Olivia’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Our Olivia’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix is now available through DoorDash. This mix makes our famous cookie easy to prepare at home. With a minimum of effort, you’ll have warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies that’ll impress the shrewdest palate.

“Like the omelet, which many believe to be the true test of a chef, the humble chocolate chip cookie is the baker’s crucible. So few ingredients, so many possibilities for disaster,” David Leite wrote in a 2008 New York Times article. Given the number of mediocre versions that are all too easily found, it’s hard not to agree with him.

At Macrina, our house version is Olivia’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. Named after Leslie’s daughter, Olivia, the cookies are Macrina’s version of the traditional Toll House classic. A combination of butter and shortening gives the cookies a soft, rich crumb and that consummate chocolate chip cookie flavor comes from the right blend of high-quality semisweet chocolate chips and a hefty pinch of sea salt. Food and Wine even included them in a list of America’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies.

You can find the recipe in the Macrina Bakery and Café Cookbook. But for those of you who love homemade cookies without too much fuss, try our Olivia’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix. You supply a stick of butter, an egg, and a quarter cup of shortening (Crisco or another trans-fat free version). We provide everything else, including the blend of premium flours we use at the bakery.

We recommend using a stand mixer, but you can also hand mix if you don’t have one. Our mix has the sugar on top. You scoop it into the mixer and blend it with the butter and shortening. Add the egg and then dump the rest of the mix in and hand mix until incorporated. Chill the dough for two hours. (You can skip this step if you’re in a hurry, but if you’ve got the time, it helps the moisture in the dough to fully incorporate, which leads to a better consistency.) Scoop onto a tray, bake, and voilà—the best homemade cookies you’ll ever have.

The cookie mix also makes a fabulous gift to mail to friends and family that could use a pick-me-up. The mix is shelf-stable so you can keep backups in the pantry for when that irrepressible urge strikes.

Bread Baking Made Easy

Our organic whole wheat bread kit makes two excellent homemade pan loaves, one for now, and one to share with a lucky neighbor. 

Do you love homemade bread but have always been too intimidated to try baking it yourself? Our organic whole wheat bread kit allows you to make amazingly easy, excellent bread at home without fancy equipment or any special bread-making skills. You’ll get all the smells, two flavorful, nicely-textured loaves, and the sweet reward of having made it yourself. For those of you with kids, this is also a great project to undertake with them.

We chose this loaf for our first-ever bread making kit because it’s one of Leslie’s favorites to make at home. “To me, this pan loaf is the perfect comfort food,” Leslie says. “It smells so good while it’s baking, and the organic whole wheat flour we include gives the bread an excellent texture and flavor.”

Our kit includes everything you need but a standard bread loaf pan, oil for brushing the pan, and honey (or agave or maple syrup). Our recipe has two options: A no-knead version, and a stand-mixer version. The no-knead method takes a little longer (an extra 90 minutes) but turns out a loaf equally as good as the one from the stand mixer. If you don’t have a mixer, this is the path for you—or if you just want to save yourself some extra cleanup.

From start to finish, you’ll need to allow for three hours of combined proofing time (four and a half for the no-knead method) and about 45 minutes of baking time. The active time—mixing the dough and shaping the loaf—won’t account for more than 20 minutes of your time.

If you’re tired of being confined to your home and want to try something new, this kit gives you the chance to turn out professional loaves without the stress. You’ll enjoy the rewards, one slice at a time, for days. 

 

Caring for Those Who Care for Us

Not all heroes wear capes, but many wear masks. And scrubs. And theyve been working insanely long hours during this crisis, giving their all to serve those in need. To express our appreciation and admiration, Macrina Bakery is donating 220 care packages each week in April to area hospitals. Each care package contains a Sliced Oatmeal Buttermilk Loaf, Rye Crostini, Sardinian Flatbread, Olivias Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Granola Bar Cookies.

Chris at Overlake said, “Everything was great! My staff greatly appreciated the generosity and gratitude.” Julie at Swedish Edmonds wrote, “I cant tell you how much the staff appreciated the care packages. They were SO excited! Thank you so much; we very much appreciate this thoughtful gesture!”

If youd like to help us support them, you can donate a care package, and well deliver it on your behalf. The care packages are $25 and we are currently visiting Overlake, Harborview, Swedish Edmonds, UW Northwest and Seattle Childrens.

