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Last fall I was lucky enough to get a copy of Jennie Schacht's Farmers' Market Desserts. I realize that it's not farmers market season for many of us who live north of the equator, but it's never too early to start getting ready to use wonderful, fresh, and locally grown ingredients. And for my Southern Hemisphere readers, you can visit your favorite farm stand tomorrow.
The first thing you'll notice when you pick up Farmers' Market Desserts is how pretty the book is. Leo Gong's photographs--from farm and market scenes to the finished dishes--are stunning. Don't you love the cover? You'll want to spend some time just looking at the pages. But, of course, what's a cookbook if you don't want to make the recipes?
Have no fear, everything in this book looks yummy. The chapters are divided into types of fruit and by season. Besides the expected berries, apples, and stone fruit, there are recipes for citrus fruits, dried fruits, and tropical fruits so you can turn to the book all year round. Throughout you'll find plenty of tips for buying fruit plus wonderful stories about family farms and markets from across the United States.
The ingredients are generally easy to find, but Schacht provides substitutions just in case. Because there are variations for most of the recipes, you can confidently adapt the desserts to fit the season or individual tastes. The directions are clear, and I like that they are unintimidating to the inexperienced baker. The cookbook includes plenty of baking, cooking, and serving tips.
I thought I'd share the following recipe for Key Lime Bars for two reasons. First, they have become a favorite of mine and, second, they can be made in all seasons. Based on Schacht's advice, I've made them both with common limes and with common lemons, because good Key limes are hard for me to get. I've had success with both variations.
Key Lime Bars
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for finishing
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated Key lime zest
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 10 pieces
- 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup fresh Key lime juice
- 1 teaspoon finely grated Key lime zest
- 1/4 cup half-and-half
2. To make the crust, stir together the flour, 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, lime zest, and salt in a bowl. Scatter the butter over the top. Using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips, cut in the butter until the mixture has the appearance of wet, clumpy sand. It should hold together in clumps when you gently press it with your fingers.
3. Scatter the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and use your hands to pack it firmly onto the bottom. Bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes.
4. While the crust bakes, make the filling. Stir together the sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Add the eggs and stir until completely smooth. Add the lime juice and zest and the half-and-half and mix slowly but thoroughly to create a smooth mixture without many air bubbles.
5. When the crust is ready, remove it from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325F.
6. Pour the filling over the hot crust and return the pan to the oven. Bake until the filling is just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then refrigerate for 30 minutes for easiest cutting.
7. Use the extended ends of the paper to lift the large bar from the pan to a cutting board. Using a sharp, heavy knife, and wiping the blade clean with a damp kitchen towel between cuts, cut lengthwise into 4 equal strips, then cut crosswise into 6 equal strips to make 24 bars. Pack the cooled bars between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
8. Serve cold or at room temperature. Sift confectioners' sugar over the bars just before serving.
Published by Chronicle Books, 2010
Source: Review (see review policy)
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