Apple Puff Pastry Tart

Yes, I made more dessert two days after the pecanless pie. To my defense, though, the dessert was not for me. Saturday was Chuseok/Chusok (Thanksgiving Day) in (most?) Asian countries. My friend from Korea told me that she and another Korean friend would be celebrating this special day at the library where we were going to study. They were both planning on bringing traditional, Korean dishes, So, I told her that I would bring dessert.
I started doing a search on the internet for Korean desserts, but almost all of them involved glutinous rice, rice or malt powder, and other ingredients I didn’t have. So, I decided to pull out my leftover puff pastry from the freezer and put it in the refrigerator to defrost until the next morning and make apple puff pastry tarts.

I woke up around 11 something, prepared the apples, cut the block of dough in half, and rolled out each piece one at a time and chilled the other. I had to have everything ready by 12:30, which was the time she was going to pick me up. By the time I finished baking both tarts, it was 12:35. She called me, and I told her I needed 10 more minutes. Why did I need more time when I was done baking? Because I needed to take photos for the blog! 🙂 I took the photos during a cloudy, dreary day. That is one of the reasons the photos don’t look so great. Oh well. At least I have proof that I made this scrumptious dish.
My friends were very impressed with the dish. I was proud to not have to use store-bought puff pastry, even though this dough came from my failed attempt (the one with too much butter). That is why it didn’t puff up as nicely. Despite that mistake, the pastry was great. I ate only a small piece because I’m so tired of puff pastry. I gave the rest to them, and I had made a lot for two people (one large and one medium-sized one). They happily accepted my offer, too.

The large version with two columns of apple slices

I also took my first bite of Korean food, and I’m very selective about new foods (and I consider myself a xenophile). I liked one of the noodle dishes called japchae, but I was not crazy about these rolls, called gimbap, that looked like sushi (I’ve never had sushi either!). I also ate half of a songpyeon, which I didn’t like because the rice part was not sweet, and it was too sticky. I’m all about a good texture when it comes to food. It took me about 5 to 10 minutes to muster up the courage to eat every new item I tried haha. Fortunately, my friends were very patient and understanding.
Anyway, if you other Daring Bakers need another dish to use up your leftover puff pastry, try out this simple, quick recipe. I had it memorized after looking over it one time. I got it from Pioneer Woman, so you can see detailed photos on her site. My changes: I added cinnamon, nutmeg and more lemon to my filling.


1-2 sheets of puff pastry (homemade or store-bought)
3-4 apples (I used 3 small granny smith apples and still had some leftover after making 1 large and 1 medium-sized tarts)
1/2-1 lemon
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Make the filling first so that the puff pastry does not get too warm. Core the apples with a pairing knife or a corer. Slice the apples in half. With the half face down, cut thin slices. (Next time, I will peel the skin to make it look prettier and to make it easier to eat.) Squeeze 1/2 of to a whole lemon over the apples, and mix them around (prevents browning and adds flavor). Add the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir the mixture, and allow it to sit while you prepare the dough.

Take the homemade dough* out of the refrigerator (Make sure you defrost it in the refrigerator one day before using it for this dish). If you have a big block of dough, cut it in half, and put one-half (wrapped) back in the refrigerator while you roll out the other half to 1/4-1/8 inch thick. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, shape the dough to your liking. You can make it big enough for two rows of apples or one. Then place the dough on a Silpat or parchment paper and a baking sheet BEFORE adding the apples (see photo below).

Place the apples in a row, overlapping each other, and then cover it. Place the baking sheet back in the refrigerator, and prepare the other piece of dough. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Once you are done with the second piece of dough, take out the first baking sheet, and place it in the oven for 18-20 minutes. Place the covered, second piece of dough in the refrigerator while the first one bakes. Repeat with the second one. Enjoy!

*For instructions on how to use the store-bought variety, visit Pioneer Woman’s site.

Copyright – Memoria James –

Daring Bakers: Vols-au-Vent

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ Challenge has been chosen by Steph of a whisk and a spoon. Steph chose Vols-au-Vent, which we are pretty sure in French means, “After one bite we could die and go to heaven!”

Get ready for a long post……….

I have made laminated dough in the past. In fact, my first post on this blog was about my cherry danish braid. This dough was different because there was no yeast involved. Here are a few photos showing what I did…

Dough ball from my first attempt (before butter was added)

For this challenge, I had to make this dough twice because I accidentally put too much butter in the dough. That is why my pastries didn’t lift the way they were supposed to. They were still very good, just too buttery.

