Butterscotch Banana Tarte Tatin for my Valentine

February 14, 2014

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So here it is, Valentine’s Day yet again. And this one had quite an exciting meteorological lead up to it around here. Folks have been pretty much hysterical all week over the HUGE snow storm that was slated to commence clobbering us on Wednesday evening. Didn’t I say Winter wasn’t done with us yet…dang that old Punxsutawney varmint! (Just kidding…Sorry Phil, I won’t shoot the messenger!) Usually when there is that much hype about a storm here, nothing actually happens. But this time we did end up with about 10 inches in the wee hours of Thursday and sleety rain/snow throughout the entire day. Luckily I was prepared to make a gorgeous treat for my Valentine and had all of my ingredients ready right here in my cozy warm home and did not need to go out to brave the grocery stores, which if they were even open, I’m sure were in a quite a state to say the least! This year I will be sticking to my usual template when making Valentine’s Day Treats for my sweetie. I think the first one I ever blogged about was Lemon Curd Bread Pudding with a Blackberry Glaze,

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the next year I was on to Luscious Lemon Squares,

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then I whipped up a Poached Pear Tart with Lemony Cream.

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Anyone spot a pattern here? I just noticed that they all had lemon in them, but that isn’t really what is key here. Give up? They are all fruit desserts. No rich, decadent, indulgent, oh so common on Valentine’s Day chocolate in sight! Now I’ve told you that I think the husband’s preference for fruit desserts over chocolate ones is a bit inconceivable for me, though I must say, I don’t necessarily want chocolate…You guys know me by now right? What do I want? CUPCAKES! (just thought I’d make that word really stand out in case my sweetie just happens to be reading this post…hint, hint!) But since I’m such a lovely and thoughtful wife, I did not make my Valentine cupcakes. I made him this fantastic Butterscotch Banana Tarte Tatin!

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I was lucky enough to receive Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas and immediately knew this Tarte Tatin would be the Valentine’s Day dish this year. If you have not got a copy of the book, what in the world are you waiting for?!! It is chock full of delicious recipes, similar to the ones found on her blog, as well as her stunning photos. And let me tell you, this Butterscotch Banana Tarte Tatin did not disappoint. It was very quick and easy to make. You really only dirty one pan, the cast iron skillet that you cook it in. You start by cooking the bananas in a boozy butterscotch sauce on the stove top.

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This is where you will lose any element of surprize because the tantalizing aroma of the bubbling banana medley will bring every single person who is in the house into the kitchen to investigate. Next step is to add the buttery puff pastry topper and then pop the whole thing into the oven for about 25 minutes until it is bubbly and golden.

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Are you drooling yet?

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Next you carefully flip it over onto a plate and get ready for folks to swoon!

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I think it looked truly impressive. Not to mention how scrumptious it tasted…and I am not even that big of a fruity dessert fan.

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I did indeed choose wisely for my Valentine. He was over the moon! Hope everyone has a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Butterscotch Banana Tarte Tatin

Recipe from: Smitten Kitchen Cookbook  by Deb Perelman or you can see recipe online at EatDrink.CA

yield: 6 – 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour, for work surface
  • 1 sheet frozen puff-pastry dough, thawed in the refrigerator for 1 day
  • 3 Tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (95 grams) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes, such as Maldon
  • 5 Large ripe bananas peeled, halved lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon bourbon or Scotch (optional – are you kidding me?! I chose Knob Creek Bourbon)
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions:

For this recipe, you’ll need a 9″ skillet heavy enough so you fear dropping it on your toes. Preheat your oven to 400° F. Roll out your puff pastry on a floured surface to a 9″ circle, and trim if necessary. Transfer the pastry to the fridge until needed.

Melt the butter in the 9″ skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the sugar and salt. Cook, swirling the skillet occasionally, until the mixture turns medium amber, about 3 minutes.

Arrange the bananas in the skillet, overlapping them slightly. Cook, without stirring, for 3 minutes. Drizzle the vanilla and the alcohol of you choice over the bananas and cook them until most of the liquor has evaporated and liquid has thickened, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the bananas from heat.

