Pastry

Goat cheese & rosemary muffins with a honey drizzle

Fall time. 

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I always have the urge to bake when those leaves start crisping up and the sweaters come out. There is something about the ambiance of being cozied up on the couch with a good book on the weekends and watching the wind blow free yellow tulip poplar leaves as they travel, glide, and then graciously come to rest among their fellow brothers on the earth. After some moments of watching I place my socked feet on the hardwood and wander to the kitchen to poke around at the little bits of this and that. Opening the fridge a few times and checking the inventory of the dry goods cabinet, I allow my mind to stroll into the land of sugar and pastry and to warm sugary breath against cool air. I might stall, place the kettle on to make tea, but by the time the water is hot I already know that I am sucked in and that I am baking. The first time I had a muffin with one of my favorite combinations (goat cheese & rosemary) was at the bakery I use to work here in Charlottesville. It was a fall special we did occasionally. I only had this muffin there once... and I think about it with frequent adoration. The muffin at mudhouse is quite different than this one... at the bakery it was sour cream batter based and the rosemary was infused... giving it a stronger, earthier taste. This one is a recipe to be made on the spot and one that is good for using up any extra yogurt you have on hand. These muffins are mildly sweet and balanced so nicely with the savoriness of the goat cheese and rosemary. You must try it next time the cold brushes your skin.

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Recipe (Makes 12 medium muffins) 

All Purpose Flour - 1 1/2 cups

Spelt or whole grain flour - 1/2 cup

Sugar - 1/2 cup

Butter - 4TB at room temperature

Eggs - 2

Yogurt - 1 1/4cup

Milk - A splash (optional)

Rosemary Powder - 1/2tsp

Fresh Rosemary - 1 TB generous, minced 

Goat cheese - 1/3 cup, crumbled

Honey - 1-2TB

Baking powder - 1 tsp

Baking soda - 1/2 tsp

Salt - 1/2 tsp, scant

Crumble topping

Oats - 1/2 cup, generous

Sugar - 1 TB

Flour - 1 TB

Flaxseed - 1-2TB, ground up

Coconut oil - 2Tb, melted

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Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and butter a muffin pan. Add in your butter and sugar together in a mixer and cream together 5 minutes, scraping halfway through, until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix together your flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and the two different rosemaries. After the butter/sugar is creamed, add in the eggs one at a time while beating on medium low, scraping in between. Then add in your yogurt and stir until combined. Add in the flour and blend on low until just combined, you do not want to over-mix, as it develops the gluten/toughens your pastry. (If your batter seems just a little too thick, add in your splash of milk here and mix together, if not, then omit.) Then add in the goat cheese and drizzle over the honey, stir by hand until distributed... the streaks of honey are ok! 

Place your oats into a blender or food processor and pulse a few times to get a coarse oat flour. Toss these oats with the sugar, ground flaxseed, and flour. Then pour over the melted coconut oil and combine. You should be able to pinch it together into moist crumbles. Distribute the muffin batter evenly into the 12 spaces and then evenly distribute over the topping. Lightly tap the topping into the muffin batter with your fingertips to secure. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes or until completely cooked and slightly golden. 

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Meyer lemon & mascarpone tart + hibiscus whipped cream

Meyer Lemon.

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I realized at the start of spring that I went the whole winter without doing anything with meyer lemons. I decided to take my chance at the last of the late season meyer lemons and make these tarts. Meyer lemons are so perfect in a tart because unlike other lemons, meyer lemons are more sweet. Adding in this hibiscus infused cream was the perfect topping to add some extra acidity to the somewhat mello lemons. Plus the pink on yellow is undeniable. The mascarpone cream gives the lemon curd a creamy (think lemon meringue pie) taste that will make you want to spoon up the curd all by itself. Which I did...

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Recipe (Makes 4 5" tarts and extra crust you can freeze, I got 4 mini tarts of extra crust)

Hibiscus infused whipping cream.

Heavy whipping cream - 1/2 Cup

Dried Hibiscus - 1TB

Sugar - 3TB

Heat up the whipping cream with the hibiscus in a small sauce pan over the stove until fumes rise and the cream starts to simmer very slightly. Watch carefully as you don't want the cream to boil. Turn off the heat after it simmers and let the hibiscus infuse in the cream until it turns a nice deep shade of pink, stirring every so often. Strain out the hibiscus and put the cream in the fridge to cool. 

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Tart Crust.

All-purpose flour - 1 1/4

Cups (you could used pastry flour if desired)

Sugar - 1/8 Cup

Salt - good pinch of salt

Butter (unsalted) - 1 stick frozen (or very cold at least)

Egg yolk - 1

Ice cold water - 1/4 cup (sometimes it take more or less so prep more just in case)

Shift together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the frozen butter into small cubes and pulse the butter, egg yolk, and flour mixture together in to a food processor until it is a coarse meal. Add the very cold water to the food processor, 2TB at a time until the dough just holds together. It is ok if there is a bit of crumbly/dry spots. Press the dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigeration and leave for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the curd.

