Shannon shared another tart recipe with me. This one, she says, takes a bit longer than the chocolate raspberry tart because it involves a homemade pastry crust, but it’s totally worth it because it’s so good.

Pear Almond Tart // Les tartes aux poires et amandes

Pastry:

  • 150 g (1 1/4c) flour
  • 90 g (3 1/4 oz) chilled unsalted butter cubed
  • 55 g (1/4 c) caster/baker’s sugar
  • 2 egg yolks lightly beaten

Filling:

  • 150 g (5 1/4 oz) unsalted butter @ room temp
  • 150 g (2/3c) caster/baker’s sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 125 g (1 1/4c) ground almonds
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp  flour
  • 3 ripe pears

For pastry, sift flower in bowl. Rub in butter with fingertips until consistency of breadcrumbs Stir in caster sugar and mix well. Incorporate egg yolks with a flat blade knife or pastry knife/blender. Gather into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease tart pan. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking/parchment paper until large enough to line the base and side of the tin. Line the tin with the pastry and trim the edge. Sparsely prick the base with a fork. Line the base with the baking paper, pour in some uncooked cheap rice or beans and bake for 10 mins. Remove the paper and the rice or beans and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool.

For the filling, beat butter and sugar in a bowl for 30 seconds. (Don’t beat it so much that it becomes creamy.) Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Fold in the ground almonds and flour. Spread filling over the cooled pastry base.

Peel and de-core the pears. Slice fairly thin and cover top of tart. Bake for 50 minutes or until filling has set (middle might still be soft when hot). Let cool in tin before serving.

Jamie, of the cream puffs, also makes delicious homemade chicken noodle soup. This week she came over to show me how to do it! The results were terrific, and perfect for the last few cold days of winter. It’s a very simple recipe that you can easily customize (less chicken, more noodles, no celery, etc). In fact, it’s more of a rough guideline for how to make the soup than it is a precise recipe.

Chicken Noodle Soup:

  • 3-5 chicken drumsticks
  • Celery, chopped
  • Carrots, chopped
  • Onion, chopped
  • Italian spices (basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano, sage, etc)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Egg noodles

Fill a large stockpot almost 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and the celery, carrots, and onion. Add some salt, pepper, and seasonings (later, taste the soup to see if you need to make any additions). Let it simmer for about half an hour, or until the drumsticks are thoroughly cooked and white on the outside. Add some seasoning (salt, pepper, Italian spices). Carefully remove the chicken and place it on a cutting board. Add some egg noodles to the pot, and cook them as long as the package suggests (roughly 8-11 minutes). Meanwhile, discard chicken skin and bones, shred the meat, and place it back in the pot. Serve hot!

(Note: when you refrigerate the soup, the noodles soak up more of the broth, so when you reheat it later, add more water and some more seasoning.)

Shannon, resident of third floor Colonial, is a renowned baker. For her most recent adventures, she’s used her new fluted tart pan. Below she shares the recipe for her crowd-pleasing chocolate raspberry tart.

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

  • 32 chocolate wafer cookies, or Oreos (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • Coarse salt
  • 6 Tbs (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries (6 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, combine cookies, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process until very fine crumbs form. Add butter and pulse until mixture just comes together. Press crumbs firmly into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. I just used my hands/fingers, but you could use a measuring cup to press the crust into the pan. Place on a baking sheet and bake until crust is dry and set, 20 minutes. Let cool.

In a large bowl, combine chocolate and a pinch of salt. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a bare simmer over medium-high. Immediately pour cream over chocolate and let stand 1 minute. Stir gently until chocolate melts and mixture is completely smooth. Pour chocolate into cooled tart shell and refrigerate until set, 30 minutes. To serve, remove tart from pan and scatter raspberries on top.

On Tuesday nights, Jess Maloney hosts open hours in her RD apartment, and each week she tries out a new cupcake recipe to share with anyone who stops by. Below she shares her recipe for a favorite: Nutella cupcakes.

