Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Daring Kitchen Challenge November 2016: Torta Della Nonna

This month, I got the unfortunate news that the Daring Kitchen Challenges will end next month. I knew this news would likely be coming, but hoped that it wouldn't. I have been part of the the Daring Kitchen for almost six years now, and in the process I have learned so much about myself as a baker, have improved my baking skills, and have gained knowledge about the baking traditions of other cultures. I will miss having this monthly challenge to look forward to, but look forward to participating in the final challenge next month.

This month's challenge was hosted by Ginger-Z, and can be found here. For this challenge, we were asked to bake a Torta Della Nonna. For the pastry crust, I used a Pasta Frolla, and I chose to fill the tart with a ricotta cheese mixture, flavored with pine nuts. The end result reminded me of a light cheesecake, and the pine nuts added a unique crunchy twist!

Torta Della Nonna
Makes one 9-inch tart

Pasta Frolla:
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 egg yolks
5 tablespoons ice cold water

2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup pine nuts

1. Make the pastry: Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse for 10 seconds. Add a little more ice water, one tablespoon at a time, and pulse after each addition until the dough just comes together. Knead the dough briefly and pat into circular disk. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

2. Make filling: In a large mixing bowl, beat together the ricotta cheese, sugar, lemon juice and zest, flour, and eggs until smooth. Stir in 1/2 cup of the pine nuts.

3. Preheat oven to 350 F.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry dough to fit a 9-inch tart pan. Place the dough in the tart pan, and trim the edges around the top of the tart.

5. Pour the filling into the tart, and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of pine nuts on top. Bake for about 40 minutes. When done, the tart should be lightly brown, and a toothpick inserted into the tart should come out clean.

6. Remove tart from oven and allow to cool.

-Recipe adapted from
-Posted by Jennifer

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

August 2016 Daring Kitchen Challenge: Pavlova

I'm posting this very late, but it was too good to not post! The August 2016 Daring Kitchen Challenge, hosted by Marcellina at Marcellina in Cucina, was Pavlova. Although Pavlova has always on my "to bake" list, this was the first time I had actually even tasted it. The recipe takes time, but most of it is not active time, making it a relatively simple dessert. I loved the contrast of the crunchy outer portions of the meringue, the marshmallow-y center, and the light whipped cream on top. I topped mine with summer fruits, to commemorate the end of the season.

Recipe available at:

-Posted by Jennifer

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 2016 Daring Kitchen Challenge: Kouign Amann

The Daring Kitchen Challenge this month was kouign amann, which is a French pastry that originated in Brittany. I had never tried kouign amann prior to this challenge, but I am now a huge fan of this pastry. It had the rich, buttery flakiness of a croissant, with the added sweetness of caramelized sugar. While the recipe is a little time consuming, the results were well worth the efforts!

Kouign Amann
Makes 12 pastries

2 2/5 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
4/5 cup warm water
1 3/4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and in a block
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

1. Add active dry yeast to warm water and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.

2. Place flour in a large bowl. Add the yeast and water mixture, salt, and melted butter. Knead the dough for about 12 minutes. (If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix on medium speed for about 7 minutes.)

3. On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a ball. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with cling wrap. Allow dough to rise for one hour.

4. Shape the cold butter into a 5 1/2" square by placing butter between two sheets of wax paper and beating with a rolling pin. Keep the square of butter chilled in refrigerator until ready to use.

5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 8" square. Put the square of butter on the center of the dough diagonally. Each side of the butter should face a corner of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter, as if folding an envelope.

6. Roll the dough into an 18x6" rectangle. Fold the bottom third of the dough up over the middle, and then fold the top third of the dough over. The resulting dough will have three layers of butter and dough. This completes the first turn. Wrap dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

7. Repeat the turning process two more times, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between each turn.

8. Roll the dough into an 18x6" rectangle. Sprinkle dough with the 1/2 cup of sugar. Fold dough into thirds again. Now, roll the dough into a 16x12" rectangle. Sprinkle extra sugar over the dough and cut into 12 squares.

9. Grease a muffin tin with oil. Place each square of dough into the muffin tin, pulling the corners of the dough to the center of the tin. The dough should appear like a four-leaf clover. 

10. Sprinkle pastries with additional sugar and allow to rise in a warm spot, covered with a light towel, for 30 minutes.

11. Preheat oven to 425 F. Bake pastries for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. You may need to cover the pastries with foil halfway through if they are browning too much. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from pan. Be careful not to leave in the pan for too long, as the caramelized sugar will harden and stick to the pan.

12. Serve warm or cool. Pastries are best the day they are baked.

Mix dough and allow to rise for one hour. Then roll dough into a square, placing the square of butter on top.

Fold dough over the butter, as if folding an envelope.

Roll dough into a rectangle, then fold the bottom third up and the top third down, creating 3 layers of butter and dough. Repeat this process two more times, chilling dough for 30 minutes between turns. Finally, roll dough into another rectangle, sprinkle with sugar, and complete one final turn.

Roll dough into a large rectangle, cut into 12 squares, and sprinkle with more sugar. I used cinnamon sugar on half of my pastries.

Place pastries into muffin tin, pulling the corners two the center, so that pastries resemble four-leaf clovers.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 425 F, and enjoy!

-Posted by Jennifer