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Meyer lemon/mascarpone curd.

Eggs - 3 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk

Sugar - 2/3 cup

Juice of meyer lemons - 2/3 cups (took me about 8/9 lemons)

Butter - 4TB

Mascarpone - 2/3 a container

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl beat the eggs, yolk, sugar, and lemon juice together. Move the mixture into a small saucepan and place on the stove over low heat and add the butter cubes. Whisking while it melts/heats. Keep whipping/stirring until the mixture thickens and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Keep whisking and add the mascarpone by the spoonful until it melts and make sure it is still thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it isn't keep whisking over low heat until it is. 

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Take out your crust and cut into 4. Roll each quarter into a ball and then roll it out big enough to fit your tart pans. Grease the tart pans and then press in the crust on the bottom/sides. Repeat with the other 3. Place the crusts temporarily in the freezer and store the extra crust (if any) in the manner of your choosing. (You can store the leftover crust by freezing wrapped in a plastic wrap, in the fridge for a few days, or pressed into mini tart pans and frozen.) Let the curd cool for about 5 minutes and the tart crusts stay in the freezer for about 5 minutes. Take out the tarts and pour in the curd and distribute between the four tarts pans. Tap each tart down on the counter to settle the curd and then place into the oven. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until the crust turns golden and the curd puffs up and slightly colors. Let the tarts cool while you whip the cream.

Take out your hibiscus infused cream and place it into a mixer with the whisk attached. Turn on medium/low heat until the cream starts to foam/bubble and then increase the speed to a medium high/high speed. Start adding in the sugar slowly, 1TB at a time as the cream is whipping and thickens. Stop once the whipping cream has reached your desired thickness. Top onto the tarts and serve.

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Apple and mascarpone dumplings

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I had gathered the ingredients for this dish prior to the snow because, I had planned on making these during the snow. Something about snow always makes me want to have something sweet and warm. A pastry or a cookie but when I saw the mascarpone on sale, I knew it had to be. Unfortunately, we lost power from Wednesday - Saturday and I had no use of my oven. By the time we got it back, the snow was pretty well melted by then. No worries, these tasted just as good without snow.

I think you could play around with these a lot, try half and apple instead of a quarter, different spices & cheeses, and I'm looking forward to replacing the apple with a peach in the summer. Eat alone or top with another dollop of mascarpone and let the warm pastry melt it, a serving of ice cream or fresh cream would do as well.  

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Recipe (Makes 8 dumplings)

Apples - 2, I used a sweet small, pink-fleshed apple

Mascarpone - About 1/3 a container (5-6 TB) 

Sugar - scant 1/2 cup

Flour - 1TB

Cinnamon - 1tsp

Cloves - 1/4tsp

Vanilla extract - 3/4tsp

Anise extract - 1/2tsp (optional or try almond) 

Pastry ingredients

Flour - about 11/4cup (I used a heaped 1cup) (I used all purp but pastry might have been better) 

Sugar - a tablespoon or two - just a small fingerful

Salt - a small pinch

Butter - 1 stick very cold cold. If you can leave this is the freezer awhile, even better. 

Water - ice cold water in a two cup measuring pyrex

Egg wash - beat together an egg white mixed with a splash of cream or milk. 

Fill a two cup measuring pyrex (or do this in a bowl) with ice and water. We want this to sit, let the ice start to melt, to get very cold water. The key to good pastry is not letting the butter melt until it is in the oven. Shift together the flour, sugar, & salt for the pastry. Cut your butter into smallish cubes. Toss in the flower and work in with your finger tips. You want the mixture to look coarse but about the sizes of peas; work quickly. Now you will start adding in the ice water (strained from the ice). Add the water slowly, mixing the water/flour together as you go. You want to keep adding water until the mixture just comes together. You don't want it too wet and sticky. You should be able to press it into a ball - it is ok if there are some dry spots. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic. Place in your fridge for half an hour at least. It will keep in the fridge for a day or two.

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking sheet. Toss together the sugar, 1TB flour, cinnamon, & cloves. Place your marscapone in a small bowl and beat in (with the back of a spoon) the extracts. Slice you apples into quarters. Hollowing out a little bowl in the center of each apple wedge, to hold the mascarpone. Toss each wedge into the sugar/spice mixture - flipping to coat. Then take a generous teaspoon of the mascarpone/extract mixture and place into the shallow bowl on the apple wedge. Adding more mascarpone if there is leftover after all 8 wedges. 

Take out your pastry dough and cut into 8 wedges. Working quickly, roll the wedge into a ball and roll into a disc on a floured surface. You want the size to be just big enough to wrap around an apple quarter. Mine were just a bit smaller than the size of my hand. Place a apple quarter with mascarpone on the dough disc, facing down. Sprinkling with more of the sugar/spice mixture and then wrap the pastry up, kind of like a burrito. Repeat with all 8. Place, spacing evenly, on a baking sheet. Brush on eggwash, top with more sugar/spice mixture or course sugar and bake until golden - about 30 minutes. 

Serve and top with more mascarpone, cream, or ice cream. 

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