Subsequent process photos are from my second attempt.

About to pour the ice water into the mixer. A food processor is on my Christmas wish list (mom! hint. hint.)

Shaped dough from my first attempt.

The second time around, I halved the recipe. I put in the right amount of butter this time, but the dough looked a bit more crumbly than the first time.

It smoothed out later, though. Most of the prep photos you see are from my second round.

I moved my dining/prep table to the window so that I could take pictures of most of the steps.

Making sure I brush off excess flour from the rolled dough between folds.

After making the turns, I stopped taking pictures since it all looked the same.However, at one point, the butter started to melt and stuck to the table.

In order to remedy the problem, I put flour on the buttery bits, patted it, brushed off the excess flour, and then placed the dough in the refrigerator for a longer period of time.

Marking four turns. Two more to go!

Cutting the prepared dough in half. The layers don’t look very good…I was kind of scared at this point.

I am obsessed with the process of making laminated dough. I watched a bunch of youtube videos and a bunch of pictures even though I knew what to do already. It is so fascinating watching the pastry come together and seeing the end result.

The rest of the dough is sitting in the freezer and probably will be sitting there until it’s no longer good just like the danish dough (that is still in the freezer! I need to get that out of there.).

Steps for making this shaped pastry.

Eating puff pastry is another story. I’m not crazy about eating it even though it is so good. I guess I like cakes, cookies, and pies more.

Dough getting ready to be cut, shaped, and baked.

Despite my fears, the taste of both attempts was exceptional. That is most important in my book!

The pastries on the brown plate come from my first attempt. I placed homemade lemon-lime, cream cheese curd (recipe below) on top with homemade strawberry topping/jam.

Also, after making all of these pastries, I’m really tired of the stuff haha. Good thing, I only made two or three of them at a time.

These danishes on the black sheet are from my second attempt. I placed more of the lemon-lime, cream cheese curd on top with homemade strawberry topping/jam.

The pastries on the white plate also come from my second attempt after sitting in the freezer for a few days. I wanted to see if I could take better pics, but yeah, that didn’t happen. For the topping, I placed a scoop of my Mexican Ice cream, whipped cream, and hot fudge (that’s no longer smooth as it was when I made it a few weeks ago).

All in all, the second bit of dough produced a much better pastry. I still wasn’t able to make it look as pretty as the others I’ve seen. Thanks for the great challenge, Steph!

Lemon-Lime Curd with Cream Cheese

adapted from The Knead for Bread

1/4 cup butter

3 large eggs

½ cup sugar

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (I used 3 limes)

1/2 cup of Mascarpone Cheese (I used cream cheese)

Finely grated zest from 1 limes

Add a cup of water to a pot and bring to a simmer. Place the eggs, sugar, lime zest and lime juice into a metal bowl and whisk together. Place the bowl over the simmering pot of water and whisk till the mixture becomes thick and creamy. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Now, add the Mascarpone Cheese and blend together. Pour into a clean container and place plastic wrap on top. Be sure the wrap is touching the top of the curd. This will help to prevent a crust from forming. Place into the fridge for at least 3 hours to overnight.

Copyright – Memoria James –

Dobos Torta

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners’ and Gingerbread Makers’ Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

I really did not feel like making doing this challenge. In fact, I didn’t make finish making the cake until yesterday in the evening (hence the awful pictures and sloppy assembly). I’m not crazy about sponge cake, and the buttercream was just okay to me. I made the buttercream about a week ago, and the sponge cake two days ago. I did the caramel section and assembly yesterday. Also, I halved the recipe and shaped the cake into a square.

I’m not proud of this torta because I know I could have made it look better with more effort and motivation. But with the very little excitement I had for making this, I’m lucky I produced anything at all. For better looking tortas, go to the Daring Baker blogroll.

Learned from Challenge: I have made caramel many times, so that wasn’t really anything new. I think the only new task I got to do was the egg-based buttercream. It was pretty easy, but it was very exciting to try it out.

Taste: The cake was okay. Like I said, I’m not crazy about sponge cake or cake without butter. It still tasted better than I had expected. I ate only a small piece, and I will be giving the rest of the cake to my neighbor today.

Thanks for the challenge, Nigella!

Copyright – Memoria James –

Daring Bakers: Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow Cookies & Milano Cookies

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Finally. I have finally completed a true baker challenge with this one. 🙂 I even made both cookies, even though we could just make one of them. Let’s first talk about the Marshmallow Cookies.


