EASY APPLE TART W/ MAPLE WHIPPED CREAM

IMG_1864.jpg

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.

IMG_1746.jpg

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!

IMG_1813.jpg

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!

IMG_1850.jpg

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.

GLAZED CRANBERRY-ORANGE SCONES

IMG_9649.jpg

Since starting this blog just over 6 months (!!!) ago, I’ve been patiently waiting to give you a cranberry recipe. My go-to pick for either muffins or scones is almost always cranberry-orange (with blueberry being a very close second) because it’s such a classic combination that works so well in baked goods. But back in April, there were absolutely no cranberries for sale and I knew I would have to wait until at least October to get my hands on a bag of Ocean Spray fresh cranberries.

IMG_8943.jpg

Last week, I went to Trader Joe’s wishing and hoping it would be cranberry time, but alas, they were nowhere to be found and I was told by an employee that the berries wouldn’t be in stock until a week or so into November. I was pretty bummed about it, but that all changed when I went to Growers Direct: a small grocery store that only sells fresh fruits and veggies. There, they had bags upon bags of beautiful cranberries and I bought three immediately - I will not forget to save and freeze them this year! Moral of the story, your local grocery store may not have cranberries in stock just yet, but with November just around the corner, they’ll be available very, very soon. You can maybe try looking at your city’s farmers market as well.

IMG_9535.jpg

When it comes to making scones, there are a few tips that I need to give you to succeed:

1) You want to keep the dough as cold as possible. This means none of your ingredients will be room temperature, and actually, I’d prefer that you’d measure out your buttermilk and cut up your butter into its small pieces, and then place them back into the fridge until they’re needed for the recipe. You can even freeze the butter if it’s extra hot in your kitchen the day you bake them. To take this one step further, I also would suggest using frozen cranberries over fresh (and of course, you can use dried cranberries as well if that’s all you can get your hands on at the time). Keeping the dough cold ensures that your scones get the rise that defines these baked goods and it also gives you that flaky and crisp exterior that we all love.

If for whatever reason your oven isn’t preheated by the time you’re ready to pop the scones in, keep the scones in the fridge until the oven reaches the designated temperature. OR, if you feel like you took too long when you were rolling out the dough and cutting out the wedges, then go ahead and pop them in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Unbaked scones are also freezer friendly, and can be stored there for up to 1 month if wrapped tightly (just let them defrost slightly on the counter before placing in the oven).

IMG_9583.jpg

2) It is very important that you refrain from over-mixing the dough. Too much mixing causes your scones to be tough and won’t give you the perfect scone texture. Therefore, I highly suggest not using a food processor or a stand mixer/hand mixer. When I add my wet ingredients to my dry ingredients, I only use a wooden spoon, and then I rely on my hands to do the rest (mixing in the cranberries and rolling out the dough). A lot of professional bakers prefer using their hands to mix scone and biscuit doughs, and I don’t think anyone should shy away from this method.

IMG_9740.jpg

3) Brush the unbaked scones with liquid and sprinkle with sugar. The liquid can be either buttermilk, heavy cream, or an egg wash, and since we’re using buttermilk in the actual scones themselves, it makes the most sense to use it for the tops as well. This step allows the scones to have a more golden color. As for the sugar, the scones themselves aren’t that sweet so it’s nice to add a bit more sweetness as well as creating a slight crunchy texture. You can use granulated sugar, but I prefer using turbinado sugar. Either works just fine!

And that’s it! I hope baking scones doesn’t sound too overwhelming to you. Just carefully read through the directions before making any moves and you’ll have delicious scones in no time.

P.S. I hope everyone has a great Halloween!

IMG_9764.jpg

Glazed Cranberry-Orange Scones

Yields 8 scones

Recipe adapted from Epicurious/Bon Appétit

Ingredients

IMG_9662.jpg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • Zest of 1 large orange (save the juice for glaze)

  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2” pieces

  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled, plus more for brushing

  • 1 cup cranberries, preferably frozen but fresh works too

  • Turbinado sugar (or granulated sugar), for sprinkling on top

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

  • 2-3 tbsp. fresh orange juice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl. Whisk in the orange zest.

