August 23, 2010

Time Crunch S'mores Tart

I'd been craving s'mores for weeks but was thwarted in my first attempt by a box of stale graham crackers and some rock hard marshmallows from the depths of my parents pantry.  After said disappointment, I imagined making my own graham crackers and my own marshmallows and using some fancy chocolate to make a kind of gourmet s'more.

Unfortunately(?), my cravings and a fast approaching occasion got the best of me.  One of my good friend's birthdays was a few hours away and I couldn't imagine buying a cake from the store (the horror!).  I knew she'd appreciate a s'mores tart, but I also knew I didn't have nearly enough time to make all the components by myself.  So I took a shortcut, which though I don't do often, I also don't regret.  
This took about an hour to make, baking and setting time included, and if you're curious about how it tasted, come on, when are s'mores ever not good?  In the end, I think using all the old school (read: processed) ingredients (Nabisco graham crackers, Campfire marshmallows) wasn't such a bad thing.  I'm not sure you could achieve the same kind of nostalgia with the homemade varieties.

Time Crunch S'mores Tart
There are a million variations you could do on this, such as picking and choosing which components to make or not make from scratch or doing a meringue topper as Big City, Little Kitchen does.  Have fun with it!
Adapted from Big City, Little Kitchen

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter [I think an extra tablespoon would be helpful here]

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mini marshmallows (as many as you want!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, stir together crumbs, sugar, and melted butter with a fork, until all ingredients are well-incorporated and mixture resembles wet sand. Using the back of a spoon (or your fingers), press evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan (it will be delicate). Place pan on baking sheet, and bake for 8 minutes, then cool completely. [note: because I was in a rush I did not "cool completely and it was fine... I just stuck the whole thing in the freezer after pouring in the chocolate mixture]

Heap the chopped chocolate into a medium heat safe bowl. In a saucepan over a medium heat, heat the milk until steaming, stirring often; pour into bowl over chocolate. Whisk until all chocolate is melted into milk, then whisk in vanilla; let cool completely. [as stated in my note above, I ignored the "cool completely" instruction]

Pour chocolate into shell. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or freeze for 15-20 if you're in a time crunch), or until firm. Preheat the oven’s broiler. Top the tart with as many marshmallows as you'd like.  Put tart on baking sheet and ease under broiler; cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the tops of the marshmallows are nicely browned*. Carefully remove tart pan from baking sheet and put back in refrigerator for another 30 minutes or so, allowing the chocolate filling to reset. To serve, carefully remove tart pan, and slice with a very sharp knife.

 * If you're wondering why my marshmallows don't exactly look toasty, I brought the tart to an apartment my friend was house-sitting at and we couldn't figure out the broiler on her 1960's oven.  It was unfortunate but we made do with a lighter and some patience (and it was still pretty darn good).

August 6, 2010

Triple C Vegan Veggie Burgers

When I lived in St. Louis and worked way too many hours for not enough money, I needed quick, easy, healthy and hassle-free lunch options.  With only 30 minute break, much less a 10 minute break, or even worse NO BREAK AT ALL (what is the world coming to?), fast, portable and satisfying lunches were a much needed accessory.

Since I try not to over-do it with soy (I can talk more about this in the comments if anyone's interested), especially the overly processed kind that's in most commercial veggie burgers, soy nuggets and the like, I've stopped buying most grocery store veggie burgers (textured soy protein, anyone?) and instead opted to make my own.  I've tried a lot of different recipes and have always had good results but I guess I never thought they were "blog worthy." 

What I like about making your own veggie burgers is that they're very forgiving and completely customizable.  You can pretty much use any kind of beans, grains, veggies, and spices you want and chances are they'll come out tasting pretty darn good (especially with some hummus and avocado).  So here's one of my most recent recipes; I love that its simplicity doesn't compromise the flavor at all.  I call them Triple C Burgers because they're made with Chickpeas, Carrots, and Chipotle seasoning.

Triple C Vegan Veggie Burgers
Adapted from Angela's Curry Chickpea Burgers

1/2 cup rolled oats
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon tahini
2 teaspoons (or to taste) smoky chipotle seasoning (I used this one
1/4 cup roasted salted pepitas (or unsalted and add a bit of sea salt)
1 15oz can chickpeas (or about 2 cups freshly cooked chickpeas)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a food processor, process the oats, carrots, tahini and the seasoning for 30 seconds or until somewhat smooth. Now add in the chickpeas stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary. Once the chickpeas are mostly processed and smooth, take the mixture and place in a medium sized bowl. Stir in the pepita seeds. Wet your hands and into about 6 patties.

Bake for about 15 minutes on each side.