Strawberry Almond Cream Tart

20160606_110931As Spring comes to a close and we turn things over to summer on June 20, now is the time to enjoy the bountiful fresh fruit options spring provides. Luckily, here in Central Florida, you can find white tents and loaded pickup trucks all over the sides of the roadways selling fresh, in season produce and other oddities (such as gator jerky) on a typical drive home year round. This time of year, the main produce being sold at these mini markets of sorts are strawberries. Since I live rather close to Plant City (Florida), the winter Strawberry capital of the world and host of the annual festival dedicated to strawberries, it is not hard to come by an abundance of strawberries at affordable prices. With an abundance of fresh, irresistible strawberries, finding new ways to use them is not only fun but tasty.

20160606_111339-1Strawberries (and cherries) have always been my go to topping for cheesecake. As much as I love fruit glazed cheesecakes, I do have a problem with the cheesecake to fruit ratio often found in many recipes. The ratio ALWAYS leans heavily in the side of the cheesecake with minimal fresh fruit topping. I decided this needed to be changed. Why not make a cheesecake-esque dessert that focuses more on the fruit topping over the cheesecake filling.

20160606_111935The following recipe is the result of such a desire I have had since childhood. With this recipe, for once, the strawberries are the star of the show. Instead of being a simple topping, the strawberries are nestled in a thinner layer of creamy cheesecake filling and graham cracker crust, allowing them to shine. Perhaps even better than the taste itself, is the fact that this dessert will not set you back a ton of calories. In fact the tart is very low in cholesterol and high in vitamin C. It is perfect to serve at spring and summer parties and your guests will never suspect it is not as indulgent as it appears.

20160606_111325While on the topic of parties, this is also a great dessert that can be made in advance. You can easily make the crust and filling ahead of time (up to 2 days) and then assemble the dessert the day of the party. This will help free up some time to make all of the other items you may be serving that do not have the ability to be prepared in advance.

Notes:

  • This tart will easily serve 10 people. If you need it to serve more you can easily double (or triple) the recipe and divide the crust, filling, and topping evenly amongst two (or more) tart pans.
  • You may have some extra strawberries if your cartons managed to miraculously not have any squishy or moldy strawberries at the bottom.
  • Although I chose to use a 9 inch round tart pan, you may also use an 8 x 12 inch rectangular tart pan or 9 inch pie plate.

Strawberry Almond Cream Tart

Crust Ingredients:

  • 36 Honey Graham Crackers (9 sheets)
  • 2 tbsp. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; melted
  • 4 tsp. Water

Filling Ingredients:

  • 5 oz. 1/3-less-fat Cream Cheese; softened (about 2/3 cup)
  • ¼ cup Granulated Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ tsp. Almond Extract

Topping Ingredients:

  • 2 cartons Fresh Strawberries; hulled & divided
  • 1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
  • ½ tbsp. Cornstarch
  • ½ tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 2 tbsp. Sliced Almonds; toasted

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 9 inch round removable-bottom tart pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Place the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse to fine crumbs. Add the sugar, butter, and water. Pulse until the mixture is moistened. Place the crumb mixture in the prepared tart pan and press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.Bake for 10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  3. Once crust has cooled completely, prepare the filling. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. Stir until mixture is smooth. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the mixture evenly over the crust.
  4. To prepare the topping, place 1 cup of strawberries in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is pureed. In a small saucepan over medium heat combine strawberry puree, sugar, and cornstarch. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 minute. Remove the glaze from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  5. Combine remaining strawberries (approximately 3 cups) and lemon juice; toss to coat. Arrange the strawberries, bottoms up, in a circular pattern over the filling. Spoon the glaze evenly over the berries. Sprinkle almonds around the edge. Cover and chill tart for at least 3 hours.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(1 Wedge)

STRAWBERRRYALMONDCREAMTARTNutritionLabel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight Watchers: 11 Smart Points, 6 Points Plus, or 5 Traditional Points

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: JEAN KRESSY
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2016

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Strawberry Heart Pie

20140206_144819_LLS Valentine’s Day is this week and that means red, pink, and white will be plastered everywhere, chocolates in heart boxes will be flying off the shelves, the women will be expecting red roses from the men of their lives, and the kiddos will be buying Valentine’s to pass at school hoping to get one from their own crushes of the moment. With all of this influence of St. Valentine on our lives it is no surprise that everyone in the food and beverage industry will be coming up with the next best thing to serve for Valentine’s Day.

