pomegranate-winter-chiffon-pieSUMMARY – light and fluffy with whipped egg whites and whipped cream. Beautifully pink, but tart pomegranate keeps this dessert sophisticated and not girly. Perfect for the holiday season, but I could imagine this with other fruit juice in different seasons.

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This pie reminded me of my childhood.

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My paternal grandmother made jello salads. Her two specialties were orange jello with grated carrots and pineapple, and red (I think cherry?) jello with chopped marachino cherries and walnuts.

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They weren’t quite desserts, but they weren’t quite salads either.

dough-finished-processing

It also reminds me of my mother’s pumpkin chiffon pie. I think I talked about this when we made the pumpkin pecan pie.

dough-ready-for-fridge

My maternal grandmother and her sister, and now my mother and her cousin, made and still make Mrs. Eisenhower’s pumpkin chiffon pie for the holidays. Yes, the pie that my roommate calls “pudding in a shell”.

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The first time I had regular baked pumpkin pie I was traumatized by it, and realized that our family does things a little different than other families. Which kind of explains a few things about my personality!

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And now you also see how my mind works sometimes.

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If you combine red jello salad with pumpkin chiffon pie, two clear and different food memories, you end up with this pie!

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I went with Marie and made the cookie crust. Because I thought the baked meringue crust would be too stressful.

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I also pressed the dough into my square tart pan.

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Because the last time I rolled out cookie dough crust it was a giant project. And again, no desire for a giant project.

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BTW the Serious Eats blog showed a new way to blind bake pastry using sugar and foil. Great technique! Now I have toasted sugar!

filling-adding-whipped-cream

I didn’t want to overmix the egg whites and the whipped cream and completely deflate it. The chiffon was not at all homogeneous!

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I like the pink stripes in the tart filling. And, like Marie, I found that it had separated the next day.

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I had enough extra chiffon that I poured it into two bowls and had a cooks treat. Which makes me think that the chiffon could be made with other juice. Cherry, strawberry, blueberry … I am thinking summer parfaits. Mmmmmmmmm.

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Last, the tartness and pie color also reminded me a bit of cranberry (or bogberry *cough* ugh) without using cranberries. Win!

I have been baking. Quite a lot, actually!

frozen-lime-meringue-pie

I made the Frozen Lime Meringue Pie into cupcakes and I made the Heavenly Chocolate Mousse Cake. Both recipes turned out great! But obviously I didn’t post about it.

chocolate-mousse-cake

I was planning on making other recipes, but that didn’t happen either.

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What have I been doing instead?

Work has been crazy busy. But in a good way. I have been doing the communications and marketing work I have wanted to do for years!

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My MS symptoms have been up and down. I have been mostly feeling pretty good, but sometimes not so much. Then I have to conserve energy, and Alpha Bakers is something that doesn’t get the attention I would like to give to it.

pasta-frolla-dry-ingredients

More exciting though is I have been teaching baking classes through Adult Continuing Education at my old high school. Teaching has been great, and I will be talking about it.

And, for my 50th birthday, which was back in July, I decided that instead of a big party, I wanted to take a baking class at King Arthur Flour in Vermont. Last Sunday, my mom and sister and I drove two plus hours to Norwich Vermont for their More than a Mouthful: Pastry Miniatures class.

cutting-in-the-butterAlthough the class was not quite what I was imagining (I was thinking petit fours and financiers), the items we made were really good, a little challenging, and I got to geek out with the instructor when she was talking about the different protein / gluten levels in flour.

filling-tartlet-tins

The first recipe we made was for pasta frolla, which is a press-in tart crust, scented with orange oil.

baking-injuryMaking the dough was simple, but then we had to press the dough into these tiny tartlet pans! The largest dimension on any of them was 1 1/2 inches.

And some of them had sharp and point edges! My poor sister ended up cutting her finger on one of them and bled all over her side towel and apron. Granted, she admitted that she could cut herself on a dull butter knife, but still.

When I first saw the pans I thought “OMG how cute!” By the end of the day, I was like “OMG no way I am making this tart in tiny tins again!”

So after the whole tartlet tin filling and bleeding thing, our next project was a chocolate almond cream filling.

This was not a cooked pastry cream. We made it in the food processor.

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It had butter, sugar, eggs, yes, but also included almond flour and chocolate. And it was baked in the unbaked tartlets.

The filling was really good. I kept eating it raw!

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4-small-tartsWe finished the tartlets with melted chocolate and toasted almond slivers.

I will make this recipe again. But in a full-sized tart pan, or in the comes in a pack of 4 smaller tart tins. Like these!

Here are the recipes from the Baking Education Center at King Arthur Flour. I tweaked them a little bit based on my notes from the day.

Crust – Pasta Frolla

This dough is a middle ground between pie crust dough and Pâte Sucrée

Ingredients:

¾ cup (3 oz) all-purpose flour

¾ cup (3 oz) pastry flour

¼ cup (1¾ oz) sugar

¼ tsp salt

½ cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

1 egg

½ tsp vanilla

optional: 1/8 tsp orange oil, or zest from ½ lemon, orange or lime

Directions:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse meal.
  3. Stir in the egg, and extracts and oil or zest and combine well, until a dough forms.
  4. Wrap the dough and chill for 30 minutes, or immediately press into tart pan, then refrigerate for 30 minutes before filling or baking.

Leftover pasta frolla can be rolled into a log and cut into cookies. Bake ~10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Filling – Chocolate Almond Cream

Ingredients:

½ cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup (3½ oz) sugar

2 eggs at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup (4 oz) almond flour

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, combine the butter and sugar.
  2. Add the eggs and vanilla and pulse until just combined.
  3. Add nut flour and chocolate and pulse until combined.
  4. Spread into prepped tart shell or refrigerate.

Assemble:

For mini tartlets, fill with ~ 1tsp of chocolate almond cream, bake ~10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Tart

SUMMARY – Soft, crumbly crust topped with a smooth and creamy filling and chocolate glaze. The hazelnut praline was distinct and well-balanced. The bonus of a press-in-the-pan crust means this is a dessert to make again!

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Oh em gee. This tart was awesome!

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I’m not just saying that just because I didn’t have to roll out a crust. Which, by itself, was awesome.

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Even though I had to make hazelnut praline, which wasn’t so bad except for the getting the skin off the hazelnuts.

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I couldn’t boil the hazelnuts long enough to make the skin easier to remove, because the baking soda made a lot of foam in the pot and I had to keep taking the pot off the burner.

crust-construction

But once I got the skins (mostly) off, and toasted, and covered with caramel, they ground down into this paste that would have been good enough to eat with a spoon. Oh, wait … I did eat that last bit of it with a spoon. Shhhh!

dough-in-pan

So the hazelnut praline was, in itself, awesome, in spite of adding an extra component to the tart construction.

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The tart crust was really good too. Soft, flavorful, food processor friendly. I baked it and it did puff up like Rose warned. But then it sunk back down and it was perfect. It would make really good cookies too, with a whole egg.

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The mousse layer was also, dare I say it, awesome. And easy. I veered slightly off Rose’s instruction with the last whipped cream addition. I underbeat the whipped cream. I scraped it into the other mixing bowl with the cream cheese, praline paste and brown sugar, and beat it more. That worked out just fine.

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Ganache? Easy! Tart assembly? Easy.

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I skipped the candied hazelnuts, because I put all the hazelnuts into the praline. I used nonpareils instead, which are still sugar.

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Everyone who had some loved this tart. And I didn’t feel too bad about giving away slices because they didn’t look like leftovers. Awesome!