I couldn't resist the strawberries...
Even though it's not strawberry season yet. Even though it's still only April. Even though there's another winter snowstorm rolling in, with the wind that's quickly changing from balmy to chilly blowing in gray clouds that are taking over what was blue sky just a few hours ago.
They're calling for a blizzard tonight and tomorrow, with anywhere from 9-14 inches of snow, and I just can't imagine it. I've already started getting a little color on my face and arms from my daily walks, now that the weather's been so nice, and today was warm and bright and sunny, with puffy white clouds against blue sky. Clouds that are now gray, with the promise of tonight's impending storm.
We've had talk around the office today of closing the office for a snow day tomorrow, and even though I won't get my hopes up for an unexpected day off, it would be wonderful to be warm and snug at home, rather than freezing my hands off scraping ice and snow off my car. I was wearing flip flops just two days ago. But I'm already imagining the orange marmalade blueberry loaf bread I would bake if I have tomorrow off. With endless cups of hot tea.
The weekend was so beautiful and Jamie took full advantage of the mild sunny weather to work on his car while I did some cleaning and laundry on Saturday. After everything was washed, dusted, vacuumed and folded, I took a few photos of him while he worked...
After a trip to Goodwill to donate a few things that we no longer need, I went in search of something for dinner. As is often the case over the course of the weekend, a "meal" might be nothing more than cheese and crackers, olives, a little fruit, a steamed artichoke, and some wine, especially since we made ribs with homemade bbq sauce the night before, and I didn't want to cook again after cleaning all morning.
The strawberries, so bright red, were too tempting to pass up, so I picked up some of those as well for our Saturday evening dinner. There's nothing quite so nice as relaxing at home in a just-cleaned house, before all the clutter and dirty dishes and laundry pile up again.
The strawberries were juicy and sweet, in spite of being early in the season. Sunday morning, I mixed up a quick shortbread dough with some almond paste in the dough for a hint of almond flavor, and filled my rectangular tart pan with half the dough, and a few tartlet molds with the rest. After prebaking the tart dough for a few minutes, I filled it with the rest of the strawberries, sliced and tossed with a little sugar. And when it was done, all pale golden buttery crust and sweet strawberries, I drizzled the berries with some honey for a pretty glossy finish.
Pastry and strawberries. Nothing more. Simple and delicious.
To fill the rest of the dough that I had pressed into six tartlet molds, I made chocolate peanut butter ganache, a simple filling of nothing more than cream, semi-sweet chocolate and peanut butter, with a touch of vanilla, and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt. The ganache, after baking, developed a brownie-like crust on top with a soft, gooey center.
We sampled the tarts for breakfast on Sunday, another pretty spring day.
With tonight's storm quickly approaching, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a snow day tomorrow...
- 3 cups sliced strawberries
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 6 ounces almond paste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, diced
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons honey
~For a less sweet crust, omit the powdered sugar and use 2 full cups of flour instead.
~The long, rectangular tart pan I used is rather small - only 4 inches wide and 12 inches long. This recipe will yield 2 tarts of this size, or 1 tart in a 9-inch round tart pan. Or you can do like I did and make 1 small tart with half the amount of strawberries, and use the extra dough to make a few chocolate peanut butter tartlets - see below for recipe....
Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a tart pan with a removeable bottom with non-stick spray.
In a bowl, toss the strawberries with the granulated sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes to let the juices macerate.
In your food processor, combine the flour, powdered sugar, almond paste, salt, butter and egg yolk. Pulse until crumbly and moistened. Press the dough firmly against the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Spray a piece of foil with non-stick spray and press the foil against the dough so that all of the dough is covered. Fill pie weights or dry beans. Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the foil and set aside. Fill the crust with the strawberries.
Bake for another 20-25 minutes, until the crust is pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle the strawberries with the honey to give them a pretty sheen. Let cool for 45 minutes, then carefully remove the sides of the pan. Cut into slices and serve.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen
Chocolate Peanut Butter Tartlets
- approximately half the dough from above
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- coarse salt
- whipped cream and strawberries, for serving
Preheat the oven to 375. Spray six 3-inch tartlet molds lightly with non-stick spray. Fill each mold with about 1/4-1/3 cup of the dough crumbs and press firmly against the bottom and up the sides of the molds. Set on a baking sheet.
Pour the cream into a saucepan and heat gently over medium low heat just until it begins to simmer around the edges. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter, chocolate chips and vanilla until melted and smooth.
Divide the filling between the tartlets, filling them almost to the top. Sprinkle with the salt.
Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is slightly puffed and cracked.
Cool for 20-30 minutes in the molds then unmold the tartlets and serve warm with whipped cream and strawberries.
Yields 6 tartlets.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen