Thursday, January 26, 2023

The ultimate soup guide, part 2

I am very passionate about soup. I love making soup. I love eating soup. I love talking about soup. And I so desperately want to share that love with you all by helping you make the best soup possible. I’m sure you’ve realized by now not all soups are created equal. There can be a significant difference in taste between the soup you make at home and the soup you order from a restaurant.

I created this blog post as a follow-up from my previous “The Ultimate Soup Guide” to share a few more thoughts on how you can improve your soup. I’m also sharing one of my favorite recipes, minestrone soup.

And in case you're curious (I'm sure you're not), I have Chef Brown, owner and executive chef of the Flatiron on Penn, to thank for my passion for soup. He was my chef instructor for my Soups, Stocks, and Sauces class in culinary school.

Take stock of your stock

A good foundation is of the utmost importance when making soup. If you start with something that tastes good on its own, then you’re already in good shape. In a perfect world, we would only ever use homemade stock. It’s significantly more flavorful and richer than what you can buy at the store, and you can control the sodium content. However, the reality is that’s totally impractical. So I would say if (when) you make homemade stock, use it for brothy soups—those soups that make you want to slurp the last few drops. (Find my stock recipes here.)

Magic mirepoix

Pronounced meer-pwah, mirepoix is crucial for flavoring soups, stews, sauces, braised dishes, etc. When in doubt, start with mirepoix. Mirepoix is a mixture of 50% onions, 25% carrots, and 25% celery by weight. So if your soup has 8 ounces of onions, it should have 4 ounces of carrots and 4 ounces of celery. As previously mentioned, a good foundation is important, and mirepoix is part of that flavor foundation. It’s the base that your soup recipe is built upon. You can control the direction of the soup be either sweating or caramelizing the mirepoix .

To sweat mirepoix, cook it in a pot over low heat with butter or oil until everything softens and releases moisture. This helps to concentrate flavor. The flavor remains concentrated even when you add liquid to the pot later. No browning occurs when you sweat mirepoix. The flavor profile of the vegetables will not change.

As you probably guessed, when we caramelize mirepoix, we brown (but NOT burn) the mirepoix. When we do this, the "maillard reaction" occurs. When mirepoix is heated to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and above, the sugar breaks down and caramelizes. The sweetness of the vegetables deepens and intensifies, and the flavor profile changes.

To caramelize mirepoix, cook just the onions and carrots over medium low heat with butter or oil. As the vegetables cook, they will soften and release moisture. Once the moisture evaporates, the onions and carrots will start to caramelize. Make sure to stir every so often so it doesn't burn. When the onions and carrots are evenly brown, add the celery. Celery doesn't brown in the same way that onions and carrots do. Celery is low in sugar and has a lot of moisture, which can prevent the onions and carrots from adequately caramelizing. That's why it's added last. Once the celery softens, add your liquid to the pot.

One last thing about mirepoix (and all vegetables you add to your soup): Make sure everything is uniformly cut. Two reasons: it ensures everything cooks evenly, and it makes the soup taste better because it creates better mouthfeel.

Sear before you simmer

Just like with the caramelization of mirepoix, searing or browning your meat is important for flavor. Browning the meat before adding it to the stockpot imbues the soup with rich flavor and it also releases some fat and gives the meat some structure so it doesn’t just become a  floppy glob that disintegrates as the soup cooks.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer

Simmer means to cook over medium-low heat as small bubbles gently break the surface every once in a while. Boiling is done over high heat, and lots of big bubbles break the surface of the soup.

Most of the time, it's best to cook your soup over a simmer. If you cook it at a boil, the ingredients in the soup will jostle around too much and break apart. Also, too much liquid will evaporate before the flavor can develop.

So why bother bringing it to a boil if we’re just going to simmer it? The answer is twofold: First, it can take a lot of time for soup to reach a simmer at medium-low heat, and second, you can control the temperature of your soup better if you know what its boiling point is.

Don’t part with your parmesan rind

When you finish a wedge of parmesan cheese, stick the rind in the freezer and save it for when you make soup. The rind will infuse the soup with rich, umami flavor. The rind will become soft but not fully dissolve, so make sure to remove the rind before serving.

Perfection takes time

Sure, you can finish a soup in 20 minutes, but the flavor won’t be nearly as profound as a soup that’s been simmering for an hour.

