The Daring Bakers March Challenge: Tarte Tatin

“For the March Daring bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchentaught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She  challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.”

Well this intrigued me! I’ve liked the idea of Tarte Tatin for a while and was already to jump to the stove immediately. Then I read further and saw that making puff pastry was required…. yikes. Not so keen anymore. I was certain it would fail. So I put this challenge off for a bit (also, I’ve been really busy with life in general). Anyway I tackled it last weekend. The rough puff was really easy to make, and amazingly delicious, and caramel and apple; need I say any more? This dessert is going to be a new favourite in our house, and with winter approaching I’m sure it will make a reappearance before long.

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Anyway here’s the recipe and instructions. No variations from me at all this time so just enjoy! Also… my photos suck, because… uh… wanted to eat it, not take photos… sorry (not sorry!).

Recipe 1: Rough Puff Pastry

Ingredients

125 g all-purpose (plain) flour

140g unsalted butter, cold

¼ tsp fine salt

¼ cup (60 ml) ice cold water

Directions:

  1.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. With a pastry blender (or two table knives) cut in the butter until the mixture in crumbly but even, with pea-sized pieces of butter. Make a well in the middle and pour in the ice cold water. Toss the flour/butter and water together with a fork until the dough starts to clump together.
  2. Turn the dough out onto your work surface – don’t worry if there are still pockets of dry flour. Gently knead and squeeze the mixture a few times just enough to bring it together into a square. Be careful not to overwork the dough: there should be visible bits of butter and it should still look very rough.
  3. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10” (25 cm) long. Fold the bottom third of the dough up into the middle, and fold the top third down, like you are folding a letter. This is one fold. Turn the dough a one quarter turn so that one of the open edges is facing you, and roll out again into a 10” (25 cm) rectangle. Fold again – this is the second fold. Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times, for 5 folds total. Your dough will get smoother and neater looking with each fold
  4. If your kitchen is very warm and the dough gets too soft/sticky to do all the folds at once, chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes between folds. After the fifth fold, use your rolling pin to tap the dough into a neat square. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for a least 1 hour, or overnight.

Recipe 2: Tarte Tatin

 Ingredients

6 large or 7-8 medium-sized apples

Juice of half a lemon

85 g unsalted butter (or use salted and skip the salt)

265 g granulated sugar, divided

pinch salt

Rough Puff Pastry, above

 

Directions:

  1. Peel the apples and cut them into quarters. Remove the cores in such a way that each apple quarter has a flat inner side: when placed rounded-side-up, it should sit on a flat base. Place the apples in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice and 65 g sugar. This will help draw out some of the moisture from the apples and prevent an overly runny caramel. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Melt the butter in a very heavy, 9” or 10” (23 cm or 24 cm) oven-proof saucepan over medium heat, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup 200g sugar. Stir with a whisk until the sugar melts and becomes a pale, smooth caramel. The sugar will seem dry and chunky at first, then will start to melt and smooth out. If the butter appears to separate out from the caramel, just keep whisking until it is a cohesive sauce. Remove from the heat.
  3. Discard the liquid that has come out of the apples, then add the apple quarters to the caramel, round side down. They won’t all fit in a single layer at first, but as they cook they will shrink a bit.
  4. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, pressing down gently on the apples with a spoon to cover them in the caramel liquid. Move the apples around the pan gently so that they all cook evenly, trying to keep them round side down. When the apples have shrunk enough to mostly fit in a single layer and are starting to soften but still keep their shape, remove the pan from the heat.
  5. With a wooden spoon, arrange the apples, round side down, in a single layer of concentric circles covering the bottom of the pan. Set aside until the filling stops steaming before covering with pastry.
  6. Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, and trim it into a circle about 1” (25 mm) in diameter larger than your saucepan. Lay it over the filling, tucking in the edges between the apples and the sides of the pan, and cut a few steam vents in the pastry. Place the saucepan on a rimmed baking sheet (just in case the filling decides to bubble over the sides) and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and let sit just until the caramel stops bubbling. Immediately place a serving platter (slightly larger in diameter than the saucepan) over the pastry. Wearing oven mitts, grab hold of the saucepan and platter and quickly invert everything to unmold the Tatin onto the platter. If any of the apples stick to the pan or come out of place, rearrange them with a spatula. The tarte Tatin can be served warm from the oven or at room temperature.

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Macaron Madness: Pistachio, fig and rose

Making ice cream and creme patissiere means one has a tonne of egg whites left over. Those lonely egg whites, sitting in my fridge were begging to be made into something amazing. I tried to resist the macaron lure, but it was futile. There were pistachios in my cupboard, and over 1 kg of figs so I decided to take a risk and sub half of the almond meal for pistachio meal. I was prepared for failure, and was more than pleasantly surprised with the results. Sure I got a few cracked shells but no more than usual, so the substitution held up well. But more than that, the intensity of the pistachio flavour was incredible. and paired with caramel fig compote ringed with either cream cheese icing or rosewater icing, they have become one of my favourites yet!

