Blueberry Almond Pastries

blueberry-pastry

After blueberry picking, despite having made Blueberry-Chocolate Pudding and Blueberry Breakfast Cake, we still had a ton of berries left. Luckily, with a picnic coming up and a package of puff pastry in the freezer, I was able to throw together some last-minute pastries to use up another cup or so of berries!

These are actually almost exactly the same, technique-wise, as these Peach Almond Pastries I made at this time last year– and they worked out just as well! In this case the thick blueberry compote (microwaved, not stovetop!) was accented nicely with a layer of almond paste, and provided a nice contrast to the crisp, flaky layers of buttery pastry. Try this recipe the next time you have extra fruit lying around the house– you won’t regret it!

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Chocolate Blueberry Pudding

choc-blueberry-pudding

It’s become kind of a family tradition to go peach picking every summer, since my preschooler is fully capable of devouring up to four peaches a day and adores picking fruit of all kinds. However, due to an early frost this year the entire local peach crop was destroyed, so we decided to go blueberry picking instead. She had a great time, eating them right off the bush and “looking out for bears.” (because we’ve read Blueberries for Sal)

Once we arrived home with our giant 5-lb bucket of blueberries, I was informed by my daughter that we would be making pudding. Blueberry pudding. With chocolate. I’d never really heard of a chocolate blueberry pudding before, but hey, we had five pounds of berries, we could afford to give it a shot. I decided to go really simple, with a basic cornstarch-thickened pudding poured over whole blueberries– I could’ve made an egg-yolk-thickened custard with real chocolate and a berry coulis, but we’re talking about a four-year-old here, she wasn’t going to appreciate the finer details and would probably prefer the basic dessert.

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Almond Puff Loaf

almond-puff

I’m a sucker for pastry, especially at breakfast, so when I came across this recipe for King Arthur Flour’s Almond Puff Loaf, which promised a delicious, multi-layered pastry in only a few simple steps, I knew I’d have to try it out. It starts with a base that’s halfway between a biscuit and a pie crust, and it’s topped with choux paste to provide some serious puff. The process reminded me a little of the Gateau St. Honoré, but the finished product was very different– probably because of the different ingredient proportions.

I also decided to add a layer of almond paste between the two doughs, to really amp up the almond flavor– I would highly recommend it to anyone seeking to try this recipe, along with using apricot jam, which pairs perfectly with the almond.

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Crabapple Jelly- Smallest Batch Ever

crabapple jelly done

I’ve never actually made jelly before. Compote, yes. Curd, sure. Even jam, way back when I was a kid in my grandmother’s kitchen. But jelly? Never. When I was offered a bagful of tiny crabapples and told that they were “great for jelly,” though, I knew that fate was dropping the opportunity in my lap.

I opened the bag and eyed the crabapples dubiously. They were so tiny (seriously, like cherry-sized)– wouldn’t it be a huge hassle to remove the seeds from each and every one? Happily, online recipes assured me that I wouldn’t need to do anything like that– simply cut the stem ends off and halve them. I’d only be draining the apples of juice anyway, not pureeing them or otherwise eating the solids. It actually sounded kind of fun!

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Peach Marzipan Danish

peach mzp final

These pastries* were really a spur-of-the-moment creation, based on the availability of fresh peaches and a last-minute dinner invitation. You know me, I can never arrive at a gathering without some kind of baked good, so I skimmed my recipe box for inspiration and came up with these incredibly simple, yet incredibly tasty desserts. Squares of buttery puff pastry are topped with a pillow of marzipan and a handful of peach slices, then baked to crispy, flaky perfection. The tanginess of the peaches is set off nicely by the floral sweetness of the marzipan, and the crunch of puff pastry wraps it all together in a convenient bundle, ready for dessert or an indulgent breakfast treat.

*Okay, so these aren’t really danishes– a danish is a very specific type of pastry with a very specific type of laminated, yeasted dough. Puff pastry was a shortcut.

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Bacon Jam

bacon jam cracker

So I had a lot of extra bacon, and with its expiration date fast approaching I didn’t want to let all that salty, smoky, fatty goodness go to waste. What to make? Bacon jam. And it’s AMAZING. Seriously, I’ve tried other bacon jam recipes before, but this one was a standout– I tasted it and immediately declared it one of the best things I’d ever made. It’s incredibly delicious, and while it may seem like a lot of work for a condiment, this is no ordinary jam! This sweet-savory spread (with a hint of spice at the end) goes on anything, from grilled cheese sandwiches (my favorite) to crackers and peanut butter.* Try it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!

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Reader’s Digest(ibles): Anne’s Liniment Layer Cake

RD liniment cake

I love to read. I love to cook. What better set of projects to undertake than foods inspired by my favorite books? I can’t count the number of times I’ve been comfortably curled up, reading a description of something delicious being eaten/made/thrown by a character, and thought “I wonder what that tasted like?” So I figured that I’d try to bring some of those dishes to life.

First up is a classic from my favorite book in the world, Anne of Green Gables. There are numerous references to food in the book, mostly mentioned in passing (ice cream, chicken salad, chocolate caramels), but a few stand out as plot points. One of those is the layer cake Anne makes for a tea party, despite having a head cold that prevents her from smelling the bottle-full of what she thinks is vanilla extract– with disastrous results, since it’s actually anodyne liniment. Based on the text, the cake is a vanilla-flavored layer cake, sandwiched with jelly.

The cake did rise… and came out of the oven as light and feathery as golden foam. Anne, flushed with delight, clapped it together with layers of ruby jelly and, in imagination, saw Mrs. Allan eating it and possibly asking for another piece!

While the Anne of Green Gables Cookbook (written by Montgomery’s granddaughter) provides a recipe for this cake, reviews indicate that it comes out somewhat dense, which doesn’t jibe with the “light and feathery as golden foam” description in the original book. I decided to go another route, using a hot milk sponge cake recipe which has been around for a while and is supposed to produce a light, tender cake.

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