Add acid

Have you ever tasted something and thought, “This tastes flat”? It’s probably because you need an acid. Acids brighten and enhance flavors while also balancing sweetness and bitterness. Acids come in many forms. Some of my favorites for soup are lemon juice, vinegar, and wine. I like to incorporate acids throughout the cooking process, like when I deglaze the pot with vinegar or wine. But it’s also a good idea to stir in an acidic ingredient at the very end.

Minestrone soup

Yield: 6 servings

Time: About 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
  • 10 ounces yellow onion, small dice
  • 5 ounces carrot, small dice
  • 5 ounces celery, small dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup white wine (Plus 1/2 cup reserved for finishing the soup, if desired)
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ounce piece parmesan cheese rind (optional but adds tremendous flavor)
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tablespoons dry Italian seasoning
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 medium zucchini, medium dice (or butternut squash)
  • 8 ounces kale, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until it starts to brown.
  2. Add onion and carrot (and butternut squash if using) and cook until they start to caramelize. Add celery and cook until soft.
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  4. Deglaze pot with white wine.
  5. Add diced tomatoes, beans, parmesan cheese rind, rosemary, bay leaf, and Italian seasoning, stirring after each addition
  6. Add the stock, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Add orzo (and zucchini if using) and cook until tender, about 9 minutes.
  8. Add reserved white wine and kale and stir until wilted.
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Serve in bowls, drizzling a little olive oil and sprinkling a big pinch of parmesan cheese over each serving.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Brûléed cheese crostini


Brûléed Blue Cheese Crostini with Pear and Walnuts

Yield: 12 servings

Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 baguette, cut into 1/2"-thick slices
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted Challenge butter, softened
  • 2 red anjou or Bartlett pears, sliced thin
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, sliced thin
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Hot honey for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread baguette slices with thin layer of butter. Bake in oven until golden and toasted, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and cool.
  4. Place one slice of pear on each baguette slice and top with blue cheese. 
  5. Sprinkle sugar on top of blue cheese. Use kitchen torch to caramelize sugar.
  6. Drizzle hot honey over cheese and top with walnut pieces. Serve immediately.



Brûléed Goat Cheese Crostini with Fig and Hazelnuts

Yield: 12 servings

Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 baguette, cut into 1/2"-thick slices
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted Challenge butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup fig preserves
  • 1 (8-ounce) goat cheese log, sliced thin
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Hot honey for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped and toasted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread baguette slices with thin layer of butter. Bake in oven until golden and toasted, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and cool.
  4. Spread fig preserves on each baguette slice and top with goat cheese. 
  5. Sprinkle sugar on top of goat cheese. Use kitchen torch to caramelize sugar.
  6. Drizzle hot honey over cheese and top with hazelnut pieces. Serve immediately.



Brûléed Brie Crostini with Chocolate and Pistachios

Yield: 12 servings

Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 baguette, cut into 1/2"-thick slices
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted Challenge butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup raspberry preserves
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 ounces brie cheese, cut into 1/8-inch strips
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread baguette slices with thin layer of butter. Bake in oven until golden and toasted, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and cool.
  4. Spread raspberry preserves on each baguette slice and top with piece of chocolate and brie. 
  5. Sprinkle sugar on top of brie. Use kitchen torch to caramelize sugar.
  6. Top with pistachio pieces. Serve immediately.




Friday, January 13, 2023

Winter citrus salad

I’m talking about a fresh start to the new year with in-season salad ingredients. We usually think of summer as "salad season," but winter can be salad season, too! 

Here is my go-to salad formula:

Base (lettuce, kale, chicories, cabbage, spinach) + Grain (quinoa, farro, bulgur, couscous) + Vegetables (raw or roasted) + Protein (egg, meat, chickpeas, beans, fish) + Saltiness (cheese, capers, olives) + Crunch (nuts, seeds, granola) + Herbs (mint, basil, parsley, cilantro) + Dressing (vinaigrette for delicate salad or creamy for hearty salad)

You don’t need to include all parts of the formula for a tasty salad. It depends on what vibe you’re going for, like if you want a meal salad or a side salad.


My favorite cold-weather crops for building a fresh seasonal salad include radicchio, kale, fennel, beets, and citrus.

Here are a few pointers for using each of the ingredients in the salad:

Kale: It's important to massage the kale to soften it. Add a little olive oil to your bowl of kale and massage it with your hands for about 3 minutes. This makes the kale easier to eat and more enjoyable.

