Double-Crust Rhubarb Custard Pie

Here is a twist on a rhubarb custard pie recipe that is spectacular for two reasons, and both concern the creamy and sturdy custard that takes center stage. For this pie, the custard is first prepared with the rhubarb added at the beginning of the process so that any liquid the plant releases becomes part of the finished product. Then the pastry cream is baked for a second time between two layers of flaky, buttery pastry to enhance the flavor and solidify the filling so that it slices beautifully. Almonds may be substituted for an even more subtle nutty aroma, but do make sure to include the nut meal as it brings a welcome richness and depth of flavor to the whole party.

Rhubarb Custard Pie 

Ingredients:

1 recipe for a double crust pie pastry (2 discs pie dough)

3 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb
1 ½ cups light brown or golden yellow sugar, packed
5 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk (3.5%)
1/8 teaspoon fine table salt
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup hazelnut meal (roasted and finely ground)

1 egg
1 teaspoon water
course sugar for sprinkling

Method:

1. Make the custard.

To make the custard, combine the rhubarb, sugar, flour, salt, milk, egg yolks, and vanilla extract in a large metal bowl. Create a double boiler by filling a medium pot with a few inches of water and placing the metal bowl containing the ingredients over top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Set the pot over medium-low heat and bring the water to a simmer, stirring the ingredients frequently with a whisk or a heat-proof spatula.

As the water continues to simmer and the custard begins to cook and thicken, focus on scraping the bottom of the bowl with the spatula and stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling. When the custard reaches 180° F on an instant read thermometer, or is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, immediately remove the bowl from the heat and continue to stir for a minute until it begins to cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the custard and allow it to cool to room temperature, then chill it in the fridge for at least four hours to allow the custard to become firm.

At this point the custard may be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

2. Assemble and bake.

When you are ready to bake the pie, roll out one disc of pastry and fit it into a 9” pie plate, leaving at least an inch of overhang to be trimmed after the top pastry is arranged. Place the shell in the freezer for several minutes to re-chill the dough. Roll out the second disc of pastry into a large circle slightly thinner than that of the shell, and cut it into 2” wide strips. Place the strips in the freezer for several minutes to re-chill the dough. The goal is for the pastry to be cold, but flexible enough so that you may shape the edges.

Remove the pie plate from the freezer and carefully pour the chilled custard into the shell. Cover the entire surface evenly with the strips of pastry, making sure that they do not overlap to allow for ventilation and trimming the edges where necessary. Curl the shell overhang up over the circle of pastry, trimming where necessary, and press it into a fluted edge. Carefully place the whole pie in the freezer for 20 minutes, ensuring that it is sitting level. While you are waiting for the dough to chill, preheat the oven to 400° F.

Whisk together the egg and teaspoon water. Gently place the pie on a sturdy baking sheet and brush the top with the egg wash, then sprinkle sugar over top. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the top pastry is golden brown and slightly puffed. Use a pie shield if necessary to protect the edges from over-browning during the last 20 minutes of baking.

Allow the pie to cool to room temperature and chill before serving, at least 4 hours. This will ensure that the pie will slice cleanly. Store the pie in the refrigerator, and serve it slightly chilled or at room temperature the next day.

Coffee-Hazelnut Pie Pastry

Want to up your pie game in a big way? Take advantage of the pastry and use it as a vehicle for additional flavors and textures. With the first berry pie of the season try a flaky, all-butter pie pastry enhanced with hazelnut meal and powdered coffee for a subtly refined twist on a classic.

Coffee-Hazelnut Pie Pastry

Flavor Pairings: Blackberries, blueberries.

Baker’s Note: To flavor my baked goods with coffee, my favorite method is to take instant coffee, which is essentially freeze-dried coffee, and either dissolve the granules in an equal amount of water or grind them into a fine powder and use it as a dry ingredient. For this recipe, scoop a couple tablespoons of instant coffee into a bean/spice grinder and pulse until you have a very fine powder.

Ingredients:

9 oz cake & pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
1/2 cup medium ground hazelnuts (not hazelnut flour)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 oz cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
7 tablespoons very cold water (3.5 oz)

Method:

Measure the water into a cup and place it in the freezer until it is very cold, but not icy. Whisk together the flour, coffee powder, sugar and salt.

Add the cold, cubed butter to the flour mixture and toss to coat. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Place the bowl in the freezer for 20 minutes to re-chill the butter.

Add the ground hazelnuts to the bowl and toss with a fork to evenly disperse. Pour the very cold water around the edges of the bowl, and quickly toss with a fork to disperse the liquid and combine the ingredients.

Gather the clumps of dough together into a rough ball and give it a few brief kneads against the side of the bowl, just until it holds together, then wrap very tightly in plastic wrap.

