Before beginning the many tart recipes I’d like to share a bit of my life according to…well, me.

This week started the high school baseball season. I have 3 grandsons who play this great sport…2 play for Morse High and 1 plays for Gardiner. The joy, the pride, the…it’s only what outside? Dick and I bring quilts, gloves and hats. We layer ourselves with the warmest clothes we have looking like the Pillsbury Dough Boys.

Bowling is over for the year. We had a great banquet at The Taste of Maine. Many awards were passed out…I received one…the most gutter balls award.

The MORSE H.S. Class of 1963 meet the last Saturday of each month for lunch and the second Tuesday of the month we meet for breakfast. Every year we have an outing on the last Sunday in July at Reid State Park. So proud of my classmates for staying tight knit after all these years.

In between all this we/I go to plays, concerts (when I know about them) and  take trips to Vermont to see grandson #1 who attends Norwich University. Grandson #2 will be attending Johnson and Wales in the fall. J & W is in R.I. and I look forward to visiting him there during his four years!  (Me too!)

Now, the tarts…

April 27,2016

Almond Raspberry Galette

This looks like a winner…can’t wait to begin this recipe. To start, I tore my kitchen up trying to locate my 8-inch tart ring. Success came when I looked in the most unlikely spot. Wanna take a quick guess? My son’s old bedroom…stored stuff not often used in a flat cardboard box and pushed it under the bunk beds. I have limited storage room in the kitchen and decided to make more room by placing stuff in remote (and forgotten places)…really, forgotten.

Ingredients: 1 c. unsalted butter, 2 c. all-purpose flour, pinch salt, 3/4 c. sugar, 1/3 c. almond meal/flour, 1/4 cup egg, beaten and 2/3 c. raspberry jam. For the egg wash:1 egg and a pinch of salt.

Beginning as always by reading the recipe thoroughly. The tart shell looks a lot like my shortbread recipe I found years ago in the Fanny Farmer Cookbook. Fail proof and delicious.

The dough mixes well forming a pliable crust made of sugar, almond flour, unsalted butter, a pinch of salt and all-purpose flour. (The butter is unsalted for two reasons…the first one is the freshness of the butter. The salted butter stays on the shelf much longer than the unsalted butter. Secondly, using unsalted butter allows you, the happy baker, to decide how much seasoning you want.) 

I’ll now put the dough on a floured working space. With the heel of my hand I begin smearing (called fraisage) the butter/flour mixture pressing down and away for me. This incorporated the butter into the flour.

I will now divide the dough in half. One half went into the refrigerator while I worked on the other half forming the bottom layer of the galette.  A circle of parchment paper is placed on the tart ring and is lightly greased. The dough is rolled 1/4 of an inch thick and placed in the ring.  An egg wash (1 egg and 2 t. water) is applied to the edge of the pastry with a 1 inch boarder.

The oven is set for 350 degrees. At this point the raspberry jam is applied to the bottom crust making sure to stay within the egg wash boarder. Now the top crust is removed from the refrigerator and rolled to a 1/4 inch thickness. Placing the crust over the raspberry jam filling, making sure it fits neatly, I then pressed the dough evenly sealing the two crusts together.

Now a coat of egg wash is applied to the scored top. I chilled the tart for 15 minutes then baked it for 40 minutes turning during the first 20 minutes. Removed the tart and sprinkled the crust with confectioners sugar, lightly coating the top crust. Baked an additional 6 minutes producing a lovely golden tart.

Can’t wait to cut a slice of this lovely tart. But, I will wait until the bake has cooled. Okay, I didn’t wait until it was completely cooled. It’s the best one yet in this series of tarts. You’ve gotta do this one, folks!

April 29, 2016

(Today marks the 109th birthday of my mother, Celia. Mom left us in 1977 while we were stationed in Hawaii. It was a grim call at 5 a.m. when her brother, Richie, called to inform me of her passing. A sad flight home to find the life I longed for was gone forever. Miss you mom…)

Bittersweet Truffle Tartelette

Turning to the back section of this cookbook, I find the recipe for the chocolate tart dough.

Chocolate tart:  confectioner’s sugar (1/3 c.), Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder (1/4 c. plus 1 T.), 1 c. all purpose flour, 4 T. of unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, 1 egg yolk and 1 T. plus 2 t. heavy cream.

The dry ingredients are sifted through a fine sieve. In the stand up mixer I’ll combine the dry ingredients with the cubed butter until they are reduce to a pea size consistency. Now I’ll add the egg yolk mixing the dough until it comes together. Hummm…doesn’t seem to want to do that. (Could this be the fly in the ointment?) I let the mixture go for 10 minutes without a change. Now what? I compressed the dough as tightly as I could on a piece of plastic wrap and set it in the refrigerator for 3 hours. Only one hour is recommended but this stuff needs  plenty of time to hopefully stay together.

The three hours didn’t make a hill of a beans of difference in the texture. I rolled it and the dough just crumbled. Time to begin again in hopes that I find an error in my understanding of the process.