Radicchio: This vegetable is in the chicory family. I like to prep radicchio by pulling the leaves off the head and tearing them into pieces. Radicchio, like all crops in the chicory family, can be quite bitter. Soak the radicchio in cold water for about half an hour to make it less bitter.

Fennel: Use a mandolin to get thin slices, and save the fronds to add with other herbs at the end.

Red onion: Slice your red onion very thin (I like to use a mandolin) so you don't experience the overpowering sharp bite of the vegetable. A good way to lessen the sharpness is to soak the red onion slices for 10 minutes in cold water. Or you can pickle the red onion, which is what I did.

Beets: I'm going to be honest, I just buy ready to eat cooked and peeled beets from the grocery store. It's just not worth the time and effort for me to do it myself anymore.

Mandarin oranges: Peeled mandarin orange segments have a white covering because of the pith, and you can't cut it off like you would with a regular orange. The best way to make them look prettier and more orange is to blanch them in boiling water for 10 seconds.

Blood oranges: I like to serve these supreme style. What that means is I cut off the top and bottom of the orange so the flesh is exposed. I then remove the peel and pith by running my knife along the curve of the fruit. Once the peel and pith are removed, you'll be able to see the membrane, which holds the segments together. I use my knife to cut inside on either side of the membrane, and I can easily remove each segment.

Grapefruit: I recommend storing the grapefruit in juices squeezed from the membrane. The fruit will stay fresher longer.

Feta: The best feta you can buy is whole block feta that you crumble yourself. Goat cheese would also probably work well in this salad.

Hazelnuts: I think hazelnuts are an underutilized nut that pair really well with citrus. It's important to toast them first, though. Once toasted, their papery skin should come right off. I toasted my hazelnuts at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes in avocado oil, a little salt, and cayenne. I love a sweet and spicy food pairing.

Mint: Mint is my herb of choice for this salad, but I think cilantro would work well, too. I think it's important to always finish your salad with fresh herbs.

Winter citrus salad

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the tahini dressing

  • 60 grams (1/4 cup) tahini
  • 60 milliliters (1/4 cup) lemon juice
  • 30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons) avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the salad

  • 4 stalks kale leaves (from about 4 ounces), chopped
  • 1/2 head radicchio leaves (about 4 ounces), torn
  • 1/2 fennel bulb (about 2 ounces), trimmed (save fronds), cored, thinly sliced 
  • 1/4 red onion (about 2 ounces), sliced very thin, pickled if desired
  • 2 beets (about 8 ounces), roasted, peeled, and cut into moons
  • 4 mandarin oranges, separated into segments
  • 3 blood oranges, supremed
  • 1 grapefruit, supremed
  • 1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • Optional: Farro, chicken

Directions

For the tahini dressing

  1. Combine all ingredients in mason jar and shake until fully incorporated.
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the salad

  1. Arrange kale and radicchio on large platter and drizzle with dressing.
  2. Place fennel, red onion, beets, mandarin oranges, blood oranges, grapefruit, feta, hazelnuts, mint, and fennel fronds atop greens.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Sweet Potato Cornbread with Hot Honey Lime butter

I’ve always looked forward to celebrating New Year’s Day with a giant feast of black eyed peas, greens, and cornbread. This holy trinity of southern food stems out of the African diaspora, like many southern favorites, and they are a symbol of luck, money, and prosperity in the forthcoming year.

I eat a lot of cornbread this time of year, not just on January 1, because it makes for the perfect comforting side to go with all the soups and chili I make in the cold months. I’ve been trying out new flavor combinations for a while, and I wanted to share a recipe for one of my favorites: sweet potato cornbread with hot honey lime butter. I love the flavor combination—it's a little sweet and spicy and sour. You may wany to make a double batch of the butter because if you're like me you'll slather it on every bite.

The black eyed peas recipe I make each year is inspired by a Greek stew. It isn’t the traditional southern way of eating the dish—there's no pork, and it's a little lighter. In my opinion, the biggest flavor boost comes from the fresh lemon juice and herbs stirred in at the end. I also love the salty-sour pop from the addition of feta cheese.


