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Baking is Science for Hungry People: Honey Almond Berry Crostatas

Hello Baking Buddies!

I had a request at work to make a specific recipe for my coworkers. They volunteered themselves as guinea pigs this time! Okay, fine, I should be honest. Three of them volunteered everyone up as guinea pigs. But that still counts!!! Right?!? Please?!? Yessssssss, success!

Honey-Almond-Berry Crostatas!

The Recipe: Betty Crocker Mini Honey Almond Cranberry Crostatas
The Task: Bake for us please.
The Date: I missed a good friend’s birthday (I thought it was 2 days later, dangit) so decided to bring this in for his birthday treat on the day I thought his birthday occurred.
The Challenge: Follow the recipe exactly.

WHOA! WHAT?! Follow the recipe exactly?!? What madness is this, you ask? I was challenged by a friend to actually follow a recipe without straying from it by even a smidgen. He didn’t think I could do it. Honestly, I didn’t think I could, either!

Ingredients Compiled!

So here are the ingredients: 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup honey, 1.25 cup fresh or frozen berries, 1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust (thawed), 3 tablespoons almond paste (3.5 oz tube), 1.5 teaspoons sliced almonds, 8 teaspoons honey.

I decided that I wanted to make a double recipe of fruit, so I actually had 1.25 cup frozen cranberries AND 1.25 cup fresh blackberries (hey, a Harris Teeter sale for $1 per pint, heck yes I bought some!). I started off with the cranberry. Partly to prove that I CAN follow a recipe, and partly to make sure it worked right before wasting blackberries. ๐Ÿ˜‰ See, I plot and plan when I bake!

So first step, preheat the oven to 425. Second step, place a sheet of wax paper down on the counter. Third step, put aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray.

1) Heat 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup honey (okay, I probably had closer to 1/3 cup PLUS 1 tablespoon, but that is from not wanting to dirty more stuff than necessary) over medium heat until boiling. You will only need to stir a few times, promise. This should take about 4-5 minutes, tops. Once boiling, add in your berries, reducing heat to medium-low setting (halfway between the two is where I put it). Cook for about 10-12 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until berries are tender (blackberrie) or popping (cranberries). Once this happens, remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes.

Cranberries Cooking!

2) While the berries are popping, unroll one of the crusts onto your wax paper. I used a lid for my Magic Bullet, but a normal drinking glass should work also. Take your ‘cutter’ and cut rounds out of the pie crust dough. Take scraps, re-roll out and cut again until all used up. Move them from the wax paper onto the aluminum foil on the cookie sheet. The recipe says make 4-inch rounds, however I think mine were more like 2.5/3-inch rounds, so I scaled the portions up accordingly. I love almond paste, so I was a bit generous here. Take a pinch of almond paste and center it in your pastry rounds. Make sure this is like a small dot in the center, though, and not taking up too much space!

Cranberries Cooking!

3) Once the berries have cooled, and the liquid is thicker, take a spoon and top the almond paste with 1 teaspoon of berries. For the cranberries it was about 4 berries per round, and for the blackberries it was about 3 berries per round. Once these are topped (and be sure you’re not putting in the juice here!), pinch the crusts together so they form balls. Don’t roll them into balls, and don’t worry if a few areas are thin, or a little holed on top. Just make sure the bottoms are solid! Top with some slivered almonds. Since mine were going to be smaller, I actually pounded the slivered almonds a bit so they were more like crushed pieces, and just sprinkled those on top.

Completed Crostatas!

4) Bake 14 minutes until golden brown, and remove from oven. Let cool 2 minutes then remove from pan. I actually moved mine into cupcake foils (cute ones) since I was taking them into work and that makes it easier to transport AND grab. Once they are moved, though, drizle the top of each crostata with a dollop of honey. Let cool the rest of the way.

