Apple Tart

Apple Tart Brownie Box 2

When it comes to small family gatherings, I’m always asked to bring dessert with me. So what I usually do is head over to Foodgawker or Pinterest and look up some inspirational images or go through my list of “recipes I want to try”. The Apple Tart is definitely on my “to-try” list. I’ve had my eye on this recipe for months!

Apple Tart Brownie Box 5 Apple Tart Brownie Box 1

I noticed that there are so many variations of the apple tart filling: some add heavy cream, lemon zest or juice, rum, ground almonds, caramelized apples etc ! I ended up adapting my own recipe from what I’ve read online, and I am so happy with the result. I only added apricot preserve between the dough and the apples. The crust turned out very thin and flaky, and the apples buttery soft with a tinge of sweetness. It looks so impressive, I couldn’t believe that I did it all by myself! I’ve already baked 3 tarts in two weeks! When my family saw the tart they screamed out “You made that?!” (They think that it took hours preparation, and I didn’t deny it). Seriously, this beautiful tart will make you look like a pro in no time. (who said you’re not a pro anyway?)

First, start making the dough which is essentially pate brisée (French for shortcrust pastry – It doesn’t rise when baked and it has a buttery flaky texture).

Chopped Butter
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It is made from equal parts of cold butter and flour blended into pea sized bits, then held together with a small amount of ice cold water to form a crumbly dough. Transfer the mixture onto a working surface, then shape into a disc and place it in the fridge for an hour at least or overnight.
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dough plastic wrap
Next, peel, core (I used a melon baller), halve apples, and thinly slice them while keeping them together to retain the halved apple shapes. Then take out your dough, roll it out on a heavily floured surface to avoid sticking to the work surface. I rolled it out on a baking paper because it made the process of transferring the dough to the tart pan much easier. If you don’t have a tart pan, you can fold in the sides of the dough galette style, and bake on a baking sheet.

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Next, brush the dough with apricot preserve and place the sliced apples on the dough in concentric circles. Finish off by sprinkling sugar, cinnamon, and few cubes of butter. Bake until deep golden brown in color and serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream!
Apple Tart Brownie Box 10 Apple Tart Brownie Box 3

Here it goes: A simple flaky thin crusted apple tart filled with buttery soft apples.

Ingredients:
Dough:
1+1/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon sugar (optional, to make the dough sweeter)
115 grams (1 stick, 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1/4 teaspoon salt (to make the dough less sticky)
4 tablespoons ice-cold water

Tart:
11 small apples, peeled, cored, and halved
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
50 grams butter (about 4 tablespoons butter)
3 tablespoons apricot preserve

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions:
1. Add flour, sugar, butter, and salt in a food processor.

2. Pulse 10 times until pea­-size crumbles form- meaning, turn the food processor on and off in short cycles. It’s very important to use cubes of COLD butter, to avoid melting it into the dough. Do NOT break down the butter too much, you won’t get a flaky dough if the tiny bits of butter are not visible.

3. Slowly add 4 tablespoons ice­-cold water and pulse until dough is moistened, about 3—4 pulses. Do not pulse the dough to form a mass — keep it loose and crumbly, it will come together eventually

4. Transfer dough to a work surface and form into a flat disk using your hands; Plastic wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 2 days.

5. Peel, core, halve, and thinly slice apples — keeping the slices together.

6. Unwrap dough and transfer to a generously floured work surface. Press down the dough with a rolling pin and move it from the center out. Roll into a 25 cm (10 inch) thin circle and then transfer to a 22 cm (9 inch) tart pan, and trim edges. Work quickly to keep the dough cold and to avoid stickiness. If the dough softens, chill it in the freezer for a few minutes. — I used a glass tart pan, you can also use a non-stick tart pan with a removable bottom. The dough rolls out up to 30 cm or 12 inch.

7. Brush apricot preserve onto the bottom of the pastry.

8. Heat oven to 190ºC or 375ºF.

9. Transfer halved sliced apples to the tart pan and press gently as you are placing them next to each other. Start out at the outer edge of the pan working your way to the center.

10. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

11. Sprinkle the tart with the sugar-cinnamon mixture, and add small cubes of butter (Use as much or as little as you like).

12. Bake until golden brown, around 50-60 minutes. (It took me 50 minutes)

And you’re done!

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Homemade Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is good… Homemade peanut butter is delicious!

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I recently found out that peanut butter is simply ground peanuts. It never crossed my mind to make my own because I always thought that thick peanut butter contained ingredients that are not available in my pantry. Surprisingly, you only need roasted peanuts, peanut oil, and honey (to add a touch of sweetness). Since I love making things from scratch, I had to try it out.

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But first, I decided to do some research about peanut butter: where did it originate? why is it called peanut “butter”?

I found out that peanuts are actually legumes! Yup, I was surprised too. Unlike walnuts or almonds that grow on trees, peanuts grow underground and they provide the best source of concentrated protein. Its origin goes back to the Aztecs who used to crush roasted peanuts into a paste. It wasn’t until 1908 that it came to the U.S. market. It’s called peanut “butter” simply because its consistency resembles softened butter.

