Pecan Pumpkin Tart

The best of holiday flavors combined into one impressive dessert:  Pecan Pumpkin Tart with Ginger Crust.

Pecan Pumpkin Tart fresh from the oven

Oh, September…that month where food bloggers in all 50 states are posting pumpkin spice recipes…muffins, lattes, pies, soups – you name it, someone out there has “pumpkin spice-ified” it for Fall.

Just throw me onto the pile with the rest…


Pecan Pumpkin Tart with Ginger Crust

  • Servings: One 9” Tart
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Pecans, Pumpkin and Ginger...the best of holiday flavors combined into one impressive tart.


Ingredients

    Crust
  • 2 ½ cups finely crushed ginger cookies ( about 55-60 Anna’s Swedish Ginger Thins, for example)
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Pumpkin Layer
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pecan Layer
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup corn syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon ¾ cup pecan pieces

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. To make crust, combine ginger cookie crumbs with butter in a bowl and press along the bottom and up the sides of a 9” tart shell. Wrap bottom in aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. To make pumpkin layer, beat together all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. To make pecan layer, beat together all ingredients except pecans in a bowl until sugar is incorporated. Stir in pecans.
  4. To make tart, spread pumpkin layer evenly over crust. Spoon pecan layer over pumpkin. Bake for about 45 minutes  or until center no longer jiggles and a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool tart completely. Once cool, transfer to refrigerator until ready to serve.

Flatlay shot of Pecan Pumpkin Tart

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Favorite Banana Bread

Years ago, I stopped searching for a better banana bread.  This recipe ticks all the boxes: easy, packed with bananas, and exceptionally moist.

Sliced Banana Bread with melting butter

It’s no secret I’m an Anglophile, especially in my choice of TV programmes (I couldn’t resist). My current favorite, to no one’s surprise, is the Great British Baking Show. Saturday mornings, before getting my own bake on, I treat myself to an hour of Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, a tent-full of amateur bakers and those classic only-in-Britain colloquialisms, such as “scrummy” and “oh my giddy aunt,” that I’m dying to introduce into the common American lexicon.

Before bed, when I’m brain-dead and in need of mindless comfort, nothing beats Escape to the Country; Brits house-hunting for their perfect “chocolate box” countryside cottage. I’ve picked up a few British idioms during my viewing of this show as well – like the aforementioned “chocolate box” as well as “homely.” “Homely” to the Brits doesn’t mean the same as “homely” in the states. It’s their term for homey, comforting, cozy. “The snug with wood-burner is quite homely.”

Combining the two shows leads me to this recipe, which can only be described as “homely baking” – I can almost imagine pulling freshly- baked tins of quick bread from my “range cooker” in my exposed-beamed Yorkshire kitchen, thatching optional.

Years ago, I stopped searching for a better banana bread. This recipe from Saveur ticks all the boxes – easy, packed with bananas, and exceptionally moist.


Favorite Banana Bread

  • Servings: One 9” x 5” loaf pan
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This moist banana bread is quick to make, packed with flavor and my go-to recipe when overripe bananas are on hand.


Ingredients

  • Butter for greasing pan
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup flour, plus more for pan
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • ⅔ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9” x 5” loaf pan with butter and dust with flour; set aside. In a small bowl, combine milk and white vinegar and set aside
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, curdled milk, vanilla, egg and egg yolk. Pour wet ingredients over dry and whisk until just combined. Fold in nuts and mashed bananas.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until dark golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the loaf comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Apple Frangipane Tart

The classic combination of apples and almonds come together in this impressive tart.

Apple Almond Tart
Last week, a friend humorously pointed out that when he Googles “Easy Oatmeal Cookie Recipe” he’s stuck wading through a bunch of food bloggers’ unrelated bullshit stories about their life, family, eating habits and the history of oatmeal before getting to the actual recipe.

As a food blogger, all I can say to him is…I TOTALLY FUCKING AGREE.

It drives me insane when I’m looking for a recipe and have to scroll past a 1000 word essay from Suzy about her most recent trip to Disneyworld with her “hubby” and the twins, Zach and Sadie – And dodge pop-ups hawking her latest self-published cookbook, her weekly newsletter, and a request to “like” her on Facebook. And let’s not forget the process photos…ingredients on the table…ingredients piled in a bowl…ingredients all stirred together. Ugh!

And yet, I’m just as guilty as Suzy – or at least partially.

