body temperature. Add the yogurt and whisk well.

2. Pour the panna cotta into glasses or cups (I used THESE) to about 1/3 of the height and let it set in the refrigerator, about 2 hours.

1. Warm half of the strawberry puree with the sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat. Soak the sheet or powdered gelatine in ice water. Remove saucepan from heat once sugar completely dissolved.

2. Add the softened gelatin to the warm strawberry puree. Add the rest of the puree and diced strawberries and mix well. Let it cool to room temperature then spoon the mixture on top of the chilled yogurt panna cotta to about 2/3 of the height of the glasses/cups. Let it set in the refrigerator, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

1. Warm half of the strawberry purée with the sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat. Soak the gelatin in ice water. Remove the saucepan from heat and add the softened gelatin to the warm puree and stir until completely dissolved. Add the rest of the puree; stir to combine then let it cool to room temperature.

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the heavy cream until soft peaks then using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the puree base until fully incorporated (no more white streak). Pour this mousse on top of the strawberry gelee, smooth it out using the back of a spoon and let it set in the refrigerator, about 1 hour

1. Warm half of the strawberry puree with the sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove saucepan from heat once sugar is completely dissolved. Add the rest of the puree; stir to combine then let it cool to room temperature. Pour it on top of the strawberry mousse layers, swirl the cup until it covers the mousse completely.

2. Top verrines with whole or diced strawberries, a florentine or lace cookie, and gold leaf, if you have on hand.

Toasted Macadamia Lace Cookies with White Chocolate Strawberry Filling
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 50 cookies and about 2 dozen sandwich cookies
Lace Cookies
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 ounces whole salted macadamia nuts, toasted, then finely chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
White Chocolate - Strawberry Filling
  • 1 cup chopped white chocolate
  • ¼ cup dried strawberries, ground into a powder or 2 tablespoons strawberry puree * (see NOTE below)
For the Cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two or three large baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the finely chopped, toasted macadamia nuts (I pulse them in a food processor to get them finely chopped), the sugar, egg, salt and vanilla extract. Stir until blended, then slowly pour in the melted butter while stirring, until blended into a batter.
  3. Drop the batter by slightly heaping teaspoonfuls about 3 inches apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheets on racks for 5 minutes before transferring them to racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining batter after the sheets have cooled.
  4. Spread the underside of half of the cooled cookies with about a scant teaspoon of the white chocolate - strawberry filling (below), and sandwich with the other half of the cooled cookies, underside down. If using some of the cookies for the verrines above, partially curl those cookies around a wooden spoon handle when they're still warm, then let set and remove from handle.
For the White Chocolate Strawberry Filling
  1. Place white chocolate in a bowl over a simmering pot of water and let melt, stirring so it doesn't burn (alternatively, you can use the microwave). Stir in the strawberry powder or strawberry puree until uniform. Let cool, then spread on cookies and sandwich.
* If using the fresh strawberry puree in the cookie filling, the cookies must be eaten quickly. The strawberry puree in the white chocolate turns the delicate cookie to mush in a short time.

To get the recipes for the florentine cookies and the challenge panna cotta, click HERE.  To see all the gorgeous panna cottas by other Daring Bakers, click on the links to their blog, HERE.

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Chilling out with Sorbet…and an Ice Cream Maker Giveaway!

August 6, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Dessert, Frozen, Fruit, Giveaway, Gluten Free | 101 Comments
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The thing I love about having an electric ice cream maker is the speed and ease in which you can whip up ice cream, sorbets, sherberts, frozen yogurts etc.  The thing I hate about having an electric ice cream maker is the speed and ease in which you can whip up ice cream, sorbets, sherberts, frozen yogurts etc.  Yes, I think you get the gist – it’s way too easy to whip up and way too easy to eat a quart of frozen fat ass sitting in your freezer.

Having said that, let’s stick with ONLY the positive aspects of electric ice cream makers, because I have a recipe for strawberry-mango (or peach) sorbet that is out of this world.  I always saw sorbet as the ‘skinny’ frozen treat and gorged on it.  Yes, it’s fat free, but the amount of sugar added can sometimes be a little much.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way, but what the heck, this recipe is great, so unless you eat the whole yield in one sitting, you shouldn’t be bouncing around like you’ve got a pogo stick embedded in your..well, you know.. then crashing like a fraternity pledge after a night of quarters.