IMG_2412Prop find: new cute little cake plates with landmarks from around the world. They match beautifully with my mini teacup set. And teacup= tea. Midmorning tea must be T2’s strawberries and cream. This morning has been quite heavenly so far. Anyway, go make these and brew a cup of your favourite tea. It’s Friday aIMG_2416fter all!

Pistachio Macarons

60g ground pistachios

60g almond meal

120g icing sugar

120g sugar

34g water

100g egg whites

dash of green colouring

Sift the pistachio, almond meal and icing sugar into a large bowl. Put 50g egg white onto of this. Set aside.

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to 118˚C (softball) on a stove.

When the sugar syrup reaches 105˚C start whisking the remaining egg white in a stand mixer, until foaming.

Once the sugar syrup is at 118˚C slowly stream it into the egg whites down the side of the bowl while the mixer is on low/medium. Increase speed and whisk until cool.

Fold the meringue into your dry ingredients in 2 batches, adding the colouring as you do. When combined and the mixtures falls like a ribbon from your spoon, it is ready to be piped.

Pipe circles onto baking sheets lined with baking paper. Bang the sheets down a couple of times to remove air bubbles.

Allow to rest for 45 minutes

Bake for 15-18 minutes at 150˚C.

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Fig Compote

10 figs, chopped into quarters

200g sugar

2 tbs water

1 tbsp butter

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, and bring to a light caramel colour.

Add the butter and the figs and stir until completely combined.

Icing

250g sifted icing sugar

50g butter

75g cream cheese

1 tsp rosewater

pink colouring

Beat butter until pale and fluffy (2 minutes).

Add 125g icing sugar and the cream cheese and beat on low until combined.

Add the remaining icing sugar and beat on high until fluffy

Remove half to icing and place in a piping bag.

Add the rosewater and colouring to the remaining icing and mix until combined. Place in a piping bag.

Pipe on the edge of the macron like the picture below and place a little compote in the centre before sandwiching with another shell

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Raspberry and White Chocolate/ Passionfruit Curd Macarons

Well I hate computers, I hate learning design programs and I hate it when they aren’t working. After spending way too much time getting absolutely nowhere all last week with ridiculous assignments, what I needed was something to work. So really, I shouldn’t have chosen macarons on Thursday, but I did, and thank goodness they worked, because to get SOMETHING right was intensely satisfying and has given me energy to tackle another week of design software, crashing computers and missing files.

Anyway, back to important matters: magnificent macarons. Colourful, delicious, perfect macarons. Oh and perfect buttercream. And passionfruit curd! Oh just writing this is putting me in a good mood again. I had extra egg whites, from… uh I can’t remember? Oh well, it meant macarons, which i coloured half the batch yellow and half were left nude. The yellow shells were smoother, which I think was because they got a few extra folds to incorporate the colouring. I was just going to do ganache in the middle but I found some tins of passionfruit pulp and I just couldn’t get passionfruit curd out of my head…. Which meant using only yolks, so then I had more eggwhites… more macarons anyone? Or even better, fill them with italian meringue buttercream. Oooh white chocolate IMB anyone???

So a happy chain of baking lead to white chocolate and raspberry macarons and white chocolate and passionfruit curd macarons. They were so good, I even broke the ‘don’t eat macarons on the first day’ rule. No regrets.

 

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Macarons

100g aged egg whites (2 days in the fridge)

125g almond meal

125g icing sugar

125g sugar

34g water

Colouring (optional)

Sift icing sugar and almond meal together

Add 50g of egg whites to the sifted ingredients

Heat sugar and water to softball stage (115˚C), while doing this, whisk the remaining egg whites with a stand mixer until softly foaming.

SLOWLY stream the sugar syrup into the egg whites, whisking on high. Whisk until fluffy meringue has formed

Fold the meringue into the dry ingredients in two batches. IMG_0747

Fold in the colouring

Fold until all incorporated and the mix falls like a ribbon from your spoon

Transfer to a piping bag and pipe onto a lined baking sheet.

Allow to dry for 45 minutes or until dry when lightly touched.

Bake at 140˚C for 15 minutes

Match an fill!

 

Passionfruit Curd

2 egg yolks

1 egg

100g sugar

80ml passionfruit pulp

squeeze of lemon juice

30g butter

Whisk all except butter together

Place in a steel bowl over a simmering pot of water (or a double boiler)

Add the butter, stirring constantly until curd has thickened

 

Buttercream

2 egg whites

3/4c sugar

60ml water

150g butter

50g white chocolate, melted

Bring sugar and water to softball stage, while bringing egg whites to softly foaming in a stand mixer

Stream into egg whites and beat on high until meringue forms

Keep beating until the bowl is cool to the touch (10 minutes)

Gradually add butter while beating.

Don’t panic if it seems to curdle or go soupy ( if curdling, keep whisking, if soupy, place in the fridge for 10 minutes and then continue to whisk.

Add the white chocolate beating until incorporated.

