The recipes were simple, yet elegant, and the process was sort of a build-it-yourself type dessert that was fun for family and sophisticated enough to celebrate a Hallmark holiday.
The baguette I had made from scratch. This was only my third attempt at making a baguette, and I honestly must say I'm rather pleased with the results. I used a new recipe (new for me) from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice, 15th Anniversary Edition: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread, which has been an impressive book. The recipe started with a pate fermentee that developed magical flavors in the fridge overnight and continued with about 4 hours of proofing the following day. Perhaps on my next baguette attempt I shall give it its own post.
Back to the bruschetta!
I used 4 different recipes to create 4 different types of desserts from the magazine. I figured we could also mix and match ingredients to make our own favorite creations as well. Here is the recipe for the strawberry bruschetta pictured above:
To make the fruit topping take 1 C sliced strawberries and toss with 2 T "superfine" sugar and 1 T balsamic vinegar. Let marinade for 30 minutes.
To make the cream topping mix 1/2 C mascarpone cheese (cream cheese worked great) with 1/4 C confectioners sugar and a dash of vanilla extract (1/2 tsp).
Now, the recipe in FNM says to butter each slice of bread, sprinkle with sugar and salt, and bake at 425 for about 7 minutes before adding toppings to the bread. I completely skipped this step because I didn't feel it necessary, but I thought I'd throw it in here for those of you who want to try it.
Basically, spread your cheese mixture on a slice of bread, spoon on a few strawberries, and devour!
To make the ricotta cheese mixture just combine a 1/2 C of ricotta cheese with 1/4 C of confectioner's sugar and about a 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract.
Sprinkle with pistachios and shavings of your favorite dark chocolate.
Toasting almonds is pretty simple if you've never done it. Heat the oven to 350. Spread your almonds over a baking sheet. Bake them for about 5 minutes, take them out and move/flip them around a bit, and bake them for another 5 minutes - repeat process until they reach desired toastiness. Be careful because they can burn very quickly.
The bread is spread with lemon curd. I had never even heard of lemon curd before this, and I surprisingly found a small jar for a fair price at my usual supermarket in the jelly section. Imagine it's like lemon marmalade without the bitterness that orange marmalade can have.
There's another topping layer - simmer 1/4 C water, zest from a lemon, 1/2 tsp anise seeds, and 2 T of sugar. Stir frequently with a whisk. It'll eventually thicken into sort of a syrup.
The flavor is amazing - the lemon is prominent but not cringe inducing because it is tempered by the sugar and the anise, and likewise the anise provides a punch of flavor that is rounded off by the lemon. To me, the flavor combination is perfect, but then again I'm anise biased.