Darcy Lewis Design

Adventures in "Good Enough" Design

Archive for the tag “fruit”

Nummy Pear and Cheese Tarts!

As usual, I forgot to take good photos, in fact, this was the only photo I managed before two entire tarts were devoured…. And you can’t even see the beautifully fanned out fruit slices I’d put on here…   Nonetheless, so yummy, I’m posting the recipe.

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I had a bunch of pears and some apples that were ripening faster than I could eat them, so I decided to make two tarts. They had very different flavor profiles, and opinion has been pretty evenly split on which one tasters prefer….  These are good warm and fresh, but possibly even better cold the next day…  Both very easy to throw together and I even made the second one (shown above) while people were waiting for their tea.

Fruit Tart with Blackberry Honey Goat Cheese

*  1 package puff pastry dough (there are 2 packages to a box) – room temperature
*  1 +-7oz package honey-flavored goat cheese (I like the Celebrity Int’l brand pack of 3 flavors from Costco) – softened
*  4 pears/apples/other – or some combination thereof.  I used 2 pears and 2 apples. – Halved, cored, and finely sliced – sprinkle with lemon juice to keep their color.
*  2 Tbl blackberry jelly or other fruity jam/jelly/preserves
*  1 tsp vanilla extract (optional – good to use if your goat cheese is plain)
*  1 tsp cinnamon
*  1 pinch nutmeg or cloves
*  1 tsp ginger

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together the goat cheese, jam, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, until totally mixed, soft, and spreadable.
Take the puff pastry dough, and unfold it.  Butter a glass or metal baking pan (9″x12″ fits nicely) and place the dough in it to line. Should fully cover the bottom and go slightly up the sides.
Spread the goat cheese mix over the bottom of the dough, covering as evenly as possible.
Take the sliced fruit and fan it out attractively, and arrange over the cheese.
Top with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar or take 4 Tbl of jam and heat a little to melt (about 10-15 seconds in the microwave is usually good) then use a teaspoon to drizzle over the top of the prepped tart, or use a drizzle of honey.

Bake until pastry looks done – about 30 minutes.  Note, many of the puff pastry brands don’t really turn golden brown, so don’t let them burn waiting for that elusive stage.  The pastry should have a touch of color and be flaky to the poke, not soft and giving.

 

Fruit Tart with Apricot and Sage Cheese (Darcy’s favorite)

*  1 package puff pastry dough (there are 2 packages to a box) – room temperature
*  4 Tbl coarse-cut orange marmelade
*  1 4oz package Montchevre Apricot and Sage Goat Cheese Crumbles (from Kroger) – softened (or add 1 package of plain goat cheese if you want extra cheesey!)
*  4 pears/apples/other – or some combination thereof.  I used 2 apples and 2 pears. – Halved, cored, and finely sliced – sprinkle with lemon juice to keep their color.
* 4 Tbl Chinese Quince Tea with Honey (see note below)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Take the puff pastry dough, and unfold it.  Butter a glass or metal baking pan (9″x12″ fits nicely) and place the dough in it to line. Should fully cover the bottom and go slightly up the sides.
Soften the marmalade slightly (about 10 seconds in the microwave should do) and spread it on the bottom of the dough, try to cover evenly.
Sprinkle the entire container of goat cheese over the bottom of the dough, covering as evenly as possible. (add the second container of plain cheese here if you want more cheesiness).
Take the sliced fruit and fan it out attractively, and arrange over the cheese.
Top with the Chinese Quince Tea, drizzled over the top.

Bake until pastry looks done – about 30 minutes.  Note, many of the puff pastry brands don’t really turn golden brown, so don’t let them burn waiting for that elusive stage.  The pastry should have a touch of color and be flaky to the poke, not soft and giving.

NOTE:  Chinese Quince Tea is available in Asian markets and is like a watery marmalade.  If you’re not familiar with the quince fruit, it’s like a very hard apple that is largely inedible in its raw form but widely used around the world (except in the US) in teas, jams, liquors, and more.  It has a delicious citron-y aroma, but very little flavor.  However, when processed, the taste is kind of a combination of apple and citron.  The Chinese Quince Tea with Honey I buy is ready to be mixed with plain hot water for an instant hot toddy, but is also excellent in all kinds of baking. Here is a photo of the particular version I use:quince tea with honey

As usual, if you make any of these, please tell us about it!

New Year Fruit Cake

Hope you all had a wonderful winter holiday and new year!