Sweet Potato Cornbread with Hot Honey Lime butter

Yield: Makes 16 servings

Time: 30 minutes prep, 35 minutes cook

Ingredients

For the cornbread

  • 1 cup (152 grams) cornmeal
  • 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup (240 grams) sweet potato puree*
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) brown butter, cooled to room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup (107 grams) brown sugar**

For the hot honey lime butter

  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) Challenge salted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons hot honey***
  • Zest from 1 lime

Directions

For the cornbread

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper and spray coat with nonstick spray.
  • Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  • In large bowl, stir together sweet potato puree, brown butter, eggs, sour cream, maple syrup, and brown sugar.
  • Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Pour batter into baking dish.
  • Place in oven and bake to 35 to 40 minutes, or until center of cornbread feels firm and slightly springy.

For the hot honey lime butter

  • Stir together butter, hot honey, and lime zest until smooth.

Notes:

*Make sweet potato puree by roasting sweet potato at 450 for 90 minutes or peeling, chopping, and boiling potato until tender. Put cooked sweet potato in food processor until smooth.

**Melt butter in thick-bottomed skillet on medium heat. Continue to heat butter until foam on top subsides and brown specks form at bottom of skillet. Remove the skillet from the burner and pour the butter into a bowl to prevent it from continuing to cook. Allow the butter to cool to room temperature before incorporating it into the rest of the wet ingredients.

***I purchased hot honey, but if you can’t find any, you can make your own.



Black eyed peas and greens with dill

Yield: Six 1-cup servings

Time: 30 minutes prep, 45 minutes cook

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 large bunch Swiss chard (or collard greens), stems removed and diced, leaves cut in ribbons
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup stock (or water)
  • 1 pound black eyed peas, cooked
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: Feta cheese

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in Dutch oven. Add onion and Swiss chard stems and saute on medium heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and saute another minute.
  3. Add tomatoes (with juice), red wine vinegar, stock, and black eyed peas. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover Dutch oven.
  4. Continue to simmer until black eyed peas are soft but not mushy, about 45 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and dill. 
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with feta cheese if desired.


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Cranberry almond wreath

 


This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible!

I’ve shared a Christmas morning breakfast idea every year for the past 7 years. For me, the biggest factors in choosing what to make for breakfast is whether the dish is festive and whether I can prep it ahead of time. This recipe fits the bill.

The recipe looks long, but that's only because there are several components. There's nothing complicated about the steps or the ingredients.

Obviously, cranberries are very festive, but another flavor that really shines this time of year is almond. I love almond everything, and the filling with marzipan is probably the most crucial for achieving the maximum flavor. If you've ever worked with marzipan, you know that it's crumbly and doesn't spread well. That's why I combined it with Challenge Vanilla Fudge Butter Snack Spread. It makes the filling smoother while also adding flavor. If you can't find the snack spread in a store near you, replace it with Challenge unsalted butter and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (that's in addition to the almond extract).

If by chance your wreath doesn't turn out picture perfect—it's okay! The icing will cover up any imperfections. I like the consistency of my icing to be a little bit on the thin side so the layers of puff pastry and cranberry swirls are still visible.

Cranberry almond wreath

Yield: 6 servings

Time: 20 minutes prep, 1 hour cook

Ingredients

For the cranberry filling

  • 5 ounces whole cranberry sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

For the almond filling

For the wreath

  • 1 all-butter puff pastry sheet

For the icing

  • 120 grams (1 cup) confectioners' sugar
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • Zest from 1 orange

Optional decorations

  • Sliced almonds
  • Pomegranate arils

Directions

For the cranberry filling

  1. Mix cranberry sauce and ginger. Set aside.

For the almond filling

  1. Combine marzipan and Challenge Vanilla Fudge Butter Snack Spread in one bowl and microwave for 20 - 30 seconds or until softened.
  2. Add almond extract to bowl and stir until combined.

For the wreath

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread cranberry filling evenly across puff pastry sheet.
  3. Crumble almond filling over top of cranberry filling.
  4. Starting on long side, roll dough into the tube.
  5. Use pizza cutter to cut rolled up dough in half lengthways.
  6. Cross two strips of dough in center. Lift one piece over and under other piece. Continue until strips are intertwined.
  7. Bring both ends of dough together to form wreath.
  8. Transfer dough to parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes uncovered. Remove aluminum foil and bake another 15 to 20 minutes or until pastry turns golden brown.
  9. Set aside to cool.
For the icing
  1. Use fork or whisk to combine powdered sugar with 1 Tablespoon of orange juice. Add more orange juice 1 teaspoonful at a time until icing is desired consistency.
  2. Stir in orange zest.
  3. Drizzle icing over cooled wreath.
  4. Sprinkle sliced almonds and pomegranate arils on icing before it hardens.
  5. Cut and serve
Notes: If planning to make this wreath ahead of time, prepare everything up to the point of baking. Cover and refrigerate it. When ready to bake, allow wreath to come to room temperature first. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Dark chocolate port figgy pudding


This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible!

