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Monday, October 17, 2011

Pear Maple Custard Tart

This year for (Canadian) Thanksgiving, I was presented with somewhat of a challenge when invited to a potluck. Traditions want that desserts include pumpkin pie and/or apple pie. After being told that someone was already making pumpkin pies, I was told to think of something different that could embody familiar flavors that represent the warm colors of fall.  The idea maple and crumble immediately came to mind and I went from there. The juiciness of the pears inside this tart blends nicely with the warm maple flavors of the crumble. Here's  the basic filling recipes. 

Pear Maple Custard Tart
- 1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust
- 1 - 15oz can, pear halves in syrup 
- 1 - 14oz can of condensed milk
- 2 Tsp maple extract
- 2 Eggs
- 1/4 Cup melted butter
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander 
- 1/3 Cup Maple sugar 
- 1/2 Cup Flour
- 1/4 Cup cold butter

1. Have your tart shell ready or make your own recipe for pie dough, enough for a 9 inch tart bottom.  Take each pear and slice to fan out around the bottom of the tart shell (Demonstrated below in the picture with an individual tart I had made). 
2. In your stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment, pour in the condensed milk the maple extract and the eggs. Whisk on medium speed for 2 minutes, for the mix to become somewhat foamy. 
3. At this point, add your eggs, one at a time and whisk on medium-low till combined. Add the cinnamon and coriander and whisk again till just combined. Pour enough of the custard mixture into the tart shell to just cover the pears, it should come up to 3/4 of the height of the tart. Do not over fill because it may overflow in the oven. Place in preheated 450F oven for 8-10 minutes to set the custard. 

4. During this time, make your crumble. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, flour and cut in the butter with a pastry blender or simply by breaking it all apart with your fingers, to form pea sized pieces of crumble. 
5. As soon as you take out the tart from the initial baking, reduce oven temp to 350F. Sprinkle the tart with the crumble and put back in the 350F to continue baking for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the tart comes out clean. 

This tart proved to have its level of difficulties but was well worth it in the end. The aromas in the house were amazing and the smooth taste of the tart even better! Nothing better to warm you up on a cold fall evening with a warm cup of tea! Hope you enjoy!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Banana Apple Raisin Bran Muffins

If you are looking for a healthy mid day snack, here it is! I didn't calculate how much fiber this contains but probably contains 100% of your daily fiber, but you wouldn't even know it. The taste of banana comes through first, then leaves room for the apple and cinnamon to come through, the molasses and raisins, the flavors all being unwrapped one at a time.

Banana Apple Raisin Bran Muffins
- 3 bananas (very ripe)
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup of molasses
- 1/4 cup of milk (bring to a simmer)
- 3/4 cup whole bran cereal
-  1 Cup Flour
- 1 Tsp Baking Soda
- 2 Tsp ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 Raisins
- 1 Apple, finely chopped

1. Preheat your oven to 350F, butter your molds or prepare your muffin tin papers. This recipe makes 12 muffins.
2. In a large bowl, use your whisk to mash up your bananas. Add to them, the eggs. In the same measuring cup, measure out the oil, pouring in the banana mixture and then measuring out the molasses (this way the molasses will not stick to the measuring cup). Whisk all together.
3. In a small bowl, pour the hot milk over the bran and stir gently with a spoon for the bran to soak up the milk. Add this to the banana mixture and start stirring with a spatula.
4. Sift together the flour, cinnamon and baking soda then add to the wet mixture. Fold in the apple pieces and raisins.
5. Spoon the mixture equally in 12 muffin tins and bake in your preheated 350F oven for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

As always, enjoy warm wit butter, nothing better!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes, Cream Cheese Icing

Pumpkins are in season and they are arriving in supermarkets, all shapes and sizes, wanting to be carved baked and eaten. As common as it now is in pop culture to hull them out and carve them, they still remain part of the squash family and can be prepared just as any other squash would. You could, roast it, boil it, make smoothies, soups, mash or bake with it. Personally I really enjoy this time of year for the arrival of all types of squashes and to discover their unique flavors and what they can offer to new recipes.

Let's start this mini series of squashes, with a very familiar member of this family, the pumpkin. Preparing the meat of this squash is just like any other squash. Put in half, hull out the insides with spoon and boil the pumpkin pieces until the meat is tender to a fork. The seeds of the pumpkin can of course be kept, rinsed, seasoned with oil and roasted. These prepared seeds can be added to salads or other dishes of your choice. So I offer you today this very VERY delicious recipe which will bring you comfort and warmth in these cold and at times damp, autumn days.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
Dry Ingredients
- 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Tsp Baking Soda
- 1Tsp Baking Powder
- 2 Tsp grated fresh ginger (or powdered ginger)
- 2 Tsp Cinnamon 
Wet Ingredients
- 1 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Cup Butter, room temperature
- 1/2 Cup sugar
- 4 whole eggs
- 15oz pumpkin puree (From a can or by preparing from a fresh pumpkin)

Preheat oven to 350F and line 12 muffin tins with papers. 
1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl and stir to mix well.
2. In a medium sized bowl, cream the 2 sugars and the butter. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well to combine after each egg.
3. Add the wet mixture to the dry to combine well but NOT OVER MIXING. Then add the pumpkin puree in the mixture and stir gently to get a uniform, smooth mixture. Spoon equally in 12 muffin tins and bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. 

Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing
- 1 - 250g container of cream cheese, softened 
- 1/2 Cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 Cup icing sugar
- 1 Tbsp liquid vanilla extract 

Mix together the cream cheese, butter and sugar until all combined and smooth. Add the vanilla. The more you beat this icing, the lighter and fluffier it will become. Pipe on cupcakes and serve! 

This recipe is a great hit at thanksgiving parties, potlucks and Halloween parties alike. Impress your friends and family with this great fall tasting treat! 

Eat well and till next time,