Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Strawberry Almond Muffins with Strawberry Glaze #MuffinMonday

This Muffin Monday post comes to you a day late quite deliberately.  Sometimes, when the inexplicable happens, it is all we can do to bow our heads in silent prayer.  And treasure the loved ones around us.  Our daughters arrived on Sunday night safely, although a little later than expected after an unscheduled detour to Abu Dhabi, because the airplane was low on fuel.  As I write this on Monday morning, they are still sleeping in their beds and, so, all is right with my world.  And, for that, I am forever grateful.

This week’s original strawberry muffin recipe came from Jane’s Sweets and Baking Journal.  I changed it up by adding in ground almonds, yogurt, a natural strawberry glaze and way more strawberries.  Oh, and some sliced almonds on top.  Because despite the sadness in this world, this is still the Holiday Series.  And while muffins can’t make everything better – would that they could – these strawberry babies do help.  Baked goods are comfort food, don’t you agree?

2 cups or 250g flour
1/2 cup or 55g almond meal or finely ground almonds
1 cup or 225g sugar, divided into 3/4 cup or 170g for the muffin batter and 1/4 cup or 55g for macerating strawberries
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or 120ml whole milk
1/2 cup or 125g plain yogurt
1/2 cup or 115g unsalted butter, melted then cooled
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
10 oz or 300g ripe strawberries

For the topping: 1/2 cup or about 40g very thinly sliced almonds

For the glaze:
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1/2 cup strawberry juice drained from the sweetened strawberries

Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C degrees.

Put paper liners in the cups of your muffin pan, or grease your pan with non-stick cooking spray or butter.

Hull your strawberries.  The easiest way to do this, with the least amount of strawberry wasted, is to slide your knife under the stem.  Use your thumb to hold the stem against the knife and put the whole thing out.

Cut up your berries and put them in a small bowl.  Sprinkle with the 1/4 cup or 55g sugar and allow them to sit while you get on with the batter.

In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Whisk together your melted butter, milk, yogurt, vanilla extract and eggs in a smaller bowl.

Pour the wet egg mixture into the dry ingredients, blending just until combined.

Over a small bowl or measuring cup, pour your strawberries into a sieve and allow all of the juice to collect.

Add about three-quarters of the strawberries to the batter and gently fold them in.  This is not a scientific measurement.  Let's not make things harder than they have to be!

Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups.

Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with the sliced almonds.

Divide the leftover strawberries between the muffin cups.  Press down lightly to make sure the strawberries and the almonds are stuck in the batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are lightly browned or a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.  Mine actually took closer to 30 minutes but I suspect my oven is having issues.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and then remove the muffins from the tin and allow to cool completely on a rack.

When the muffins are almost complete cooled, whisk the cornstarch into 1/2 cup of your strawberry syrup until it is completely dissolved.

Pour the mixture into a small saucepan and heat until it comes to a boil.  Stir steadily as it heats.

Cook, gently boiling until the syrup turns clear (as opposed to cloudy) and thickens.

Set aside until cool.

Drizzle the glaze over the muffins and serve.


Monday, December 17, 2012

A Day of Silence

Joining the Utah Bloggers and countless bloggers worldwide in a day of respectful silence today.  
Please check back tomorrow for #MuffinMonday a day late. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tart

So yesterday I was hanging out on Facebook with my friend, Pastry Chef Online, Jenni Field, and she shared a caramelized onion jam link her fan Leah had shared with HER – because that’s the way Facebook WORKS, you all.  I call it research.  Anyway, I got to thinking that I hadn’t made caramelized onions into a tart for a very long time.  And then, that was all I could think about until I made them for dinner.  (And it was a busy day!)

If you are a fan of sticky onions and goat cheese and puff pastry, this will be your thing.  And best of all, it’s easy.  My daughters say I say that all the time, which apparently diminishes the sentiment (Not.) but it is true here.  It takes a while for the onions to slowly caramelize and get golden and sticky but if you know how to stir using that tricky, tricky implement, the spoon, you will be fine.  Also, can you fold a piece of paper?  Cut a reasonably straight line with a long knife?  Cool.  Then you can make the crust.  Follow along.

Ingredients for two large personal tarts  (Remember personal pizzas?  Like that but nicer.)
2 large onions
1 red chili (optional but highly recommended)
Olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Several sprigs fresh thyme (plus a few small ones for garnish)
3 1/2 oz or 100g goat cheese (more or less – your package size may vary)
2-3 tablespoons dry red or white wine
2 sheets ready-made puff pastry (about 15 oz or 425g together)

Preheat your oven to 425°F or 220°C.  Line your cookie tray with parchment paper.

Peel your onions and slice them as thinly as you can.  If you have a mandolin, go ahead and use it but a sharp knife works just fine too.

Slice the red chili too.

Put the onions in a non-stick pan and give them a good drizzle of olive oil.

Stir them around and then add the salt, sugar, chili and the thyme leaves off of all but four little sprigs, which we will use to decorate the tarts when baking.

Keep the fire low on the onions so they don’t burn but you do want them to start browning a little.  Stir frequently.  Put the lid on if you’d like, for the first 10-15 minutes. But keep checking on them and stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, fold over two sides of your puff pastry sheets.  Then fold up the opposite two sides.

Now fold the original sides one last time.  And then fold the second sides one last time.

Cut a skinny margin off of all the sides.  This should help the tart crust to rise fully in all its layers because a freshly cut edge seems to puff up more successfully than a folded edge.  Save the little scrappy bits.

Dock or pierce the insides of the raised sides with the tip of your sharp knife.

Transfer the tart crusts to your prepared cookie sheet.

Add the wine to the onions and keep the lid off now so the wine and onion juices can evaporate.  Keep an eye on them because this is where they start getting sticky and you don’t want them to burn.  Cook them down until they are fairly thick and look like photo two.

Cut your goat cheese log into eight circles. Or whatever shapes your cheese allows.

Divide the caramelized onions between the two tarts and try to spread them just inside the raised sides.

Lay four pieces of goat cheese on each tart and top with two small sprigs of thyme and the trimmed bits of pastry.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the puff pastry crust is puffed and golden.

Aren't they pretty?  

Serve, if desired, with a side salad.  Or just on their own.