  2. Add the butter pieces to the mixture by working with your hands or a pastry cutter, and rub the mixture together until it resembles course crumbs. Slowly add the buttermilk, mixing it in by hand or by a wooden spoon. Very carefully, fold in the cranberries.

  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a couple of times (some cranberries may roll away, but you can just stick them back in). Using your hands or a rolling pin, work the dough into a 1-inch thick circle. Using a sharp knife, cut the circle into 8 wedges.

  4. Transfer the wedges to the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each scone. Brush each scone with buttermilk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

  5. Bake the scones in the oven for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the tops are a light golden brown. Let the scones cool for about 15 minutes before adding the glaze.

  6. In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice. Drizzle the glaze generously over each scone. Enjoy fresh out of the oven, or store in an airtight container at room temperature.

APPLE CIDER DOUGHNUTS + HOMEMADE APPLE BUTTER

IMG_8322.jpg

With today being exactly a month into autumn, and the fact that Halloween is just next week, I’m trying to embrace the season as much as I can. The only problem living in Southern California is that October doesn’t necessarily equate to cold, chilly days, but rather we usually get stuck with 80° or higher days mixed with Santa Ana winds. This combination leaves us with very dry and warm air, and sadly, can lead to pretty bad wildfires. Doesn't sound like the cozy fall days that other parts of the country get to enjoy, does it? (Hello, I’m Debbie Downer!)

IMG_8036.jpg

I’ve been doing my best to ignore these non-ideal temperatures by partaking in events that are perfect for the season. Last week, my family and I did our annual night out at Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights, where the whole theme park is turned into a haven for all things spooky and Halloween-related. And just this past Saturday, I went with a group of friends to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery via Cinespia to watch a screening of the original Halloween to celebrate it’s 40th anniversary. Although both of these days were pretty hot and dry (it reached 90° on Saturday), it still helped me get in the spirit.

IMG_8223.jpg

Of course, I’ve been taking this sentiment with me to the kitchen. The recipe(s) that I’m providing you with today are ones that define the season - I don’t think you can get more “autumn” than with apple cider doughnuts. These babies are a quintessential autumn treat that people go crazy for at apple picking farms, farmers markets, and of course, doughnut shops (like Sidecar and Blue Star - some local favorites of mine). Unlike the last time I posted a doughnut recipe, these will be fried in vegetable oil and therefore not baked in a doughnut pan. There will be a couple of things you’ll need in order to make a successful batch of these fried doughnuts: 1) a large pot or Dutch oven 2) a kitchen thermometer to keep on eye on the oil temperature and 3) a doughnut cutter. This is the doughnut cutter I used and it worked perfectly.

IMG_8301.jpg

The day I was frying up these apple cider doughnuts was unfortunately a pretty hot day but I didn’t mind due to the amazing smells it gave my apartment. Although I didn’t have to put a sweater and socks on, I was hugged by the warm spices that define the season (cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves) and that at least made me feel like it was a proper autumn day.

Besides giving you a recipe for the doughnuts, I’m also including a recipe for apple butter, which is actually one of the ingredients listed for the doughnuts. You of course have the option to buy store-bought apple butter to save time, but I definitely think making your own apple butter is worth it and will feel like such an accomplishment. Although it is a bit time consuming (the apple butter cooks in the oven for about 3 hours), it is fairly a hands-off process with the most tedious step being to peel the apples. My best advice would be to treat this entire post (apple butter and doughnuts) as a weekend project: make the apple butter early on a Saturday, followed by making the doughnut dough and allowing it to chill in the fridge overnight, and finally frying off the doughnuts on Sunday morning for breakfast. That way, it’s not all too overwhelming and allows you to enjoy each process.

