Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Caramel Tart with Sea Salt

I found the base recipe for this decadent tart over a year ago in Saveur Magazine. I had always intended to make it, but never had a reason (or a tart pan). After realizing this would be the perfect dessert for a coworker's birthday, I was commissioned to make two more for another event, and made this last one for a wedding shower.

based on recipe found in saveur magazine, issue 119.
1 1⁄2 cups gluten-free flour (tapioca, potato starch, sweet white rice flour, arrowroot starch, sorghum flour, garfava flour)
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1⁄4 cup plus 1 tbsp. dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and softened
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
2 egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1⁄2 cups sugar
3 tbsp. light corn syrup
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
6 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tbsp. crème fraîche

1⁄2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Gray sea salt for garnish

1. Make the crust: Heat oven to 350˚. Combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until mixture is pale and fluffy; mix in yolks and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Transfer dough to a 9" fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press dough evenly into bottom and sides of pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

2. Make the caramel: In a 1-qt. saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 6 tbsp. water and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 340°. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, cream, and crème fraîche (the mixture will bubble up) until smooth. Pour caramel into cooled tart shell and let cool slightly; refrigerate until firm, 4–5 hours.

3. Make the ganache: Bring cream to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Put chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in hot cream; let sit for 1 minute, then stir slowly with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour ganache evenly over tart and refrigerate until set, 4–5 hours. Sprinkle tart with sea salt, slice, and serve chilled.

Monday, April 5, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons...

I'm still recovering from what was an overly complicated week filled with stress, unexpected surprises (both good and bad), and a whole gamut of emotions. In the end, all of this change has spurred a fairly significant decision: I have decided to move, and in exactly one week from today, I will be based out of New York. I'm not exactly certain of all the details yet, but things started to fall into place. Unfortunately, the excitement of moving has been overshadowed by two main things, one of them being the fact that saying "goodbye" is extremely difficult, especially when you don't have a lot of time to do it. Between bouts of ranting and/or crying, I kept thinking of the phrase "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," because I have hope that a great deal of good will come from my current circumstance. However, I didn't really want to make lemonade to tell you the truth, and since I was already drowning my sorrows in various sugary food-items, I decided that "When life gives you lemons, make a creamy lemon meringue tart." And so I did. Perhaps this tart didn't solve all my problems, but it was amazingly delicious; tart and creamy, contrasted by a delicate, buttery crust, all topped with a cool, airy meringue. I would take this over lemonade, any day.

*Filling originally based off of Martha Stewart's creamy lemon squares
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. gluten-free baking mix (tapioca starch, potato starch, arrowroot starch, oat flour, sorghum flour, sweet white rice flour, almond meal)
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
1 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
3/4 c. fresh lemon juice

5 egg whites
1/3 tsp. cream of tartar
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons superfine sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-11 inch tart pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside. Make the crust: beat butter, vanilla, sugar, and salt with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour and xanthan gum, mix on low until just combined. Press dough into the bottom of prepared tart pan and up sides; prick lightly all over with a fork. Bake until lightly golden, about 10-15 minutes. Make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together yolks, condensed milk, and lemon juice until smooth. Pour over hot crust in pan; return to oven, and bake until filling is set 18-25 minutes. Refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight. Remove from refrigerator and top with meringue (recipe follows).

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar and salt in immaculately clean mixer bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar until very stiff. Spread over tart filling; seal to edge of crust. Make peaks in meringue with the back of a spatula or spoon. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until meringue is golden brown. Let tart cool on a wire rack.
Store at room temperature (no matter what you do, the meringue will always "bead" with moisture and begin to breakdown once it is subjected to refrigeration).

Gluten-Free Carrot Cupcakes!

You may recall a gluten-free carrot cake post on my site from last year. Well, it's easter-time again and my sister had been asking for some carrot cake, and I figured any good sister would honor that request. I also hosted a going away party, and since people have something against cutting cake and eating slices of it, I turned my carrot cake into carrot cupcakes to satisfy the masses. The recipe is similar to last year, however, this recipe uses two packages of carrot baby food instead of applesauce and a bit more oil instead of the mayo. I also switched to unsweetened organic coconut flakes (found at whole foods) which I like much better in this recipe than the larger sweetened kind I used last year. I have to say, I like this recipe even more than last year's cake! The cupcakes were very moist - I'm pretty sure no one would have guessed they were gluten-free.

2-1/2 c. gluten-free flour blend (tapioca starch, potato starch, arrowroot starch, sorghum, garfava flour, sweet white rice flour, oat flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. (2 plastic containers) of pureed carrot baby food
1 c. crushed pineapple, drained
3/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut (I actually used a "low fat" coconut, found at whole foods)
1/2. c. (or a little more) golden raisins
3 c. finel grated carrots (I grated them in a food processor and it was extremely efficient)

1 pkg. (80z.) neufchatel cheese
1/2 c. (1 stick) softened butter
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 c. powdered sugar

Walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine flours, xanthan gum, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl, and stir with a whisk. Combine sugars, vanilla, vegetable oil and carrot puree/baby food in the bowl of an electric mixer, blending well. Add slightly beaten eggs to mixer bowl. Stir in carrots, pineapple, coconut, and raisins. Pour into prepared cupcake pans. Tap pans on counter to level and remove air bubbles. Bake 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and frost when completely cooled. Sprinkle top of cupcakes with walnut pieces, if desired.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or with an electric hand mixer), combine cream cheese and butter. Add vanilla and blend. Slowly add powdered sugar to taste.