Let’s get back to the positives…it’s  healthy.  Well, it’s usually healthy because sorbet is usually loaded with fruit, so at least you’re filling your guts with all kinds of vitamins and antioxidants while cooling off, satisfying your sweet tooth, and bouncing around like you’ve got a pogo stick embedd…okay, won’t go there again.

In this case, we’ve got strawberries and mango (or peach).  The best part about summer is the abundance of beautiful, fresh berries that are widely available.  I always load up and then try and figure out what I’m going to make with them – once I eat a bushel or three.  I have to admit, sometimes I forget about them, and am greeted to fuzzy white and green creatures almost smirking at my forgetfulness.  This is why an electric ice cream maker is like a white knight to me – there’s always ice cream, sorbets, sherbets, frozen yogurts ward off the fuzzy white and green creatures that look like they want to eat my face.

The humidity made it a race to take a photo, but it’s even ‘creamier’ in that ‘sorbet sort of way’, when it’s like this.

A few weeks back (this is one of those ‘entries’ I mentioned in my last entry – the stuff in the freezer and/or photos that sit idly…waiting for their big blog break), after doing everything I could with a beautiful bunch of strawberries, from dippping them in chocolate, making a crisp (another entry waiting to happen) and just eating them out of hand, I still had about a quart sitting in my fruit and veggie bin.

For two days it was threatening me with fuzzies and a final eulogy in the trash can.  I also happened to have a mango on hand, just waiting to turn to mush and join the strawberries in garbage purgatory – money wasted because I always over buy with my eyes.

I hit the ‘puter and Googled (yes, still weird that it’s a verb) strawberry sorbet, in hopes that a good recipe, one not loaded with a pound of sugar, would pop up.  It did, and ironically, the name of the blog where it comes from is Sugarlaws.  Thank you, Sugarlaw gal – you’ve provided me with a keeper of a sorbet recipe, one of which I will use with all kinds of summer fruit bounties.

I understand some people don’t like to add any alcohol to anything they’ll be eating, but seriously, sorbet needs vodka and it”s such a small amount, you won’t be slurring your words and telling everyone you love them.  Also, you DO NOT taste it – it’s only a tablespoon, and vodka is smooth and flavorless anyway.  You see, to achieve that slightly soft ‘sorbet creaminess’, the addition of a little vodka makes it so it doesn’t freeze into a solid block of fruit ice that you have to chisel off of.  We’re not making granita here – although I love the stuff and will probably cover it before summer some point..I think.

For those of you who are really adamant about ‘not even an itsy bit of alcohol in anything‘, I’ve heard egg whites can give you that fluffy ‘sorbet’ texture too, but truth be told, I’ve tried a sorbet made with egg whites and it was kind of slimy on my tongue and left a weird aftertaste.  Then again, there are those who stay away from eating anything containing raw egg, so I suppose you can either pick your poison or run back and forth to the freezer every hour to fork it around so it doesn’t freeze solid after that wonderful ice cream maker churning.

Fresh Strawberry Mango (or Peach) Sorbet
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: About 1 Pint Sorbet *
Freezer time approx 2 to 4 hours.
  • 1 cup sugar (I tried it with ½ cup sugar and it was just sweet enough)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups hulled, chopped strawberries
  • 1 mango, peeled and cubed or two large peaches peeled, stone removed, and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
  • Juice of one lime
  1. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then set aside to cool completely.
  2. Put the strawberries, mango, vodka and lime juice into a food processor and puree. When the sugar syrup has cooled, add it to the strawberry-mango or peach puree.
  3. My addition - Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, unless you like the crunch of some seed bits. - you know, the ones that really get stuck in your teeth because they're smaller from being chopped up? I don't.
  4. Freeze with your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
* I found it made about a pint of strawberry-mango-sugar syrup liquid and a quart when the liquid was frozen. Maybe I have a heavy hand, but I'm pretty sure you'll get approximately one quart of sorbet.


OK, onto my GIVEAWAY!  To help in making this rockin’ sorbet and all you can eat frozen goodies until you die (or it breaks), I’m giving away a brand new Hamilton Beach 1.5 QT Ice Cream Maker!  Just leave a comment and one week from today (Well, August 14th, 2010) I will use random integer (or maybe my nephew, he likes to point) to choose a winner.  The winner will receive it with plenty of time to uhh…use it for a particular challenging thing, IF the winner happens to be part of that challenging thing, if ya know what I’m talkin’ about *wink wink*.  1 comment per person.

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Let’s Roll..WITH Ice Cream and Fudge. This Cake is the Bombe!

