If the Bacon Slayer could attest to just two things about me as of late, it would be that:
- I’ve been devouring new cookbooks as if the pages themselves were a form of bodily sustenance.
- I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with baking pies.
Which is kind of perfect because one of my more recent acquisitions is the Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson. My friend Carrie insisted that I needed to snag a copy as soon as possible because I would adore it. I amazon’ed the book solely on Carrie’s recommendation, and she was absolutely right. I do adore the cookbook, which is chock-full of recipes that are sure to grace our table in the not-so-distant future.
However, what I enjoy most about it is reading Joy’s voice in the book. She’s funny, charming, and incredibly engaging. Being that Joy is an award winning food blogger, I feel a little silly not having read her before now. I’m glad Carrie turned me on to Joy because anyone who Celebrates Butter and Sugar is my kind of people.
Carrie also mentioned a group of bloggers that participate in a little something called Sundays with Joy, in which every couple of weeks more than 140 of them cook the same recipe from the Joy the Baker Cookbook.
Comfortably Domestic Confession #1: For someone who reads cookbooks like novels, I don’t often cook from their pages.
While I scour cookbooks for interesting information, new techniques, and culinary inspiration, when I’m cooking I tend to just wing-it and scribble down recipes as I go along. Since I began sharing our family’s favorite recipes on Comfortably Domestic, I’ve inadvertently immersed myself in a hyper-recipe-development mode.
I scribble furiously in notebooks as I work in the kitchen. I spend my free time testing recipes or researching the science behind future recipe ideas. I lose sleep over why something isn’t working in a recipe that I’m working on. Developing recipes is part of who I am–I enjoy it.. The development process can be very exciting but it also requires a lot of thought. To be honest, sometimes I lose sight of the simple joy that comes from creating something in the kitchen without worrying over whether or not it is Blog Worthy.
One of my personal commitments this year is to relax in the kitchen.
So, this year I vowed to follow more recipes from my stacks of cookbooks, in order to recapture some of that unhindered excitement that comes with cooking for recreation. I joined Carrie’s Sundays with Joy group to give myself a built-in day off. A day to cook from a book without any self-imposed guilt that I should be doing more. Being involved with a forum of fantastic and supportive bakers to gab with is a wonderful bonus! I’m thrilled that the group would have me, because I need to recapture a little more Joy.
As this is my inaugural week, I was really excited to follow a recipe!
This week’s Sundays with Joy assignment was her dark chocolate tart with sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries. I love a good and creamy chocolate ganache, but being that all of the berry brambles here on the 45th Parallel are currently frozen under several feet of snow, I opted for giving the tart an orange-ginger slant. I may have also taken a few liberties with the printed ingredient measurements. And maybe changed up the method just a tad…but other than that, I followed the recipe to the letter.
What can I say? I can’t seem to leave well enough alone, but I’m working on it.
Here’s what I changed:
I made the tart dough in the food processor à la my go-to pie dough recipe, cut back on the flour called for, skipped the cinnamon, increased the ginger, then added a little half & half for it to all come together.
Comfortably Domestic Confession #2: Whenever I blind bake a tart or pie dough, it usually ends up as a gloppy, melted mess of dough at the bottom of the plate with me resisting the urge to hurl it out the window. Sometimes the lure of defenestration is hard to resist.
Given my tenuous blind baking history, I followed my friend Jenni’s advice and froze the unbaked tart shell overnight rather than for just an hour. Jenni is a real-live pastry chef with awesome tutorials, so when she suggests an overnight freeze, I listen.
For the filling, I used semi-sweet baking chocolate rather than dark chocolate, also adding a hefty splash of my new love: King Arthur Flour’s Fiori di Sicilia (orange) extract. Since I hate doing dishes, I made the ganache the microwave rather than messing with the whole bowl-over-a-simmer-pot-of-water thing.
I candied some orange peels, promptly eating half of them before I finished the tart. I saved the orange syrup created as a byproduct of candying said orange peels and tossed it into a big pitcher of iced tea.
