I never really understood why pop tarts were so popular amongst my friends growing up. Sure, it was an easy on-the-go breakfast item, but so are chocolate chip cookies. (Oh, come on, you know chocolate chip cookies are excellent with coffee. And they probably have less sugar than Pop Tarts too!) Pop Tarts didn’t make the cut because they don’t taste very good. They are sweet, that’s all. Skip forward twenty or so years, to Flo Braker’s ‘The Baker’ column in the San Francisco Chronicle last weekend. Now here was a recipe that I wanted to make!! She calls it a Fig and Berry Pastry Tart, but I call it yummy, healthy and good. It features a super easy cream cheese and butter pastry that I could make in the Cuisinart, a quick fig and berry compote for the filling and a simple confectioner’s sugar glaze to put on top. You could easily substitute your favorite jam or spread for the fig and berry compote. No one would be the wiser. I was super impressed by how well this baked pastry held up at room temperature. It lasted 4 days in our house and it was just as good on the 4th day as it was on the first day. The pastry was sturdy, easy to work with and delicious too.
Fig and Pastry Tart, Adapted from Flo Braker’s ‘The Baker’ Column in the SF Chronicle
2 ¼ cup flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp salt
2 sticks, (8oz) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 oz cream cheese, chilled and cut into cubes
1 pint figs, quartered
1/3 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen, I used frozen
1 cup orange juice or water (I used water)
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp lemon juice or water
To make the Pastry: Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a Cuisinart or food processor. Scatter the butter on top and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas. Remove the cover and scatter the cream cheese over the dough. Pulse until the dough comes together in one large clump. Divide into two pieces, wrap and chill.
Filling: In a small sauce pan, combine all of the ingredients for the filling. Simmer until it is the consistency of a thick jam. Set aside to cool.
Glaze: Combine all ingredients; stir well so that there are no lumps and set aside.
Assembly: Remove the dough from the fridge and unwrap. Roll the first piece of dough out into a 10” by 14” rectangle. Fold in half and transfer to a baking sheet pan. Unfold the dough and spread the jam over the dough, leaving a 1”border. Roll out the second piece of dough, fold in half to transfer and place the dough over the filling. Press the edges of the dough together with a fork. Trim the un even edges of the dough. Prick the top of the dough with a fork and bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes. While the tart is still warm, brush the glaze over the top and set aside to cool.
Enjoy on the run for breakfast tomorrow morning!
Guess what I made while Lily was sleeping and the rain was pounding on the roof, making me feel all snug and warm in my kitchen? The most amazing Espresso Cheesecake Brownies from Dorie Greenspan’s ‘Baking From My Home to Yours’. I picked this recipe because in Dorie’s notes she says that this particular recipe can be baked then frozen…Awesome! I said to myself….I’ll freeze half then I won’t have a full pan of brownies tempting me every time I walk into the kitchen and I can do an experiment and evaluate how well they freeze for future reference. The cooking is good today!! What was I thinking? That was yesterday and the pan is half gone already—I love them, my husband loves them… Lily loves them. The brownie layer is slightly fudge-y and the cheesecake layer is soft, creamy and moist—everything that cheesecake is supposed to be. The original recipe calls for a sour cream topping to finish off the brownies. I left this off because if you are planning on freezing these lovely treats, you can’t freeze the sour cream topping. Little did I know that I wouldn’t get a chance to freeze these, but I think that the sour cream topping would push these to the ultimate level of decadence.
I hope that you enjoy these as much as we did!
Espresso Cheesecake Brownies
Followed exactly from ‘Baking From My Home to Yours’ by Dorie Greenspan
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used ½ cup of Guittard Bittersweet chocolate drops.)
1/3 cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
Espresso Cheesecake Layer
1 ½ tsp instant espresso powder
1 Tbsp. boiling water
8 oz cram cheese, at room temp
2/3 cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
¼ cup sour cream (I used whole milk yogurt because I was out of sour cream and I didn’t notice a difference.)
1 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 ¼ cups sour cream
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9” square baking pan, dust with flour and tap out the excess. Put the pan on a baking sheet. (I used an 8” square pan and everything turned out perfectly.)
To make the brownies: Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Put the butter in the bowl, top with the chopped chocolate and stir occasionally until the ingredients are just melted. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.
With a whisk, stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla and beat vigorously for a few seconds. With the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Set aside while you prepare the cheesecake.
To make the cheesecake: Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water; set aside to cool to tepid. Meanwhile, working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium until completely smooth. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes or so until well incorporated. Beat in the vanilla and the espresso mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the sour cream, followed by the flour. The batter will be smooth.
Give the brownie batter a few stirs with a spatula and pour three quarters of it into the prepared pan. Smooth the brownie layer and pour the cheesecake batter over it, tilting the pan as needed to even the batter. Dot the top of the batter with spoonfuls of the remaining brownie batter. Using a table knife, swirl the dark batter into the cheesecake batter, taking care not to plunge the knife into the lower brownie layer. The cake looks and tastes best if you swirl sparingly.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the brownies pull away form the sides of the pan and the cheesecake layer is beige in the center, lightly browned around the edges and puffed all over. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature. When the brownies are completely cool, refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until thoroughly chilled.
To make the topping: Warm the sour cream and sugar in a saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour the topping evenly over the cold cheesecake layer.
Return the brownies to the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 more hour, or until the topping is also thoroughly cold.
The easiest way to cut this dessert is to run the knife blade under hot water, wipe it dry and cut the cake into quarters. Remove the quarters from the pan and again using a warmed and dried knife, cut each quarter into 4 pieces.