Milk Chocolate Pistachio Tart

IMG_5449In keeping with my chocolate and tart theme for this week I decided to try this easy pistachio tart.  I love pistachios and thought this would be an interesting tart to make and use up my pistachios before they went stale.

The crust is a sort of cookie dough type pastry.  It is:

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup pistachios, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, nuts and salt in a small bowl.  Beat the butter in a mixer until fluffy, then add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy.  Then add the vanilla and gradually add the flour mixture until a dough forms.  The dough will be very sticky.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, flatten into a disk and chill for at least and hour.  When ready to use it, roll it out between sheets of plastic wrap and use the plastic wrap to turn it into the tart shell.  Fit it into the shell and bake it at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Allow to cool.

IMG_5453Make a layer of pistachio paste by combining ground pistachios with a little sugar and about a teaspoon or so of a flavorless oil until it is a smooth paste.  Spread this evenly into the bottom of the cooled shell.

The filling is even easier.  It is just a thin ganache of cream, milk, and milk chocolate which is allowed to cool and then a whole egg is beaten into it.  Pour this over the nut layer and bake the tart at 300 degrees for about 35 minutes.  Cool completely.

IMG_5450

Chocolate Cream Tart

IMG_5456I decided to take a break from my British baking craze this week but wanted to stay with my tart theme so I opted for a few easy to make chocolate tarts. As I have noted many times,  as I have gotten older I have lost my penchant for chocolate.  Other than an occasional craving for a Milky Way or Heath bar or a Cadbury creme egg at Easter I rarely bake many chocolate desserts these days or order it in restaurants.  It just always seems to be too heavy and cloying to my palette these days.  That doesn’t mean however that I don’t like it, I do, just crave it a lot less often.

This cream tart is about as easy as it gets.  It has a standard crumb crust which uses chocolate wafers in place of the traditional graham crackers.  So it’s just chocolate cookie crumbs, some sugar and a little melted butter.  It gets pressed evenly into a 9 inch tart pan and baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes and then cooled.

IMG_5458The filling is very easy.  It is nothing but a standard creme pat recipe.  Make the creme pat and once it thickens add chocolate and allow it to bubble for a few minutes until it is very thick.  Remove from the heat, allow to cool a few minutes and then stir in your flavoring.  I used bourbon here.  Pour the filling into the cooled crust, cover with plastic wrap which is set directly on the filling to prevent a skin.  Chill it for several hours or preferably overnight. Decorate with whipped cream and chocolate.

IMG_5461Ordinarily to decorate things like this I would just shave curls off of a block of chocolate but it seems my local supplier has stopped carrying it year round so I was forced to temper the chocolate and do the decor by hand.  In all honesty, tempering chocolate is one of my least favorite baking chores.  It seems that no matter what method I use be it seeding, temperature, stirring, the chocolate always seems to go out of temper as I am working with it and I end up having to do it several times to get what I need.  I watched Jacques Torres do it on tv just the other day.  He literally melted the chocolate, gave it a quick stir and proclaimed it in temper.  Then he spread it on a marble, dragged his palette knife across it a few times and ended up with a pile of perfectly formed curls.  I just had to shake my head and laugh.  I have been doing it that way for years and 9 times out of 10 I end up with a pile of goo and melted chocolate up to my elbows.  At one point back in the 90s I thought about buying a chocolate tempering machine so that when things went wrong I could just blame it on the machine.   I usually end up with something usable and once it is on the dessert no one can ever tell that it wasn’t what you had in mind so I have stopped worrying about it.

