Tag Archives: apricot

pumpkin-pecan and turkish delight cannoli (daring bakers)

I actually made my Daring Bakers challenge early this month, woot! Marvin informed me that we were going to a dinner party a couple weeks ago and volunteered me to bring a dessert, so I figured it was as good an excuse as any to roll up my sleeves and get frying.

I was a little skeptical about frying anything in my tiny kitchen without the aid of a deep fryer, but it turned out pretty much ok. I used my Le Creuset Dutch oven, which was deep enough to avoid any splattering.  The only collateral damage was a lingering fast-food grease smell that permeated the house for several days after!  I used pasta tubes for the cannoli forms, which was a little challenging but not impossible.

The cannoli were not difficult to make, but they were time-consuming.  Thankfully I had a pasta rolling machine, which greatly helped in rolling the dough to the proper thickness- I can’t imagine if I’d had to roll it out by hand, yikes.  The dough actually behaved very similarly to pasta dough and the machine worked very well at getting it to a workable consistency.  I hit a little bit of a speed bump when I went to make the dough- it was Sunday morning, I didn’t have any wine in the house, and you can’t buy alcohol until noon.  I didn’t have time to wait, so I poked around the pantry until I came across some Chinese cooking wine.  I sniffed it… it smelled close enough to Marsala, so into the dough it went.

For filling my cannoli, I bought ricotta but also bought some whipping cream which I whipped and folded into the ricotta.  It wasn’t traditional, of course, but it gave a wonderful light texture to the filling.  I divided my filling into two bowls and flavored one batch with about ¼ cup pumpkin butter from Trader Joe’s.  The other half of the filling was inspired by Turkish flavors; I used sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, and a little orange flower water.  The pumpkin-filled cannoli got pecans on the ends, and the “Turkish delight” cannoli got pistachios and apricots.

I doubt that cannoli would be something I’d attempt again at home, not just because of the frying but because they ended up being a little on the expensive side after you factor in the whole bottle of oil I had to use, and the manicotti shells I bought to use as molds.  But it was a fun experience, and after the last challenge, it was nice to make something I had success with on the first try!  (For recipe, please visit our hostess Lisa Michele’s blog at the link below.)

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

bakewell tart (daring bakers)

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.
tart slice side view

As usual, I left this month’s Daring Bakers challenge until the last possible minute!  Fortunately, it was a pretty easy one to throw together.  We made a Bakewell Tart, which I am to understand is a classic British dessert (or “pudding”, as they say across the pond).  It’s basically a pastry crust with a layer of jam spread on top, filled with a batter of eggs, butter & ground almonds (aka frangipane).  Thanks to the help of my food processor and stand mixer, I was able to put this together Thursday after work and before band practice.  (I went up north Friday, so had to have it done before we left.)  Fortunately, the intense heat of the past couple days subsided just in time for me to heat up my kitchen with a 400-degree oven!

frangipane tart shell

The results of my tart were somewhat mixed.  It’s hard to say if it was successful since I’ve never tried or seen one of these with the exception of looking at other DBers’ photos, but the first thing I noticed was that my frangipane didn’t puff up whatsoever; it was fairly dense.  Also, the quantity of pastry crust called for seemed much more suitable to a 10 or 10.5″ tart pan rather than a 9″ (I used the whole quantity as specified, and ended up with a pretty thick crust that didn’t fully cook through).

Bakewell tart finished

Perhaps I would have had a better result if I had cooked the tart 5 minutes or so longer, but the top looked slightly browned and felt firm so I thought it was done.  However, my crust ended up pretty pale.  I don’t want to call the result a “fail”, but it just wasn’t to my taste.  I’m not a fan of baked goods that seem so moist that you feel you’re almost eating raw batter (I can’t stand doughy cookies or overly “fudgy” brownies), and this tart was verging on that texture. I was, however, quite pleased with the flavor combination I chose.  I used apricot-orange preserves from Trader Joe’s for the jam, and the flavors of the fruit paired brilliantly with the almonds.

tart slice 1

Verdict: If you’re a fan of almonds, and are looking for a fairly easy dessert recipe to put together, I would give this a go.  You may just want to bake it a little longer, or possibly add another tbs of flour if you prefer a less damp texture.  Also, the ground almonds I used were not skinned, so perhaps that’s why my tart had a denser texture (although the recipe did not specify skinned ground almonds).  I think skinned almonds would have lent a more refined appearance and possibly allowed the frangipane to puff up more.

6/29 Update: I went away for the weekend and stuck the remainder of my tart in the fridge; I had a piece today, cold, and liked it much better!  The texture was more like a firm bar cookie rather than a squidgy undercooked tart.