Featured Recipes

Classic Coffee Cake

This delicious coffee cake is a simple recipe that can be made in advance and stores well. For those of you who are Jewish and observing the high holy days, this would make the perfect dessert to break fast after Yom Kippur.

Makes one 10-inch cake, 16 - 20 servings

1 ½ cups sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda

Nut Mixture:
1 ¼ cups toasted pecans
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ¾ cups superfine sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and baking soda. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 10-inch tube pan and line the bottom with baking parchment. Butter the parchment and set aside.
Make the nut mixture:
3. Place the pecans, granulated and dark brown sugars, and cinnamon in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse 5 or 6 times or until the nuts are medium chopped. Set aside.
Make the batter:
4. In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
5. Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, taking 6 to 8 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla extract.
6. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream, dividing the flour into four parts and the sour cream into three parts, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just blended after each addition. Scrape down the side of the bowl again.
7. Spoon two-thirds of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle one-half of the nut mixture evenly over the batter. Cover the mixture with the remaining batter, distributing it evenly over the nuts. Smooth the batter with the back of a large soupspoon or a small offset spatula, spreading it to the side of the pan first, before spreading it toward the center. (To prevent the nut mixture from being disturbed, do not pick up the spoon as the batter is spread.) Sprinkle with the remaining nut mixture, pressing it gently into the batter with a clean soupspoon.
8. Bake the cake for about 1 hour, and 10-15 minutes. The cake is done when the top is golden brown, springy to the touch, and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted deeply in the center comes out clean.
9. Remove the cake from the oven and let stand on a cooling rack for 25 to 30 minutes. Holding the tube, lift the cake from the outer ring and place it on the cooling rack. Cool for another 20 to 30 minutes. To remove the cake from the tube section, cut a 2-inch hole in the center of a 12-inch piece of aluminum foil and place it directly onto the top of the cake, cupping the foil around the side to hold the topping in place. Cover with a cooling rack, invert the cake, and carefully lift off the tube section and the parchment paper. Cover with another rack and invert again. Remove the aluminum foil and cool right side up.

Storage: Store the cake under a glass cake dome, or tightly covered with plastic wrap for up to 5 days. This cake may be frozen.

Copyright © 2017 by Carole Walter, CCP

Mango Tart with Blackberries

Serves: 8 to 10

Tangy blackberries sprinkled on a buttery tart pastry are topped with fanned slices of sweet mangoes. This pairing of fruit is not only a dynamite flavor combination, but when sliced the contrasting colors of apricot and purple make this tart an eye-appealing beauty. Because this tart is not rich, it is especially nice to serve after a heavy meal or for the diet-conscious.

The sweet pastry dough pairs especially well with fruit tarts because of its fine cookie-like crumb and rich, buttery flavor. While I like to use a food processor to cut the butter into the flour, the procedure can also be done with a pastry blender or by rubbing the fat in with your fingertip.

1 11-inch Sweet Tart Pastry crust baked
2 tablespoons strained apricot preserves, warmed

1. Brush the bottom and sides of the baked pastry crust while it is still warm. Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling.

1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, firm
(See Sidebar)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large or 3 medium mangoes
1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh blackberries
3 tablespoons cornstarch
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1 tablespoon water
1. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl.
2. Toss the butter through the flour mixture to coat the pieces. Using your fingertips, rub the fat into the flour, working it until you have created a coarse meal with a few pea-size particles of fat.