Place the pastry round on top of the bananas and transfer it to the oven. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and puffed, about 25 minutes. Remove the tarte from the oven, and carefully invert the tarte onto a serving plate. Don’t even think about serving this without vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy!


Poached Pear Tart with Lemony Cream

February 14, 2013

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The second I saw this Poached Pear Tart I knew that I had found the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert for the husband. I’ve already confided in you his “strange” preference for all fruit filled desserts over all decadent chocolatey offerings. I know….bizarro! But at least I’ve accepted and internalized this knowledge and can apply it when I’m trying to come up with a sweet indulgence made just for him.

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A Pear Tart would not be my Valentine’s choice, but I’m not baking for me. My husband knows what to get me (cupcakes!), so I will leave it to him. But back to this tart,  I could tell from his perspective this dessert has it going on! I mean, he absolutely LOVES tarts, anyone who knows him will tell you that about him without hesitation… (snicker, snicker) and this one has wine poached pears baked in lovely lemony cream! Seems like it was a recipe crafted just with him in mind. A perfect Valentine’s treat!

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I must admit though, I really don’t like working with pears at all! It’s not that I don’t like them, I really do. It’s just that I can never tell if they are ripe or not. So I spend an eternity in the store, gently touching every pear on display, like some sort of pear whisperer, hoping that the mysterious fruit will take pity on me and push the ripe ones of themselves into my basket. Yet that has never happened, so I finally give up and just pick a few to cart home with me. Of course they are not the perfect ripe ones, so I try to accelerate the process by placing them in paper bags with other ripening fruit. Yeah. They remain rock hard until I turn my back for like 5 minutes and I come back to find them ripened into a pile of mush! Don’t know if that happens to you or not, but it sure happens to me. Though this time, I really wanted this dessert to work out for Valentine’s Day, so I held vigil by these little devils until they were ready! Yup. It’s true I love my husband that much. I braved the pears and actually won on this time!

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There are quite a few steps involved in making this tart, but the good news is that you can break them up over several days if necessary. I poached the pears and made the pastry on one day and then completed the recipe on the following day. Making this tart was definitely worth the time investment because it not only looks beautiful but tastes amazing. Refreshingly light.

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I served each slice with a scoop of simple vanilla ice cream drizzled with a scrumptious syrup reduction of the pear poaching liquid. And don’t forget the champagne of course! Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Poached Pear Tart with Lemony Cream

recipe from: Elra

yield: one 11″ tart

Ingredients:

For the pastry dough:

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1  1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioner sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
For the poached pears:
  • 3 ripe but still firm Bosch pears
  • 750 ml (1 bottle) good quality white wine of your preference
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • vanilla bean, scraped
For the lemony cream:
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (50 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, optional

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Directions:
Peel, and cut the pear in half, using melon baller core and discard the seeds. Place them in a large pot,  pour in white wine, add sugar and vanilla bean. Place the pot over medium low heat, simmer until pears are slightly tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Turn off the heat, cool completely in the liquid.
In the mean time, begin to make the pastry. Put all ingredients, except lightly beaten egg onto food processor. Pulse use 1 to 2 second pulse until most of the butter is the size of a peas. Add lightly beaten egg and pulse again until the dough just starting to form a small clump.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead lightly a couple of times. Gather the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least  30 minutes.

Generously grease an 11-inch removable bottom tart pan with butter.

