Bruléed Grapefruit Tart

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart | Image: Laura Messersmith

It’s citrus season again and the produce section is once more bursting with oranges, pink lemons, and my favorite: grapefruits. When I was younger the only way I could eat bracingly tart grapefruit was with heaping spoons of sugar. I admit, this pretty much defeats the purpose of consuming fruit in the first place, but that’s neither here nor there. As my taste buds matured I needed less and less sugar and today I sip freshly squeezed grapefruit juice without wincing.

My mood needs the bracing boost of sharp citrus. But for folks still on the fence, this bruléed grapefruit tart strikes a happy medium between lovely sweetness and teeth aching acidity by combining the milder ruby red or pink grapefruit variety with just the lightest sprinkle of toasted sugar and a simple, crisp crust.

Now, if it just tasted delicious I’d be sold, but this dessert has the extra benefit of also looking impressive. Elegant, concentric overlapping circles of grapefruit segments glistening under the melted sugar fooled my friends into thinking it came from a bakery. High praise. Imagine my enjoyment when I revealed that the entire process took place entirely in my own kitchen.

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart | Image: Laura Messersmith

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart (serves 8)

 Tart Shell Ingredients:
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
3-4 tablespoons cold water

Filling Ingredients:
4 large ruby red or pink grapefruits
1/4 cup orange or citrus marmalade
1/3 cup finely crushed butter cookies or honey graham crackers
6 tablespoons coarse sugar

Instructions:
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar together with an electric hand mixer. Add the vanilla. Add the flour and salt and mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.

Press the dough into a 9 inch round false-bottom tart pan making sure that the finished edge is flat and the corner between the sides and bottom is sharp. Refrigerate until firm, about 1-2 hours.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Prick the bottom of the chilled tart shell all over with a fork, then line with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights. These steps will prevent the shell from puffing up. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing the paper and beans.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.

To prep the filling, cut a thin slice from both ends of each grapefruit. Place the cut end on a cutting board and cut away the peel and the white part of the rind. Slip the knife along the sides of the membrane dividing the segment to remove the slice of grapefruit.

Spread the marmalade over the partially baked crust. Sprinkle with the crushed cookies or graham crackers. Arrange the grapefruit slices over the crust in concentric circles starting from the outer edge. (You probably won’t use every single piece.) Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the coarse sugar over the grapefruit.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Remove tart from oven; turn on broiler (or pull out your kitchen torch). Sprinkle tart with the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until sugar is lightly browned and the edges of the grapefruit just begin to singe.

Let cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Re-written and adapted from Better Homes and Garden’s Broiled Grapefruit Tart and Ina Garten’s Lemon Curd Tart.

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes, indeed. I used a medium mixing bowl, an electric hand mixer, measuring cups and spoons, a rubber spatula, a 9 inch false bottom tart pan, a medium cutting board, a serrated utility knife, and a kitchen torch. Parchment paper and dried beans, uncooked rice, or pie weights round out the equipment.

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Bruléed Grapefruit Tart | Image: Laura Messersmith

Honey Rosé Plum Cobbler

Honey Ros  é Plum Cobbler  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Honey Rosé Plum Cobbler | Image: Laura Messersmith

I adore fall and the smoky scent of leaves, the crisp brightness, the enjoyment of cool cheeks and a cozy sweater. I anticipate the energy change from the hot laziness of summer, but I also sort of dread it – the beginning of the all too rapid transition into full-on winter. Slushy side walks, cold fingers, wearing my duck boots nearly 24/7 – no thanks.

But let’s focus on the here and now – the blazing blue skies the last lingering summer produce. Who doesn’t need a great late-summer early-fall recipe to take advantage of the glorious wealth of plums that hit the markets in September and generously hang on until October? Definitely not a delicate berry, but a bit more tender-hearted than the sturdy apples and pears to come in oh like t-minus 1 week (not that I’m really complaining.)

Honey Ros  é Plum Cobbler  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Honey Rosé Plum Cobbler | Image: Laura Messersmith

Plums have the depth to stand proudly alongside other robust flavors and add their tart sweetness to the dry rosé. This cobbler topped with buttery dough – is waiting to grace your dinner table.