The iced tea has nothing to do with the recipe, but I just thought I’d give you an idea for what to do with that wonderful syrup.
While the assembled tart was chilling in the ‘fridge, I chopped up some crystallized ginger root to fold into the whipped cream. Crystallized ginger root (also called candied ginger) is just ginger that has been softened and coated in sugar–a lot like the candied orange peels above.
Even with the alterations, baking for Sundays with Joy brought a smile to my face; also smiling was my neighbor, to whom I gave half of the tart as he walked his dog by my house. See? Joy abounds!
Chocolate Orange Tart
with Crystallized Ginger Whipped Cream and Candied Orange Peel
Adapted from Joy the Baker’s “Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart”
Makes one 10-inch Tart
For the Crust:
1 ¼ C. all-purpose flour, sifted
½ C. powdered sugar, sifted
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
½ C. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cubed and frozen
1 Tbs. Half & Half
1 large egg yolk
For the Candied Orange Peel:
2 large oranges
Enough water to fill a small saucepan
¾ C. granulated sugar
½ C. water
For the Filling:
8 oz. semi sweet baking chocolate, chopped (not chips or morsels)
1 C. heavy whipping cream
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, cold & cubed
1 tsp. Fiori di Sicilia extract (or other orange extract)
For the Topping:
1 C. heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs. powdered sugar
1 tsp. crystallized ginger root, minced (or more, to taste)
Prepare the crust by adding the flour, powdered sugar, salt and ground ginger to the bowl of a food processor—pulsing 2 or 3 times to combine. Sprinkle the frozen butter cubes into the work bowl, tossing with a fork to coat. Pulse for another 4 or 5 times, or until the butter is the size of large pebbles. Whisk the egg yolk into the half & half. Turn the processor on low speed before pouring the egg mixture through the feed tube; continue to process for 30 to 40 seconds or until dough begins to come together.
Dump dough into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Use clean, floured hands to press the dough evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Dough is very tender, but may also be rolled out with a rolling pin and carefully transferred. Freeze the dough for several hours. (Can be frozen up to one day in advance.)
While the tart shell is in the freezer, prepare the candied orange peel by scoring long strips off of the orange with a zest stripping tool or vegetable peeler. Take care not to include the bitter white pith. Fill a saucepan halfway with water, and bring it to a boil. Boil the orange peels in the pot of water for one minute—this will take some of the bitterness out of the peel. Drain the peels and rinse with cold water. Dump the water and rinse the pot.
Fill the pot with the half-cup of water and sugar, stirring to combine; bring to a boil over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Sprinkle the orange peels into the pot of syrup. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer peels for 6 to 8 minutes until tender. Transfer the peels with tongs to a sheet of parchment paper and allow to dry to the touch. (About an hour.)
Once dough is frozen and candied orange peels are dry, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the tart shell with non-stick aluminum foil and fill with pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights, and continue to bake for another 15 minutes or until tart is golden brown. Allow tart shell to cool completely.
While the tart shell is cooling, prepare the filling by placing the chopped chocolate with the cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute on half power and then stir it to combine—chocolate will not be completely melted. Continue to heat in additional 30 second bursts on half power, whisking in between, until chocolate is fully melted and mixture is smooth.
Once the chocolate is melted, whisk in the butter and orange extract until the chocolate mixture is satiny and smooth. Pour into the cooled tart shell and set at room temperature to cool. Once chocolate has cooled, refrigerate the tart for one hour to set.
While the tart filling is setting, whip the cream with the powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in the minced crystallized ginger. Spoon the gingered whipped cream over the tart, and top with candied orange peel.
If you’d like to have a little more Joy in your kitchen and you’d like to learn more about our super fun group… All you need is your own copy of Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes. And checkout the facebook group Sundays With Joy for our baking schedule! You don’t need to be a food blogger! All you need is the book and a love of baking.
It’s been almost a month, so I have to ask: How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming along?