Cannoli Tart

I was browsing through an article of the “50 greatest desserts of all time” and came across a recipe for a cannoli tart. I love cannoli…though they are a great pain in the keister to make sometimes. The recipe seemed simple enough and though I was lacking a tart pan (I just used a regular pie pan, so pardon my very unpretty crust) I decided to have a go at it.

I was excited because I had just purchased a new food processor (I had one of those mini ones for years…and it just got to the point where I had to admit that owning a large one would be ever-so-helpful as my home baking skills increased) and I couldn’t wait to try it. I think I was a little over-zealous in my pulsing technique because my dough didn’t come together as nicely as it did for this blogger (jealous!) but it worked nonetheless.

The best part – it tastes JUST LIKE a cannoli! It was a hit in my office and is a really nice, light dessert that doesn’t feel too decadent after a big meal.

My only amendment to the recipe came from the use of the Amaretto. In hindsight, I would have subbed some almond extract (not too much, perhaps 1/4 tsp) for some of the Amaretto to really boost that almond flavor. I’m including this amendment in the recipe below. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CRUST:

  • 2 cups Sifted Flour
  • ½ cups Plus 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ⅓ cups Cold Butter
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Milk

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 2-¼ cups Ricotta
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 2 teaspoons Sugar
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons Amaretto
  • 1/4 teaspoon Almond extract
  • ½ cups Chocolate Chips Or Chunks

PREP INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350ºF

For the crust:
In a food processor, add flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon and pulse a few times. Add butter, and pulse until butter and flour have formed pea-sized crumbles. Add egg and milk and pulse until a large ball is formed.

Place the dough ball in between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Roll dough out large enough to fit a deep dish pie pan or deep dish tart pan. Grease pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Gently place the dough into pan. Refrigerate while you make your filling and your oven is preheating.

For the filling:
In a food processor or mixer, blend ricotta, egg, sugar, and amaretto until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into crust.

Bake at 350ºF for around 25-35 minutes, or until your crust has slightly browned and the filling has puffed a bit. Serve cold or at room temp sprinkled with powdered sugar or drizzled with chocolate.

Mini Pavlova

I first heard of the pavlova dessert when it was featured on the Great American Baking Show in a showstopper challenge. I thought they were so beautiful and looked incredibly yummy and of course, I wanted to try to make them. I settled on trying a “classic” pavlova (meringue, whipped cream and fresh fruit) to try and get the hang of it first. It’s actually a rather easy-to-follow recipe…it just requires patience and attention to the little details.

MINI PAVLOVA

Ingredients:

6 eggs whites, ROOM TEMPERATURE
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons corn starch
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

For Frosting:

1 1/2 cups COLD heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons white sugar

For topping:

Fresh fruit like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.

Directions:

PREHEAT oven to 225° F with the rack in the center of the oven.

LINE a large baking sheet with parchment paper (you may need two sheets). HINT: if you use two sheets, make sure you avoid the top rack and bake the pavlovas in the bottom 1/3 of the oven.

BEAT 6 room temperate egg whites on high speed for 1 minute until soft peaks form. With mixer on low, gradually add 1 1/2 cups of white sugar and beat for 10 minutes on high speed, or until stiff peaks form. The mix will be smooth and glossy.

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FOLD in (using over/under motion) 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract, then add 2 tablespoons of corn starch and hand mix until well blended. HINT: pre-measure these three ingredients while the mix is beating for 10 minutes as you want to quickly make these additions without letting the mix sit for too long.

PIPE meringue onto parchment paper (I used aWilton 1M open star tip). Using a spoon, indent the center to allow room for the cream.

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BAKE at 225° F for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Then, turn off the oven and DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR. Leave the meringue in the hot oven for another 30 minutes.  The outside will be dry, crisp and very pale while the inside is like a marshmallow.

TRANSFER the pavlova (leaving it on the parchment paper is best) to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile…

BEAT cold heavy whipping cream in a stand mixer with 2 tablespoons of sugar for about 2 1/2 minutes.

PIPE the frosting onto the pavlovas and top with fresh fruit.

I found that it’s best to leave them in the fridge as if left out at room temp, the whipped cream will start to fall through the meringue. It’s still delicious, but not quite as pretty to look at.

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These babies are sugar bombs. The whipped cream is necessary to curb some of the sweetness of the pavlova. But they are a unique texture that is sure to win some fans at your next gathering!

French Toast Cupcakes

French Toast Cupcakes w Bacon Garnish

I’m a big fan of breakfast at just about any time of day except breakfast. Does that make sense? Probably not. For this cupcake, I decided to make french toast cake ( much like the recipe found here: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/french-toast-cupcakes ) with a dreamy whipped maple cream frosting. And what’s breakfast without bacon?! Dredge the bacon in some brown sugar and then bake it for a really yummy candied bacon topper.