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Traditionally, my boyfriend and I always have strawberries so I wanted to incorporate strawberries in whatever I decided to make. I remembered an old icebox pie that included strawberries but it also included dreaded jello which I really don’t care to use since it leaves such an artificial taste. I ultimately decided to make the strawberry pie into mini heart shapes since I found a great deal on heart-shaped pans at a local market. If you can’t find a mini heart pan you can always use a larger disposable heart-shaped pan that are often sold in major supermarkets this time of year or just a regular pie pan if you care to make it at a different time of year. Just be sure to double all of the recipe ingredients except for the pie crust if you do decide to make this into a larger size pan.

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The great thing about this Strawberry pie is not only the taste but it is a lot more cost effective than usual recipes involving strawberries. I used frozen strawberries and cooked them in a saucepan until they reduced into a thick, jam-like consistency that increased the quality of flavor but also allowed me to use less fresh strawberries, which are expensive. To thicken the filling so that it is the proper consistency and not too bouncy, unflavored gelatin is mixed with some lemon juice, which not only helps the gelatin thicken further but also perk up the flavor of the strawberries. With a little bit of sugar and salt this pie had supreme berry flavor at a budget friendly price and perfect to share with your honey on the big day.

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Note: This recipe makes 6 individual mini heart pies. If you elect to double the recipe and cook in a larger pie pan the recipe will serve 8 clean slices. To save time I use store-bought pie dough but you can certainly whip up your own if you have the time. Be sure to reduce the filling adequately (about 1 cup) otherwise it will be too lose and won’t set up in the refrigerator. If the fresh strawberries you purchase don’t look ripe enough, you may want to add a bit more sugar to taste. The pie is best served the day it is made but can be stored for up to 24 hours. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

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Strawberry Heart Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Frozen Strawberries
  • 1 tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp. Water
  • ½ tbsp. Unflavored Gelatin
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • ½ pound Fresh Strawberries; hulled & sliced thin
  • 1 (9-inch) Pie Shell; baked & cooled
  • Whipped Cream; optional

Formula:

  1. Press the pie crust into the individual heart cups of the pan. If the crust breaks, patch together with a dab of water on the finger and a gentle massaging motion to meld the dough back together. If using a traditional pie plate, unfold pie crust as described on the box or recipe. Bake the crust for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.
  2. Cook the frozen strawberries in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. The berries will begin to release their juice. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until thick and jam-like, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Combine lemon juice, water, and gelatin in a small bowl. Set aside and let the gelatin soften and thicken, about 5 minutes. Stir the gelatin mixture, sugar, and salt into the cooked strawberry mixture and return to a simmer for about 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  4. Using a spatula or spoon, fold the fresh berries into the cooled filling. Spread evenly into the cooked heart shells or pie shell and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.

 

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY  & STAGING

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2014

Dessert Plating: Creme Brulee

Happy Friday everyone. I don’t know about you but I am ever so glad to see this week come to a close. It was a rough one let me tell you. This past week at Le Cordon Bleu the plating was focused on custards. We could choose any custard we wanted. Examples include Panna Cotta, Creme Caramel/Flan, Bread Pudding, or the famous Creme Brulee. I opted for the Creme Brulee as it has never been my friend when making it in the past and I seeked out to perfect it before graduating in four weeks. So without further ado let us start breaking down this plate…shall we 🙂

 As instructed by my chef, I made sure not to use any traditional flavors of Creme Brulee…or even textures. I started out my adventure by toasting some Almonds in some butter with Ginger. Once toasted, I added Honey and quickly worked to place the Almonds in the bottom of my gratin dish. Once cooled, the Almonds melded into a crisp candied bottom layer.

