100 Posts and Counting… Two Years in Reflection

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I made my first Sweet Precision post on October 4th, 2012, almost two years ago.

Looking back, Matt and I were just beginning what would be a one year long distance relationship with him moving to Ann Arbor. I was continuing to enjoy life in Washington DC, but found myself feeling alone in a city that we had once explored together. I needed something to funnel my newfound spare time into—a place where I could share my love of baking with others. It was out of this need that Sweet Precision was born.

Since then, it seems as though time has flown. Matt and I have gotten engaged, I’ve moved to Ann Arbor, Matt has completed two years of his PhD program, I’ve started a new job that is incredibly challenging and rewarding, and we’ve even welcomed a new puppy into our family. Somehow in the midst of all this I’ve managed to write 100 blog posts!

To celebrate my 100th post, I decided to share some of my favorite “moments” on Sweet Precision. Below, I’ve included pictures from some of my favorite recipes. It was such a fun exercise looking back over 100 different posts and seeing all the comments from my readers. One of the most rewarding aspects of blogging is keeping in touch with those that I care about. I’ve also enjoyed the many friends that I’ve made since I started my blog. Your thoughtful comments and “likes” are what make this all worth it!

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Can I share one more exciting piece of news with you? Next week Matt and I will be getting married in Gibraltar! I’ve been sharing some of our preparations with you, but it’s hard to believe that the big day is almost here.

All of this excitement brings me to my dilemma lately, which is that I haven’t been as attentive to my blog as I’d like. I chalk this up to the fact that we’ve been planning and getting ready for our travels. The bad news is that with the wedding I’ll have a few more weeks of inattentiveness on my blog. The good news is that I can’t wait to share the highlights with you when we return!

So thank you for being a part of my Sweet Precision “family” and sharing in the excitement of 100 posts and counting! You are what makes my blogging feel worthwhile and fulfilling.

Browned Butter Cranberry Lime Muffins

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When I’m writing a blog post, one of my favorite parts is sharing my baking tips with you in the “Heather’s Helpful Hints” section. Usually I share something I did wrong and try to save you the hassle of figuring it out yourself. Oftentimes, a recipe doesn’t go according to plan and I’m left trying to come up with a creative fix. This has led me to believe that the difference between a good baker and a great baker is that a great baker knows what to do when something unexpected happens in the kitchen.

I’ve been trying to come up with a creative way to catalogue all the tips and hints that I’ve shared over the past two years, which is still a work in progress. However, I thought it would be fun to do a little blog quiz for those of you that often read my posts. Below, I’ve listed six baking-related questions which are all related to a tip that I’ve given in the past. Test out your baking knowledge and then check the answers at the end of this post!

I’d also like to give two thumbs up to this cranberry muffin recipe from Joy the Baker. This was the first time that I’ve tried my hand at making browned butter, and it definitely takes a little bit of practice. However, the depth of flavor that it adds to the muffins is truly wonderful. Cranberries can be a challenge to find in the supermarket this time of year but I had luck finding them in the frozen fruits section.

1. What kind of flour will make your cake the crumbliest?
a) All-purpose flour
b) Cake flour
c) Pastry flour

2. Colorful silicone baking pans are both pretty and versatile. What kinds of temperatures can they handle?
a) 450 degrees Fahrenheit
b) 500 degrees Fahrenheit
c) 550 degrees Fahrenheit

3. What fruit puree is often used as a fat substitute in baking?
a) Applesauce
b) Banana puree
c) Pumpkin puree

4. True or False: Icing and frosting are the same thing.
a) True
b) False

5. Baking at high altitudes without adjusting the recipe can be tricky and cause cookies to dry out and cakes to fall in. What ingredient can you add to elevate your results?
a) Liquids
b) Fats
c) Sugar

6. About how much white flour can you swap out of the average recipe for the whole-wheat variety?
a) One quarter of the white flour can be substituted for whole-wheat flour
b) Half of the white flour can be substituted for whole-wheat flour
c) All of the white flour can be substituted for whole-wheat flour

cranberriesBrowned Butter Cranberry Lime Muffins
Recipe courtesy of Joy the Baker

Ingredients
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lime
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar for topping

Directions
Put a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper or foil liners

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the butter. Melt and cook down the butter until little brown bits appear in the pan. The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly after that. Keep a close eye. Remove from heat.

