dessertporn

Blueberry and Hazelnut Crostata 

Crostata evokes many memories of a summer semester I spent in Bologna, Italy when I was backpacking in Europe as a university student. I spent most of my hard-earned money on eating and sightseeing and I fondly remember all the bakeries serving many variations of this infamous Italian Tart. Plums, berries, apples, grapes all made their way into these traditional crostatas bursting with homemade jams, flaky and buttery crusts liberally dusted with icing sugar.

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I used to walk through the streets sightseeing and eating my crostata with icing sugar dusting my face, a happy memory! I had a sweet tooth and couldn’t resist trying all the delicacies in the dozens of pastry shops that lined the streets.

When E.D.SMITH contacted me to collaborate on their fall campaign to celebrate their 135th birthday, I was delighted as it brought back memories of baking as a child with my mum. We used to love using their pie fillings and their jams were a staple in our house.

E.D.SMITH is an iconic Canadian food brand with roots dating back to 1882 and is currently the #1 pie filling in Canada and the largest Canadian manufacturer of jams and fruit spreads.

For their fall campaign, E.D.SMITH is inspiring the newest generation of Canadian home cooks to look past traditional jam on toast and plain pies to get creative with E.D.SMITH’s products.

My mission is to inspire you to explore the versatility of their products and show you how E.D.SMITH’s pie fillings and Triple Fruits spreads can fit within your lifestyle and today’s food trends.

I love a good challenge and what better way than to recreate one of my favourite desserts, a fruit filled crostata! A traditional crostata is an open-faced fruit tart, often with a decorative lattice top and made with a homemade jam.

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I particularly enjoy E.D.SMITH’s Blueberry Pie Filling and thought it would be a great swap out for a traditional blueberry jam. As we head into the fall season, I made this crostata with the addition of ground hazelnuts as it gives the crust a gently nutty bite and it complements the Blueberry Pie Filling nicely. If hazelnuts are not to your liking, they can easily be replaced with ground almonds.

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The addition of nuts in the pastry dough, coupled with the yolks creates a well rounded, rich crust that pairs nicely with the pie filling making you want to savour each bite.

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This Blueberry and Hazelnut Crostata is sure to become your favourite too. It’s a delicious twist on a traditional, familiar dessert with a delicate lattice topping. I hope you enjoy making it as much as I do.

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Blueberry and Hazelnut Crostata Recipe

Pastry Crust Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup ground hazelnuts (or almonds)

3 Tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp citrus zest (lemon, orange or grapefruit)

1/4 tsp ground vanilla bean (or extract)

Pinch of ground cinnamon

3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, chopped

1 large egg + 1 yolk

3/4 can of E.D.SMITH Blueberry Pie Filling

Egg wash (1 egg + 2 tsp water)

9″ Fluted round tart pan with a removal bottom

Directions:

  1. In a stand up mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, add the flour, ground hazelnuts, sugar, salt, zest, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix on low until combined.
  2. Add the chopped butter and egg yolk, and mix until combined. Do not overmix as you still want to see bits of butter throughout.
  3. On a clean surface roll out 2 sheets of cling wrap and place the dough in the centre and gently form a disk. Flatten, cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F
  5. Roll out the pastry dough on a floured surface to approximately 14-16″ in diameter and l/2” thickness. Gently transfer it to the tart pan and press into the pan, bringing the dough up to the sides.
  6. With a sharp knife, cut off the excess dough and reserve to make a lattice top.
  7. Add the E.D.SMITH Blueberry Pie Filling into the base.
  8. Roll out the excess dough and using a fluted pastry wheel cut strips to place over top the filled pastry.
  9. In a crisscross pattern overlap the strips and crimp the edges.
  10. *Alternate method; on a flour dusted parchment sheet you can create your lattice top pattern and chill it for 15 minutes. Gently flip it over-top the tart, sealing the edges and discarding any excess dough.
  11. Brush with the egg wash and bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes or until golden.
  12. Remove and place on a baking rack to completely cool.
  13. Remove the tart ring and dust generously with icing sugar and cut into slices. Enjoy!

*The Crostata will keep for 4-5 days in an airtight container, refrigerated.

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DARK CHOCOLATE TART WITH TOASTED SESAME CARAMEL

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Chocolate is one of my favourite ingredients to bake with and this deliciously easy tart is no exception.  I used dark chocolate as it pairs amazingly well with the Toasted Sesame Caramel Dessert Sauce from #PresidentsChoice.

