Whenever we have a dinner at our house, whether it be an evening with friends or a traditional holiday feast, we like to try a new recipe or two. Sometimes we experiment ahead of time so we aren’t surprised by a recipe that doesn’t quite work just as we are ready to serve. But for Thanksgiving this year we tried two new sweet treats the day before. Since all the other preparations were saved for the holiday there would be no redos on the dessert.
The first one I tried was a Pear and Apricot Tart from RealSimple Magazine, November 2010 issue. I really liked the photograph and I am a sucker for pictures. I very seldom try recipes that I can’t see first. I didn’t have any pears and I really don’t care for almond extract so the recipe I am presenting here is my variation on the RealSimple version. First my picture, then the recipe: Apple and Apricot Tart.
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup toasted almonds
1/2 C plus 1 Tbls sugar
1 large egg
1 C all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into medium slices (I used Braeburn)
1/2 C dried apricots, halved
1 Tbls lemon juice
1/4 C apricot preserves
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 inch springform pan. (or 9.5 inch)
In a food processor, process the almonds and 1/2 C sugar until finely ground. Add the butter and egg, and process till smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and pulse a few times just to combine. Dough will be soft.
Spread the dough in the bottom of the prepared pan.
In a small bowl, toss the apples an apricots with the lemon juice and the remaining Tbls sugar. Arrange the apples in the dough and stick the apricots in between any remaining spaces, push them in gently.
Bake until the apples are tender and the dough is firm, 50 – 55 minutes. Cover the edges with foil if they brown too quickly. In a small bowl, combine the preserves and 1 Tbls of water. Brush over the warm tart. Let cool in the pan before removing spring pan side.
This can be made a day ahead, just keep covered at room temperature till serving time.
The second treat was Anise-Almond Biscotti. My husband, Curt, found this one in a little supplement book called Italian Classics which came with our Saveur magazine. He followed the recipe exactly. Yes there was a picture but I wouldn’t have made this from looking at the picture, however I think his final product was far more photogenic.
3/4 C whole toasted almonds (roughly chopped)
2 1/4 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbls butter, softened
1/4 C sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbls anise seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl until fluffy, then beat in eggs and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture and almonds and anise seeds. If you do all of the flour first then add the almonds it is very difficult to mix because this is a very stiff dough. We suggest you alternate until all is combined.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, then, using your hands, shape into 1 long roll, about 3 X 13 inches. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer roll to to baking sheet, flatten slightly, then bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven ( don’t turn oven off); set aside until cool enough to handle ( 15 min).
Using a serrated knife, cut roll, on the diagonal into 3/4″ thick slices. Place slices on baking sheet and bake, turning once, about 5 minutes on each side. Do not overbake, biscotti will feel soft in the middle but will become crisp and hard as they cool.
Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet. These will keep up to 4 weeks in a sealed container. Makes about 18.
Both recipes came out great, there was no last minute scrambling to find a suitable dessert because our experiments failed. Matter of fact, I think I’ll go get a cup of coffee and a biscotti right now. Cheers.