For our June baking club meeting, our theme was berries! We could make anything we wanted that involved berries. We originally got on the topic of berries because 1) we knew that we'd be in prime berry season, particularly strawberries and 2) we had been talking about the beautiful fruit tarts you'd see in bakery shop windows. A few days after our last meeting, I came across a blog post at King Arthur on how to make an easy glaze for a fruit tart - it was a sign! I decided that this is what I would make for baking club.
We met at Karen's house on one of the hottest, stickiest days yet, this summer, but iced lemon water and a variety of fresh berry desserts kept us cool. Our interpretations on the theme were quite varied: we had tarts, tortes, pavlovas and gelees!
Read on for recipes and photos from each member!
LIBBY: Cheesecake Fruit Tart with Macadamia Nut Crust
I had just returned from vacation in Hawaii the day before our baking club meeting - and was feeling inspired by all the delicious macadamia nuts I ate while on my trip. I brought back a bag of honey roasted macadamia nuts - and knew that I needed to make a crust with them! I combined the mac nut crust with an easy cheesecake filling and even easier fruit glaze tip from King Arthur Flour. The result was a crunchy nutty crust, creamy filling and refreshing fruit topping. Very easy to put together and provides show-stopping results!
- 3/4 cup macadamia nuts, toasted
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 stick butter, chilled
- 2 egg yolks
In a food processor, pulse macadamia nuts, flour, sugar and butter until resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg yolks just until mixture comes together, but is still crumbly. Press into bottom and up sides of 11 inch tart pan. Bake in a 375 oven for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
This was a delightful treat filled with two of my favorite things: strawberries and almonds. The cakes use egg yolks and a thin layer is poured into the bottom of two cake pans. The whites from the eggs are then whipped into a meringue and spread over the batter. Sprinkle almonds, cinnamon and sugar over the meringue and bake the whole thing in the oven. Then it's a matter of adding pastry cream (to which Karen added almond extract and vanilla bean) and strawberries between the two cake layers. You can make each element of the dessert ahead of time - but you'll want to serve immediately after assembly. I love how the almond topped meringue makes for its own beautiful decoration - don't you?
I've never had or made pavlova before - and I think this was a great recipe to have been my first! The pavlova was light and fluffy and cut beautifully. Served with fresh whipped cream and balsamic strawberries - it is the perfect, light summer treat. Tonya found her pavlova recipe from Smitten Kitchen and the balsamic strawberries from Nigella Lawson. Another great thing about pavlovas - they sound and look fancy to make - but according to Tonya, are very easy to put together - and gluten free!
Gina's recipe is a classic strawberry tart filled with a delicious pastry cream from the experts at Cook's Illustrated. The base is a not-too-sweet cookie crust, a creamy pastry cream filling and heaping pile of fresh strawberries with a glossy glaze on top. Can't go wrong with a classic!
KLARE: Lemon Balm and Blueberry Gelee (via Epicurious) and Berry Gelees (via Canadian Living)
Klare broke the strawberry trend and came with a refreshing boozy blueberry gelee with fresh lemon balm from her garden! The original recipe called for lemon verbena - but she swapped it out with the lemon balm she had growing in her backyard. And did I mention that it was boozy? Yup - there are 2 cups of wine in this recipe (though the alcohol gets cooked off). But the wine flavor beautifully complements the fresh blueberry and lemony flavors. Consider this a grown-up Jell-O jiggler!
Klare also brought a second recipe of a mixed berry gelee from Canadian Living. This was a little sweeter and more candy-like. A tasty cross between Jell-O and gum drop. I forgot to take a picture of this one - but you can see a good picture via the link.