16 July 2012

Cheaters Nectarine Tartlet

Tarts are my favorite.  Not pies, tarts.

Maybe it's the scalloped crust?  Although I like the straight-sided tarts too.

Maybe it's the fruit?  Nah, I dig a chocolate tart more.

Maybe it's just the simplicity?  Hmmmm.

Or maybe it's the pastry cream?  Not anymore....

It's summertime and to me that means stone fruits (and tomatoes).  Peaches are coming, but until then I'm indulging in lots o' nectarines.  I call them pre-peaches.

I like surprising Cody every once in a while with a fancy dessert after a simple supper.  To keep things a light--and simple--I ditched the pastry cream in favor of this cheat--non-fat Greek yogurt.

I don't know why I felt so clever this time, but I was very full of myself when I unveiled these beauties.  It could have something to do with the fact that Cody "doesn't like" Greek yogurt and yet I keep sneaking it into things that he absolutely laps up. 

Tasting the nectarines at the Farmer's Market--sweet, juicy, perfumy--I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them.  I had tartlet shells on-hand, making assembly a breeze.

FYI--whenever I make a pie or a tart I use the dough scraps to make tartlet shells.  Lay out the scraps, overlapping them just enough, sprinkle over some flour and roll lightly to remarry the dough pieces then lay them into the pans and cut.  Bake the shells and after they've cooled, wrap them well and freeze until you need them.  Sweet or savory fillings work--anything from extra pudding to mini quiche.

After gussying up the yogurt with lemon zest, vanilla and a squeeze of honey, I spread a little apricot jam in the bottom of the tartlet shells and filled them with the yogurt.  I sliced two nectarines very thin and layered the fruit over the yogurt filling and let them chill for a couple of hours.  To make them shiny I could have glazed them with warm apricot jam, but it was just a simple sweet bite for the two of us.

Cody doesn't like Greek yogurt, but he liked the Nectarine Tartlets!

The shells were so crispy that we could pick them up with our hands and bite into their sweet, creamy, crunchy goodness.  The nectarine was the absolute star of this show--as it should be.  And I know we saved a calorie or two by ditching the pastry cream. 

I love summer!!

12 July 2012

Rigó Jancsi or Hungarian Chocolate Mousse Slices

"This is the best thing to come out of that cafe book yet," said Cody with a mouth full of creamy chocolate goodness.

That's one solid vote for the Rigó Jancsi.
If you like your chocolate sandwiched between chocolate and topped with chocolate, then this recipe is definitely for you.

Yeah, it's decadent.

It's the dessert equivalent of the sexy girl hidden inside the mousey librarian.

The story goes that Rigó Jancsi was the name of a Hungarian gypsy violinist whose playing was so passionate that he successfully seduced a wealthy married woman during one of his performances.  Big scandal.  Must've been an amazing show!! 

Can you imagine having a reputation so fierce that a pastry chef would name their most sinful, decadent dessert after you?  Something for us all to aspire to...

What Happened:
Trying to be sensible with all this baking, or more honestly, panicked about my expanding waistline, I decided to make a half recipe.  All this meant was that I baked the cake in a 1/4 sheet pan instead of a 1/2 sheet pan.  Everything else remained the same.

The idea for the dessert is that there are two cake layers with a thick, creamy, chocolate mousse between them.  There is a secret weapon though--a thin layer of apricot glaze tucked inside.

All the elements are easily prepared and didn't take too much time really.  I found no pitfalls or temperamental steps in the recipe. 

One surprise was the oil in the cake given that the dessert is supposed to date back to the late nineteenth century.  The oil makes it a quasi-chiffon cake (quasi because you don't beat the egg whites separately and fold them in), and they weren't invented until the early part of the twentieth century.  But what do I know?  Although, a cake that is to be refrigerated has a better texture when it's made with oil instead of butter.  Butter cakes get stiff when chilled.

Things I Would Change:
  • I probably would slice the cake differently just to up the level of presentation.  Instead of cutting the pieces into rectangles I might cut them into "pie" slices.  It's a prettier shape and I'm known to be fussy about these things.  Or, I would garnish with a flower or a long chocolate curl.
The Result:
I already spilled the beans on this one:  Cody loved it.

Me?  I was surprised.  When I tasted the elements separately, the mousse, the cake, I was sure it wouldn't be my cup o' tea.  Too bitter.  Too earthy.  But when I tasted a finished slice I really liked it.  I couldn't believe the difference in flavor. 

The mousse played off the cake and the cake married with the chocolate glaze and, per usual, the apricot made it all work together.  It was complex and more importantly, it was complete.  Not bitter.  Delicious and well-balanced.  If you need a chocolate fix, Rigó Jancsi is definitely the ticket.

I will make this again, but I'm sure I'll try to make it look less Plain Jane.

04 July 2012

A Fast One For July 4th - Berries & Sabayon

While I'm not big on festive food I have to admit I was inspired by a bit of the Red, White & Blue this morning. 

My refrigerator is full of different beautiful berries right now and I've been playing with all kinds of ways to spotlight their deliciousness.

Sometime between comforting the baby and answering the kitty cries, it occurred to me to whip up a sabayon for a light breakfast treat.

When I realized that sabayon would be a great way to use up some of my frozen egg yolks and that I just happen to have a chilled bottle of Prosecco in the frig, I was sold. 

Yay!  It was turning into a fancy morning with Berries and Bellinis!

What Happened:
I sliced up some strawberries, threw on a wee bit of sugar and let them macerate while I put together the sabayon.  I thawed my egg yolks (which I froze with a little bit of sugar so they wouldn't get funky) and whipped them together with a little sugar and Prosecco.

It only took about 5 minutes or so to whip the sauce into a nice foam over a bain marie. Unfortunately, I didn't have the berries in their cups or the toast buttered or the Bellinis poured when the sauce was ready so it lost a bit of volume while I caught up. 

Next time I'll be fully prepped!

Things I Would Change:
  • Nada!
The Result:
Yum, yum and YUM!

Easy and creamy without the cream.

Sabayon is simple to make and I like the fact that I can make as little or as much as I need.  The ratios are really adaptable.

To me, it's a gorgeous sauce and makes a luxurious addition to fruit.  The flavor is light and doesn't overpower the berries at all.

I also love the contrast between the warm sauce and the cool fruit.  Frankly, I could have just taken a spoon to the bowl of sauce, but I'm a freak for creamy textures.

So how's that for patriotic?  Cody and I ate red, white & blue for breakfast!