Chocolate Truffle Tart -TWD Step 1

Hello Friends,

I started this blog because I wanted to join a group of more than 400 bakers who pick a recipe each week to bake from Dorie Greenspan’s book “Baking with Julia.”  The great part of baking with all of these other bloggers, is that we all can leave comments about how our recipes turned out,  what we changed in the recipe, what we liked or didn’t.  In preparing for this recipe, I read over 90 comments from my fellow bloggers and  watched an old episode on You Tube of Julia making this tart with Chef David Ogonowski.

This is my first tart, so I had to run to Williams and Sonoma where I picked up a rectangular tart pan that I LOVE!

Here we go!

Chocolate Truffle Tart Crust-the recipe is (from contributing baker David Ogonowski)

Here’s the trick with TWD. I am not allowed to give you the actual recipe.  Dorie took the time and work to put this book together so go out and buy her book.  Each week there are a few hosts of the recipes and they are allowed to give you the actual recipe. So check out the recipe here.

Mise En Place

The first part of this recipe is making the chocolate crust. I added the sugar, salt, and dutch processed cocoa to the food processor, and pulsed it about 8 times to combine.

Then I added butter and ice-cold water to make dough similar to a pie crust consistency. (pea size pieces)

I think this needs a touch more of that ice water.

I have been trying different butters since reading an article comparing them in Cooks Illustrated magazine.  I had been using Costco’s unsalted house brand called Kirkland’s because I go through so much butter.   The article didn’t rate that brand. They did rate about 8 brands, and their number one brand was the Land O’ Lakes unsalted butter.  Each stick of that butter is individually wrapped with a “Freshness Wrap.”   So, no outside aromas from the refrigerator can permeate through that wrapper.  I also learned, through my chef at the University of Richmond cooking school, that unsalted butter is freshest.  Which makes sense since you salt food to preserve it.

When visiting our place in Costa Rica, I’ve noticed the only option at the local grocery stores is salted butter … probably best, due to all of the power outages. : )

Land O’ Lakes Unsalted Butter!

Once the consistency of your crust has broken down into pea size pieces, it’s time to chill the dough.  Place the dough on a hard service and work it into a rectangle, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill for 20-30 mins.

After the 20 mins chill

I lightly floured parchment paper, used a rolling-pin to tap down the crusts, and then rolled it out to fit my tart pan. I also used my pastry scraper every few rolls to make sure I wasn’t sticking.  I added some flour under the dough when it stuck.

The recipe called for (6) 4-inch rounds. I choose to do a long rectangular tart pan. (13×5)  I think the presentation and ease of serving was my deciding factor in picking the rectangular pan.  Spray or butter your tart pans.  I gently draped the dough over the  tart pan, and then rolled the rolling-pin over the top of the tart pin which “cut” the extra dough right off.  (I’m not going to lie, that was kinda fun!) Doesn’t it look awesome?

This was fun for me!

After getting the dough into the pan,  I make sure that all the edges were filled with dough. I used my pastry brush to gently brush away any extra flour.  My suggestion would be to buy an extra pastry brush and write PASTRY on it so you don’t use it at your next BBQ party!  Next,  I cooled the tart in the fridge for another 20 mins.  At that point I used a fork to punch holes in the bottom of the tart pan.  I finally realized why this step is important when you pre bake crust …  I poked holes in the bottom of the pan but neglected to poke the sides. The sides puffed out, and made the tart uneven on the sides.  (check out the top side of the picture below to see the puff … lesson learned!)

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes

Next time I think I would use chocolate wafers or chocolate graham crackers with butter as the base.  This wasn’t as flavorful as I would have liked.

Next Step  …  FILLING!  Check back soon for more details, until then go out and buy some small almond biscotti, 2 /oz of white chocolate and 2 oz milk chocolate so you are ready!  My husband is already asking me to make this one again!

Bake On and the hit the gym … this one is going to leave a mark!