(Picture from My Baking Addiction)

Nutella Cupcakes:
(Makes twenty-four cupcakes)

  • Box of chocolate cake mix (and eggs/oil)
  • Box of chocolate instant pudding
  • 13 oz. jar of Nutella

I just use a normal box cake for the recipe. My secret is that I add a large box of instant pudding.  So for chocolate cake, I use chocolate pudding.  You make the cake as directed on the box and just dump the powder straight into the batter.  It makes a more dense, moist cake.

After the cupcakes are baked, I pipe Nutella in the middle of the cupcake as filling. Then I frost them using the recipe below, which I found on My Baking Addiction and adapted to use less sugar:

Frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 13-ounce jar of Nutella
  • Pinch of fine grain sea salt
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 1-2 cups powdered sugar (make it to your taste)
  • 6-8 Tbs heavy cream or milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and Nutella until well combined. Slowly add in the sugar, and continue creaming until well blended. Add salt, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add an additional 3-5 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Derek and I adore ramekins, new chocolate desserts, and silver dessert spoons. This recipe is, conveniently, a good fit for all three of those! It also happens to be delicious. And we are a couple who knows our chocolate, let me tell you.

Steamed Chocolate Pudding Cakes:
(Source)

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbs dutch process cocoa (if, like me, you don’t have this, substitute 3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa & a pinch of baking powder)
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup whole milk (we mixed two tiny half & half containers with 1% milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease six 6-ounce ramekins, and place them in a baking dish large enough to accommodate them with space in between. Set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the flour and sugar and set aside.

Melt the butter in a double boiler or in the microwave. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and egg yolks and stir until smooth. Gradually whisk in the milk until well combined. Set aside to cool slightly, then pour the liquid mixture over the the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

In a clean dry bowl of an electric mixer, with clean dry beaters, beat the egg whites with the salt on medium-high speed until they hold stiff peaks. Carefully fold the whites into the batter and divide the batter evenly between the ramekins.

Pour very hot water in the baking dish until it comes halfway up sides of the ramekins. Take care not to splash water onto the batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes are puffy and the tops are dry. Serve straight from the ramekin! It’s especially nice with whipped cream or ice cream on top.

My fiancé and I decided to try a new dinner item this week: baked eggplant pizzas. Even he, a diehard meat lover, agreed that this was a dish he would be glad to eat again!

Eggplant Pizza:
(Source) 

  • 1 large unpeeled eggplant, cut into 1 inch slices
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup egg whites
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Toppings (we just used green pepper, but you can use whatever you have on hand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the excess moisture on the eggplant slices by patting them down with paper towels. Put egg whites and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Dip the eggplant slices in egg whites, then coat them with breadcrumbs. (The finer your bread crumbs are, the easier it will be for them to stick.) Put them on a baking sheet and drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil.

Bake for 10 minutes or until crisp on one side. Turn each piece over, drizzle with a bit more olive oil, and bake for another 5-8 minutes. Finally, top each slice with  tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings, and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Jamie, who lives on third floor Colonial, was kind enough to share her recipe for delicious cream puffs. Before I tried hers, I believed they were only available in the freezer section of Sam’s Club. Fortunately for me (and for you), they can be made from scratch – and pretty simply! The recipe, in her words, is below.

Cream Puffs

Preheat the oven to 400˚

The Puff:

Heat 1 cup of water and 1 stick of butter to a rolling boil in a saucepan. Whisk in 1 cup of flour VIGOROUSLY for about one minute until the mixture forms a ball. 

Remove from heat and beat in 4 eggs. Don’t stop until the mixture is smooth.

Drop by spoonfuls, bake 35-40 minutes

Meanwhile…

The cream filling:

Beat together 1 cup milk and one package instant vanilla pudding for 2 minutes.

Add 1 Pint Heavy Cream, beat until thick.

When the puffs are done and somewhat cooled, open the top (they generally have evident seams that can be broken without much hassle). Remove any superfluous puff dough from the inside, and fill with cream.

And for extra flair… The chocolate sauce:

Semi-sweet chocolate chips and  milk and powder sugar, melted and mixed.

This recipe makes quite a few cream puffs, but they disappear fast!