I made that!

Well Hello, Cute Little Butterscotch Pudding Tarts

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Certified Pie Ninja by brandi on December 22, 2009

This one had me with the oat wheat crust. I know, not a typical starting point for feeling giddy about butterscotch, but I was so intrigued. Oats in a pate brisee? With brown sugar? And whole wheat flour? It sounded like a divine mess and I had to have it.

I was so smitten that I even did the unthinkable (in my dough snobbery world), I pulsed the dough in the food processor. Sin! But I was feeling it. It was what the authors said to do, so I was trusting them. Just this once. And I have to say it was a little tricky. I err on the side of large butter chunks, and was nervous about pulverizing the beautiful oats. But this recipe doesn’t have a lot of liquid. Translation: if I didn’t incorporate the butter well, the dough would be dry. And it was. So here’s what I learned: Next time I will put half of the butter in the machine with the flour, sugar and salt. I will work that in really well to coat the flour. I will then add the rest of the butter and oats and just barely pulse those in to give me the texture I want. I will also use pastry flour next time, because I found the crust to be not quite as tender as I like.

Since my dough was a tad dry, it was a bit of a pain to press into the shells, but I got there eventually.

While the shells were relaxing in the fridge, I got to work on the butterscotch pudding. The other thing that made my ears perk up about this recipe was the pudding. Most butterscotch recipes just have you cooking brown sugar and butter until it takes on a caramelly flavor. Not this one, here you actually MAKE a caramel sauce and then blend that into a brown sugar and milk mixture. And the depth of flavor was so awesome! And vanilla bean, I am such a fan of real vanilla beans in lieu of vanilla extract. Oh my lord, it was pure torture not drinking the entire batch.

But I didn’t. I went back to the crusts, which by now had spent 30 minutes in the freezer to prep them for the oven. The instructions for this dough said to bake it for 12 minutes, but that was SO not long enough. I think I ended up baking these for 25 minutes to get a good brown. This was key, the caramelization of the brown sugar in the dough is what balanced out the oaty wheaty-ness. The recipe also said to bake them at 325, I’m thinking that they MUST have been talking about a convection oven, because that just doesn’t make sense. I ended up going with 350. I was a bit disappointed that once baked the shells developed not so tiny cracks on their bottoms.

Since giant holes are not good for puddingy fillings, I painted the insides with melted chocolate. This created a nice seal and in the end made for a nice counterpoint in the overall flavor.

And oh yes, we were some happy little campers when these puppies arrived on the table for dessert. While I will definitely adjust some of the technique for next time, I LOVED the flavor of these.  The oaty flavor of the crust went so well with the sweetness of the filling. It sounds weird, but the combination reminded me of wheaties cereal. In a good way. Love it.

BUTTERSCOTCH PUDDING TARTS RECIPE (adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking):

1 cup rolled oats

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup pastry flour

¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

½ tsp salt

6oz cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

¼ cup whole milk

– Put the flours, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add half of the butter and pulse until the butter pieces are small and the dough looks crumbly, like coarse sand. Add the rolled oats and the rest of the butter in and pulse until the butter is mixed in, but still in decent sized chunks.

– Add the milk and pulse for a few seconds. Add a tad more milk if the dough is still dry.

– Scoop the dough out of the food processor and form it into a large disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

– Dust a work surface with flour. Unwrap the disk of chilled dough and put it directly on the work surface. Cut the dough into eight equal pieces, about 2 1/2 ounces each, and gently shape each piece into a smooth disk. The dough will be sticky. Make sure to turn the dough over as needed and keep the working surface floured. Put the dough disks in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

– Using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into a 6-inch round just over 1/8-inch thick. Place a round over a 4-inch tart pan and very gently press the dough into the pan. Trim off the excess. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds. Use any excess dough trimmings to make a ninth tart shell or freeze for another time.

– Preheat the oven to 350F.

– Put the tart pans in the freezer for 30 minutes.

