Friday, December 31, 2010

Orange Anise Cloud Cookies

I’ve been thinking about new cookie recipes and I’ve also been wanting to work with anise seeds. If you’ve had Italian cookies or classic biscotti or the biscochitos of New Mexico or Spanish mantecados, you know how really delicious just a hint of anise can be.

These little cookies are so ultra light you’ll hardly know you’ve eaten one. The flavors are very subtle, the texture crispy and delicious. I’ve added semolina for a nice crumb and the orange zest really brightens the taste. If you’re looking for a unique cookie to add to your file, try these little clouds. I'm betting they go well with champagne.

A note of special thanks and appreciation to all the readers and supporters of this blog. I'm very grateful for your gracious company. Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy New Year full of friends, family, new opportunities and the sharing of many delicious morsels!

Bench notes:
- I used a #40 ice cream scoop to portion these cookies. It speeds up the process and creates uniform cookies. (The #40 refers to 40 scoops per quart.)
- The baked cookies are lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar rather than rolled and coated.
- These cookies are best stored in an airtight container if they last that long!
- Bouchon, little chocolate cakes baked in the shape of a champagne cork, make an especially fun New Year's Eve treat.

Orange Anise Cloud Cookies

Makes about 24 cookies

1 1/2 C flour
1/2 C semolina
1/2 C + 1 T sugar
1/4 t salt
1 t anise seeds
zest of 1 large orange
8 oz cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 t vanilla

1/4 C confectioner's sugar for dusting

Place the flour, semolina, sugar, salt, anise seeds and orange zest in the bowl of a food processor. Blend for a few minutes until the orange zest and some of the seeds are finely chopped. Add the butter and vanilla and process until a soft dough begins to form.

Pour the dough out onto a work surface and knead if necessary to fully blend. Scoop or shape the dough into 24 balls about 1 1/4” in diameter and place on a small baking sheet. Wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Bake on the center rack of the oven for about 22-24 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The bottoms should be golden but the tops should not take on any color. Cool completely. Using a sifter, lightly dust the tops of the cookies with confectioner’s sugar.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Pecan Rum Cake

Toward the end of every year festive cakes abound. They tend to have dried fruit and/or nuts and/or lots of booze. This is one such cake. It’s not an everyday cake but one that you’d want on a platter with all your other holiday treats. In fact, if you still have some holiday eggnog lying around, it would probably make a good pairing.

This has a brown sugar caramel pecan mixture layered into a very simple cake with the wonderful holiday flavors of rum and nutmeg and a snowy dusting of confectioner's sugar. Not very complicated and not very fussy. Just a bit festive and fun!

My very best wishes for a Happy Holiday Season to you and your loved ones. Cheers!!

Bench notes:
- Toast the pecans in a 350 degree oven for about 5 - 10 minutes or until they are only slightly darkened and give off a toasty aroma. Check them frequently and give them a shake to avoid having them get too dark and taking on a bitter taste.
- Dollop the thick and gooey pecan caramel mixture but no need to try and spread it into an even layer. I used a tablespoon and there were about 6 - 7 dollops in each layer. Just be sure to keep it from touching the sides of the pan where it is likely to burn and taste bitter.
- For storage, wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap to ensure that it stays moist.
- If you prefer brandy and walnuts, try the very delicious Walnut Brandy Cake.

Pecan Rum Cake

6 oz butter @ room temperature
1 C sugar
3 eggs @ room temperature
1/4 C whole milk @ room temperature
3 T rum
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
generous 1/8 t of freshly grated nutmeg

Pecan Filling

1/4 C + 2 T heavy cream
generous 1/4 t instant espresso powder
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla
2 t rum
little pinch salt
1 C toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

confectioner's sugar for dusting

For the pecan filling, place the cream, espresso powder and cinnamon in a saucepan over very low heat. Stir to dissolve. Add the brown sugar and whisk until thoroughly combined. Increase the heat and boil for two minutes. Take off the heat and add vanilla, rum and salt, to taste. Stir in the chopped pecans. Set aside to firm up.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2” loaf pan with a light application of butter or oil and a piece of parchment paper large enough to form an overhang on both sides along the length of the pan. Lightly grease the parchment.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

Combine milk, rum and vanilla.

Cream butter and gradually beat in sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, making sure that each one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping down the bowl as necessary.

Alternate adding a third of the flour to the butter and eggs with 1/2 of the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Once all the ingredients are in, mix just a minute or so then finish the mixing gently by hand.

Pour one third of the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Use a small offset spatula or spoon to spread the batter evenly. Gently dollop half of the pecan mixture on top of the batter, making sure it does not touch the sides of the pan. Layer another third of the batter on top of the pecans and gently spread that out. Dollop the remaining pecan mixture. Finish with the remaining batter and spread gently.

Bake the cake for about 50 – 60 minutes or until it tests done.

Cool the cake on a wire rack for about 30 minutes. Remove it from the pan and cool the cake completely. Peel off the paper and dust the top with confectioners' sugar.

To store, wrap tightly in plastic wrap.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Poppy Seed Ribbon Cookies

Cookie season is in high gear. Chocolate, vanilla, nuts. Crunchy, chewy, crispy. Plain and adorned. Sliced, rolled, dropped and scooped. Sandwiched and thumbprinted, dipped and dusted. As the flour flies and the mixer whirs happily, oh what fun to share so much abundance.

These cookies are a little riff on Nancy Baggett’s Cranberry-Cherry Icebox Ribbons. I threw some poppy seeds into the cookie dough and used mixed berry preserves in the filling to produce these striped and polka dot gems.

Cookies are always a welcome ritual in this season. I hope your holiday baking fills your kitchen with wonderful aromas, family and friends.