July 27, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Posted in Cakes, Daring Bakers, Dessert, Frozen, Fruit, Jams/Jellies | 93 Comments
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I just realized something.  All of my posts for the past several months have been Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers challenges.  I’m a bad food blogger *slapping hand*.

Let me elaborate.  I love to cook and bake, and in fact, do both on a pretty consistent basis (I’m always experimenting).  I have lots of stuff in my freezer just waiting to be cooked/baked and blogged.  I also have lots of photos of non-challenge delicacies that I have yet to blog about – but somehow time escapes me, and the next thing I know, another challenge deadline is approaching, and I have to get that entry up.  My lone non-challenge affiliated goodies will just have to wait..for the hundredth time.

Some of the ice cream melted and seeped into the cake rolls when I used a bowl of warm water and a towel to loosen the cake from the bowl and plastic wrap.  This left me with a slightly soggy looking cake, as you can see above (my rolls were sliced pretty thin – bad idea). Fortunately, the cake dried out after a few minutes.

Do I ever post without complaining?

On to this months Daring Bakers Challenge, because it’s really cool, both literally and figuratively.

When I first saw a challenge for a swiss roll, I thought ‘Me likey swiss roll cakes’ – memories of those packaged, chocolate covered Swiss Rolls that our Moms packed in our lunch boxes came flooding back.  YES, I know..we’re talking REAL swiss rolls, as in baked from scratch and filled with some kind of cream or jam or whatever suits your palate.  I had one of those plastic covered swiss rolls a few months ago..and WOW, they shrunk- and not just by a little, but a lot.  SHRINKAGE is an understatement!  The ones I recall from childhood were huge!  Tsk Tsk to Drakes or whichever brand they are.

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s World – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.-

I digress.  I always find a way to segue into every nook and cranny before getting to the point.  Back to the challenge.  SO, it’s a swiss roll, but not just any swiss roll.  You see, we are slicing this baby up, lining a plastic wrap covered bowl with the swiss roll slices, and filling it with ICE CREAM(S) and FUDGY SAUCE (or whatever creative juices..err sauces and ice cream we could squeeze out of our frontal lobes).

The first person I thought of was my father.  The man covets ice cream cakes like nobodies business , and he used to live at Carvel (A local ice cream establishment dating back to like 1850, or so it seems).  I don’t think I can recall a birthday where one of the cakes wasn’t a Carvel ice cream cake (Never Fudgy the Whale).  I don’t think I can even recall a summer where there wasn’t at least one pack of Flying Saucers in our freezer.

In any event, this recipe doesn’t contain those Carvel crunchies.  Here’s a little secret, though – they’re made of broken Flying Saucer shells that are drizzled with Magic Shell chocolate.  Aren’t you glad you know that now?

Herein lies the problem – the ideas running through my head were not the kind of ice cream cake dear old Dad would like.  I decided I wasn’t going to tell him what was in it word for word, and just present it to him and hope he bit.  I used Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Biscuit de Roulade (from The Cake Bible) because the challenge recipe called for 11×9 sheet pans.  I looked high and low, and could not find any sheet pan in this size.  Am I missing something here? (UPDATE – finally found one on Amazon).

Not being in the mood to try and figure out how much baking time and batter would sufficiently fill and bake the cake in a 10×15 or 12×17 pan, I stuck with Rosie’s sponge.  I wanted to make a funky swiss roll, one that was flavored and colorful, so when I saw some pink and green swiss rolls on Flickr, I decided to use some of the leftover pistachio butter, from the Daring Cooks nut butter challenge, in one half of the batter, and dried, ground strawberries in the other half.  A little green food color, a little pink food color, and voila, a pink and green swiss roll that really tastes like pink and green -well, pistachio and strawberry.  No ubiquitous, artificial extracts in this bombe!

Regarding the pistachios, here’s the really great part.  Sam Feferkorn from saw my last entry on nut butters.  He took sympathy on my poor, mutilated fingers and offered up a free pound of already shelled pistachios, plus a few other nuts and dried fruits of my choice.  How cool is that?  You’ve got to check out, they’re loaded with nuts, dried fruits, chocolates etc… and at reasonable prices!

Well, thanks to Sam, having these ‘ready to go’ pistachios on hand was what helped in my decision making.  Why not a vanilla bean ice cream with pistachio nougatine folded in? (AKA – the crunchies..well, my version).   I must admit, I cheated a bit.. I only made one ice cream, and used store bought strawberry ice cream.  Oh, the shame, but hey, I’ve made a strawberry ice cream for a Daring Bakers challenge before, so that affords me a pass, right?