We’ve all heard the verse from “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” in which carolers demand figgy pudding. So I was curious about its origins. In America when we hear the word “pudding” we think of a custard. But in Britain, pudding is used as another word for dessert, and some very posh people even shorten it to “pud.”

The terms “figgy pudding,” “plum pudding,” and “Christmas pudding” are all interchangeable, and they describe a boozy spice cake  packed with dried fruits.

Traditionally, families make it together on “Stir it Up Sunday,” which is the Sunday before Advent. Because of the cake’s high alcohol and sugar content, it will stay good for well over a year. In fact, it apparently gets better with time.

Both the cooking method and some of the ingredients are very outdated, so my goal was to create a more modern version of the desert that people would actually want to recreate. The first thing I adjusted was the fat in the recipe. The traditional fat of choice is “suet.” Good luck finding that! I used Challenge unsalted butter because it's 100% real cream butter, and it doesn't have any artificial or synthetic ingredients. 

Also, instead of steaming in a pudding pan, I opted to bake it for just 45 minutes in a bundt pan.

Once removed from the oven, wait 10 minutes before inverting the cake onto a platter. It should pop right out of the pan.  If you like your pudding extra boozy, poke holes all over the cake while it’s still hot and baste it in booze.

I like to serve the figgy pudding with a caramel sauce because I think it makes the dessert extra special, but you could also try a chocolate sauce, a red wine reduction sauce, or just eat it plain.

Dark chocolate port figgy pudding

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

For the figgy pudding

  • 80 grams (1/2 cup) dates, chopped
  • 80 grams (1/2 cup) prunes, chopped
  • 80 grams (1/2 cup) dried figs, chopped
  • 80 grams (1/2 cup) raisins
  • 1 cup ruby port wine
  • 100 grams dark chocolate
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200 grams (1 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 113 grams (1 stick) unsalted Challenge butter, melted and cooled
  • 240 milliliters (1 cup) whole milk
  • 300 grams (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves

For the caramel sauce

  • 113 grams (1 stick) unsalted Challenge butter
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 60 milliliters (1/4 cup) molasses
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

For the figgy pudding

  1. Combine dried fruit and wine in saucepan and bring to boil. Once it boils, remove from heat, stir in chocolate, and cover with lid. Allow dried fruit to macerate in wine for 1 hour or up to 3 days in advance.
  2. Once dried fruit has macerated, mash with a fork until consistency is semi-smooth. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease bundt pan. Set aside.
  4. In large bowl, whisk eggs. Mix in brown sugar and butter. Mix in milk and mashed dried fruit/wine mixture.
  5. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  6. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
  7. Dump batter into greased bundt pan. Place bundt pan on baking sheet and into oven. Bake for 45 minutes or until figgy pudding becomes firm to touch and starts to pull away from sides.
  8. Run sharp knife around edges of pan and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  9. Invert cake onto serving plate and it should pop right out.

For the caramel sauce

  1. In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, brown sugar and molasses.
  2. Once butter and brown sugar have melted, slowly stir in cream.
  3. Bring to boil and allow to boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.
  5. Spoon over slices of figgy pudding before serving.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Poached pear chocolate tart

This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible!

A poached pear tart may seem like something out of your realm of baking abilities, but once I break down the steps I promise it will seem manageable. It’s a really elegant dessert to serve, and the colors make it great for the holiday season.

First, let's discuss the tart shell. It is similar to the American short dough, and I think it tastes like a shortbread cookie when it is baked. The shell dough is the first thing you should make because you need to allow the dough to chill for a minimum of 2 hours before working with it. This allows the gluten in the dough to relax so it's less likely to break when you're rolling it out and shrink when you're baking it.