Bench notes:
- The filling can be made and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- The dough is frozen so the cookies are easy to slice and hold their shape.
- Frozen cookie dough will keep for up to 1 month. Transfer to an airtight container.
- One test for doneness for cookies is to gently nudge one with your fingertip. If the cookie slides easily, they are done. If you feel a lot of resistance, bake for another minute or so. Once removed from the oven, most cookies will need to firm up for a minute or two before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Lots more cookies in my Recipe Index.

Poppy Seed Ribbon Cookies

based on Cranberry-Cherry Icebox Ribbons from The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett
Makes about 30 cookies

generous 3/4 C (3 oz) dried cranberries
generous 1/3 C berry preserves
1 - 1 1/2 T sugar, to taste
3 T orange juice
1/8 t vanilla

2 C + 2 T flour
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 T + 1 t poppy seeds
3/4 C sugar
2/3 C butter, softened
1 egg
2 1/4 t vanilla

For the filling, combine the dried cranberries, berry preserves, sugar and orange juice in the bowl of a food processor. Process until coarsely pureed.

Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Stir to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until chilled and thickened.

For the cookie dough, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the poppy seeds.

Cream the butter and sugar until smooth.
Add the egg and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated.
Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes. If it's too soft to handle, chill it for about an hour or until it's easy to work with.

Line a 4 1/2” x 8 1/2” loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang of about 4” on each side.

Divide the dough into quarters. Shape one portion into roughly the size of the loaf pan. Place in the pan and pat an even and smooth layer into the bottom. Spread one-third of the cranberry filling over the dough with a small spatula. Repeat with the remaining three portions of dough and two portions of filling.

Fold the plastic wrap over the dough, completely sealing it. Freeze the dough in the pan until very firm. If the dough is too soft, the filling will squish out when the dough is sliced.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment or a silpat.

Remove the cookie dough from the freezer and carefully unwrap. Use a sharp knife to trim the sides into straight angles. Clean the knife between cuts. Cut the loaf into thirds crosswise, forming three blocks approximately 2 3/4” x 4”. Work on one block at a time, keeping the others chilled.

Cut each block into 1/4” slices that are about 2 3/4” long, keeping your knife clean after each slice. Place the slices on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake one sheet at a time for about 12 - 14 minutes, until the edges start to darken and firm up. Cool the cookies on wire racks.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Profiteroles with Eggnog Ice Cream and Rum Sauce

I’m one of those people that likes the idea of eggnog, but can never really manage to taste more than a sip or two because it’s so incredibly rich. But since I like the flavors quite a bit I decided to make an ice cream that showcases the same ingredients but cuts back on some of the eggs and cream while still maintaining the desired creaminess and luxury of eggnog.

Profiteroles are such a delicious way to enjoy ice cream, so this is my preferred vehicle to enhance this presentation. A great pâte à choux adds texture and balances the richness of the ice cream. The Rum Sauce is made with brown sugar, butter, a little cream and a dash of rum and brings a level of delicious festivity that is completely irresistible.

Pâte à choux is a wondrous pastry. Legend has it that a chef by the name of Panterelli invented it in 1540, years after accompanying Catherine de' Medici and her court from Florence to France for her marriage to King Henry II. In the nineteenth century, Antoine Carême, who was the very first celebrity chef and responsible for the emergence of haute cuisine, perfected the recipe that is most commonly used today.

If you’re looking for a fun and delicious idea for a holiday dessert over the next few weeks, I highly recommend this truly luscious combination. I think you’ll find it will bring a collective sigh of pure enjoyment from just about everyone at your table. In fact, you may want to double the profiterole recipe for a repeat performance in case you receive a standing ovation. Cheers!

Bench notes:
- Pâte à choux is a classic light pastry that forms the base for éclair, croquembouche and cream puffs. It’s not difficult to make. It just requires that you try not to hurry the process. What makes it all work are a few simple techniques. 1) Once you add the flour to the water and butter, make sure you stir and cook the dough for a couple of minutes so there is a steam rising and a film appears on the bottom of the pan. This cooks out the taste of the flour. 2) Take the dough off the heat and beat it in a mixer or with a wooden spoon until there is no longer any steam rising. This helps to dry out the dough in preparation for incorporating the eggs. 3) Add the eggs 1 at a time and mix thoroughly before adding the next. The dough will look lumpy at first but will smooth out beautifully. Scrape down the bowl after each addition. 4) The pâte à choux is ready when it is smooth and shiny and falls from a spoon in gloppy sheets. 5) Always use an egg wash to ensure even, pretty browning. 6) The test for baked pâte à choux is when a piece feels very light and sounds hollow when tapped.
- If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can easily use a wooden spoon to beat the mixture.
- I love the experience of opening the oven door and finding this lovely soft piped dough transformed into all these beautiful billowy pastries that are so light and gorgeous. The term choux means cabbage in French, so these little gems are meant to look like rustic visions of cabbage. In some cultures the dough is fried, such as beignets and churros.
- I use a serrated knife to slice the profiteroles.
- The principal spice in the ice cream is nutmeg. I add just a small dash of cinnamon and a smaller pinch of cloves to warm it up and echo the spiciness of eggnog.
- The ice cream and the sauce can be made ahead of time. I prefer fresh profiteroles eaten the same day but you can freeze the baked profiteroles in an airtight container. Thaw, cut in half and crisp in a 350 degree oven for about 5 – 10 minutes.

Profiteroles with Eggnog Ice Cream and Rum Sauce

Eggnog Ice Cream

1 1/2 C milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1 t rum
1/2 t vanilla
generous 1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
slight pinch of cinnamon
even slighter pinch of ground cloves
salt, to taste

Bring milk to a simmer over moderate heat.