Honey-Rosé Plum Cobbler (serves 6)

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons whole milk, divided
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup dry rosé wine
1/3 cup clover honey
2 1/2 pounds assorted plums, pitted and cut into 8 wedges each
2 tablespoons coarse sugar, aka sugar in the raw

Optional for serving: ice cream or whipped cream

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush 6 oven-safe ramekins with softened butter.

For the biscuits, combine the 1 3/4 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup milk and olive oil to the flour mixture. Stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

For filling, combine the wine, honey in an extra-large skillet whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Stir in the plums. Cook and stir over medium-high heat about 8 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; keep warm.

Unwrap dough and roll out to 1/2-inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut into rounds using a 1-inch round cutter. Divide plums among the ramekins filling nearly to the tops. Arrange the biscuits over the filling, slightly overlapping as needed. Brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk and sprinkle the biscuits with the coarse sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until biscuits are golden. Place a baking sheet below the dish to catch an drips during baking.

Remove from oven and let stand 30 minutes before serving with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.

Adapted and lightly re-written from Better Homes and Gardens’ Honey Rosé Plum Cobbler by David Bonom.

Honey Ros  é Plum Cobbler  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Honey Rosé Plum Cobbler | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
I used 6 (7 ounce) oven-safe ramekins, pastry brush, medium mixing bowl, measuring cups & spoons, liquid measuring cup, spatula, large skillet, whisk, chef’s knife, medium cutting board, small fluted biscuit cutter, and rimmed baking sheet.

Honey Ros  é Plum Cobbler  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Honey Rosé Plum Cobbler | Image: Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

I was so jazzed when one of my favorite bloggers, Yossy Arefi of Apt 2B Baking Co. published a cookbook this past spring, and yeah I totally went to a signing at Union Square Farmer’s Market just to have my copy autographed. Her inventive flavor combinations, unfussy baking style, and gorgeous photography never fail to inspire me in the kitchen. I’ve been slowly working my way through Sweeter Off the Vine, a book that focuses on seasonal fruit-focused recipes, and couldn’t wait to make the Pavlova with Rhubarb.

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

I’m a bit late to the party since rhubarb season is coming to an end, but if you have a few stalks left that need a great opportunity to shine or a have been stockpiling it like I have then this is for you. A showstopper that does take a few steps, but is so worth it when the sweet crisp meringue, cool smooth whipped cream, and tart rhubarb hit your palate. I liked the twist of making them individual portions a little crunch from toasted pistachios – and who can resist that pale green color against the fuchsia pink.

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Rhubarb and Pistachios (yield 12 servings)

Meringue Ingredients:
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
kosher salt

Topping Ingredients:
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and sliced on the bias into 2-inch pieces
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup roasted unsalted pistachios, chopped

Meringue Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups of sugar with the cornstarch. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer with the wire whisk attachment or (large mixing bowl with a hand mixer) beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt on high speed until firm, 1-2 minutes. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar mixture a little at a time.

The mixture will start off looking foamy and frothy, then turn white and look closer to soft whipped cream, eventually resembling melted marshmallow fluff. Continue to beat on high until the meringue is solid white and forms shiny, firm peaks, about 12-15 minutes. The true test? Turn off the mixer and once the whisk has stopped spinning, remove the whisk from the meringue – both the meringue in the bowl and the meringue on the should form matching points like snowy mountain tops.

Once the meringue is ready sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and the vinegar on top and fold in gently with a rubber spatula to combine.

With a pencil, draw 6 circles approximately 4 inches in diameter (think the size of a water glass) on each of the parchment-lined sheets and turn over. You’ll still be able to see the guides, but you won’t get pencil markings on your meringue!

Spoon the meringue onto the baking parchment into the delineated circles, and spread and smooth to fill. Use the back of the spoon to make an indentation in the center and form a shallow bowl – that’s where the whipped cream and fruit will go later.

Put the sheet pans into the oven, immediately turn it down to 300 degrees F, and bake for 30 minutes rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time. Turn the oven off and leave them in for another 30 minutes with the oven door closed. The remove the sheets from the oven and slide the parchment paper and meringues over to wire racks to cool. Once fully cooled, meringues can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

Topping Instructions:
For the rhubarb topping, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine rhubarb, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Bake until just tender, about 10 to 12 minutes, spooning juices over halfway through.

