Nancy’s Apple Torte

Nancy's Apple Torte - A Pat & A Pinch

This recipe comes via my New York based Aunt who, in turn, got it from her sister Nancy. The torte comes together quite easily and is perfect for a dinner party.

Having just read J. Kenji López-Alt’s thoughtful study and discussion of the best apples for apple pie on Serious Eats, I chose to use Golden Delicious apples rather than the McIntosh apples suggested in the original recipe. I was really pleased with the texture and consistency of the apples when the pie had baked.  I have also seen a similar recipe that suggested Granny Smith apples.  I think there is quite a bit of flexibility in your apple choice.

The recipe doesn’t specify whether to use sliced blanched almonds or unblanched almonds. I chose the latter as I wanted the extra colour. I was glad I did.  The torte would look rather pallid in the absence of the touch of colour that the glimpses of almond skin contribute.

Nancy's Apple Torte - A Pat & A Pinch

Crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces

1 large egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:

1 large egg

8 oz. cream cheese

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:

4 cups peeled and sliced Golden Delicious apples

1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400 F.  To prepare crust, pulse flour, almonds, sugar and salt in a food processor, using about 10 one-second pulses, until combined.  With the motor running, add butter, a few pieces at a time.  Add egg yolk and vanilla and process until evenly combined (Mixture will look like wet sand).   Pat the crust into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and about 1-inch up the sides.

To prepare filling, wipe out the food processor.  Add egg, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla; process until smooth.  Spread into the crust.

To prepare topping, toss apples, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and combine.  Spoon over the filling, pressing gently.  Top with almonds.

Bake the torte for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 F.  Continue baking until set around the edges, and just a bit jiggly in the center, 20 to 25 minutes more.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the pan sides and let cool completely, about 1 hour.  Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours, before serving.  Serves 10.

Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Cookies

My son needed some cookies for his school lunches and I really wanted to make something a little new for a change. With pumpkin season upon us, he has been keen to roast pumpkin seeds, so I thought the addition of pumpkin seeds to a chocolate chip cookie might fit the bill. I came across a recipe for Seeded Chocolate Chip Cookies by Martha Rose Schulman at the New York Times, and adapted it to what I was looking for.

Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love the result; the pumpkin seeds add a lovely crunch to the texture of the cookies, the oatmeal is scant enough that they are not like an oatmeal cookie but still have the benefit in their texture, and there is a lot of chocolate for my little chocolate lover. With my scoop, I got two dozen cookies from this recipe. Next time, I might double the recipe!

Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Cookies

6 tablespoons/48 grams whole-wheat flour

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds*

½ cup/65 grams all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon/2 grams baking soda

½ cup (1 stick)/ 115 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup/50 grams granulated sugar

½ cup/80 grams packed light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla/5 milliliters

¼ cup/100 grams pumpkin seeds

½ cup (scant)/50 grams rolled oats

½ teaspoon coarsely ground sea salt

1 cup/225 grams chocolate chips (or more if desired)

* If you don’t have flax seeds on hand, you can substitute with an equivalent amount of whole-wheat flour, hemp hearts, or wheat germ.

Heat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit with racks adjusted to the lower third and middle of the oven if your oven is large enough to take 2 sheets at a time. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir the flours, ground flax seed and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

In bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until lemony yellow, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl and paddle. Add the sugars. Continue creaming mixture on medium speed until it is lump free, about 1 minute. Stop mixer and scrape down sides of the bowl and the paddle.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated. Scrape down sides of the bowl and paddle.

On low speed, add sifted flour mixture. Beat slowly until all of the flour mixture is incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add the seeds, oats, chocolate chips and salt and mix in.

Spoon dough by heaped tablespoons or a scoop at least 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake 9 to 14 minutes, depending on your oven, until lightly browned, turning the baking sheets from front to back halfway through the baking. If you cook two sheets at the same time, also rotate them from top to bottom and vice versa.