In repeating the recipe, I’m taking extreme care in following the directions. My check list is complete. And I find no difference in the outcome.  (I hear that fly a buzzing!) I then added a wee bit more cream as the day is dry. Nothing. Added a bit more cream…too much. The dough is now tough and yucky.

I rolled out the dough and cut six, five inch circles. (The dough barely stayed together.) Placing a circle of parchment paper on the lightly greased pan(used  PAM) I begin forming the dough into the tart pans. What a mess…the circles of dough did not hold together (surprise) so I end up pressing pieces together against the sides of the pans. Placed beans in each one to prevent the crust from turning in on itself. HORRORS!…they look like a Pre-K project.

Into the oven set at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. The directions call for 15 minutes. Considering the recipe is so mess up I’ll bake this for less time then test to see if they are getting hard.

Ten minutes seems to be enough. I then CAREFULLY remove the beans and the parchment paper and place the tart shell back into the oven for 10 minutes making sure to turn half way through the baking.

Well, some stayed together…sort of. I’ll salvage what I can to complete this recipe. Feel sad…hate to have this failure. When I am done with all the recipes I will venture over to Portland and chat with the bakers. They’ll straighten me out I’m sure.

Now for the filling…yes, Virginia, there is more! I’m chopping bittersweet chocolate to make 1 cup and put it in a medium bowl. Placing a small sauce pan on the stove I add 1/2 cup of half and half on medium heat, cooking it until it just comes to the boil. Then I pour the liquid over the chopped bittersweet chocolate stirring until smooth.

I will now pour the chocolate mixture into the 3 baked shells that did stay together filling them nearly to the top. Now to put them in the refrigerator until they are set…about 30 minutes. (Well, that part went well.)

Taking the tarts out of the refrigerator I marvel at their glossy appearance. Feeling a bit better about myself, I add a garnish…chopped pecans will do it. Got to get away from this recipe. 

My daughter-in-law’s parents came up today. We are going to the Red Barn for clams and lobster rolls. How bad is that? I told the mother about my sad attempt at this tart recipe. She wanted to see them…bless her heart, she said they looked wonderful. I even think she took a nibble and lived to see another day.


May 1, 2016

A relief to say the tart dough is NOT chocolate but a buttery mixture of flour, cake flour, salt, lots of butter (1 2/3 c.) whole milk, an egg yolk and a scant amount of sugar.

Ingredients: One recipe for perfect tart dough found in back of cookbook and also in the back of the cookbook…………… caramel sauce.

Filling: 6 c. peeled, cored and sliced tart apples, 3/4 c. sugar, 1 t. lemon juice, 1/4 t. ground cinnamon, 1/8 t. ground allspice, 1/8 t. ground cloves and a pinch of salt.

For the tart dough: In a medium bowl, the all-purpose flour, cake flour and salt are whisked together. I attached the paddle attachment to the stand mixer and on medium speed beat the butter until a creamy texture was achieved.  Lowering the speed to low, I add the milk, egg yolk and sugar until blended. As the recipe says, the mixture will look curdled. Now to add the flour mixture, slowly until a soft dough forms.

Everything is going particularly well…I formed the dough into two discs.  Wrapped them in plastic wrap and set them in the refrigerator for 4 hours (but can be chilled overnight).

In the meantime, I’ll prepare the apple filling which consists of 6 cups of peeled, sliced and corded tart apples.  I used Granny Smith’s as this was the best one with the present selection at the grocery store.  

I then placed the apples, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and a pinch of salt in a sauce pan with a 1/2 cup of water. Mixed these ingredients together and set the pan on medium heat. Cooked the apples breaking up the larger pieces. The recipe suggested it would take between 1 1/2 to 2 hours to get a chunky applesauce. Guess my apples cooked really fast as this step only took twenty minutes. Set this aside and continued the next step…caramel sauce which is at the back of the cookbook.

(Note: the caramel sauce is on page 166 not 160.) This recipe includes sugar, corn syrup, butter, heavy cream, sour cream and a pinch of salt.

I placed the sugar, corn syrup and 1 1/2 teaspoons of water in a small sauce pan.  Cook the sugary mixture over medium heat. (They suggested using a pastry brush dipped in water to brush down the sides of the pan to prevent sugar crystals.)

Cook the mixture until a medium amber color is achieved removing immediately from the burner. These ingredients should be pre-measured as this happens quite quickly. Yes, it did…I whisked in the butter causing the sugar mixture to bubble up. Now whisked in the heavy cream and the sour cream. Added the salt. The sauce is a bit thin but will thicken when cooled. Set aside.

Now for the streusel that will top the tarts. In a large bowl whisk together the granulated sugar, the brown sugar, flour and salt. Then I added 7 tablespoons of cooled, melted butter blending everything together with my fingers or pastry blender until it forms coarse crumbs. (The remainder of the streusel can be kept in a tightly covered storage container for 3 days or up to 3 weeks in the freezer.) The crumbs should be kept in the refrigerator before topping the tarts. 

