EASY APPLE TART W/ MAPLE WHIPPED CREAM

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It’s the final countdown! We are just a couple of days away from Thanksgiving and I am so ready for it. Since I went to a Friendsgiving party this past weekend, where I brought two desserts (including my pumpkin cheesecake), Brussels sprouts, and my sangria, I feel like it was a warm-up for the actual day. The Friendsgiving party was a lot of fun and had 16 people in total which is double the amount of people that I’ll be with on Thanksgiving. So even though there will be less mouths to feed on Thursday, I’ll be contributing much more food and helping out in all departments. It will definitely be more work but I'm excited to do it all while being with my family.

I wanted to give you one last Thanksgiving dessert, and even though this recipe is being posted just a couple of days before the big day, it requires less time and effort than most desserts made for the holiday (cough pumpkin cheesecake cough). We’re talking about an apple tart today, and this recipe in particular is one of the simplest apple tart recipes out there. If you want an apple dessert on your dinner table Thursday night, but the idea of baking a deep dish apple pie is daunting to you, then this recipe is perfect for you.

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This apple tart is baked in a fluted tart pan, which makes it almost fool-proof in the sense that you can’t mess up the shape. Unlike apple pies where you have to worry about making the top crust look all neat and pretty, this apple tart has the apples exposed on the top for a beautiful, rustic look. The only crust on top will be any excess dough that is folded over before baking: a step that doesn't require much skill.

If you want to make this tart galette-style, feel free to ditch the pan and mold the dough freeform on parchment paper on a baking sheet. I recommend using the tart pan if you’re planning on traveling to someone’s house for Thanksgiving. That way, you can keep the tart in its cute little pan and not worry about having your galette flying around in the backseat. But if you’re hosting it at your house and don’t have a tart pan, then by all means, go with the galette. Do what works for you!

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Since this apple tart is so simple when it comes to the flavor, with only sugar and butter being the added ingredients, you have the option to spice it up if you want to. I would recommend adding your favorite apple pie spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, etc and/or a splash of vanilla extract or lemon juice. But honestly, the way I have the recipe written is fantastic and allows you to really enjoy the perfect crust and in-season apples.

I wanted to add a lil something something to finish the tart with, and decided that maple whipped cream was the best bet. Making it is equally as simple as the tart, but having the cream sweetened by pure maple syrup instead of granulated sugar makes it a bit more interesting and autumn-like. If you plan on serving with the whipped cream, I suggest sprinkling only 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar on the tart before popping it in the oven (that’s why I have 2-4 tbsp. of granulated sugar listed in the filling ingredients). But if you don’t plan on eating the tart with whipped cream or ice cream, add a bit more sugar. Again, it’s up to you, so you can make it as sweet as you want!

I hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving and that you get to spend it with the ones you love!

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Apple Tart and Maple Whipped Cream

Makes (1) 9-inch tart

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar

  • 1/8 tsp. salt

  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened to the touch, cut into small pieces

  • 4 tbsp. ice cold water

For the filling:

  • 2 lbs. apples (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, or any other firm/tart apple variety), peeled, cored, and sliced

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

  • 2-4 tbsp. granulated sugar (make it as sweet as you want! I do 2 tbsp.)

To Finish (optional):

  • Apricot preserves/jam

  • Confectioners’ sugar

  • Maple whipped cream (recipe below)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add 2 tbsp. of the butter to the mixture by working with your hands or a pastry cutter, and rub the mixture together until it resembles course crumbs. Then add the remaining 4 tbsp. of butter and continue to mix until the butter bits are about the size of a pea.

  2. Add about 2 tbsp. of the water to the mixture and stir it in with a wooden spoon. Add the remaining 2 tbsp. of water and stir again. Using your hands, feel if the dough is too dry and if it is, continue to dribble in more water, 1 tbsp. at a time. Do this until the dough comes together and isn’t predominately full of dry sections. Roll the dough into a ball and flatten it into a 4-inch disc. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

  3. When ready to roll out, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes so it will be more malleable. Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough thinly out to about a 14-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased 9-inch tart pan, and carefully press the dough into the mold, making sure there is an overhang of dough. Fill the pan with as many apple slices as you can, and arrange them in any pattern you like. Fold over the excess dough over the apples, and tuck/crimp it together. With a pastry brush, brush the melted butter over the folded dough and apples. Sprinkle the granulated sugar on. If you’re making the whipped cream, do 2 tbsp. of sugar, if not, go with 3 or 4 tbsp.

  4. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, making sure to rotate the pan every 15 minutes so it gets evenly baked. It will be done when the dough is golden brown and the apples are soft.

  5. (Optional) Heat up 2 tbsp. of apricot preserves and 1 tbsp. of water in the microwave until it becomes a bit liquefied. Brush the mixture on the crust and apples when the tart is slightly cooled.

