November 21, 2011

Pâte Brisée

Pâte Brisée Recipe

Makes enough for an open-shell 9" tart or at least 24-36 mini muffin-sized tartlets. Double for a double-crust pie or for lattice work on top.

1 1/4 cups flour
4 oz COLD unsalted butter (1 stick), cut in ~8 pieces
1/2 tsp KOSHER salt (or 1/4 tsp table salt)
1 tsp sugar
1/4-1/3 cup cold water

Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a stainless steel bowl. Add the cold butter (cut into 1/2" blocks). Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse meal (the butter chunks are pea size). You can also use a food processor using the pulse feature to get the same effect. Do not overmix! The key here is to keep the butter and flour from blending or you'll end up with doughy, elastic crust.

Add just enough cold water (and no more) and blend quickly with a few strokes using the pastry cutter. The key here is to get the flour mixture to just come together slightly. 
The dough will seem like it doesn't come together but it will later, trust me!

Turn onto a large piece of plastic wrap, form into a ball and refrigerate for at least 1 hr or more. The colder the dough the easier it is to roll.

Turn onto a floured table and roll out.

Remember to work the dough the LEAST possible; the more you work the dough, the less flaky and more doughy the crust will be! 

March 10, 2011

Dulce de leche

The dulce de leche people know of in the US is either the pasty Argentinian version or simply caramel with a fancier name, most likely swirled in vanilla ice cream. There is nothing wrong with these, but what I grew up knowing by that name is something totally different. It might have the same ingredients, sugar and milk, but the addition of one key ingredient makes all the difference: rennet.

To make it, simply warm 2 gallons of whole milk (you can also add a few cups of heavy cream) and one rennet pill in a huge pot, very slowly until the cream separates from the water.This process was done at room temperature by my grandmother (which is about 85 degrees and 80% humidity in Puerto Rico, by the way) but I find using the stove a much quicker process. Strain most of the water out (at least half), reserving it just in case it dries out during cooking, add 5 lb bag of sugar, and cook on low medium heat without stirring much until you see what's on the picture. It takes several hours (4-6) to make so get a bottle of wine, a good movie, and relax.