Here’s a rundown on my swiss roll ice cream cake.  First off, as mentioned earlier in this entry, I split the genoise batter and folded some pistachio butter (loosened up with a little warm water) into one part, and dehydrated, ground strawberries into the other.  Then I added some food color (pink and green) to each part since neither ‘a little’ pistachio butter or dehydrated strawberries add much color to a batter.  After baking, rolling in a towel and cooling,  I spread the pistachio and strawberry genoise with a strawberry-chocolate ganache (strawberry jam melted in chocolate and hot cream, then cooled until spreadable) .

I rolled the filled genoise from the long side instead of the shorter side – which is the direction you usually roll a swiss roll from.  I did this because I wanted small, spiral slices of the roll, and the diameter of the roll from the long side is always much smaller.   My first ice cream was the vanilla bean – pistachio nougatine, and the second was my bought strawberry.  I made the fudge sauce from the recipe provided to us by Sunita, except I added a little vodka to slightly halt the freezing process so the middle would remain fudgy and somewhat gooey, in lieu of frozen solid, upon cutting.

If you’d like the master challenge recipe for a chocolate swiss roll, the fudge sauce and extremely easy chocolate and vanilla ice HERE.  To see the beautiful swiss roll ice cream cakes other Daring Bakers created, click on the links to their blogs HERE.

Pistachio Nougatine
5 ounces shelled, skinned salted pistachios
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
4 T unsalted butter

1. Cook the sugar, butter and corn syrup until light amber then add the pistachios.  Cook until golden brown.

2. Pour onto a silpat or parchment lined sheet pan (or just a buttered sheet pan) and let cool until hardened.

3.  Chop up the nougatine with a mallet or pulse in a food processor (for ice cream) or just break into pieces and eat or gift as candy.

GIVEAWAY ALERT!  Speaking of ice cream..keep checking back.  Next week I’m giving away a brand new ice cream maker!

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Orange Tian – Pith Free, and Strawberry Kiwi

March 28, 2010 at 4:42 am | Posted in Cookies, Daring Bakers, Dessert, Jams/Jellies, Pastry, Pies/Tarts | 71 Comments
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I don’t like orange marmalade.  Apparently my fingers dislike it too, because I continue to misspell ‘marmalade’ in this entry.  I’ve had to correct every spelling of it thus far.  I had one really bad experience with it and a second ‘sour-face” taste a few months ago.  Regardless, I always felt it was worth one more try – kind of like cilantro..hated it the first few times, and now I can’t get enough of the stuff.  However, when it comes to’s the pith, and that’s where I put my foot down because the pith is what makes it so damn bitter.  I don’t care how many times you boil and blanch the orange slices when making orange marmalade, it’s still bitter (to me anyway).  Many like marmalade, and with good reason, but my palate simply rebels against it.

The truth is, I don’t like anything orange and jellied/gelled – even orange pates de fruit, orange jelly slices, and/or anything that congeals with orange in it.  I think it’s some strange, genetic malfunction since I love all other fruits (OK – not grapefruit either, but I think it applies to all citrus fruits in general) in jelly or jam form – just not orange.

I’m ranting about orange marmalade because….

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

Now that I started this entry off on a bright, cheery note *Yes, sarcasm is flashing wildly here*, I’ll explain the beginnings of my aversion to orange marmalade and I’ll try to make this as quick as possible.  City girl (me) moves to the suburbs with her family when she’s 9,  Her life-long city Dad decides to buy a lawn mower and mow his first lawn.  Unfamiliar with said lawn mower, he sticks his hand in running lawn mower when something jams.  Former city girl is sitting on the porch around the corner at new friend’s house.  City mom and dad come speeding around the corner and stop short, telling me to tell my new friend’s father to watch over me and my sister until they get home.  Cool, I get to hang out with my friend and have lunch there, although I’m a leeeeettle concerned about the bloody towel wrapped around my father’s hand.

Alright, I’m already pushing the enevlope here – so I’ll get to the point.  ‘I digress’ should be tattooed onto my forehead.

