We are onto our second challenge within the Dark Days Challenge. Valentine’s Day Sweets. The objective is to try to use ingredients as local as possible to make some sweet treats leading up to Valentine’s Day.
Be sure to check out the companion post today to see what the WEST participants came up with for this challenge.
Sweet… right! Well, sweets are just not high up on my list of things to make. With that said, I (Sincerely, Emily) am well aware that sweets do not have to be of the sugary, ooey-gooey type. For some people, that means stepping back and thinking outside the box because there are ways to make sweets that aren’t in the form of cakes and cookies, pies and pudding.
So, what do I do when I am challenged to make something sweet? Even if I did decided on a sweet treat, I would be challenged again. Flour – nope, haven’t found it locally yet. Sugar – nope, haven’t found it locally yet. Organic; no problem. Local is my problem (or maybe I should say “issue”)
The big reveal (I say as I pull the sheet off my masterpiece) taaaa daaa…. Candied Sweet Potatoes! Sweet – Yes! Local… YES!
I was quite pleased to be able to come up with something sweet using local ingredients. I should have served this for dessert.
Sweets are kind of my “thing” here at Tanglewood. I have set out to start a small bakery, selling from markets for now, specializing in dainty sweets made from whole, SOLE ingredients. The thought is that if folks realize they can be satisfied by a tiny bite of something incredibly high quality, maybe I can get it across to a couple of customers that it’s not the quantity that counts at all! (This is, of course, a secret agenda of mine… shhhh)
Usually my goal is to find ingredients that meet at least one of the SOLE guidelines (Sustainable, Organic, Local and Ethical) but for this challenge I tried, HARD, to go total SOLE for all ingredients except those I can never get (Damn you, salt) (and damn you cinnamon, too).
What did I end up with?
Heart-shaped miniature apple maple hand pies!
Usually when I make my recipe for butter crust (Pâte Brisée) I use a equal mixture of my very special flour (a hard red wheat) and a locally grown, but conventionally farmed and milled soft red wheat flour. The reason behind this is that the hard red wheat is very high in protein and gluten, but not terribly high in starch. The lack of starch in the hard red wheat means it has a hard time holding things together, and the texture can be a little chewy, or bready.
Still, for this recipe I decided to go all out on the crust and I used only my SOLE hard red wheat flour, which meant it was wonderful and flaky (due to the loads of butter I use) but kind of crumbly too. It would’ve been fine as a regular pie, but using it in a hand pie was sort of tedious as it felt like your pie was going to fall into pieces any second. Ah well. The butter is from our local dairy and the crust was sweetened just a tad with honey.
The interior of my hand pies was really easy. I simply peeled and sliced some Winesap apple seconds that I picked up at the market a few weeks ago (they keep forever) and soaked them in the last of our maple syrup from 2011. I then tossed that in a Tablespoon of flour mixed with a bit of cinnamon. I know, I know… cinnamon doesn’t grow here, but I did buy it from a local itty bitty spice merchant, and I only used a little bit! Please don’t turn me in to the SOLE police!
I wonder what folks could come up with as alternatives to cinnamon. I had thought maybe ground sumac, as we have lots of that here, but experimenting with that is for another day I think.
I also admit that for the hand pies that I made for market I dusted organic, fair trade large-grain turbinado sugar on top to sweeten the crust just a bit beyond the honey I had used. It wasn’t local, but I did buy it from our local market which is run by a small family and specializes in healthful, organic foods… so that counts for something, right?
When I pulled them out of the oven they were simply steaming (yes, my house is that cold. Come to think of it, I think that was the morning you could see my breath in the kitchen.) This was early in the week when we still had a scattering of snow on the ground. Now it’s almost as warm outside as it was that morning inside!
I enjoyed one of these for breakfast and then packed the rest of them up for market where they sold out within the first few hours, despite their crumbliness! I had lots of people comment on them, too.