It’s almost Pie Day! Every March 14 – 3.14, get it? – we celebrate with pie. Everyone seems to love a towering lemon meringue pie, and lemon is perfect as winter turns into spring – citrus fruit is still at its peak, but the bright flavour of lemon somehow tastes like sunny days. And if the thought of making pastry intimidates you, no pressure – this is made with a simple press-in graham crumb crust.
I’m a huge fan of the tarte tatin – that upside down pie started on the stovetop and baked in a skillet, then inverted onto a platter with caramel dripping from the apples down the sides. It’s a delicious mess, and a perfect dessert to make when you don’t have a lot of time but want something rustic, comforting, and totally fantastic. It’s good with pears too – they’re a bit juicier, so anticipate more drips.
Maple Apple Tarte Tatin
- 1 cup all-purpose flour 250 mL
- 1⁄2 cup confectioners’ (icing) sugar 125 mL
- 2 tbsp grated lemon zest 30 mL
- 1⁄2 cup butter 125 mL
- 2 tbsp lemon juice 30 mL
- 1⁄3 cup granulated sugar 75 mL
- 1 large egg 1
- 1 large egg yolk 1
- 2 tbsp cornstarch 30 mL
- 11⁄2 tbsp all-purpose flour 22 mL
- 1 cup milk 250 mL
- 1 tsp vanilla extract 5 mL
- 4 cups fresh berries (use any 1 L
- combination of blueberries,
- raspberries or sliced strawberries)
- 1⁄2 cup raspberry or apple jelly, melted 125 mL
- To make crust: Combine flour, sugar and lemon zest. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add lemon juice, stirring with a fork until mixture is gathered into a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll dough out to form an 11-inch (28 cm) circle. Transfer to 9-inch (23 cm) tart or flan pan with removable bottom, pressing into bottom and sides. Chill again for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Prick bottom and sides of pastry with fork to prevent shrinkage. Bake 10 minutes at 425°F (220°C), then reduce heat to 350°F (180°C) for the last 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden.
- To make custard: Whisk sugar, egg and egg yolk until thick. Add cornstarch and flour and whisk well. Heat milk and vanilla in a saucepan until almost boiling. Gradually add milk to egg mixture, then return to saucepan. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate until well chilled. (This can be prepared a day ahead.)
- To assemble: Remove crust from tart pan and set on platter. Spread cooled custard over bottom of crust and arrange fresh berries on top. Gently brush melted jelly over fruit. Chill until serving time. Serves 10 to 12
Cheesecake used to be a staple at birthdays and special occasions like Valentine’s Day – and this rich chocolate cheesecake was one of the most popular ones I made.
If memory serves (and it doesn’t always) it originally came from Gourmet or Bon Appétit, tweaked over the years… I hadn’t made it in practically decades, and I forgot how good it was. It’s not tricky to make, and can be done in advance – it needs time to chill in the fridge anyway. To make it extra special, top with strawberries or raspberries.Read More
Butter tarts are our all-time favourites, but we don’t always have time to make the pastry, roll, cut and fill individual tarts. Butter tarts in bar form is the perfect solution; this past weekend, having to bake for a gathering, they were quick to mix up and bake. And here’s a secret: when you’re making squares that have a sticky filling, like butter tart squares or lemon bars, if you freeze the whole thing in the pan before you slice them, they’ll cut much more cleanly. Let them sit on the countertop for 20 minutes to thaw – or if you’re bringing them with you, they’ll thaw en route.
Butter tarts are traditionally made with currants, but these call for coconut, raisins and/or pecans – a delicious combination on a buttery shortbread crust.Read More
Earlier this month, Mary, Julie and Elizabeth gathered at the Cookbook Company Cooks with a few dozen Best of Bridge fans for an epic baking party to raise money for the Calgary Food Bank. (Huge thanks to Gail for letting us use her space, and to Calgary Co-op for donating all the ingredients we needed!) We put a pot of mulled wine on the stove and had a blast of an afternoon baking together. Among old classics and new favourites, this was a new discovery we came up with that’s sure to stay in our holiday baking repertoire.
Chocolate Peppermint Crackle Cookies
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. peppermint extract (or substitute vanilla)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
extra sugar, for rolling
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, shortening and sugar for a few minutes, until light. Beat in the egg and peppermint extract.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir until the dough comes together.
Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and roll in a shallow dish of sugar to coat. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, until cracked and set around the edges, but still soft in the middle – they’ll firm up as they cool.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.