Honey-Almond-Cranberry Crostatas

5) Repeat steps above with the other berry, using everything the same. The recipe says it will make 8 crostatas with 1 pack pillsbury pie crust (which is 2 8-inch crusts), however I was able to make 12 crostatas with EACH crust, only using 1 package for both berry varieties. So I made 24 crostatas using 2/3 cup water, 1 cup honey (total), 2.5 cups berries, 3.5 oz almond paste, 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, and 1 package Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust! WOOHOO! GO ME!

Honey-Almond-Blackberry Crostatas

My coworkers really enjoyed these, and a few people tried both. The consensus was that the Cranberry tasted better than the Blackberry for these, probably because the flavor profiles match up better for the overall effect. However if I were to do these again, without having to TRY (and fail) to prove that I can follow a recipe, I would probably add some vanilla extract with the Blackberries as they are cooking, and maybe use a walnut or pecan instead to sprinkle on top (while still using the almond paste inside). New idea for next time, woohoo!

Okay that is it for today, so I will catch you all next time, and hope you enjoyed this blog entry! Definitely think these are a GREAT baking idea if you are pressed for time, not wanting anything too complicated, and are needing a cheap item. I think I spent $15 for the actual items that were used (I bought extra paste, pie crust and fruit), counting having honey & water already… ๐Ÿ™‚

Craft You Later,
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Mini Fruit Tartlets

Happy Friday! ๐Ÿ™‚

I personally am very grateful that this work week is hours from being over. To celebrate this, I got baking last night! Okay fine, it was partly for stress relief as well, but I also wanted to celebrate TGIF, I swear! ๐Ÿ™‚
I saw this wonderful recipe for French Tart Dough earlier this week. And I am not going to lie, the fact that the blogger, David Lebovitz, was learning this from a Frenchย cooking instructor,ย Paule Caillat, was a draw. But then she said as her instruction for adding X amount of flour “Oh…you know, enough to make it right” — and I was sold on this recipe. A cooking instructor who cooks like me without really measuring, but eyeballing and going off of looks, smell and experience?!?! Ding!Ding!Ding! We have a winner. And thus I decided I needed to make a tart, a French tart. But not be one, of course… ๐Ÿ˜‰ Teeheehee, you know you laughed a little inside,ย so don’t even try to act like you didn’t.

So I was thinking about what kind of treat I wanted to make into a tart, but I was leaning heavily towards Kiwi-Strawberry-Banana incorporated somehow. And then I read a comment from David’s blog about using a pastry cream and fresh berries to top the tart. So I found a very awesome blog about “How to Make Pastry Cream”, which I’ve never done before, and decided that I would make Mini Fruit Tartlets! Woohoo!

Keep in mind, please, that I absolutely loved the dialogue from David’s blog in his learning from Paule, so I was definitely channeling that in my cooking of the French Tartlets!

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Browned Butter


First I preheated the oven to 410. Then I put 3/4 stick unsalted butter, 2 quick shakes of salt, 1.5 tbspn sugar, little under 1/8 cup water, and about 1 tbspn of canola oil into a glass baking dish. Put in the oven for 15 minutes (set your timer!), until the mix is melted and browning on the edges.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Cream & Sugar


While the butter browns, pour 2 cups/16 oz of heavy cream into a heavy saucepan on medium heat. Add rounded 1/2 cup sugar and 1 dash salt, whisking occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. Keep on heat until simmering.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Yolk For You


While the cream is heating, separate 5 eggs, reserving the whites for later, and whisk egg yolks with 1/8 cup sugar until the sugar dissolves, about 15-20 seconds. Then add in 1/8 cup flour (not cornstarch, yes I was out and decided to improvise, don’t be too shocked!) and whisk until fully incorporated. You should have a light yellow creamy mixture by now.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Frothed Milk


Once the cream has started to froth & boil, remove from heat (don’t turn off), stirring constantly for 1 minute, and then slowly pour into the egg mixture whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Milk & Eggs