In addition to the frontline healthcare workers, we know that many others are giving themselves to serve others. Our care packages are available for anyone you know who could use a little extra support right now. A huge thank you to all of you who have already ordered them.

To order care packages, please call 206-448-4089 or visit one of our cafés.

April Recipe of the Month: Roasted Steak Crostini with Arugula and Lemon Aioli

This recipe makes a great appetizer or can be enjoyed as an open-faced sandwich with a green salad for a light meal. Flat iron steak is nearly as tender as tenderloin but is more economical. The marbling in this cut adds flavor, and the meat grills beautifully. If you can’t find it, try substituting hanger steak or tenderloin. Seasoning with black pepper adds a piquant roundness to the meat. Vibrant lemon aioli and crisp arugula enhance each bite with flavor and texture. The crostini pair well with red wine.

Ingredients

Makes 12 crostini

1½ lbs flat iron steak

3 Tbsp cracked black pepper

2 Tbsp kosher salt

¼ cup aceto balsamico (balsamic vinegar from Modena), divided

Macrina Baguette

1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

3 bunches fresh arugula

1 lemon (zest and juice)

2 egg yolks

1½ tsp Dijon mustard

1½ tsp chopped garlic

1½ cups canola or sunflower oil

Directions:

Season both sides of the flat iron steak with the cracked black pepper and kosher salt. Drizzle 2 Tbsp of aceto balsamico over the steak and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Cut the baguette on the bias (diagonal cuts) into slices measuring roughly a ½-inch thick. Slices should be about 4 inches long. Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Brush both sides of the baguette with olive oil and grill until crisp and marked by the grill. Set aside.

Wash and remove the fibrous stems from the arugula. Set aside in paper towels to dry. Zest the lemon and set aside.

To make the aioli, whisk the yolks, 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, mustard and garlic in a medium bowl until combined. Continuing to whisk vigorously, add the canola oil in a slow stream until it’s fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate the aioli until you’re ready to use it.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Preheat the grill pan or your grill to medium-high and sear each side of the steak with grill marks, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pan to the oven (or place the steaks to the side of the flame on your outdoor grill and cover) for 6 to 8 minutes. For medium-rare steaks, the internal temperature should be 135°F. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes.

Spread the grilled crostini out on a platter and top each with 1 tsp of aioli. In a medium bowl, toss the arugula leaves with the lemon zest, the remaining lemon juice, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide the arugula between the crostini.

Thinly slice the steak and place 2 to 3 slices on each crostini. Finish the crostini with a dollop of aioli and a drizzle of aceto balsamico. Enjoy!

Printable PDF.

Seeds of Hope: Garden with Future Gatherings in Mind

Leslie Mackie finds a measure of tranquility in these uncertain times by planting her garden with visions of friends feasting at her table.

Planning my next garden begins almost as soon as I’m pulling the last of the late fall produce. What would I like more of? Are there new vegetables to introduce? More dahlias? As I’m ordering seeds, I imagine the dinner parties my garden will help supply. What I never imagined in all the planning is that I’d be planting the seeds in a time of such uncertainty and fear, at a time when I can’t even invite friends over.

From the age of 22, I have always tended some type of garden. It started with multiple herb pots on window ledges. Eventually, I graduated to amending soil along parking strips, eking the most out any sunny area, often removing grass or overgrown scrubs to create a garden bed. No matter how small the garden, it’s always given me a sense of security. I’ve also found, that amid all the busyness and stress of starting and operating a busy bakery, gardening forced me to slow down. Even if only for part of an hour, the time in the garden steadied me with its stillness.

This year, with all the swirling anxiety, I need that stillness more than ever. With my hands in the dirt—planting seeds, weeding, or harvesting—I’m literally connected to the earth. It takes my overstimulated mind away from the media and gives me a reprieve from wanting to solve all the world’s problems. While I garden I dream of dinner parties I don’t yet know I’ll be able to have, but it helps to think of my friends gathered on a summer evening on my garden patio. Hopefully, it will happen.

One of the first crops I always get in is my sugar snap peas. Then I lay out the summer mix. I don’t rush to get everything in—even now that I live on six acres on Vashon and have had to start thinking more like a farmer than an urban gardener. Pacing things and considering what I’m likely to eat in abundance, mainly so I don’t get overwhelmed by all the work. I also plant crops like lettuce and kale in stages by seeding new crops once a month to keep the supply going all summer.

