9.28.2014

Caramel Apple Pie Biscuits



When these were ready to eat, I sat munching and mulling over why I was reminded of something....something from years ago. And then it came to me: The Franklin Cider Mill in Michigan. Nothing better than fresh cider and donuts. And what donuts they made there! 


The Mill was completed in 1837, the same year in which Michigan gained its statehood. It hasn't changed much since the photo above, which going by the cars I'd say was in the 60's.

But back then, I never gave much thought to why these donuts were so much better than others we tried. Now I've figured out the difference. Nutmeg. Oh yes, these biscuits definitely have a delightful caramel apple taste, but that bit of nutmeg in the sugar on top...that's what gave them that extra oomph, reminding me of the cider mill's donuts.

Really, these were quite spectacular biscuits. They didn't rise as high as most biscuits, probably because of the weight of the apples, but who cares? Ambrosia. Fall. Cider mill memories. Homemade applesauce. A chill in the air. Homecoming. Red and gold maple leaves. All the things I remember from years ago, wrapped up in one little biscuit.

Clever girl, that Mandy from Lady and Pups.

Caramel Apple Pie Biscuits
From Lady and Pups

Makes: 7 small biscuits
Ingredients:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup apple juice
1 1/2 cups of small-diced baking apple (about 2 small apples, I used Braeburn)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspooon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup apple juice (or apple cider)
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the dough:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
5 1/2 tablespoons (80 grams) unsalted butter, very cold and diced
2 tablepsoons melted butter for brushing
1/4 cup granulated sugar + 1/8 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg for sprinkling

Method:
For the apple/wet ingredient:
In a sauce pot, bring 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of apple juice to a boil over medium heat.  Swirl occasionally and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and the sugar becomes a rich, dark amber color.  This will take a few minutes.  Then add the small-diced apples and continue to cook over medium heat.  The caramel will harden in contact of the cold apples, so stir with a spoon until all the caramel is melted again.  Cook until the liquid/juice from the apple has mostly evaporated, and the sauce slightly thickens again, approx 7 ~ 10 min.  You should have what looks like about 1/4 cup of liquid in the pot, and the apples should be almost translucent, like candied.


Stir in the sea salt, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, and freshly grated nutmeg.  Then add another 1/4 cup of apple juice and heavy cream.  Mix evenly then chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge until cold. This last is an important step. Don't proceed if the apple mixture is not cold.

For the biscuit:  
Preheat the oven to 425ºF

Whisk all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl (or you can do it in the food-processor).  Add the diced and cold unsalted butter, then with a pastry-cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the largest bit is about the size of a small pea (or pulse the food-processor until this happens, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl).  Add the chilled caramel apple/wet ingredient, then with a spatula, fold the mixture together until a wet dough forms.  The dough should be wet and sticky. (Mine was not wet and sticky, but held together perfectly so I didn't add cream.) If yours is too dry and won't hold together, add another tablespoon of heavy cream.

Transfer to a floured surface and pat into inch and a half (or however thick you make your regular biscuits) thickness. Cut the biscuits out with a small cutter, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Gather the scraps and cut again.  You should have about 6 ~ 8 biscuits.  Brush the top with heavy cream then baking in the oven until golden browned and puffed, approx 15 min.


Allow to cool for 20 ~ 30 min on a cooling rack.  Brush the tops with melted butter then gently press against the nutmeg-sugar until it sticks.  If you want to slice it open for ice-cream sandwich, use a serrated knife because these are quite delicate.





9.25.2014

Mandarin Cake with Yogurt Icing


Have you ever used the entire lemon or orange in a recipe? There seem to be quite a few recipes around doing just that, using both rind and juice. It's not something I've ever done until recently, but I've been pleased with the results, so expect more posts coming your way using the whole fruit, not just juice.

However. this particular recipe was by far the most scrumptious to date. Whole mandarins are actually simmered until tender and then the entire thing 
puréed. Donna Hay of course, so what else but yummy? Moist, bright with a strong orange flavor and the yogurt frosting is to die for. If you don't have that European style cake pan (which is a tad larger and slightly deeper than ours), use your regular cake pan and then make a few muffins with the leftover batter, that's what I did. But do make this recipe. It's a dream.
Note: read directions through before making....it takes 24 hours. (Why do we never learn that lesson? LOL)

Mandarin Cake with Yogurt Icing

Donna Hay, issue 77

Ingredients:
4 medium mandarins (360 g) (I used tangerines, clementines would be even better, weigh them for accuracy.)
175 g unsalted butter, softened
1 and 1/2 cups superfine sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond meal/flour
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted

For the icing:
3 cups Greek yogurt
1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1 cup mascarpone

Method:
Place the yogurt in a large sieve wrapped in muslin. Set the sieve over a large bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Grease a cake pan, line the bottom with parchment, and grease lightly again. Set aside.
Place the (washed) unpeeled mandarins in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cut a round piece of parchment to fit the pan and lay it over the mandarins, placing a plate on top to hold the mandarins under water. Simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Remove the mandarins from the water, cool slightly, then purée them in your food processor. Set aside.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of your mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Then add the vanilla, almond flour, regular flour and baking powder. Beat until just mixed. Add the puréed mandarins, mix.
Pour into your prepared baking pan, level off and bake for 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Method for the icing:
Place the prepared yogurt in a bowl, add the mascarpone and then the sifted confectioners sugar. Mix well and using a palette knife, frost the cake. Serves 8-10.

(I refrigerated mine until ready to serve, but for some reason, that was not mentioned in the recipe.)




9.21.2014

Corn, Spring Onion and Ricotta Tart


A lovely meatless dish....and you can serve it hot or cold. The polenta crust has a nice crunch to it and the sweetness of the corn is balanced by the scallions. Each mouthful has a creamy texture from the ricotta. Lots of flavors going on here and not only does it make a pretty presentation, but is simple to make. Your entire family will love it.

Corn, Spring Onion and Ricotta Tart

By Jade Donohoo, Eat This My Friend via Food 52


Ingredients for the tart shell:
1 cup flour, sifted
3/4 cup uncooked polenta
1/2 cup butter, cold, plus extra for greasing
egg
pinch sea salt
tablespoon ice water

Ingredients for the filling:
ears of corn
eggs
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Scant 1/2 cup fresh ricotta
1/4 cup heavy cream
few big pinches of salt
Freshly-ground pepper

Method:
Place flour, polenta, butter, and salt into a food processor and pulse until the butter is combined. Add the egg and iced water. Pulse until the mixture comes together. Turn dough out onto a lightly-floured bench and knead for a minute. Form the dough into a ball and cover with cling film. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 395°F. 
Remove pastry from fridge and roll out until you have a circular shape thick and wide enough to fit in a large flan tin. 
Grease a flan tin with butter and lay the pastry over the top. (It will not hold together very well, that's OK, you can fix it later) Press the pastry in the pan and up the sides in with your fingers. Keep the leftover pastry in case you need to patch up any holes. 
Place foil over the top and fill it with dried beans or pastry weights. Place in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes. 
While the pastry is baking, remove the kernels from the corn cobs. Place the 4 eggs, cream, salt, and corn kernels into the food processor (no need to wash it after making the pastry!) and pulse briefly until combined. Stir in the thinly sliced spring onions. When the pastry is baked, remove the weights and pour in the corn mixture. Break the ricotta up into small chunks and dot it evenly around the mixture. Place it back into the oven and bake until set, about 20 minutes. Grind over some freshly-cracked pepper before serving.



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