IMG_5462

Pain de Mie

IMG_5447While back in Michigan for my yearly visit to my guardian angel Jill, (visits which we lovingly call YackFest), I was lucky enough to find a pain de mie pan on one of our outings to the thrift stores.  Jill usually manages to find all sorts of bargains on these outings but I lucked out this time.  Our thrift store outings began way back in 1980 when I was stationed in Oxnard, CA with Jills ex-husband Jack.  It was through Jack that I met Jill and we became instant friends.  She introduced me to the thrills of bargain hunting in the thrift stores.We would go “thrifting” every weekend and we had all of our favorite haunts in the area.  Back then I was hooked on collecting brass.  I used to refer to the brass section of the stores as “Adventures in Brass”.  When we would go into the store I would just announce, “I’ll be in adventures in brass” and she would know where to find me when she was ready to go.  I think I had the worlds largest collection of brass candlesticks, cricket boxes, ash trays, coin trays and other assorted brass junk.  Today I don’t have a single piece of it and I can’t even remember getting rid of it.  After these excursions we would go home, dump everything on the floor and then lovingly fight over who was going to get what.  As I have never been able to resist her, Jill usually won these battles except for the brass.  When I found this pan Jill decided that she wanted it but on an extremely rare case, I put my foot down and kept it.  I have really wanted one of these for ages but as those of you who read me often know, I am not a fan of specialty pans and certainly not of paying the outrageous prices they want for them.

IMG_5444Pain de mie is the French name for sandwich bread.  It actually means “bread of the crumb” as this bread has no real crust.  To be honest I have never had a sandwich in France on this bread, in actuality I have never even seen this bread in France.  At any rate, it makes great toast, melba toast and canapes.  In the US we call this pan a Pullman pan and the bread a Pullman loaf.  I of course prefer the French term but it matters not.

IMG_5439This particular recipe I am still playing around with.  It is fairly simple, bread flour, salt, yeast, a bit of sugar, butter and a bit of potato flour.  A traditional pullman pan is about 13 inches long and 4 inches high.  Mine is only 9 inches long but 5 inches high.  Most recipes I found are for the 13 inch pan and too much dough for my 1 pan (although I may try them and just adjust how much dough I use).  This recipe is for a 10 inch long pan which is better but still not enough to totally fill the pan.  It tastes great so until I get all the proportions right I will just continue to use it as is and enjoy the slightly smaller size of the bread.

IMG_5443

Old Fashioned Frosted Walnut Cake

IMG_5436Yet another foray into the world of Mary Berry.  The more I see her, read about her and bake her recipes I am finding myself becoming more and more enamored with this delightful lady.  Her recipes are straightforward and uncomplicated (at least most of them) and can be pulled together in under an hour to have a nice snack or dessert on the table quickly.

Mary calls this one an old-fashioned family cake and she is right.  It reminds me of the cakes my mom used to make for us.  Nothing complicated just simple, honest and good.  It isn’t much to look at, no fussy, fancy decoration.  Just gobs of sticky white frosting and a scattering of walnuts.

IMG_5435This has to be the easiest cake I have ever made.  All the ingredients are measured into the mixing bowl and it is mixed until the ingredients are combined.  Then divided equally between three 8 inch cake pans and baked for 30 minutes.  There is nothing in it but flour, sugar, butter, eggs and walnuts.  I had it in the oven in under 15 minutes.

Mary calls the frosting for this cake American Frosting.  My mom used to call it sea-foam frosting.  I know it as Italian Meringue.  No matter what it is called I admit to never having had a fondness for the stuff.  It is too sweet, too sticky, too marshmallowy.  Just too much.  With that being said, it does work very well on this cake.  The cake has a nice moist crumb and isn’t at all sweet, but redolent with the walnuts as it should be.  Truth be told I would prefer this cake plain with just a dusting of confectioners sugar or cocoa but it is truly very good and old-fashioned.

IMG_5438

Brandy Snaps

IMG_5431I know, I know, I know… I hate cookies.  Aside from my mothers traditional Italian Christmas cookies, which my sister and I make in her memory each holiday and the occasional batch of peanut butter cookies I make when my better half requests them and the very rare excursion down the cookie aisle at the market for a box of vanilla wafers, you will rarely if ever see me go anywhere near a cookie.  I can count on one hand the number of cookies that I actually like and will on occasion consider making.  I can happily pass by the cookie table at weddings and parties without giving it a second glance.  It isn’t that I really hate cookies per see, it’s just that I find them to be about the most tedious things on earth to make and more often than not the end result never seem to justify all the effort that goes into making them.  I detest all the rolling and slicing and forming and then being chained to the oven to watch them like a hawk only to have them burn or be under-baked.  They just aren’t worth it.  Give me a nice simple pound cake any day.

