Sunday, January 12, 2014

jammy almond crumb bars

we live 
in the country
not the county of estates and tag sales
but the country
pastures and dairy sheep
so when
someone stops by
we wave them in
take their coat
sit them down with a
hot cup of coffee and a sweet

these bars are a twist on the common crumble bar
i use whatever jam i have on hand
{usually something not too sweet loaded with bits of fruit}
the twist comes in the form of almond paste
it finds its way into these cookies
at every bite
jammy almond crumb bars
2 sticks unsalted butter--room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
7 oz almond paste (divided)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup high quality-not too sweet jam (ollalaberry, raspberry, blackberry, fruits of the forest, etc)
1/4 cup toasted pistachio nuts
place sugar, flour and 1/3 of the almond paste in a bowl.  by hand, work in the almond paste so that it is in small bits throughout the flour.  Add the butter and work by hand until you get a crumble that will stick when pressed together.
press about 2/3 of the dough into the bottom and up the sides of  a 9"x9"  fluted tart pan*. take remaining almond paste and lightly press a thin layer on top of the crust.  you may not use all of the paste. spread evenly with jam.  
Mix the pistachio nuts in with remaining dough.  Evenly distribute remaining dough by crumbling on top of jam.  (i like a thick layer of topping)
Bake at 350 for approximately 40-45 minutes. you want the crust and crumble to be slightly colored, but not over-browned.

*if you do not have a fluted tart pan, this works fine in a standard 9x9 cake pan, just be sure to bring the crust 1/4-1/2"  up the sides.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

gingerbread bundt with espresso glaze

resolutions are not for me
i am all out of resolve 
by the time the new year rings its bell
no way
give me until spring

i will sit by the fire
mug in hand
fork in mouth
i made this cake as part of a full buffet for a wedding
full and heady with spice
it sticks to your ribs
in a good way

{this recipe comes from Gramercy Tavern...and developed by Claudia Fleming. I have made this recipe and the recipe in her book "The Last Course".  I prefer this one.  I have made a couple very minor adjustments to the recipe, which I will announce so you may or may not choose to do the same}
Gingerbread Bundt
{Gramercy Tavern}

1 cup oatmeal or guiness stout {i used anchor steam pale ale}
1 cup dark (not blackstrap) molasses
1/2 tsp baking soda

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbs ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
pinch ground cardamom
generous pinch kosher salt {my addition--optional}
3 large eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbs Trablit coffee extract *or 1 Tbs espresso powder {my addition-optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Use shortening to grease pan (trust me on this...pan spray will not work, butter works better, but shortening works the best) and then dust with flour. Set aside. 

Boil stout (or other beer if using) with molasses.  Take off heat and then whisk in baking soda.  The mixture will bubble up, so make sure your pan has plenty of room, so the mixture does not overflow.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  Sift together flour, baking powder, salt (if using), ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom {if using espresso powder, sift with flour. If using coffee extract, whisk in with eggs and sugar} Whisk together eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar until completely incorporated. Whisk in oil and then molasses mixture. Add flour in single addition and whisk until it is just combined.  Pour into prepared pan and bake about 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pan on rack for about 5 minutes, then turn onto rack, and allow to cool completely.

Espresso Buttermilk Glaze
{this is entirely my addition and is optional}
1 lb confectioner's sugar
1 oz strong espresso
1 Tbs Trablit coffee extract or 1 Tbs espresso powder

Place the confectioner's sugar in a bowl.   Mix the trablit or espresso powder into the espresso.  Pour the espresso bit by bit careful not to thin out the confectioner's sugar too much.  If the confectioner's sugar is still too thick to pour, add buttermilk until you get a pouring consistency. NOTE:  this uses such a small amount of buttermilk, if you don't have it on hand, you can easily substitute cream, half and half or milk.
Generously pour over cooled cake and allow to harden.

*Trablit is a very strong and specific coffee extract. It cannot be substituted with clear extract or candy oil.  If you can't find it (or it is cost prohibitive) please use espresso powder.  


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