To keep things manageable, I fenced off my property to concentrate most of my garden and “garden life” to just under two acres. That’s still a lot, compared to my city apartments, but I enjoy it. My dogs and chickens roam the fenced area. Bushes of berries and a grape arbor help form a kind of outdoor architecture. Roses and Dahlia’s for cutting provide beauty and a long patio for entertaining extends from my house into the garden.

I use my raised garden beds for a rotation of summer vegetables, herbs, and fruit. I intermingle flowers throughout. Not only does it add beauty to a leafy garden, but they can help provide shade to plants like arugula that will bolt in full sun. They also help with pollination, attracting those ever-important bees.

Despite all my planning, when the summer abundance arrives, I build dinners from what’s available. If I’ve planted well, I always have a steady supply of herbs and varieties of lettuce ready for picking.

To make watering more manageable, I added a simple irrigation system and a timer to help water the raised beds. On hot days, I’m often inclined to give them a bit more water, but it helps take the anxiety out of letting the garden get too dry.

When things begin to grow, it’s important to visit your gardens often. Not only does it leave me with that inner-stillness I mentioned, but it’s important to remember that the more you harvest, the more new growth you get. This goes for flowers as well.

Every year there comes a time when I wish I’d planted something differently, but I’m always grateful for what I have. More importantly, the slow, quiet work and the planning for lovely meals and gatherings, and the promise of growth and beauty fills me with hope and serenity. This year, I need that more than ever.

If you’ve got the space, even just a balcony, get a few pots going. Planting a seed in good soil and carefully tending it shows us the natural power of transformation. And when the time comes, nothing tastes better than homegrown herbs and vegetables. Your long-awaited dinner party will have a meal full of vibrant, just-picked flavor and your quiet satisfaction at the journey you and your seeds have made from a time of anxiety to one of renewal.

A Savory Soup from Seasons, Our New Cookbook

Stuck at home and wondering how to fill the time? When we have the time, we love to cook. And in times like these, our thoughts turn to comfort food. The Lentil Bacon soup from Seasons, the new Macrina Cookbook, is one of our favorites. It’s hearty and simple to prepare. Of course, we recommend serving it with a fresh baguette, which, if you don’t want to go out, can be ordered through DoorDash. (Pro tip: use code MACRINA10 for 10% off your first order during the month of March.)

Our cookbook as available at the cafés or you can order it delivered through our website.

LENTIL BACON SOUP

This lentil soup is simple to prepare and provides nourishing warmth—perfect for a winter lunch or light dinner. It has layers of flavor: the smokiness of the bacon, an aromatic base of onions and carrots, and the acidity of the tomatoes. The savory lentils absorb all the flavors and thicken the soup. As it simmers, the fragrance of garlic and fresh thyme fills the kitchen. Leftovers are even better the next day.

¼ cup olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

4 Roma tomatoes, diced

2 medium carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 medium fennel bulb, diced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

5 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

½ cup white wine

1 cup dried lentils

6 to 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium soup pot or deep saucepan, combine the olive oil, onions, tomatoes, carrots, celery and fennel. Cook over medium heat with the lid partially on to steam the vegetables. Cook until the vegetables are translucent and smell sweet, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and bacon. Cook for 3 minutes until the garlic smells sweet but is not dark or burnt. Add the white wine and reduce by half. With a wooden spoon, scrape up any caramelized bits on the bottom and stir into the mix. Add the lentils and stock. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour in order to concentrate and develop the flavors. Lentils should still hold their shape. Season with salt and pepper. This is delicious topped with sour cream and served with warm crusty bread.

March Recipe of the Month: Boston Cream Cupcakes

This riff on the American classic makes decadent cupcakes fit for any occasion. Its combination of buttery yellow cake, silky pastry cream and dark chocolate ganache has been popular since the first Boston Cream Pie in 1881. While making all three elements may look like a lot of work, you can make the pastry cream and ganache while the cupcakes are baking. Once everything cools, filling and frosting the cupcakes is quick and easy.

INGREDIENTS
Makes 12 to 14 cupcakes

Cupcakes

8 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature

1½ cups granulated sugar

1¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

3½ tsp baking powder

3 eggs

1 cup + 2 Tbsp whole milk

2 Tbsp canola oil

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Vanilla Pastry Cream

2 cups half and half

½ cup granulated sugar, divided

Pinch salt

4 egg yolks

¼ cup cornstarch

½ tsp powdered gelatin

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Ganache Frosting

1½ cups whipping cream

½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush the top of a 12 cup standard muffin tin lightly with oil to prevent the tops from sticking after baking. Place cupcake liners in the tin.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter for 3 to 4 minutes. It should be soft and pale in color.