Friend’s father makes me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because well, I was in a phase where all I ate for lunch was PB and J sandwiches.  He makes it with crunchy peanut butter, which I don’t like, but no biggie, it’s still peanut butter.  I can grind down the chopped peanut pieces with my teeth.  What came next almost made me spit it out onto the plate.  This jellied bite of what tasted like ‘poison’.  Bitter to me as a kid was something I always described as tasting like poison.  One more bite and I knew I was going to have to bail immediately.  Peanut butter and orange marmalade??  This was Peanut BITTER and Jelly, and for a 9-year old kid, no less?  Look, he was a nice man and that’s what they liked on their PB and J sandwiches, but my palate just wasn’t up to that level yet..and sadly, it was never going to get there.

By the way, Dad was ok, just a few stitches to sort of set things back in place…although in reverse.  Touch the left side of his left pointer finger and he feels it on the right and vice versa.

On to the challenge.  Initially, I was going to nix the orange completely and just go with a strawberry kiwi tian, since I made a strawberry-kiwi jam (this was my first time making homemade jams and jellies, and boy did I go nuts.  Canning is fun!), but after letting the idea marinate a while, plus the fact that a cardinal rule in Daring Bakers is to execute the challenge to the host’s requirements before running off the beaten path, I dove into orange marmalade land.  I used blood and regular oranges in both the tian and marmalade.  However, as the title suggests, I cut off all the pith and just used the zest, flesh and juice.

I have to admit, the marmalade caramelized nicely, and it tasted a hell of a lot better than marmalade with pith (I liked it better hot than cooled and fully set), but – I’m still not a fan of orange marmalade..or most orange desserts in general.  I like the flavor of orange in some desserts, just not slices or chunks of orange outside of a fruit salad or a peeled fresh orange eaten out of hand.  Oh well, I tried.

Strawberry - Kiwi Tian


As mentioned above, I ended up making both an orange tian and a strawberry kiwi tian.  However, you can call them both, especially the strawberry kiwi tian, tian’s on steroids.  I decided to add a little extra texture and flavor by inserting a disk of chocolate feuilletine beneath the fruit layer of each one.  Dark chocolate almond praline for the orange, and white chocolate macadamia praline in the strawberry kiwi.  I folded fresh strawberry puree into the soon to be stabilized whipped cream for the strawberry kiwi tian and fresh vanilla bean into the whipped cream for the orange tian.  To make the strawberry kiwi tian even more lard inducing..I added a layer of strawberry kiwi pastry cream underneath the fruit.

Next time the feuilletine is going in the middle of the cream (notice feuilletine between pastry and whipped cream in the strawberry kiwi tian – fruit stays flat and put) because fruit on top of chocolate,- well, orange supremes on top of chocolate, results in a drippy, sloppy mess after it sits a while.  My beautifully arranged topping of orange supremes started falling off and oozing like the tian had a raging case of leprosy.  I had to try and fit them back together like a wet, slimy puzzle..ending up with a lumpy, bumpy mess.  It still tasted good, though.

Speaking of orange supremes – I cannot supreme (segment between the membranes) an orange to save my life.  Doesn’t matter how sharp the knife’s a technique I simply cannot master.  I never end up with perfect, pithless half moons of orange – just ripped, pithy, sticky, jagged pieces of ‘I don’t what the eff that is’.  Regardless, when you set horribly cut supremes of orange upside down and flat in the freezer, it miraculously looks as if you are the supreme master of supremes, IF you don’t slip a disk of chocolate anything underneath it.

All in all, I really enjoyed this challenge.  Thank you, Jen!  To see the other beautiful tians by my fellow Daring Bakers, click on the links to their blogs HERE.  For the recipe for orange tian, click HERE.

Strawberry Kiwi Jam
Makes 4 half pint jars

1 cup peeled and chopped kiwi, crushed or pureed
1 cup hulled, chopped strawberries, crushed or pureed
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup lime juice
1 (1 3/4 ounce) package no sugar needed or light fruit pectin
2 cups sugar

1. Prepare boiling water canner. Wash and heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

2. Combine kiwi, strawberries, orange juice and lime juice in a large saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add sugar and return to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off foam if necessary.

3. Carefully ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply screw band until fit is tight.

4. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.  If not using immediately or giving as gifts, store jars in a cool. dark place for up to one year.  Makes about 4 half pint jars.

Feuilletine Insert
Adapted from Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

3.5 oz (100g) milk or dark chocolate*
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline (or bring 1/2 cup of sugar to an amber caramel and spread it on 1/2 cup almonds*  and grind until fine)
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate. Spread on a parchment or silpat lined pan and chill until firm.

2. Cut into desired shapes to fit cookie cutter or molds. Refrigerate until ready to use.

*For the strawberry kiwi tian, replace the milk chocolate and almonds with white chocolate and macadamia nuts.