IMG_8718.jpg

The apple butter recipe yields about 2 cups and since you only need half a cup of it for the doughnuts, you luckily are left with a good amount to enjoy in other ways. Not only can you gift a jar of it to a friend or family member, which they would LOVE, but you can also choose to be selfish and keep it for yourself to spread on toast, waffles, scones, etc. I say to go with the latter option, but hey, I’m only recommending it because you deserve it after all the work you put in it!

Unlike in apple pies or other fruit desserts where there are specific “baking apples” to use, the apples that work best for apple butter are ones that have a softer skin. These varieties include Fuji, Gala, Braeburn, Honey Delicious, and McIntosh. Feel free to mix and match - I did a mix of Gala and Fuji.

IMG_8515.jpg

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Makes about 16-18 doughnuts

Recipe adapted slightly from Bon Appétit

Ingredients

IMG_8401.jpg
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches in size)

  • 3 cups apple cider

  • 1/2 cup apple butter, store-bought or homemade (see my recipe below)

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda

  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp. cloves

  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For cinnamon-sugar topping:

  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, bring the apple cider and cinnamon sticks to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the liquid reduces to a thick and syrup-y consistency, about 20-30 minutes. There should be about a 1/3 cup of liquid when finished. Scrape into a medium bowl, and whisk in the apple butter, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Set aside.

  2. In another medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, 1 tsp. of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

  3. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a bowl large enough for a hand mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one a time, making sure to mix well before adding each one.

  4. With the mixer on low, add in half of the dry ingredients, then half of the wet ingredients. Repeat once more, and mix until well incorporated. The dough will be very sticky.

  5. Transfer the dough to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet that is generously dusted with flour (use about 1/3 cup). Sprinkle more flour on top of the dough, and with floured hands, gently press out the dough until it is 3/4” thick. Dust once again with flour. Tightly wrap the baking sheet with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

  6. Whisk the cinnamon and granulated sugar in a bowl (this will be for the doughnut topping). Set aside.

  7. Take the baking sheet out of the fridge, and begin punching out doughnuts using a doughnut cutter. After first batch, gather the scraps and re-roll the dough out gently and punch out more doughnuts. Repeat until you have 16 to 18 doughnuts and doughnut holes.

  8. Using a Dutch oven or large pot, heat about 3 inches worth of vegetable oil on medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees F (you’ll need a kitchen thermometer for this). Working in batches, fry about 3 to 4 doughnuts at a time for 2-3 minutes per side, until they’ve reached a deep golden brown. Once all doughnuts are done, fry the doughnut holes for about 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer each finished doughnut and doughnut hole to a cooling rack (place paper towels underneath to catch any excess oil), allow them to cool for a few minutes, then toss into the cinnamon-sugar mixture while the doughnuts are still warm. Enjoy! Doughnuts are always best when eaten the day they are made, but are okay the 1-2 days after when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Homemade Apple Butter

Makes about 2 cups

Recipe adapted slightly from Food Network Kitchen

Ingredients

IMG_8217.jpg
  • 4 lbs. of assorted apples, peeled and chopped (read above for best apple varieties)

  • 2 cups apple cider

  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed

  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1/8 tsp. cloves

  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven or large ovenproof pot, combine the apples, apple cider, brown sugar, and salt and cook on the stovetop over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, partially cover with the lid, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the apples are soft. Removed from heat, and stir in the lemon juice, vanilla extract, and spices.

  2. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Using an immersion blender (or you can carefully transfer the cooked apples to a blender and work in batches), puree the apples until smooth. Place the Dutch oven or pot into the oven, lid removed, and bake for 2.5 to 3.5 hours, stirring every 30 minutes, or until the apple butter is a deep amber color. The time it takes depends on what kind of apples you use.

  3. Allow the apple butter to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator. Enjoy on toast, scones, waffles, etc. and/or use for the doughnut recipe above!