IMG_5432So, with all that being said, why am I making these brandy snaps?  Well, it all has to do with my new-found fascination with British baking.  While watching British baking shows and in all my reading about British recipes, these little buggers just keep turning up.  I became so fascinated with them that I finally decided the time had come to bite the bullet and make them.  This is a Mary Berry recipe.  Even Mary admits in the recipe that she rarely makes them herself as it is too easy to buy them.  Well maybe in Britain but I have never seen them here so into the kitchen I went.

IMG_5428The recipe is fairly simple.  50 grams each of butter, golden syrup, Demerara sugar and flour, 1/2 teaspoon each of ginger and lemon juice.  Combine the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan and heat until the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved.  Take the mixture off the heat and let it cool a minute.  Then sift in the flour and ginger and add the lemon juice and stir it up until well combined.  Then comes the tedious part.  Line two baking sheets with parchment and drop 1 teaspoon of the mixture at 4 inch intervals on the sheets.  You can only make 4 cookies per sheet.  Bake them at 325 convection, 350 regular for 8 – 9 minutes until they spread out and turn a golden brown.  Take them out of the oven, allow them to cool a bit ( this is where it gets tricky)  You have to catch them when they are just slightly firm.  Grease a wooden spoon handle and wrap the warm cookie around the handle and then slide it off onto a cooling rack and keep going.  You have to move very quickly as they set up very fast and if they get too brittle they just shatter.  If they start to get brittle, warm them a few seconds in the oven to soften them and continue.  I will not kid you here, they are tedious and you can’t leave them for a second or they burn, harden or shatter.  Once they cool, fill them with sweetened whipped cream and store in an air tight container.  They are really good but I am with Mary, if you can, buy them.

IMG_5434

Cherry Tart

IMG_5402I seem to have been struck with tart mania the last few weeks.  I found beautiful sweet cherries at the market this week and decided that instead of just eating them out of hand as I usually do when they are in season, I would make a cherry tart.

IMG_5396This is really more of an assembly job than anything else.  Just make a few standard components and assemble the tart.  The only baking needed is to blind bake the tart shell which only takes about 30 minutes.  For my tart I made my favorite short pastry, my best creme patissiere and prepared the cherries.

IMG_5397It is a bit of work as the cherries need to be washed, dried, stemmed, pitted and sliced but if you get a rhythm going it moves along quite quickly.  My rhythm is usually listening to Madonna, reliving the glorious 80s and dancing around the kitchen while I work.  Admittedly listening to Madonna, dancing around wherever I am and reliving the 80s is pretty much a daily activity for me so this was a no-brainer.

IMG_5398Once the components are made, chilled and blind baked, just fill the shell with the creme pat, arrange the cherries on top however you like and give it a nice glaze with strained cherry jam.  I flavored my creme pat with vanilla and kirsch but experiment as you like.  I think it turned out beautifully and was a nice way to savor cherry season.

IMG_5406IMG_5408

Meyer Lemon Tart

IMG_5392After six seasons of watching the Great British Baking Show I have grown very enamored of Mary Berry.  I finally broke down and bought one of her books.  Actually I bought two of them.  They are lovely books filled with many of those classic British cake recipes that I see on the show and always want to try.  I was a bit disappointed to find that many of the same recipes are in both books with only slight variations and sometimes none at all but I guess that is to be expected.  The instructions are rather sparse so even though the books say they are for beginners to advanced bakers you really do have to know a bit about baking or you could be lost in some recipes.  Mary will state beat ingredients together but there is not explanation as to whether they should be thick, pale, frothy etc so you do have to know what you are looking for or you could make mistakes.  That being said I am delighted with both books

IMG_5395This recipe is actually called Glazed Lemon Tart but I modified it to use Meyer Lemons since I was lucky enough to find some this week.  Growing up in Ohio I lived under the delusion that everyone in California had citrus trees in their yards.  When I moved here in 1979 I still believed that and was rather surprised that it certainly wasn’t the case.  Once I was settled in here I started hearing about Meyer Lemons and how they were so sweet and delicious but I could never find them anywhere.  I asked the produce man at the local market and he said that no one carried them because everyone had them in their yard.  Yet another fallacy that I believed for years.  In all the years that I have lived here I have never met a single person who has a Meyer Lemon Tree in their yard.  When we had our house and redid the landscaping I planted Meyer lemons, regular lemons, oranges, limes and grapefruits.  I loved having all the citrus available all year but once again ,we were the only ones in the neighborhood with citrus.  Now that we have moved to a condo I certainly miss all my citrus trees and while most citrus is available all year, the Meyer lemon is still elusive.  Even the farmers markets never seem to have them.  Imagine my delight when I found them at the market yesterday and knew that I had to make a tart with them.