When I received this month’s box I was delighted to see 2 ingredients that I really love, which are Passion fruit and Caramel.  The PC Black Label Passion Fruit Condiment is quite heavenly in the sense that it works well as a vinaigrette poured onto salad or glazed on your BBQ shrimp.

 

The Toasted Sesame Caramel Dessert Sauce is the perfect consistency of a runny caramel speckled with flecks of toasted sesame seeds (genius!) and pairs well with so many desserts including pouring it on your favorite ice cream, spread on crepes and my personal favourite used as a filling for a dark chocolate tart.

When I opened  jar of toasted sesame caramel, I was amazed how smooth the texture was and the right amount of sesame. Instantaneously, a thought of a traditional chocolate tart with caramel center emerged and I became challenged to make a tart that would compliment the sesame flavor. The idea of using dark chocolate was my first option as it is not overly sweet and would complement the sweet caramel. The toasted sesame hardly gets the attention it deserves as it flavor is not overbearing. The caramel sauce inspired me to decorate the tart with a hard set caramel, but can be served on its own or dusted with cocoa powder.

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Another suggestion if your willing to take a chance is to add espresso and cinnamon to the tart mixture.  I have fond memories of travelling through Italy and being served a dark chocolate square with my shot of espresso. The espresso’s bitterness is followed by a sweet but not having the fatty texture of milk chocolate to remove the after taste of the espresso. In this recipe, I have added both ingredients.

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As we roll into the second month of #PlayWithYourFood #PCBlackLabel campaign with #PresidentsChoice, I want to share some exciting news!  President’s Choice has offered to giveaway a #PCBLACKLABEL BLACK BOX for you to win on my Instagram account! You can win 2 delicious #PCBlackLabel products in addition to a $50 gift card! How exciting is that?  In order to enter the contest, you will need to go to my Instagram page

    The contest will run until June 28th at which time a winner will be selected randomly. Good luck!  *This contest is open to Canadian residents only.

    Whether you’re a home chef or an aspiring foodie, the PC Black Label Collection makes it easy to unleash your culinary curiosity and get creative. Discover the entire collection and be inspired to #PlayWithYourFood at pc.ca/blacklabel.

     

    DARK CHOCOLATE TART WITH TOASTED SESAME CARAMEL RECIPE

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    *  This recipe makes enough for a standard 8 to 9 inch round tart pan.

    It’s important to use a spring form pan (or tart ring) with a removal base for easy baking and removal of the tart and source out high quality ingredients as it produces the best flavours and will quickly get noticed by your guests.

    The steps are very straightforward and relatively easy to put together.  Just be sure to chill the tart dough until its firm enough for you to roll out. Once it’s baked, be sure it is completely cooled before adding the caramel sauce.  Finally, another important note is to ensure that the caramel is hardened (slightly) or really cold before adding the layer of chocolate ganache otherwise the chocolate will mix into the caramel.

    Ingredients:

    Tart Shell:

    1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

    1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

    1/2 cup cocoa powder
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 tsp fleur de sel or kosher salt
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    Pinch of baking powder
    Pinch of ground cinnamon
    Pinch of ground espresso

    Chocolate Ganache (Recipe below)

    1 jar of  PC BLACK LABEL Toasted Sesame Caramel Dessert Sauce

    Instructions:

    1. Whisk all the ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
    2. Chop the butter and add it to the flour bowl mixture, crumbling it into the flour making pea sized crumbs.
    3. Work the ingredients quickly until they come together creating a pliable dough.  Do not over mix, you should still see little pats of butter throughout.
    4. Shape the dough into a disk and flatten
    5. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.

    Chocolate Ganache:

    1 cup cold whipping cream
    2 cups dark chocolate, chopped

    1. In a microwave safe bowl, warm the cream until just boiling – about 1-2 minutes, depending on your microwave.
    2. Carefully remove and add the chopped chocolate.
    3. Let it sit for 1 minute.
    4. Whisk gently until incorporated and set aside.

    Bake the Tart:

    Preheat oven to 375°F

    Butter an 8″ or 9″ spring form pan or tart ring and set aside.