While the butter is creaming, sift the sugar, flour, salt and baking powder into a medium bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter in 3 additions. Stop the mixer between each addition to scrape the sides of the bowl. Mix for another minute to breakdown any remaining clumps of butter.

Keep the mixer on low speed and add the egg mixture in 3 additions. Continue to scrape the sides of the bowl between additions. Once all the egg mixture is added, increase the speed to medium and mix for another minute.

Scoop the batter into each liner until about ¾ full. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The cupcakes should be set on top and golden brown at the edges. Let cool for 45 minutes.

Vanilla Pastry Cream

Place the half and half and ¼ cup sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar, salt, egg yolks, cornstarch and gelatin.

Add small amounts of the scalded half and half to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to temper the yolk mixture. When ¾ of the half and half is combined, pour the tempered mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining half and half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the pastry cream thickens, remove it from the heat to prevent curdling. Whisk in the vanilla and butter and combine well. Strain the pastry cream into a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap against the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the covered pastry cream for 45 minutes or until cool.

Ganache Frosting

In a medium saucepan, warm the whipping cream over medium heat. When it begins to boil, turn off the heat and add the chocolate chips. Whisk to dissolve the chocolate. Pour the ganache into a bowl and let cool for 30 minutes. Swirl it with a spatula occasionally for even cooling. Refrigerate the ganache for the last 10 minutes. The ganache should be smooth and spreadable.

Assembly

Remove the cooled cupcakes from the muffin tin. With a spoon or a small scoop, remove a large gumball size scoop from the center of each cupcake. Fill each cupcake with cooled pastry cream. Using a spatula, generously spread chocolate ganache frosting across the tops and garnish as you please. Chocolate shavings, brandied cherries or colored sprinkles are our favorite toppings.

Enjoy!

Printable PDF.

The (Tasty) Benefits of Heritage Grains

Does “great taste” come to mind when you think of heritage grains?

Many Americans consider heritage grains a health food—something they should eat, not something they want to eat. Fortunately, that appears to be on the cusp of change. Top chefs and bakers have been cooking with new heritage grain hybrids to thrilling results.

One of my favorite events of the year is Grain Gathering, an annual three-day event held every July at the Bread Lab (the event started in 2011). Expert bakers, millers, grain scientists, farmers, and industry representatives gather in the Skagit Valley. Their goal is to break the dominance of commodity wheat and to find a way to sell America on the benefits of heritage grains. Flavor is the number one selling point. Nutrition is another along with environmental sustainability. Virtually every community in America used to grow wheat. More robust heritage wheat hybrids could again make this economically feasible, benefitting local economies.

At a Grain Gathering a few years ago, I was introduced to two hybrids developed by Bread Lab. One is called Skagit Magic, which is grown in the Skagit Valley and milled at nearby Cairn Springs Mill. The other is called Expresso Wheat (or, in the lab, T-85). It is grown in Walla Walla and also milled at Cairn Springs Mill. When I started Macrina, flours like these just weren’t available.

For Macrina’s twenty-fifth anniversary this year, I developed two new breads that utilized these new organic flours. I spent many hours playing around with various techniques and found the heritage flours work best with a slow fermentation. This helps develop subtle, bright flavors and hydrates the bran. I made our Skagit Sourdough with the Skagit Magic. This is one of our most grain-forward and flavorful loaves. The Whole Grain Baguette is our other new loaf, which we make with the Expr results. At Macrina, our two latest breads feature heritage wheats—the primary reason being the astonishing flavor they add. Edouardo Jordan, the star chef and creator of JuneBaby, named America’s best new restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, opened Lucinda Grain Bar, a concept focused on ancient grains. “As Americans, we eat some of the most flavorless, unhealthy grain-based products in the world,” Jordan said. “Commercialization has stripped down all the nutritional value in our grain product. We are excited to explore the flavor and potential of ancient grains.” Jordan noted that some of the best grains in the world are grown in the Skagit Valley.

