Sunday, December 9, 2012

On the Second Day of Christmas...

As of last post, the temperature has dropped a good 25 degrees, my father has put the lights up on the house, I've eaten fruitcake ice cream at Bent Spoon, and I've bought my first official Christmas present, so its starting to feel a tad more like the holidays than before.  However, I'm still not fully in that holiday mode yet.  I'm no hum-bug, I'm just taking my time, is all.

Oh, I forgot to mention (but hoped you noticed) that I'm going to attempt to have my 12 Days of Christmas Recipes correspond with the song, i.e. last week I made a pear-centric dish in honor of the partridge in his tree.  This may seem like a simple feat, but for a non-meat-eater, the six bird related verses serve as a bit of an obstacle (...not to mention the Lords-a-Leaping, but I'll worry about those guys later).  I mulled over the Turtle Doves for a while.  Mock turtle soup was a front runner until I actually looked up what mock turtle soup was and found out its made with calf head, feet, and brains.  I know, doesn't just scream holiday cheer, does it?  With the soup off the table, I turned to the only other food-related turtle I could think of - the pecan, caramel, chocolate candy.  However, I didn't want to just do a straightforward chocolate.  I mean, the whole point of this project was to create unique and original recipes.  So, I decided to take those three ingredients and put my own dread&butter-y twist on them.  And thus the Turtle Dove Tart was born - pecan crust, chocolate filling, salted caramel drizzle, with the addition of a layer of tart cranberries.  I thought the cranberries added a nice pop of color and balanced the sweetness of the chocolate and caramel.  It turned out differently than I had in my head, but I have to say, it might become a new Christmas dessert tradition.

And now, off to watch White Christmas and brainstorm for next week...

Turtle Dove Tart
Pecan Crust
1 large egg, separated
¼ tsp vanilla
½ cup pecans
½ powdered sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 tbs cold butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
pinch of salt

+ Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
+ Place pecans on a baking sheet, toast for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant and just beginning to brown.  Once toasted, grind pecans in a food processor until fine, but not powdery.
+ In two small bowls, beat the egg yolk and white separately.  Measure out 1 tbs of egg white and add to yolk.  Add the vanilla and mix well.

+ In a medium bowl, combine flour, pecans, sugar, and salt.  Cut butter into the flour mixture until it as a crumbly texture.
+ Add the egg mixture to the flour, combine with hands until evenly moistened.  Add a small bit water if needed.
+ Press the crust into a pie pan.  Put in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.  
+ Place a piece of aluminum foil over the crust.  Poke a few holes in the foil, then place pie weights on top.  Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the weights and foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool completely.

Tart Cranberry Jam
1 bag of fresh cranberries
2 tbs honey

+ Put cranberries and honey in a small sauce pan.  Cook over medium-high heat until the berries begin to pop.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries have all popped and a thick consistency is reached.  

Chocolate Filling1 bag dark chocolate chips
⅓ cup coffee liqueur
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 package silken tofu, drained
1 tbs honey

+ Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer over medium heat.  Place the chocolate chips, liqueur, and vanilla in a medium metal bowl set over the simmering water.  Stir often to prevent the chocolate from burning.
+ Once the chocolate is completely melted, place the chocolate, tofu and honey in the food processor.  Blend until smooth. 

Salted Caramel Drizzle 
(from smittenkitchen)
¼ cup sugar
2 tbs butter
¼ tsp sea salt
2 tbs heavy cream

+ In a small saucepan, melt sugar over medium-high heat.  Cook for about 3 minutes, or until its a golden brown color. 
+ Take the pan off the heat, then add the butter and salt, stirring until the butter is completely melted.  Turn the heat down and put the sugar mixture back on the stove.  Add the heavy cream, stirring constantly, cook until it thickens and becomes a dark caramel color.

To Assemble the Tart
+ Spread an even layer of the tart cranberry jam over the bottom of the pecan crust.  Top with chocolate filling (you'll probably have a little extra).  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until the chocolate has firmed up.  Then drizzle a healthy layer of salted caramel over the top of the tart.  It can be served while the caramel is warm, but I suggest putting it back in the fridge for another hour (or better yet, overnight).

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