    1. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to 1″ thickness and line the tart ring or pan. Ensure you bring up the dough on the sides that’s deep enough to hold the caramel filling and the chocolate ganache, approximately 2-3 inches in height.
    2. Use a fork and gently indent the dough all over to create tiny little holes.
    3. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until cooked through.
    4. With the back of a spoon, push down the base of the tart to ensure it is flat and no holes remain (they should be baked through).
    5. Let the tart shell cool completely.

    Assembly:

    1. Pour the caramel in an even layer in the tart base and refrigerate or freeze until set and it’s no longer runny.
    2. Once chilled completely, remove and pour the chocolate ganache over top the caramel and smooth out with a spatula quickly as it will start immediately.
    3. Return to the refrigerator until completely set.
    4. Remove 20 minutes before serving and use a hot knife to slice through the tart.  Rinse the knife and repeat.  This ensures you get clean slices each time you cut into it.

    Enjoy!

    If you make this recipe please share and use my hashtag, #hautesucre on the social media channels, as I would love to see them!

     

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     (This post is sponsored by President’s Choice.  I used their PC Black Label Toasted Sesame Caramel Dessert Sauce to make this easy Dark Chocolate Tart.)

    Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins 

    Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins Recipe

    Whether you call them muffins, cupcakes or banana bread, they’re all delicious!  We had a debate as to whether or not these classified as muffins and my now 7 year old was quick to point out that there was no icing so indeed these were muffins. Ha ha!  Nothing like the wisdom of a 7 year old to put it straight sometimes.

    This is a quick 5 minute, one bowl recipe and you can even have your kids mix it all up together.  It’s best to have all the ingredients ready if you plan to do that.  You can also make this into a quick bread recipe, although the bake time will be doubled .  I like them as muffins as they bake quickly and are great for quick snacks and lunch boxes.

    I’ve added the pecans as an additional, optional topping but they taste good without them too as I made half a batch without.  You can also replace with hazelnuts or walnuts for a different flavour.

    I used Lindt dark chocolate couveture callets and left them whole as they are wonderful melted through when you take a warm bite, as you can see in the photo below.

    I also added Callebaut white chocolate callets that look more like chocolate chips.  I prefer this brand as it has a nice balanced sweetness that goes well with baked goods.  This being said, you can use whatever you have in your pantry i.e. regular chocolate chips, but the taste of the chocolate is really amplified with couveture.

    I hope you enjoy them and if you do make this recipe, please share and use my hashtag, #hautesucre on the social media channels, as I would love to see them!

    Keep an eye out as I will be hosting a giveaway over the next few days…stay tuned!

    Enjoy!

    Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins Recipe

    Makes 12 

    Bake @350°F for 30 min


    Ingredients:

    2 to 3 very ripe bananas, peeled
    1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup maple syrup
    1 large egg, beaten
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    Pinch of salt

    1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped
    1/4 cup white chocolate, chopped
    Pecans (optional)

    Instructions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line 12 muffin cups
    2. In a large bowl mash the bananas and whisk in the butter, olive oil, sugar and maple syrup.
    3. Add the vanilla extract and ground cinnamon.
    4. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and whisk gently until combined.
    5. Fold in the dark chocolate and white chocolate.
    6. Scoop 1/3 cup of batter into each lined cupcake cavity and top with pecans if desired.
    7. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
    8. Let cool on a wire rack or eat warm with a cold glass of milk. Enjoy!

    Brioche French Toast Recipe 


    Brioche French Toast Recipe

    Ingredients:

    1 large egg, whisked

    1/3 cup heavy cream

    1/4 cup sugar

    1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

    Pinch of sea salt

    3-4 sliced brioche (or reg bread)

    Directions:

    1. In a shallow bowl, whisk all the ingredients
    2. let bread soak up mixture and place in a hot, buttered pan.
    3. Cook until crunchy + golden.
    4. Serve with maple syrup, whipped cream and fresh berries

    Enjoy!!🍓


    Healthy Coconut Cream Dark Chocolate Cups 

    Healthy Coconut Cream Dark Chocolate Cups Recipe:

    Ingredients:

    2 cups Lindt dark chocolate couveture, melted + tempered, 70% + 56%)

    1 cup coconut cream (thick)

    1 tblsp maple syrup

    1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean 

    Fleur de sel 

    Coconut chips
    Directions:

    Melt chocolate and set aside.