The Bread Lab, located in the Skagit Valley, deserves no small amount of credit for this. Part science lab, part high-end bakery, this extension of Washington State University occupies a 12,000 square feet space in Mount Vernon that includes a research and baking kitchen, a cytology lab, the King Arthur Flour Baking School, a milling laboratory and a professional kitchen. The director of the Bread Lab, Dr. Stephen Jones, is currently one of the most influential voices in the food world. Jones is determined to bring diversity to the range of flours widely available. Currently, the bland, chalky white flour born of industrial agriculture is found in almost all the bread sold in America. You won’t find much else at your local supermarket either. By breeding heritage grains that have both taste and nutritional benefits, but that also have the robustness that farmers need to produce high yield crops, Jones hopes to make regional grain farming viable again.

The standard flour available at grocery stores today comes from wheat that has been bred to be optimal for a fast-food hamburger bun. A hundred years ago that wasn’t the case. Diverse wheats grew and were milled in communities across America. Between 1890 and 1930 America went from over 22,000 flour mills to less than 200. The State of Washington had 160. Now there are two. The widespread use of new roller mills that could efficiently strip the grain of both the bran and the germ creating a flour that had an almost indefinite shelf life ushered in this change. This coincided with the rise of the industrial production of food. We got sliced bread in plastic bags and the phrase, “The greatest thing since sliced bread.” However, we lost a wide range of regional flours milled from an incredible range of wheats, many of which had much better flavor than what worked best for industrial bakeries. Not to mention nutrition. Jones writes, “By using only the white portion of the seed, wheat is reduced from a nutrient-dense food to one that lacks basic nutrition.”

When I started Macrina in 1993, it was thrilling to be part of the artisan bread movement that brought French and Italian-style breads to many cities in America. I’m even more excited about the heritage grain movement—so much so that I’m growing heritage wheat on my Vashon Island farm this year!  Seeing grain scientists, farmers and bakers unite around the idea of building a better tasting and healthier bread may just be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

 

The Ruby Brink: A Dream Destination on Vashon Island 

This island-to-table restaurant is a rare gem that doesn’t unduly abuse the wallet. “We didn’t want to price out the farmers who supply us,” says chef Rustle Biehn. 

Every so often you stumble into a waking dream. The Ruby Brink, an eatery that opened this spring on Vashon Island, is the sort of place that inspires such astonishment. It’s an island-to-table experience, equal parts public house, restaurant, whole-animal butcher shop, and farm kitchen.

Vashon is sometimes described as an island surrounded by reality, both positively and negatively. Still, one thing that is beyond contention is its concentration of independent, organic farms and its pastoral beauty. Led by an ensemble cast, The Ruby Brink was born of a dream to create a gathering place that offered the best of Vashon: comfort, beauty, a kind of timelessness, and the delicious best each season has to give. The unique blend has led to The Ruby Brink becoming an epicurean hub in Vashon’s eclectic community.

Located in the historic Vashon Landing building on the central corner in the town of Vashon, The Ruby Brink’s spacious interior underwent a lengthy remodel as the owners tailored the interior to their vision. The space is comfortable and elegant in a way that feels suitable for an anniversary dinner or a beer and sandwich after a day on the farm. The classic J-shaped bar is an invitation to sidle up and start a conversation. Comfortable booths and an array of variously-sized tables accommodate couples and large groups.

The owners are butcher Lauren Garaventa, chef Rustle Biehn, and bartender Jake Heil. Lauren’s background includes stints at Vashon’s Sea Breeze Farms, one of the local pioneers of sustainably-focused, grass-pastured meat and later at the farm-to-table Rain Shadow Meats in Pioneer Square. She and Rustle were the duo behind Meat & Noodle Soup Club, the celebrated pop-up. Jake moved to the island from Portland where he co-opened and managed the Multnomah Whiskey Library, called one of the 15 best whiskey bars in the world. Of his experience working at one of the most exclusive places in the Northwest, Jake says, “The legacy of that for me is less about whiskey, and more about hospitality. Here I’ve curated a back bar that is less exclusive, more local, but, I think, just as intriguing. Each bottle has a story.”

The Ruby Brink exudes a kind of relaxed island hospitality, refined and timely, without any big-city pretension. This carries over to the food. “Nothing about this says fine-dining except for the amount of attention that gets paid to the ingredients,” Lauren says. “That’s the number one thing we have in common with any of the fine-dining restaurants in Seattle: we’re able to curate our ingredients to a really high standard.”

Not surprising, given The Ruby Brink’s focus on sustainability, local meat and produce, and simple, clear, lovely flavors. It’s healthy food that is so tasty it leaves you craving more. Jake says, “We wanted to make it as accessible as possible, a place for neighbors and people visiting the island to enjoy each other, the space, have drinks, a snack or a meal.”

