My Inner Baker.

Yesterday was INSANE.  Sooooo much cooking all in one day – probably the most I’ve ever done – even in culinary school!  For the weekend’s gourmet dinners, I needed to have two different desserts prepared.  I ended up using two recipes that I found in Vegetarian Times – one of my favorite recipe sources. 

The first recipe I started was the Fresh Berry Tart with Toasted Nut Crust.  I started with a bowl of delicious fresh berries, topped with a tablespoon of orange juice.

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And while my nuts toasted in the oven for the crust, I whisked my filling – a mixture of brown sugar, greek yogurt, light sour cream, orange zest, and vanilla extract.

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With all of my nuts toasted, I headed to the food processor – almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, whole wheat flour, sugar, and salt – whirrrrrrrrr!

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Pulsed into a coarse meal-like mixture…

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And then added a handful of diced butter to create moist clumps.

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I pressed the dough into a tart pan, and tried to get it as even as possible.  Believe it or not, I think this was my first time ever making a crust like this.  I almost never bake at home, so my experience is pretty limited to what I did in school.

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You may remember that when I was in culinary school, I completely fell in love with my baking classes, and threatened to stay in school an extra two years to get my Baking and Pastry degree.  Baking all day long yesterday brought back that feeling, so I’m going to start experimenting more in my kitchen with healthy desserts.  I’ll just need to figure out how to get rid of them without eating them all!

Okay back to the tart – I froze and then baked the crust, and once it cooled I topped it with my filling mixture.

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I loved how you can see the little flecks of orange zest.

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Topped with berries and ready to eat!

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I was really excited about how well this turned out.

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The hardest part about making something like this is that I don’t know how it tastes!  Hopefully my boss will save me a piece…

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Moving right along to cake #2 – Chocolate Sweet Potato Torte!  Started with another mixture of goodies in the food processor…

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ding a heaping pile of fresh mashed sweet potato – YUM. 

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Whirrred into a delicious batter, to which I added a few fresh egg yolks…

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YUM!  Lots of spoon licking may or may not have occurred.

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In the stand mixer, I whipped some egg whites and sugar…

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Until I got firm glossy peaks!

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Then folded the egg mixture into the batter to create a fluffy cake filling…

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Which I poured into a 10 inch spring form pan.

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I may not get to try the final product, but I can assure you – the batter was deeeeeeelicious!  :)

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Baked for about 50 minutes, until the center was done.

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I let it cool on a wire rack for a few hours while I worked on other dishes for lunch and dinner.

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And finally, the last step.  I melted 2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate with 2 tablespoons of soy milk to make a chocolate ganache topping…

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It was very difficult to not slice into this immediately.

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This will be served at Saturday night’s formal dinner for the weekend houseguests.  Hopefully it is a hit!

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I finally stopped salivating and topped it with a cake stand so that I could move on and do the rest of my jobs.  :)

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I made about ten million other things yesterday, but I figured you guys would be most excited about the CAKES!  :)  Lots of lunch and dinner pictures coming tonight!

Happy Friday!  :)