Once the cream & eggs have been combined and whisked to creaminess, pour the mix back into the saucepan and set back on the heat. Whisk continuously until starts to bubble a bit, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat immediately.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Vanilla Butter


Once removed from heat, add a half stick butter (I broke mine in half, but 4 pieces would be quicker to melt) and 2 tspn vanilla extract. Okay, okay, I did more like 2.5, you caught me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Stir this with a spatula occasionally to help this incorporate the butter and vanilla evenly.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Browned Butter + Flour


About this time, your butter should be fully melted in the oven and slightly browned. Remove ***will be hot and splatter a bit*** from oven (keep the oven on) and let cool on the side for 1 minute. Add in 1 1/2 cups of flour, or just a little under, and stir until pulls away from sides and is a buttery sticky ball. Let sit and cool. I learned the hard way – remove the ball from the bowl and let cool on a surface that wasn’t just in an oven. ๐Ÿ™‚ I used the butter paper wrapper. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mini Fruit Tartlets: That's A Wrap of Pastry Cream!


Once your butter and vanilla have been fully incorporated, and your mixture has cooled some, pour the pastry cream into your egg-mixing bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the cream, which will keep a skin from forming on the cream. Fridge this at least 2 hours, or overnight. I did overnight.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Cupcake Dough


Once your dough has cooled, pinch off pieces and drop into greased (Pam to the rescue!) cupcake foils and spread evenly along the bottom of the foil/paper cups.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Stick A Fork In It


Once the dough is evenly spread in the holders, poke a fork in the bottom of each so that it just is vented. Don’t make holes, just a slight, light poke with the fork in each cupcake. Bake (still at 410) for about 12 minutes, turn the oven off and let sit in the oven 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: A Loaf Of Leftover


I actually had enough dough leftover for a small loaf pan to have on the bottom as well. I poked the fork in the bottom of this dough as well, but didn’t go too overboard. Bake this same as the cupcakes. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Baked Tartlets


Once baked, the tartlets will be slightly browned (like our butter earlier), and I will say – the foil cupcake wrappers browned way quicker then the silicone-and-paper-wrapper tartlets. Just so you know. Also, since I was going to assemble in the morning, I covered the tartlets with a towel (okay fine, I used my baking apron that I rarely actually wear, cuz it is longer than my dish towel) and let sit overnight.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Cream of the Tart


When you are ready to assemble, stir your pastry cream a few times, then drop dollops on top of the tartlets. Once they are all covered (and the excess on top of your loaf pan tart if you have that), let sit while you slice the fruit. I did a veritable rainbow of fruit…

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Green Fruit


I sliced 1 peeled kiwi into tiny pieces. Placed in a bowl.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Purple Fruit


Then I quartered about 1/2 quart of blackberries and added to the kiwi.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Red Fruit


Then I sliced up 1/2 a quart of topless strawberries and added those to the mix. Ooh la la.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Yellow Fruit


Finally I sliced a banana (halfways, then halfways again, then diced), and topped that on the fruit mix.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Sweeten the Deal


Finally, I added in 1/4 cup of brown sugar and mixed that evenly with the fruit, until well mixed but not abusing the fruit.

And last on the list – topping the tartlets with the fruit!

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Fruity Tart Loaf


Mini Fruit Tartlets: Side View of the Loaf


Mini Fruit Tartlets: Cupcake Tartlets, assembled!

Word of warning though – once you remove the paper holders from the silicone, I recommend you be careful because, as one victim — **ahem** coworker — found out, they are slippery like oysters if you’re not careful picking them up! ๐Ÿ™‚

So that is my Mini Fruit Tartlets, and I must say, my coworkers really seemed to enjoy them. Even the ones who don’t like sweets, or didn’t like the idea of fruit on top of a custard-tart. And they made me, personally, a fantastic breakfast, too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

So let me know if you like these if you try them out. Until then…

Craft You Later & TGIF!
Beth

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