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‘Chocolate dipped Strawberry’ Macarons and a Winner is announced!

February 10, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Posted in Cookies, Dessert, Giveaway, Macarons | 35 Comments
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I’ve lost my macaron mojo.  I don’t know if it’s temporary or permanent, but my cocky macaron assurance has left the building.  When I finally mastered these little babies last October, I was jubilant – I bragged all over creation about how every batch turned out perfect – beautiful feet and shells as smooth as a baby’s butt.  I waxed on and on about possibly starting a ‘mac a month’ entry on my blog – I joined up with Deeba and Jamie’s monthly MacTweets- Attack and I even bought almond meal in bulk, since surely I was going to be using it quite a bit now that I’d mastered macarons!  Well..I’ve been using it alright, but the bitches turned on me.

Every attempt at macarons the past 2 months has been met with complete failure.  The thing is, I already know they’re going to fail before I put them in the oven.  It’s a batter failure – too thick or too’s always one or the other . The perfect lava like consistency has abandoned me.

I’ve changed nothing.  I age my egg whites anywhere from 24-48 hours, sometimes longer, and all the dry ingredients are weighed on my newly calibrated scale which is rarely, if  I truly believe the macaron gods are teaching me a little lesson in humility here – as in don’t overstep your boundaries with these chicks.  Make them the center of attention rather than bragging about your sudden amazing ability to turn out pan after pan of  supermodels every.single.time. They need inclusive adoration to thrive.  Oh, and don’t call them bitches.  I think that’s what did me in.

These macarons are my third, yep count ’em, third attempt this month.  Last month I had to skip it altogether because four tries didn’t turn out.  On the third try this month, only 8 shells turned out ‘passable’ (translation – one good side to photograph).

However, I wasn’t going to miss this month’s Valentine Mac Attack, so I soldiered on and decided to make the most of these eight shells.  Did I mention the powdered red food coloring didn’t work either?  No idea why, but I ended up with dull, mauve shells, so I air brushed the bitches red.  Back to gel paste and drying the tant pour tant – IF the macarons gods will give me another chance.

I decided, since beauty wasn’t going to be an option this month, to load these babies with chocolate. inside-out.  I needed to disguise the imperfections and what better way to do it then with drizzles of chocolate?  Chocolate dipped strawberries scream Valentine’s Day to me (well, if I had my way, they’d scream every day to me).  Okay, so here’s what I did – I air brushed them red (because my red powdered food color was bluffin’) , drizzled tons of white and dark chocolate over the cooled shells, then filled them with 1) Strawberry Dark Chocolate Ganache and 2) Strawberry Mascarpone Cream.  Let me tell you, these were super duper tasty, and you know the old adage, beauty is in the eye..well mouth in this case, of the beholder.  They may not be beautiful, but their edibility factor rocks.

That said, a friend pointed out to me the similarities between my macaron shells and Eddie Van Halen’s favorite guitar.  I suppose there is a resemblance.  Like I said, these macarons ‘rock’.  I hate that word, but it fits.

Now on to the winner of my first giveaway!  I used and subtracted my 3 comments plus one of two posts from someone, leaving me with a lucky number between 1-43.   As you can see above, the number 2 turned up, and that corrresponds with the lovely Diva of Beach Eats!  Congrats, Diva!  Send your address to, and I’ll get it right in the mail.

Finally, Lauren of Celiac Teen did a wonderful thing (and an amazing job – she worked so hard on this!).  She gathered a bunch of bloggers and asked we donate recipes (87 recipes, by 71 food bloggers, from the comfort of our homes and hearts,) so she could create the below ebook for purchase, all proceeds donated to the victims of the Earthquake in Haiti.  Click on the photo below and grab a copy of your own, knowing all the to.die.for yummies you make from this book will be helping so many people!

Recipe verbatim from Helene of Tartelette
90 grams egg whites (about 3)
30 grams granulated sugar
200 grams powdered sugar
110 grams almonds

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Place the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.

2. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 280F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer. To fill: pipe or spoon about 1 big tablespoon of butterceam in the center of one shell and top with another one.

Strawberry-Dark Chocolate Ganache
6 ounces dark chocolate (about 1 cup chopped)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup strawberry preserves or jam, OR *reduced strawberry puree
2 tablespoons (1 oz) butter, cubed and softened

1. Chop the chocolate into small, even pieces and place it in a medium heat-safe bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring it to a simmer, but do not allow it to boil.