The base to these cookies was very easy to put together. I made the dough, which was shaped into a disk, two days ahead of time with the intention of doing the rest of the cookie the next day. Well, that didn’t happen because…well…the marshmallows happened haha.


I talked about the marshmallows on a previous post already, but I guess I can go into more detail here. The first time I tried to make them, I didn’t read the instructions carefully and stirred the egg white (I halved the recipe) into the somewhat-cooled caramel. There were strings of caramel everywhere – on my hands, bowl, spoon, pot, etc. It was crazy. After I cleaned off every thing, I tried again. The second time around, I followed the procedures found on the recipe posted on Smitten Kitchen, since it looked easier. Well, everything looked better until I noticed that the softened gelatin had clumped up at the bottom of the mixer bowl. I tried to pour out what I could and went on with the recipe in hopes that everything would work out. The so-called marshmallows came out looking yellowish and weird, so I had to throw them away.

It was getting dark, and I was tired, so I gave up and put everything away. I couldn’t sleep well that night because I couldn’t stand the fact that I hadn’t been able to master what seemed to be a feasible recipe! I had made caramel sauce, soufflés, authentic mole poblano, puff pastry, danish, apfelstrudel, yeast breads, etc. in the past, why couldn’t I make marshmallows? I dreamt about making marshmallows. I could see the beautiful, pristine photos on Deb’s website in my head.

As soon as I woke up the next day, I walked directly to the kitchen, pulled out all of the ingredients by memory, and followed the recipe on Smitten Kitchen instead of that of Daring Bakers. I figured that since they had given us permission to use store-bought marshmallows, I could follow another recipe. That is better than taking the shortcut!

On my third attempt, I stirred the softened gelatin as I poured in the syrup instead of beating it with the whisk attachment on the mixer. After I stirred the gelatin and syrup, I started to swell with excitement because I could tell I was on the right track. Once I mixed the gelatin with the syrup, I turned on the mixer with the whisk attachment and watched the mixture turn into a white, smooth, yet stringy marshmallow fluff!! YIPPEE!! I then added the egg whites and vanilla and poured the fluff into the powdered-sugar-lined pan. They came out perfectly and were so soft. I’m still not crazy about marshmallows, though. LOL

We were supposed to put the marshmallow fluff in a pastry bag and pipe it out onto the cookie base, but I decided to just make them full-out marshmallows and threw them in the oven for a few minutes at a low temperature while atop the cookie base so that the marshmallows could melt a bit and adhere to the cookie. I then allowed them to cool before dipping them in the glaze.

The chocolate glaze for the cookies was no problem. I ran out of the Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips, so to the rest of the cookies I used some unsweetened, dark chocolate and added sugar to the mix, which made the texture look grainy. So, about half of them had semi-sweet chocolate and the other half, dark chocolate. I didn’t try the latter because I don’t like dark chocolate.


These cookies were easy to make. I only had problems with shaping the cookies. As you can see, each one is a different size and shape haha. I was going to use my pastry bag, as the recipe instructed us to do, but I didn’t want to dirty one up, and I thought I could get away with using a Ziploc bag. Um, yeah, well, that didn’t work out right. Once I started squeezing out the dough, the bag busted open and all the dough (or goop) fell out onto the silpat/silicon mat. I scraped up everything and put it back in my mixer bowl. Then, I just spooned in 1 x 2-4 inches of dough on the mat. I had a feeling it would spread greatly since we were supposed to make 1-inch portions. Well, they did spread and were misshapen, so in order to make the sandwich cookies more uniformed, I cut the edges with scissors. That worked out perfectly. The chocolate filling came out fine, too. I just don’t like the taste of dark chocolate.


I didn’t like either of the cookies. I’m very tired of marshmallows. I’m very tired of chocolate (GASP!). I’m very tired of cookies (GASP AGAIN!). They are everywhere in my kitchen. Since I live alone, I halved the recipe, but the recipes still yielded quite a bit. I’m going to give all the cookies to what I lovingly call my “garbage disposal” (aka my neighbor/college). Whatever he doesn’t eat, he told me he would “donate” to our colleagues, and put them in the kitchen in our office.


Even though I didn’t like the cookies, I am so so so happy that I participated in this challenge because I learned so much. I was able to make things I had never made before, which is the point of Daring Bakers. I am so proud of myself for making marshmallows. I’ll never forget it haha. I also enjoyed enrobing the cookies in chocolate.