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Assembly

Macaron shells

Buttercream in a piping bag with a circular nozzle

passionfruit curd

raspberry jam

This is how I did it, but fill them how you would like 🙂

 

 

 

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Dessert Trio: Mille Feuille, Chocolate Orange Macarons, Chocolate Mudcake Slice

Family gatherings are a great opportunity to surprise and please people with lovely food. I had a relatively uneventful day putting together this trio and they were well received. Despite not being able to find glucose syrup anywhere (I walked stores flat for more than two hours!), even my fondant for the mille feuille was pretty good. IMG_1205

I’ve refined my macaron recipe yet again! I’ve switched to an italian meringue recipe, which seems to be more stable. I love italian meringue! So fluffy and silky, there’s almost nothing more satisfying than perfect meringue. And my macarons worked perfectly in my aunt’s oven. Yeah, it went well.ImageProxy.mvc

The chocolate cake is squiggly and intense and full of hidden veggies! aubergine was the star here! topped with chocolate ganache and fresh strawberries, this just popped on the plate.

I’ll post the recipe for the macarons and the chocolate cake here, as I have already done a post on my mille feuille before.

IMG_1209Chocolate Orange Macarons

125g icing sugar

125g almond meal

1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder

100g egg whites

125g caster sugar

1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder

34g water

1. sift together the icing sugar, cocoa powder and the almond meal

2. place the caster sugar and the water in a medium saucepan and bring to softball heat (115˚C)

3. while the sugar is heating, start to whisk 50g of egg white in a stand mixer, until just foaming

4. once the sugar has reached 115˚C slowly stream it into the egg whites while whisking on high. Whisk until glossy and cool

5. add the other 50g of egg white to the icing sugar/almond meal mix

6. fold half of the meringue into the dry mix, then the other half

7. fold or macaronage until smooth, and the mix falls in a thick ribbon

8. Transfer to a piping bag, pipe small circles onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper

9. rest until a skin has formed

10. bake for 15 minutes at 140˚C or until they are able to be picked up off the sheet

11. fill with cream cheese icing

50g butter

250g icing sugar

70g cream cheese

30g melted dark chocolate

orange jest

whisk the butter until light and fluffy, add the icing sugar and continue to whisk to a paste, add the cream cheese and the chocolate and whisk to combine.

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Chocolate Mudcake slice

400g aubergine

300g chocolate chopped

200g honey

3 eggs

100g almond meal

2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp brandy

1. peel and chop the aubergine, place in a microwaveable dish with a bit of water and cover with cling wrap. Microwave for 8 minutes

2. place chocolate in with the aubergine to melt from the heat of the aubergine

3. whisk up the eggs, honey, almond meal, baking powder and brandy

4. once the chocolate is completely melted, blend until smooth, then fold through the other mixture.

5. pour into a square baking tin lined with baking paper and bake at 180˚C for 25-30min

6. allow to cool before topping with ganache and slicing into squares

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Mastering Macarons

Macarons have become a fashion item, the new fad, much like the cupcake before them. And really, its easy to see why: with their sleek shiny shells and contrasting feet, filled with enticing glossy ganache, their versatility and chicness makes them akin to a well proportioned dome atop a cathedral or as simple as a smooth pebble on a beach. Deceptively simple in appearance, these devil cookies have thrown my kitchen into hell and tormented my family to the point that ‘macaron’ is a swear word in my house and I have taken to my experiments only when everyone else is out, giving me time to compose my self after any particularly trying batches.

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Now, I have perfected italian meringue buttercream,become a connoisseur of caramel and even piped a Valentine box out of royal icing, therefore when I first decided to tackle macaroons, I expected a batch of the most marvellous macarons i have ever seen. Not the case; failure, time and time again. too runny, too flat, no feet, cracked shell, too brown, too high or too dull. I tried recipe after recipe, read troubleshooting, aged egg whites, shifted almonds, Youtubed macaronage and babied my oven. Again and again, i was not satisfied. Macarons were my downfall it seemed.

I could not and would not let a cookie, a little blob of egg whites and almond, defeat me. So this morning i took to the kitchen again. I had a bowl of egg white that had been in the fridge for 2 days, so sufficiently aged. With a silent prayer to the macaron gods, I dived in, for what i swore would be the final time. Unless i failed….

Recipe
100g egg whites (aged for 2 days)
60g caster sugar
110g almond meal
200g icing sugar

Combine icing sugar and almond meal in a food processor, then sift into a bowl. Beat the egg whites, starting to add the sugar when they are foaming into soft peaks. Beat until stiff (I always used the trusty bowl over the head trick). add half the dry mix to the meringue and fold and ‘macaronage’ until combined. Add the other half and repeat. Be gentle but make sure everything is incorporated and shiny without bubbles. Pipe the mix onto doubled baking sheets lined with greased baking paper. allow to sit for 20-40 minutes. Bake in the oven at 140˚ for 13 minutes or until they come off the paper cleanly. allow to cool and sandwich with your choice of ganache or buttercream. I used a dark chocolate coffee ganache and a white chocolate orange ganache.IMG_7525

If they turn out well, enjoy the food porn, because really, a macaron that doesn’t look like a masterpiece of baking, is not really doing its job.

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