I first made an apple tart tatin when I was a senior in highschool. I didn’t have time to work but I wanted to have some money to spend so my mom paid me to do all the grocery shopping and make dinner a few nights a week. It was a great way to me to relax and de-stress after school before starting homework and allowed me to hone my cooking skills and cultivate my creativity while making a little money on the side.
One of the things I was doing at this time was cooking my way through the Cooks Illustrated magazines. Cooks Illustrated is by far the best cooking magazine out there for people who want to learn how to cook, not just how to read recipes. Each one has a full article on the technique, ingredients, or methods used and why it is important so that that knowledge can be translated to other recipes. For example, in their recipe for Ground Beef Chili they explain that baking powder helps beef retain it’s moisture and brown better. Now that I know this I frequently add baking powder to beef and let it set for about 20 minutes before browning, even if the recipe doesn’t include this step.
Anyways, I found the recipe for apple tarte tatin in cooks illustrated, and it was fall so I made it for a Thanksgiving dinner with my then boyfriend (now husband’s) family. It was a total hit. Now we have our own apple tree that is producing a ton of fruit right now so I pulled out the recipe. But to be honest, I was feeling pretty lazy so I made up a different, much easier recipe. I used puff pastry instead of making a dough. I wouldn’t dare call it authentic but it is definitely tasty.
Melt 4 TBS of butter on med-low in a 12″ cast iron skillet. Add 1/4 c brown sugar, 1/4 c granulated sugar and melt until dissolved completely. When it starts to bubble add the whiskey (or brandy would be good too), and cook stirring for about a minute. Add the chopped apples and vanilla. I like to leave them all different sizes so you get a variation in the texture of the apples. I also leave the skin on. Our apples have very tender skin, but if you prefer no skin then peel them, and if you prefer an even texture then make all your apple slices the same size. Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon, ginger, and lemon juice and bake for about 10 minutes. Once the apples are softened, gently press them down with a spatula to flatten slightly. Place your trimmed puff pastry on top, tucking it down into the sides with a spatula. Cut a few slits on top to release steam and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the top is golden. Cool it for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. You could make some pastry flowers, or use cookie cutters to make some pretty shapes for decorating. Just bake them separately and set on top after you have inverted the tart. Top with ice cream, whipped cream, or as I did with Mascarpone Sorbet.
4-5applescored, halved or quartered (you can leave the peel on or remove it )
Pre-Heat oven to 400F
In a 12" cast iron skillet melt the butter over med low heat. Add the sugars and stir to dissolve.
Let the mixture bubble for about 1 minute then add the whiskey and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the lemon juice and stir to combine. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and stir.
Arrange the apples in the pan with the cut sides down, layering a bit.Sprinkle the top with the cinnamon and ginger.
Bake for 10 minutes until the apples begin to soften. While the apples bake, trim your puff pastry into a circle to fit your skillet. You can use the excess to make pretty shapes for decorations, but bake them separately.
Use a spatula to gently press down the apples to even the top. Carefully place the puff pastry over the apples and tuck the sides down into the pan with a spatula. Cut a few slits in the top for steam to escape.
Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
Let cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Serve warm with Mascarpone Sorbet or with ice cream, whipped cream.
I am pretty proud of myself right now, I have come a long way over the past year of blogging. When I first started I absolutely hated baking. The reason was that it dirties too many dishes, and everything has to be exact and you can’t just add some more of this or that at the last minute to make it better. But, over the last year of having to measure everything, write down what I am doing, actually set timers, and making things more than once I have come to realize that washing a few extra dishes and measuring with a measuring spoon instead of my palm isn’t really that bad. In fact, I have even found it quite therapeutic recently, (OMG, who am I?).
So, I bring you Orange and Olive Oil Mini Cakes with Orange Buttercream, because mini everything is better, and they are personal sized. I had Easter dinner in mind when making these, like picture the Easter table decorated all pretty, like my mother law does with these pretty vintage pastel plates, with each place setting having it’s own little three tier cake sitting on the plate. HOW CUTE!!!
I still have no idea what our plans are for Easter, I just hope that they involve me serving these pretty little things. Oh, and did I mention how incredibly delicious they are?! These are so moist and tender and fluffy. They just melt in your mouth and make it hard to have the self control not to have a second cake. (A second WHOLE CAKE because they are miniaturized personal cakes. Don’t do it. Or maybe do, whatever, it’s a holiday.)
Make sure that you use a Premium Blend Olive Oil, it’s not like you get hit with a strong olive oil flavor in the cake, they are subtle, but still there. I used a more fruity olive oil for this cake as opposed to a grassy or peppery oil- just read the label as most will give you tasting notes.
If you don’t have the energy that I had to make these (layering and frosting 16 mini cakes is time consuming and tedious) then you could totally leave them as cupcakes and pipe on the frosting and they would still be super cute, you could top with some orange zest to make them pretty. Or just leave them as a single cake with multiple layers. SO MANY OPTIONS! To assemble the mini tiered cakes you will need to use a bread knife to gently cut of rounded top part of each muffin off so that the top is level. Then cut each muffin in half. Each mini cake gets three tiers, to make them even use all top sections for half and all bottom sections for the other half. Put a heaping spoonful on top of the bottom tier, gently press the second layer, repeat for the top layer and gently press so that filling lightly squishes out the sides. Put another glob on the very top and use an offset frosting spatula to smooth out the top and the sides. I used less frosting to give it a “naked” look, but you could make it thicker to fully cover the cake if you want.