  6. Serve with a big dollop of maple whipped cream and a sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar.

Maple Whipped Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 2 1/2 tbsp. pure maple syrup

Directions

  1. Place the mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

  2. Add the heavy cream and pure maple syrup to the bowl and whisk until stiff peaks are formed. Whipped cream can be stored in an airtight container for about a day in the fridge. When ready to use, whisk the mixture again for about 15 seconds.

FRUIT TART W/ MASCARPONE CREAM FILLING

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Last week, we celebrated the birthday of my forever best friend, ultimate confidante, and #1 person I go to when I need advice or an opinion on just about anything: my mom, Tania. Since my mom lives about 10 minutes away from me, I see her just about every other day and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. Although some might think that would be an annoyance having their mom be so close in proximity, I actually love it. Even though my mom and I look nothing alike, we are pretty much identical when it comes to our personality and interests, and she almost always knows exactly what I'm thinking and feeling. To put it simply: no one understands me more than my mom, and I don't know what I'd do without her. 

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Alex and I decided to gift my mom this year by taking her to our favorite summer activity in Los Angeles: seeing a screening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery via Cinespia. Alex and I are OBSESSED with going to Cinespia screenings and have been going at least twice every summer for years. Some of our favorite screenings over the years include: Purple Rain (which they played right after Prince passed away), The Fifth Element, Scream, and the original Psycho. The movie that we took my mom to see this past weekend was the classic film, The Graduate, which was amazing to see on the big screen. The night was perfect with great weather, prime seats, and the most delicious food spread for our picnic before the film started.

Every year, I always bake up a birthday treat for my mom, and this year she requested a simple yet very delicious fruit tart. Funny enough, I had actually never made a fruit tart before and so I set out to make the ultimate version of one. I made the crust of the tart a pâte sablée, or a French shortcrust. The difference between pâte sablée and a pâte brisee, which I made for my blueberry galette in a different post, is that pâte sablée is sweetened with more sugar and uses room temperature butter; the process of making the dough is pretty akin to making cookie dough. The end result of this particular pastry dough is not flaky like pâte brisée, but actually more crisp and sandy-like. Therefore, pâte sablée is the perfect base for a fruit tart.

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Now let's talk about the filling: a creamy mascarpone filling that is just slightly sweetened, with a hint of lemon and vanilla. It pairs perfectly with the sweet pastry dough and will not make you feel too full after having a slice or two. A very important note for when making the filling is that the mascarpone and heavy cream NEED to be at room temperature, or else the mascarpone may curdle. I would suggest taking these ingredients out of the fridge at least an hour before working with them. 

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Because we are filling the dough with a mascarpone filling that does not require any baking in the oven, the dough must be blind-baked. This requires rolling the dough out into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, covering it in foil, and filling the pan with either pie weights, rice, or dried beans. I recently bought these pie weights and they worked perfectly. 

One last thing: feel free to use any fruit of your choosing for the topping! Strawberries, kiwi, peaches, bananas... anything that looks good and is in season at your local grocery store! I was going to use the sunshine raspberries pictured above, but the strawberry design I made was just too beautiful to change. 

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Fruit Tart w/ Mascarpone Cream Filling

Yields (1) 9-inch Tart

Pate sablée recipe adapted from The Kitchn / Mascarpone filling recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

Ingredients

For the pâte sablée:

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  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/8 tbsp.) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the mascarpone filling:

  • 8 oz. mascarpone, room temperature

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature

  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • Zest of 1 medium lemon

  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice

To finish:

  • Assorted fruit

  • Confectioners' sugar

Directions

Make the crust:

  1. In the bowl of a standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or, in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until creamy. Add in the egg yolk and mix until fully combined.

  2. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk the flour and salt together. Add this to the butter/sugar mixture on low speed, and mix until the flour is no longer visible. Do not overmix. The dough should be similar to a cookie dough.

  3. Transfer the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape it into a round disk. Wrap the dough up tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

  4. When you're ready to roll the dough out, allow the dough to sit out at room temperature until it's more malleable.

  5. Place the dough in between two pieces of wax or parchment paper and roll it out to an 11-inch circle. Be careful to not make the edges too thin.

  6. Take off the top layer of wax paper, and carefully invert the dough onto your 9-inch tart pan. This dough is very forgiving, so if any areas break off in this process, simply just patch and press the dough together - no one will ever know. Trim off any extra dough that is hanging over the sides.

  7. Cover in plastic wrap and place the tart pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

  8. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  9. Line the tart pan (including the edges) with foil, and fill the pan with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Take the tart out of the oven and remove the pie weights and foil. Place the tart pan back into the oven for another 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Times may vary depending on your oven, so I would check the tart both when covered in foil as well as after, because you do not want to burn the crust.

  10. Let the tart cool completely before adding the mascarpone filling.

Make the filling:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer, add the mascarpone and mix for about a minute on medium-high speed. With the mixer on low, slowly add the heavy cream to the bowl. Do not add the cream all at once or it may curdle the mascarpone. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

  2. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest and juice, and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is fluffy and light, about a minute.

