Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Continuing with the Unposted...

These mini tarts were inspired by P. Herme's famous Nutella tart. Although I wasn't faithful to his recipe, the result was very good. An interesting feature of this recipe is that the crust is baked, and then filled and baked briefly again. The second baking refreshes the crust just enough to give it a melt-in-your-mouth quality. But let me not forget the luscious and still slightly warm chocolate-hazelnut filling and toasted hazelnuts. As you can see, I got a little bit carried away with the Nutella piping on top. All in all, this was a winner in our house.

I used my leftover tart dough to make these colorful, almost bite-size desserts. Sugared red currants on a base of white chocolate mousse reminded me of the glittery postards of winter scenes from my childhood.. As hasty as I was with the sugaring process, the tartlets ended up looking quite good; in fact, they looked better than they tasted. Red currants are exquisite looking fruit, but they are too sour for my taste even with a sugar coating.

Bread puddings are perfect winter desserts, and a very good way to use up stale bread. I tried two recipes, and was equally pleased with both. I found the recipe for the chocolate bread pudding here, and added dried cherries and pistachios. To me, it had a mild chocolate flavor, so I served it with a chocolate sauce.

The bread pudding in the picture below had raisins, walnuts and little bits of apple in it. (The recipe is from Manhattan's Dessert Scene.) It was baked in a water bath, which made it moister than the one above. It was recommended that it be served with creme anglaise, but we had it with vanilla ice cream and it was delicious.

A couple of weeks ago, my son asked me to bake "that hot, moist-in- the-center, chocolate dessert I used to bake before". Since he is a picky eater who is generally not at all impressed with my cooking, I was very eager to please him. If only I could figure out what he wanted... My best guess was a chocolate souffle. He liked it, but it wasn't what he had in mind. I have yet to figure out what it was that he wanted.

My daughter loves quinces. We usually cook them in lightly sweetened and diluted pomogrenate juice, and serve with some kind of cream. (See how it looks here.) But these quinces I got from a friend were very stubborn. Not only did they take a loong time to cook, but when they were finely soft enough to eat, they looked a mess. Well, I am as stubborn as they are, and will go to any length not to waste a quince. I processed and sieved (it was a stony variety) the cooked quinces, added some italian meringue and whipped cream; and we had ourselves a lovely quince mousse. The texture was still a little stony, which made it interesting; and the color was just beautiful.

At other times when the quinces are well-behaved, we make quince tarts which are also very good. In Turkey, people eat quinces with kaymak (clotted cream) and the closest thing that I can find here to kaymak is mascarpone cheese. This tart had a walnut pastry crust and a mascarpone-cream filling. Quinces have pectin in them, so the poaching juices thicken readily amd make an excellent glaze for the tart.