Whisk the yolks and sugar together in a bowl until thickened and light yellow. Gradually add the hot milk, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook the custard over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Be very careful not to let the mixture heat too quickly or boil.

Immediately pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean container and stir in the cream, rum, vanilla and the spices. Whisk thoroughly. Add salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until chilled thoroughly.

Freeze in an ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface. Cover and put in the freezer to firm up.

Makes about 1 dozen small profiteroles

1/2 C water
2 oz (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
1/8 t salt
1/2 C flour
2 eggs

egg wash:
1 egg
splash of water
small pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Bring the water, butter and salt to a boil. Reduce heat and add flour all at once. Cook and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until it’s smooth, pulls away from the sides of pan and leaves a noticeable film on the bottom of the pan. This will take a couple of minutes.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with a paddle for a few minutes until there is no longer any steam rising from the dough. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The dough will go from looking lumpy to very smooth. Continue to add eggs one at a time and beat until you have the same results, scraping down the bowl after each addition. While the dough is mixing, make an egg wash combining an egg, a splash of water and a tiny pinch of salt. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment. Place the pâte à choux into a pastry bag fitted with 1/2" plain tip. Pipe 1 1/2" mounds. Wet your index finger with cold water and smooth the tops of each piece of piped dough. Brush each piece lightly with egg wash.

Bake until golden brown and puffed, about 22 to 24 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Rum Sauce

1 oz (2 T) butter
1/4 C dark brown sugar, firmly packed
3 T heavy cream
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/4 t rum
salt, to taste

Melt the butter over medium heat and combine with the brown sugar. Lower heat a bit and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the cream and continue cooking for another 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and rum. Add a pinch of salt, to taste. Cool.

To serve, gently slice the profiteroles in half crosswise and put 3 on each plate. Place a scoop of Egg Nog Ice Cream into each profiterole and replace the tops. Drizzle lightly with the Rum Sauce and serve immediately.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chez Panisse Gingersnaps

As far as cookies go, this is one of those thin, light, crisp cookies that always provides that really satisfying bite when the mood strikes for something little, something full of flavor and something not too sweet. These are not hit-you-over-the-head ginger cookies, which are also most certainly necessary when you want to have a bracing bolt of spice bursting in your mouth, awakening every available neuron. No, this one is delicate and soothing for those days when you just want to invite a slight tap on the shoulder. It has a nice sophisticated combination of cinnamon, ginger and black pepper. It’s a cookie that was made at Chez Panisse for years and it’s a really delicious recipe to have in your file. To me, it is the quintessentially modern gingersnap: spare, lean and snappy.

You mix the dough, form it into a rectangle block, wrap it tightly in plastic and freeze it. You take it out and slice it into very thin wafers, top with a splotch of lovely raw sugar and bake them for just a few minutes until crisp. Really simple and really truly delicious.

Bench notes:
- This recipe makes a lot of cookies. I’ve never really kept count, so I’d probably guess about 60 or so. But the dough keeps in the freezer for quite a long time if well-wrapped and it’s hideously easy to pull it out and slice off however many cookies you’d like for the occasion. You won’t regret having them on hand.
- Use a sharp thin-bladed knife to cut these into thin cookies.
- This thin wafer style is the way they were served for years at Chez Panisse. The recipe in The Art of Simple Food instructs to divide the dough into two equal pieces using floured hands, forming into 2 logs. Then the dough is wrapped and refrigerated or frozen until firm. They are then sliced into 1/4” rounds, the tops dipped in sugar and baked for 10 (softer cookies) – 14 minutes (crisper cookies).

adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
Makes about 60 cookies

2 C flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 t ground cinnamon
1 1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground black pepper
5 1/2 oz (11 T) butter @ room temperature
2/3 C sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 C mild molasses
1 egg @ room temperature
raw Hawaiian washed sugar, for garnishing

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla and molasses. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix just until blended.

Lightly dust your hands with flour and shape into a rectangle bar about 3 1/2 “ wide x 7 3/4” long x 1 1/4” tall. Freeze until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the dough into slices between 1/8” – 1/4” thin and place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment. Press a few sprinkles of raw sugar into the surface of each cookie. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Chocolate Date Nut Cake

This is one of those loaf cakes that seems to fit effortlessly into the holiday season. It’s a bit of a complex flavor profile that comes from a range of very compatible ingredients harmonizing beautifully with one another in each successive bite.

The idea for the cake is based on a palette of flavors composed by a brilliant pastry chef I worked for a few years back. The cake has a deep cocoa richness and, along with the dates, toasted walnuts, coffee, spice and amontillado sherry, a very satisfying earthy quality. The back note of orange zest brightens the whole mixture and kind of ties it all together. I normally don’t combine so many flavors into one pastry because I think things get a little muddy when you have so much going on. But in this case, that memory of the taste of my chef’s date truffle dessert composition now transformed into a simple loaf cake still strikes a very warm chord for me.

Grace your holiday table with this little feast or deliver it as a gift to good friends. ‘Tis the season for exactly this kind of rich and soul soothing offering.

Bench notes:
- I used 7 large plump medjool dates, which weighed 6 oz and measured a loose 1 cup when chopped. Cut them into pieces large enough to give a nice explosion of date goodness as you take a bite of the cake.
- I used Lustau Dry Amontillado "Los Arcos" sherry, which is in between a fino (darker) and an oloroso (lighter). It is often served with olives or cheese, nuts and dried fruit. It has a nutty aftertaste with a hint of orange and molasses. You can also try rum or brandy. Or omit the liquor completely.
- I think the cake is best the second and third day when all the flavors have a chance to relax and meld. After it has cooled completely, store in an airtight container.