    Mix coconut cream, maple syrup + vanilla- refrigerate.

    Line 12 cupcake tins with liners and scoop 1 tblsp of melted chocolate, bringing up the sides to cover most of the liner.  

    Refrigerate or cool until set.

    Scoop 1- 2 tsp of coconut cream mixture into chocolate lined cup and tap gently. 

    Let chill for 5 minutes and then pour melted chocolate over top and working quickly to spread it evenly over the coconut cream to set. 

    Sprinkle with fleur de sel and top with dried coconut chips. Chill until firm. 

    Enjoy!

    Brown Butter Chocolate Krispie Squares 

    Guys! I thought I’d share this quick recipe, it only takes 5 minutes!  I literally made these just before heading out the door for school pick up this afternoon and they made the best after school snacks.😋
    I’ll be the first to admit I have a pet peeve – leftover cereal boxes piled up drive me crazy! My son loves buying cereal but after one bowl, he’s done with it!  Something about soggy cereal and milk…haha 😂

    I took a mix of glutenfree cereals such as Choco Chimps by Nature’s Path Organic, Kellog’s Cocoa Rice Krispies and good ol’ Cheerios!  I didn’t add any chocolate to make these but if you feel the need, you could give them a good drizzle of melted dark chocolate or add in a handful of dark chocolate chips.  Enjoy!

    *And don’t forget, if you make these using my recipe below, please tag them #hautesucre on your social media accounts as I would love to see them!😊

    Brown Butter Chocolate Krispie Squares Recipe 

    Makes 16 squares

    Ingredients:

    1/3 cup salted butter

    2.5 cups marshmallows

    Pinch of fleur de sel

    1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean or extract

    4-5 cups of mixed chocolate cereals of your choice or *as noted above

    Method:

    1. In a large bowl combine the mix of cereals and set aside.

    2. Line a 9×9 square pan with parchment and set aside.

    3. In a heated saucepan melt the butter until just golden and set off the heat, then add the vanilla, salt and marshmallows and mix quickly leaving a few marshmallows whole.

    4. Pour the mixture into the bowl of cereals and mix quickly.

    5. Transfer to the lined pan, pressing the mixture down evenly with the spatula.

    6. Let cool and cut into squares. Enjoy!

     

    Austin, Texas 

    Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Austin, Texas in partnership with Visit The USA, Official USA Travel Guide to American Holidays.

    I had heard and researched great things about Austin’s food and music scene snd was really excited to visit as it would be my first time visiting Texas. I had little or no idea what to expect.

    I flew into Austin on the first of September, expecting a cool, summer-is-almost over feel, but boy was I wrong! Upon leaving the airport, I was welcomed with a hot breeze, cowboy boots, and sweet southern music! The people were so friendly and helpful in directing me to my hotel downtown.

    We checked into the Hilton Austin on 4th Street, close to the hustle and bustle of downtown Austin.

    We enjoyed some drinks whilst admiring the city views from the 25th floor lounge before heading out for the night.

    We had dinner reservations at the highly acclaimed Uchiko,  which serves upscale Japanese farmhouse cuisine. We had tried various menu items and the desserts were out of this world!

    As a pastry chef, I enjoyed them immensely and appreciated the various techniques that were showcased. Overall, the service and food were excellent and the ambiance was lovely.

    The following day, we had brunch at the Magnolia Cafe, a classic 24 hour eatery which serves Southwestern/Mexican food.  My particular favourites were the migas, huevos rancheros, sweet hibiscus ice teas and the yummy grapefruit mimosas. This place was full of locals and definitely a classic Austin eatery with good eats!

    After brunch, we headed out to do some shopping on South Congress Avenue, a favourite spot among tourists. We visited some interesting eclectic shops filled with a wide vaiety from vintage props to old fashioned candies to Mexican dolls.

    After purchasing some cool souvenirs and candy, we headed out in search of tacos for lunch.

    I had heard about the infamous Torchy’s Tacos and couldn’t wait to try them.  My favorites included the Baja Shrimp and the Democrat!  What a fun place!

    We continued shopping along the South Congress strip after brunch stopping in some very nice retail clothing shops when all of a sudden, it started to storm like crazy.  That’s Austin weather for you, sunny one minute and hailing rain the next!