  3. Evenly spread the filling into the cooled crust and top with your fruit toppings of choice. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired. Store in the refrigerator (this makes it easiest to cut the tart).

PÂTE BRISÉE + BLUEBERRY GALETTE

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With Mother's Day coming up this weekend, I figured I would share a few recipes this week that would be excellent for all the mamas out there. Typically, Mother's Day for my family entails some sort of mimosa-filled brunch followed by either shopping and/or going to the beach. Brunch seems to be a tradition that many other families partake in for the holiday, so today I'm providing a brunch "dessert", but let's face it, you can eat it at any time of the day you wish (hello breakfast). 

The dessert that I'm referring to is a galette. Galettes are my secret weapon in the baking world that I pull out when I want to impress people but most importantly, they are insanely easy to make. If you aren't aware of what a galette is, it is basically a freeform version of a pie: you do not bake it in a dish of any kind and form the shape of it yourself. With that said, a galette is rustic in nature and that's what makes it so cool; every one is unique in and of itself and there's no right way to do it necessarily. 

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But in order to have an amazing galette, we must back track a bit and learn how to make the foundation of it - the pie crust, or what we will refer to as the pâte brisée ("pie crust pastry" in French). To me, the pie crust is the single most important aspect of any pie or galette. The filling could be mediocre at best, but as long as the crust is flaky and buttery, I am happy as can be. 

For today's galette, I decided to keep it simple and provide you with a blueberry and lemon filling. But honestly, you can do whatever filling you want to! In the past I've taken the pâte brisée recipe and made a strawberry galette, a nectarine and blackberry galette, and even a lemon cheesecake (for this I used a pie dish). The recipe provided gives you two 8-10 inch pie crusts depending on how thin you roll it out, but you can make about a dozen hand pies with it or one gigantic galette. The sky is truly the limit with this recipe.

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With that said, the pie crust recipe that I am giving you today has been adapted to be on the sweeter side (1 tablespoon of sugar as opposed to 1 teaspoon) so feel free to scale back. I personally think the crust is perfect, but just know that there is room for adjustment. Also, if you want to use the pie crust for a savory pie, I would omit the sugar fully and leave everything else the same. 

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Lastly, I want to stress how easy it is to make both (pâte brisée and galette) of these recipes. I've made the pâte brisée countless times and just about every one of those times, I could have sworn that I did something wrong like adding too much ice water or over-mixing the dough, only to find that it still came out PERFECTLY. It really is a fool-proof recipe that I promise beginners can achieve. And once you get to forming the galette, that's honestly the fun part and shouldn't cause you any stress.

So for Mother's Day, make the pâte brisée and choose something to bake that your mother will love. Whether that be a berry galette, a rhubarb strawberry pie, or a dozen hand pies, make it for her and I promise you that you'll get more bonus points than your sister who only gave her a card. 

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Pâte Brisée

Makes 2 8-10 in. pie crusts

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tbsp. sugar

  • 1 tsp. course salt

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice cold water

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor fixed with the s-blade, mix together the flour, sugar and salt.

  2. Add in the butter, and pulse for about 10 seconds, or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger chunks of butter.

  3. With the food processor on low, pour the water through the feed tube until the dough holds together, but is not sticky or too wet. You can test this by pinching the dough between your fingers - if it holds together, the dough is ready. If it's still too crumbly, add 1 tbsp. of water at a time until you've reached the right consistency. Do not over mix! This ensures a flaky crust.

  4. Turn out the dough onto a clean surface and divide in half. Shape each half into a disc and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour, if using soon. If not, the dough can be frozen for up to 1 month (allow the dough to defrost in the fridge overnight if frozen).

Blueberry Galette

Makes 1 galette - about 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 recipe pâte brisée (one of the pie dough halves from the recipe above)

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch

  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest

  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tsp. sugar

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 1 large egg, beaten (for crust)

  • Raw sugar, to sprinkle on crust

  • Confectioners' sugar, toasted sliced almonds, vanilla ice cream, to finish (optional)

Directions

  1. Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper and roll out the dough into about 12 inch round, flipping the dough over every once in a while as to prevent it from sticking. Transfer the parchment paper with dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

  2. While the dough is refrigerating, work on making the filling. In a bowl, gently mix the blueberries, cornstarch, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and salt. Allow the mixture to sit for about 30 minutes to allow the juices to release. Stir it occasionally.

  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit for about 5 minutes or until it is workable. Spoon the filling into the center of the dough, being careful to leave about 2 inches of a border. If you're worried that not all of the filling will fit, take some out.

  4. Brush the 2 inch edges with the egg wash, and begin to push and tuck the dough inward over the filling, so that it provides a border. Once again, brush the border with the egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar.

  5. Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until the blueberries are bubbling and the crust is golden brown.

  6. Transfer to a cooling rack, and if desired, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, sliced almonds, and/or vanilla ice cream.