Whisk milk, egg, yolk, vanilla and lime zest until combined. Add the brown butter and whisk to combine.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl Add milk and butter mixture all at one and stir gently to combine. Gently but thoroughly fold in the cranberries.

Divide the batter among muffin cups and spread evenly.

Generously sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake until golden and crisp and a wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes then remove from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
It’s pretty easy to overcook browned butter and go from brown to burnt. If the butter starts to blacken, I suggest dumping it and starting over. This YouTube video has an excellent tutorial that will walk you through the process step by step.

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Baking Knowledge Quiz Answers 
1. Cake flour has the most soft wheat and the least amount of hard wheat of the flours. The result is a lower gluten content. Gluten is the protein in flour that allows it to stretch. So, the less gluten, the more crumble.

2. Silicone baking pans can handle temperature up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. They can also go into the microwave and the dishwasher.

3. Applesauce contains a lot of pectin compared to other fruit purees. Pectin coats the air bubbles and prevents tunnels in your baked goods. But, applesauce is not quite as effective as the fatty shortening it’s replacing.

4. Frosting and icing are not the same. Icing dries hard and you can put a plethora of decorations on top of it, including more icing. Frosting is thicker and easier to mold. Frosting is the tastier of the two.

5. High altitudes can dry out baked goods, so try adding a few extra tablespoons of liquid to compensate. Fat and sugar can weaken the protein in the flour, causing what you’re baking to fall apart.

6. Add some protein, calcium and fiber to your bread by adding whole wheat flour in place of half of the white flour called for in the recipe.

Miniature Key Lime Pies

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Nothing says summer like key lime pie. The refreshing and tangy flavor of lime intermingles with the rich and creamy texture of condensed milk to make a summer dessert that is truly decadent. Speaking of summer, does anyone else feel like it has flown by this year? It’s almost August which means college students will be back on campus in less than a month! I’ve enjoyed a somewhat relaxing summer this year with not too many vacations or weekend trips. It’s been a nice change of pace to have some time to simply be around the house.

However, summer isn’t over yet! After living in Ann Arbor for one year, it feels like there is so much left to explore! In the month of August, I’m making a short A2 “to do” list of things that I’d like to experience before summer is over. Curious what I’ll be up to? Let me share!

1. Take a walk at Hudson Mills Metropark.
2. Stargaze at the observatory on top of Angell Hall.
3. Find some of the fairy doors that are hidden in downtown A2.
4. Visit the drive-in movie theater in Dearborn for a double feature.
5. Eat hippie hash at Fleetwood Diner.
7. Oh, I’d also like to do some more BAKING! Perhaps try my hand at this Hummingbird Cake!

But for now, I’d like to share the recipe for these delicious mini key lime pies. It’s not a 100% traditional recipe for key lime pie, but it still tastes amazing. I call for regular limes in the ingredients, but if you can find some key limes in the grocery store definitely go ahead and use them! I guarantee that you’ll have people asking you for this recipe once they try it!

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Mini Key Lime Pies
Makes approximately 2 dozen

Crust Ingredients
14 sheets of graham crackers
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Filling Ingredients
4 egg yolks
Zest of 2 limes
1/2 cup lime juice (about 4 limes)
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Whipped Cream Ingredients
1 cup heavy cream
Zest of 2 limes
2 tablespoons honey

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, whip together the yolks and half of your lime zest for about a minute. Add lime juice and sweetened condensed milk. Mix well for about 1-2 minutes. Set aside and let rest for 10 minutes.

In a blender or a food processor, crush graham crackers until fine. Mix in the melted butter and granulated sugar. Grease mini muffin tins with cooking spray. Put a spoonful of graham cracker mixture into each hole. Make sure filling comes up to the top. Press around with your fingers to create the crust. Press down firmly and push up the sides. Bake for about 10 minutes until the crusts are lightly browned and fragrant. Cool at room temperature.