IMG_5393This recipe was a bit different from most citrus tarts I have seen in that the filling uses ground almonds, sugar, cream, lemon rind and juice as opposed to the usual curd style fillings I am used to.  The crust is just a standard pate sucree that you would expect but Mary’s recipe uses two egg yolks vice the usual one that I am used to.  It is a lovely, crispy not too sweet crust.

There is also a nice finish for the decoration.  Mary recommends a slightly thicker simple syrup, the thin lemon slices are dropped into the boiling syrup, removed from the heat and left to soak for about 2 hours.  The result is nice shiny slices.  I have seen these on the show but didn’t know how they were done and when I tried my usual method for candied fruit they came out thick and hard.  A nice trick this.

IMG_5394

Tea Loaves

IMG_5385While rummaging through a local thrift store I came across a nice little book of plain cakes.  I have always had a fondness for plain snack cakes as pound cake is my all time favorite cake.  I like the ease of making them with no fussy decoration.  Not to mention I love having them on hand for a quick breakfast, afternoon tea or just plain snacking.

I have always had a thing for British TV especially the baking shows.  As most of my tv watching involves Nigella Lawson, The Two Fat Ladies, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood I have developed quite an interest in British baking.  Imagine my surprise when I sat down to read this new book and found that it was a British book with all those wonderful British cakes that I hear about all the time and have never made.  Now was my chance.  There was a whole chapter on tea loaves and I dove right in.  This all seems even more apropos as I am preparing for my annual pilgrimage to Michigan to see my best friend Jill.  I met Jill back in 1980 when I was in the Navy and stationed with her then husband.  He invited me over for drinks and to watch movies and that is how I met Jill.  We became fast friends the instant we met and it has been that way ever since.  For awhile there in the 1990s we lost touch as I moved and she moved and so on.  Finally thanks to the wonders of Facebook we reconnected and started our annual get together which we affectionately call YackFest as we spend most of the time sitting up until all hours yacking.  One of the staples of these visits is usually a tea party.  Usually as a treat  for Jills’ mom but sometimes just for friends or neighbors.  These just reminded me so much of the fun that awaits me in a few weeks that I had to make one.  Of course I couldn’t decide which one to make so I made three of them.  All easy and all delicious.  I think we will be adding them to the tea table at YackFest 2016.

morehowlsThe three I chose to make are Date and Walnut Teabread (which was my favorite), Banana and Cranberry Tea Loaf and Marbled Chocolate and Orange Teabread. They were all easy to make and can easily be done by hand so no getting out the mixer.  I did have to make a trip to the store for self-rising flour which is a product I never have in my pantry.  One recipe also calls for whole wheat self-rising flour which I have absolutely never heard of and could not find anywhere.  I made my own by adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt to 1 cup of whole wheat flour.  It worked.

The other good thing was that I finally got to use these darling but rarely used bread tins.   I bought these in Paris about 15 years ago.  I saw them in the store and couldn’t resist them but when I got them home I found that they were just too small to be of any use.  I think in all these years I have used them once.  As it turns out the Chocolate and Orange teabread makes two small loaves and these were the perfect size for them.  Finally, a use for these silly little pans.

IMG_5368Recipes for all three loaves follow:

IMG_5362Date & Walnut Teabread

3/4 cup butter, plus extra for greasing
scant 1 1/3 cups pitted dates, chopped into small pieces
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
scant 1/4 cup water
scant 1` cup brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup whole-wheat self -rising flour
2/3 cup white self-rising flour
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
8 walnut halves
TO DECORATE orange zest

Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C. Grease and line the bottom and ends of a 2-lb/900-g loaf pan.

Place the dates in a pan with the orange rind and juice and water and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring, or until it is a soft purée.

Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, then sift in the flours and fold in with the chopped walnuts.

Spread one-third of the mixture over the bottom of the prepared loaf pan and spread half the date purée over the top. Repeat the layers, ending with the cake mixture. Arrange walnut halves on top.