Remove from oven and slide parchment off the baking sheet and onto a work surface. Allow cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, or for at least 20 minutes before storing in an airtight container.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Decadence

My son began first grade this week and I wanted to celebrate with a new treat for his lunch box.  Chocolate is a favourite of his and cookie dough is a highly prized item in his food choices, so these bars seemed like the perfect idea. They are adapted from a contribution to The Food Recipe Critic that was, in turn, adapted the recipe from Lifes Simple Measures, the major difference being that these are nut-free.

These bars were a huge hit, even with my dad who began as a sceptic, but they won’t be going in any lunch boxes as they wouldn’t survive the ordeals that lunchbox items must be prepared to endure.

I was a little concerned that the dough might be too soft, so I was careful about the amount of sweetened condensed milk that I added. In the end, I chose not to scrape out the can of condensed milk, leaving a good tablespoon in the can. Even at that, the dough is quite soft when not fully chilled. Consequently, I wouldn’t serve these bars on a hot day when they had to sit out of the fridge for any time.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Decadence - A Pat & A Pinch

In Canada, sweetened condensed milk comes in 300ml cans.  This is roughly 10 oz in size. Not wanting to have part of a can of condensed milk left over, I adjusted the following amounts by 7/10ths and used a loaf pan approximately 9×5 inches in size. The adjusted amounts are in parentheses.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Decadence

½ c. unsalted butter, softened (5 3/5 tbsp)

¾ c. packed light brown sugar (8 tbsp + 1 tsp)

1 tsp. vanilla extract (I like vanilla, so I used a light tsp)

2 c. all purpose flour (1 c. + 6 tbsp. + 1 tsp.)

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk ( 1 300 ml. can)

2 c. mini chocolate chips (1 c. + 6 tbsp. + 1 tsp.)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (½ c. + 3 tbsp.)

1 tbsp. cream (2 tsp)

1 1/2 tsp. butter (1 generous tsp.)

Line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until it is fluffy. This takes about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and beat until combined.

Turn the mixer to low and alternate the flour and the sweetened condensed milk until combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.

Press the cookie dough into the bottom of the 8×8 pan. It will be sticky so lightly flour your hands if needed.

Cover your bars with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight until firm.

To make the topping, combine the cup of chocolate chips, the cream and the butter in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds and stir. Repeat as needed to obtain a smooth consistency but be very careful to not overheat the chocolate or it will become stiff and grainy. Pour and spread over the top of the chilled dough and chill at least for 1 hour until firm.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Decadence - A Pat & A Pinch

Blackberry & King Apple Crumble

My parent’s home on Salt Spring Island has a small orchard and is, like much of the island, surrounded by blackberry bushes. The blackberries are perfect for the picking this time of the year and this year, our gravenstein trees are ready to harvest. While the gravensteins aren’t the best for baking with, we keep a supply of apples from our old King apple. (This year for fathers’ day, I got my dad a new one which I have since named B.B. King – these are his favourite and I thought the name was rather clever). The other trees in the orchard are great for cider and should be ready to harvest within the next month.

We have a mechanism which cores and slices the apples as you turn the crank and which gets a lot of use this time of year (apple butter to come). If you are preparing a lot of apples, these are a godsend. To preserve our extra apples, we then freeze the cored and sliced apples for crumbles to come.

This crumble (or crisp as you may wish to call it) is a slightly modified version of Betty Crocker’s Apple Crisp recipe, the main modification being blackberries.

Blackberry and King Apple Crumble - A Pat & A Pinch

Blackberry and King Apple Crumble

3 cups sliced apples (we use king apples for their perfect tartness and texture)

5 cups blackberries

3 tbsp corn starch

1 1/2 c. brown sugar

1 c. flour

1 c. oats

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (fresh – if you want to know if your nutmegs are fresh enough, prick them with a pin and oil ought to ooze out)

2/3 c. butter

1 c. chopped pecans

Preheat the over to 375 F. Fill a greased 9 x 13 inch glass dish with the fruit. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the fruit. Mix together the sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and work the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers.  Mix in the pecans and spread this crumb mixture gently over the fruit.