For the traditional Creme Brulee custard filling, I began by heating my dairy with a bit of Saffron. The Saffron was my supporting actor to the main star of the custard…the sweet Blood Oranges. To compliment the Blood Oranges I added a dash of Honey, which draws hints back to that bottom layer of Honey encrusted Almonds I mentioned earlier. This all leads to the final component which is, of course, the notorious crunchy top layer. No matter how amazing the creamy citrus custard was underneath, I received most satisfaction from torching the sugar.  Nothing is better than playing with fire in the morning to ease your culinary frustrations. Regardless of my bad relationship with Creme Brulee in the past this one turned out quite delightful. I finally think Creme Brulee and I can maintain a lifelong friendship. The finished custard is certainly a perfect representation of how to use Central Florida and it’s Citrus!

To add height to the sweet and crispy custard, I created a heart-shaped Tuille flavored with Myer Lemon juice and Poppyseeds. The Tuille’s heart shape was created by drawing a heart on a hard piece of cardboard or thick paper and creating a stencil. I then made a small batch of Tuille batter (a little goes a long way…tuilles are very thin and require very little batter to fill the stencil). I laid the stencil down on a parchment lined baking sheet and using my offset spatula, spread an extremely thin layer of Tuille batter (also known as Stencil Paste). My Tuille Heart is then held upright on the Creme Brulee by two pieces of Spun Caramel, which I fused together to created a pedestal base.

 To minimize waste and utilize my hard work of battling boiling hot sugar (290° to be exact), I incorporated the Spun Sugar into a decorative adornment for the plate. I started by ladling a small amount of Strawberry Rhubarb Rum Coulis into a circle. I arranged four blackberries on top, two on each side to hold the Spun Sugar piece. To draw the eye to the decorative adornment, I placed three dots of Chocolate Sauce flavored with Tangelo and Orange Blossom leading toward the decor and also framing the front of the gratin dish of Creme Brulee.

Even with all the stress of the day I am pleased with the outcome. I am so ready for the weekend. I must plan for next week’s plated dessert following dietary guidelines. Since I am lactose intolerant I will most likely utilize that special dietary concern but am unsure what to choose as the other. Much research is in store along with costing sheets and possible baking sunday at home. If I am not able to bake sunday then I will see you all back here next friday for another installment in Dessert Plating.

 

All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2011

Dessert Plating: Non-Traditional Napoleons

Happy Monday everyone! This past week has been very busy for me. I just began my final class at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Orlando. This class is Dessert Plating and it is a very demanding course to say the least. Not only is it crucial to understand all of the elements which are important to plating a high end dessert but also we have to create our own flavors and they must be creative and a bit risky. It has been difficult because in all of the previous courses students are held on a tight leash when it comes to what we would make in class. We had to follow the recipe in our textbooks or whatever Chef declared we must follow and we couldn’t deviate much from that in the ways of presentation or flavor options. With this class they basically throw you to the wolves and chef gets to sit back and watch with a grin.

 In week one of Dessert Plating, our simple instruction was to create a a few dessert sauces with our own flavor choices which would compliment our finished plates of non-traditional Napoleons due on friday. The first order of operations was to choose my two flavor stars for each plate. My first star I chose was Pumpkin. The second was Peach. Let’s start with my first plating: The Pumpkin Praline Napoleon. For the first Napoleon, I was instructed to use sheets of Phyllo dough and enhance them in any way I chose. To do this I first melted some butter and added a praline flavor compound by Amoretti to enhance the butter with flavor. I delicately soaked my first layer of phyllo with the enhanced butter and spread a Praline mixture I created over the buttered phyllo sheet. My Praline mixture consisted of pecans, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla. I continued the layering process until I had about five sheets of Praline enhanced phyllo melded together. Before baking, I cut the phyllo layers with a metal fluted cutter to create the non-traditional circle shape. Once strategically placed on the baking sheet, it was to the oven for the phyllo. About 7 minutes later, caramel crisp goodness emerged and wafted in my direction.

