Swedish Almond Tarts

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Greetings from Connecticut, I hope that you have all enjoyed last nights festivities and are now tucking into a beautiful New Years Brunch. Maybe the thought of rising from your bed right now is too much to bear, but I hope these cutie little tarts change your mind. This week’s recipe is brought to you by one of my faves, Molly Yeh, and they are without a doubt the most photogenic and versatile little tarts I have ever seen. Called Mazariners, they are of Swedish origin, and feature a richly buttery tart shell cup, filled with what I can only describe as pure heaven, aka a dense, moist almond-y cross between a cake and a chunk of marzipan. Traditionally, it’s topped with a white glaze and a cherry (which btw, would be so cute), but following Molly’s recipe, I used a cranberry juice glaze for a hint of tart and a dose of natural rosy color.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my New Year’s resolutions this year, because most years I don’t make any, and then when I do, I ignore/ forget them approximately a week later. But now that I’m an adult, and have pretty much settled into life after college, I figured it was about time I held myself accountable for these things. I won’t bore you with the details, but here’s what I’ve got so far:
Resolution #1: Get better with money. Seriously, STOP spending money I promise you don’t need that 12th sweater (me @ myself all the time).
Resolution #2: Drink more water. For some reason I can’t get this one to stick, and even after countless reusable water bottles, I find myself reaching for my iced coffee instead, but it’s ENOUGH.
Resolution #3: Cut down on waste. Ever since a particularly scarring episode of Blue Planet II I haven been trying to limit the amount of plastic that I use, but I know that I could be doing more to protect our futures and the safety of other inhabitants of this Earth.

Okay that’s maybe good for now, I’m hoping that by putting these out there, I’ll actually have to do them because now everyone knows, so bring on 2019!! Anyway, let’s get this year off on the right foot and start with 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. When you fall asleep almost immediately after climbing into bed.
TWO. The clean plate club.
THREE. Tree branches coated in snow or frost and sparkling in the light of a streetlamp.
FOUR. Having the song end right as you pull up to your destination.
FIVE. Things you don’t have to work at to enjoy.

Okay now let’s bake!!

Makes: 12 tarts
Prep Time: 45 minutes- 1 hour
Inactive Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 30 minutes

Butter Tart Shell Ingredients

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1¾ cups flour
½ tsp kosher salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 egg yolks (save both whites for the filling!)

Almond Filling Ingredients

1 cup almond meal (aka almond flour)
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp almond extract
1 egg
2 egg whites (left over from tart shells above)

Glaze/ Decorations

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp cranberry juice
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
Assorted sprinkles, herbs, or sugared cranberries!

Steps

ONE. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until totally incorporated (you’re not looking for butter pieces in this dough). Add the egg yolks and mix until the dough comes together- it will take a minute, it will look like the dough is too dry at first but I promise it won’t be. Remove the dough from the food processor and form a rough disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least one hour or overnight.

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TWO. In the same bowl of the food processor- it doesn’t even need to be cleaned out!- combine the almond flour, sugar, salt, and butter until smooth. Add the almond extract, leftover egg whites, and whole egg, and continue to blend until the mixture is thick and smooth. Set aside while you form the shells.

THREE. Grease a muffin tin generously. On a floured baking mat or surface, roll your shell dough to about a ¼ inch thickness, making sure that it isn’t sticking to any surface as you go. Using a 4-inch circular cookie cutter, cut out 12 circles (dough can be re-rolled once if you run out of room for all 12 at once.

FOUR. This part takes some patience, so carefully take a pastry circle and place it in each cupcake tin, gently pressing so that it molds to the bottom and sides. I had some rips here and there, but don’t get frustrated!! Use leftover scraps and patch up any thin, ripped, or uneven places and no one will be the wiser! Repeat will all 12 circles, and place the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes.

FIVE. While the shells are setting in the freezer, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Fill the frozen shells evenly- I started with a tablespoon in each cup, and then added evenly from there. For me, it ended up being about 1½ tablespoons of filling per cup, You want it to be about ¾ of the way full, because the filling does puff up while it bakes. Bake the filled cups on the lower rack of your oven for 30 minutes, or until the filling is puffed and the tops and shells are lightly golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in their pan, and then gently lift each cup from the tin using an offset spatula and cool completely on a wire rack before glazing.

