Mini Fruit Tarts

I recently made a bunch of bite-sized treats (and cookies) for a party some friends of mine were having. A lot of brainstorming went into what I should make. I was all over the place with ideas. At one point I was actually thinking of making petit fours, but, I quickly nixed that idea when I couldn’t find or come up with a recipe that would be completely foolproof. I knew I was going to make cheesecake brownie bites (which are always a hit, you can find the recipe here), Raspberry Ripple Cupcakes, Rugelach (another hit), Chocolate Chip Cookies and Peanut Butter Cookies, but, I wanted something new to make. So, after some random Google searches I settled on Mini Fruit Tarts. They seemed simple enough, and, I made things even easier for myself when at the last minute I decided to buy frozen phyllo shells instead of making the dough myself.

I found these phyllo shells at my local supermarket in the frozen food section. To prep the shells I simply placed them on a baking sheet and baked them in a 350 F preheated oven for four minutes to make them crispy.

While they were cooling I made the filling. I combined mascarpone cheese, heavy whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl and used a handheld mixer to beat the ingredients until stiff peaks formed. I transferred the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized round piping tip and piped the filling into each of the shells, but, you could use a small spoon to spoon the mixture into them as well. I then placed the filled tarts in the refrigerator while I chopped up strawberries and kiwis to top them. Once the fruit was ready I topped each of the tarts with a piece of strawberry and kiwi and a blueberry. I honestly think that I had 45 tarts done in less than an hour. You can’t beat that!

Here are some pics of all the desserts I made. Oh yeah, at the last minute (the night before) I decided to make mini carrot cupcakes as well. I ended up using my go-to Carrot Cake recipe and since I didn’t halve it I ended up with about 100 mini cupcakes. I only ended up frosting half of them and the rest ended up being the perfect little snack to munch on.

 

Mini Fruit Tarts

  • Servings: 22 (2 each)
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Ingredients:

3 boxes of phyllo shells*

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1 cup heavy whipping cream

5 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Fruit for topping**

 

*I used Athens Phyllo Shells, each box contains 15 shells

**I used chopped strawberries and kiwis and blueberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place phyllo shells on a large baking sheet and bake for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan.

In a large bowl combine the mascarpone cheese, heaving whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar and using a handheld mixer beat the ingredients until stiff peaks form.

Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a round tip and pipe the mascarpone cream into the cooled shells. You could also use a spoon to spoon the mixture into the shells.

Top with your desired fruit and chill until ready to serve.

Blueberry Peach Buckle

Labor Day… Today marks the unofficial end to the summer for most, calendar-wise though we have until the 22nd. And with temps planning to hit the high 80’s in New York this week, it doesn’t seem like summer is letting go that easy! So, if you’re craving a dessert that’s reminiscent of summer flavors and you’re still able to get fresh peaches in your neck of the woods (although frozen would work, or you could sub the peaches for apples) this Blueberry Peach Buckle is for you!

Now, you may be wondering what exactly a buckle is. I know I was when I saw this recipe. Well, it’s a fruit cake, usually made with blueberries, that has a streusel topping. When the cake bakes the batter will rise whereas the blueberries and streusel topping will weigh it down, the surface of the cake will then buckle. Truth be told, I didn’t really see this happen with the one I made.

Overall this cake was good, but, there are two things I would do different next time. I found the streusel topping to be a bit sweet so I think I would cut back on the granulated sugar and have an even amount of both sugars. Also, add in another chopped peach. I could barely taste the peach pieces in the cake. Oh, and there is a third, either omit the orange zest or add in another 1/4 teaspoon. I really didn’t get the orange essence.

A scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side did make this cake extra yummy though regardless!

 

Blueberry Peach Buckle

For The Cake:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 2/3 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon orange zest

1 large egg

1/2 cup milk*

2 cups blueberries

1 large peach, chopped

 

*I used whole milk

 

For the Streusel Topping:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Pinch of salt

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease an 8×8 baking dish with butter or spray with cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl beat the butter, sugar and orange zest together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and then gradually beat in the milk with the mixer on low. Your batter may look curdled due to the milk and zest interacting. Add the flour mixture and continue to meat until well incorporated. Your batter will be thick. Fold in the blueberries and chopped peach and spread in the prepared dish.

