The second day of Tartmas (Chocolate hazelnut ricotta tart)

On the second day of Tartmas, my true love gave to me, two chocolate hazelnut ricotta tarts, one lemon tart, and a partridge in a pear tree 

This is yet another one of those delicious desserts that I’ve put off blogging. Like the lemon tart I made for the first day of Tartmas, this chocolate hazelnut ricotta tart was originally for the family Christmas party I had with a group of my close friends. For more information on that, see Brittany’s beautiful post.

Also like the lemon tart, we were all too sickeningly full from dinner to even look at dessert. Alert the authorities! After dinner I walked like a caveman up to my room (my back was parallel to the floor and at a 90° angle to my legs, that’s how heavy my stomach was) and put on some stretchy pants. Feeling much better already, I went back downstairs, hid this tart and watched Love Actually for the first time this holiday season. It’s the number one cure to early Christmas food comas, I swear.

The one good thing about not eating this tart at our Christmas party was that I could recycle (there must be a better word for this…) the dessert and bring it into my last radio class on the Wednesday. And so, the tart was promptly frozen and defrosted within three days of making. Radio hunger? Satisfied. I also made a breakfast/dessert pizza for the last class but unfortunately did not get a photo. Will make again. It was delicious.

Just in case you’re wondering, this tart is an excellent choice for those who cower away from overly-sweet desserts. The filling was almost completely ricotta, meaning that it was far more savoury than sugary. The hazelnuts and orange zest were perfect flavour highlights and the homemade chocolate crust wasn’t too shabby either.

Tartmas is turning out to be a wonderful success so far. I can’t wait to see what the next ten tarts have in store!

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The Twelve Days of Tartmas!

On the first day of Tartmas, my true love gave to me, one lemon tart and a partridge in a pear tree

An introduction
Holiday baking always helps get me back in a cooking mood. To freshen things up this year, part of that baking will be tart-themed.

Por quoi?

My one of my best friends Brittany got me a beautiful, nine-inch tart pan as part of my Christmas gift. This particular item was at the top of my Christmas list, since I’ve been finding and bookmarking tart recipes for about a decade now (give or take a few years or so…). Finally, I can make my own.

Hilary Duff: tart ninja (pastry, pre-baking - it's pretty, n'est ce pas?)

If you’re anything like me, then you will have wondered just how it is that tarts come to be. I always thought that tart pans were just like their cake pan cousins, and that you had to find some way to strategically dump out the finished product in a way that didn’t disturb the appearance. In reality, tart pans have a removable bottom. This makes total sense, of course (which is why I didn’t think of it before), and means that my newly beloved tart pan is like a cross between a springform pan and a normal cake pan. Does any of this make sense?

If not, just appreciate the final product.

In honour of my new tart pan, I’ve decided to create 12 different tarts over the upcoming weeks. I will chronicle my choices here, each time accompanied with a line from our favourite sing-songy Christmas story. Don’t roll your eyes at me. I know you secretly love it.

For the first day of Tartmas, I decided to make a refreshing zinger of a dessert: a lemon tart.

Since this is my first time ever making a tart, I didn’t want to get too adventurous and decided that this classic flavour was my best bet. I was ecstatic with how well everything turned out and, would like to shamelessly boast about my uncanny ability to produce a decent tart shell from scratch. I attribute part (okay, most) of my success to Smitten Kitchen’s fabulous “great unshrinkable sweet tart shell.” Any recipe that has such a confident blog post title has got to be good. And it was. Glory.

One thing I will note: tarts are insanely time consuming. Case in point: I spent five hours in the kitchen (/at the dining room table which I transformed into my mixing and rolling station) preparing three desserts. Not even baking them – that couldn’t happen until the next day. I blame the heavy chilling time required of pastry. As in 2 hours after making it (pre-rolling), 30 minutes once moulded in tart pan and about two hours once the tart itself was actually done. Not to mention all the baking, mixing and bowl licking time you also have to throw in.

Moral of the story: T is for tart. T is for time-consuming. But T is also for Totally awesome, which is what this tart was. All is well.

What will the next 11 days have in store? You’ll just have to wait and see…

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A very belated Thanksgiving post (in which I do not make turkey, but obviously dessert)

Woah, October 23 already? Yeah, I know, we’re now almost closer to American Thanksgiving than we are Canadian. Shame on me.

It has been exactly two weeks since I made these pumpkin toffee tarts with my mom. In fact, it was probably about two weeks ago at this exact time that we were making them – my mom crushing up the Skor bars, me mixing the pumpkin filling and less-than-sleuthly stealing large masses of said chocolate.

The pre-purchased mini pie crusts. That's right, we cheated.
The inner-tart with a toffee base

But before I talk about the pumpkin toffee tarts, lets talk Thanksgiving. That was, after all, why I was at home.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel home every year for Thanksgiving since starting university. The past few trips have become much more family-oriented, which is to say that I let my parents spoil me, play more frisbee with my brother and watch more episodes of Criminal Minds with my mom.

This time around, I also gave in to their life long request of daily exercise. My parents have always been (and rightly so, I suppose) huge proponents of daily outdoor time. This made me miserable as a child. Temper tantrums accompanied trips to the cross country ski trails, whining would ensue while hiking,… you get the picture. Child Hilary was probably the exact opposite of child Brittany.

But now that I’m old, wise and mature (read: 21, still naive and more than occasionally a child), I decided a change of attitude was in order. The nagging of outdoor time has become less of a nagging and more of a necessity in my everyday life. I’ve started night jogging again, which is always nice. And I still bike places. Even in the rain (see: embarrassing skunk stripe of wet up my butt as I bike in the downpour).

Here! Have a pretty picture of leaves.

There was lots of daily outdoor time this Thanksgiving, thanks to Mother Nature who made the entire weekend a beautiful 25°C. It was seriously hot. All the fashionable fall clothing I brought home was laid aside. In its place, my mom’s stretchy workout shorts. Hell yeah.

On Saturday my mom, dad and I went hiking at Onaping Falls, a trail just a short distance out of Sudbury.

Mom and dad, being cute

Monday was another beautiful day, so we went kayaking as a family on Ramsey Lake. It was beautiful and I only pouted a little bit. I wrapped my iPhone in a plastic ziploc bag and tried to take some artistic shots on the water.

It was a lovely, relaxing weekend and exactly what I needed.

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Apple Torte

With the weather having cooled off enough for me to cook without breaking out into a sweat, I decided it was time to rev-up the oven and bake again.  Craving something with apples in it, I was perfectly pleased with the simplicity of Canadian Living’s Apple Tort recipe.  The recipe also allowed me to pop down to the NEW specialty grocery market in my neighbourhood and pick up some apples (I used spartan).  This store is actually a two minute walk from my house, and will be a great place to go to pick up last minute blogging ingredients for foodie adventures in the future!

In the past, I’ve made one other apple dessert using a Canadian Living recipe (see the results: layered apple cake, a father’s day treat), and this apple torte turned out just as well, if not better, than that cake (and it was good!).  Being a huge fan of toasted almonds, I sprinkled an extra handful on top of the torte, along with some brown sugar, to add some colour to the top of the dish.  My pictures (and taste buds) benefitted from these last-minute additions, and they made the torte wonderfully photogenic.