SIX. To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, cranberry juice, and vanilla, adding more powdered sugar or juice until the consistency is pourable but quite thick. You want it to sit mostly on top of each tart without going thin or completely dripping down the sides. While the glaze is still wet, top with your desired decorations, and enjoy!!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!! xoxoxoxD

 

Braided Jammy Breakfast Breads

Over this year I’ve conquered many a fear, but none that I am more proud of than my old fear of bread. Maybe I was just doing everything wrong before now, but after making these beautiful braids, it’s clear that this recipe is going to become a staple in my home. Inspired by two different people, this original recipe comes from Zoe Francois of Zoe Bakes, in her new book Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes A Day. I believe the original recipe used raspberry jam and cream cheese with a hint of lemon, so my second bread closely resembles that one. Last week, I came across Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen, preparing her variations on this beautiful bread and by then, I was convinced. So, here we are, with one classic raspberry and lemon, and a second that tastes like breakfast and pie in one. What is it, you ask? Oh only blueberry jam with cinnamon cream cheese and maple glaze! I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s truly heavenly.

With next week being Christmas, I’ll be taking a week off to spend time with all my siblings and family together, as well as my best friend, who works with the Peace Corps and is home from Ethiopia for just two weeks!!! But never fear, for I will be back New Year’s Day with a fresh start to 2019 and plenty more to be happy about in the future. If you celebrate, wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and a healthy, prosperous New Year full of food and happiness.

Some notes on this bread: I give the preparations for two variations of cream cheese, jam and glaze fillings, but you have total creative license here! Fill them with chocolate like my incredibly talented friend Taylor, fill them with different jams or homemade jams or make them savory! It’s totally up to you, and it will be delicious any way you slice it. Also, when following this recipe, she mentions that the dough is easier to roll and slice if it’s been chilled after it rises, I was slightly pressed for time so I skipped this step and found it to be perfectly manageable, but if you’re having difficulty with forming the shape, try to refrigerate the dough for a while! Finally, this dough should be cooled completely before it’s glazed so that the glaze doesn’t melt right off, but it would be delicious warmed up before eating. There’s also no need to double this recipe for two loaves, one batch of dough is divided into two.

Before we get to breading and braiding, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. The smell of bread baking and filling your whole house.

TWO. Having specific candles for specific holidays and seasons.

THREE. Hosting a dinner party with a signature cocktail.

FOUR. Star Wars Episode IV.

FIVE. Spending New Year’s Eve in your pajamas with friends and never having to venture into the cold.


Makes:
2 braided loaves
Prep Time: 1 hour
Inactive Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 30 minutes

Bread Dough Ingredients

2 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup + 2 Tbsp lukewarm water
1½ tsp dry active yeast
1½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup honey
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3½ cups bread flour

Filling Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese, divided in half
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
½ tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided in half
¼ cup blueberry jam
¼ cup raspberry jam
Egg Wash (1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water)

Icing Ingredients

1 cup powdered sugar, divided in half
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Splash of vanilla extract
2 to 3 Tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp lemon zest
2 to 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Milk, to thin glaze as necessary

Steps

ONE. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon), mix together the beaten eggs, yeast, water, salt, honey, and melted butter. Add the flour and, without kneading, mix with a paddle attachment or with a large spoon until combined. Allow to rise, covered, in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

 

TWO. In two separate bowls, make the cream cheese fillings. In one bowl, mix together 4 oz. cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1 Tbsp granulated sugar. Set aside. In a second bowl mix together the remaining 4 oz. cream cheese, lemon zest, and remaining 1 Tbsp sugar.

THREE. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Dust your rolling surface with flour, and divide your dough in half. With the first half of dough, roll into a rectangle that is roughly 9″ x 12″. It may take some stretching, I found that it tends to shrink back at first.