Fill each hole with about one tablespoon of filling. The filling should reach almost to the top of the muffin pan. Bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes until filling jiggles slightly when shaken. Allow to cool completely. To remove from pan, run a paring knife along the edges of each muffin tin. Gently slide a spoon or the edge of the knife under an edge of the mini pie, and slip out. It’s ok if some graham cracker doesn’t make it!

To make the whipped cream, beat the heavy cream until you have soft peaks. Then add the honey and your remaining lime zest. Beat again until you have stiff peaks. Stiff peaks occur when you put the whisk in the whipped cream, pull it out, turn it over and the peak stays up in the air.

To top the key lime bites, you can pipe the whipped cream onto the mini pies and garnish with a little lime zest.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Cold cream whips up the quickest and lightest. Chilling the bowl and whisk or beaters for at least 15 minutes before whipping the cream will help you speed things along.

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Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

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Somehow summer managed to sneak up on me this year. Our winter was so long here in Michigan, it was only two months ago that we had snow on the ground! Now, summer fruits are making an appearance in the grocery store and the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market is in full swing.

Matt and I reserved a garden plot in our apartment complex this year. We decided to plant butternut squash, tomatoes, basil, and peppers. Matt has taken more of a lead with the garden and I wander over and check it out a couple times each week. We’re looking for a good way to combat the weeds that have been growing abundantly. So if anyone has any great ideas, please advise! (Correction… Matt has informed me that we also have green onions and cilantro in the garden as well. It’s clear who has been devoting more time to this endeavor!)

Our new puppy Maya continues to be both the cutest and most challenging little dog in the world. She gives you love and kisses and then leaves a “present” in another room when we’re not looking. However, her puppy obedience classes have been a success and she now knows how to sit and come… when she wants to that is. One thing I can definitely say is that Maya keeps me more active than I ever was before. I purchased a fitbit a few weeks ago and have found that between morning and afternoon walks, I can usually hit my 10,000 steps a day goal. I’m positive that in my pre-doggy life I probably was averaging around 2,000 steps a day.

With all the excitement of summer and new puppies, I haven’t been baking quite as often. The result is that my cookbook has been piling up with recipes that I want to try out. I was recently sorting through trying to find a fun summer cupcake recipe. Blueberries have been ridiculously cheap lately, so I decided to use that as a theme for this post. These cupcakes have a delicate lemon flavor that is complimented by the blueberry filling and garnish. They are perfect to bring to an outdoor picnic or even a work potluck!

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Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Filling
Makes 30 cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients
3 cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup whole milk, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided

Lemon Cream Icing Ingredients
2 cups chilled heavy cream
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Blueberry Filling Ingredients
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp pectin
1/2 pint of blueberries
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 30 cupcake pan cups with paper liners.

Sift the self-rising flour and salt together in a bowl. In another bowl, beat the unsalted butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating each egg until incorporated before adding the next. Mix in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

Gently beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, one third at a time, alternating with half the milk and half the lemon juice after each of the first 2 additions of flour. Beat until just combined; do not over mix.

Fill the prepared cupcake liners with batter 3/4 full, and bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before removing them to finish cooling on a rack.

To make the filling, stir together 3 tablespoons sugar and pectin until combined. Place sugar mixture, blueberries, and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue to boil for 5 minutes, or until thickened. Cool filling completely.

To make the icing, beat the cream in a chilled bowl with an electric mixer set on Low until the cream begins to thicken. Add the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice, a little at a time, beating after each addition, until fully incorporated. Increase the mixer speed to High, and beat until the icing forms soft peaks, about 5 minutes.

To assemble cupcakes, cut out a small portion of the centers of cupcakes. Pipe or spoon blueberry filling into the centers. Pipe or spread frosting on top of cupcakes and garnish with blueberries.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
I’m usually not a fan of buying kitchen gadgets for the sake of simplifying something that you could easily do by hand. However, I will say that a cupcake corer is an investment which will make the process of removing a portion of your cupcake much simpler. As a bonus, you can find one for about $5 on Amazon.

