This is the dessert that I made when we hosted the in-laws for Christmas Eve dinner, and I've been meaning to post it ever since. It's from Mario Batali's Molto Italiano cookbook, which until Christmas had been my current favorite. Since I've received the Babbo cookbook, among others, for Christmas, I have to admit this one hasn't been feeling the love. However, there are a ton of great recipes and I would highly recommend the book to anyone. The recipe section of this book inspired me to buy a tart pan...in August. It sat in the closet unused until I decided to try this recipe out. I'm not very confident in the baking arena, and making my own crust seemed out my league. I was surprised by how easy it was, once I let go of my fear of butter and decided to bite the bullet - it WAS for Christmas after all! One thing though - this receipe says that it serves 8. There were 7 people are our dinner, and we barely ate 1/3 of this, it's so rich that a little goes a very long way.
Bitter Chocolate Tart
From Mario Batali's Molto Italiano
For the pastry
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
9 tbl. cold unsalted butter
1/4 vin santo (or other sweet dessert wine)
For the filling
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
10 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. crushed anise seeds
1 tbl. anise liquor (I used Sambuca)
For the glaze
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tsp. anise liquor
1 1/2 tbl. milk (or as needed)
To make the pastry, combine flour, salt, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the processor running, add the vin santo and process until the dough comes together. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten to a disk, wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Butter a 10-inch fluted (optional) tart pan. Roll out the chilled dough between sheets of plastic until you have a circle about 1/4 inch thick. Line the tart pan with the dough, trim off the excess and refrigerate 20-30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prick the bottom of the tart dough with a fork, and bake 12 minutes, or until just set. Set the shell aside, and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
To make the filling, heat the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and add chocolate, stirring to melt. Transfer the chocolate to a bowl and set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and yolk together with the cocoa, then whisk the egg mixture into the cooled melted chocolate. Add the crushed anise seeds and anise liquor, and stir to combine. Pour the filling into the tart and bake for 15 minutes, or until the filling forms a shiny skin and is slightly firm, but just a little loose in the middle (in my oven, this took 19 minutes). Cool the tart in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove the sides and cool completely.
To make the glaze, combine the sugar, anise liquor and milk, and whisk until you have a thin, pourable consistency; add a few drops more of milk if needed. Place the glaze into a small ziplock bag, and cut of just the tiniest piece of one corner. Pipe the glaze onto the cooled tart in whatever fashion you like. Allow the glaze to harden (about 5 minutes) before serving.
This tart is so amazingly delicious, and this is from someone who doesn't really love anything anise flavored. I made a "test version" of it and brought it to my office where there are people who claim to hate anise, and they didn't even know it was there. It doesn't flavor the tart, but I think it's one of those ingredients that you can't put your finger on but would miss if it weren't there. It's certainly enough on it's own, but to dress it up for Christmas Eve, we served it with a little homemade cinnamon whipped cream. It was definitely a perfect way to end the meal.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
It's certainly that time of year when I'm craving a little "comfort" food, which for me doesn't usually includes things like Mac & Cheese. However, since receiving these adorable mini Le Cruset crocks at Christmas, I've been dying to make something gooey and cheesy in them! I apologize for the photo, I need some serious help when it comes to photographing food, which is one of my goals for the new year. Hopefully I'll get it together and start to take better photos like the beautiful photos in the all of the blogs that The Nest girls maintain.
Lighter Mac & Cheese
Created by me!
3/4 cup whole wheat penne pasta (or your favorite short cut pasta shape)
1/2 cup butternut squash, cut into a small dice
1/4 cup 1% milk
1 tbl. butter (I use Smart Balance sticks)
1/2 tbl. flour
1/2 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese (plus more for topping)
1/2 cup lowfat or fat free cream cheese
2 tbl. breadcrumbs
Salt & Pepper to taste
Parsley for garnishing (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil, then add the squash and pasta and cook according to the directions for your pasta, draining a little shy of al dente. The squash should be softened. Place the drained pasta and squash back into the pasta pot over medium heat, add milk, butter and flour and stir until the flour has been absorbed and the milk is almost gone, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper - stir to combine. Divide the mixture between two small oven-proof crocks, or one small baking dish. Top with additional cheese, if desired, then breadcrumbs. Spray the top with olive oil spray and bake 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Sprinkle with parsley and serve...guilt free!