Saturday, 26 November 2011

Apple Cranberry Tarte Tatin

I was in the mood to make a simple snack or dessert that I could make with the ingredients in my fridge.  I remembered watching a cooking show in which they made an apple tarte tatin, and thinking that it was so easy and required very few ingredients.  On the show, they made a pie crust, but since I had puff pastry, I figured that would work just as well (and keep me from having to make a crust!).  I also thought it would be nice to add cranberries.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Apple Cranberry Tarte Tatin
Inspired from here

3 firm apples (I used Galas)
Juice of ½ a lemon
¼ cup butter
¼ cup sucanat sugar (or brown sugar)
2 Tablespoon real maple syrup
1/3 cup cranberries
Puff pastry

1.       Peel and core apples. Cut into 4.
2.       Place in a bowl and mix with lemon juice.  Set aside.
3.       In a cast iron pan, melt butter on medium heat.
4.       Add sugar and maple syrup, and cook until bubbly (around 1 minute).
5.       Add apples and cook for 15 minutes on medium.  Let the syrup bubble and reduce - it should be much thicker after 15 minutes.
6.       Sprinkle cranberries over the apples.
7.       Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
8.       Roll out puff pastry so that it’s big enough of over the cast iron pan.
9.       Place puff pastry on over the apples, tucking in the edges. Pierce air vents into pastry with a knife.
10.     Bake for 20 minutes.
11.     Cool until still a little bit warm.  Place plate on pan and invert.  If apples stick to the pan, pick them off and place on the pastry.

Apples in lemon juice.

Melting butter.

Butter, sucanat, and maple syrup, ready for apples.

Apples cooking in syrup.

Apples ready for pastry.

Puff pastry rolled out.

Adding air vents.

After baking.

Verdict: This tart was SO delicious.  The apples melt in your mouth and the cranberries give a nice tartness.  I will definitely make again.  It was such a simple dish with high visual and taste impact!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Apple Raspberry Bran Muffins

I wanted to make a snack that I can bring to work.  I get hungry around 3pm – that time between lunch and dinner.  I like muffins but the ones at the stores have a ton of sugar and are huge!  Time to make my own.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!
Apple Raspberry Bran Muffins
Makes 7 small muffins.

½ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup bran
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 egg
¼ cup oil
1/3 cup yogurt
¼ cup sucanat sugar (or brown sugar)
¼ cup apple juice

½ cup (total) of raspberries and cubed apples 

1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with 7 cupcake liners
2.       In a small bowl, whisk all dry ingredients. Set aside.
3.       In a larger bowl, beat all wet ingredients.
4.       Add dry ingredients to wet, and mix with a spatula until just combined.
5.       Fold in apples and raspberries.
6.       Spoon batter into liners, just over ¾ full.
7.       Bake for 13 minutes, or until toothpick comes out dry.

Before baking

After baking

Verdict: These muffins turned out super moist and perfectly sweet.  The raspberries gave them a really nice kick of flavor.  These will make a great afternoon snack at work!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Twilight Cake

My friend asked me to make a birthday cake for her boss – a die-hard Twilight fan.  She said that her boss likes a light cake with fruit.  She also handed me a chess set and Twilight stickers.  If you’re a Twilight fan, you’ll know that the cover of the Breaking Dawn book has a chess set.

For this Twilight cake, I thought an angel food cake with raspberries would be fitting.  And I managed to work in the chess set and stickers, too.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Raspberry Swirl Angel Food Cake
Adapted from here.

1 ¼ cups sifted cake flour
1 ½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup raspberries
1 ¾ cups egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put rack in lower third.  Lay parchment paper on the bottom of the cake pan.
2.       In a small bowl, sift flour, ½ cup sugar and salt together 2 times.  Set aside.
3.       Mash raspberries with a fork and press through a sieve to get rid of the seeds.  You should end up with ¼ cup of mashed raspberries.
4.       In a large clean metal bowl, beat egg whites until foamy.
5.       Beat in cream of tartar and vanilla until near stiff peaks.
6.       Beat in remaining 1 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time until stiff peaks.
7.       Sift flour over egg whites and fold in with a spatula.
8.       Transfer 1/3 of batter to the pan and spread evenly. Dollop raspberries onto batter.
9.       Repeat step 8.  Top with the last 1/3 batter.
10.   Run a knife through the batter.
11.   Bake for 22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
12.   Cool in the pan for 1 hour before unmolding.
13.   Slice cake into 2 layers.

Egg white mixture before adding flour.

Dollops of raspberry (Step 8)

Before baking

After baking

Raspberry Filling
Raspberry jam
Small pack of raspberry gelatin
1 cup of raspberries (I used thawed frozen ones)

1.       Microwave jam to liquefy.
2.       Add raspberry gelatin. Taste as you go to get the flavor that suits you.
3.       Mix in the raspberries.
4.       Let it set in the refrigerator.  If there’s a lot of excess liquid, strain the mixture.

Buttercream Frosting
Beat 1.5 cups of softened butter, 6 cups of icing sugar, 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and 3 teaspoons of milk until fluffy.

1.       Lay bottom cake layer on the plate.  Spread a thin layer of buttercream frosting and outline a “dam”.
2.       Spread the raspberry mix on top (within the dam).
3.       Place second cake layer on top.
4.       Frost entire cake and decorate – I put a chess board on top, and a ribbon with Twilight stickers around the sides of the cake.

Step 2

Covered with buttercream

Chess board with straw glued to the bottom as an anchor

Verdict:   According to my friend, the cake was a hit!  When they cut the cake, the raspberry filling squirted out and looked like blood, which added to the effect of Twilight!  My friend served it with “blood” punch!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Halloween Candy Cookies

We were having a Halloween costume party at work with prizes for the best costume in a few categories.  We had some prizes, but we needed a few more, so I decided to make cookies and package them up.  I wanted them to be Halloween themed, but without the hassle of piping bats or pumpkins.  So, I decided to use Halloween candy – Smarties and Crunchie chocolate bars.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Smartie and Crunchie Cookies
Adapted from here.
Makes 18 cookies.

1 1/8 cup flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup salted butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
2 teaspoons corn syrup
½ cup chopped Crunchie bars
½ cup Smarties

1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lay parchment paper on cookie sheet.
2.       In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda.
3.       In a larger bowl, beat butter and both sugars until fluffy.
4.       Add salt, vanilla, egg, and corn syrup ad beat until mixed.
5.       Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
6.       Divide dough in half and put into 2 bowls.  Mix in Crunchie chunks in one half, and Smarties in the other half.
7.       Drop by heaping tablespoons onto cookie sheet 2 inches apart. 
8.       Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack.

Chopped Crunchie bars

Before baking.

Verdict: These cookies were so good! I especially liked the Crunchie cookies!  They had a great caramel flavor!  My co-workers seemed pretty happy about winning them!  By the way, I won “Most original costume” – I was a lamb (and No, I did not win my own cookies!).