Chocolate Date Nut Cake
Makes 1 loaf

1 C dates, chopped (about 6 oz whole)
1 C strong coffee
zest of 1 large orange
1 t baking soda

5 oz (10 T) butter
1/2 C sugar
3/4 C dark brown sugar
1 egg @ room temperature

1 1/4 C flour
1/4 C cocoa powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

2 T milk
2 T Amontillado sherry (optional)
1 t vanilla
3/4 C toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the walnuts for just about 8 - 10 minutes.

Prepare an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2” loaf pan with oil and a piece of parchment paper large enough to form an overhang along the length of the pan.

Pit the dates and remove the stems. Chop into coarse pieces and place in a medium bowl. Cover the dates with 1 cup of strong coffee. Add the zest of 1 orange and the baking soda.

Melt butter and beat in the sugars. Add the egg and beat until the mixture is emulsified. Add the date mixture and combine thoroughly.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Combine milk, liquor (if using) and vanilla.

Alternate adding half the flour and all the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Once all the ingredients have been added, mix just a minute or so until everything is fully combined. Fold in the toasted walnuts.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Bake the cake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.

Cool the cake on a wire rack for about 30 minutes. Remove it from the pan, carefully peel off the parchment paper and cool the cake completely.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Espresso Nut Tart

This is the season for those who love the taste and texture of toasted nuts. Pecan pie is a perennial favorite this time of year and this tart follows loosely in that tradition.

I begin with the Tarte aux Trois Noix (Triple Nut Tart) from the The American Boulangerie cookbook, which I like because of its lower sugar content and the fact that it doesn’t rely on a heavy dose of corn syrup, substituting part honey instead. Many pecan pie recipes have twice the sugar/corn syrup sweetness, so this is more of an emphasis on a great mix of toasted nuts. And since I love the flavor of coffee in this kind of dessert, I changed up the basic recipe by adding some instant espresso powder. I’ve presented the original recipe below along with a couple of my revisions so you can make your own choices.

The aroma of this baked tart is really lovely. It's not too heavy or extremely rich and it's grand when accompanied by a small dollop of whipped cream or a little scoop of vanilla or coffee ice cream. For nut lovers only.

Bench notes:
- Browning the small amount of butter takes only about a couple of minutes. Watch it closely because it will burn and you’ll have to start over. I always lift the pan off the heat periodically and swirl the butter to control the browning process. You want only a light brown, not too dark or it will taste bitter and overwhelm the vanilla.
- Use whatever nut combination you wish. You could also add a pinch of cinnamon to the filling.
- I added a half of a vanilla bean, which gets steeped in the butter as it's browned. I also upped the rum to 1 T + 2 t for a bit more of an edge and added 1 T espresso powder. I thought it needed more salt to pique the flavors so I used a generous 1/4 t salt.
- The original recipe uses a pâte sucrée tart shell, which has more butter and sugar and an egg, but I decided to use a plain pastry shell. Use your own favorite recipe if you wish.

Triple Nut Tart
Adapted from The American Boulangerie by Pascal Rigo with slight variation
Serves 8 - 10

Tart Shell

1 C flour
1 1/2 t sugar
1/4 t salt
3 oz (6 T) cold butter
1/4 C cold water

Espresso Nut Tart Filling

1 1/2 oz (3 T) butter
1/2 vanilla bean [I added this]
1/2 C dark brown sugar
1/4 C honey
3 T dark corn syrup
3 eggs @ room temperature, lightly beaten
1 T flour
scant 1/4 t salt [I used a generous 1/4 t ]
1 T + 1 t rum (optional) [I used 1 T + 2 t rum]
1 t instant espresso powder [I added this]
1 C of your favorite toasted nuts

For the tart shell, place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until thoroughly combined. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Pulse until the mixture looks like very coarse meal with butter in small pieces about 1/8” - 1/4”. Add the cold water and pulse until the dough starts to clump around the center of the bowl. Remove the dough and wrap in a piece of plastic. Chill for about an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured piece of parchment or work surface. Let it sit for about 3 – 4 minutes to take the chill off. Lightly dust the surface of the dough with flour and roll out to a round shape large enough to line a 9” tart pan, keeping the work surface and dough lightly floured as needed. Lift the dough and gently shape it to fit closely into all the contours of the pan. Prick the bottom of the tart dough several times with the tines of a fork. Bake for about 25 minutes or until light golden brown.

Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Place the butter in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp thin knife and scrape the seeds into the butter and toss in the bean. Melt the butter over medium low heat. Let the butter foam up, watching it closely until it just begins to brown slightly. Lift the pan up off the heat and swirl it as it continues to brown. Return to heat for just a few seconds if it’s not quite a light nutty color, swirling constantly. Take off the heat, pour into a mixing bowl and cool for a couple of minutes. Remove the vanilla bean casing and whisk in the sugar, honey, dark corn syrup and eggs until the mixture is thoroughly blended. Combine the rum and espresso powder and add to the filling.

Place the baked tart shell pan on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the nuts in an even layer in the bottom of the tart shell. Carefully pour the liquid evenly over the nuts. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the filling is golden brown. The filling will look puffy but will settle down quickly as it cools. Place on a wire rack and cool completely.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ginger Cakes with Chocolate Glaze

We are now squarely planted in a chilly season that calls for the warm embrace of spice and chocolate. As evening breaks earlier and the familiar sound of rain arrives right on cue, ginger and chocolate seem to join perfectly together at our table.

This is a recipe that balances the boldness and intrigue of these two earthy ingredients. The cakes are warmed by a full jolt of ginger and the richness of molasses and deepened to a sort of butterscotchy goodness with pure butter and a splash of rum. Once the cakes are plated they are handsomely draped in a sheen of dark chocolate to make resistance nearly futile. Heady aromas, chewy and silky textures and strong but soothing flavors co-mingle all in one bite.

