makes one pie 8” x 1½” (I used a deep-dish quiche pan with removable bottom)
3 ounces of good quality halvah
one navel orange)
Prepare the Cointreau-soaked Dates and Walnuts
1 cup Medjool dates, halved, pitted, cut in quarters
3 tablespoons Cointreau
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
½ cup toasted walnut pieces
In a small bowl, combine the dates, Cointreau and orange juice. Cover with plastic wrap and let soak for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. Just before ready to serve, stir in the walnut pieces.
(Pie Crust instructions adapted from Athens Foods)
12 sheets frozen phyllo dough, (each measures 17” x 12”) thawed (keep it covered with a lightly damp paper towel and a sheet of plastic wrap
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup finely ground walnuts combined with 2 tablespoons of sugar
Use a pastry brush to thoroughly butter the sides and bottom of the quiche pan. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on your work surface. You will be working with one sheet of phyllo at a time; keep the rest of it covered with a lightly damp paper towel and a sheet of plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Place one sheet of phyllo horizontally on the parchment paper, lightly butter it, sprinkle it lightly with 1 teaspoon of the ground walnuts/sugar mixture, then take another sheet of phyllo and lay it vertically over the first one, creating a “+” sign. Lightly butter the second sheet of phyllo and sprinkle it lightly with 1 teaspoon of the ground walnuts/sugar mixture. Take another sheet of phyllo and carefully place it diagonally over the first two sheets, lightly butter it, sprinkle it with 1 teaspoon walnuts/sugar then add another sheet, placing it diagonally, creating an “x.” Use two hands to transfer the stacked phyllo sheets into the quiche pan. (Don’t worry if you have a slight tear; you can cover it up with the next layer.) Lightly butter the sheet, sprinkle with walnuts/sugar. Continue adding one phyllo sheet at a time, lightly buttering each sheet, sprinkling with walnuts/sugar, placing each sheet diagonally, lining the pan and leaving an overhang of phyllo. Each sheet of phyllo should slightly overlap, creating a crust. (The wide end of a chopstick is helpful in tucking the phyllo into the fluted edges of the pan. Be gentle.) Carefully gather the overhang, turn it under slightly to create a ruffled edge. Refrigerate the crust while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap any remaining phyllo sheets in plastic wrap and return to the freezer. Carefully place the quiche pan (remember- it has a removable bottom) on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes until golden. Set aside to cool completely while you prepare the filling.
Dark Chocolate filling (adapted from Cooks Country and 250 Superb Pies)
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (Medaglia D’Oro)
3 large eggs
pinch of salt
¾ cup sugar, (quick spin in the food processor with blade attachment so it’s fine)
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee, cooled
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (I use Trader Joe’s 72% dark)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine heavy cream and espresso powder in a large mixing bowl. Whip cream on medium until thick, then increase to high and whip until stiff. Cover and refrigerate.
In a large heatproof bowl set over barely simmering water, whisk together eggs, salt, sugar, zest and coffee. Beat with a handheld electric mixer until mixture registers 160 degrees; this will take a good 8-10 minutes. Remove bowl from over the simmering water and beat until thick and cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes. Beat in melted/cooled chocolate and vanilla. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Using a rubber spatula, fold in whipped cream until no streaks remain. Turn the filling into the cooled pie shell, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours. Remove pie from pan ring and set on serving plate. Garnish with mascarpone whipped cream* and shaved halvah**. Serve with Cointreau dates, walnuts and fresh orange segments. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
Mascarpone Whipped Cream
½ cup mascarpone
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
In a large bowl, soften the mascarpone using a rubber scraper. Add the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Use a hand-held mixer to beat the cream until thick. (Do not overbeat.)
**Use a grater or peeler to shave the halvah onto parchment or wax paper
Makes about 2 dozen
1½ cups (sifted then measured) all-purpose flour
½ cup old-fashioned oats, coarsely chopped in food processor
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 oz. unsalted butter, melted
2 cups peeled and diced Pink Lady apples
2 teaspoons blood orange zest
1½ cups walnuts
egg wash made from 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk or cream
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, salt, baking powder and spices. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, lightly beat the sugars, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients. Stir in the apples, zest and walnuts. This is a sticky batter; flour your hands and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Divide the dough in half and shape into 2 logs, about 1½” wide, about ¾” thick. Place each log on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush each log of biscotti with the egg wash. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden and still a bit soft in the middle. You can turn the oven off. Remove the biscotti from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes; this makes slicing much easier. Turn the oven back on, preheating it to to 325 degrees F.
Use a sharp serrated knife to slice the biscotti into slices about ½” thick. Set them on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for another 15 minutes, until crispy. Don’t over bake. When cool, store in a cookie tin or cookie jar.
makes one 9” square tart
Pink Peppercorn Crust
½ cup (1 sick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pink peppercorns* (If you have access to these, they provide warmth and pair nicely with the citrus; ; do not substitute black or white peppercorns)
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar, beating on low until fluffy. Increase the mixer to medium, beat until well combined and light, another 2 or 3 minutes. Scrape down the bottom and the sides. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, add the egg mixture to the butter/sugar and beat until blended. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt and ground pepper. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in thirds, being careful not to overmix. The dough should just be combined. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Shape the dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out. Lightly butter and flour a 9” square tart pan with a removable bottom. Retrieve the dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, to about 13” in diameter and an ⅛” thick. Gently ease the dough into the pan, pressing along the bottom and up the sides. Trim the excess from the edge of the pan. Place the tart pan in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the tart on a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper and dried beans making sure to tuck the parchment securely in the corners so the tart holds its shape. Place the baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Remove the baing sheet from the oven and carefully remove the parchment paper and beans. Return the tart shell to the oven and bake an additional 8-10 minutes. Set the baking sheet with the tart shell on a rack to cool while you prepare the filling. Leave the oven set to 350 degrees F.