– Remove the tarts from the freezer, then arrange on a baking sheet and gently prick the dough with a fork.

– Bake on the baking sheet until golden brown, about 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking time. Start checking for doneness after 20 minutes.

– Transfer the tart pans to wire racks and let cool completely.

– If there are large cracks in the shells you can paint them with melted chocolate to seal the crust.

For the Butterscotch Pudding:

6 large egg yolks

¾ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup heavy cream

½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted

1 tsp salt

3 cups whole milk

1 vanilla bean

2 TBSP unsalted butter

– Put the egg yolks in a large heat proof bowl and set aside.

– In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, and ¼ cup water and stir gently with a heatproof spatula. Brush down the sides of the pan to melt any loose sugar crystals. Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, then increase the heat to medium-high heat and cook until the mixture begins to turn dark amber color. Swirl the pan, if necessary, to create an even color, but do not stir. Remove from heat and use the heatproof spatula to stir in the cream. Pour the caramel into small bowl. Set aside.

– In another small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in the milk and whisk to combine.

– Add the seeds from the vanilla bean and the vanilla bean pod. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the caramel. Whisk together until combined, then slowly pour one third of the mixture over the eggs, whisking continually. Keep whisking the egg mixture and add another third of the hot milk mixture. Transfer the egg mixture back to the saucepan with the milk minute and, whisking the whole time, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 3-4 minutes, or until very thick and a bit darker in color.

-Remove from the heat and whisk vigorously for about 1 minute to cool the pudding slightly. Let the pudding sit for about 15 minutes.

– Now that the pudding has cooled a tad, add the butter. This will keep the butter from losing it’s emulsion as it melts.

– Chill the pudding in the fridge for an hour, to thicken it. Stir every 10 minutes or so to release the heat.

– Whisk the pudding one more time until smooth. Divide the pudding equally among the tart shells and put them in the refrigerator for about 2 hours before serving. When ready to serve, garnish with some chantilly cream and chocolate shavings.


Homemade Nutella!

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Don't BUY it, MAKE it! by brandi on December 20, 2009

Oh man, I am excited about this one!

Whilst perusing my new farmer’s market last weekend I spotted some locally grown hazelnuts. I somehow talked myself out of getting them with thoughts like “you have a freezer filled with nuts” and “you’re on a budget.” But a week later I woke up and begged John to drive me back to the market so I could get some. I just couldn’t stop thinking about them! And when I am thinking about hazelnuts, I am thinking about nutella, that sweet chocolate hazelnut spread that dreams are made of. I personally think of nutella as culinary crack, but I never buy it because of all the yucky stuff and puffed up oils inside of it. BUT WHAT IF I COULD MAKE MY OWN?!?! And what better way to try than with some locally grown heirloom hazelnuts?

So, first I roasted the hazelnuts, until I could smell them.

Then I unsuccessfully attempted to rub their skins off. Either I am not very good at this, or this particular variety is very attached to it’s skin. I gave up and tossed them in the food processor. I blended them for a good 5 minutes, until I had a smooth and liquid butter.

Then I mixed in cocoa powder, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. I blended that for 15 seconds and then drizzled in the canola oil. And there it was. Beautiful nutella.

Except it was a tad grainy, since I am not a commercial nut factory. So I strained it, which took some muscle (this stuff is THICK) and I had to call in the reserves.

And then we ate it. On some banana bread that I just HAPPENED to have lying around. And it was delicious. Like a nuttier, more intense version of nutella. A grown up version, if you will. I smell christmas presents…

In case anyone’s curious about the actual nuts, I used Duchilly Hazelnuts from Holmquist Hazelnut Orchard. As someone who grew up munching on local pecans, I am a BIG fan of locally sourced tree nuts. So  I’m very excited to have found a yummy hazelnut farm, I suspect there will be lots of hazelnut desserts in the near future!


2 cups hazelnuts

6 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup canola oil

– Roast hazelnuts in 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.

