Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daring Baker's Challenge November: Crostata

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge 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.

When I saw this month's challenge, I was excited. A crostata is an Italian tart. I like tarts. I do tarts a lot. Well, when I can. And a new kind of tart sounded fun. It also sounded not-too-difficult which is great as I am desperately trying to finish everything I need for my degree by the deadline next Friday!

One of the directions of the challenge was to get creative with the tart filling. I love chocolate tarts, but that seemed just too easy. I automatically thought of the amazing black forest cake that someone made for my birthday and immediately decided that cherries would be the best way to liven up the chocolate tart.

So, tart cherries and chocolate were picked. But then what? Pastry cream or ganache? I got a little bit realistic here and realized a simple ganache would be much quicker. To make the chocolate flavor more intense, I called in my favorite secret ingredient: coffee. It would work great without the coffee, I'm sure, it just makes the chocolate more intense. Just a little in the cream really made a difference. I think it turned out great and my 3 taste-testers seem to agree.

It's not perfect, though, and the one glitch was completely avoidable. The crust recipe said to bake it for 20 minutes (with weights), then 5 without. Well, after that 25 minutes it looked a little soft and not very browned. And I left it in for about 10 more. Next time I'll take it out at 25; it tastes great, but it is just much too hard. I guess I should have realized that the different kind of crust is *similar* to what I usually make, but the person who wrote the recipe knew what she was doing.

The recipe for the crust is first, followed by my recipe for the filling. One thing to note is that I made this in a 10-inch springform pan and had a tiny bit of ganache left over - little enough that I could have added it on (instead of saving it to eat plain!) In a 9-inch tart pan, or in a pie pan, you may have more than you need.

Pasta Frolla (Crostata dough) recipe, straight from Simone:


  • 1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar
  • 1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • grated zest of half a lemon
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
Making pasta frolla by hand:
  1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.
  3. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).
  4. Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
  5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
  6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
  7. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.
  8. [Added by Beki, based on Simone's directions] To blind-bake the shell (bake it empty), preheat oven to 350.
  9. Roll out 1/8th-1/4th inch thick on a piece of plastic wrap. Carefully move to the pan, plastic wrap side up, press into edges, and remove plastic wrap.
  10. Poke with a fork in several places and place a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper over the bottom of the crust. If you have dry beans or pie weights, put them on top (I didn't use any, it was fine. Just poke it with a fork a lot so it doesn't bubble up.)
  11. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil/parchment. Bake 5 more minutes and remove. Let cool completely.

Making pasta frolla with a food processor:

  1. Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
  2. Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.
  3. Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface
  4. See step 3 above and continue as explained in the following steps (minus the lemon zest, which you have already added).
Cherry Chocolate filling

1 can tart cherries in water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 oz chopped chocolate (I used good-quality chocolate chips that are 63% cacao)
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsps ground coffee (if you don't want to strain it (see step 4) you can use instant, but it may not be as good)

1. Drain cherries in a colander (I recommend over a dish, the juices are very tasty!)
2. Put chocolate into a small mixing bowl. Line a mesh sieve with 4 layers of cheesecloth and place over bowl of chocolate.
3. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium, stirring occasionally, until it boils.
4. When cream boils, add ground coffee. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Pour through sieve into chocolate to remove all the grounds.
5. Stir chocolate and cream until chocolate melts and is completely incorporated.
6. Toss cherries with the sugar (in the colander works fine.) Spread cherries out in cooled tart shell.
7. Spread ganache over sugared cherries, encouraging it down between them. Allow to set at room temperature or refrigerate for 20-30 minutes and remove from fridge. You can store it at room temperature. If you refrigerate it, let it come to room temperature for (preferably) 2 hours before serving.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure that you made the crust correct the baked shell is actually like a butter cookie firm and crisp with some lightness. Just the nature of the beast. Your crostata looks perfect and yes coffee does intensive chocolate as well as chilli (I always a touch of coffee and a dash of chilli in all of my chocolate dishes for that extra oomph to the chocolate taste). Great work on this challenge.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.


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