Chocolate “Chunk” Cookies by – Jacques Torres Recipe


For those of you who know me well, you know that I make a great tasting and good-looking Chocolate Chip Cookie (CCC).  It’s taken years of watching my mom and a LOT of practice.  Unfortunately, all of that practice has led to 5 lbs worth of love handles … thank you Mother!

A few months ago I came across a cookie online by Jacque Torres.  The picture was all it took for me to print out the recipe and run to get the ingredients.

I began by measuring out everything in advance (mise en place) Don’t I sound fancy?  Thank you, University of Richmond-Continuing Studies program!

mise en place!

Jacques Torres’ Secret Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Makes twenty-six 5-inch cookies or 8 1/2 dozen 1 1/4-inch cookies

1 pound unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs (room temperature)
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour (*see note below)
3 cups bread flour (*see note below)
1 tablespoon table salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda (use 1t for a lighter cookie)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or GOOD chips)

Please preheat your convection oven to 350 and take the butter out so it can warm to room temperature. (I unwrap and slice my butter into 1cm pieces so it will soften quicker, 20 mins)  If your butter isn’t soft enough, it won’t cream correctly and your texture will be off.

Side Note: You can also substitute half the butter with trans fat-free shortening. 

Place the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine for about 30 second, until the butter literally turns a lighter color.  Add the two sugars and mix until combined and the mixture is “fluffy.” (2-3 minutes) Make sure to scrap down the edges with a rubber spatula about half way through.

Next, I add the eggs one at a time, mixing for about 30 seconds between each addition.  I have learned that LARGE eggs are what is standard for most recipes.

Four Large Eggs

Now I need to add my dry ingredients.  *Did you notice that there is bread flour and pastry flour?  Couple of thoughts for you. This recipe was created BEFORE there was all-purpose flour, so just use 6 cups of AP flour if you don’t have the other two in your pantry. Also, please note that pastry flour is more difficult to find than cake flour.  Pastry flour has 9 grams of protein and cake flour has 8 … I used cake flour.  

I added the two flours together with the table salt, baking soda (1t, because I like a lighter color to my cookie) and baking powder and used a whisk to combine them.  If you have the time to sift, you can although I am not sure I can tell the difference.  Then I added the flour mixture into the mixer about 1/3 at a time.  I have had flour BLOW up so often that I now always cover my standing mixer with a clean towel before I turn it on.

Bread Flour and Pastry flour— Interesting Combo

Next I added, one of my favorite flavors, VANILLA!  My Aunt Denise used to have a little ceramic jar that she kept vanilla in and it was always the second thing I ran too, after hugging her, of course.  I just love that rich, sweet smell.

Finally, I chop up “about” 2 lbs pounds of bittersweet chocolate and add the chocolate to the dough in the mixer. Just turn on for about 8-10 seconds. *Please note to chop coarsely, otherwise the cookie just becomes a chocolate cookie  …  I know this from experience.   Personally I think that 62% bittersweet is the best chocolate because it’s a nice balance of rich and sweet.  My favorite chocolate is Scharffen Berger, but there are lots of high-end chocolate out there. 

This would also be a good time to remember that Dark Chocolate is really good for us, so it wouldn’t hurt you to try a piece or two!

Chunks of Chocolate-YUM

Lastly, I like big cookies, so I get about 8 cookies on each cookie sheet. I line my cookie sheets with parchment paper  (Costco).  I place two sheets of cookies in at the same time and rotate them halfway through.  I set my timer for 9 minutes, switch the top, bottom, front and back and then set the timer on another 5.  Your timing is all going to depend on how big your cookies are and your oven temperature. (have you checked YOUR oven temperature lately/EVER?) 🙂

You can refrigerate the dough for up to a week if you want hot out of the oven cookies each night.  I make about half the cookies, freeze half of those and then save the dough for a mid-week treat!

Cool on wax paper and then get ready to watch YOUR love handles grow!

