Fruit Tart with Lemon Cookie Crust

Summer fruit is here, and we have the best of it right out our door.  Fresh cherries, peaches and blueberries all ready at the same time inspired this dessert for Sunday dinner ……  Don’t you just love Sunday Family Dinners??  We sure do.

Fresh Fruit Tart with Lemon Cookie Crust

The best of the seasonal cherries, peaches and blueberries retain their fresh bright flavour in this dessert – no cooked fruit here!

COOKIE CRUST

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. For crust, in a medium bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon peel, the baking powder, vanilla, and salt; beat until combined. Add egg; beat until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour (or knead gently until combined).

lemon cookie tart

Press dough onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch round tart pan with removable bottom.

tart shell

If you don’t have a tart pan with removable base, use your springform pan.  It worked just fine …. at least until I get myself some tart pans with removable bottoms!

Line crust with a double thickness of foil. Bake crust for 6 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 6 to 7 minutes more or until crust is lightly browned. Cool crust on a wire rack.

CREAMY VANILLA CUSTARD

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups milk

Whisk all ingredients together in sauce pan, and stir over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in:

1 tsp vanilla

Cover surface of the custard with a layer of plastic wrap and allow to cool completely.

GLAZE

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup juice (something that works well with whatever fruit you are using)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a small saucepan, stir together cornstarch and sugar.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring often to prevent clumps.  Allow to boil long enough for the liquid to lose the cloudy look of cornstarch.  Set aside to cool slightly.

ASSEMBLY

Leave cookie crust in tart pan, and spread the custard in an even layer.  Make sure the custard is cool at this point, you don’t want your fruit to get cooked!  The beauty of this dessert is that it really showcases the mouthwatering flavour of fruit that is in season, and you don’t want to lose that.

Arrange fruit over custard layer.

Brush glaze over fruit, just enough to set the fruit and keep the vibrant colours.

Cool completely before serving.

Amazing Angel Food Cake …. & strawberries!

When the kids were little, we always had birthday “season” with cousin Sara, Shane, Meghan and Hayley all having a birthday within a month (ish).  Their all time favourite was angel food cake, and I’ve done a lot with it …. layered with lemon curd, whipping cream and berries being one of the favourites.  I think this one hit it out of the park with all those yummy tastes, but in a beautiful presentation.  I finally got around to doing it for Fathers Day this year, and it was AMAZING!!

Angel food cake 4

1 box Angel Food Cake mix

1 1/2 cup diced strawberries

vanilla

raw sugar

confectioners sugar (icing sugar)

2 cups whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make an angel food cake mix according to the package directions.  (total admittance here, I’ve rarely made the cake from scratch – not knowing what to do with all the egg yolks given that we aren’t egg lovers).  Once you’ve mixed up the batter, line a baking sheet (17″ x 11″ ish) with parchment paper.  Pour the batter out onto this, and smooth with an offset spatula.

Bake for 17 min – check …. it should be just springy to the touch.  If not, give it an extra minute or two but be careful not to overcook.

Remove from oven, and turn out onto a tea towel that has been liberally dusted with icing (powdered) sugar.

angel food cake 1

Roll the tea town up (I started with the long side because I had a lot of people to feed), and yes, keep the tea towel within the rolls.

Angel food cake 2

Allow to cool on a rack for about 20 minutes.

While that is happening: chop up 1 cup fresh berries. Add a dash of vanilla and a sprinkle of raw sugar.

Angel food cake 3

 

Whip up whipping cream.  Fold the berries with 1 – 1/2 cups whipping cream.

Gently unfold cake, and spread cream/berry mixture over.  Gently, re-roll and finish with seam side down.  Place in/on serving dish.  Use remaining whipping cream to mound on top, and garnish with fresh berries and a bit of mint if desired.

Angel food cake 4

I love the way the dusting of icing sugar makes the angel food cake look!  Sprinkle extra berries around the cake for serving, and if desired add a few sprigs of fresh mint.

