Apple Tartlets with Salted Caramel

Apple Tartlets with Salted Caramel

Serving individual desserts is a nice way to make the people around your table feel special. Especially after a big, family-style dinner when everyone is sharing large platters of food, a little something sweet plated just for one is a nice touch at the end of a meal.

I love the simplicity of this apple tartlet – it looks bakery-special, but it’s easy to put together. I like to use a high quality prepared all-butter puff pastry that I can buy frozen at Whole Foods, but use whatever pastry dough is your favorite.

The only real project with this recipe is making the caramel, which can be made days – and up to 2 weeks – ahead. It just needs to be warmed to a pourable consistency just before serving.  (You could (shhhhh) use a prepared caramel sauce to make life even easier)

But do try to use flaked salt such as Maldon - it adds a delicate crunch that doesn’t really happen with regular or coarse salt.

Apple Tartlets with Salted Caramel

Ingredients

Caramel Sauce:

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon butter

For tart:

1 sheet all-butter frozen puff pastry dough, defrosted in the refrigerator (I like Dufour brand)

2 apples, peeled

1 tablespoon melted butter

4 teaspoons sugar

Flaked sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. To make the caramel sauce, put the sugar in a 2 -3 quart heavy saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook the sugar until it melts into syrup, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon (NOT a metal spoon, which will get very hot and burn your hand).
  2. Once the sugar is completely melted, let it cook undisturbed until it’s amber-colored. Lower the heat and very slowly dribble the cream into the pan. The mixture will bubble up intensely so be careful. When the bubbling subsides, bring the caramel to a simmer, whisking until any hardened lumps melt back into the sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and butter until smooth. If you end up with a few stubborn pieces of hardened sugar, you can strain the sauce into a heatproof glass measuring cup.
  3. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Roll the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to flatten slightly. Cut out 4 5-inch diameter circles with a pastry cutter or use the upside-down rim of a small bowl.
  5. Transfer the circles to an ungreased baking sheet. Cut the apples in half and remove the core. Slice each half crosswise into thin slices, keeping them together as you slice. Unfurl the slices onto each pastry circle, fanning them in a circular pattern to cover the dough. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon sugar.
  6. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, until the apples are tender and the edges of the tarts are puffed and golden.
  7. Reheat the caramel to pouring consistency if has cooled, and spoon some sauce over each tart. Sprinkle with a little flaked salt and serve warm.
  8. You’ll have more caramel sauce than you need for the tarts, but it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks to use in any way you like.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/10/apple-tartlets-with-salted-caramel/

Chocolate Pumpkin Pound Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Pound Cake with Chocolate Glaze recipe

I’ve pulled this recipe out of my favorites file – a moist, spiced pumpkin pound cake swirled with chocolate and glazed with a shiny-gorgeous chocolate sauce. I shared it over at the Go Bold with Butter blog recently too.

While I haven’t been able to turn the heat on in the house yet – still in denial that fall is here, I guess – my taste for the season is certainly in full swing. And there are lots of delicious things to come…think I’ll go find a big sweater and stock up on firewood.

I really love this time of year.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pound Cake

Yield: 10 -12

Ingredients

2 ¾ cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa

3 sticks butter (1 ½ cups), softened

2 1/4 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

6 eggs, room temperature

1 ¼ cups canned pumpkin puree

2/3 cup plain yogurt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 12-cup Bundt cake pan and lightly dust with flour.
  2. Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl until combined. Remove 1 ¾ cups of this mixture to a second bowl and stir in the pumpkin pie spice and ginger. Stir the cocoa into the remaining flour in the first bowl.
  3. Beat the butter in a stand mixer until creamy. Add the sugars and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape out ½ the batter into another bowl and set it aside.
  4. To make the pumpkin batter, add the pumpkin to the batter in the mixing bowl and beat briefly on slow speed to blend. (FYI, the batter might appear curdled at this point, but that’s fine – it will come together when you add the flour). Stir in the spiced flour mixture until just blended.
  5. To make the chocolate batter, stir the reserved butter mixture into the cocoa mixture, alternating with the yogurt, until just blended.
  6. Spoon half the pumpkin batter into the pan; drop half the chocolate batter by spoonfuls over the pumpkin batter, without covering it completely; repeat with the remaining pumpkin and chocolate batters. Put a small, thin knife into the batter and circle it around the pan a few times, then draw the knife back and forth across the width of the pan to swirl the batters together.
  7. Bake about 1 hour, or until a tester emerges with a few moist crumbs. Cool the cake in the pan 15 minutes before inverting onto a rack to cool completely.
  8. When the cake is cool, make chocolate glaze: Put 4 ounces chopped dark chocolate, ½ cup heavy cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon corn syrup and a pinch of fine salt in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (but not touching) until melted, stirring until smooth. Pour the glaze over the cake, letting some drip over the sides. Let stand until the glaze sets before serving, about 2 hours, or chill for 30 minutes if you’re in a hurry.
  9. Recipe adapted from Sunset
http://familystylefood.com/2012/10/chocolate-pumpkin-pound-cake-2/

Farro Risotto with Cannellini and Basil

I like to cook farro risotto-style for dinner on days when I don’t have the time or attention span to tend a pot the way risotto made with traditional Arborio rice wants a person to do.

Farro is a great whole grain to add to your pantry. It’s a lot like short grain brown rice or barley, but with a little more character. I like the texture of cooked farro; it’s kind of toothsome but not chewy the way you might expect a whole grain kernel to be and it doesn’t take forever to cook – about 20 minutes.

Sometimes we eat this as a vegetarian main dish, or I might put some grilled garlicky shrimp or chicken alongside.

Farro Risotto with Cannellini and Basil

Yield: serves 4 - 6

Ingredients

2 cups farro

3 tablespoons butter

½ onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ teaspoon crushed red chile

1 (14 oz) can crushed or chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans, drained

¼ cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Cook the farro in a large saucepan of boiling water seasoned with 2 teaspoons salt; check the farro after about 25 minutes. The farro is done when the grains are plump but there’s a slight resistance in the center. Scoop out and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water before draining the farro.
  2. In a large skillet or sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat; add the onion, garlic and chilie and cook until softened (but not browned).
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add the cheese and beans, stirring to incorporate.
  4. Add the farro to the mixture, stirring gently; add more water if it seems too thick – it should be a little “saucy”. Scatter the basil over the farro and taste for seasoning. Serve with additional cheese at the table.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/10/farro-risotto-with-cannellini-and-basil/