This is a rich and satisfying homage to fall. Share over a cup of good strong coffee or a nip of your favorite spirit.

Bench notes:
- Coarsely chop the crystallized ginger into small pieces using a sharp chef’s knife. It gets sticky but keep going. Add the chopped pieces to the flour mixture and toss to coat and separate.
- When adding the egg and the molasses to the creamed butter and sugar mixture, it will start to break but it will come together once the rest of the ingredients are added.
- I baked these in 6 oz (3.75" diameter) tapered ramekins for 23 minutes. You can also use a standard muffin pan, which will yield about 6 smaller cakes, so those will bake much quicker. Check them after about 13 - 15 minutes. These are very moist cakes with a dense crumb so be careful not to overbake. A toothpick test for doneness should have a few moist crumbs.
- For the chocolate glaze, chopping the chocolate into fairly small bits helps it to melt more evenly and efficiently. When the hot cream is added, let it sit for about 2 – 3 minutes so the chocolate can absorb the heat. Then stir gently and slowly, starting in the middle and working outward in concentric circles, to prevent it from cooling down too fast and creating air bubbles. The glaze can be reheated over a low simmering bain marie.
- You can add a couple of teaspoons of corn syrup to the glaze to keep it shiny and improve viscosity.
- An alternative way to enjoy these cakes is to forego the chocolate glaze and serve them with poached pear or sautéed apples and cream or simply with some whipped cream flavored with rum, brandy, Kahlua or orange liqueur or a little bit of marmalade. Or vanilla ice cream, of course.
- If you love ginger, try a delicious Ginger Ice Cream.

Ginger Cakes with Chocolate Glaze
Makes 4 cakes

2/3 C flour
2 t ground ginger
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 C (2 oz) finely chopped crystallized ginger
4 oz (1 stick) butter @ room temperature
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs @ room temperature
1/3 C molasses
2 T milk
2 T rum

Chocolate Glaze

3 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 t vanilla

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Grease four 6 oz custard cups or six of the cups in a standard muffin pan.

Sift together the flour, ground ginger, baking powder and salt.
Finely chop the crystallized ginger. Add to the flour mixture and toss with your fingers to coat and separate each piece.

Combine the milk and the rum.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly. Blend in the molasses. The mixture will look like it’s breaking.

Add half the flour mixture and mix just a bit. Add the milk and rum and continue mixing. Add the remaining flour and mix just a few seconds. Finish mixing by hand until all the flour is incorporated.

Pour into prepared custard cups and place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 23 minutes or until a tester comes out with a few moist crumbs. Place on a cooling rack and cool for 10 minutes. Run a small spatula or thin bladed knife around the edges to loosen the cakes and invert.

For the chocolate glaze, finely chop the chocolate and place in a bowl. Heat the cream (and corn syrup, if using) on low heat until it reaches a good simmer. Remove from heat, add vanilla and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for about 2 - 3 minutes. Stir slowly until fully combined.

Plate the cakes and spoon some chocolate glaze over the top of each.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Coconut Almond Chocolate Cookies

I’m one of those people who thinks they don’t like coconut until they taste something really good that has coconut as a central ingredient. I’m not sure why this is so, except to say that I had some very funky coconut stuff as a kid, where sugar was the star ingredient. Funny how those childhood attitudes about food can take hold. So I still sometimes need to be coaxed into tasting a coconut product. But then when I do, I'm suddenly back to remembering that coconut isn't always sandbagged by an avalanche of sugar and it's got its own particular flavor and texture to behold. Lesson learned. Again.

This is a pretty simple coconut shortbread cookie. I’ve added a touch of almond to enhance the nutty flavor of coconut. The baked cookie then has a brief encounter with coconut’s soul mate, bittersweet chocolate. Very easy and straightforward, free of doubt.

Bench notes:
- Unsweetened coconut usually has the best flavor, but I’m using a sweetened version here because it’s usually what people have easy access to in most places.
- Before coating the cookies with chocolate, I use a pastry brush to eliminate surface crumbs. Then I coat the top and sides and scrape the bottom of the cookie against the rim of the bowl to remove excess chocolate. That will take care of drips and the “feet” that form as a result.
- I rolled each dough packet out to a rectangle a little bigger than 8" x 5" and then cut out 16 2 1/2" x 1" rectangles, measuring the length and then using an old fashioned wooden ruler as a template for the width. But cut cookies into any shape you wish; just be sure they are all the same size for even baking.
- When melting chocolate, always keep the bain marie or water bath on a very low simmer to keep the chocolate from scorching. Stir it gently and remove it from the heat when it is melted.
- Store cookies in an airtight container. They will soften over time.
- If you're a fan of coconut, you might also enjoy Coco au Miel.

Coconut Almond Chocolate Cookies
Makes about 32 cookies

1 1/2 C flour
1/4 C sliced almonds, plus an additional 2 T for garnish
1 C shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 C sugar
1/2 t salt
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter
2 egg yolks
1 t vanilla

4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

Toast sliced almonds @ 350 for about 6 – 8 minutes. Watch them closely as they will burn easily. Turn off the oven and let the almonds cool.

Place flour, 1/4 C almonds, coconut, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the nuts and the coconut have been turned into large crumbs.

Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the mixture. Pulse until you see the butter breaking down into pieces about the size of a pea. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and pulse again until the mixture begins to clump around the center of the bowl.

Gather the dough together and divide in half. Flatten each half into a medium sized rectangle and wrap each in plastic. Chill thoroughly. It will keep chilled for 2 days.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

Remove one packet of cookie dough and let it warm up slightly at room temperature for a couple of minutes.

