vanilla

Blueberry Tartlet

Blueberries, mascarpone, honey, breton dough, vanilla

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This wonderfully simple blueberry tart was so delicious that we made it again while visiting family this past week. The hardest part of making this tart was the waiting! We started with the parts of the recipe that required time to sit overnight–the mascarpone vanilla cream, and the breton dough.

For the mascarpone cream, we combined the mascarpone, vanilla seeds, honey, and heavy cream and set the mixture in the fridge to rest overnight.

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In another bowl, we combined eggs and sugar for the breton dough.

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To this mixture, we added some butter that we infused with even more vanilla seeds.

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Next, we added flour and worked the dough until it was just combined, wrapped it in cellophane, and placed it in the fridge to rest overnight.

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The next day, we removed the dough from the fridge and rolled it out. This started out as a surprisingly hard task as the dough was rock solid. After a short while, the dough eventually became so soft that it became increasingly difficult to un-stick from the rolling-pin.

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To fix this problem, we rolled the dough between parchment paper sheets and carefully placed it in a large tart mold. The recipe is for a blueberry tartlet, but we already had a large tart mold and decided to make one large tart instead of 4 tartlets. While the recipe didn’t specifically mention weighting down the dough, we added some dried kidney beans on top of the dough as we had experienced some problems with shrinking dough in the past. We must have left the beans on for too long, because the edges of the tart shell turned golden brown well before the center!

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After the tart shell had some time to rest, we evenly spread the mascarpone vanilla cream inside.

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The last step of this recipe involved lightly warming fresh blueberries in honey for a few minutes.

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Finally, we placed the beautiful purple berries on top of the mascarpone cream. We exercised a little bit of restraint in order to capture photos of the constructing of the dessert–it was really hard to resist!

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We sprinkled some caster sugar on top as a finishing touch right before we cut a piece.

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There really is nothing not to like about this dessert! The tart shell was crunchy and sweet and embodied all of the flavours of a butter cookie (biscuit sablé), the mascarpone vanilla cream added some richness and a light sweet flavour, and the blueberries were juicy and delicate. The simplicity of this delicious blueberry tart will make it a favourite for us to serve at dinner parties or to enjoy at home on a Saturday night!

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Rhubarb Cannoli

Rhubarb, long pepper, thyme and strawberries

Rhubarb Cannolo

This weekend, we decided to give ourselves a challenge, and attempt one more of the desserts in the cookbook.

We started the process by making a cannoli batter which involved mixing together sugar, flour, butter, orange juice and long pepper (substituted in for Guinea Pepper, we liked the smell/taste better). The mixture then needed to rest in the fridge for 24 hours to hydrate the flour and infuse the flavour of the long pepper.

It was our first time using long peppers in our cooking. The long peppers have a beautiful floral/cinnamon/clove smell to them, with a fiery floral taste that I think works amazingly in this dessert.

Long PepperWith the cannoli batter sitting in the fridge, we turned our attention to the thyme custard cannoli filling. The custard was made by infusing milk with a Madagascar vanilla bean, thyme and sugar, then thickening it with cornstarch, gelatin and egg yolks.  Thyme CustardWe then made strawberry purée in a blender with some simple syrup and fresh local strawberries.Strawberry Puree

Using this purée, we once again attempted to make a sugar powder as we’ve done many times before for the Nothing Ice Cream recipe.

Boiling Strawberry SugarAmazingly, even though we have made at least half a dozen powders by now, we still struggle with this technique! This time around, we encountered something entirely new. While adding the strawberry purée to the boiling sugar, it boiled over the side of the saucepan, instantly catching fire. What are the chances of a small sugar fire getting out of hand? We figured very little! Instead of quickly putting out the fire, we took the time to get a good picture for the blog! Sugar FireWith the fire extinguished and the strawberry purée safely turned into a powder, we turned our attention to the rhubarb. RhubarbAfter its photo shoot, the rhubarb was peeled, chopped, and placed into a saucepan to cook. After this step, we looked around the kitchen and at ourselves. There was red splatter everywhere! The walls, the cabinets, even the white pages of the cookbook were affected which was surprising given it was 2 meters away from ground zero. Maybe next time we’ll peel rhubarb under running water?Peeled RhubarbThe chopped rhubarb was cooked with some sugar and water until it was soft. Chopped RhubarbOnce cooked, the rhubarb purée was thoroughly blended, and painstakingly passed through a fine meshed conical strainer (chinois). The liquid that went through the chinois was was processed in our ice cream maker to make sorbet, and the thickened purée from the chinois was set aside to use in the final plating.The next day (after some extensive cleanup), we set about finishing this dessert. Using a vegetable peeler, we made some rhubarb strips that were subsequently laid out on a silicon baking mat.Rhubarb Strips Rhubarb LatticeNext, we sprinkled some sugar onto the rhubarb strips. In the last recipe, Mock Smoked Salmon, we attempted to take a picture of a curing mixture being sprinkled onto the salmon. After some reading online about our camera settings, we tried this again, and I think we succeeded! We’re pretty sure better action shots would require a better camera.Sugar Sprinkled on RhubarbThe sugary rhubarb strips were put in the oven to soften and caramelize.Sugary RhubarbNext, we turned our attention to the actual cannoli. The plan here was to spread the mixture thinly onto a baking mat, and bake in the oven until the batter turned transparent and lightly browned around the edges.Cannoli BatterAfter about 15 minutes in the oven, the brown and translucent cannoli “strips” were taken out of the oven. We had about 30 seconds to get the molten hot batter rolled into a cylinder, which resulted in many burnt fingers–and sadly, no pictures of this process. We were really proud of the final results!

With all of the components finally done, we started on the final plating of the dish. First, one of our best shaped cannolo was filled halfway with the thyme custard using a piping bag, topped with diced strawberries, then filled completely with more custard.Filling a CannoloThe filled cannolo was then wrapped with a sheet of the baked rhubarb strips.Rhubarb Cannolo with Thyme CustardThe final plating of the dish involved putting down a smear of the rhubarb purée, placing the cannolo on top, then a sprinkle of the strawberry powder with a quenelle of rhubarb sorbet on top.Rhubarb Cannolo with Puree Rhubarb Cannolo with Puree, Sorbet and Strawberry Powder Rhubarb Cannolo with Puree, Sorbet and Strawberry PowderWow! This has to be one of the most complex deserts we have ever made! The mixture of different textures, temperatures, colours was impressive. I must admit that I was not 100% happy with the texture of the custard–it was over set, which I attribute to the conversion from sheet gelatin that the recipe asked for to the powder form that we had on hand.

Overall, the bitterness of the rhubarb, the sweetness of the powder, the crunch of the cannolo, and the interesting taste of thyme in the custard made for an amazing dessert that I wish I could get the opportunity to eat more often!Eating Rhubarb Cannolo with Puree, Sorbet and Strawberry Powder