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Raspberry Linzer Cookies

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I’ve discovered that baked goods can make the best gifts for special occasions. Whether it’s a present for a birthday or a housewarming gift, a plate of cookies has just the right mix of thoughtfulness and practicality to be a gift that anyone can enjoy. I  actually made these cookies as a present for Matt’s mom! I opted for cookies because they are portable, but I also wanted to do something with a fun and creative twist. These Linzer cookies fit the bill perfectly.

Linzer cookies are believed to have originated in the City of Linz, Austria. Traditionally they consisted of a crust made with flour, ground nuts (traditionally almonds), sugar, egg yolks, spices and lemon zest that was filled with black currant preserves and then topped with a lattice crust. You don’t have to grate any almonds or run to the store in search of black currant preserves to make the recipe I’m sharing with you today. Instead this recipe is a slight adaptation on the traditional cookie, making it slightly easier to pull together with ingredients you likely have in your kitchen.

Raspberry Linzer Cookies
Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies

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Ingredients
3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup good raspberry preserves
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut 2 3/4-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter. With 1/2 of the rounds, cut a hole from the middle of each round with a heart or spade shaped cutter. Place all the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes.

Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. Spread raspberry preserves on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the top of the cut-out cookies with confectioners’ sugar and press the flat sides together, with the raspberry preserves in the middle and the confectioners’ sugar on the top.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
The baked cookies are quite crisp, but once they are filled with the jam they start to soften. So if you want to keep the cookies crisp, fill them with the jam the day of serving.

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Chocolate Brownie Bites

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I am admittedly a chocoholic. On a perfect day I would have hot chocolate for breakfast, some Lindt chocolates with lunch, a little chocolate pudding as an afternoon snack, and brownies with ice cream for dessert. Thank goodness every day isn’t perfect for me, or else my waist line might be a size or two larger. Last week I read an article saying that a survey found that people should have a daily amount of chocolate equivalent to 1.5 Hershey’s Kisses to reap the benefit of the healthy antioxidants found in chocolate. All of this is well and good, but who really eats 1.5 Hersey’s Kisses? When I sit down to have some chocolate we’re looking at a serving of at least four Hershey’s kisses… at least.

A couple weeks ago I set off on a quest to find the best brownie recipe online. This was no small task being that there were numerous recipes purporting to make the best brownies ever. When thinking about brownies you have one thing to consider. Are you the type of person that enjoys cake-like or fudge-like brownies? One reason I enjoy this recipe is because it meets somewhere in the middle between the two extremes. I also like this recipe because as opposed to the typical brownie bar, you get tiny brownie bites. The little bites are really easy to transport to a party or a picnic in a plastic container.

Chocolate Brownie Bites
Makes approximately 16 brownie bites

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Brownie Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Frosting Ingredients
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center. Generously grease and flour a mini muffin pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients. Drop batter into muffin tins, filling halfway. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

To make frosting, melt butter in a glass bowl in the microwave. Combine 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar. Frost brownies while they are still warm. Decorate brownies as desired.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
It’s important that you don’t over-mix your batter. To help with this, make sure you beat your eggs before adding them to the mixture. This way they will combine easily with butter and sugar without requiring you to mix more than needed.

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Greek Islands Bread Pudding

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I’m delighted to report that today’s post features my first guest blogger! This guest post couldn’t have come at a better time with Matt and I fully engrossed with our new puppy. Aside from making dog treats for Maya, I have been neglecting my baking duties this month!

Elizabeth’s post features Egg Beaters, which is an egg substitute made of 100% egg whites. I often like to use substitutes as total or partial replacements for eggs in my baking. The bonus is a lower calorie finished product with no additional fat or cholesterol from the eggs. I even like to scramble them up on the weekend to give myself a break from my typical breakfast of oatmeal and a banana. Well enough of my two cents, I now turn it over to Elizabeth!

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Homemade Doggie Treats

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Last weekend Matt and I had our world turned upside down.

The culprit behind this upheaval is the cutest little furry four pound bundle of joy you could ever imagine. Her name is Maya, she is eight weeks old, and she is a Boston Terrier and French Bulldog mix. But don’t let her cute puppy dog eyes deceive you. She’s as naughty as she is cute! For every cute yawn, snuggle, and tail wag—there is a chewed up dish towel or mysterious accident discovered hours later.