For most bloggers, or the ones trying to make a living at it anyway (not me), it’s about SEO – Search Engine Optimization. Or, more specifically, Google SEO. If a blogger’s goal is their recipe appearing in the first page or two when someone Googles “Easy Oatmeal Cookies,” they need a post of 2000+ words in length, they need to mention their key words “Easy” and “Oatmeal Cookies” in the first paragraph, they need to include multiple “process photos,” plus a dozen more “musts.” There’s a plethora of blogger dos and don’ts for optimum Google SEO. It’s maddening.

I flirt with the Google rules, but SEO isn’t that important to me. This blog initially started as a private online journal. Before 2008, I used to handwrite in a journal nightly – stream of consciousness stuff, gibberish mostly. Then I went online in an effort to improve my writing skills. The blog, called Phorenications at the time, was a bunch of random stories and thoughts in my head. In 2009, I went to culinary school and sometime after that, Phorenications morphed into Two-Bit Tart and became a food blog. I now find myself in the same place as every other food blogger, trying to write an intro paragraph that somehow, even tangentially, ties in to whatever I made today.

I wish we had the luxury to write when we felt like writing and just post the recipe when we don’t. Tonight, for example, I would be ecstatic to post this recipe for this lovely apple almond tart and be done with it. Instead, I gave you the story above.


Apple Frangipane Tart (Apple Almond Tart)

  • Servings: One 9” Tart
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Apples and almonds are a classic combination. Make sure the crust and apples are room temperature (refrigerate if needed) before assembling.


Ingredients

    Apples
  • 5 Golden Delicious apples (about 3 lbs.), peeled and cored
  • 1 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • Crust
  • 10-oz package shortbread cookies, such as Lorna Doone
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Frangipane
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup almond flour
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract (or ¼ t. almond ¼ t. vanilla)
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • Glaze
  • 3 Tablespoons apricot preserves

Directions

  1. Prepare the apples: Cut apples into quarters and each quarter into 4 slices (each apple should yield 16 slices). Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add apple slices, and water and stir to combine. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until apples begin to turn translucent and slightly pliable, about 7 minutes. Spread apples on a paper-towel lined plate in a single layer to cool.
  2. Make shortbread crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of a processor, pulse shortbread cookies and salt into crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until mixture resembles wet sand. Press crumbs along bottom and up sides of a 9” tart pan. Place pan on a piece of aluminum foil to catch any leaking butter. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool.
  3. Make the Frangipane: Cream the softened butter, stir in the powdered sugar, almond flour, flour, salt, eggs, almond extract, and lemon zest.
  4. Pipe Frangipane in the bottom of shortbread crust. Arrange apple slices, tightly overlapping in concentric circles with outside curve of slices pointing up (see photo of finished tart above). Bake tart on center rack for about 60 minutes. Remove tart from oven and heat broiler.
  5. While broiler heats, warm apricot preserves 30 seconds to 1 minute until liquid. Strain preserves and brush over apples, avoiding tart crust. Broil tart, checking every 30 seconds, and moving if necessary until apples are caramelized, about 2 minutes total. Let tart cool before removing ring and slicing.

Classic Apple Pie

Sometimes, you can’t improve on a baked-from-scratch classic, like this Apple Pie. Apples, flaky pastry, and a bit of cinnamon is all that’s needed…except maybe a scoop of ice cream.

Apple Pie from Scratch

I was scrolling through Facebook yesterday and came across two videos of recipes being prepared in fast-motion. They weren’t special recipes – one was carrot cake and other was banana bread. I was astonished to realize the banana bread recipe had received over 8 million hits. Eight…million…hits – for banana bread. My blog is over 10 years old and I haven’t reached 8 million hits total, let alone for one post.

I have online presence envy.

The truth is that I’ll probably never have 8 million hits for a post. Those videos are for people who want a recipe that’s fast…and easy…with as little fuss as possible…and doesn’t require a special pan or spice…and results in something the whole family will love. Those videos are for what I call “Everyday Cooks.” You know who they are. After a full day at work, these folks are expected to arrive home and whip up something soul-satisfying and delicious day after day after day. God bless them. I could never do that – it would suck the joy of cooking right out of me.

Instead, I write for the food enthusiast, culinary explorers who learn about different cultures through preparing and eating their food, who are enamored by new ingredients or cooking techniques, and are willing to sacrifice gluten sensitivities and sugar phobias for the perfect slice of homemade apple pie. We relish the fuss – handmade crusts, apples harvested from the garden. We are a special breed, our numbers are small, but our passion is deep.