Once the phyllo layers were completed it was time to focus on filling options. I chose to flavor a basic pastry cream with Pumpkin and its complimentary warm spices of ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. To assemble the napoleon, I placed one layer of praline enhanced phyllo on the plate and used a pastry bag fitted with a star tip to pipe a round of pumpkin spice pastry cream in the center of the phyllo circle. To prevent any leaking pastry cream while waiting to present my plate, I lined the outer edges of the enhanced phyllo with fresh cut raspberries. This created a dam for any running pastry cream and also added complimentary flavor and texture. I repeated the process once more before placing my final round of praline enhanced phyllo on top.

With the napoleon constructed it was on to decorative sauce creation and adornments for the presentation. To compliment the raspberries I added to the napoleon, I created a Strawberry Rhubarb Rum Coulis. I placed four rounds on the plate all leading the eye toward the napolean. To add contrast to the red colored coulis and compliment the pumpkin spice pastry cream filling, I created a Maple Nut Creme Anglaise. I placed four rounds between the Coulis and drew a bamboo skewer through both sauces to add a finishing look to the plate. For the final adornment, I simply utilized leftover praline to prevent further waste. I shaped the praline mixture into a mound and topped it with a fresh blackberry. This added height, color contrast and it complimented flavors within the dish, which is of course important.

 Now that the first plate was complete it was on to number two: The Spiced Peach Napoleon. For this napoleon I had to utilize puff pastry and again enhance it. I laid out a sheet of puff pastry and cut it into rounds again using my fluted metal cutter. When melting the butter I enhanced it with a dash of cayenne pepper to add heat which would later compliment the sweetness and other spices. Once the butter was melted I brushed it over the sheet of puff pastry in order for my enhancement to stick…that being Toasted Cayenne Coconut. Once the puff pastry had fully baked and cooled, I proceeded to use a bench knife to cut each circle in half. This created another non-traditional shape, that being a half moon. To fill the puff pastry layers I opted for a Peach Mousse. To assemble the napolean I placed one puff pastry moon on the plate and again used a disposable pastry bag fitted with a star tip to pipe a small amount of peach mousse onto the pastry. I then topped the mousse with a spiced poach peach, which I will describe in a moment. I repeated the process once more but alternated the direction of the half moon. After placing the final layer of puff pastry, again alternating the direction for an even more noticable non-traditional shape, I piped a rosette of peach mousse and topped it with some of my remaining Toasted Cayenne Coconut.

As for the decorative elements to this plate, I made sure to incorporate sauce and fresh fruit for added textures, tastes, and colors. As mentioned previously, I created Spicy Poached Peaches not only for the napoleon but also decor. I poached the peaches in red wine with whole allspice, black peppercorns, and a cinnamon stick until tender. For plating I aligned three peaches to create an abstract basket to hold the fresh blackberries. This created additional color, shape and complimentary flavors for the rest of the plate. This all leads to the final element on the plate, the sauce. The sauce I chose to create was chocolate. This added a distinct color which popped off the white plate and also added contrast to the other colors. To make the chocolate flavor meld with the rest of the plate, I enhanced it with Tangelo and Orange Blossom extracts made by Amoretti. These are wonderful jewels to have in any pastry kitchen as they give great options for creating epic flavor profiles in any dish, whether culinary or pastisserie. I placed the chocolate sauce in three simple dots on each side to draw the eye back and forth between the bushel of peach and berries to the napoleon.

 After this first week of non-traditional Napoleons, I realize what is ahead of me for the weeks to come. This week I will be creating custards with my own flavor profiles. My options are Panna Cotta, Creme Caramel, Creme Brulee, and Bread Pudding which I will contruct my own of each. I will also be required to create decorative adornments such as flavored pate a choux filigree and Florentine or Tuille cookies. It shall be interesting. I will be sure to post the finished products. Until then….have a good rest of your week. Enjoy the fall weather as I am from Florida 🙂

 

All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2011