After 6 years, my Armenian husband and I (Jewish) finally negotiated what we want for holidays and family traditions, and in the sudden peace and happiness that descended on me when this issue (which has been tremendously thorny to me) was settled, I was reminded of my own family’s traditional fruit cake made for the winter holidays, it was a rare treat – a dark, flavorful, rum-soaked, rich delight that I adored.

I’ve never understood why fruitcake is so often the butt of jokes, when it can be so delicious!  The origins of the cake hark back to Roman times, though since they thought rotten fish sauce was the ultimate condiment for everything, I’m thrilled the recipe has evolved a bit…

The Smithsonian wrote up a little thing about the history of the fruitcake HERE .

This is a perfect winter holiday recipe – surprisingly simple (I had remembered it as a complicated, laborious, difficult process, but it wasn’t!!!), warming and delicious, and laden with rich candied fruits, nuts, and exotic spices like nutmeg and cinnamon that all symbolize prosperity for the new year!  Despite all the alcohol soaking it, it’s not very boozy and is safe for kids to eat.

Darcy’s Candied Fruitcake – The Original Version:

1 Cup (C.) chopped dates
1 C./8oz candied pineapple OR citron
1 C./8oz candied cherries
1 C. chopped dried apricots
½ C. dried cranberries
1 pound/16 oz pecan pieces

Mix the chopped fruits with 2/3 C. spiced dark rum and 8 Tbsp. orange juice concentrate, and let soak for several hours.

Sift together:
4 C. flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Beat 8 eggs till frothy

Cream 2 sticks of softened butter with ¼ cup white sugar and 1 ¼ cup packed brown sugar

Add the eggs, and:
4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Mix the eggs and spices with the creamed butter, and slowly add the flour mixture.  Stir until well-blended (do not over-mix) – batter may have a more ‘foamy’ or spongey texture than other cake batters.  Add the fruit and rum mix and stir until well combined.

Pour into a loaf pan lined with a strip of parchment paper (see photos) – it will rise a bit as it bakes!

Bake until a toothpick or knife poked into the middle comes out cleanly – about 2-3 hours.  Invert onto a rack to cool.

After the cake is cool, slowly pour another 2 cups of the spiced dark rum over the cake, pausing often to let it absorb (I did this as 2 sessions, 1 cup of rum each.  A little would puddle on the plate, but would be rapidly absorbed – I was done and the plate was dry within 30-60 minutes.)

The Quick Version:

I stumbled on this when I was in a big hurry to make this AND desperate to clean out my cupboards (good combination for me that has birthed many delicious recipes!).  Honestly, I now like this version better!

Use candied diced citron, candied cherries, candied pineapple – anything that is candied in those ridiculous neon colors (seriously, bright green cherries?!) goes in – preferably it comes already chopped, but I was so lazy I just tossed the cherries in whole.  It worked!  Because everything else was in nice pieces, and the cake was cut into slices, no one noticed the big cherries and it just made a nice variety of textures.  Add the dried cranberries and anything else dried and fruity that you have laying around (I had about 5 dates, and some trail mix fruit bits, and I didn’t have EXACTLY 16oz of pecans.  I could do either 12oz or 18oz because of the bag size, so I went with 18oz.).  Follow the rest of the recipe as written, except for the sugar: I used ONLY the brown sugar in the original quantity, and just omitted the white sugar entirely.  I think it was sweet enough as it was and had a very nice, moist, flavorful taste that was not chemically or rummy nor was it too heavy or too spicy or too sweet.  The little kids who ate a slice didn’t seem to notice the alcohol so I think the cake is heavy enough to counter any alcohol effects.

A NOTE ON PANS:
When I made this last time, I decided I wanted enough for several holiday parties we had coming up, so I doubled the recipe and poured half into my fancy bundt pan, and half into a large loaf pan (which normally equals one cake), but everything seemed so full and I still had batter left over (HOW?!) so I started pouring what was left into mini loaf pans.  This turned out to be a very good call since I’d forgotten the batter rose while baking, and the oven was nearly flooded!  I filled 6 mini loaf pans besides!!  Of the finished products, I left the mini loafs soaking in about 2 cups of rum for a week, and served the 2 larger cakes immediately.   The large loaf pan cake ended up being the best – it kept its moisture well and was very good.  All the others seemed a little drier and not quite as flavorful and balanced, even immediately on cutting.  Since this was also the easiest size and shape to make… I’m happy!

Note the parchment strips in the mini loaf pans, baked on the mini cakes… makes removal from the pan very easy and mostly very clean (a couple of the minis lost a corner), and the paper easily peels off the cake without damage.

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