(Miniature) Lavender Harvest

Monday, September 29, 2014

The season is taking a turn this week, making the leaves turn crispy and golden. I suppose it's time then, to start clipping the last of my lavender buds, and hang them up for drying. Here's the first batch I nipped earlier this month. I'll separate and bottle up the leaves and the buds, and use them for winter baking projects. It somehow makes the oncoming chilly weather less daunting..  

Mini Frangipane Tartlettes with Raspberries

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Here's a little something to tuck into your picnic basket this weekend... a rich, frangipane tartlette studded with fresh summer raspberries. Frangipane, (for those who are curious) is a creamy almond filling made from whipped butter, sugar, eggs, and a heap of ground almonds. It's sweetness is nicely offset by the tartness of the raspberries and the golden, flaky pie crust.

Tarts (or gallettes) are absolutley beautiful when they're pared down and rustic. Make a simple butter crust, hastily folded with a handful of fresh berries and you can stop right there.. but if you're like me, some fancy flair and frangipane is sometimes in order. I stamped out a few shapes using petal cutters, and braided some dough to crown the tarts before baking. It took an extra few minutes, but I find these extra touches super satisfying. Either way you go, dig in, and enjoy the process. If you're reeeeaally short on time, this is a project that can be spaced out over a few evenings by making the dough and filling in advance, but really, this recipe is easy peas.

Pie Crust:
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour (you can use pastry flour if you have it, it has less protein in it, but the end result will be a tad more crumbly than with all purpose )
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of REALLY COLD unsalted butter, chopped into small cubes
1/4 cup ice water (+more if necessary)
Egg wash - 1 beaten egg + spash of cream
*you can use pie weights if you like, but these tarts are so small, I found the crusts brown nicely without puffing up much.

Cold is the name of the game here folks. Keep everything nice and chilly. If you're working in a hot kitchen, refrigerate your dry ingredients and the bowl - it'll go a long way towards preventing your butter from softening.
Cut your butter into the dry mix using a pastry cutter. Add ice cold water, and roughly pull all your ingredients together. If necessary, add a tad more ice water until a (shaggy) dough forms. Divide your dough in two, wrap in cling, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Roll out your dough and line tartlette pans. Decorate the crown as you please. Preheat your oven to 425. Refrigerate tart shells until oven is at temp. Brush with egg wash and bake until the edges turn golden.

.. meanwhile, when your shells are baking.
Frangipane Filling:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg white 
3/4 cup almond flour (or whole almonds, zipped through a food processor)
2 teaspoons of flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt 

Whip butter and sugar in a stand mixer until very pale in colour. Add egg + white and mix until incorporated. Add almond flour, flour, salt and extracts. whip until incorporated. Add to partially baked pie shells and stud with raspberries. Lower oven temp to 350, and bake until filling is set (about 20 minutes.) Cool and dust with powdered sugar. Store in refrigerator until it's time to go picnicking. Dust away ants, share with friends, and enjoy. 

Dads Rule + Dartmouth Market Fun

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I was glad to have the opportunity to set up my little cupcake station at the Dartmouth Market yesterday, and with Father's day in mind, there was an extra manly selection of treats available. Because Dartmouthians are so darn supportive, I sold out by noon, and left feeling excited about future visits. I'll be sure to let everyone know about my next appearance once that date is confirmed!

Now, to all you Dads, Fathers, Pas and Pops out there, we salute you today (and everyday) for the very special role you play... Happy Father's Day!

Raindrop (Baby Shower) Cake Pops with Instructions /Tips

Monday, June 9, 2014

These raindrop cake pops were made for a friend who's expecting a baby boy. You know, life doesn't offer anything much more exciting than that, does it? The anticipation of a brand new, tiny bouncing bundle of joy. These cake pops were the least I could do to help get this party started!

Now, have any of YOU tried making cake pops at home before? They're still pretty popular in Pinterest land, and they make fun party snacks.. but.. they can be fussy to make if you don't approach them armed with a few helpful pointers. 
Allow me to share what I think are crucial cake pop tips: 
(note, these pointers should be used in conjunction with a recipe)

First, bake a cake that's dense and stable. 
A cake with a delicate and tender crumb just can't hold up to the cake pop process - but a pound cake is a good option. The worst cake pop is a mushy cake pop, so I would recommend baking your cake a few minutes longer than what the recipe suggests. An extra 5-10 will do the trick, being mindful not to burn the cake. And don't worry, that golden cake top is 
pretty yummy once incorporated into the mix. 

Second, when working your icing into the crumbled cake mixture, be careful not to over beat. It'll go mushy pretty quickly, so work the icing in slowly and stop as soon as it's incorporated. Oh, and make sure your icing is good and fluffy so that it incorporates into the crumbs without too much of a fight. And GO EASY on the icing... it really goes a long way. 
As soon as the dough can hold the shape of a round ball, you've added enough. 

Third: Don't skimp on the quality of your candy melts. I hate to use store/brand names on the blog, but there's a certain "bulk" retail "barn" that sells candy melts that'll make you pull your hair out and shake your fists in hateful anger. It's not worth the struggle. They simply don't melt properly, and they won't achieve the smooth finish you're after. I've found that the other brand of candy melts (rhymes with Milton) found at most craft/ department stores, is really the way to go. Melt, dip, tap off the excess, and let them sit upright while they harden.

So there you have it. I've given you everything I know.
Go forth and make pretty little cake pops with pride and confidence!

(and send me an email if you need any extra courage along the way) 

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