We’d been planning on getting a puppy for months, but neither of us had any idea just how much work would go into becoming new parents! The funny part is that despite all the hard work, I’ve found myself becoming a “dog person” almost overnight. I’m quick to whip out a picture of her on my iPhone to show a coworker. I send videos of her doing the most mundane things (like climbing the stairs) to my family. Matt and I even huddle together at night plotting which commands we want to begin teaching her.

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It should come as no surprise that my baking project this week would be inspired by Maya. We’ve been trying to reward her with treats when she does something good. Going potty outside… treat. Coming to me when I call… treat. Dropping her toys when we ask…treat. Going into her crate willingly… lots of treats! Suffice it to say, we’ve gone through almost half a bag of treats in just one week. That is why I decided to bake some homemade doggie treats for Maya. The recipe is simple and contains only doggie-safe ingredients. Considering what you can pay for a bag of treats at the store, making your own treats is incredibly economical!

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Homemade Doggie Treats

Ingredients
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted natural peanut butter
1 cup skim milk

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease cookie sheets.

Stir together the flour and baking powder; set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together the peanut butter and milk. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into shapes using cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
If you want to store these treats for longer than a week, make sure you package them with plastic wrap and store them in the freezer.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

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Last week our temperatures soared to 78 degrees here in Ann Arbor. It was a welcome surprise after the snow we had the week before. Although winter is one of my favorite seasons, nothing beats those first warm days of spring when you begin to see daffodils peeping through the soil and buds appearing on the trees. Most noticeably, some of my favorite spring fruits are making an appearance in the grocery store. It might be a while before we see fresh fruits at the farmers market, but for now I can settle with buying them from Kroger. Last week, I stocked up on some strawberries and rhubarb—two of my favorite springtime fruits.

Last week in the Sweet Precision kitchen I made one of my well known desserts—a fruit crisp. When I was younger, my favorite dish to make was apple crisp. I made it so many times that it was the first dessert I was able to make without a recipe! The wonderful thing about this dessert is that it has infinite variations based on what fruit is available or in season. It’s so versatile you can simply throw in whatever fruits you have laying around the kitchen.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Recipe
Makes approximately 16 servings

Ingredients
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups sliced fresh straw berries
3 cups diced rhubarb
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup rolled oats

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place a rack in the middle of the oven.

In a large bowl, mix white sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, strawberries, and rhubarb. Place the mixture in a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Mix 1 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, butter, and oats until crumbly. You may want to use a pastry blender for this. Crumble on top of the rhubarb and strawberry mixture. Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until crisp and lightly browned.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
If you don’t have a pastry blender, simply use your hands to mix the butter, flour, and sugar together. As a time saver, you can even mix the topping in advance and then store it in the freezer in an airtight container until you’re ready to use it. This way you can have the crumbly topping on standby for when you get home from work and want to make something sweet and comforting quickly.

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Tarte Tatin

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Tarte Tatin is the French name for a famous dessert invented years ago by the Tatin sisters, in their restaurant at Lamotte-Beuvron on the Loire River. It consists of caramelized sliced apples oven-baked in a skillet with the pastry on top. When done, it is turned upside-down so the crust is on the bottom and the apple slices – wonderfully brown, buttery, and glazed with caramel—remain in a design on top. The amazing thing about Tarte Tatin is how the caramelized apples are somehow transformed into something entirely new while still retaining their distinct apple taste. It’s one of the easiest desserts I’ve attempted it make, but also the most challenging. It’s easy because it’s baked upside down, which means there is no need for special decorations or even beautiful rolling of the dough. The real challenge is finding the right balance when caramelizing the apples. Julia Child captures the essence of the dessert in this quote.

“To be sure, a Tarte Tatin should be brown and sweet, but it needs to be more. The apples need to be cooked in sugar and butter long enough that they are not only coated in buttery caramel but also permeated with sweetness. Like what happens in jam-making, where some of the water in the fruit is replaced by sugar.”