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What I love about this recipe is that I can enjoy eating peanut butter without worrying about the amount of sugar, salt, or additives in my food. I usually buy high quality freshly roasted peanuts from the local roastery, but you should always check the ingredients for any harmful additives since the peanuts are the main ingredient.

I noticed on foodgawker and a few other blogs that the color of  homemade peanut butter differs from one person to another. That’s because the color depends on the type of the peanuts used for processing. So it can turn out darker or lighter than the store brought version.

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I love eating peanut butter with toast, bananas, or apples! I usually slice an apple into rings, spread some peanut butter, and top it off with homemade granola. Yum! You’ll get the healthy fiber, fats, and whole grain servings with this nutritious and filling snack.

It’s really fun to make your own peanut butter 🙂 Let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

200 grams, about 1+1/3 cups, lightly salted roasted peanuts (you can also roast your own peanuts)
2 Tablespoons peanut oil (or walnut, canola, but not olive oil)
1 Tablespoon raw honey

Directions:

1. Put the peanuts in the food processor.
2. Process for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add the oil and honey, then process until smooth (about 3-4 minutes), or until you reach the desired consistency. (be careful the machine could overheat)
4. Transfer to an air tight container and refrigerate up to 2 months.

Note: For crunchy peanut butter, stir in 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts after processing is complete.

Apple Swirl Cake

1 -Apple Swirl Cake | Brownie Box
I am going to share with you a great Apple Swirl Cake recipe that my grandmother and mother have been making for as long as I can remember. It’s a delicious cake that we always eat for breakfast or even for dessert with some whipped cream.
4- Apple Swirl Cake | Brownie Box
I absolutely love baked apples: they’re sweet, tart and tender. My favorite part is their wonderful warming aroma that fills the house!2- Apple Swirl Cake | Brownie Box

The cake is spiced with cinnamon and swirled with chunks of sweet apples. It is also super moist: the addition of orange juice and yogurt to the batter gives the cake a wonderful texture. Can you believe that it gets better the second day? The spongy cake soaks the apple cinnamon juice to develop a deeper flavor.
3- Apple Swirl Cake | Brownie Box
I’ve never been able to stop with just one slice!

Ingredients:
3 cups cored, peeled and chopped apples
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 + 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 medium eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons liquid vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1. Mix apples, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl.
2. In another large bowl combine sugar and oil.
3. Beat in eggs, orange juice, yogurt, and vanilla extract.
4. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. Add to creamed mixture a little at a time until smooth.
6. Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).
7. Grease and flour a bunt pan.
8. Pour 1/3 batter into a greased bunt pan. Add 1/2 of the apple mixture on top of the batter.
Add another 1/3 of the batter, then the rest of the apples. End with the remainder of the batter on top.
9. Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
10. Cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan before turning the cake onto a wire rack.
11. Serve warm with whipped cream. Optional

Homemade Cinnamon Pecan Granola

cinnamon-pecan granola | Browniebox_3

Today I made homemade granola and devoured it with natural yogurt and fresh fruits for breakfast. Yes, it was good. I know, I know I love eating chocolate all the time but I also enjoy healthy and nutritious treats.

I’ve never really liked the store brought granola. Every brand has a different taste and its either too sweet, not crunchy enough, or has stale dried fruits yukh! I am never happy with the available flavors on the market. They also contain an excessive amount of fat, calories, and hard-to-pronounce additives (which are not good for you!).

cinnamon-pecan granola | Browniebox_2
Everyone can create their customized granola with just a little bit of mixing and toasting. My version here has chopped pecans and cinnamon. It stays crunchy and delicious for around three weeks. I usually keep it refrigerated in a sealed jar and it’s immediately ready to use as topping for yogurt, ice-cream, and cereal. (or just for snacking ;))

I compiled a list of ingredients that you can add to your basic granola mixture before baking it (don’t forget to cut down on dried fruits and nuts if you want to keep it healthy):

Dried fruits: raisins, figs, apricots, cherries, dates, cranberries, bananas, blueberries, coconut flakes
Nuts: walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, peanuts
Spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, allspice
Seeds and grains: pumpkin, flax and sesame seeds, toasted wheat germ
Other ingredients: chocolate chips, peanut chips, candied peel, crunchy cereal
Binders: Vegetable oil, walnut oil, peanut oil, almond oil, canola oil, applesauce, egg whites
Sweetener (depending on the flavor that you prefer): Honey, light or dark densely packed brown sugar, agave syrup, molasses, maple syrup.

See? The sky is the limit!
If you are looking for a recipe that is reduced in fat and calories, just cut back a little bit on fruits and nuts and chop them up into very small pieces to perceive a greater amount ingredients.
cinnamon-pecan granola | Browniebox_4

Ingredients:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon water
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup uncooked rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 150 C (300 F).
2. Combine brown sugar and water in a medium microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave for 30 seconds or until sugar is dissolved.
3. Add oil and cinnamon then oats and pecans, stirring until coated.
4. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the oat mixture as evenly as possible (to toast the ingredients evenly).
5. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until browned, stirring twice (every 10 minutes).
6. Transfer mixture to a large plate or another sheet of wax paper. Let cool completely.
7. Store in an airtight container. (you can also refrigerate the mixture to retain freshness).