Happy Baking and then off to the gym!


Jacques Torres’ Secret Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Makes twenty-six 5-inch cookies or 8 1/2 dozen 1 1/4-inch cookies

1 pound unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside.
– In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars.
– Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
– Reduce speed to low and add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate; mix until well combined.
– Using a 4-ounce scoop for larger cookies or a 1-ounce scoop for smaller cookies, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
– Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes for larger cookies and about 15 minutes for smaller cookies.
– Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


Alina’s Vegetarian White Bean Dip

I tried this dip for the first time this past December, I literally ate it with a spoon when I couldn’t get to a chip fast enough. I tried to make it promptly when I got back home, and it wasn’t even close to being as good as Alina’s.  I had obviously missed some steps.  So, I asked Alina if she would take the time to show me how to prepare her white bean dip.  She graciously said yes, and we got to work.  I wish I would have thought about taking pictures, and posting about it.  Alina’s Costa Rican kitchen is beautiful and overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

I love to bake, big surprise  …  but a lot of times when baking …   it’s all about the timing.  This recipe is great because I can get it started, and then  work on something else while it cooks, and then bake again while it cools.  I’m a stay-at-home mom and am always multi-tasking, so this flexibility comes in handy when there is laundry to fold, bills to pay or snacks to pack.

Here we go!

Mise En Place: (gathering up my ingredients)

2 cans white beans

1 1/2 small white onions (one whole-peeled, the half, sliced thin)

3/4 c olive oil (may use more or less)

1 t sweet paprika

3 t Vegata (split -can be found at specialty store or online)

1 garlic clove

I started off with 2 cans of white beans-rinsed and drained.  I bought this red strainer about a year ago from Sur La Table and LOVE it. Since it’s square, it easily fits into a cabinet without taking up too much room.  The handle is also nice if you are draining something hot, and you can “pour” from it too-easier than a big round strainer that dumps all your noodles at once!

Drained white beans

After pouring the beans to a large pan, I then added one carrot, you can use a few baby carrots or carrot “chips” if that is what you have one hand, one small onion (peeled) and 2 t of Vegata. (An all season spice from Croatia with dried carrots, onions, celery and salt.)  UPDATE!  I found Vegata at a Mediterranean Bakery/ Deli in RVA.  I am sure you can find it on amazon, too. 

White beans, carrots and an onion

After that, generously add water to cover the beans and bring to a boil for 30-45 minutes. You are looking for the beans to soften and the flavor to be enhanced. You could literally let it simmer for an hour, just make sure that your beans are always covered with water … 

Cooking the White Beans
After 45 mins

After the simmering is completed, drain beans into a big bowl, saving 1/2 cup of the bean stock for the dip. (Save the rest of broth, add a heaping spoonful of the dip and you have an amazing soup on a cool night!)  Then discard the onion and let the beans and carrots cool for about 20 mins.  

While cooling the beans, there is one optional quick step that really complements the flavor.  Slice half of an onion and place in a saucepan, add 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1 t of  “sweet” paprika, 1 t of Vegata and sauté for about 10 minutes.

sliced onions

Cook down about 5 mins more after this point.

Using an electric mixer, Vita Mixer or immersion blender combine the beans and a 1/2 cup of the bean stock.  Depending on what type of mixer you use, your time will vary.  If using a hand held mixer, turn on medium for about 20 seconds until smooth, and then slowly, while still mixing, add in 1/3 cup of olive oil.    If you like garlic, and who doesn’t … add in 1 chopped, clove of garlic to the cooled dip.

Place in a serving dish and add the sautéed onion mixture on top … If you don’t prefer onions, strain out the onions and put the oil on top!  ENJOY!

Alina’s White Bean Dip

You can use this as a dip with carrots, celery, chips, pita or a “spoon!”  It also makes for a great vegetarian sandwich spread.

Thank you, Alina, for sharing your recipe with me…

Happy Cooking!