Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Babka and a Tart

I recently had some time to test out a few recipes that had been hanging out in my Pinterest board.  I actually wanted to make both croissants and French bread over the holiday break, but time got away from me.

Soon, French pastries.  Soon.

Instead, I made a Coconut Cream Tart and Chocolate Orange Babka.

Let's start with the babka.  The recipe from start to finish took around six hours.  Most of this time was spent waiting on the dough to finish one of its multiple rise times.  The dough was made from a Challah bread recipe, and was infused with orange zest.  Once the dough has gone through the first rise, it's rolled out and spread with a delicious chocolate mixture.  Then you roll the dough up similar to cinnamon roll dough.  Here is where the process differs: you slice your rolled dough in half, turn the cut sides up, and then wrap the pieces into a twist.  The twisted dough goes into the loaf pan, rises yet again, then spends a little time in the oven before it is drenched in a fresh orange syrup.

Chocolate-orange heaven!

I was very proud of how this bread turned out.  Usually I'm super harsh with anything I've created, but I actually didn't find fault with this bread.  I would like to get a slimmer pan to get the loaf taller, but other than that it was delicious bread perfection.

Now onto the tart.

I had been craving a coconut cream tart for some time now.  All I could think about was the cool, coconut custard and how perfectly delicious it must be.  Which is strange, because I neither like coconut nor have I ever had a coconut cream pie.  But I just knew it would be amazing.

The tart shell began as any other pie crust, except you add an egg yolk.  This may be the norm for your pastry dough, but I usually do not put this in.  Once the crust is combined, you press it into the tart pan, then weight it and blind bake it until it's golden.  While this is baking and cooling, you make your coconut custard.  The general process goes like this: heat your sugar and coconut milk, then temper your eggs and put everything back into the pot to finish cooking. My mistake was not choosing the right bowl to do the tempering.  I have a bowl that has a silicone bottom, which keeps it from moving while you are mixing.  If you have one of these, use it.  Don't question it, don't consider another bowl.  Use it.

I did not.  This resulted in me not being able to whisk while adding in the hot mixture (because one hand was pouring and one was holding the bowl), which resulted in tiny bits of cooked egg throughout my custard.

Not cool.

Luckily, I had a strainer handy, so I pressed the custard through this to keep out the gross little egg pieces.  Technically, I probably should have started over, but I was out of ingredients.  Such is life.

Once the custard has chilled, you gently fold in fresh whipped cream, fill the tart shell, then top with more whipped cream and toasted coconut.  Your next step is to stuff your face with creamy coconut

If you would like to bake either of these yummy desserts, the recipes can be found here:

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Christmas and a New Year

2015 brought lots of changes to our lives, including celebrating Christmas and ending the year as a family of three.  We definitely enjoyed our first Christmas playing Santa, and B enjoyed the mountains of gifts he received.  He was out for winter break, so we jumped into the parenting thing full force when he moved in.

We may or may not have been counting down the days until school starts back! :)

The week of Christmas was spent playing board games, watching movies, and building gingerbread houses!

On Christmas Eve, we baked cookies for Santa and made sure to put out carrots for each of the reindeer.  B went to sleep and then Santa got to work,  putting out a bike and a few other toys.  We tried to only do a few things from Santa and more from us, because I feel like Santa shouldn't be the one to give big gifts.  

On Christmas morning, we opened presents, then our families began swinging by for breakfast and to see what all B got (plus open more presents).  We chose to stay home most of Christmas day, because we wanted B to get to have time to play with his new toys (and to keep his hyperactivity in check).  Based on what we know about his past, this was probably the most elaborate Christmas he's ever experienced, and we wanted him to enjoy it.  We also had several meals with family, one of which he made an announcement at - about how happy he was to be there and thanking everyone for being so nice to him.  He's definitely been blessed with tons of new family that have welcomed him in and shown him what it's like to have people that care about him.

The next week we spent playing with toys, riding bikes, playing a two day game of Monopoly, and watching movies. 

 B decided that he was going to be able to stay up until midnight on New Year's Eve, so got some sparkly 2016 glasses and sparkling white grape juice (which we had to remind him over and over that it was ONLY grape juice! haha).  Somehow he stayed awake, even though we were struggling, and after a dozen games of Uno, we rang in 2016....then promptly went to bed.  On New Year's Day, B slept until 10, which gave me and Graham a couple hours alone to silently drink our coffee and play Uno, complete with ruthless "Draw 4's" and whispered cursing.  

On New Year's Day, I made us a meal full of luck: Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin, Black Eye Peas, Greens, and Cornbread.  B is still talking about how delicious the pork was.  Thank youuuuu Pinterest!

A joyous time was had by all.

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