Preheat the oven to 350. Spray olive oil to coat the inside of a muffin pan and set aside.
In a stand mixer beat the eggs and the sugar until pale yellow and thick ribbons form, about 5 minutes then add the vanilla and beat for 30 seconds.
Combine the dry ingredients in another bowl, and combine orange juice, orange zest, buttermilk and olive oil in a third bowl.
Mixing on low speed, add a third of the dry ingredients, then a third of the wet. Continue adding 1/3 at a time until all ingredients are incorporated. After the last addition be careful not to over mix. The batter will be thin.
Using a 1/4c measuring cup fill the muffin tin with 1/4 c of batter in each cavity. Bake for 11-15 minutes, or until the edges just start to pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Set the pan on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes, once the cakes can easily be removed from the pan then put them on a wire cooling rack to cool completely before decorating.
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment beat the butter for about 3 minutes until it is pale yellow. Add 1 cup of confectioners sugar and mix until incorporated.
Add the orange juice, zest and vanilla and beat to incorporate. Add the remaining confectioners sugar 1/4 cup at a time until desired consistency is reached.
To assemble the mini tiered cakes you will need to use a bread knife to gently cut of rounded top part of each muffin off so that the top is level. Then cut each muffin in half. Each mini cake gets three tiers, to make them even use all top sections for half and all bottom sections for the other half. Put a heaping spoonful on top of the bottom tier, gently press the second layer, repeat for the top layer and gently press so that filling lightly squishes out the sides. Put another glob on the very top and use an offset frosting spatula to smooth out the top and the sides. I used less frosting to give it a "naked" look, but you could make it thicker to fully cover the cake if you want.
Eric hates lemon desserts. I love them. They seem lighter and cleaner than many other types of desserts but are still sweet and indulgent. These cookies are light, fluffy, and almost cake-like, and are perfect for spring. This recipe is adapted from Taste and Tell blog, who adapted it from Christina Tosi’s cookbook Milk Bar Life: Recipes & Stories.
This recipe is a great way to use up leftover sour cream, because I am sure I am not the only one that buys a tub of it and find that I only use a few tablespoons of it. Say you serve tacos or enchiladas and only use 1/4c of sour cream, what do you do with the rest? You make these cookies!!!
I used 2 cups of flour in my cookies and they turned out perfect, but you may want to check the consistency of the batter before adding another 1/2 cup if needed. The dough is not like normal cookie dough, it looks more wet and is very sticky. It is easiest to use a small cookie scoop like this one to drop the dough on the cookie sheet. If you don’t have one you can use a teaspoon and your finger to scrape it off and pat it down into a ball.
Also, can we talk about these flowers? Trader Joe’s is the best for flowers. I love that you can get a small bouquet for under $4.00 and they usually last at least a week. The only reason I don’t have flowers in my house 24/7 is because the closest Trader Joe’s is 25 minutes away and there is no way I am buying 3 stems of sun flowers at Von’s for $9.99 (the cheapest I have ever seen a bouquet at any other grocer). Flowers make me so happy, and they brighten up the house so much, I wish all grocery stores understood this and had them available at a low price.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add in the egg, vanilla, and the sour cream and mix until combined, about 1 more minute.
Add the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda and mix just until combined. They dough will be wet - not like typical cookie dough.
Use the cookie scoop to drop onto a lined or greased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes, 10 worked for me. Let them cool for at least 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. While they cool mix together the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl
Dip the tops of the cookies in the glaze, or drizzle with a spoon and place back on the cooling rack, top with sprinkles and let set for the glaze to dry.
I did a terrible (read “wonderful”) thing. I bought myself an ice cream maker. (This Cuisinart one.) We are trying to eat healthier though so I have been making more frozen yogurt than ice cream. It couldn’t be easier. I even have a hard time calling this a recipe. Ready for it? Dump two 8oz container of Noosa yogurt into your frozen ice cream maker container, turn it on, walk away for 20 minutes, then come back to some bomb froyo.
And the coolest thing about this frozen yogurt is it IS healthy, so much so that I just ate it for breakfast and I don’t feel bad one little bit. I even put sprinkles on it to make it feel even more indulgent, because that’s what you do when your husband wakes you up at 5am on Sunday morning while getting ready to go golfing- you pout, and indulge in froyo for breakfast.
I used Noosa yogurt for this recipe. I have not tried other brands, but I will let you know when I have another good recipe. Try ALL the flavors. Next time I will do half blueberry and half lemon and top with granola for a blueberry muffin feel. You dig?
Stir the contents of the two containers of yogurt and pour into the frozen bowl of the ice cream maker (should be frozen over night). Turn on the ice cream maker to churn for about 20 minutes, or until the yogurt is frozen. Scoop out and serve immediately for a softer ice cream. For firmer ice cream freeze for 2 hours, let sit on the counter for 10 minutes before scooping and serving.
Top with granola, sprinkles, nuts, jam, whatever you might usually put on ice cream or yogurt.