Roll the cookie dough out on lightly floured work surface (I use parchment) to a scant 1/4" thickness, keeping it in a rectangle shape. Cut dough into cookies that are 2 1/2” x 1” rectangles. Transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 1" apart. Return to the refrigerator while you roll out the next piece of dough. Repeat the process and chill the cookies.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Bake cookies until they just begin to take on some color, about 13 – 15 minutes. Cool completely.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a slow simmering bain marie, making sure that the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, stir the chocolate until it is smooth and completely melted. Remove from heat.

Dip a portion of each cookie in the chocolate and scrape the bottom across the rim of the bowl to remove excess. When you’ve done a few, stop for a moment and garnish each with some sliced almonds. Continue until all the cookies are finished. Work as quickly as possible while the chocolate is still quite fluid. You may need to carefully re-warm it to proceed to the final batch.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bolzano Apple Cake

Somewhere up in the culinary expansiveness of the northeastern Italian countryside where Italy begins to edge toward Austria and Switzerland and cultures and languages co-mingle, there are quiet sighs of pleasure because of an astonishing apple pastry.

The world is full of lots of incredible apple cakes. Some are plugged with spice or rum, some are fortified with toasted nuts or glaze. Others are simple and rustic and so purely delicious they elicit your full attention. This is that kind of cake.

The genesis of this pastry begins in the Province of Bolzano-Bozen in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy. Scott Carsberg, chef at Seattle’s renowned Lampreia, trained in the region and features this creation on his menu. Even if you think you’ve had some really great Italian desserts, this apple configuration is one of those pastries that you will likely forever think about only with a kind of sacred longing.

Actually, the first thing I should say about Bolzano Apple Cake is that it is actually not a cake. It is at once a truly simple and yet mysterious thing, composed mostly of really wonderful vanilla-scented apples that are baked to mind-numbing perfection. There is a batter of sorts that barely binds the whole luscious thing together but it’s made mostly of butter, a couple of eggs, some sugar and just the sparest cascade of flour. The edges become caramelized and crunchy and the center is like an endless dreamy delicate applescape. The texture is not strictly cakey and it’s not like a custard. It almost has the mouthfeel of moist crepes but only softer and still very different.

My version of this dessert has considerably less sugar, a pinch of salt, lemon juice and lemon zest. I’ve also revised the method a bit by infusing the melted butter with vanilla bean and changing up the baking temperature.

If you love apples, this is a mother lode. The aroma emanating from the oven is the stuff of dreams. I promise.

Bench notes:
- I used Braeburn apples because I had several on my table that needed to be transformed. Granny Smith is recommended. Choose a favorite that is crisp and not too sweet.
- The original recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar. I found that amount much too sweet for my taste. I’ve reduced the amount to 3/4 C and am even tempted to reduce it a bit further to about 1/2 C + 3 T, although Granny Smiths might mediate that.
- I love the combination of apples, vanilla and lemon so I’ve replicated that delicious triad here.
- The original recipe called for baking this at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. My oven runs hot so I bake this at 350 degrees for 25 minutes and then 375 for 25 minutes. I think that works out well because the higher temperature for the full baking time seems too high to bake this delicate pastry. Don’t be tempted to bake it longer than 50 minutes.

Bolzano Apple Cake
based on a recipe from Scott Carsberg in the New York Times
Serves 8 - 10

4 oz (1 stick) butter
1 vanilla bean
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 1/4 lbs Granny Smith apples (4 medium-sized)
1/2 C flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 eggs
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C whole milk at room temperature

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9” x 2 1/2” round cake pan with butter and flour and line with parchment. Grease and flour the parchment, tapping the pan to remove any excess.

Melt the butter over low heat. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the butter. Add the vanilla pod and keep on low heat for a couple of minutes, swirling gently. (The idea is to infuse the butter with the vanilla, not to brown the butter.) Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

Place the lemon juice and lemon zest into a bowl big enough to hold the apple slices. Peel, quarter and core apples. Slice thinly and add to the bowl, tossing gently with the lemon juice and zest as you go. Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Whip the eggs and the sugar until the mixture is light in color, thickened, tripled in volume and forms a ribbon when drizzled from the beater. This takes about 5 minutes on a stand mixer on medium high speed.

Remove vanilla pod from the butter and gently fold the butter into sugar-egg mixture. Fold a third of the flour into the batter alternately with half of the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Fold in the apples until every piece is coated with batter. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth out the batter and apples evenly.

Bake for 25 minutes, then rotate the pan and raise the temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for another 25 minutes until the cake is golden brown. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes. Remove from the pan, gently remove the parchment and invert onto a serving platter. Savor with unbridled glee.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Flan with Orange Caramel

With pumpkin season most definitely upon us, it’s hard not to let our thoughts drift directly to pumpkin pie, that all-American staple of the holidays. It’s impossible not to think about the months of October or November without thinking about all the glories of pumpkin and spice cradled in a crisp buttery pie crust. Holiday neurons are firing throughout the land.

Before we get into the thick of November, I’ve strayed off the beaten path just a tiny bit to produce a Pumpkin Flan. This is still a custard, so I haven’t gotten too crazy. It’s a very rich and spicy flan bathed in a caramel infused with an acidic note of fresh orange juice.

This is best served with a nice dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream, which gives it a bit of a creamy cheesecake twang. I also like garnishing it with pecans toasted in a butter and brown sugar glaze doused with cinnamon, chile and chipotle powders and salt. Or serve alongside some crisp ginger cookies or little pastry twists made from a some pie dough that has been sugared, dusted with cinnamon and cut into strips and twisted.