Pâte sucrée is traditionally made using the creaming method. Usually with the creaming method, you want the butter to look “light and fluffy” before proceeding. However, that isn’t what we want here. That’s because when you beat the butter and sugar together, you incorporating air, and we don't want that. So just beat the butter and sugar until well combined, but not any longer. I like to use Challenge European Style Butter. It has a higher butterfat than regular butters (83% versus 80% for standard butters), and the lower moisture content yields a flakier crust.

If you're not in the mood to make tart dough, just use a good quality store-bought pie dough. I've used the Trader Joe's brand pie dough several times, and it works just fine.


The next step is to poach the pears in wine. Poached pears mean we simmer the pears until they're tender and flavored with the poaching liquid. In this case, the poach liquid is red wine and white wine, both with warm winter spices like a cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, sugar and orange peel. You want to use Bosc pears because they retain their shape well while baking.

You can do this step several days in advance. Just store the pears in the poaching liquid in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them.

I poached half the pears in white wine and half the pears in red wine because I wanted it to look a certain way for the holidays, but you could go with all red wine or all white wine.

Don't get rid of the poaching liquid once you're done. Cook the wine over the stove until it reduces by at least half and becomes syrupy. You can use the syrup over desserts or in cocktails.

When deciding on what wine to use, you certainly don't have to break the bank with your purchase. But you want a wine that is decent enough to sip by itself.

Then it's time to make the frangipane. Frangipane is an almond custard that will become puffy when it bakes and envelop the fruit. I made a chocolate frangipane because I thought it would be really decadent with the wine-poached fruit. You can either start with whole almonds, almond meal, or almond flour. Whole almonds become almond meal when you blend them in a food processor. Almond flour is almost always interchangeable with almond meal. Almond flour is just blanched, peeled almonds ground into a fine powder. If you don't use whole almonds, frangipane is as easy as stirring a few ingredients together.


When it comes to assembly, you'll want to parbake the tart dough without the filling first. This ensures the crust cooks all the way through, and it prevents a soggy bottom. You want to parbake the dough to the point at which it starts to brown very slightly and no longer looks like raw dough.

You can choose whatever design you want for the pears. I like the circular pattern because it looks pretty even with pear slices of different sizes, and it's pretty much foolproof.

For an added festive touch and some texture, I think it looks so pretty with crushed pistachios on top.

Poached pear chocolate tart

Yield: One 9-inch tart

Ingredients

For sweet tart dough

  • 200 grams all-purpose flour
  • 80 grams powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3.5 ounces (7 Tablespoons) Challenge European unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 30 grams almond meal

For the poached pears

  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle red wine
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle white wine
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 4 strips orange peel
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 teaspoons cloves
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 6 bosc pears, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths

For the chocolate frangipane

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 120 grams (1 1/4 cup) almond meal
  • 120 grams (1/2 cup) Nutella or similar chocolate spread
  • 50 grams (1/2 stick) Challenge unsalted butter, melted

Directions

For the sweet tart dough

  1. Sift flour, powered sugar, salt and baking powder, and add to mixing bowl with paddle attachment.  
  2. Add butter and mix on medium speed until mealy.  
  3. Add egg and once dough begins to come together, add almond meal and mix until dough comes together.  
  4. Cover dough and chill in refrigerator for minimum of 2 hours and up to 2 days.

For the poached pears

  1. Pour red wine into one medium saucepan and white wine into another medium saucepan.
  2. Add 100 grams granulated sugar, 2 strips orange peel, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon cloves, and 1 star anise pod to the saucepan with the red wine. Add remaining orange peel, cinnamon stick, cloves and star anise pod to the saucepan with the white wine.
  3. Bring both saucepans to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  4. Add half the pear slices to the red wine and half the pear slices to the white wine.
  5. Simmer pear slices. Turn off heat and allow pears to soak in poaching liquid until cool.

For the chocolate frangipane

  1. Beat eggs and egg yolk. 
  2. Mix in almond meal, chocolate spread, and butter. Set aside.

For assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thick and place in tart pan. Press down into corners.
  3. Line dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and remove pie weights. 
  5. Prick bottom and sides of pie dough with fork. 
  6. Bake another 10 minutes and remove from oven. Let tart shell cool.
  7. Spread frangipane evenly in tart.
  8. Arrange pears onto filling in circular pattern.
  9. Bake 45 minutes or until frangipane puffs up and envelops pears. Monitor tart—if edges brown too much, cover with aluminum foil.
  10. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
  11. Carefully remove tart from pan. Serve with crushed pistachios and creme fraiche if desired.






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