I seriously overestimated the amount of fruit and nuts I needed (math was never my strong suit). When I forked over 45 bucks for the fixings I thought maybe I’d have to find a new hobby. Rock collecting, perhaps. The recipe itself was easy enough to follow but very time-consuming and when the little pastries slumped in the oven, I nearly cried. That is, until I tasted one. Then I got over the fact that they didn’t look pretty. In fact, I didn’t know what they were supposed to look like at all. Nor had I tasted one so it was all new to me. When I disclosed that to a friend in New York City last week, she promptly took me off to Zabar’s for the real thing.
Obviously, mine don’t come close. Zabar’s version has more of a cookie texture than mine but to each his own, I guess. What I learned: make them smaller. Stuff them less. Roll them much, much tighter. And, given the time they take, I’d only make these for really special occasions.
As my sister says, “if it’s not chocolate why bother?” But then, we are a family of chocoholics -except for my mother who somehow manages not be swayed by the power of desserts. Why couldn’t she have passed on those genes?
I confess to having had a few moments of pause when making the chocolate mousse tarts. I used the food processor because, frankly, I’m lazy, and I was trying to get the crust in the fridge before leaving for my yoga class … bad planning, I know. When I dumped the fixings onto the counter, it all looked very, well, dry. I resisted the temptation to add more water and was pleasantly surprised to see how it came together when I smeared it around with the heel of my hand. So far, so good.
Later … returning from yoga (relaxed and ready to roll -ha!) … I rolled out the by-now very chilled crusts which needed a bit of nudging to come together. By patching and smushing (a technical term), I did get them to look relatively snug in the tart pans. Popped them the oven and moved onto the filling.
I have to say I was very glad to be able to consult other TWD bakers to see how their filling looked because I wasn’t so sure about my “diced” chocolate or my “chopped” biscotti. More like crumbled bits of biscotti and slivers of chocolate. Out of the oven, I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or disappointed or what. They didn’t look very pretty. Several of the tarts stuck, despite my diligent buttering beforehand. As a result, some of the crusts broke. Boo Hoo.
Clearly, I have to learn how to finish my baking efforts. I tried swirling or smushing (that word again), a bit of white chocolate to dress it up but I’m afraid it just looks like a blob. Fortunately, the taste was not affected. My husband said he only wanted a small slice but ended up eating an entire tart (and he’s not even genetically related to my family … !), pronouncing it “ridiculously good”. Agreed.
Ah, the only thing that is better than the smell of freshly baked bread is a thick, warm slice slathered with butter. I loved how these loaves turned out but I’m on the fence about the amount of work. I have been making 5-minute bread, which is (not surprisingly) a whole lot easier for daily artisan bread. The White Bread recipe is definitely the winner in the taste/texture department but there is also something to be said about being able to mix a big batch of dough once a week, throw it in the fridge and pull off a chunk whenever you want fresh artisan bread for dinner.
The only problem I had with the White Bread recipe is that it nearly wrecked my KitchenAid mixer. After 5 minutes of beating the dough, the mixer was smoking so I had to stop and do the rest on my own. The other challenge is kneading. I’m a potter so I always have to remind myself that I am making bread not clay – two entirely different things. One needs air, the other does not.