Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fruity isn't a bad thing

When it comes to the sweet and savory camps, I like to think I travel between the two. Sometimes, nothing beats some nice Italian chicken and pasta, or pita chips and hummus.

But then, sometimes, nothing beats good, dependable dessert. Especially the idea of a "not as bad for you as some desserts" dessert. Thus was born the lovely cranberry apple tart.

I used a delightful recipe online for the crust -- a vegan oat-nut crust to be exact -- with a few minor alterations, replacing a teeny bit of the vanilla with some orange extract and using only pecans since I had no almonds. But I'm sure it would be twice as good with twice the nut variety used!

I should also have made the crust thinner somehow, as it didn't get that crisp so much as it just warmed up, but it was still delicious nonetheless.

Here it is fresh out of the oven, ready for some fruits!

I so artfully, masterfully, plopped some sliced apples on top in a pattern that looks kind of like I knew what I was doing. Right? Either way, apples taste good on everything.



I proceeded then to smear on a can of cranberry sauce mixed with about a tablespoon of flour to thicken it up as it bakes. It's really sad, I love cranberry sauce with a passion, but somehow there is always some left in the pantry after the holidays and no one will put it to good use. Good thing I am here to make things right in the world.

Finally, on went some chopped dried apricots. I love these things, especially when they are kind of gooey on the inside... iausdhfliaush. Just the sound of apricots, cranberries, and apples together is a melody of joy in my heart.

Too dramatic?

This tart of joy hung out in the oven for about 45 minutes at 350, until I was too hungry to do anything else but wait. And lo:

Beautiful! I love how the tips of the apricot pieces got a little brown, and the cranberry sauce glazed over on the top and became thick and more pie-like.

And the smell is just about perfect. If there were a thunderstorm and I were a governess for seven Austrian children, trying to calm them during the calamity outside, this would be one of my favorite things in my song.

My one lament is how the crust did not stay together when I tried to slice it up like a tart ought be sliced, but that was probably a problem because I made it too thick. Nevertheless, it made for a delightful sort of crumble and complemented everything quite well.

Top that little blob of sweetness with some canned whipped cream and presto -- you have a Apricranapple Tart with an Orange Pecan Crust, the perfect fall dessert... to eat in March. Deal with it. :)

10:46 P.M. UPDATE: Could it be? A fruity cobbler dessert pie thing that is even better straight out of the fridge than it would be warmed up? I don't believe it. I will continue in denial as I sneak bites out from time to time. Fruit is good for you. So are pecans. And sugar, too.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Can you have too many Girl Scout cookies?

Happy first day of spring break to me! Unfortunately, no one is home right now, so there is no one to do anything with at the moment.

Fortunately, no one is home right now, so I can do whatever I feel like without judgment, right?

My whim for today was making something fancy-looking for dessert. If you know me even a little, I hope you are aware that I really love to cook and bake. It's so much fun and yields results to share with people you care about. Or whoever is willing to be a taste-tester, or whoever is just about starving to death and is in dire need of whatever strange thing you are creating that day. I'm hardly a mad scientist in the kitchen, but you never know what might come out of there. ;)

Today's adventure was twofold: (not so) Thin Mint Chocolate Mini-Cupcakes with Ganache, and my first adventure in food photography. The cupcakes were an adaptation of a recipe for chocolate cake by the one and only Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Go investigate her website now! The ganache was made in the microwave with butter and chocolate chips, which isn't all that fancy, but I like to think that if something tastes good, that's all that matters anyway.

Making stuff in mini-muffin tins is so much fun! Why are things so much cuter in small form? Do they taste better? Why am I asking so many questions?

So beautiful! So chocolatey! So shiny! Oh, and they don't taste too bad either. Those are crumbled thin mints on the top, by the way. They are so fluffy and sweet! Make that cake recipe when you get the chance; it's to die for.

However, man cannot live on chocolate alone. Life is all about balance.

I'm so glad that I like my green vegetables, especially tasty little brussels sprouts. Who knows what kinds of havoc would be wrought otherwise. I'd be even shorter than I already am.

In any case, may this be the first of many delicious foods and delicious photos. Or whatever I feel like posting. I'm in charge here. I hope your first few days in March are as beautiful as this one is!