– Put roasted hazelnuts in food processor and puree for 5 minutes, until very smooth.

– Add cocoa powder, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. Puree for 15 seconds and then stream in canola oil.

– Strain and spoon into jars.

– If you plan on having it around for more than a few days, store it in the refrigerator. Because it thickens when cold, you will need to bring it to room temperature before using.

Pie Dough. The Movie. Except Without Pictures.

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Certified Pie Ninja, Don't BUY it, MAKE it! by brandi on December 13, 2009


Remember that hole Orangette fell down? I was warmly welcomed into it this week! I have been working every single day and therefore have had literally no time for cooking at home. It’s my first day off in 7 days (and we’re talking 11 hour shifts here! (which I LOVE, in case Brandon or Molly are reading)), so I will be spending the day with John, exploring this fine city (finally!) and shopping for things to fill up our house. But people want some pie dough! So pie dough it is. Except my pie dough is kind of labor-intensive, so I’m just gonna tell you about it rather than actually make and document it. I think I can get away with this, and you’ll understand how in a second.

So. My pie dough technique is not a traditional one. If you’ve spent some time with sweet doughs (of the non-yeasted variety), you know they basically differ in 2 areas: the ratio of fat to flour, and how that fat is incorporated. Traditional pie dough involves a ratio of 3:2:1, with the fat cut into small chunks (it’s called the biscuit method). Those fat chunks will melt into pockets when the dough bakes, causing flakes. Puff dough involves a ratio of 1:1, meaning there is exactly the same amount of fat as there is flour. That’s what makes it so sinful and delicious. That and the fact that the butter is encased in the dough and then rolled out and folded repeatedly, stretching the butter into sheets, which cause the dough to rise up as the butter melts in the oven. There is also what’s called a “quick puff”, which is a tad less work than traditional puff. In a quick puff dough, you mix large chunks of butter into the flour and mix with just enough water for it to clump together. Then you roll and fold it as if it were puff pastry.

My pie dough falls in the middle. I use the 3:2:1 ratio, but I treat the dough like a quick puff. There are other techniques (I use this one when making galettes, because I don’t want such intense flakes there), but I like this one the best for pies. I also use a 9″ fluted quiche pan, because A) I don’t have the patience to shape beautiful edges and B) those beautiful shapes will melt out of a truly flakey dough anyways.

Quick notes: Since quiche pans are quite a bit larger than traditional pie pans, you’ll need more dough than a normal recipe, and a bit more filling. Also, since this dough gets worked more than a traditional dough, I HIGHLY recommend using pastry flour rather than all-purpose, to keep it from getting tough and chewy. Because this technique takes a while and is pretty labor-intensive, I usually make rather large batches that I portion and freeze for later use. Just pull the dough out of the freezer and into the fridge 1 day before you want to bake it.

So. Let us begin. At the beginning.

PIE DOUGH RECIPE (one 9″ pie):

9oz pastry flour

6oz unsalted butter, cold

3oz water, cold

1/2 tsp salt

– Cut the butter into tablespoon-sized chunks and place in the fridge to firm back up. It should be VERY cold.

– Dissolve the salt in the cold water and place in fridge.

– Put the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer.

– Put half of the chunks of butter into the flour and mix in medium low speed. Using the paddle attachment, mix for 1-2 minutes, until the butter starts to break down into small pieces. At this point you are trying to coat the flour with the butter, which will help shorten the gluten in the dough, making it more tender.

– Put the other half of the butter in the flour-butter mixture. Mix for only 15 seconds, just to coat the butter.

– Pour in the water in a quick stream. Mix JUST until there isn’t a lot of dusty loose flour. I sometimes mix the rest of the loose flour in by tossing it around with my hands. You may need to add a bit of extra water, like another tablespoon or so. You want to see big butter chunks, but you want the dough to hold together.