Roll out the pastry to fit the size of tart pan, transfer into the pan, and trim off the excess. Prick all over with fork, cover with plastic wrap, and place it back in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, or up to a day in advance.
On baking day, preheat oven to 375° F. Remove the pastry from refrigerator. Place a piece of parchment paper, or aluminum foil directly on top. Add dried beans, or pie chain, directly on top of paper of foil, then bake in the middle rack for 15 minutes. Remove pastry from oven, remove the paper, or foil including the beans. Quickly and lightly brush the pastry with egg white, this process will prevent the pastry from becoming soggy. Return pastry to the oven, continue to bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Turn the oven up to 400° F. Set the racks in the lower third and upper third of the oven.
Remove pears from their poaching liquid, blot dry with paper towel, and set them aside. Place reserved poaching liquid in small heavy bottomed saucepan and set over medium to medium high heat to reduce. This takes about 20 minutes or so and you will end up with 1/4 to 1/3 cup of syrup.
Using a hand whisk, large wooden spoon or stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar until pale and creamy, add egg, and vanilla extract, beat  to blend. Mix in lemon zest and lemon juice. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt, add it to the cream mixture, and mix just enough to incorporate the ingredients. Using small spatula, spread the batter into the bottom and sides of the cooled tart shell. Arrange poached pears over the filling. Bake the tart on the lowest rack for 25 to 30 minutes. Take the tart out from the oven, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, taking care not to get sugar on the pastry, which could cause it to burn. Return the tart to the oven, and place it on the top rack. Continue to bake for another 15 minutes, or until pears starts to caramelized, and the crust is dark browned. Remove the tart from the oven, and transfer it onto cooling rack to cool completely. Using a kitchen torch, lightly char the pears, to get that slightly burnt and rustic look on your tart. Right before serving, dust the tart with confectioner’s sugar. Serve with fresh whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or simply drizzled with the reduced pear poaching syrup.
Enjoy!

Luscious Lemon Squares for my Valentine

February 14, 2012

So, today is Valentine’s Day. And I know for a lot of folks, Valentine’s Day just wouldn’t be complete without chocolate…lots of chocolate. Now, Don’t get me wrong, I like chocolate, but for me it’s all about cupcakes (hint, hint, hint!) I would really like some cupcakes right about now!

Perhaps one (or two, or so...) like this....

However, I wasn’t trying to make Valentine’s Day goodies for me. I was making something for my sweetie. That being said, some folks might consider my fellow’s dessert cravings a bit odd. He will walk right  by most chocolate confections with no more than a passing glance. ( What in the world?!!) However, any fruit dessert will undoubtedly catch his eye from a country mile away. And one of his favourite of all fruit desserts is the elusive lemon bar. I say elusive because I have tried on several occasions to make these little devils and had never gotten it quite right. I either didn’t like the soggy crust, or the filling was too sweet or too tart or the wrong consistency all together! You can imagine how happy I was when I saw that one of my all-time favourite blogs, Once Upon a Chef, had a Lemon Square recipe posted. I have made many of the recipes that Jenn has posted on her fantastic, tried and true blog and have never been disappointed. Everything has turned out incredibly tasty. So, what was left to do but make these Luscious Lemon Squares. And luscious is exactly what they were.

The crust was amazing, a crisp buttery shortbread that was well able to stand up to the delicious filling which was just the right ratio of tart to sweet. They were beautifully topped with just a sprinkling of powdered sugar. I am not even a lemon dessert fan and I couldn’t resist eating them. My sweetie was dazzled both with the dessert and my baking prowess. So if you happen to have one of those chocolate indifferent Valentines (again…What the what!), give these luscious little treats a try. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Luscious Lemon Bars

recipe from Once Upon a Chef

yield: 16 – 2″ squares

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar (plus more to decorate finished bars)
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into ½-inch pieces

For Lemon Topping:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (you’ll need between 2 and 3 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 1 lemon, be sure to zest before juicing)
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour

Directions:

Make the Crust

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cover a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Push foil neatly into corners and up sides of the pan, using two pieces if necessary to ensure that foil overlaps all edges (the overhang will help removal from pan). Spray foiled pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place the flour, corn starch, salt and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and mix for a few seconds. Add the butter and mix to blend, until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Sprinkle mixture into prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire bottom, building up a thin ½-inch edge around the sides (this keeps filling from spilling beneath crust). Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Bake the crust until lightly golden, about 15-20 minutes.

Make the Topping

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and flour.

As soon as the base is baked, give lemon mixture a quick final stir and then pour over top. Immediately return the pan to the oven and bake another 20-25 minutes, or until the topping is set and firm. Let cool on a rack to room temperature, or at least 30 minutes, then cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to cut (it will be much easier to cut when cold).

