Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holiday Cranberry Tart- A Festive and delicious make ahead dessert.

This is a yummy recipe that I got from Bon Appetit magazine 3 years ago. The combination of the clean fresh taste of cranberries and fresh ginger, a creamy mascarpone cheese filling and the crisp chocolate cookie crust is divine.  If you don't like chocolate you can use vanilla cookies for the crust.

The best thing is that you make all of the components 2 to 3  days ahead of time and then assemble them just before serving. It's actually better when the cranberry part sits for a few days, but if you want to do it all the day of you can.

Cranberry Chocolate Tart 
Bon Appetit Nov. 2007

Click here for a printable version of this recipe
Cranberry Topping:
1/2 cup cranberry juice, divided
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1- 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

1 1/4 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (made from about 6 1/2 ounces cookies, finely ground in processor) You may also use vanilla wafer cookies or shortbread cookies instead.
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Mascarpone Filling:
1- 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese- an Italian cream cheese you can find at most stores now
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Thin strips of crystallized ginger (optional garnish)

Pour 1/4 cup cranberry juice into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until softened, 15 minutes. Combine 1/4 cup cranberry juice, cranberries, and next 5 ingredients in medium saucepan; bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until cranberries are tender but still plump, 5 minutes. Strain into bowl; set cranberries aside. Add gelatin mixture to hot juice in bowl; stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir cranberries back into juice. Chill until cranberry mixture is cold and slightly thickened, at least 8 hours or overnight. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2-3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Stir chopped crystallized ginger into cranberry mixture one hour before assembling.

For crust:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Combine chocolate (or vanilla) wafer cookie crumbs, sugar, and salt in medium bowl; add 5 tablespoons melted butter and stir until crumbs feel moist when pressed together with fingertips, adding remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter if mixture is dry. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Bake chocolate crust until beginning to set and slightly crisp, pressing with spoon if crust puffs during baking, about 14 minutes. Transfer tart pan to rack and cool crust completely before filling.

For mascarpone filling:
Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients except ginger in medium bowl just until thick enough to spread (do not overbeat or mixture may curdle). Cover and chill.

Assembling Tart: Up to 6 hours before serving
Spread mascarpone filling in crust.
Spoon cranberry mixture evenly over mascarpone filling.
Chill at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.
Garnish with crystallized ginger strips, if desired.
Cut tart into wedges and serve cold.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Orange Chocolate Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream

  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee or instant espresso- Not the grounds but the instant you add to water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk plus
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 cupcake molds or muffin tins with paper liners or spray with nonstick spray.
  2. To make the cupcakes, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and instant coffee.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, and white sugar. Whisk in the orange juice concentrate, orange juice, and melted butter. Whisk in the dry ingredients. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake molds, filling them about three-quarters full.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Using a small spatula or knife, remove the cupcakes from the pan. Continue to cool on a wire rack to room temperature. 
Orange Buttercream
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoon grated orange zest (Just the orange part of the rind try not to get any of the white
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons orange juice
Top with a  mandarin orange slice or a half slice of a regular orange.

Tips- For this cupcake I just took parchment paper and  folded it into cup shapes to make these.
         Before I eat an orange, I use a micro planer and take the zest off of the orange. I zest it off onto a piece of wax paper and then push the zest into a pile in the middle of the square. I fold it up into a tiny square and place in a freezer bag in the freezer. This way I always have fresh zest for recipes waiting for me in the freezer.
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