February 24, 2012

Floriole's Chocolate Ganache Meringue Tart

I spend a lot of time reading Lottie + Doof, and he spends a lot of time talking about Floriole, a legendary sounding bakery and cafe in Chicago that I am totally antsy to visit. My baking partner in crime is pals with the gal who runs Floriole's savory program too, and between reports of grapefruit tarts and braised beef sandwiches with onion jam, I'm pretty certain that a trip to Chicago is in order specifically to stuff my face.

Last week, Emily and I were chatting about Floriole and farming (more on that soon!) and baking school, when I saw that Floriole's owner, Sandra Holl, had been on the Martha Stewart show to share this outrageously delicious and straightforward chocolate ganache tart with meringue. Perfect timing, because last Friday the other folks behind the Mod Attelet supper club and I decided to have a "staff" dinner, and I signed up to make dessert, of course.

It was a very Chicago-bakers week for me since I took a stab -- with some tweaks -- at this tart recipe and paired it with Lottie + Doof's burnt blood orange ice cream for the dinner. I drank myself into an egg white cocktail stasis that evening too, but the evening's mushroom soup and the étouffée were outstanding. I thought I had messed up the tart a bit since the meringue was sort of sliding around on the drive over (I hadn't anchored it to the crust that time around), but it tasted so dang delicious I don't know that anyone noticed.

And if you're a meringue devotee, then this is the technique for you: the egg whites and sugar are cooked slightly before being whipped, and the meringue is torched or broiled instead of being baked through. It made for a very marshmallowy, sweet-but-not-overly-so, lovely textured meringue; it comes out tasting a bit like seven-minute boiled frosting. The whole tart is a cinch to put together too -- you should definitely give it a whirl! Or, you know, road trip to Chicago and pick me up along the way.

Chocolate Ganache Tart with Meringue
Inspired by Floriole's Sandra Holl; click here for original

Initially I made this tart to Holl's original specifications, but found I liked it better the second time around after tweaking. Things I changed: used a different tart dough that I love, added bittersweet chocolate to the ganache instead of using all dark, added salt to the ganache, removed salt from the meringue, and increased meringue by two eggs and a half-up sugar. Plus I broiled instead of torched since I don't have a kitchen torch. Click above for Holl's original, but if you love meringue as much as I do and want some more depth to your ganache, consider my tweaks below.

For Tart Dough
9 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg

For Chocolate Ganache
12 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup (four tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into one-inch pieces, room temperature
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, to taste

For Meringue
5 large egg whites
1 1/4 cup white sugar, pref. very fine*

1.  Make tart dough:  cube butter into one-inch pieces and chill in freezer while you ready everything else. In the bowl of a food processor, mix flour, sugar, and salt. Sprinkle butter over top, and pulse about 10 to 15 times until butter is between the size of peas and oatmeal. Use a fork to break up egg in a small bowl, and pour a bit at a time through the feed tube, pulsing once after each addition. When the egg is all in, pulse the dough for ten seconds at a time until it comes together. Right before you get to this point, the mixer will change sounds and essentially start grumbling at you. Dump dough onto sheet of plastic wrap, gently knead together, and chill for at least one hour.

2.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to an13-inch circle and fit it into a 11-inch tart pan, folding extra back in for double-thick sides. Prick all over bottom with the tines of a fork and firm up in freezer for 30 minutes. Butter the shiny side of aluminum foil, press into bottom and up sides of tart dough, then bake tart for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake until golden, about ten minutes more. Set aside to cool while you make ganache.

3.  Make ganache:  place chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat heavy cream over medium until small bubbles just begin to form around the edges. Pour heated cream over chocolate and let stand five minutes; add butter and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Using an immersion blender or whisk, blend until smooth. Taste, and add remaining salt if desired. Pour ganache into cooled tart shell and transfer to refrigerator until set, at least two hours. If cooling longer than two hours, cover with plastic wrap once chocolate has set.

4.  Make meringue:  if you don’t have a kitchen torch, preheat oven to broil and place rack in upper third of oven. Place egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over, but not touching, simmering water. Cook, whisking, until mixture is warm to the touch, about three to five minutes (will depend on how cold your egg whites were to begin). Transfer mixture to an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on high until stiff peaks form. 

5.  Place tart on baking sheet. Spoon meringue over top, anchoring to crust where possible, and embellishing peaks with a knife or rubber spatula. Broil until meringue is golden brown, about two to five minutes, depending on your oven (mine was done at three). Keep your eye on the tart though as you don’t want the meringue to burn! Remove from oven, allow to cool to room temperature, and serve. Tart will keep covered in the fridge for up to three days.