There’s a bit of planning ahead required for this dessert. The baked flans rest overnight in the refrigerator to give the sugar in the caramel sauce a chance to liquefy, making them a breeze to unmold.

The unmistakable taste of pumpkin is a sense memory of celebration we get to experience every single year and for that I give thanks. It's definitely time to fill your kitchen with the aromas and flavorful harvests of fall.

Bench notes:
- This is a very creamy and very loose flan. If you prefer one with a firmer texture, add another egg yolk. Keep your eye on the baking time.
- Be sure you have all the ingredients for the caramel prepared and measured out because you’ll need to work fast once it turns the right color. I strained out the orange zest for the sake of the photos but you can leave it in for extra flavor if you wish. Be careful when you’re making the caramel and swirling it in the ramekins to avoid splashing it and burning yourself.
- The brown sugar adds a little butterscotch sensation to the flan. You can use white sugar if you prefer or a mix of the two.
- Sometimes using a large roasting pan for a water bath can feel a little unwieldy. I use two smaller pans and fit 3 ramekins in each. This makes it a lot easier to remove from the oven.
- This is a good time of the year to replenish your spices, brandy, rum, liqueurs, dried fruit and nuts. Be prepared for lots of fall and holiday baking!
- If you love pumpkin, you might also enjoy Pumpkin Gingerbread Ice Cream.

Pumpkin Flan with Orange Caramel

Serves 6

Orange Caramel

1 C sugar
1/4 C water
1/4 C + 2 T fresh orange juice
zest of 1 orange
1 t Grand Marnier
pinch of salt

Pumpkin Flan

3/4 C dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t allspice
pinch cloves
pinch nutmeg, freshly ground
1/4 t salt
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 C pumpkin
1 C heavy cream
1 C whole milk
1 t vanilla
1 T rum

Set out six 3 1/2” or 4 1/2” diameter ramekins in a large roasting pan or baking dish.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

For the Orange Caramel, place the sugar and water in a saucepan on medium high heat. Cook the caramel until it is a medium dark amber. Take off the heat and wait a few seconds until it darkens a bit more on its own and starts to show some reddish tones. Set the pan down and carefully add the orange juice and zest. It will sputter vigorously. Let the caramel calm down and put back on low heat to melt any lumps, whisking gently. Once the sugar has smoothed out, take off the heat and add the Grand Marnier and a pinch of salt. Strain out orange zest if you prefer. Pour into the 6 ramekins to coat the bottom and swirl gently to coat the sides. The caramel does not have to go up the sides of the ramekin more than a just about a half inch.

For the custard, mix the sugar, spices and salt together. Whisk the eggs until thoroughly combined. Stir in the pumpkin and the sugar mixture. Gradually add the cream and milk. Stir in the vanilla and rum. Pour into the ramekins.

Slowly pour very hot water into the roasting pan until it reaches about half way up the side of the ramekins. Bake for about 45 – 50 minutes or until the edges are set and there is a bit of a jiggle in the middle about the size of a quarter. Gently remove from the oven. Take the ramekins out of the roasting pan and set aside to cool. Refrigerate overnight to ensure that the caramel stays liquefied.

To serve, run a thin bladed knife around the circumference of the ramekin. Place a plate over the ramekin and invert. Dollop with crème fraiche or sour cream.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Banana Cream Cake with Cinnamon Caramel Syrup

If you love bananas, this is the cake for you. It’s a bit of a messy cake, meant for people who like to make cakes but may not always have the time to fuss with frosting or buttercream or who simply prefer lighter and more rustic fare. There’s something so infinitely delicious about this easy compilation of light cake, fresh ripe bananas, spiced caramel syrup and slightly sweetened whipped cream that will more than satisfy any dessert dream.

This super luxurious treat starts with a very basic tender and moist yogurt vanilla cake. Whipped cream with a little dash of rum is sandwiched between the layers to provide some silky deliciousness. And last but not at all least, a caramel charged with cinnamon and vanilla complements lots of fresh banana slices that add their own signature goodness to each bite.

If you find yourself with a reason to celebrate and in need of a cake, it doesn't get any better than this very simple and terrific combination of flavors. Bring this cake to your table and enjoy the devouring of every morsel. Sheer banana bliss.

Bench notes:
- You can stage this preparation over a couple of days. The caramel syrup will keep stored in a glass container at room temperature for a couple of weeks.
- You will probably have a bit of leftover caramel. You can spoon it over your favorite ice cream.
- I use a 9" square metal cake pan. Glass conducts heat better than metal, so if you use a 9” square glass pan, check to see if the cake is done a few minutes earlier.
- As always with caramel, give it your undivided attention. It will turn on you in a second! Try to take it to a medium dark amber color to avoid it being too sweet. Take it off the heat the moment it begins to reach the right color, swirl the pan a gently until it darkens a bit more and then quickly set the pan down and add the hot water to stop the cooking. And remember, whenever you add an ingredient to hot caramel, it’s going to bubble and splatter viciously. Just stand back and let it unwind. Adding a hot liquid helps to cut down on the reaction. Adding cold ingredients to hot caramel will likely cause it to seize on you. To fix a seized caramel, place it on low heat and whisk gently until dissolved, being careful not to splash any on your hands.
- The rum in the whipped cream really adds a very delicious and subtle flavor to the whole cake without tasting of alcohol.