Best Chocolate Oat Cupcakes

Chocolate Oat Cupcakes

If you call these a muffin, and focus on the oat flakes you could even consider this a breakfast item ….but I don’t know if you’d get away with that in my house.  Putting oat flakes into these chocolate muffins may make them a healthier snack, but they are still a treat!

  • 1 cup quick cooking oats (not rolled oats)
  • 1 3/4 cup very hot strong coffee (use decaf if you like)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten and best at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 TBSP real cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (mini ones melt best, but if you like a bit of a chunk of chocolate in there use the larger ones)

Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin tins and set aside.

In a bowl, combine quick oats with VERY hot coffee.  Stir well and set aside, covering to keep warm.

In separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt cocoa powder and cinnamon.

In stand mixer cream butter with both sugars, using paddle attachment.  Beat until light and creamy.  Add vanilla and eggs.  Mix well.

Add dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.  Add hot oat/coffee mixture and chocolate chips, mixing it in by hand.  If you used mini chocolate chips and your oat mixture was warm enough they will melt, however if you used larger ones you will still have mini bits which I thought was perfect …

Spoon (or use ice cream scoop) mixture into paper liners, filling about 2/3-3/4 full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, just until an inserted toothpick comes out almost clean.

Allow to cool in muffin tins.

These are great with pretty much any topping, or even left alone.  Today I made them with a raspberry buttercream icing and they were a real hit.

Sloan’s apple pies

Sloan and I love to be baking in the kitchen together, and most days we would make our own pie dough, but for a little after school baking time, these individual frozen pie tart shells are fantastic. This amazing little granddaughter is only 6, but she did this totally on her own, with a little verbal guidance while I helped 3 year old Stella make biscuits, which believe me – takes all my attention!  Before I know it, this little one will be teaching Nana!

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For 12 tarts:

  • 1 1/2 cups apple, chopped up quite small
  • 1 TBSP white sugar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 TBSP grated butter

Mix everything together really well, and divide into each tart shell.  Sprinkle a little crumble topping over, and bake at 400 for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

sloans-apple-pies

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger Crust & Caramel Sauce

I will tell you right away, this isn’t quick.  However, it is worth every moment you spend …. and after all, isn’t making a special dessert like this worth it?  After all, it is a labour of love!

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 7-1/2 ounces gingersnaps (or 1-1/2 cups finely ground gingersnap crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling

  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin (such as Libby’s)
  • 1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 1-1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature

For Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/8 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more if necessary
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Instructions

For the Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Wrap a 9-inch springform pan twice with aluminum foil (preferably heavy duty). Take care to pull the foil all the way up the sides so that water cannot seep in from the water bath. Spray the bottom and sides of the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pulse the crackers (or crumbs) and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse a few times to combine. Dump the moistened crumbs into the prepared pan and, using a measuring cup or glass, press into an even layer. Bake until fragrant and set, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

For the Filling

  1. Bring about 4 quarts of water to a simmer in a tea kettle (this will be used for the water bath). In a small, heavy saucepan, stir together the pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a sputter, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, until thick, bronzed and shiny. Scrape the mixture into a large food processor fitted with the metal blade and process for 1 minute with the feed tube open.
  2. With the motor running, add the cold cream. Add the cream cheese (cut into chunks) and process for about 30 seconds, scraping the sides if necessary, or until smoothly incorporated. Add the eggs and process for about 5 seconds or just until incorporated (do not overmix!).
  3. Set the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour the batter into the cooled crust, and then pour enough boiling water into the large roasting pan to come about halfway up side of the cake pan. Bake until the cake is just set, about 1-1/2 hours. If it jiggles, it’s not done. CAREFULLY remove the roasting pan from the oven and set on a wire rack. Use a paring knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil and set on a wire rack. Continue to cool at room temperature until barely warm, about 3 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