The  four hours are up. I placed a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet before putting the 12 cup muffin tin on the sheet.

Rolled the dough into a circle roughly 1/8 of an inch thick taking care to turn it during this process to prevent sticking. That done, I let the dough rest for a minute or two preventing shrinking.

Taking a 5 inch (used the bottom of my hand sifter which measures exactly 5 inches) and cut 6 circles placing them neatly into the tart pans. Then taking the remaining disc out I repeat the process until the 12 cup muffin tin was filled. Placed the tarts in the refrigerator for an hour.

Turning the oven on to 375 degrees I then removed the tart shells from the refrigerator. Now I add the cooled caramel sauce to the shells putting about a tablespoon in each. The apple filling is then put on top of the sauce leaving enough room for the streusel topping.

The streusel is then placed on top of the apple mixture…roughly 1/8 of a cup. With  aluminum foil placed on the bottom rack, I now put the tarts in the pre-heated oven for 23-24 minutes making sure to rotate the tarts half way through the baking.

Done. Removed the tarts and placed them on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool. Okay, this could be tricky…with a small off set spatula I GENTLY remove the tarts. Oopsie…not an easy task. One down ( and I mean DOWN) and five to go. The next five came out of the tin in better shape than the first tart which looks a bit sad.

That completes this rather lengthy, but delicious tart. My old self is now heading to the couch with a good cup of hot coffee and the sad little tart that fell apart  for a much anticipated rest and the completion of  a sad  little book,  A Voice In The Tide.

Chocolate Pecan Tart

May 3, 2016

Oh shoot!…the chocolate tart!!! Okay, I can figure this out. For heavens sake, I’ll go right at this recipe with full confidence of a successful bake. After all, how delicious do chocolate and pecans nestled in a chocolate tart sound? Deep breath, shoulders back, stomach in…ready for battle.

The recipe calls for a 9-inch tart shell, unbaked and chilled. My tart pan is only 8 inches but I do have a 9 inch spring form pan. That’s what I’ll use.

Chocolate tart dough recipe: 1/3 c. plus 1 T. confectioner’s sugar, 1/4 c. plus T. Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder, 1 c. all-purpose flour, 4 T. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, 1 egg yolk and 1 T. plus 2 t. heavy cream.

The dough is now assembled as instructed in the Bittersweet Truffle Tartelette recipe.

I’m looking at the mixture thinking I’m not rolling this mother out. Hummm…I could press it into the spring form pan kinda like I did the little chocolate tarts. So I just dumped the whole mixture into the pan.

With a spoon I press the dough firmly to the sides and bottom of the pan. I then took my thumb and pressed the dough against the sides of the pan. After that, I smoothed the bottom of the tart making sure it was firmly in place. Placed the tart in the refrigerator while making the filling. (I must say, it’s a fine looking tart. Moist enough, but just barely, to hold it’s shape.)

Filling: 1/4 c. sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 t. salt, 2 T. unsalted butter melted and cooled, 1/4 c. plus 1 T. light corn syrup, 1 1/2 t. molasses, 1 2/3 c. toasted pecans roughly chopped, 1/4 c. chopped bittersweet chocolate.

Carmel sauce: 3/4 c. sugar, 2 T. light corn syrup, 3 T. unsalted butter, 1/4 heavy cream, 1 T. sour cream and a pinch of salt

For the filling I whisked in a small bowl, the sugar and egg together. Then added the salt, butter (melted) corn syrup and molasses (odd I thought) and stirred to combine.

Now to assemble and bake the tart. But first, I  pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Done. In a medium bowl, and with a wooden spoon (as instructed to use) I stir to combine the caramel sauce ( had enough leftover from making the Caramel Apple Tartelettes ), the filling, the pecans and the chocolate that was chopped earlier . After the filling is evenly distributed onto the tart I placed it in the oven for 25 minutes until slightly puffed and lightly browned.  And, as if I need to repeat the following, turn the tart half way through the baking.

Removed the tart from the oven after allotted baking time and placed it on a wire rack to cool. My stars above, this looks fantastic!!! I’ll let you know how it came out when it’s room temperature.

WOW…perfect in every way…even the crust. So, I have conquered the chocolate tart shell. Not quite the way the cookbook instructed but it’s a lovely, crisp tart I am proud of.  So proud in fact, I am bringing a piece to Kathy down at city hall.  She’s my official taster and one great gal. 

(To Nadja, who commented on this blog…I do realize these recipes and dialogues are VERY slow in coming. I have only this to add…I’m old. My rotator cuff causes me pain in the easiest of tasks. Just incorporating the ingredients of these recipes my shoulder aches beyond belief. I also have gardens that this time of year take a great deal of time. Good news…my spinach is up! I will try to be more vigilant in the weeks ahead. Thank you for commenting…nice to know someone is out there.)

More tarts to follow…many, many more.