Bake until the top is golden brown, the apples are tender, and the fruit mixture is bubbling (approx. 40 minutes). If the top begins too brown too much before the fruit is cooked, gently lay a piece of parchment over the pan to slow the browning.

Blackberry and King Apple Crumble - A Pat & A Pinch

Bottom Crust Plum Crumble

Before plum season is upon us, I thought that I would share this tasty plum desert recipe that my family has been making for years. The dish is more like a tart than a crumble when completed, but relies on a crumble mixture in its composition.  I used frozen plum halves from last season, but fresh plums are easier to work with. If you choose to make it with frozen plums, they do work just as well as fresh ones in this recipe.  I recommend with frozen plums only slightly defrosting them before slicing – they are extremely hard to work with once fully defrosted.

If you have access to lots of plums and want to freeze some, cut them in half, remove the pits and lay separated on a baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet in your freezer. Once frozen, pop the frozen plum halves into a ziplock removing as much air as possible and return to the freezer.

Bottom Crust Plum Crumble - A Pat & A Pinch

1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoons white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

1 1/4 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 pounds (approximately 12) dark plums, pitted and cut into eighths (cut smaller plums into sixths)

Heavy cream for serving, whipped or unwhipped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine 1 cup of the sugar and the salt; cut in the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in the flour.

Set aside half the mixture. Add the cinnamon, baking power and 1 egg to the other half. Mix until well blended. The dough will be quite sticky. Layer the bottom of a 10 inch tart pan with the dough (just the bottom and not up the sides) by dropping teaspoons of the dough around the perimeter of the pan and then the centre, using a spatula to join and spread the dough evenly across the bottom. Bake until just starting to turn golden, approximately 10 minutes.

While the pastry is baking, whisk together 1/4 cup of the sugar, the remaining egg, the cream and the almond and vanilla extracts.

Remove the pastry from the oven, leaving the oven on, and spread the plum slices on top. I find it best to arrange the slices in circles beginning from the rim of the dish and working toward the centre. Pour the cream mixture over top and sprinkle with the reserved butter flour mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and return to the oven baking until the topping is nicely browned, 20-30 minutes.

Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or unwhipped whipping cream, as preferred.

 

 

 

Lemon Cornmeal Cake

If you’ve looked at other recipes on my blog, you will know that I have an affinity for lemon. This simple cake brings together the flavor and crunch of cornmeal with a touch of the freshness of lemon. It comes via Chef Anthony at Pirate’s Point Resort in Little Cayman from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle.  It is perfect when you want something a touch sweet but not too sweet. If you choose to use stone ground cornmeal, it will be crunchier.


Lemon Cornmeal Cake - A Pat & A Pinch

Lemon Cornmeal Cake

1 1/3 cups (5.7 oz/161g) all-purpose flour

1 cup (5.3 oz/150 g) cornmeal

1 cup (7 oz/200g) sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 ½ cups (12.75 oz/363 g) sour cream

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks/6 0z/170 g) unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon (0.2 oz/6 g) finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Icing or Confectioners sugar for dusting (optional)

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 3 inch springform pan and dust the pan with flour.

In a large bowl gently whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs until blended. Add the sour cream and whisk together until combined. Add the butter and whisk until blended. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla, whisking until combined.  Using a rubber spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients mixing until just blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Unmold the cake and dust the top with icing sugar prior to serving.

The cake can be stored at room temperature, covered with foil, for up to five days.

To dress the cake up for a fancier desert, it can be served with a fruit compote and whipping cream.

Lemon Cornmeal Cake - A Pat & A Pinch

Lemon Cornmeal Cake - A Pat & A Pinch