The butcher shop, located in one corner of the ample space, offers a variety of cuts and meats as well as one of the best-tasting bone broths you’ll find anywhere. “We’re a one-cow-a-month restaurant,” Lauren says. “Figuring out how to divide up the meat between retail and the restaurant is a puzzle. At the end of the month, every bit of the cow is used, eaten, with nothing left.”

This kind of approach requires a lot of planning. Lauren and Rustle confer each afternoon, and a new menu is printed every day. You may not find the same thing on the menu from one visit to the next. What you will find is balanced, flavorful food served in beautifully composed plates. You’ll always find a Meat & Noodle bowl, but the meat and vegetables will vary. And you’ll always find a sausage served on a Macrina Challah Roll, but the type of sausage will change. Both carnivores and vegetarians are sure to find something to love on the list of starters, sandwiches, salads, rice dishes, and entrees like roasted half-chicken or whole pork chops. “We want you to feel like someone cared deeply about the ingredients and prepared them with love,” Jake says. “That feeling passes through everything we do, whether it’s drinks, food, or service.”

Leslie Mackie, Macrina’s founder, and a Vashon resident, says, “The Ruby Brink quickly became a beloved island hang out and gathering spot. The menu showcases what they are getting from local farmers and what Lauren is working on in her butcher shop. The food is always delicious and inspiring. Macrina is very proud to provide The Ruby Brink with bread and flatbreads.”

 

February Recipe of the Month: Chocolate Almond Caramel Tartlet

This classic Parisian dessert is both showy and delicious. The addition of ground almonds gives the buttery crust a richness and wonderfully crumbly texture. It is blissfully delicious and makes an elegant base for the chocolate custard. The caramel topping adds a layer of decadence that might seem a step too far, but because the brandied chocolate pudding is bittersweet, it brings the tart’s three elements into balance. Topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream and cocoa powder, this stunner will bring you back to that lovely patisserie by the Seine.
INGREDIENTS

Makes Eight 3-inch tartlets

Sweet Almond Dough

½ cup whole almonds

1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

⅓ cup granulated sugar

8 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick)

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

½ tsp almond extract

Chocolate Custard and Caramel Topping

2 cups heavy cream, divided

¾ cup bittersweet chocolate chips

5 egg yolks

1 cup + 3 Tbsp sugar, divided

1 Tbsp brandy

½ cup water

Optional Garnish

reserved chopped almonds

cocoa powder

whipped cream

DIRECTIONS:

SWEET ALMOND DOUGH

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place almonds on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Finely chop in a food processor and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add ⅓ cup of the chopped almonds, flour and sugar. Mix thoroughly. Reserve any remaining chopped almonds for garnishing.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Turn off heat and cool for 5 minutes, then add vanilla and almond extracts.

Make a well in the center of the our bowl. Begin adding the melted butter and mix with a spoon until thoroughly combined. Measure 3 Tbsp of the almond dough and press into a 3-inch tartlet shell so that the base and sides are an even thickness. Repeat for each tartlet. Chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Line each chilled tartlet shell with parchment and fill with pie weights (beans or rice also work). Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove parchment and pie weights. Let cool.

CHOCOLATE CUSTARD AND CARAMEL TOPPING

To make the chocolate custard, scald 1½ cups heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the bittersweet chocolate chips to a blender or food processor. Pour the hot cream over the chips and blend until melted.

Combine the egg yolks, 3 Tbsp sugar and brandy in a small bowl. Add to the chocolate mixture in the blender and mix for 3 to 4 minutes.

Fill the baked shells with chocolate mixture nearly to the top, stopping a scant ⅛ inch from the rim of the baked shells—the extra crust will act as a border for the caramel sauce topping.

To make the caramel sauce, add the water and the remaining 1 cup of sugar to a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, dissolve the sugar and cook until the mixture turns golden brown. Run a wet pastry brush around the edges of the pan to prevent any sugar crystals from forming. When medium brown, turn off the heat and slowly add the remaining ½ cup of cream to the mixture. Be careful—this will create lots of steam. Whisk vigorously to combine. Transfer to another bowl. Let the caramel cool for 15 minutes.

Ladle caramel over each tartlet so that they are evenly covered. Garnish with the remaining chopped almonds. Chill the tartlets until cool.

Lightly sweetened whipped cream makes a delicious topping and a sprinkle of cocoa powder makes a handsome garnish.

Printable PDF.