    We ran for cover and ducked into a cute coffee shop called Mañana, a great little shop with a cozy atmosphere and very chic vibe. I tried some silky cortados with strawberry Macarons. Yum! I’m so happy that we stumbled upon it!

    After a full day of walking under the Texan sun, we headed back to the hotel to relax and enjoy some snacks and cocktails in the Hilton hotel’s lounge.

    Dinner was at the infamous Barley Swine headed by Chef Bryce (he was named Food & Wine’s best chef in 2010.) We were seated at the Chef’s table with a great view of the kitchen. It was a delight to watch the magic of the kitchen happen right before our eyes. Beautiful plates of food being served one course after the other.

    Some of my favourites included the Hatch chile cheese pretzel, Akaushi Ribeye with corn pudding and bone marrow marrow hash as well as dessert; the lime mallow sorbet with cucamelon and olive oil cake and the Mango Koji rice pudding. A not to be missed restaurant!

    After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and crossed through the infamous 6th Street in downtown Austin.  The hustle and bustle of the bars, clubs and loud music keeps this street alive until the wee hours of the morning. Popular amongst the students from University of Texas and tourists alike.

    We reached our destination Voodoo Doughnuts, a 24 hour bakeshop. I finally had the chance to try these colourful, creative and quirky doughnuts and they did not disappoint!

    The next day we walked our way around the city and explored Lady Bird Lake where we walked along the trail to the boardwalk. The lake is beautiful and it’s a great place where locals go to workout, kayak or stroll.

    After a lovely walk through the city and visiting the Texas State Capitol, we ventured over to Second Bar & Kitchen for some amazing cocktails paired with a burger, fried chicken and biscuits for lunch. One of my favourite spots.

    After lunch, we stopped into Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars,  a lovely local foodie shop in downtown Austin selling a wide range of high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars. We learned about how they are made and had an opportunity to do a tasting. We puchased a few lovely flavours such as Grapefruit balsamic and South African Chili oil. Can’t wait to pair them with my meals.

    A great place to relax and grab a drink is the historical Moonshine Patio Bar serving classic American food and drinks. With an equally delicious cocktail menu, it’s hard not to find a favourite. I’m still dreaming and missing this Bourbon Renewal!🍹❤ The Bourbon Renewal quickly became my favourite drink which is made with Rye, créme de cassis, lemon and Angostura! Yum!😋

    Moonshine Patio Bar also serve a tasty buffet style brunch on Sundays worth checking out, but get there early as the line ups can be very long (mostly filled with locals, they know good food!)

    Another dinner restaurant worth mentioning is Emmer & Rye by Chef Kevin Fink on the ever popular Rainey St. We chose this restaurant as Chef Fink was named Best Chef of 2016 by Food & Wine.

    Dishes are served small plate and dimsum style. Truly farm to table cuisine worth sharing that showcases up to 15 different kinds of grains milled in their kitchen, which demonstrates Chef Fink’s  passion for incorporating local ingredients into his cuisine.

    For dessert, I tried the cocoa bean ice cream with red fife cookies. A great twist on a classic with this hearty grain, a nice highlight dessert on my trip.

    Further down Rainey Street there are more bars and food trucks that are worth checking out for quick fare ranging from Grilled Cheese to Indian to Greek. It’s a really lively street lined with bars and lounges, similar to 6th Street but with a slightly older vibe (post graduate crowd).

    Another cafe that is hip and upcoming is Launderette, which is a converted gas station serving gourmet new American fare such as Fried chicken and Asparagus eggs Benny.  The food was hearty and delicious with another great cocktail list, including the Rose Grapefruit cocktail which was the perfect accompaniment to the hot weather.

    Not to be missed and truly Texan is the BBQ scene! While there are plenty of places to choose from,  I had the pleasure of trying La Barbecue and it did not disappoint but be prepared to wait as there are long wait times, but it’s worth it!

    Be sure to try the Valrhona 70% chocolate gelato from Gelateria Gemelli next door. It’s the perfect afternoon treat!

    Austin was a great experience for a city girl like me. The food scene is amazing and the city is really up and coming. There is new construction everywhere and you can feel the tech boom moving in.

    It has a great vibe and I highly recommend visiting it, especially if you’re into the music scene. There are many amazing music festivals that I would love to catch on my next trip, until next time!

    A special thank you to Visit The USA and Visit Austin for this opportunity and the hospitable staff at the Hilton Austin for a great stay.