To cut, use the foil overhang to lift baked square out of pan and onto cutting board. Loosen the foil from the edges of the crust (use a knife to separate crust and foil if necessary). Using a sharp knife, trim the edges off, then cut into 2-inch squares. Use a fine sieve to dust squares with confectioners’ sugar. Store finished lemon squares covered in refrigerator and serve chilled.

Enjoy!


Lemon Curd Bread Pudding with Blackberry Glaze for my Valentine

February 12, 2011

I know chocolate gets all the prominent billing with almost everyone for Valentine’s Day, but not with my sweetie. He likes chocolate o.k., I mean who doesn’t,  but given the choice of delectable treats, he will go for the offering with fruit in it 9 times out of 10. So when searching for a Valentine treat that I could whip up for him, I kept his love of bread pudding as well as lemon bars in mind. I had seen a recipe for Meyer Lemon Marmalade Bread Pudding that I was dying to make at Spoon with Me a while ago. If you haven’t taken a peek at her site, you are truly missing out. Her recipes are fantastic and her photography is stunning. She had made the Meyer Lemon Marmalade that she used in this dish herself and I didn’t see any such thing available in my local grocery stores. Nor was I industrious enough to make said marmalade. However, my Valentine loves lemon curd, which we have plenty of in the house, so I adapted the recipe. I figured the curd wouldn’t make a very pretty glaze on top of the pudding, but another favourite of my darlin’s is blackberry preserves. Voila! He was very pleased with the results!

Lemon Curd Bread Pudding with Blackberry Glaze

The fun thing about this recipe is that it is very customizable. You can replace the marmalade with whatever fruit strikes your fancy, or mix it up like I did with one flavour of pudding and a different glaze. Or you can just add different toppings to the pudding. I must admit that I really do love chocolate and was having a complete chocolate fit watching the flood of great chocolate Valentine’s recipes go by, so I might have made a couple of these little ramekins of pudding with a chocolate chip topping.

Lemon Curd Bread Pudding with Chocolate Chip Topping

Excellent as well! And everyone is happy! (Just between us, I am still hoping for a Valentine’s Day cupcake, but my Valentine knows me well, so I don’t think I will be disappointed.) Veuve Clicquot goes well with both bread pudding and cupcakes, so we’ll be set. :)

Yum!

Lemon Curd Bread Pudding with Blackberry Preserve Glaze

* 1 loaf challah bread

* 3 1/2 Cups heavy cream (you could substitute half & half or  even 2% milk if you wish to be more virtuous)

* 1 scant cup granulated sugar

* 2 eggs

* 2 egg yolks

* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1/2 cup Lemon Curd

* 1/2 cup raisins

* 2 tablespoons butter

* Seedless Blackberry preserves for glazing-about 6 teaspoons

Preheat oven to 325° F. Butter 6  eight ounce ramekins.

Remove the crust from the Challah bread. Cut bread into 1 inch cubes and toast for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and then place in large bowl.

Place the raisins in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit until plump and moist, about 15 minutes or so. Drain well and sprinkle raisins over bread crumbs.

Heat the lemon curd and butter in a small saucepan until melted and combined. Remove from heat and pour over bread cubes. Gently toss.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract.

Heat cream in medium saucepan over medium heat until it simmers.

Slowly add the heated cream to the egg mixture, whisking constantly until combined. If you add the cream too quickly it will cause the eggs to cook!

Pour the custard over the bread cubes and gently toss until coated. Allow bread to soak-up custard for 30 minutes. Fill the buttered ramekins with the bread-custard mixture, making sure to equally distribute the raisins which may have sunk to the bottom of the bowl. Bake* for 25 minutes, or until tops of the puddings began to brown. Spoon 1 teaspoon of the blackberry glaze over the top of each pudding. Bake for 5 more minutes.

*Puddings can be refrigerated overnight prior to baking. When ready to bake, remove ramekins from refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature before placing them in the oven.

 

Happy Valentine's Day Darlin!


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