For my fellow enthusiasts…


Classic Apple Pie

  • Servings: One 9” pie
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This crust recipe, my favorite and from The Pioneer Woman, makes three crusts. Not sure what to do with the extra crust? Freeze it and use it for a single-crust pie later.


Ingredients

    FILLING
  • 4-5 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • zest from ½ lemon
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • CRUST
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup Crisco
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 5 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 3 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar, preferably turbinado, like Sugar in the Raw

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine apples, brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Toss to coat. Set apple filling aside.
  2. Chill butter and Crisco until very cold by placing both in the freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. Place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and Crisco to flour and pulse on/off until mixture resembles coarse meal (you can also combine the flour and fats using a pastry blender if you don’t want to drag out your processor – more effort, less clean-up). Scrape mixture into a large bowl, add egg mixture, and stir until combined. Don’t overwork dough.
  3. Separate the dough into thirds (If you prefer a more substantial crust, separate in half) and roll into balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and freeze for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill. (If you will be storing the dough in the freezer for a longer period, form dough into a disk and seal in a Ziplock bag. Thaw 20 minutes before using).
  4. Preheat oven to 375⁰. Sprinkle crust with a bit of flour and then, in between two sheets of waxed paper, roll out the bottom crust, starting at the center and working your way into a 11” – 12” circle. Once the dough is the correct size, peel off the top layer of waxed paper and, using the bottom sheet, transfer the dough to a 9” pie pan. Flip the dough over, peel off the bottom sheet, and gently press the dough into the pan. Go around the pie pan tucking the dough to make a clean edge. Freeze until second crust is rolled out. Roll out the second crust into a 12” circle between two sheets of waxed paper and transfer to freezer until ready to use.
  5. Remove the bottom crust from the freezer. Sprinkle with panko crumbs (this helps avoid a soggy bottom crust). Fill with apple mixture, but do not include any juice/liquid that may have accumulated at the bottom of the bowl; Dot filling with bits of unsalted butter. Remove top crust from freezer. Peel off top sheet of waxed paper, flip crust on top of filling, and trim top pie dough so that overhang beyond the pie plate lip is only about 1/2-inch. Tuck rim of dough underneath bottom crust and crimp decoratively. Cut a few decorative vents on top of pie. Transfer pie to a baking sheet and brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  6. Bake at 375° for 50-60 minutes or until crust is brown and filling is bubbly. If edges brown too quickly, cover edges with foil. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Triple Coconut Tart with Berries

July 4th Tart

July 4th in her city – there’s nothing safe nor sane about it. It starts early in the morning with fire crackers, cherry bombs and M80s and increases throughout the day to a crescendo of sky rockets and mortars with skyward explosions akin to a war zone, putting Disneyland’s nightly display to shame. By 10 p.m., a sulfuric haze has blanketed the city and she’s thankful her roof hasn’t caught fire.

Her dog-owning neighbors hate this time of year. She, on the other hand, delights in it, lucky to be owned by two unruffled felines. This one night, her city is alive and decidedly lawless. She celebrates with a backyard party each year – more anarchistic that patriotic, except for her choice of dessert.


Triple Coconut Tart with Berries

  • Servings: One 9” Tart
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Coconut in the crust, and coconut milk and shredded coconut in the pastry cream ensures coconut lovers won’t be disappointed.


Ingredients

    Coconut Pastry Crème
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons corn starch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Graham Cracker Crust
  • 7.5 oz. Graham crackers (2 cups crumbs)
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • Topping
  • Assorted fresh berries
  • ¼ cup apricot jam
  • Sweetened whipped cream
  • Toasted coconut

Directions

  1. Make coconut pastry crème: In a medium sauce pan, whisk together flour, corn starch, salt, and sugar. Whisk in eggs, then milk, coconut milk, and shredded coconut. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until custard is very thick, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in butter and vanilla extract. Scrape into bowl, press plastic wrap against the surface of the custard, and chill in refrigerator for several hours until cool.
  2. Make graham cracker crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse graham crackers, coconut and salt until ground into crumbs. Add butter and pulse until combined and beginning to clump together. Press in the bottom and up sides of a 9” tart pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool.
  3. To assemble: Pour pastry crème into crust and smooth. Cover with fresh berries. Heat apricot jam for 1 minute in microwave and strain. Brush berries with jam, decorate with whipped cream and toasted coconut. Refrigerate until ready to serve.