Monday, September 28, 2009

Raspberry Tarts and Pumpkin Spice Cake

Last Wednesday's desserts:

(just the tarts and the pecan-topped cake)

The Raspberry Tarts are very popular with the diners at the restaurant, and consist of pastry cream (from the Crepe Gateau) piped into tart shells that have been brushed with apricot jam (heated on the stove with some water), and then topped with raspberries (also brushed with jam). The only places around here one should buy raspberries are fresh market or Sam's Club.

I don't have a food processor yet, so I've been making my tart dough by hand, but it's not as hard as you'd think. It turns out crunchy and flaky, with good flavor.

I really like this recipe, found in my "Organic Kitchen" cookbook:

1.5 c flour
pinch of salt
1 T sugar
1/2 c unsalted butter
1 egg

- Mix in food processor until combined. bring into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 min.
- Flour your tart pans (I use mini tart pans with removable bottoms. this recipe makes dough for a 9 inch pan, but I double it and make 10 mini tarts)

- Roll out the dough to 3/8 of an inch, until it is larger than the tart pan. (I roll between two sheets of parchment paper- less mess, and the dough doesn't stick to the pin)

- Drape the dough over the pan, pushing to the sides and bottom, trying not to stretch the dough too much. Take your rolling pin and roll across the top, cutting off the excess dough.

- Back in the fridge for 10-20 minutes. I usually skip this step and haven't noticed a difference.
Preheat the oven to 400.

- Line the tart bottoms with parchment or aluminum foil, and fill with dry rice or beans. (or use pie weights). Again, I skip this step, because with the mini pans it doesn't matter as much. Instead, I prick the bottom a million times with a fork.

-Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then remove the weights. Lower the temp to 350 and bake for 5-10 more minutes, until the bottom is dry. If you are baking the tart filling the the shell, remove the tart shells at this point and save or fill and bake. My fillings so far are piped in after the tart shell is baked, so I leave the shells in the oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes more, until golden brown.

NOW, if you don't have a food processor yet, like me, then you can dice up the butter in approximately quarter inch pieces and throw into the flour mixture, and rub into the flour with clean hands, adding the beaten egg after a couple minutes and rubbing some more before forming into a ball. There should be no huge chunks of butter, but the dough should not be homogenous. The little pieces of butter left intact are what will make your crust flaky.

At the last minute, I also decided to make a pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese icing. Generally, you can just mix a can of pumpkin puree with boxed spice cake mix plus a couple eggs, but in the future I will make my own spice cake because I felt guilty using boxed cake mix. I also added baking soda, which I think was a mistake because I could taste it in the finished product. If I used boxed cake mix again, I would add more spices, and maybe even sugar to ramp up the flavor.

I doubled the recipe, and used two round pans to make my layers. They turned out very large, and I sliced off the top of each layer to make them flat before assembling the cake.

Cream Cheese icing is very easy to make:
Beat 8 oz. cold cream cheese (not rock solid, but it means you can use it straight out of the refrigerator) with 5 Tbsp. softened butter and 2 tsp. vanilla until combined. Gradually add 2 c. powdered sugar that has been sifted after measuring. Continue to add more sifted powdered sugar until you reach a consistency and sweetness that fits your taste.
from this site:

I like it better than Martha's, but I did add whipped cream to that one so maybe that was the problem.

It tasted great, but I definitely ran out towards the end, so the icing was a little lean on top.

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