To make the streusel, in a medium bowl combine the sugars, flour, nutmeg and salt. Work the butter in with your fingers until clumpy. Scatter it over the batter.

Bake in the preheated oven for about an hour, until a cake tested inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and then serve with the ice cream.

Recipe from Food Network

Lemon Blueberry Snack Cakes

I don’t have enough space in my kitchen to store all of my baking supplies so I keep them nicely organized on a shelving until in my basement. Not long ago while grabbing my Bundt pan to make a pound cake I thought it was about time I use my snack cake pans again. I’ve only used them once to make these Chocolate Snack Cakes. So, the wheels started turning to come up with a flavor. Initially I was thinking of making a Raspberry Cake with a Lime Curd Filling, then, it became a Raspberry Cake with a Lemon Curd Filling, next, a Lemon Raspberry Cake with a Pastry Cream filling, but, since blueberries were on sale the week I decided to make them it ended up being a Lemon Blueberry Snack Cake. Maybe another day will try out one of those other flavors. Oh, and in case you are wondering what a snack cake pan is, it’s essentially a pan that will make cakes that look like Twinkies. I have this one from Fat Daddio, which I believe isn’t available anymore, but, Wilton makes a similar one.

I tweaked the recipe that I used to make this Lemon Cake a few years back and then gently folded in blueberries that I dredged in flour (a little trick to ensure the blueberries won’t sink to the bottom of the batter while baking). I then divvied the batter among my snack cake pans and baked them in the oven. If you don’t have snack cake pans, you can use the batter to make cupcakes. They are delicious on their own, but, it you opt to make the cupcakes top them with cream cheese frosting and decorate with lemon zest and a few more blueberries for a little extra wow.

 

Lemon Blueberry Snack Cakes

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

5 oz. buttermilk*

3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup blueberries, dredged in flour

 

*I made my own buttermilk by stirring together 4 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar and 1 cup whole milk and let it sit for 10-15 minutes until it curdled. You can refrigerate the leftovers.

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a snack cake pan with baking spray. If making cupcakes, line a cupcake tin with liners.

Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt) and set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light & fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beat until just combined. Add in the lemon zest and vanilla extract.

Fold in the blueberries and pour batter into the pan. For the snack cake pan use about 3 tablespoons of batter per cavity, for cupcakes 1/4 cup of batter.

Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Blueberry Crumb Muffins

Do you ever notice that you don’t normally see oddball (maybe that’s not the best word choice) muffin flavors like you do for cupcakes? I guess since muffins are traditionally a breakfast food people don’t want to eat anything to out of the ordinary that early in the day. I don’t know if I would eat a lavender vanilla muffin as quickly as I would a lavender vanilla cupcake! Today, I am bringing you a tried and true muffin flavor… Blueberry. Maybe another day I’ll make something a little more adventurous… Pumpkin Spice season is quickly approaching and I am sure that would make the base for a delicious muffin.

What makes these muffins a real stand-out is the streusel topping. It’s an added layer of yumminess and sweetness.

 

Blueberry Crumb Muffins

  • Servings: 8 small or 5 large
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Ingredients:

Muffins:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup milk*

1 cup fresh blueberries

 

*I used whole milk

 

Crumb Topping:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line the muffin tin with liners and then spray the top of the muffin pan with baking spray. Doing this will allow you to remove the muffins easily if they happen to rise and bake onto the pan.

Crumb Topping:

Mix together all of the ingredients in a medium bowl with a fork or with your hands until well combines, set aside.

Muffins:

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Measure the vegetable oil in a measuring up, add the egg and enough milk to bring the mixture to 1 cup. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and mix well. Fold in the blueberries. Fill the muffin cups to the top and sprinkle with the crumb topping.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack before enjoying.