2. Once the cream is simmering, pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Gently whisk it together until the chocolate melts and you have a smooth, shiny chocolate liquid–this is your ganache. Add the softened butter and the strawberry preserves, jam or puree and whisk until they are incorporated. Press a layer of clingwrap on top of the ganache and chill until it is firm enough to pipe.

Strawberry-Mascarpone Filling
1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup strawberry preserves or jam, or *reduced strawberry puree

1. In a bowl with an electric beater combine the mascarpone cheese, strawberry preserves, jam or puree until uniform in color.  Pipe onto macaron shells and sandwich with another.

*For both fillings, if using the reduced strawberry puree in lieu of the preserves or jam, add 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, depending on how sweet you like it.

Drizzle sandwiched macarons with melted white and dark chocolate.

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By George, It’s a Bakewell Tart! (OR TWO)

June 27, 2009 at 12:43 am | Posted in Cakes, Daring Bakers, Dessert, Fruit, Pastry, Pies/Tarts, Puddings | 140 Comments
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Just to give you all a heads up, since this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge is a British treat, I’m officially British for this entry – spelling and all.  I’m sure my dialect will come from many different regions of England considering I’m just winging this – not to mention, I’ll probably be way, way, way off base with the slang, words etc..  This will be HIGHLY exaggerated, so to my British blogging pals, please feel free to correct and/or laugh at me!  Carry on, mates..and enjoy!

Oh, what an absolute joy it was to find out that this month’s DB challenge was something we’ve been enjoying here in the UK for centuries (I think).  The Bakewell Tart is such a favourite confection here, that many an argy-bargy will break out when one is down to the last slice!  I cannot even begin to tell you how many blokes have ended up on their arse for that slice!  Silly wankers, I tell you!


First off, I’d like to pass on my gratitude to the lovely hosts of this month’s challenge for coming up with a…oh dear, I completely forgot about that silly little paragraph we must post so that the computerized little biddy can detect our entries.  How funny would it be if I didn’t complete the challenge but pasted these words in a post by itself?  Would I still get credit?  Oh, mind my manners, I’m being quite a silly nutter!

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

IMG_242611_edited copy

Now, a very popular question raised about this Bakewell Tart is, well..shall we refer to it as a tart or pudding?  In some preparations, it’s  a “pudding” where a layer of jam is covered by an almondy pastry cream and baked in puff pastry. In another preparation it’s a “tart” where a rich shortcrust pastry holds jam and an almondy sponge cake-like filling.

The version they are daring us to make is a combination of the two: a sweet almond-flavoured shortcrust pastry, frangipane and jam.  A crust, some jam, a rich, nutty frangipane, and Bob’s your uncle!  I absolutely adore this version, and I *stereotype alert #1000* couldn’t wait to sink my wonky British teeth into it!

Strawberry Vanilla Bean Almond Pudding Cake

Although optional, we were also challenged to make our own jam or preserves.  Bollocks, I say!  I was in no mood to purchase an abundance of jars, sterilize them, and so on and so forth.  Yes, yes, I know, a pan jam is easier, and you could always make a jam and use it immediately instead of processing a bunch of little jars that would end up in gift baskets to mates come Christmas, but I simply wasn’t in the mood to make my own jam. I had quite an array of lovely jams from Christmas baskets past, from many a mate or acquaintance, that had yet to be opened. so this was the perfect opportunity.

I decided to play it safe, since I wanted people to actually consume these tarts, using two basic flavours, strawberry and raspberry, for two different tarts, and fiddle with them a bit.  I added fresh vanilla bean to the strawberry jam, and OH my giddy aunt, was quite chuffed at the difference it made.  I then added a bit of freshly grated nutmeg to the raspberry, and after tasting, decided it was an absolutely brill pairing! *patting self on shoulder*

As you very well know, the key to a perfect pie pastry is that everything be cold, and I do mean COLD, as in cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey or make your jubblies stand up on end.  Also, the last thing you want to do is over mix the dough, as that would result in pie crust that would be akin to biting into a pillar of Stonehenge.  You want to see little bits of butter in the final dough prior to chilling it, and it should be raggedy in appearance, not uniform.  I do swear, on the Queen’s crown jewels, that it will come together while chilling in the fridge wrapped in clingfilm. You want a lovely, flaky, tender crust, so all of the above is extraordinarily key.