Bake in the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until well risen and firm to the touch. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out, peel off the lining paper, and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Decorate with orange zest and serve in slices.

IMG_5378Banana & Cranberry Loaf

1 tbsp butter, for greasing
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1/2  tsp baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup chopped candled peel
2 tbsp chopped mixed nuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
5-6 tbsp orange juice
2 eggs, beaten lightly
2/3 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cup confectioners – sugar, sifted
grated rind of I orange

Preheat the oven to 350°F 1180°C. Grease a 2-lb/900-g loaf pan with the butter and line the base with baking parchment.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar, bananas, chopped candied peel, nuts, and cranberries.

Stir the orange juice, eggs, and oil together, until thoroughly blended. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and level the surface with a spatula.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour, until firm to the touch or until a fine metal skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out dean. Turn out the loaf onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

Mix the confectioners’ sugar with a little water and drizzle the frosting over the loaf. Sprinkle orange rind over the top. Let the frosting set before serving the loaf in slices

IMG_5371Marbled Chocolate & Orange Teabread.

2/3 cup butter, softened, plus extra for grousing
2 3/4 oz 75 g semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1 1/4 cups golden superfine sugar
5 large eggs, beaten
generous 1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
grated rind of 2 oranges

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease and line the bottom and ends of 2 x 1-lb/450-g loaf pans.

Place the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Remove from the heat once the chocolate has melted.

Place the butter and sugar in a separate bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into the mixture and fold in.

Transfer one-third of the mixture to the melted chocolate and stir. Stir the orange rind into the remaining mixture and spread one-fourth of  the mixture evenly in each cake pan. Drop spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture on top, dividing it between the 2 pans, but do not smooth it out. Divide the remaining orange mixture between the 2 pans, then, using a knife, gently swirl the top 2 layers together to give a marbled effect.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out, peel off the lining paper, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

 

 

Quercyan Apple Cake

IMG_5354Quercy is a former province of France located in the country’s southwest, bounded on the north by Limousin, on the west by Périgord and Agenais, on the south by Gascony and Languedoc, and on the east by Rouergue and Auvergne.  Quercy comprised the present-day department of Lot, the northern half of the department of Tarn-et-Garonne, and a few communities in the departments of Dordogne, Corrèze, and Aveyron. The traditional capital of Quercy is Cahors.  The largest town of Quercy is Montauban.   The area is noted for its cuisine, particularly the duck dishes, confit de canard and magret de canard and the dark red wines of Cahors.

IMG_5358This recipe comes from Jennifer Patterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright, The Two Fat Ladies.  I first heard of this recipe years ago when Clarissa made it on the episode entitled “The Lock Keepers”.  I made it back then after seeing it and loved it.   Recently I have been watching the old episodes of the Fat Ladies and saw it again and decided that I should give it another go.

I word of warning here.  This cake is labor intensive and requires a bit of preplanning.  The apples need to be peeled, sliced and marinated overnight.  The dough also needs some planning.  Once it is made it needs to rest for about 2 hours before you start working it and once you start working with it, you will need at least 1/2 hour if not more to get it to the proper thinness.  You most work patiently and delicately or you can toughen and ruin all your hard work. Once the proper thinness is achieved the dough needs to rest again for an hour.   When done properly the cake is similar to a strudel and is quite marvelous.  Definitely worth at least one attempt to decide for yourself if it is worth all the trouble.  I certainly think it is.

IMG_5336IMG_5337IMG_5340IMG_5343IMG_5348FILLING:

  • 3 pounds apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces sugar
  • 4 fluid ounces rum
  • 3 fluid ounces orange flower water
  • Thinly pared rind of 1 lemon
  • PASTRY
  • 1 pound plain flour (all-purpose)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 ounces butter, creamed
  • FINISH:
  • 1 ounce butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Caster sugar (superfine)
 Macerate the sliced apples with the sugar, rum, orange flower water, and lemon peel overnight. Strain the apples, reserving the juice.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, put butter and eggs into a well in the center. Working with the fingertips gradually add 7 fluid ounces of the liquid from the apples. Work into a smooth and elastic paste with your hand and leave to rest for 2 hours.