1. Place the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. PULSE 3 to 4 times to blend.
2. Distribute the butter around the bowl and PULSE 6 to 7 times. Then process for 6 to 8 seconds. The crumbs should be about the size of coarse meal with a few pea-size particles of fat.
3. Empty the crumbs on to a cool surface, such as marble or a chilled counter. Form the mixture into a mound. Make a 4 to 5-inch well in the center of the mound. Combine the egg and vanilla, and pour the mixture into the well.
4. Using a fork, draw the crumbs into the egg mixture, about 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. When all of the crumbs are added, toss the mixture a few times with a pastry scraper to form large clumps, then scrape into a mound.
5. Using the heel of your hand, push about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the dough at a time, outward in 6 to 8-inch sweeps. This will incorporate the fat and flour together and give the crust a delicate texture. If your hand becomes sticky, flour it as needed. Repeat the process until all of the dough has been worked. Gather the dough into a mound again, then repeat the entire procedure 2 additional times
6. After the third fresage, flour your hands and gently knead the dough 5 or 6 times to make it smooth. Shape into a 4 to 5-inch disk. Dust the disk lightly with flour, score with the side of your hand, cover with plastic wrap and
refrigerate for 20 minutes before shaping. DO NOT LET THE DOUGH BECOME TOO HARD or it will be difficult to roll. If it does, let the pastry soften at room temperature.
7. Roll the pastry. Transfer pastry to an 11-inch tart pan with and shape the dough into the pan. After the dough is shaped prick the bottom and side lightly with a fork at 1/2 to 1-inch intervals. Place the tart pan on a half-sheet to jelly-roll pan and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

When making Sweet Tart Pastry, the correct temperature of the butter is extremely important because the fat is cut into the flour in a food processor, and it can be easily overworked. Unlike Classic Tart Pastry, where the particles of fat are usually visible, Sweet Tart Pastry is more like a cookie dough. The butter should be firm enough to make crumbs without becoming pasty, yet soft enough to blend into a smooth dough. If you press the butter with your finger, it should feel firm, but not as hard as it would feel if it were extremely cold or frozen.

1. Tear an 18-inch square of heavy duty aluminum foil. Make a buttered circle in the center of the foil 2 inches larger than the size of the pan. Place the foil buttered side down, centering it into the baking pan.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Position the shelf in the lower third of the oven. Fill the pan with enough dried beans or baking nuggets to just cover the surface of the pan. Do not overfill.
3. Bake the crust for 15 to 18 minutes or until the sides begin to brown. Remove the pan from the oven. Let stand for about 30 seconds then gently remove the foil and the beans.
4. Reduce the oven to 375 degrees. Continue to bake the crust for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. If the bottom of the pastry shell puffs up, tap it very gently with the bottom of a fork to expel the air. This must be done carefully so the pastry doesn't break. When the crust is done cool completely before filling.

1. Mangoes: Cut cheeks from fruit, and peel. Place the mango flat-side down on a cutting board, and slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch pieces. Trim flesh from the sides of the pit and cut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
2. Wash and thoroughly dry the blackberries. Cut larger berries in half.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position oven shelf to the lower third of the oven.
4. Combine the cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a large bowl. Add the blackberries and shake the bowl to coat the berries with the dry ingredients. Empty the mixture into the pastry shell and set the tart on a shallow pan.
5. Use the smaller pieces of mango to fill in gaps around the blackberries. Cover the berry mixture with the sliced mango, fanning the slices on the outer edge and tapering them towards the middle. Make a second smaller row to fill in the center. Tuck less-uniform pieces under the even slices.
6. Drizzle lemon juice over the top. Combine the remaining sugar with the cinnamon, and sprinkle the mixture over the fruit.
7. Bake the tart for 45 to 50 minutes or until the juices begin to bubble and the edge of the crust is golden brown. Remove the tart from the oven, lift from the shallow pan, and cool on a rack.

1. place the apricot preserves and water in a heatproof glass container. Heat in a microwave oven on medium power for 20 to 30 seconds, until bubbling. Pass through a strainer. Gently brush the warm apricot glaze on the top of the hot tart. Let stand 1 hour before cutting. This tart is best when served warm.

This recipe can also be found in the Kindle edition of my book, Great Pies and Tarts, which is available now from Amazon:

Copyright © 2017 by Carole Walter, CCP

Devilish Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes about 24 cupcakes

Halloween evokes images of ghosts, goblins, creepy crawlies and witches. I can think of no more perfect a dessert to celebrate with than this devilish chocolate cake. Prepare this recipe as cupcakes with a shiny fudge frosting, and have the kids help decorate them with Halloween candy or spooky decorations. Sugar skulls, coupled with a more colorful icing would make the perfect dessert for a Día de Metros, the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration.