Carefully transfer rhubarb pieces (they will be quite soft) to a bowl and reserve juices. Let cool completely.

Just before serving, beat together heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until soft peaks form.

Place meringues on a plated and fill each one with whipped cream. Top the whipped cream with the poached rhubarb, and garnish with pistachios. Spoon rhubarb juices over the pavlova, and serve immediately.

Inspired by and written with reference to Yossy Arefi’s Rhubarb Pavlovas in Sweeter Off the Vine (pg. 27), pistachio component from Martha Stewart’s Pavlova with Rhubarb and Pistachios, and assistance with miniaturization from Nigella Lawson’s Mini Pavlovas with Berries. Thank you, Ladies.

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used a stand mixer (but a handheld would work just as well), medium mixing bowl, spatula, two rimmed baking sheets, chef’s knife, a medium cutting board, glass baking dish, tongs, measuring cups and spoons.

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies | Image: Laura Messersmith

It should come as no surprise that I’m pretty obsessed with pie – both the making of pie (and all the adventures that ensue) and of course the eating of pie (the best part.) As peak summer produce season draws closer and closer I’ve been dog-earring my copy of Four and Twenty Blackbird’s and plotting my next pie adventure like a cartoon villain. Not a terribly villainous villain, unless bringing dessert wherever I go in the name of “sharing” is considered wicked. I tried the sisters Elsen’s pie crust recipe this time around – the use of cider vinegar was intriguing – and since I’ve always been a fan of all-butter pie crusts this one is my new go-to.

The filling recipe by Chef Hugh Acheson, my favorite Top Chef guest judge, combines strawberry and rhubarb with just a hint of spice from the black pepper. Strawberry and rhubarb come into season around the same time and are a classic example of “what grows together goes together.” A perfect blend of sweet and tangy all in a portable, buttery package. These hand pies are made to be shared; preferably while picnicking on a sunny day in the park.

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies | Image: Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies (yield 16 pies)

All-Butter Crust Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup ice cubes

Crust Instructions:
Mix the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the diced butter pieces and toss lightly to coat with the flour mixture. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain. Take care not to over blend.

In a large measuring cup, combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the butter and flour, and blend with a rubber spatula until it is fully incorporated.

Continue adding more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, using the spatula or your hands (or both) to mix until the dough just comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining.

Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine. Discard any remaining ice water mixture.

Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the flour time to absorb the moisture and relax. Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.

Filling Ingredients:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
7 ounces strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
5 ounces rhubarb, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons sugar
1⁄2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon lemon juice
1 pinch kosher salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar in the raw

Filling Instructions:
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the strawberries and rhubarb and cook until soft and jam-like, 6–8 minutes. Stir in sugar, vinegar, pepper, lemon juice, and salt; cook 3 minutes more until the mixture thickens. Cool to room temperature, then cover and chill at least 30 minutes before using.

Assemble and bake the pies: On a lightly floured surface, roll dough 1⁄4 inch thick and use a large, round biscuit cutter to cut out 14 rounds. Gather the scraps and re-roll to create the final 2 rounds.

Lay the disks of dough out on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Place 2 tablespoons filling in center of each disk of dough. Whisk the egg in a bowl, brush edges of the dough with the egg wash and fold in half over the filling. Press the edges together and crimp with a fork to seal. Chill 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Using a fork, prick tops of pies; brush tops with the remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake pies until golden, about 20 minutes; let cool slightly before serving.

Re-written and very lightly adapted from All Butter Pie Crust by Four and Twenty Blackbirds (pg. 207) and Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies by Chef Hugh Acheson via Saveur.

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Surprisingly, yes! I used a large mixing bowl, 2 quart sauce pan, 2 rimmed baking sheets, pastry cutter, rubber spatula, rolling pin, 4 inch fluted biscuit cutter, 2 tablespoon cookie scoop, pastry brush, dry and liquid measuring cups and spoons, and parchment paper.

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies | Image: Laura Messersmith