Monday, November 29, 2010

White Chocolate Pastry Cream Crostata

I’m back on the coast! Who knew that not baking or cooking for five days could be so hard? Luckily I have come back with some delicious recipes for you! First we’ll get started with this months Daring Baker’s challenge! I actually tried a couple variations of the challenge, so get set for a week of crostatas!

What is a crostata you ask? Why it is an Italian dessert with a sweet pastry crust, filled with any number of fantastic mixtures. The crust is a pasta frolla, made from flour, sugar, butter and eggs. So simple the dough can be made in five minutes and you can have a crostata an hour later! A little information about our Daring Bakers challenger…

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of Briciole. She chose to challenge the Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating well.

The first crostata that I will tantalize your taste buds with is a traditional crust with a dash of lemon zest, filled with a white chocolate pastry cream. I have to say, of the three that I made, it was my favorite. Although they were all pretty amazing. This would make a perfect dessert for the holidays, so get yourself some white chocolate and get ready to be Italian.

Pasta Frolla

I recommend weighing your ingredients for the pastry crust. It just makes it so easy! Weigh them right into your food processor or bowl and you’ll save time!  You'll notice that there is no picture of a slice of the crostata.  This is because I ate it too quickly, sorry.

90 g (¾ cup) powdered sugar
235 g (1 ¾ cup) flour
Dash of salt
1 stick (8 tbsp) butter cut into small pieces (keep the butter cold!)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten (reserve the egg white for later)

In your food processor mix together the sugar, flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until you have small pieces of butter throughout the flour. (They should be about the size of peas). Dump the mixture out onto the counter and make a well in the middle. Add eggs and start to combine, using a fork, then your hands. It will seem like there isn’t enough liquid, but it will all come together. Form into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 1-2 hours in the fridge.

When you’re ready to make your crostata, take the dough from the fridge. Cut off about a quarter of the dough and set aside. Roll out the dough to about ¼ -inch, or until your tart pan will fit generously inside of your circle. Form the dough into the pan and prick the bottom of the shell with a fork. Take the remaining dough and roll out to ¼-inch. Cut strips, these will be used to decorate the top! This recipe is being baked as a whole, so continue to the bottom to finish your crostata!

White Chocolate Pastry Cream

1 ¼ cups whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 large egg yolks
¼ granulated sugar
1/8 cup flour
3 tbsp corn starch
½ cup white chocolate

In a medium bowl mix together the sugar and eggs. Sift flour and cornstarch into the bowl and mix until you have a paste. Set this aside.  Place white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat on half power until melted, set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat milk to boiling. Slowly add hot milk to the egg mixture. Pour it down the side of the bowl and whisk continuously. Once all the milk is added, pour the whole mixture into the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk continuously until it is very thick (like pudding), this should only take 30-60 seconds once it starts to boil. Finally, add white chocolate and vanilla and stir.

Pour into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap is touching the top of the pastry cream. This will prevent a skin from forming on the surface. Place this in the fridge until it is cooled.

Heat your oven to 350 F. Pour Pastry cream into the unbaked crostata shell. Lay your strips of dough across the top of the crostata, either being fancy and weaving them together, or just overlapping them. Depending on your level of fanciness for the day. Take the remaining egg white and brush the visible dough with a pastry brush. This will give your crostata a nice shiny finish.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is light golden brown. Remove from the oven to a wire rack and allow to cool before trying to unmold from your tart pan. You can also make this using a pie dish, the crostata will still slide right out!
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