– Pour the dough onto a parchment-covered sheet pan and pat into a rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

– Roll the dough into a long rectangular strip. Try to keep neat corners by using a bench scraper. Fold the strip into a book fold – there are picture directions for that here. It is OK that the dough looks all crazy right now, it will get smoother with each fold. Place back on sheet pan, wrap in plastic and put back in fridge for 30 minutes.

– Do that last step 2 more times.

– If you are making dough for more than 1 pie, chop up the dough into portions now. Let the dough rest in the fridge for an hour.

– Roll the dough into a disc that will fit into the pie pan. Gently place in the pan and smooth out the bottom. Use fingers to press sides into fluted edge. It is important to work fast while being careful to not stretch the dough, which will cause to shrink up. Place it in the freezer for 20 minutes. This will also help prevent shrinking. Go ahead and turn on the oven to 400 (375 convection). At this point I’m going to pull pics from old posts…

– Pull the pan out of freezer and place an 8″ round piece of parchment on top of the dough. It should fit neatly in the dough shell. Put an 8″ cake pan on top of the parchment. You should have just a little bit of space between the cake pan and the dough, because the dough will expand to hug the cake pan as it bakes. Fill the cake pan with beans. Then place something heavy on top of that (I use a round pizza stone). I know this seems excessive, but seriously that pie dough wants to puff up.

– Bake it at 400 for around 45 minutes, with a rotation after 25 minutes. It should be set up and almost cooked through, so that when you pull out the cake pan it doesn’t start rising or sinking at the sides. Lower the temperature by 50 degrees and bake for another 5-15 minutes, until the dough is fully baked and golden brown. It should look something like this.

– Let it cool on a rack and then fill it up with yummy stuff!

WHEW…That was a lot of typing! Good Luck!

Crabby Crabby

Posted in I Like Salt Too by brandi on December 6, 2009

Hello from Seattle! It’s officially been 5 days and I still love it. The city and my new Ballard neighborhood continues to surprise me with awesomeness, and after 2 days at Delancey I feel like I’ve finally found my people. Homemade fabulousness like vinegars, ricotta salata, sausage (I get to break down giant pig parts!), pickles and ginger beer are everywhere. And then there’s dessert! So many ideas! It’s all so damn perfect and fun that I kid you not when I say I’ve been looking both ways extra hard when crossing the street, because it seems like the luck has to run out eventually.

I’m still setting up my new house, so I haven’t had much time to explore Seattle. But there was one thing that needed to happen as soon as the kitchen was put together: Purchase a crab. I know technically we had crab in San Francisco, but it just feels like once I’ve bought, cooked and eaten a crab here, then I’m home. Lucky for me crab season has just begun!

I bought one at the Pike Place Market, which is probably not that best option available here, but it was so perfect and Seattle-esque. I was busy (working!) at night, so I was thinking breakfast. And by breakfast I mean crab cake eggs benedict. We had the fish(monger?)guy scoop out the yucky bits, but we cracked into it ourselves. Which would have been easier with some proper gear, but we had some time to kill so we went at it with our hands. Actually my friend Scott, who traveled up with us from San Francisco to help up get settled in, did the cracking. He now tells me that a crab cracker is highly recommended.

I wanted a light crab cake, without a lot of bread filler so the crab flavor comes through. I tossed the meat with garlic, lemon, jalapeno, dijon, mayonnaise, egg yolks, salt, pepper and cayenne.

I formed little patties and set them in the fridge for a bit.

While they were chilling, me and Scott made a lemony hollandaise sauce. I have to say, hollandaise sauce is one of those things that just REALLY tastes better when made yourself. Maybe it’s watching all that clarified butter go in. It just makes it taste so much more decadent.

Once my sauce was finished, I tossed the cakes in panko crumbs and fried them until they were crispy and browned.

We toasted some muffins and poached some eggs while the crab cakes stayed warm in the oven. Then we stacked them all up and poured on the sauce.  And wow. WHAT a breakfast! A fantastic breakfast for a fantastic new beginning. NOW it feels like I live here.


