Are you aware of the delight that is cranberries?
As someone whose main exposure to these seasonal beauties consisted of a yearly devouring of the canned, jellied cranberry sauce, I was not. Now, while I’ve got nothing against the canned sauce—it’s practically my favorite part of Thanksgiving—cranberries have so much more potential.
The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. Since the main types of crostata filling seem to be either fruit preserves or pastry cream, I was intrigued by the idea of combining the two.
At first, all I knew was that I wanted the final product to include cranberries. Then I popped over to FoodPairing, which lets you choose an ingredient and then produces a family tree of other foods that go well with your original ingredient—genius! In this case, I learned that cranberries pair beautifully with white chocolate, which sounded almost too good to be true, what with white chocolate being so freaking amazing and all. From there, it was just a question of assembling all the yum-tastic pieces of a maddeningly delicious puzzle.
First I grabbed a bag of gorgeously fresh cranberries…
…a cup of apple juice…
…and a cup of brown sugar.
With those three items I had all my ingredients for cranberry preserves! You just toss ‘em in a pot and let them simmer away for about 15 minutes.
Ohmygosh, that stuff smells so good!
After the preserves had cooked, I poured them into a container and let them chill out in the fridge.
Then came the time to make pasta frolla, a.k.a. awesomeness in tart form. Beyond the regular components of a tart or pie dough—like flour, butter, salt, and water—pasta frolla is made with…
Just as I was looking over the recipe to list everything that goes into pasta frolla—namely superfine sugar, all-purpose flour, salt, butter, lemon zest, and egg—I have realized that I made a major boo-boo with this one. The recipe says to use 1/2 cup of superfine sugar or 3/4 cup powdered sugar.
I used both.
What truly astonishes me about this culinary goof is the fact that my dough still turned out beautifully.
I don’t know how I should feel about this.
I’m not one for using emoticons in proper blog writing but…
Before we start pondering all the reasons behind the strangely miraculous pasta frolla, let’s move on to the pastry cream. Firstly, I was majorly excited to get to use a real vanilla bean for the first time. Majorly. Excited.
What’s really cool about using vanilla beans is the fact that you can repurpose them after removing the yummy insides. Just pop those pods into a container of granulated sugar and you’ve got vanilla-infused sugar—delish!
So, to continue on with the pastry cream, I heated the vanilla with some milk…
…meanwhile combining two eggs and some cornstarch, sugar, and salt.
Slowly whisking to combine, I added that into the pan with the vanilla and milk, heating until thickened.
Then came the time for white chocolate! It was as simple as placing some white chocolate chips in a bowl and pouring the hot liquid on top of them, stirring until melted. In this case, I went a bit off-recipe and added more chocolate chips than it called for because—duh!—you can never have too many chocolate chips. In fact, if I were to make it again, I’d add even more.
After rolling out the magical pasta frolla and poking a few holes in the bottom…
…I poured in the pastry cream…
…and piped some lines of cranberry preserves inside…
…using a toothpick to make a little design.
Again, were I to make this again, I’d add even more cranberry preserves as well. That stuff was altogether too delicious.
From there it was just a quick bake in the oven and voila! Crostata!
Personally, I found this dessert lovely, but my version needed a little more punch. Everything sort of blended together—in a sugary, creamy, delicious way, mind you—but blended nonetheless. I think it would be a simple question of adding a few more copious dollops of those heavenly cranberry preserves to really take it over the top.
Now, if you’d like to read more about this month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge or find the pasta frolla recipe, just head on over the Daring Kitchen’s information packet all about it. Head over here for the white chocolate pastry cream and here for the cranberry preserves. I’d hate to sound biased in the face of all these wonderful recipes, but make those cranberry preserves now!!
I’m obsessed and I need other cranberry geeks to gush with.