Note: The “dough” at this point will appear very dry or crumbly and not at all cohesive, but this is how it should feel. Gather the clumps together tightly into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap so that the ingredients come together without overworking the gluten or squishing the bits of butter. You can even carefully dump the clumps onto a sheet of plastic wrap and use it to gather the dough together, like I often do to minimize handling.

Flatten the dough slightly to form a disc. Chill for at least 2 hours to give the flour some time to absorb the moisture, and to re-solidify the butter.

Remove the dough from the fridge 20 minutes before rolling. Use as directed in your recipe of choice. Remember that freezing the pastry before baking it at a high temperature will yield the flakiest results.

The dough will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge or for up to one month in the freezer.

Making Chocolate-Hazelnut Rugelach

Rugelach is one of those transcendent desserts, not unlike madelines, that one has a hard time calling “cookies” and leaving it at that. These bite-sized pastries consist of a rich cream cheese laden dough, much akin to pie pastry, rolled with a filling of your choosing. Dried fruit, preserves, nuts and chocolate are all common additions, making rugelach the ideal vehicle for our dark chocolate-hazelnut paste.

Below you will find my recipe for the chocolate-nut filling, as well some hints on preparing the dough and assembling the cookies. The delicious and surprisingly simple cream cheese pastry recipe comes from leitesculinaria.com, and was written by Tracey Zabar for her book One Sweet Cookie.

I modeled my chocolate-hazelnut paste after a Taste of Home Magazine recipe for DIY chocolate-hazelnut spread, and after some experimentation I settled on several alterations.

The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, but I prefer to use granulated sugar over ready-made icing sugar whenever possible because the latter contains a fair amount of cornstarch. To ensure that the sugar dissolved, I cooked the milk/sugar mixture on very low heat while stirring with a heat proof spatula until I could rub some of the liquid between my fingers without feeling any granules. I also substituted half (3 oz) of the milk chocolate for dark chocolate, and swapped the cows milk for fruity coconut milk.

giandujaspread

Recipe: Dark Chocolate-Hazelnut Paste

Adapted from: Taste of Home Magazine, DIY Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread

Ingredients

Baker’s Note:

Most likely when you purchase hazelnuts, they will come with their thin, papery skin still attached. While some people do not bother to remove it, I find that I can sometimes detect the skin’s slight bitter taste and I prefer to rub as much off as possible before chopping or grinding the nuts. The quickest and most effective way of doing this is to preheat the oven to 350° F, and line a heatproof bowl with a clean dish cloth. Toast the hazelnuts on a tray for 5-8 minutes, or until the skin begins to crack and peel, then quickly toss them into the bowl and cover with the towel. Let the hazelnuts steam for 15 minutes, then briskly rub the towel together to remove the skin.

3/4 cup whole hazelnuts (filberts), lightly toasted and skin removed
3 oz dark chocolate
3 oz good quality milk chocolate
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon mild honey
1/4 cup well stirred coconut milk
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon flavorless oil

Method

Finely chop both chocolates and place in a large microwave safe bowl.

Combine the coconut milk, sugar, honey, and salt in a small saucepan and heat on low until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture just up to a simmer, then remove the pot from the heat.

Immediately poor the milk mixture over the chopped chocolate and let sit 5 minutes. Stir gently until smooth.
Note: If not all of the chocolate completely melts, microwave the bowl for 15 seconds and stir again until smooth.

Place the hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor and process until the nuts begin to form a paste. Add the oil and process until a paste forms.

Scrape the chocolate mixture into the bowl with the nuts, and process briefly, just until the paste clings together and forms a ball.

Store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Bring to room temperature before use.

Note: If your food processor is like mine, and not quite capable of producing a smooth nut paste, do not fret. Simply process the hazelnuts as much as possible and continue on with the recipe. The result will be a rich chocolate and nut paste rather then a smooth spread, and it will be excellent when paired with pastry, sandwiched between cookies, or layered in tarts or pies.

Dough & Assembly: Cream Cheese Rugelach

Source: Tracey Zabar, One Sweet Cookie
Link: http://leitesculinaria.com/78021/recipes-cream-cheese-rugelach.html

Baker’s Notes:

  1. I followed the recipe for the pastry as written, but found that after my processor had cut in the cream cheese, I had a damp but sandy bowl of tiny crumbs rather than a cohesive dough. To adjust, I dumped the mixture into a large mixing bowl and used my hands to form the crumbs into 4 equal balls, which was quite easy considering the cold dough quickly clung together.
  2. After rolling the dough and trimming the edges, I chilled the rectangles in the fridge until they were firm so that the filling would spread more easily across the pastry. I also discovered that the best way to evenly distribute the filling was to use my fingertips to quickly and gently smooth it over the dough. When had I finished rolling the logs, I placed them in the freezer for about an hour to chill them, then I cut the logs into 1 ½ inch pieces as directed, and froze the fully assembled cookies overnight.
  3. In the morning, I made an egg wash by whisking together 1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon of water, and brushed each cookie lightly but thoroughly with the wash before pressing them into some vanilla sugar.
  4. I baked the rugelach at 375° for 30-35 minutes on a large metal tray lined with a silicone mat. The silicone barrier helped to ensure that the bottom of the pastries did not burn before the center of the roll had cooked through.
  5. After removing them from the oven, I quickly transferred the cookies to a cooling rack so they did not sit in the moisture that had formed on the tray during baking (I suspect this was mostly oil from the chocolate filling).