Banana Cream Cake with Cinnamon Caramel Syrup

Serves 8

Yogurt Cake

1 1/2 C flour
1/8 t salt
2 t baking powder
1 egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 C sugar
1 t vanilla
3/4 C (6 oz) plain yogurt @ room temperature
1/4 C + 2 T oil

Cinnamon Caramel Syrup

1 C sugar
1/4 C water + 1/2 C very hot water
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t vanilla
1 t fresh lemon juice
salt, to taste

Whipped Cream

1 C heavy cream
1 T sugar
2 t rum

3 - 4 ripe bananas
juice of half lemon

For the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9” x 9" x 2” square pan and line the bottom with parchment, leaving about a 2" overhang on two sides. This will help make it easier to remove the baked cake.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.

Whip the whole egg, additional egg yolk and sugar until the mixture is thickened and tripled in volume. A ribbon tested on the surface should hold for at least a second. This takes about 5 minutes on a stand mixer on medium high speed. Add the vanilla and mix for another minute. Take off the mixer and fold in the yogurt.

Sift a third of the flour into the mixture and fold gently. Continue with the remaining 2/3 of the flour and fold until there are no dry streaks.

Fold in the oil and mix thoroughly.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25 – 28 minutes or until the cake is a light golden brown and springs back when lightly touched. Cool the cake on a wire rack for about 20 minutes. Gently lift the cake out of the pan using the parchment overhang to help loosen. The cake is tender so handle carefully. Leave it to cool completely.

For the caramel, place 1/4 C water and 1 C sugar in a saucepan on medium high heat. Cook the sugar mixture just until it begins to turn a medium dark amber color. Watch it closely. Once the sugar starts to color it accelerates very quickly and will darken to a burnt and bitter stage very fast. If it's not coloring evenly, gently swirl the pan just a bit to circulate the darker areas. As it begins to approach the right color, take it off the heat and swirl the pan gently. Let it continue to darken a bit more with a slightly reddish cast. Once it looks like the right color, set the pan down, stand back and add the 1/2 C of hot water. It will bubble up vigorously and spatter, so be careful. When it settles down, return it to the heat and let it come to a boil. If there are any seized bits of caramel, whisk slowly until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and lemon juice. Let it cool a few minutes and then add salt to taste. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool.

When ready to assemble, whip the heavy cream with the sugar and the rum until it holds a very soft peak. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.

Slice the bananas on a long diagonal and toss with the lemon juice to prevent browning.

To assemble, place the cake in parchment on a work surface. Using a serrated knife, trim all four edges of the cake, preserving its square shape. Cut the cake in half, gently lift it off the parchment and place on a serving platter. Dollop half the reserved whipped cream on top of the cake, then line with banana slices. Drizzle the surface of the bananas with about 4 tablespoons of the caramel. Place the other half of the cake on top of the bananas and press just a bit to secure. Dollop the remaining cream on top of the cake and line with bananas. Finish with another drizzle of caramel.

Dot the remaining banana slices with a very light drizzle of caramel and add to each serving of cake.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Apricot Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Slices

This is a glorified chocolate chip bar cookie chock full of toasted hazelnuts, dried apricots and crystallized ginger. There’s something about the co-mingling of all these elements that’s just so perfectly good. The apricots are a nice acidic foil for the sweetness and richness of the chocolate. The nuts provide another layer of texture and earthy flavor. The ginger perks up the whole mixture with bright spice and a very light note of heat. The result is a pastry that is moist and chewy with lots of gorgeous flavors dancing across your palate.

The idea for this recipe came from a delicious mendiant I made several Christmas seasons ago with these same chocolate, fruit and nut elements. I‘d been thinking about doing something more with that original flavor combination and I think it works out very well in this chunky configuration.

Once you chop the fruit, ginger and nuts, this whole mixture comes together very quickly. Part of the great appeal of bar cookies is that they don't require any scooping or rolling. The dough is baked into one large presentation and sliced into portions according to whim.

As you stock your pantry with dried fruit and nuts for this baking season, consider this pastry. It would be great for a potluck or impromptu party, a certain little indulgent treat for your table to take off the chill of fall.

Bench notes:

- To toast hazelnuts, put them in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned and the skins look cracked. Watch them carefully as hazelnuts can turn bitter if toasted too long. Remove from the oven and wrap the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel to let steam for 1 minute. Then rub them together to loosen and remove as much of the skin as possible. Cool completely.
- A mendiant (“beggar” in French) is a simple confection that consists of small poured disks of chocolate topped with fruit and nuts. First made in the monasteries of France at Christmas, tradition originally dictated the use of almonds for the Carmelite order, hazelnuts for the Augustins, raisins for the Dominicans and dried figs for Franciscans. But now they are decorated with all sorts of other nuts, seeds and dried fruit, dictated only by personal preference.
- You might also enjoy Oatmeal Shortbread and Italian Sbrisolona, absolutely fantastic cookies baked in a similar fashion.

Apricot Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Slices
Makes about 16 slices

4 oz (1 stick) butter @ room temperature
3/4 C dark brown sugar
1 egg @ room temperature
1 t vanilla
1 C flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
scant 1 C semisweet chocolate chips (about 5 oz)
1/2 C dried apricots (about 3 oz)
1/2 C toasted hazelnuts (about 2 oz)
3 T crystallized ginger (about 1 oz)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line the bottom of a 9” springform pan with parchment paper.

Coarsely chop the toasted hazelnuts and apricots. Finely chop the crystallized ginger.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Cream the butter and brown sugar until thoroughly combined, about 2 -3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the egg and mix until fully incorporated. Mix in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and combine just until barely mixed and a few dry streaks remain. Fold in the chocolate chips, dried apricots, crystallized ginger and chopped hazelnuts until thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread into a smooth and even layer.

Bake until slightly golden, about 22 - 24 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Run a small spatula or a thin knife around the edge of the pan and release the springform ring. Use a platter to carefully invert the pastry and remove the bottom pan and the parchment paper. Invert again and transfer the pastry to a cutting board or a serving platter.