FOUR. Transfer the rectangle of dough carefully to your first baking sheet. Using a ruler and a knife or bench scraper, lightly mark the dough into 3 long sections, this will make it easier to fill and fold. In the center third, spread an even layer of the cinnamon cream cheese, then top with the blueberry jam, spreading with an offset spatula to keep everything uniform.

FIVE. Using a pair of kitchen shears (or a knife), cut the two outer thirds into ½ inch strips all the way down. To form the log shape, alternate folding a strip from each side across the filling in a slant, from top to bottom, to form a braid. Wrap the tray in plastic wrap the baking sheet loosely in plastic wrap and allow to sit for an hour before baking.

 

SIX. Repeat steps two through five with the second type of cream cheese and jam, and allow to rest for an hour.

SEVEN. When there’s about 15 minutes left in the bread’s hour long rest, preheat your oven to 350ºF. To bake, brush each loaf with your prepared egg wash, and bake for 30 minutes, switching trays halfway through to ensure both loaves brown evenly.

EIGHT. While the loaves are cooling, prepare the glazes in two bowls. In the first, mix ½ cup powdered sugar with cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup. If it’s too thick for pouring, it can be thinned with milk as necessary, or thickened with more powdered sugar. For the second, mix the remaining powdered sugar with lemon zest and lemon juice, adjusting the amounts of lemon juice and sugar as necessary so that the glaze is opaque and thick.

NINE. When the breads have cooled completely, drizzle generously with the glazes (with a spoon or with a ziplock with the tip cut off) and enjoy at any time of the day or night, but specifically for breakfast with a cup of coffee by the Christmas tree or on the couch.

YUM!!! xoxoxoxoxoD

Christmas Spritz Cookies

WOOOOOOO got that holiday spirit this weekend who is WITH ME?? Last week was such a wonderfully Christmas themed week at the Lewis house- we took our annual trip to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in the city (it never gets old), saw the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, and wandered the Bryant Park Christmas village like a bunch of tourists and it was a blast. THEN, on Saturday we bought our Christmas tree and decorated it while eating these very cookies, and it was all very cozy and warm and happy. Funny story, on last year’s Christmas tree, my siblings and I stuck a picture of Harry Styles’ face over the angel on top of our tree (because he is the true angel), and waited to see when our parents would notice. The days went by, Christmas went by, and NO ONE noticed until the day we took our tree down. Now, we’re already plotting who to make the angel of our tree this year…any suggestions?

Isn’t she lovely!!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been buying Christmas presents like crazy and wondering if you’ll ever have enough, but I doubt there’s a person alive who wouldn’t be overjoyed to receive these babies in a lil box. The recipe I adapted comes from this recipe from the New York Times by Alison Roman, whom I admire very much. I didn’t change a whole lot, aside from using salted butter instead of unsalted because I had run out, and was pleased to discover that the combo of regular salted butter and the recommended teaspoon of salt made for a beautifully sweet and salty combo that I will be making from now on. 10/ 10 would recommend adding this to your Christmas cookie repertoire, and pull it out for your next cookie exchange or office party.

Enough chit chat however, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. Jelly doughnuts.

TWO. Seeing a second trailer for Captain Marvel (I will lose my mind seeing this movie).

THREE. The smell of a fresh Christmas tree.

FOUR. Giving presents feeling better than getting presents.

FIVE. Having a favorite tree ornament.

 

Makes: Roughly 130- 140 cookies (I KNOW!)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
Required Tools: Spritz cookie press (I used one from OXO)

Ingredients

3½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) salted butter, softened
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Colored sugar, sprinkles for decorating

Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 325ºF. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat until the mixture is creamed together and becomes light yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Beat until everything is well combined, about 2 minutes.

THREE. Carefully add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, about a minute. Load the dough into the cookie press in batches, and press cookies out onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Top with colored sugar or sprinkles immediately so that they will stick. (I used an egg wash, which you are welcome to do, but I didn’t like the way it made the colors of the sprinkles run so I won’t be doing that again.)

FOUR. Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until just golden. Be careful not to overbake, these cookies are small and will go from golden to burnt pretty quickly.

Best enjoyed with a large mug of hot chocolate (regular or peppermint!) xoxoxoxoxoD