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Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Desserts: Not the Usual Line Up

Raspberry and blueberry crumb muffins
Happy Monday to all! This weekend I was very busy overdoing muffin orders; between an order for blueberry and raspberry crumb muffins and an order for muffins for a work event, I might have been overzealous. Nevertheless, they were all a delight! Check out the photos:

Cranberry cinnamon muffins
Lemon rosemary scones
Banana crumb coffee cake

But before we start thinking about what to make for Christmas morning, we should start with Christmas Eve. Check out a few recipes for an interesting holiday table.

Peanut-Butter-and-Jelly Cups
Liz Gutman and Jen King

Peanut Butter Filling: 
  • 7 1/2 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Chocolate Cups:
  • 1 1/2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped and tempered (see Note)
  • Fifty 1 1/4-inch-wide, sturdy foil cups
  • 2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • Maldon salt, for garnish
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the white chocolate in 20-second bursts until softened. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer; stir the cream mixture into the white chocolate. Stir in the peanut butter and salt. Transfer the filling to a piping bag fitted with a medium tip.
  2. Spoon the tempered chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a small tip. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set half of the foil cups on the sheet and fill them with chocolate. Tilt the cups to coat them completely, then pour the excess chocolate into a bowl. Turn the coated cups upside down on the baking sheet and let stand for 30 seconds; turn the cups right side up and let stand until the chocolate is firm, about 10 minutes. Repeat to make the remaining chocolate cups.

Pear Kuchen
Sam Sifton

  • ½ cup/118 milliliters whole milk
  • 1 ⅛ teaspoons/3 1/2 grams active dry yeast (about half a packet)
  • 2 tablespoons/28 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup/50 grams sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 ⅔ cups/209 grams all-purpose flour
Pastry Cream:
  • 4 tablespoons/53 grams cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup/50 grams sugar
  • 2 tablespoons/16 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup/177 milliliters whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cardamom pods, crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • ½ teaspoon anise seed, crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 tablespoon/14 grams unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Streusel Topping: 
  • 2 tablespoons/16 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons/21 grams sugar
  • 1 tablespoon/13 grams packedlight brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Small pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons/21 grams unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
  • 3 ripe Bosc pears (about 1 pound)
  • ½ tablespoon/7 grams sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons/11 milliliters apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  1. Make the dough: Warm milk to 110 degrees (or until warm to the touch), sprinkle with yeast, stir and let stand for 5 minutes until dissolved. Add butter and stir until mostly melted.
  2. Butter or oil a large bowl. In a second large bowl, whisk together sugar, salt and egg yolk. Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Add warm milk mixture and stir until combined and dough comes together in a smooth, sticky ball, about 2 minutes. Transfer to prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, 2 to 3 hours. (Alternatively, dough can rise in refrigerator overnight.)
  3. Meanwhile, make the pastry cream: Place a fine-mesh sieve on the rim of a medium bowl. In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, blend cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Whisk in flour, egg, milk, salt, cardamom pods and anise seed. Cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until mixture starts to thicken, then whisk constantly until it starts to boil. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, for 2 more minutes, then immediately pour mixture into fine-mesh sieve. Use a spatula to push it through sieve and into bowl. Let cool, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, then stir in butter and vanilla. Press plastic wrap directly on surface of pastry cream and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Make the streusel: In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add butter pieces and toss to coat. Use fingertips to rub butter into dry ingredients until pea-size lumps form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Roll out dough: Butter two 9-inch pie plates. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and with floured hands gently knead it into a log. Divide log in half and flatten into discs. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each disc into an 8-inch round. Transfer rounds to pie plates, pressing dough to edges of pan and just slightly up sides. Let rise for about 20 minutes while you prep fruit.
  6. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Peel and core pears, then slice them lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and toss to coat.
  7. Assemble the kuchens: Spread about 1/4 cup pastry cream on bottom of each kuchen, stopping 1/2 inch from edge of dough, then arrange pear slices in an overlapping circular pattern on top. Divide remaining pastry cream between kuchens and carefully spread it evenly over pears. Sprinkle streusel over both and bake in center of oven until dough is light golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. (If your oven can’t accommodate both kuchens, refrigerate one while the other bakes.) Serve warm or at room temperature. Baked kuchens can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, then foil, and frozen up to 1 month. Rewarm before serving.

Christmas Pudding
Peter Ward

  • 2 cups quality assorted raisins
  • 2 cups brandy
  • 1 1⁄2 oz. quality assorted candied fruits, such as pitted apricots, cherries, melon, and citrus peel, cut into thin strips
  • 5 tbsp. cold beef suet or butter, diced
  • 1 3⁄4 cups fine day-old bread crumbs
  • 1 cup blanched almond meal
  • 1⁄4 cup dark muscovado sugar
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tbsp. shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tbsp. finely grated peeled carrot
  • 1⁄2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1⁄4 tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1⁄2 tsp. dark treacle or molasses
  • 1⁄3 cup Guinness stout
  • 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • 3⁄4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Brandy Butter (optional)
  • Whiskey cream (optional)
  1. Macerate raisins in brandy for 1 hour. Drain, reserving 1⁄3 cup of the brandy. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Put raisins, candied fruits, suet or butter, bread crumbs, almond meal, sugar, flour, coconut, carrots, zests, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a large bowl and stir well. Combine egg and treacle or molasses in another bowl. Stir in beer, juices, and reserved brandy, add to fruit mixture, and mix until evenly moist. Pack half the batter into each of 2 greased 2 ½-cup glazed-ceramic or glass bowls (about 3" deep × 5" wide). Cover each bowl with 2 layers each waxed paper, then foil; secure with twine. Put bowls on a rack set in a wide deep pot. Add boiling water to pot to reach 2" up sides of bowls. Cover pot and steam puddings in oven, replenishing water as necessary, for 4 1⁄2 hours.
  3. Remove bowls from pot and let cool. Store puddings in a cool, dark, dry spot (or refrigerate) for at least 1 day and up to 2 years. If storing for longer than 1 day, replace covers. Reheat puddings by steaming them, still covered, for 1 hour. Unmold onto plates.

Happy baking!

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