Thanks, Nicole at Sweet Tooth! Don’t forget to see what the other Daring Bakers have done with this challenge. I’m 100% certain that their entries will be much more creative than mine were haha.

Copyright – Memoria James –

Bakewell Tart… er… Pudding

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

I was at first very excited about this challenge because it involved the preparation of three layers of desserts I’d never prepared (frangipane/Victoria Sponge, homemade jam, shortbread pastry dough), and it was a dessert I’d never had or heard of. After thinking about each layer later on, my excitement waned because I thought that the dessert would be boring and lacking in flavour/flavor. Every time I ached to make a dessert, my eyes would glaze over the assigned Bakewell Tart/Pudding to some other “more appetizing” dessert. After I finally had given in and made the Bakewell Tart/Pudding, however, I regretted delaying the process for so long. The tarts/puddings were so good.

Since I live alone, I halved the recipe and prepared them in small, individual tart pans. Also, I’m not a fan of nuts, so I made half the recipe of a Queen Victoria Sponge Cake as the top layer instead of the frangipane. I also made homemade strawberry jam and blueberry jam for the middle layer to make two different tarts/puddings. I made the shortbread crust a day before making the entire tart/pudding. The crust was very similar to making regular pie crust.

All layers were very easy to make and quick to come together. My only problem was getting the sponge cake to cook throughout. In both varieties of tarts/puddings, the cake layers came out very brown on top but were not fully cooked on the bottom of its layer. I’m assuming they came out like that because of the jam layer. Nevertheless, both tarts/puddings were very good. I preferred the blueberry one out of the two.

Thanks for this challenge; it was fun!

Copyright – Memoria James –

Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel)

My first slice accompanied with homemade vanilla ice cream. YUMMY!

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

As you can see, I forgot to peel the apples, but it didn’t throw off the taste of the strudel.

Mise en place

I was really excited about this challenge when I first heard about it because I’d never made apfelstrudel. Instead of soaking my raisins in rum, I soaked them in apple juice since I don’t drink alcohol. I halved this recipe, ate two slices, and then gave the rest away to my neighbor/colleague. It looked really ugly before and after putting it in the oven (hence the absence of out-of-the-oven pics); however, the powdered sugar covered any imperfections. The taste of the strudel reminded me of apple pie, which is something I’ve yet to make. This was my first apple-based pastry. Thanks for the challenge, Linda and Courtney!

Copyright – Memoria James –

Daring Kitchen Challenge: Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake

Interesting Daring Kitchen conversation about the name of this cheesecake:

Daring Baker (DB) 1: Are you sure you mean infamous and not famous? Infamous means “having a reputation of the worst kind: notoriously evil’! Big Grin”

DB2: Ha, you haven’t met my friend Abbey. *grin*

Me: Then if Abbey is the infamous one, shouldn’t it be called “Infamous Abbey’s Cheesecake”? The cheesecake is not the infamous one, unless you are personifying it.

DB3: hahaha. I love the vocabulary battle!

So yeah, I still don’t quite understand why this cheesecake is being referred to as infamous, but that is the name! haha

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

This was my first Daring Kitchen challenge, and I was hoping to get something more difficult and new like the lasagne from last month. At least I got to try another cheesecake recipe! Also, I was afforded the opportunity to jazz up a plain cheesecake, which aside from strawberry toppings or glazes, was something I had never done before. This was the first time I’d ever used a real piping bag, as opposed to a Ziploc bag. So, I will need to practice a lot more to get it perfect.

Since I already have a go-to cheesecake, I was sort of doubting that this cheesecake was going to knock my socks off.

I decided to spruce it up by making it a key lime cheesecake. It was good, but not great. In fact, I gave almost the entire cheesecake to my neighbor/colleague. If I had never been exposed to Greenspan’s Tall and Creamy Cheesecake, I think I would have really enjoyed this cheesecake, though. It was creamy, and the crust was really good. I doubled the crust and halved the filling because I love graham crackers!

As you can see, I didn’t put much effort into decorating it because we are nearing the end of the semester, and I have way too many other things to do. Aside from adding 1/4 cup of key lime juice and some lime zest, I followed the recipe exactly. You may get the full recipe here.

Thanks, Jenny! Be sure to check out the other Daring Bakers results: Daring Bakers Blogroll

Copyright – Memoria James –