The rugelach are best eaten on the first or second day, but they will keep for several days more refrigerated in an airtight container.

Dark & Bold Gianduja Spread (Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread)

Gianduja: a sweet chocolate spread containing about 30% hazelnut paste, invented in Italy during the reign of Napoléon.

February thus far has brought a whirlwind of activity to the Dough House, beginning with preparations for a romantic Valentine’s Day wedding cake and ending this past weekend with its unveiling. As much as we love making silky smooth lemon curd and eating cake scraps, it is exciting to refocus on baking, well, whatever we feel like.

Keeping in tune with this months featured ingredients, I chose to begin a project that I had been itching to work on since the fall: homemade chocolate-hazelnut spread. The condiment itself is quite simple to put together, but once made it can be used in a myriad of other dessert recipes, some of which Taste of Home has already compiled for me. I was drawn to this version of “DIY Nutella” in particular because it includes honey as well as nuts and chocolate, all of which I would consider end-of-winter pantry staples.

I was after a deeper, darker chocolate experience than the grocery store variety has to offer, so I substituted the milk chocolate for dark chocolate and added an extra tablespoon of both honey and sugar. Instead of cows milk, I used sweet, creamy coconut milk for its richness and flavour. The result was a bold and earthy chocolate spread with subtle fruity hints, and plenty of toasted and ground hazelnuts visible throughout. My first instinct is to make gianduja-filled pastries, perhaps using the opportunity to try a new recipe, and also to use the spread within a sweet yeast bun.

So bust out the pastry blender, because we’re making dough and getting our gianduja on.

Coffee-Nut Shortbread Cookies

Satisfy your cookie cravings with a smooth, rich and nutty shortbread flavoured with coffee and roasted hazelnuts.

The problem with having your heart set on something is that it may take some time and a bit resourcefulness to get exactly what you want, but often what you end up with is the most delicious and effort-worthy version of your idea. This week I was firmly set on baking a nutty shortbread, but specifically one that was flavoured with a taste that I look forward to every day: coffee.

As it happened, I came across a recipe for hazelnut and brown sugar pan shortbread and suddenly remembered a stash of hazelnuts tucked away in my freezer waiting for such an occasion. There were only two obstacles between me and my cookies, how to procure finely ground nuts and instant espresso powder without food processing equipment or proximity to an Italian supermarket. Luckily both snags were easily solved with a plastic freezer bag, a wooden rolling pin, and an inexpensive spice grinder.

To achieve a rough nut meal, simply toss toasted and cooled nuts into a plastic freezer bag and take a heavy rolling pin to them. Avoid the instinct to give the nuts a good pounding, which will only tear the plastic, and apply heavy pressure as you roll the pin over a hard surface. The finished product will not be as fine or as even as machine processed nut flour, but for this recipe it will be just as yummy.

In the past I have used instant coffee (which on its own I abhor) to flavour desserts by dissolving the granules in a tablespoon or two of boiling water and then using the liquid as if it were a mild extract. However in the case of shortbread and many other cookie recipes I would hesitate to add the additional liquid, so another brilliant option is to combine fine espresso powder with the rest of the dry ingredients. To convert course instant coffee grains into a fine powder, I popped a half cup into a small electric spice/coffee grinder and gave it a few whizzes, just until the granules were reduced to a light and perfectly whisk-able dust. Do make sure to use your new ingredient in moderation, as finely grinding the coffee greatly increases the potency per tablespoon. For a large double batch of shortbread, I used only 1 tablespoon of the flavouring.

And the result was almost as satisfying as the first roast of the morning. The dark aroma of coffee heightens the richness of the shortbread and brings out the creaminess of the butter, while the presence of toasted hazelnuts and brown sugar rounds off the entire ‘latte’ experience. A drizzle of chocolate and a dollop of whipped cream wouldn’t hurt either.

Nuttin’ But the Truth

Fans of the chocolaty hazelnut “breakfast spread” may remember earlier this year when we were direly warned to line our cupboards with Nutellla like it was 1999. Cold weather and an early frost in Turkey, where 70% of the world’s hazelnut crop is grown, threatened to limit the amount of Nutella that North Americans could consume and prices were predicted to skyrocket. The good news is that while we may have to shell out a bit more for the nuts for now, there is always next year’s harvest to look forward to.

See the full article here: Modern Farmer: The Hazelnut News Frenzy Continues