*Ever want to go bigger or smaller with the meringue? The ratio is one-quarter cup sugar to one large egg white. Now go forth and meringue to your heart's desire! 

February 16, 2012

This Here Blog on Refinery29 (Last Week, Whoops!)

Let's talk about timing. To wit, last week would have been the opportune time for me to share with you, my dedicated audience of 36, that I, your humble sugar ambassador, was featured in all my coquettish and drunkish photogeneity on the third page of a three-page article highlighting some of DC's bakers. The heading inflates us to "best," you'll see, but they left out my Tartner Emily Hilliard who quite clearly reigns supreme, and my OG mentor and woman I admire Lizzy Evelyn, of PaisleyFig/Room 11/Cork, so I think the list was a wee curtailed. Even so, I am thrilled and flattered to be there, and I hope it's a sign of good things to come!

Pretty righteous cropping job, whoops

The feature was on the apple tart recipe that was shown on this blog in November -- which was then and still is one of my favorite dessert recipes -- in part because of mine and Emily's recent marathon baking adventures with Tarts by Tarts, our partner project. Last week would have also been prime time to share that we were gearing up a partnership with Treasury Vintage, one of DC's purveyors of fine style, for the Tart of Gold Valentine's Party and to share that Tarts by Tarts was accepting online orders for tart delivery throughout DC for Valentine's Day. Whoops again! Well we received some wonderful support from the community, including Refinery29 again as well as The President Wears Prada (click for bitchin' pictures) and Panda Head (click for a bitchin' blog in general). We delivered some 15 tarts, sold bunches of doughnuts, gave away baskets of cookies, and had ourselves some salty caramel satisfaction in a kitchen that is having a hard time losing its sticky sheen. Next stop: Tarts by Tarts at the DC Square Dance on March 3, and coming up soon is a recipe for our yeasted doughnuts stuffed with dulce de leche. Stay tuned!

February 6, 2012

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze

My life has been unexpectedly hectic and fast-moving lately. From percocet pie and the events that led to it, to a series of difficult, all-consuming decisions, to this wild and wonderful thing that my tarty partner in crime and I are doing, I had to call in the reserves, aka Mom, for a jaunty weekend visit that sped by in a 40-hour instant. I carried around scrap paper and pens like a security blanket while she was here so we could write down every idea about said decisions without missing a thing. In classic family fashion though, we spent most of her visit scarfing noodles, treating ourselves to excess, and falling asleep to SVU; I didn't record a single, frantic idea.

And as soon as she left, BAM! Life gave me a kick in the tights again, this time with joy for some great friends who are moving down to Texas, the anticipation of a new, very exciting collaborative art project, lots of lovely friends in town, and the galloping taste of this excellent cake, served up for a potluck and industrial music show* held at our house on Sunday night. The decisions still loom weightily and I miss my momma mightily, but all of these occasions and opportunities have led to some pretty cool stuff (including this feature on Refinery29, omg!), not to mention an exciting announcement or two to soon be revealed -- as soon as those damn decisions get made, anyway. In the meantime, I'm so glad I slowed down to make this cake, a cinnamon-apple dreamboat swathed in caramel glaze that comes together in no time; it's basically the rustic cake of my dreams in my all-time favorite cake shape. You'll love it!

*You guys, if you ever see that a DC band called Bereft is going to play, you have to see them. It's so loud, so head-shaky, and so the best.

Applesauce Cake
Adapted from Food52

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt 
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup safflower or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Caramel Glaze
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, or to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, and spices and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with both sugars on medium until smooth and light, about a minute. On low, mix in the applesauce, oil, and vanilla until smooth.

2.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients, being careful not to over-mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, rap sharply on the counter to eliminate air bubbles, and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  [Original calls for 45, but mine was totally finished at 40; check yours earlier.] Cool the cake for ten minutes in the pan before turning it out and cooling completely on a cooling rack -- make sure the cake is not at all warm before you make the glaze.

3.  Put the butter in a medium saucepan with the brown sugar, cream, and salt, and set over medium heat. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. The recipe calls for boiling for one minute exactly and then removing from heat, but I went to two minutes plus a few seconds because I thought the glaze could use more caramel flavor. It ended up being totally fine and lovely this way.

4.  Leave the pan to cool for a couple of minutes, and  gradually whisk in the powdered sugar until you have a thick, but pourable consistency (you will not likely need all of the sugar, but it's also okay to use more if need be). If the mixture seems too thick, add a splash of cream (or bourbon!) to thin it out a little. Immediately pour the glaze over the cake, moving slowly and evenly to cover as much surface area as possible. The glaze basically sets on contact, so any overlapping glaze or second layering will be visible; try to stick to one even layer. Serve it up! Covered, cake will keep for several days, with the flavor deepening the longer it's around.