½ cup strained Meyer lemon juice
¼ cup strained lime juice
¼ cup strained navel orange juice
⅛ cup strained pink grapefruit juice
½ cup sugar
½ cup heavy cream
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the citrus juices, eggs and sugar until well blended. Gradually add the heavy cream using a rubber spatula to combine. Pour the filling through a fine mesh strainer set over a mixing bowl. Place the tart shell on a baking sheet and carefully pour the citrus filling into the shell. Place on the middle rack of the preheated 350 degree F oven and bake for 25 minutes, until the edges are firm and the center of the tart jiggles just the slightest bit. The tart will continue to set up as it cools. Serve at room temperature, or chilled. Any leftovers should be covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated.
(makes twelve 3” inch tartlets)
(Note: The Meyer lemon slices must macerate in sugar at the very least overnight, preferably for 24 hours before preparing the filling.)
All Butter Pie Pastry- (this makes enough for a double crust 9" pie or twelve tartlets)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces
½ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Cut in the cold butter using a bench scraper. Add the lemon juice) to the milk. Gradually add half of the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and butter, tossing gently to combine. Add the remaining half of milk mixture to the dry ingredients and butter. The dough should just hold together; if it feels dry, add an additional tablespoon or two of cold milk. Divide the dough in half, flatten into two discs and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out.
On a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll one disc of dough into a circle about 12” in diameter. Use a 4 and 1/2" circle cutter to cut circles of dough. Gently ease the dough into greased and floured 3” tartlet shells or 3” brioche tins. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up. (The number of tartlets depends on the depth of your pans. My brioche pans measure 3 and 1/2" across and 1 and 1/2" deep. If you use shallower pans, you may end up with an extra tartlet.) Retrieve the second round of dough from the fridge, rolling out and cutting six additional circles of dough. Place the circles of dough in the greased and floured tartlet shells. Freeze these as well for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line the tart shells with parchment paper squares and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, lower the temperature to 325 degrees F and carefully remove the parchment paper squares and pie weights. Return the tart shells to the oven and bake an additional 5 minutes or until dry on the bottoms and golden. Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling.
Shaker Meyer Lemon filling- (makes enough for twelve tartlets; any additional filling will keep, well covered and refrigerated for one week)
3 Meyer lemons, weighing about 6 ounces
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
Wash the lemons and remove the ends. Use a sharp knife to slice the lemons into paper thin rounds or half-circles. Try and get them as thin as possible; if you have a few thick pieces, go ahead and chop them finely. In a medium bowl, place the lemon slices and the sugar, stirring to combine with a rubber spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for at least 12 hours, preferably 24 hours. Stir the mixture occasionally to distribute the lemons with the sugar.
When you are ready to prepare the filling, place the flour and salt in a small bowl and pour off a few tablespoons of the sugar syrup that has formed with the lemon slices. Whisk together the flour, salt and the syrup so that the flour dissolves and is smooth. Place the lemon slices and the remaining sugar syrup in a large bowl, turning to redistribute any sugar that has collected on the bottom. Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl and add them to the lemons and sugar. Add the flour/salt/syrup to the eggs, lemon and sugar mixture. Combine thoroughly. Place the mixture in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Cook the lemon filling, stirring with a rubber spatula until thick and it registers 170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Don’t let it boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until incorporated. Place the curd in a bowl and press a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Refrigerate until you are ready to fill the tartlet shells.
Prepare the caramelized and pulverized sugar (see below). Fill the cooled, blind-baked tartlet shells with the cooled lemon filling; don't over fill them. Place the filled tartlets on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the caramelized sugar. Brûlée the sugar using a hand-held kitchen torch or by placing on the top shelf of the oven set to broil for less than 5 minutes, just until deeply golden.
How to Brûlée the tarts-
Grease a sheet of aluminum foil and place it on a baking pan. Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed high-sided saucepan, melt one cup of granulated sugar over low heat until it caramelizes. (Don’t turn your back on the sugar or walk away; that is when the sugar will burn.) The color should be close to the color of maple syrup, amber. Outfit your hand in an oven mitt and carefully pour the sugar on top of the greased aluminum foil. Let the sugar harden completely. When it is cool, break the sugar into pieces. Place the pieces of caramelized sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulverize the sugar and transfer to a small bowl. Retrieve the tarts from the refrigerator and carefully remove the plastic wrap. Gently dab the tops of the tarts with a paper towel to remove any moisture. Sprinkle a tablespoon of pulverized sugar evenly over each tart and have a go at it with your handheld torch. You will have extra pulverized sugar; save it in a small jar or airtight container. (If you don’t have a torch, you can melt the sugar on top of the tarts by placing them on a baking pan and setting them in an oven set to ‘Broil’ for just about 5 minutes until the sugar turns deeply golden brown. Invest in the torch- it’s well worth it.)