Recipe from Allrecipes

Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie

It’s Pi day! And no, I didn’t spell that wrong. Today is 3/14, the first 3 numbers for Pi. The Greek letter that is a symbol in mathematics to represent a constant – the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It’s an irrational and transcendental number, i.e. it will go on infinitely without repetition or a pattern. Have I bored you yet? Sorry… On to the Pie. In honor of Pi Day, I decided to bake a pie I had never had before, a blueberry pie. A Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie to be exact. Yes, I never had Blueberry Pie until I made this one. I must say, I am not a big pie eater, especially fruit pie. I always feel like they are going to be super sweet. What made this pie a hit amongst those who tried it was the fact that it wasn’t super sweet. Something I was quite happy about as well.

I’m not a fan of making pie crust from scratch so I buy Pillsbury refrigerated crust. I find it works just as well as homemade crust – I am sure there are plenty of you shaking your heads at that comment right now – and its super easy to use to make a decorative crust. And another plus, clean-up is a cinch! So after letting my two crusts (one for the top and one for the bottom) come to room temperature I rolled out what would be the bottom into a 13 inch round; the crust was already a 9-inch round so I had no problem rolling it out the extra few inches. I then fitted it into my 9-inch pie plate.

Next, I made the filling. I combined 7 cups of fresh blueberries with sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch & lemon juice.

I then poured the mixture into the pie plate.

To make the lattice top, I started by rolling out the other half of the pie crust into another 13-inch round.  Then using a fluted pastry wheel I cut the dough into ten 1-inch strips. Thankfully my work mat has 1-inch grid lines on it so cutting out the strips was a breeze. I just had to be sure to cut in a straight steady line.

I placed five of the strips vertically on the pie, evenly spaced.

And then proceeded to fold and unfold the strips to create a lattice pattern.

I then trimmed and tucked in the edges of the crust and crimped it with a fork.

Next, I brushed the pie with an egg yolk-heavy cream egg wash and sprinkled sanding sugar on top.

And after refrigerating the pie for about a half hour in the fridge I placed it on a parchment lined baking sheet and baked it in a 400 F preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the crust began to brown, and then lowered the oven to 350 F and continued baking the pie for about another hour, until the crust was a deep golden brown and the juices began to bubble. I kept the pie tented with aluminum foil for most of the baking time, removing it for the last 30 minutes of baking so the crust wouldn’t brown too quickly.

Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie

Ingredients:

Pie Crust – Bake your own or store bought

2 pounds (about 7 cups) fresh blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 large egg yolk, for egg wash

1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash

Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

On a lightly floured surface roll out half of your pie crust into a 13-inch round about 1/8-inch thick. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate.

In a large bowl combine the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice. Pour the mixture into the pie plate, piling in the center.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the other half of your pie crust. Once again into a 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. To make the lattice, cut the dough into 10 1-inch strips using a fluted pastry wheel or a pizza cutter. Carefully place the strips on the pie weaving into a lattice pattern. Trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang and fold the edges under, then crimp with a fork.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream for the egg wash. Brush on top of the dough strips and then sprinkle with the sanding sugar.

Refrigerate or freeze the pie until firm, about 30 minutes.

Place the pie on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until the pie begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 F and continue baking until the crust is a deep golden brown and the juices begin to bubble, about an hour. If the crust begins to brown too quickly tent the pie with aluminum foil.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing in.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Pies and Tarts Book

 

 

 

Blueberry Vanilla Ice Cream

With berries in season there’s so many delicious treats you can make with them… Pies, Cakes, Muffins and probably something that doesn’t come as quickly to mind… ice cream! Ever since I got my ice cream maker a few years ago I am always trying to come up different flavors to make – Pumpkin, Lavender Vanilla, Mint Chocolate Chip – some common and some not so common. I’ve even made Hibiscus Sorbet. So, with a fridge full of blueberries I decided to make a vanilla ice cream base and then swirl in a blueberry compote, hence Blueberry Vanilla Ice Cream.

To make the vanilla ice cream base I combined milk, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and blended it with a hand mixer on low speed until the sugar was dissolved. I then stirred in heavy cream and vanilla bean paste (you could use vanilla extract.) I covered the bowl and refrigerated it for about 5 hours (you could do as little as 1 to 2 hours, you just want to make sure that the mixture is cold.)

Meanwhile, to make the blueberry compote, I combined blueberries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and let the mixture simmer until some of the blueberries burst and the mixture began to thicken. I removed it from the heat to let it cool and then covered it and refrigerated it as well.

Once the ice cream and compote were properly chilled it was time to combine them to make the Blueberry Vanilla Ice Cream. Per the instructions of my ice cream maker, I turned it on and poured in the vanilla ice cream base and let it churn for about 15-20 minutes until it had a soft creamy mixture. With the machine still running, I then poured in the compote and let the machine run for about another 30 seconds until the compote had swirled through the ice cream and was lightly incorporated. I then transferred the ice cream to a freezer-safe container and placed it in the freezer so the ice cream could firm up – about an hour.

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And then it was time to enjoy… And one simple sentence sums up the flavor…. There’s nothing like homemade!

But, if you don’t have an ice cream maker here are two quick ideas on how to make your own Blueberry Vanilla Ice Cream. Use the compote as a topping on your favorite vanilla ice cream. Or take it one step further and soften a pint of your favorite vanilla ice cream and then add it to a large bowl and using a rubber spatula fold the compote into the ice cream. Place the ice cream in a freezer-proof container and place it back in the freezer so it can firm up, about 1-2 hours.

 

Blueberry Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients:

For the vanilla ice cream

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract*

*can substitute vanilla bean paste

 

For the blueberry compote

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

 

Directions:

For the vanilla ice cream; In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed (or by hand use a whisk) to combine the milk, granulated sugar and salt until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla extract. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.

For the blueberry compote; In a small saucepan combine the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice and simmer over medium-low heat until the blueberries begin to burst and the sauce thickens. Let cool, cover and refrigerate.

Follow the directions for your ice cream maker to churn the vanilla ice cream. Once the ice cream thickens slowly pour in the compote and continue to churn for about 30 seconds to lightly incorporate the compote into the vanilla ice cream.

Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-proof container and freeze for about 1 to 2 hours to firm.

Vanilla ice cream recipe from Cuisinart

 

Mixed Berry Galette

The unofficial end of summer is upon us… Labor Day. While the day temps feel like summer the drop in the evening temps definitely signal the arrival of Fall is imminent, kids are heading back to school and everywhere you look there is something flavored pumpkin. I am not complaining though… Fall is by far my favorite of the four seasons. I love the crispness in the air, apple picking, the leaves changing colors and the return of scarf season. If you didn’t know, I love scarves!!! But before all that fun begins I have one last summer themed dessert… A Mixed Berry Galette. While you can get berries – blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc. – anytime of the year, summer is when they are at their peak.

Just look at how vibrant and delicious these berries look…

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While you could make your dough from scratch, I opted to go the easier and quicker route by using a puff pastry sheet. After thawing the sheet out I rolled it on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch square. I then transferred it to a parchment lined cookie sheet and placed it the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

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Following that I put my berries – which I tossed with corn starch, sugar and salt – in a small mound in the center of the sheet and folded the edges around it. I brushed the edges with an egg wash – an egg beaten with a teaspoon of water – and sprinkled granulated sugar on it.

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After refrigerating it for 15 minutes I the baked it in a 400 F preheated oven for 30 minutes – until the puff pastry was golden brown and the berries were bubbling. Unfortunately my galette opened up a bit while baking.

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That didn’t affect the taste though; once it cooled I cut myself a piece and was quite pleased with how something so quick and simple could turn into something so delicious!

Mixed Berry Galette

Ingredients:

1 frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed

All-purpose flour, for dusting

1 large egg, for brushing the pastry

3 cups mixed berries – strawberries, blueberries, blackberries

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup granulated sugar*, plus more for sprinkling the puff pastry

1/4 teaspoon salt

*If you would like your galette on the sweeter side add a tablespoon or two more sugar.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the puff pastry into a 12-inch square on a lightly floured surface. Transfer the sheet to the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Make the filling by tossing the berries with the cornstarch, sugar and salt.

Place the fruit in the center of the puff pastry in a small mound and fold the edges of the sheet over the fruit, overlapping the sheet as you fold.

Brush the pastry with an egg wash – the egg lightly beaten with a teaspoon of water – and then sprinkle with granulated sugar. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes, until firm.

Bake until the edges are golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, about 30 – 35 minutes.