Roll out the rested paste as thinly as possible, then transfer to a floured cloth on a large table. Working from the center, with the palms of your hands, carefully stretch the paste to the thinness of a cigarette paper. Let it rest it for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 390 degrees F.
Brush lightly with melted butter and dust with sugar, cover with well drained apples and roll up. Mix the remaining juice into the beaten egg and brush over the top. Bake in the oven for 50 to 55 minutes.
IMG_5359

Lemon Ricotta Donuts

IMG_5327I am blessed to have the best, most loving, caring, giving, generous sister that ever was.  She is truly the benchmark by which all other sisters are judged.  My wonderful sister sent me this recipe and asked if I could make them, well, how could I even think of saying no.  I never would.

11834720_10204798998754974_2554651122539756989_oLike so many other foods I make, this donuts reminded me of my mom.  When we were little and even all through my teenage years, whenever my mom made bread, she would make extra dough and make us special treats called “pizze frite” which in Italian means fried dough.  That is exactly what it is.  The bread dough is just cut into random pieces, deep fried and rolled in sugar.  It is truly delicious and my sister and I would happily eat them until we were ready to explode.  I admit that to this day, whenever I make bread I make extra dough and fry up a batch of “pizze frite” and think of my mom and the happy times my sister and I had gobbling them up.

Ready to fry

Ready to fry

These donuts are really very similar to those my mom made with the exception that these have butter and egg yolks in the dough.  They are very simple to make and really don’t have much hands on time at all.  Just shaping, frying and filling and it really doesn’t take long or much effort to do for the wonderful pay off you get.

Fried and ready to fill

Fried and ready to fill

For pasta and savory dishes I think ricotta from the grocery story or Italian market is fine but for sweet dishes and baked goods I really prefer to make my own.  It only takes about 45 minutes to make and I like that I can control the consistency of the cheese.  I have included my recipe for homemade ricotta here.

IMG_5329IMG_5333Here is the recipe for the donuts.

10584107_10208507329380330_646177783827332195_nLemon Ricotta Donuts

Ingredients

3/4 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup sugar, plus extra for rolling
3 tsp dried yeast
3 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups plain flour, plus extra
3 1/2 oz chilled butter, cut into small cubes
Oil for frying
Filling
1 cup ricotta
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine milk and a pinch of the sugar into a medium sized bowl. Sprinkle over yeast and set aside for 5-6 minutes until foamy. Stir in the remaining sugar and egg yolks until combined.

In a large bowl add the flour. Rub in the butter to the flour until the mixture resembles bread-crumb consistency. Pour in the egg mixtutre and stir until a rough dough forms.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until a smooth dough forms. Place into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

For the filling, combine all ingredients in a bowl and using an electric mixer, blend until thoroughly combined. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 12 equal portions and roll each into a ball and then flatten slightly. Note: this is the shape they will be when they fly so make sure you’re happy with them. Place onto a greased tray and let rise-covered with a tea towel for 40-50 more minutes. They won’t quite double in size.

Heat oil in a large pan to 315 F. Cook the doughnuts in batches for 8 minutes, turning once halfway. Transfer onto a plate lined with paper towel to cool.

Using a small knife, out a hole into each donut for the filling. Put the filling into a piping bag or large freezer bag. Push the nozzle into the side of the donut and squeeze the filling into each. Roll the donuts in sugar to finish.

Here is my recipe for Ricotta Cheese

Fresh Whole-Milk Ricotta

Yields about 10 to 12 ounces

8 cups whole milk
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cheese salt or very fine sea salt (optional)
2 cups buttermilk, preferably whole milk

Place the milk in a large heavy saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring slowly and almost constantly, until the milk comes to a frothing boil. Turn off the heat and, as the bubbling subsides stir in the salt and buttermilk. Continue gently stirring in one direction until the curss and whey separate (the mixture at this point will resemble thickened buttermilk. The whey will still look milky and the curds will be very small). Remove from the stove and let sit, undisturbed, for about 5 minutes.

Line a strainer with cheesecloth and set over a bowl.  Carefully pour the curds and whey through the cheesecloth. (The whey will drain into the bowl. Save for another use or discard.) Leave the curds in the strainer to drain for about 15 to 30 minutes depending on the desired consistency. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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