Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blackberry Chocolate Cake

Rain has started; the summer is over, but I think I still has a bit of it here in this cake.  My last bowl of blackberries was transformed into a rich, chocolaty cake.  Adorned with fresh blackberries and dusted with cocoa powder, each slice is meant to be savored slowly.  Just as I hope that summer should have lasted...

Blackberry Chocolate Cake

Serves 8

250 g unsalted butter, cut into pieces

250 g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup whole milk

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature, separated

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

150 g fresh blackberries

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9-inch springform pan. Melt butter in a small saucepan.

Combine milk and chocolate in a double boiler and place over simmering water. Heat, stirring, until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Using an electric mixer, beat in sugar.  Remove bowl from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Add egg yolks, one at a time to chocolate mixture, beating well after each addition.  Add melted butter.  Stir until combined.

Sift flour over chocolate mixture.  Gently fold in the flour.  Whisk egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peak forms.  Gently fold into chocolate mixture.  Add blackberries and gently fold in until combined.

Spoon mixture into prepared pan.  Bake for 15 minutes or until risen.  Reduce oven to 325°. Bake for a further 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  Leave to cool completely.

Place cake onto a serving plate.  Decorate with blackberries and dust with cocoa powder.  Serve slices with creme fraiche if desired.

Source:  adapted from Taste Australia

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fresh Calimyrna Figs-Almond Tart

I had an unexpected gifts from my friend last week; her son came up to me and handed me fresh Calimyrna figs in a plastic container.  "From my grandma's garden," that's all he said.  That instant I gushed out thank-yous.  His mom definitely knows my taste and I'm happier to receive these than if she'd given me diamonds :)  These are precious and I really love this type better than Mission figs.

Calimyrna figs collage

I could've eaten these fresh, but I wanted an ally to complement these seasonal fruits.  Taste-wise, figs are often paired with honey and almonds; these flavors are greatly complement each other.  After browsing for some time, I settled on a tart recipe from Bon Appetit's Desserts book.  I think the reason I love making tart is that I enjoy eating the crust more than the filling, especially when it is tender, crumbly, and buttery.

Fresh Calimyrna Figs-Almond Tart

From start to finish, this tart required three days for me to complete.  The base was done on the first day, the filling and chilling time took place on the second day, and on the last day, I finally got to eat it.  It could easily be completed in one day, however, part-time work and my job as a mom got in the way whenever I make desserts :) Distractions come and go but the tart is nonetheless still delicious.  As predicted, the crust was the last piece I savored.  Make this tart when the figs are in season, which is now; hurry while they last, the paradise is near.

P.S.  This post is for you, Laurel!

Fresh Calimyrna Figs-Almond Tart

Makes 6 servings


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup whole almonds

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 large egg yolk

1 1/2 tablespoons (or more) ice water


3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

1/2 cup honey


6 fresh Calimyrna figs, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup almonds, toasted, chopped

For crust:  Mix flour, almonds, sugar and salt in food processor.  Add butter, pulse several times until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Whisk egg yolk and 1 1/2 tablespoons ice water in a small bowl to blend; add to dry ingredients and pulse just until the mixture starts to come together in moist clumps.  Add ice water by teaspoon if mixture is dry.  Gather dough into a ball; flatten into disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour.

Butter and flour 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom.  Roll out dough disk on floured surface to 1/8-inch thick round.  Transfer to tart pan.  Press crust onto bottom and up sides of pan.  Trim edges; patch cracks on crust if needed; reserve the rest of trimmings.  Freeze crust 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line crust with foil; fill with dried beans or pie weights.  Bake until crust is set, about 12 minutes.  Remove foil and beans.  Continue to bake until crust is golden, about 15-20 minutes longer.  Repair any cracks in crust with reserved dough if needed.  Cool crust.  Maintain oven temperature.

For the filling:  Whisk buttermilk, lemon juice, eggs, flour and lemon peel in bowl.  Add honey and stir until dissolved.  Pour into crust.  Bake until filling is set, it might look slightly jiggly, about 30-35 minutes.  Cool tart in pan on rack.  Chill until cold.

For the topping:  Arrange figs atop tart.  Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with almonds.

Source:  adapted from Bon Appetit's Desserts.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blackberry and Blueberry Cobbler with Walnut Biscuits

I guess it's time for the blackberry to shine. As we're moving forward to fall season, the blackberries are ripening everywhere. Here in Oregon, the wild ones are very prolific and people develop a love-hate relationship; they certainly don't want those thorny vines in their backyard, but they welcome the arrival of juicy-sweet blackberries ripened from the sun. I live close to a secret picking spot where the blackberries are abundant, it's within a walking distance and a bit sheltered from the traffic which is desirable for impromptu u-pick.

For several days, it's my dad who was so eager to pick the berries. I guess the benefit of moving close to me is to have acquired a newfound hobby, that is berry picking. He is the one who will pick all the blueberries from the yard, he is the one who will walk and bring home the blackberries, though he complained that the thorns attack him ferociously at times.

Blackberry-Blueberry Cobler with Walnut Biscuits-1-9

Blackberry-Blueberry Cobler with Walnut Biscuits-1-6

Here is what I did with those berries, a delectable desserts who need only whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to accompany it till the last spoonful.

Blackberry-Blueberry Cobler with Walnut Biscuits-1-8

Blackberry-Blueberry Cobler with Walnut Biscuits-1-4

Blackberry and Blueberry Cobbler with Walnut Biscuits

Makes 8 servings

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2/3 cup buttermilk
4 cups fresh blackberries
4 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar, use slightly less if the berries are very sweet
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon whipping cream
1 tablespoon coarse sugar or granulated sugar
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 375°F. For biscuits, place walnuts in a food processor, pulse several times until roughly chopped. Add flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pulse several times until combined. Add butter, pulse again until butter pieces are no larger than small peas.

Transfer the flour mixture to a large bowl. Add buttermilk, stirring with a fork until the dough comes together. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; knead two or three times to bring dough together. Press dough into a rectangle or circle 1/2-inch thick. Using a knife or 2 1/2-inch fluted round cutter, cut the dough into eight squares or rounds, re-rolling the scraps as necessary.

In a 3-quart rectangular baking dish combine berries. In a small bowl combine the 3/4 cup granulated sugar and the 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mix lemon peel and ginger into sugar mixture, pour sugar mixture over berries; gently toss with hands to combine. Combine lemon juice and cornstarch. Add cornstarch mixture to berry mixture; toss.

Brush tops of biscuits with whipping cream; sprinkle with the coarse sugar. Arrange biscuits on top of fruits. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Loosely cover baking dish with foil; bake for 10 to 20 minutes or more or until bubbly around the edges. Transfer baking dish to a wire rack; remove foil. Cool on wire rack for at least 20 minutes before serving.

To serve, spoon each biscuit and berry mixture into eight serving bowls; top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.

Source: adapted from Better Homes and Garden, Fall Baking 2011.