Tartine’s Chocolate Coffee Walnut Tart

tart

My favorite bakery must be San Francisco’s Tartine. While there’s always a ridiculous line, luckily, the bakery puts out a cookbook with ways to make the tasty items at home.

I’ve written about two other recipes from the cookbook for this blog before: my first post for Tartine Brownies and another for their Gougères.

Today’s office Cooking Club theme is pies. And, while I considered making a shepherd’s pie, I thought I’d turn to the ol’ standby for a good recipe.

Truth be told, I don’t know that I’ve ever actually made a pie. I’m usually not the biggest pie person (save my father’s apple pie on Thanksgiving). I’ve heard of the dread people have of making the pie crust (and considered cheating and buying one) but the Tartine crust and this recipe looked pretty straightforward.

The original recipe was for a chocolate hazelnut tart, but one of the variations was for this version so I decided I’d go with it. I think I’d like to go back and make the original version, too. (To make the original, just substitute an equal amount of brandy and roasted hazelnuts for the coffee and walnuts, respectively, and add the zest from half an orange when whisking the eggs).

Honestly, I really liked the tart. The presentation would definitely be improved if I had a formal tart pan (or even made it in small tartlet pans). But that’s for another time – I will enjoy this tart now, thank you!

Pie Crust

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick, 115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
Pinch of salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups (250g) flour

Instructions

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar and salt and mix on medium speed until smooth. Mix in egg and mix until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour all at once and mix on low speed until just incorporated.

On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a disk 1/2 in thick. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours or overnight. Remove the dough from the fridge and, on a lightly floured surface, roll it out to 1/8 in thickness. Be sure to keep your work surface well floured and move quickly to ensure the dough does not get warm. Place the pastry shell carefully in the pan and then place in the refrigerator until it is firm, about 15-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Dock (make small holes) in the bottom of the shell with a fork, making tiny holes two inches apart. Place in the oven for 12-15 minutes until the shell is golden brown. Set aside, awaiting the filling.

crust
Crust ready for the oven

Filling

Ingredients

6 oz (170g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (Actually, difficult to find! I used Ghirardelli baking chips)
1/2 cup (1 stick, 115 g) unsalted butter
1/4 cup strong coffee
2/3 cup (135 g) sugar, divided
3 large eggs
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted walnuts

Instructions

Preheat over to 325° F

Put chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, coffee and 1/3 cup (70g) of the sugar. Place over medium-low heat and stir until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved. Pour butter mixture over the chocolate and stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate melts.

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, combine the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, eggs and salt on medium speed until the mixture is a very pale yellow, light and flows off the whist in a thick ribbon when paddle is lifted out of the bow, 3-4 minutes.

Pour one-third of the egg mixture into the melted chocolate and whisk to lighten the mixture. Fold in the remaining egg mixture with a rubber spatula. Pour the filling into the pastry shell and smooth the surface with a spatular (mine ended up pretty smooth so I didn’t need to do this). Arrange the walnuts evenly on top.

Bake the tart until the surface of the filling loses some of its shine but hasn’t puffed up like a soufflé, 7-9 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Tart will keep, well-wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to five days.

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Super Soft Snickerdoodle Cookies

Snickerdoodles

Some people just love snickerdoodles. I wouldn’t say I love them, but the spices used in them (cinnamon and nutmeg) remind me of autumn, which is clearly the season superior to all the others. The nice thing about them is the spice is present but not overwhelming and the cookie isn’t heavy at all – all the while being easy to make! What else could you ask for?

From The Kitchn website, here is the recipe I used:

Ingredients:
For the cookies:
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 c dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 c white sugar
3 c flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cinnamon sugar:
1/4 c white sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Melt the butter in a saucepan or in the microwave and let it cool while you mix the dry ingredients. Stir together the sugars, flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Whisk the eggs into the cooled butter and add the vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just incorporated.

In a shallow bowl, mix together the white sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Form 1 1/2-inch balls of dough and roll them in the cinnamon sugar. Place them on an unlined, ungreased baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for 7 minutes then remove and let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack.

Thomas Keller’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

For a friend’s birthday, I decided to make chocolate chip cookies and I used the opportunity to bake Thomas Keller’s version. The recipe deviates from the standard recipe by not using vanilla and by using two types of chocolate, one dark and one semi-sweet. The two chocolates combine to give the cookie a more complex taste than your average cookie. However, using chocolate that is not pre-chopped is the most difficult part of the recipe. It took a good 30 minutes to chop up all the chocolate used in the recipe.