2 ¼ cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup strained non-alkaline, cocoa powder, such as Hershey’s (NOT DUTCH PROCESS)
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons instant coffee crystals dissolved in ¼ cup boiling water
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup tap water
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large recipe Chocolate Custard Frosting (see below)

1. Position the shelves in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Heat the oven to 375°F. Line the muffin pans with paper or foil cupcake liners.
2. Thoroughly whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar taking about 2 to 3 minutes and beat until thickened. Reduce the mixer to medium and pour the oil slowly down the side of the bowl. Beat for 1 minute longer.
4. Combine the coffee, buttermilk, tap water, and vanilla in a large measuring cup. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the liquids alternately with the flour, dividing the flour into five parts and the liquids into four parts, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the side of the bowl as necessary. Let the batter stand for 5 minutes. Pour the batter into a quart measuring cup with a spout or pitcher and divide the batter among the muffin tins filling the cavities ⅔ to ¾ cup full. Note: This is a very thin batter.
5. Bake the cupcakes for 24-26 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Let stand 5 minutes then tip them on their sides. When the cupcakes are cool, frost with Chocolate Custard Frosting.

Enough to frost about 24 cupcakes
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons freeze-dried coffee
3/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups half and half
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the chocolates, coffee, and boiling water. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the coffee dissolved. In a separate small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt and add to chocolate mixture, whisking rapidly until blended. Slowly add the half-and half, whisking gently until well combined.
2. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. After the custard bubbles gently, cook slowly about 1 minute longer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and smooth, then remove from the heat. Off the heat, dot with the butter, let stand until the butter melts, add the vanilla extract and gently blend the custard until the butter and vanilla are incorporated. To cool quickly, set saucepan in cold water. Stir gently, but DO NOT BEAT, until icing is thick enough to spread. This will only take a few minutes.

More of my recipes for cupcakes and variations on frostings are available in the Kindle edition of my book Great Cakes:

Copyright © 2017 by Carole Walter, CCP

Apple Crumb Tart

Serves 8 to 10

October heralds apple season, which makes it the perfect time for this delicious apple tart. The streusel topping adds a wonderful crunch, and the final tart is an elegant variation on the traditional apple pie.

11-inch Sweet Tart Pastry crust, baked

For the streusel crumbs:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
¼ cup quick cooking oatmeal

For the apples:
1 ¾ pounds Stayman, Pink Lady or Golden Delicious apples
1 ¼ Granny Smith apples
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
4 teaspoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice

1. Position the oven shelf to the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 350°.
2. Place the butter in a heavy bottomed 2-quart saucepan, and heat until almost melted; remove from the heat and cool to tepid.
3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and oatmeal. Add to the butter and stir with a fork until blended and mixture begins to form crumbs. Gently squeeze the mixture with your hand to form larger lumps, and break them apart with your fingertips. Let the streusel crumbs stand while preparing the apples.
4. Peel, core and halve the apples, then slice them, ¼ -inch thick, ACROSS THE CORE.
5. In a heavy 12-inch sauté pan, melt the butter and sugar over low heat. Add the apples and stir to coat. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 12 to 14 minutes, mixing occasionally with a pancake turner to prevent sticking. The apples should be softened and most of the juice evaporated.
6. In a large mixing bowl combine the light brown sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, and salt. Using a slotted spoon, add the cooked apples to the sugar mixture and mix gently to combine. Spoon the apples and sugar mixture into the baked tart shell, discarding any syrup that remains in the bowl. Gently pack down the apples and sprinkle with the lemon juice.
7. On low heat, warm the streusel briefly, stirring gently with a heatproof rubber spatula. Take a handful of the crumb mixture and squeeze it to form a large clump. Then break the clump into coarse crumbs and sprinkle them evenly over the apple filling. Repeat until all of the crumbs have been used and the apples are completely covered. Pat the streusel gently into the apples.
8. Place the tart on a rimmed sheet pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown and the filling begins to bubble or you can hear the filling sizzle. Lay a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the top if it is browning too quickly. Serve while still warm with cinnamon ice-cream.

More of my tart recipes, including many variations for pastry crusts are available in the Kindle edition of my book, Great Pies and Tarts:

Copyright © 2017 by Carole Walter, CCP
© 2017 Carole Walter | Photos by Saori Kurioka | Site by TesslerDesigns | Contact Carole