sweets

Banana-Salted Caramel Pie

by Anh-Minh on October 31, 2014

bananasIf miniature chocolate bars aren’t your thing—okay, even if they are your thing—we’ve got a sweet treat that’s perfect for this Halloween weekend. Today, Melina Hammer is sharing a recipe that is sure to make your mouth water.

Banana-Salted Caramel Pie

When I first made this pie, I thought it would be quite tasty. I never dreamed I’d be willing to fight my husband off for the last slice. This pie is that good. Everyone with whom I share it utters layers of profundities as the flavor and texture hit them.

Best thing? Huge payoff without that much effort. You’ll get a good arm workout in crushing those pretzels and biscuits for the crust, but that makes the indulgence of pie even sweeter.

And about that crust … It’s a delightful sweet-salty combo incorporating hard pretzels and after dinner cookie-biscuits. Choose good quality ingredients and the pie will shine even more: I swear by Martin’s Pretzels, a Pennsylvania dutch-style, which I scored at the NYC Greenmarket. Since having relocated to the south I was concerned I would have to find an alternative, but thanks to the internet, they ship right to your door!

This pressed crust is similar to the one I made for the muscadine marbled cheesecake story last year. The more finely you grind the two, the more readily it will hold together. In this version, I prefer the toothiness of smaller and larger bits together and don’t mind if it falls apart a little. It makes for a beautiful mess! If you choose this route, remember you can always use a spoon to serve it, so the messiness becomes part of the design, rather than a flaw. :)

Lastly, the addition of crème fraîche into the whipping cream helps cuts the sweetness of the caramel and banana slices, in a pretty amazing way. It also helps the cream hold those stiff peaks, which is a nice bonus.

See if you don’t go crazy for this pie too. I dare you to find out.

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CRUST

  • 2 cups cookie biscuits, coarsely broken
  • 1 3/4 cup salted pretzels, coarsely broken (I used chunky, handmade pretzels from Martin’s—crisp, airy, salty, simple)
  • 1/2 cup pastured butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

SALTED CARAMEL

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 tbsp butter, cubed
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes

TOPPING

  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4-5 ripe bananas, sliced on a bias**
  • shaved dark chocolate for topping
**Do this at the very end so that the bananas do not brown

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1. Place biscuits and pretzels in a sealable plastic bag and rock a rolling pin back and forth and side-to-side, turning them into crumbs. Empty crumbs into a large bowl, add grated nutmeg and melted butter, and mix until combined.

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2. Transfer mixture into a 9 1/2-inch pie pan and press into the base and up the sides, spreading and compacting the crust evenly. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

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3. To make the caramel, stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, cooking the sugar until it turns caramel in color, about 10 minutes. Add butter, cream, and the sea salt and be careful, as the hot caramel may spit. Stir until well incorporated. Pour into the chilled pie crust. Refrigerate again.

4. Halve vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into a bowl, adding in the cream and crème fraîche. With an electric mixer, whip creams and vanilla seeds until sturdy peaks form. Chill in refrigerator while slicing bananas. Arrange sliced bananas in a pattern which pleases you, covering the caramel surface completely, and set aside.

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5. Spoon cream onto bananas, swirl topping to cover, and sprinkle with shaved chocolate. Keeps for one week refrigerated in a sealed container. If it lasts that long …

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{ Text, Recipes & Photographs by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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anthology-mag-blog-artisan-chocolate-bars-from-unelefante-3Here at Anthology we are nothing if not a group of food enthusiasts and lovers of good packaging. For these reasons alone, we are currently obsessed with this collaboration between Mexico-based boutique Unelefante and chocolatier Jorge Llanderal. Our favorite might be the Pollock bar shown above, which is inspired by the famed American painter and was the collection’s first release. It features 54% cocoa and is hand-painted with bright, bold splashes of color.

Each of the chocolate bars is unique, making them a great gift that doesn’t even require any wrapping!

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{ Images from Unelefante via Knstrct }

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As spring warms and exciting foods ripen, I can’t help but think of berries and tarts. I found a source of non-chemically grown strawberries at my farmers’ market and very happily bought a number of pints. And as great pairings go, I thought to bake little rhubarb and strawberry crostadas, or free-form tarts. Not only are they cute, but they make for a delightful, sweet-tart nibble in the middle of the day. Great warm, chilled, or room temp, the crust enfolds the cooked fruit in just the right pleasing way. — Melina

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crostadas
Yeild 8

Filling

  • 3/4 lb rhubarb, rinsed, trimmed, and cut into 1/4″ pieces
  • 2 pints strawberries, rinsed and hulled, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • zest from one orange
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier

Pate Brisse Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cane sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 sticks cubed cold butter*
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • turbinado or demerara sugar, for sprinkling

*Cube cold butter and then place into freezer for 20 minutes.

Note: You can make the pate brisee pastry dough ahead and keep it wrapped and refrigerated for a few days, or it can be frozen up to 3 weeks. To thaw, place in the fridge overnight. The fruit mixture can also be made in advance, and in fact benefits from a couple days melding together in the refrigerator.