The recipe comes from Keller’s book “Ad Hoc at Home,” which features a range of “do-it-yourself-at-home” recipes, although most recipes are still pretty advanced. I received his “Bouchon Bakery” cookbook for Hanukkah that features all desserts, so I am excited to try recipes from there, too.

The recipe and a picture of the final product follows.

Ingredients
2 1/3 c plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
5 oz 55 percent chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces (I used Baker’s)
5 oz 70-72 percent chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces (I used Scharffen Berger 70 percent)
8 oz (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 c packed dark brown sugar, preferably molasses sugar
3/4 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Instructions
Position racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift flour and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir in the salt.

Put chips in a fine-mesh basket strainer and shake to remove any chocolate “dust” (small fragments).

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat half the butter on medium speed until fairly smooth. Add both sugars and the remaining butter, and beat until well combined, then beat for a few more minutes, until mixture is light and creamy. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine. Mix in chocolate.

Remove bowl from mixer and fold dough with a spatula to be sure the chocolate is evenly incorporated. Using about 2 level tablespoons per cookie, shape dough into balls. Arrange eight cookies on each pan, leaving about 2 inches between them, because the dough will spread. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops are no longer shiny, switching the position and rotating pans halfway through baking.

Cool cookies on the pans on cooling racks for about two minutes to firm up a bit, then transfer to the racks to cool completely. Repeat with second batch of cookies. (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days.)

cookies
Cookies, ready to eat

Baileys Bundt Cake

For Cooking Club this month, we decided to combine a member’s office wedding shower and our usual monthly cooking meeting into one. The theme was “boozey” foods. I was originally going to try to make a savory dish since I feared that most people would bring desserts, but after acquiring Baileys Irish Cream (along with lots of other liquor courtesy of American Express and their Small Business Saturday promotion) I looked on the Baileys’ recipe website and came across the recipe for Baileys Bundt Cake.

I pretty much had all the ingredients and, thanks to the Senate working ’til midnight the night before, very little time to make it. But the recipe is super easy and the results were a cake that was not too sweet, with the Baileys really coming out as the star. As I held the cake wrapped up on my lap on my Metro ride into work, the smell of the liquor was calling my name the whole way in!

The recipe follows along with a picture of the finished cake. Due to time limitations, I forwent the usually pictures of the steps along the way. Next time!

Ingredients
Cake ingredients
1/2  lb butter (2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cup Baileys Original Irish Cream
2 cups flour
Pinch of salt

Topping ingredients
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a bundt pan.

Combine butter with sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.

In a separate bowl, mix together 1 tsp of the baking powder and Baileys Original Irish Cream. After well mixed, add to the egg mixture and combine.

Sift together the flour, 2 tsp of the baking powder and salt in another bowl. Add to egg mixture and stir until well combined.

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients to make the topping.

Pour half of batter into the pan. Sprinkle in half of topping. Pour in remaining batter. Top with remainder of topping.

Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Finished Bailys Bundt Cake
The finished Baileys Bundt Cake ready to serve

Big Brownie Cookies

I’m a little ashamed to even be posting this recipe considering how easy it is. But the results are totally amazing and it is pretty much my go to recipe when I’m short of time but still want to bake something. I decided to make these for a coworker’s birthday and the ol’ classic did not disappoint.

The recipe comes from a fabulous cookbook of “semi-homemade” recipes titled, “The Ultimate Shortcut Cookie Cookbook“. I usually double the recipe so I can use the full bag of chocolate chips – making sure there isn’t half a bag sitting in my house to tempt me. The recipe calls for semisweet chocolate chips, but I like to use white chocolate chips since I think it provides a nice contrast to the chocolate in the cookie itself.

Below is the standard recipe, which I doubled, and pictures of the finished product.

Ingredients
1 (19.5-19.8 oz.) package brownie mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (half a bag)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine brownie mix, oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until just blended and all dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoon onto cookie sheet, two inches apart.

Bake for 11-14 minutes until cracked in appearance and just barely set at center when lightly touched (13 minutes seems to be the sweet spot for my oven). Cool for one minute on cookie sheet. Transfer to wire racks with metal spatula to cool completely.

