Neapolitan Easter Pie {ModBak}

After the simple and stunning chocolate orange hazelnut tart, the next recipe I made from the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of the Modern Baker Challenge was Neapolitan Easter pie. I really wasn’t all that excited to make this one, and Margaret’s lack of enthusiasm when she made it didn’t help matters any.

The recipe called for white wheat berries, which is an ingredient I don’t keep in my panty and didn’t want to buy just for this pie. The instructions give several substitutions for the wheat berries, one of which is rice. I happened to be making basmati rice for dinner the night before I made the pie, so I made some extra rice to use in the pie.

The recipe also calls for pastry cream and provides instructions to make it. Given my lack of enthusiasm for this recipe, I decided to take a shortcut and use pastry cream mix from King Arthur Flour. Although, truth be told, I almost always use the King Arthur mix when a recipe calls for pastry cream. It’s quick and easy to mix up, and it’s absolutely delicious.

After making the pasty cream, I whisked in ricotta cheese, sugar, and eggs, then stirred in orange flower water, candied orange peel, and the rice. I scraped the filling into a crust made with sweet tart dough.

I topped the pie with strips of dough arranged in a lattice pattern.

Yeah, that cinnamon was supposed to go on top of the pie before the crust

 I baked the pie at 350°F for about 40 minutes, until the crust was baked through and the filling set and slightly puffed up.

It smelled good coming out of the oven and reminded me of a custard pie my mom used to make when I was younger.

I enjoyed the pie more than I thought I might. The flavor was similar to custard pie, and the orange peel and flower water added a bright, citrus note. The rice gave it a texture similar to rice pudding and helped the filling hold up well to the crust. It was especially good served just a little on the warm side (the same way I like my pudding).

So, overall, this pie was a pleasant surprise. That said, I doubt that I’ll make it again. Unless, perhaps, one of my daughters dates an Italian guy. And I’ve got a few years before I need to worry about that. Not enough. But a few.

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Nut Tart Dough {ModBak}

The Sweet Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker includes three dough recipes: sweet tart dough, chocolate nut dough, and press-in cookie dough. This recipe is a variation of the sweet tart dough, and even though it’s not an official Modern Baker Challenge recipe, I found it interesting enough to merit its own post.

This dough calls for the same ingredients as the sweet tart dough — flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, butter, eggs, and water — with the addition of 1/2 cup of chopped nuts. Since I was making this dough for the chocolate orange hazelnut tart, I naturally used hazelnuts in the crust.

I began by mixing sugar and chopped hazelnuts in the food processor, then adding the rest of the dry ingredients.

I blended in the butter, then added an egg, egg yolk, and water and pulsed until the dough held together in a ball.

I preshaped the dough into disks, then wrapped and refrigerated the dough for a few hours before rolling it out and pressing it into tart pans.

This dough makes a really delicious crust. It wasn’t quite as flaky as the regular sweet tart dough, but it was still rich, buttery, and had additional flavor from the hazelnuts.

I will definitely use this crust the next time I make the chocolate orange hazelnut tart. And I might even try it for some of the other tarts in this section.

Roasted Rhubarb {FFwD}

OK, so I’ve been AWOL from French Fridays with Dorie for a while now. I took most of April and all of May off, and I thought it might be time to get back in the game. And this recipe seemed like a good place to start.

To say I’m not a fan of rhubarb would be an understatement. I’ve often wondered how hungry someone had to be to first eat rhubarb. And having been poisoned by the leaves, what possessed them to try again? But to my great surprise, I recently found a rhubarb recipe that I liked — my late mother-in-law’s rhubarb pie.

Flush with my success with baking — and enjoying — rhubarb, I thought I would try my hand at Dorie’s recipe for roasted rhubarb. This recipe is quick and easy. I began by slicing fresh rhubarb.

I put the rhubarb in a baking dish, sprinkled it with sugar and orange zest, and tossed it all together.

I covered the pan and roasted the rhubarb until it was tender and the sugar had dissolved into a syrup. I served the rhubarb warm with whipped cream for a weeknight dessert.

The verdict? Well, let’s put it this way: other than Mom Hartzler’s pie, I’m still not a rhubarb fan. Despite all the sugar, the rhubarb was quite sour. And I’m not sure additional sugar would have helped. There just wasn’t enough flavor in this recipe to make up for the underlying bitterness of the rhubarb. My wife, who loves rhubarb pie, didn’t care for it either.

It’s good to be back on the FFwD wagon. And even though this recipe wasn’t a big hit here, we have loved most of what I’ve made from Dorie’s book. And I’m looking forward to making more.

Chocolate Orange Hazelnut Tart {ModBak}

 

The 12th recipe in the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker is one that Sara couldn’t wait to make. And having tried it, I can see why. This is one of those recipes that will make a master pastry chef out of you — at least in the eyes of your family and friends. And it’s one of the recipes that proves what a master Nick Malgieri is at his craft. Not only does he create amazing recipes, he writes them in a way that makes them easy to follow with stunning results.

I began by heating cream and sugar in a pan. Once the sugar had dissolved, I whisked in butter, then removed the pan from the heat and added bittersweet chocolate. I let the mixture sit for a minute, then whisked the chocolate and cream together.

In a separate bowl, I whisked together eggs, orange zest, and dark rum, then whisked in the chocolate. I poured the filling into a crust made from nut tart dough, then scattered chopped toasted hazelnuts on top.

I baked the tart in a 350°F oven for about 25 minutes, until the crust was baked through and the filling set. I cooled the tart, then prepared a bittersweet chocolate and butter mixture to drizzle on the top. The recipe says to melt the butter and chocolate together, then put it in a cone or bag to drizzle on the tart.

I put the unmelted chocolate and butter in a ziplock bag, then put it in the microwave to melt them together.

I squished the bag to mix the chocolate and butter, then snipped of the corner of the bag. It was easy to drizzle the chocolate mixture on top of the tart, and it gave it a professional, finished look.

 

This tart is delicious — rich, chocolately, not too sweet — and the orange and rum give it a great depth of flavor. And who doesn’t love hazelnuts?

If you don’t have Nick’s book yet, this tart is reason enough to buy it. Bake this tart and take it to your next dinner party or family get-together. I guarantee it will be a showstopper. It’s so simple to make, you’ll be almost embarrassed when everyone carries on about what a great baker you are.

Almost.