8oz crab meat

1 garlic clove

1/ 2 lemon juiced

1 lemon zested

1 small jalapeno

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 TBSP mayonnaise

2 egg yolks

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 black pepper

pinch cayenne

panko crumbs

oil for frying

– Mix everything but the oil and panko together in a bowl.

– Form patties and let them sit in the fridge for 30 minutes.

– Coat cakes with panko crumbs.

– Fry in oil for 2 minutes on each side, until browned.

– Place in 300 degree oven for 5-10 minutes to finish cooking.

Hello Seattle! And Thomas Keller’s Leek Bread Pudding.

Posted in I Like Salt Too by brandi on December 3, 2009

I love it. All of it. I know it won’t last long, but the sun has been shining (in that low to the ground winter up north sort of way, but still) since we arrived and there’s talk of snow (!) next week. We’re finally emerging from a mountain of boxes, IKEA furniture, keeping the kitty from having a nervous breakdown and all the random details of moving and I am just beaming. Our new house is adorable, we ate dinner at Delancey last night, and I start my new job there tomorrow.


But for now, another post about Thanksgiving. Yes…I’m aware that that happened a week ago, but I have been a little busy. And without a kitchen and/or pots and pans. So, anyways, Thanksgiving. I have no love for turkey roasting. I’ll eat it once it’s there, and I enjoy the gravy making part, but I’m just not that into turkey. This year I hosted a dinner and my close friends Jennifer and Tom volunteered to roast the turkey. This made me extremely happy, because it allowed me to focus on the parts I DO love, like veggies and pie. To switch it up a bit, I decided to forgo a stuffing and replace it with a savory bread pudding. It was a risky move, since there were some stuffing lovers in the mix, but it worked out very well. I poked around in my cookbooks and found a recipe for leek bread pudding in Thomas Keller’s new book “ad hoc at home” (which is now officially my favorite of his). It looked absolutely perfect. And I just love leeks.

First I sauteed the leeks in butter for a while, until they were nice and squishy.

Then I layered a baking pan with the cheese, toasted brioche cubes, fresh thyme and the cooked leeks.

I poured a custard into the pan, and pressed all the bread in, making sure everything was wet. I let it soak for about an hour.

Then I baked it until it was bubbly and set in the middle. And it was fabulous. There was so much cream in the custard that it was super rich, which is not so perfect for every day, but just right for a Thanksgiving tummy blowout. Next time though, I’m kinda thinking bacon.


2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices leeks (white and light green parts only)

Kosher salt

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter

Freshly ground black pepper

12 cups 1-inch cubes crustless Brioche or Pullman sandwich loaf

1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

3 large eggs

3 cups whole milk

3 cups heavy cream

Freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup shredded Comté or Emmentaler

– Preheat the oven to 350°F.

– Put the leek rounds in a large bowl of tepid water and swish so that any dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl. Set a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, lift the leeks from the water, drain, and add them to the pan. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. As the leeks begin to soften, lower the heat to medium-low. The leeks will release liquid. Stir in the butter to emulsify, and season with pepper to taste. Cover the pan with a parchment lid, and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until the leeks are very soft, 30 to 35 minutes. If at any point the butter breaks or looks oily, stir in about a tablespoon of water to re-emulsify the sauce. Remove and discard the parchment lid.

– Meanwhile, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until dry and pale gold. Transfer to a large bowl. Leave the oven on.

– Add the leeks to the bread and toss well, then add the chives and thyme.

– Lightly whisk the eggs in another large bowl. Whisk in the milk, cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

– Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Spread half the leeks and croutons in the pan and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Scatter the remaining leeks and croutons over and top with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough of the custard mixture to cover the bread and press gently on the bread so it soaks in the milk. Let soak for about 15 minutes.

– Add the remaining custard, allowing some of the soaked cubes of bread to protrude. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese on top and sprinkle with salt.

– Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the pudding feels set and the top is brown and bubbling.