Fresh out of the oven

Ready to eat

Tartine Gougères

I had some left over gruyère cheese from my last recipe and also was in the mood to channel my first recipe on this blog, so I turned to the trusty Tartine cookbook and came across the recipe for gougères. I had all the ingredients (except I did have to run to the store to get more eggs – the recipe calls for 6 eggs!) but the steps seemed reasonable and the real Tartine Bakery produces them with such magnificent results that I figured I would give them a try.

They came out in exactly the consistency they should: a hard shell, but a gooey and soft inside. Sadly, the gougères came out of the oven big and plump but soon settled down and lost their poofyness. But hey, they still tasted really good!

The recipe and pictures follow.

Ingredients

Choux Pastry

1 1/4 cups nonfat milk (do not be tempted to use full fat milk as there is enough butter in the recipe to get the fat from)
10 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1 cup flour
5 large eggs
3/4 cup gruyère cheese, grated
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced

Topping

1 large egg
pinch salt
grated Gruyère for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

To make the choux pastry, combine milk, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Wait for the butter to melt then turn off the heat. Add the flour all at once and stir vigourously until a dough is formed into a large ball. Stirring should take 1 to 2 minutes.

After adding the flour and stirring

Transfer dough to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add eggs one at a time at medium speed making sure to incorporate each egg before adding the next. After all the eggs have been added, the mixture should be thick, smooth and shiny.

Adding the eggs with the electric stand mixer (one of the best kitchen investments one can make)

Add the gruyère, pepper and thyme by hand using a rubber spatula.

You can really notice the thyme

Drop in 1 in rounds on prepared baking sheet.

Dropped cookies, preglazin’

To make the topping, whisk 1 egg with a pinch of salt and brush over each pastry. Lightly sprinkle each pastry with a little cheese.

Glazin’

Place pastries in the oven immediately and bake until they are are puffed and browned for about 25 minutes. Serve hot or warm. Or let cool completely and place in an airtight container. You can recrisp the puffs at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.

La Pièce de résistance

Butternut Squash and Potato Gratin With Gruyere

At work each month a group of fellow cooks convene for “Cooking Club” and make food to bring in and share in a potluck fashion. This month’s theme was squashes/gourds/autumn vegetables. I originally wanted to make my mother’s recipe for Butternut Squash Soup but the recipe seemed too complicated. I wanted to use butternut squash as my autumn vegetable so I looked for a recipe and came across one that called for the squash to replace some of the potatoes in an au gratin.

A difficult aspect of cooking club is you often are making dishes you cannot necessarily taste before you serve it to the group, so there is some degree of trust you have to place in your recipe. The recipe is pretty easy and, judging from the comments of my colleagues, I believe came out very well.

The recipe, adopted from “12 Seasons Cookbook,” with a few photos follows.

Ingredients
2 lbs butternut squash (about 1 squash)
3 large potatoes (I used russet potatoes)
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh marjoram
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups heavy cream
4 ozs gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375°F
Butter a 9″ by 12” gratin dish (the CorningWare version did fine by me). Peel the squash with a potato peeler and remove the seeds.

The peeled butternut squash

Slice the squash into 1/8” rounds or half circles (bottom portion). I used a handheld mandoline.

Seeded

and sliced

Peel potatoes and cut into 1/8” slices.

All those peeled and sliced potatoes

In a small bowl, combine thyme, marjoram and sage.

Layer one-third of squash slices in baking dish; use less attractive slices on bottom. Sprinkle with some of the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Layer half of the potato slices over the squash. Sprinkle with some of the herbs and half of the garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread another third of the squash slices on the potatoes. Again, sprinkle more herbs and season with salt and pepper. Spread the remaining potatoes in another layer over the squash and sprinkle some herbs and the rest of the garlic. Top with the remaining squash and herbs and season with salt and pepper.

Firmly press down on the squash and potato layers with a large spoon, spatula or your hand. Slowly pour the cream over the top and down the sides of the dish. Add enough to just barely cover the vegetables when pressed. Too much cream will result in a soupy gratin, too little will make it dry.

Ready for the oven

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

After the first baking period

Remove the foil and sprinkle with the gruyere. Continue to bake, uncovered for 25 to 30 more minutes, or until the vegetables are tender, the cream is nearly absorbed and the top of the gratin is lightly browned. Let the gratin rest for 10 minutes to absorb all the cream before serving.

The final result