  1. For the filling: Combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, zest, and Grand Marnier in a large bowl and carefully mix everything together. Cover and chill to allow the elements to meld; at least a few hours, up to a couple of days.
  2. For the dough: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cold butter and pulse 5-7 times, until the butter and flour form pea-sized crumbs.
  3. In a slow stream, add the ice water while pulsing, stopping once the dough holds together. Press some of the dough together between your fingers. If it clumps and holds together, you’re where you want to be. If the dough is still crumbly, add a bit more ice water while pulsing a few more times. You may end up using slightly more or less than the 1/4 cup.
  4. Separate the dough into two balls, then flatten each slightly to form a disk. Loosely wrap each disk in cellophane. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before rolling out.
  5. To assemble: On a lightly floured surface, cut each disk into four, chilling the remainder while you roll each out. Roll from the center to the edge, turning an eighth of a turn with each pass of the rolling pin, until the dough is 1/8″ thick. Set aside and roll out remaining dough in the same way.
  6. Line two baking sheets lined with parchment paper and lay rolled dough at least 3″ from each another. Spoon heaping 1/2 cup mounds of the fruit mixture into the centers of each triangle, leaving a one inch border. Fold edges around the fruit, brush water in between creases, and press together gently to keep them in place. If dough becomes soft at any point, it needs to be re-chilled. Once you have filled and crimped all the tarts, place in the refrigerator for at least one hour before baking. (Should you have any leftover fruit, you can cook it over low heat to make compote for yogurt, ice cream, muffins, or toast. Bonus!)
  7. Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush the edges of dough with water and sprinkle demerara or turbinado sugar around the edges. Bake until the crusts are golden brown, about 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375°F. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes, until the juices bubble. Cool on wire racks until they can be easily handled. Serve warm or at room temperature.

anthology-mag-blog-fooddrink-hammer-crostada-04 anthology-mag-blog-fooddrink-hammer-crostada-05 anthology-mag-blog-fooddrink-hammer-crostada-06 anthology-mag-blog-fooddrink-hammer-crostada-07 anthology-mag-blog-fooddrink-hammer-crostada-08 { Recipe and Photos by Melina Hammer }

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While cupcakes might be the most popular form of single-serving cakes, my personal favorite miniature-cakes are madeleines—a cake in delicately-scalloped cookie form. I love them for their startling simplicity: no glaze or frosting is necessary. All one needs for a beautifully delicious madeleine is quality base ingredients and a good cup of afternoon tea to enjoy them with.

For these madeleines, I wanted to strip down the dessert to its most essential ingredients, because sometimes simplest is the best: vanilla bean and thyme. Vanilla bean brings a classical sweetness to these madeleines, which is balanced by woodsy, savory notes from the fresh thyme leaves. My go-to base madeleine recipe also uses coconut oil, which gives these cakes just the barest whiff of coconut—for that mysterious little bit of je ne sais quoi.

Vanilla Bean and Thyme Madeleines
Yeilds 48 madeleines

  • 10 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme leaves
  1. Melt the butter and coconut oil. Cool to room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Slice open the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the eggs. Beat the eggs on medium high for about 5 minutes, until very light and fluffy.
  3. While the eggs are beating, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a separate bowl. Mix in the fresh thyme leaves.
  4. Once the eggs have whipped and have nearly tripled in volume, fold the flour mixture into the eggs in two additions, combining well after each addition. Then fold in the melted butter and coconut oil until well-combined, but do not overmix. Cover the batter and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Meanwhile, place the rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter and flour the madeleine pans. Scoop about a tablespoon of chilled batter into each madeleine mold well. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately turn the madeleines out onto a wire rack to cool. Let cool completely before serving. The madeleines are best eaten the day they are made.

{ Photos and Recipes by Stephanie Shih for Anthology Magazine }

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It was a few years ago when a good friend of mine introduced me to za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mixture containing thyme, sumac, salt, sesame, and sometimes oregano and marjoram. “Spread it on flatbread,” she said, while pressing into my hands a giant bag of the spice blend. It wasn’t until recently, though, when trying to use up spices in my cabinets, that I really fell in love with za’atar and a whole world of potential uses opened up: salad dressings, seasonings for roasted veggies, thick yogurts to dip bread in, and—of course—desserts.

Eating desserts for breakfast requires a delicate touch—no, I’m not a fan of pancakes drowned in syrup first thing in the morning! Za’atar is a wonderful addition to breakfast muffins, adding just enough of a salty, spicy kick for a subtly sweet day-starter. Carrots and the graininess of whole wheat flour make these muffins feel virtuous for breakfast, and the kumquat compote, tempered by a hint of woodsiness from dried lavender, provides the requisite touch of syrup sweetness—but not too much.

Carrot Za’atar Muffins with Kumquat Lavender Compote
Makes 16 muffins

Muffin Batter

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2½  tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ cups light brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded carrot, from about 3 – 4 medium-sized carrots

Crumb Topping

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp za’atar
  • ¼ cup butter, cold

Compote

  • 2 cups kumquats
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice, optional
  • ½ tsp dried lavender buds

Note: these muffins can be made ahead for the next morning, if stored in an airtight container once they are completely cooled.

  1. For muffin batter: Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare non-stick muffin pans with 16 muffin liners. If not using muffin liners, grease the pans. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk to combine the whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the brown sugar and butter. Beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the vanilla, mixing until combined. Beat in the whole wheat flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk. Mix until just combined. Fold in the shredded carrots.
  4. Divide the batter amongst the prepared muffin tins.
  5. For crumb topping: In a bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and za’atar. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or fork until the butter is the size of small peas. Spoon on top of the prepared muffin batter.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out clean and the edges have turned golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Once the pan is cool enough to handle, remove the muffins from the pans. Let the muffins cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. For compote: Slice the kumquats into ⅛-inch slices, removing seeds as you go. In a small saucepan, combine the sliced kumquats, sugar, lemon juice, and dried lavender. Add one or two tablespoons of water to wet the sugar, depending on how much juice the kumquats have. Place the saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer the kumquats for about 20 to 25 minutes until very soft, letting the mixture bubble rapidly during simmering. Remove from heat and skim any white scum from the top with a slotted spoon. Transfer the compote to a heat-safe container. Serve with muffins.

{ Recipe and  Photos by Stephanie Shih for Anthology Magazine }

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