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Perhaps the most special part of this post is the pan that I used to cook the tart. On a trip to Paris last fall, my parents visited E. Dehellerin. Tucked away on rue Coquillière not too far from the Louvre, this store has been selling cookware for professionals and serious home chefs since 1820. According to my parents, it’s a store that definitely favors function over form, boasting aisles packed with pots and pans reaching as high as the ceiling. Julia Child was a regular here purchasing kitchenware while she attended school at Le Cordon Bleu. Knowing that E. Dehellerin is famous for their copper, my dad purchased a Tarte Tatin pan which was made specifically for this recipe. I was pleased to learn that not only does copper conduct heat faster, but it also does so much more evenly. This combination is perfect for temperature control when working with the sugar at a high temperature. Thanks dad!

The following recipe is courtesy of Julia Child’s book The Way to Cook, published in 1994. A Christmas gift from my dad several years ago, this is a magnificent cookbook in which Julia distills her knowledge from a lifetime of cooking into one book. In the book, she states that this recipe is her fourth and definitive recipe for Tarte Tatin.

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Tarte Tatin Recipe

Ingredients for Pastry Dough
3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons chilled butter, diced
2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water, or as needed

Ingredients for Tart Tatin
6 Golden Delicious apples, cored, peeled and halved
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, as accompaniment

Directions
Preparing the dough. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the flours, sugar and butter. Pulse 5 or 6 times in 1/2-second bursts to break up the butter. Add the shortening, turn on the machine and immediately add the ice water, pulsing 2 or 3 times. The dough should look like a mass of smallish lumps and should just hold together in a mass when a handful is pressed together. If the mixture is too dry, pulse in more water by droplets. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and with the heel of your hand, rapidly and roughly push egg-size blobs into a 6-inch smear. Gather the dough into a relatively smooth cake, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days).

Preparing the apples. Quarter, core, and peel the apples; cut the quarters in half lengthwise. Toss in a bowl with the lemon and 1/2 cup of sugar, and let steep 20 minutes so they will exude their juices. Drain them.

The caramel. Set the frying pan over moderately high heat with the butter, and when melted blend in the remaining 1 cup sugar. Stir about with a wooden spoon for several minutes, until the syrup turns a bubbly caramel brown – it will smooth out later, when the apples juices dissolve the sugar.

Arranging the apples in the pan. Remove from heat and arrange a layer of apple slices nicely in the bottom of the pan to make an attractive design. Arrange the rest of the apples on top, close packed and only reasonably neat. Add enough so that they heap up 1 inch higher than the rim of the pan – they sink down as they cook.

Preliminary stove-top cooking. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F for the next step, placing the rack in the lower middle level. Set the pan again over moderately high heat, pressing the apples down as they soften, and drawing the accumulated juices up over them with the bulb baster – basting gives the apples a deliciously buttery caramel flavor. In several minutes, when the apples begin to soften, cover the pan and continue cooking 10 to 15 minutes, checking and basting frequently until the juices are thick and syrupy. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly while you roll out the dough.

The dough cover. Roll the chilled dough into a circle 3/16 inch thick and 1 inch larger than the top of your pan. Cut 4 steam holes, 1/4-inch size, 1 1/2 inches from around the center of the dough. Working rapidly, fold the dough in half, then in quarters; center the point over the apples. Unfold the dough over the apples. Press the edges of the dough down between the apples and the inside of the pan.

Bake and serve. Bake about 20 minutes at 425 degrees F. Bake until the pastry has browned and crisped. Being careful of the red-hot pan handle, remove from the oven. Still remembering that the pan is red-hot, turn the serving dish upside down over the apples and reverse the two to unmold the tart. Serve hot, warm, or cold, with the optional whipped cream or ice cream.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
After you take your tart out of the oven, you can test to see whether it’s ready be unmolded. Simply tilt the pan, and if the juices are runny rather than a thick syrup, boil down rapidly on top on the stove. However, be sure not to evaporate them completely or the apples will stick to the pan. If a few apples stick to the pan—which does happen—rearrange the slices as necessary.

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