For the Caramel Sauce

  1. Stir the sugar, corn syrup, water and lemon juice together in a 2-cup microwave-safe measuring cup or medium glass bowl. Microwave until the caramel is pale yellow, or just barely starting to take on some color, 4-8 minutes (depending on the strength of your microwave). It’s fine to stop and open the microwave to check often; just don’t let it get too dark or it will burn. Let the caramel sit for about 5 minutes — it will gradually turn a rich amber color. (If after five minutes, it’s not dark enough, place it back in the microwave for thirty seconds or so, then let it darken again. If it gets too dark, start over.)
  2. In the meantime, heat the cream in the microwave until hot. Once the caramel reaches the right color, add the hot cream a few tablespoons at a time. It will bubble up intensely, but won’t overflow. After you’ve added all the cream, stir to incorporate then add the butter. Add more cream if the mixture seems too thick. Once the caramel cools, you can store it in your fridge.

For Serving

  1. Remove the outer ring from the springform pan. Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide the cheesecake onto a serving platter. (Alternatively, you can keep it on the pan bottom.) If there is condensation on the top of the cheesecake, blot it gently with a flat paper towel. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then cut it into wedges. Warm up the caramel sauce in the microwave (it stiffens in the fridge). If it’s too thick, add more heavy cream to thin it out. Drizzle the caramel sauce over each piece of cheesecake and top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream if desired.
  2. Note: You’ll need a large food processor — preferably with a 12-cup capacity — to make the filling (you can also use an 11-cup, but you may have a bit of leakage). If you don’t have one, it’s fine to use a Kitchenaid Mixer or electric beaters for the filling and a small food processor for the crust.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

Delicious!  Not only do these look pretty darn cute on a serving platter, you will love how they taste.  A couple quick bites of pure pumpkin cheesecake heaven ….

pumpkin-cheesecake-minis

INGREDIENTS:

For the crust:
8 gingersnap cookies
1 graham cracker rectangle
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 TBSP melted butter

For the cheesecakes:
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 teaspoons heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger

For whipped cream topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1 TBSP powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange oven rack in the lower third of your oven. Lightly grease a 12-cup mini cheesecake pan or mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In the bowl of a food processor, grind all ingredients for crust (except for melted butter) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add melted butter and process until crumbs resemble wet sand. Press mixture by the tablespoon (1/2 Tbsp. if using a mini muffin pan) into each cheesecake/muffin pan cup*. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare cheesecake. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin puree with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Mix in egg, heavy cream, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger until just combined. Evenly pour filling over each crust. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 20 minutes. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before removing cheesecakes from pan.

Remove cheesecakes from pan by gently running a blunt knife around the edges of each cheesecake and popping out.

Before serving, prepare whipped cream. Beat heavy cream, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to dollop on top of cheesecakes.

If these get past your original serving, refrigerate the rest until they disappear!

Peach Sorbet

Some days the creamy smooth texture of homemade ice cream, made with peaches ripe and still warm from the sun is exactly what I’d like …. other times the bright and fresh taste of peach sorbet is ideal.  It is so refreshing that it is like an icy peach.

Fresh peaches

Peaches right off the tree can’t be beat!

At this time of year, I like to have simple syrup made and cold in the fridge so it is ready to go whenever the fruit is bursting with flavour.  It’s called simple syrup for a reason – just bring equal parts water and white sugar to a boil, allow sugar to dissolve completely and remove from the heat.  Stir well and keep in the fridge.

My kitchenaid mixer gets a lot of use, and the ice cream maker bowl attachment was a brilliant purchase.

Puree about 2 pounds of fresh peaches (you want to end up with about 5 cups of peach puree.  Stir in the juice of 1 lemon and a dash of salt.  Allow to completely chill in the fridge before pulling out your ice cream maker.

Combine peach & lemon puree, 1 1/2 cups simple syrup and stir in 1 tsp vanilla paste.

With the bowl of your ice cream maker turning already, slowly pour in the mixture and allow your mixer to do the work – usually it takes about 20 minutes, but this can vary depending on the temperature of your peach puree, and the temperature in the kitchen.  Once the mixture looks smooth and thickened, put it into a clean container in the freezer to firm up.

 

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