When it came to the frangipane, for tart #1, I remained true to the recipe, just adding a titch more vanilla bean to it, and poncing it up with strawberries glazed with some of the leftover jam which I reduced with some kirsch and the addition of bruleed, sliced almonds.  I ran out of butane half way through the brulee, hence the remaining bits of sugar around the almonds.  At first, I almost soiled my knickers out of frustration, but then realized the bits of sugar lent it a certain something – or as the French say –  je ne sais quoi.

Baking it in a rectangular tart pan lent even more of a je ne sais quoi to the tart, confusing my fellow limeys as to what it was at first glimpse.  I can be quite a daft bird when I want to be, or so they say!  I shall call this tart, quite simply, a Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Bakewell tart.  No fanciful moniker, as that’s all hoity toity rubbish.


For tart #2, I must say, I went a little off the beaten path, as you Americans say.  I still remained true to the basic frangipane recipe given to us, but suddenly an idea hit me.  How about a marble frangipane?  I know they go crazy in America for anything marbled with chocolate, so why not?  I split the frangipane batter in two, and added a bit of melted dark chocolate to one half, alternating and swirling layers of frangipane over the frozen jam and crust.

Freezing the crust and jam before the addition of the frangipane was recommended, to insure crisp, distinct layers, although, as you can see in the photographs, it did not work very well for me.  It seems the frangipane dominated the tart, covering most of the jam when baked, but that’s completely my fault since I only used about 1/4 to 1/3 cup jam per tart!  Apparently I missed the part where it states you could use up to 1 cup of jam.

Bloody hell..what a load of cack!  Next time I’ll remedy that and load it up with jam, but for now, you’ll just have to look at my measly, little strips of jam begging to get out from under the stampede of  frangipeople rushing the stage to get closer to the band.  I should have entitled this entry ‘Lisa lacks what it takes to JAM’.

Having said that, the marbled frangipane turned out quite nice, so again,  I was rather chuffed.  Usually, your basic Bakewell tart is topped with some sort of white icing, commonly made with icing sugar, and finished off with a sad looking little maraschino cherry.  I came to the conclusion that a chocolate topping would be tastier and much more appealing.

What better than a shiny, rich, chocolate ganache and fresh raspberries since this was well, the tart with the raspberry jam, and the tart does contain chocolate frangipane.  It’s always nice to showcase what’s inside the dessert, on the outside.  A rather exciting preview of what’s to come.   I decided to call this one my Raspberry Chocolate Marble Bakewell Tart. Not very original, but who needs fancy monikers?


To sum it all up, this was a wonderful recipe for the Bakewell, and everyone who tried both versions was utterly gobsmacked.  According to them, it went down a treat!  I must admit, it was quite scrummy!

Now, as always, don’t forget to check out the outstanding creations by my fellow Daring Bakers by clicking on their links at the Daring Bakers Blogroll!

Well, I must be on my way, so toodle pip, and have a delicious, lovely day!  Cheerio!

Bakewell Tart…er…pudding

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Jasmine’s notes:
• If you cannot have nuts, you can try substituting Victoria sponge for the frangipane. It’s a pretty popular popular cake, so you shouldn’t have any troubles finding one in one of your cookbooks or through a Google search. That said, our dear Natalie at Gluten a Go Go has sourced some recipes and linked to them in the related alt.db thread.
• You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.
• The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (1/4 cup) to 250ml (1cup), depending upon how “damp” and strongly flavoured your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference and spread 150ml (2/3cup) on the crust.
Annemarie’s notes:
• The excess shortcrust can be rolled out and cut into cookie-shapes (heck, it’s pretty darned close to a shortbread dough).

Sweet shortcrust pastry
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Jasmine’s notes:
• I make this using vanilla salt and vanilla sugar.
• If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, one teaspoon of vanilla paste or one teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Annemarie’s notes:
• Add another five minutes or more if you’re grinding your own almonds or if you’re mixing by hand (Heaven help you).

OK..I’m American again, and I’ve abandoned Mary Poppins (which a reader perfectly pointed out).  I highly recommend you all try this tart because it’s pretty amazing.  Play with it, put your own take on it, make it your own —  (the notorious Paulaism, even though I stopped watching that show long ago).  *Opening umbrella and taking off while humming A Spoonful of Sugar*

RIP MJ, your music was woven into the fabric of my life – every thread in a quilt of so many emotions.  Although you became a kind of freakish shell of the superstar we all once knew, you never lost your gift.  I looped ‘Rock with You’ the night I heard you died…and cried.

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