Two weeks ago, I saw the daring bakers challenge, and I was super excited. I hadn't really ever taken on a huge pastry project before, and I was completely excited to do so. I was very happy with my efforts as the pastry was crisp, and the filling was amazing! So, dear reader, if you have the time in between that huge thanksgiving dinner and shopping for Christmas gifts, I suggest setting aside a couple of hours to dive deep into this recipe!
The recipe can also be split over several days, and that would also make it even more possible with the upcoming holidays.

Sandie of the lovely blog, Crumbs of Love, was our November hostess. Sandie challenged us to make a traditional Italian dessert, along with its American version – Sfogliatelle (or better known in the US – lobster tails!) The flakey, 1000 layers of super thin dough, shaped into a horn and filled with a scrumptious filling. Così buono!

Also, I'm going to post some extremely good Christmas cookies in a few weeks that might give you some ideas for your own cookies this season!

Sfogliatelle Ricci

From: Daring Bakers November Challenge
Time: 4 to 5 hours

For The Fresh Ricotta Cheese: 
Servings: Makes 2 cups
8 cups (2 litres) whole milk (or goats milk)
1 cup (250 ml) heavy whipping cream (about 35%)
1/2 teaspoon (3 gm) salt
3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lemon juice

Line a large colander or strainer with 2 layers of lightly dampened cheesecloth over a large glass; set aside. Pour the whole milk, heavy cream and salt into a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Reduce the heat, add the fresh lemon juice and stir/whisk continuously for 2-3 minutes. The mixture will curdle, which is exactly what you want it to do. Pour this into the cheesecloth lined strainer and let it drain for about 1 hour or until it comes to room temperature. At this point you can scrape the ricotta from the cheesecloth into a container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. page4image9080 page4image9240

For The Semolina-Ricotta Filling:
1 cup (250 ml) milk
1/2 cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) fine semolina or cream of wheat
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (13-1/4 oz) (375 gm) whole milk ricotta, preferably fresh (see above)
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract (or the seeds of one pod and 1 teaspoon of extract)
1/4 teaspoon (1 gm) ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Tablespoon cocoa powder (optional for chocolate filling)

Combine the milk and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and slowly add the semolina (or cream of wheat), whisking quickly as to avoid any lumps. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Spread the mixture onto a lined baking sheet, about 1/2 inch (15 mm), to cool. When cool, break into pieces and place into the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or a food processor), and add the ricotta cheese, egg yolks, vanilla and cinnamon. Beat until very smooth and creamy. Stir in the lemon zest.
Scrape into two containers, and add cocoa powder to one bowl and fold to combine. (optional)
Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate until needed (up to 3 days). page5image14216

For the Sfogliatelle Ricci Dough:
3 cups (750 ml) (15 oz) (420 gm) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (6 gm) salt
3/4 cup (180 ml) warm water (about 100°F/38°C)
4 oz shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz) (115 gm) unsalted butter, softened
Semolina-ricotta filling (see above)

Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir in the water, or use your standing mixer with the paddle attachment. The dough will be very dry. If you feel absolutely compelled, add an extra teaspoon of water but it is supposed to be very dry. Turn this out onto a clean work surface and knead the dough together, bringing in all the dry bits. At this point get your pasta roller out and ready. Roll out the dough to about 1/3 inch (10 mm) and pass through your pasta machine at the widest setting. It might be much easier to cut my dough in half and work 1/2 at a time for this step. Fold the dough in half after each pass also change the direction of the dough occasionally. After about 15 passes the dough should be very smooth. Knead the dough back into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate and rest the dough for at 2 hours, or overnight.
Beat the shortening and butter together in your mixing bowl until very fluffy. Make sure it is thoroughly combined. Place into a bowl and set on the workspace in easy reaching distance.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it into 4 equal pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time (cover the other pieces with a towel or plastic wrap), lightly flour a piece pass it through the pasta roller set at the widest setting. Try to get the dough as even as possible, your goal is an even rectangle strip, about 4 inches (10 cm) in width. If needed, fold it over on itself a few times until you get an even strip. Once even, pass the dough through every setting, ending with the highest

You should end up with a long 4 inch (10 cm) wide strip. Repeat with the other three remaining pieces of dough.

Place one piece of a strip on you clean work surface and paint (or smear) it liberally with the shortening/butter mixture. Do about a 8 inch (20 cm) section at a time. Gently pull the sides of the dough and stretch it, starting from the middle and going out, until it is about 8 or 9 inches (20 or 23 cm) in width. Begin from the short end and start rolling the dough into a very tight roll. When you start to reach the end of your stretched section, stop and liberally grease up another section, stretching and rolling until all the dough is finished. When one strip of dough is finished, overlap the end of one to the beginning of the other; continue to pull, stretch and roll up.

Spread the shortening/butter mixture over the entire finished log and starting in the middle gently run the hands down the length to extend the length another inch (30 mm) or so. This will release any air pockets and tighten the roll. Your  finished roll should be approximately 10 or 11 inches (25 or 28 cm).  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. The dough may be frozen for up to 3 months, at this time. Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight before using.

For Assembly:
Butter/shortening mixture, and preheat your oven to moderately hot 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and place on a cutting board. Slice off about an inch (30 mm) from each end so that they are straight and even. Cut the roll into 1/2 inch (15 mm) slices. Put the semolina-ricotta mixture into a pastry bag with a 3/4 inch (20 mm) opening (A disposable pastry bag or even a ziploc bag with the corner cut off is fine). Take one slice of dough and place it on your workplace. With the heel of your hand, push out from the center in one direction. Rotate the dough and do this in all four directions. This forms the dough and opens up the layers. Pick up the piece and insert your thumbs on the inside with your forefingers on the outside meanwhile gently stretch the center to make it more into the shape of a cone. You don't want the layers to actually separate. Holding the cone in one hand, squeeze some of the filling into the cavity so it is full. Lightly push the opening closed. You do not have to seal the opening as the filling is too thick to ooze out during baking.

Place onto the prepared baking sheet and very lightly brush the outside of each completed pastry with the shortening/butter mixture. Bake them in a preheated moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until they are a deep golden brown

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. These are best served warm with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar on the day they are made. To reheat them, just place them in a moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 oven for about 5 minutes.

A big day today here on The Sunday Pastry, its this blog's one year anniversary! Or if you want to throw in a pun, the first Bloggiversary. To be honest I'm really surprised I've done this for a year! I'm the kind of person who has half finished projects everywhere, but I also feel super accomplished that I've stuck with this for a whole year.

So I also just wanted to say a quick thanks for everyone who keeps up with this blog and for all the great support you've given me. I also created a quick walk down memory lane:

I remember my beginning pictures on this blog and cringe a little bit inside, but my food photography has gotten much better since then!

For this week's recipe though, I wanted to make one of my favorite flavors, salted carmel, into a cupcake for the anniversary. I found a great carmel butter creme recipe, and added it to my favorite chocolate cake recipe to make some amazing cupcakes.

Chocolate Sea Salt Carmel Cupcakes

Yields 12 cupcakes
Carmel Sauce and Buttercreme Recipe from: Buttercreme Couture

For the Carmel Sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream

Measure out butter and heavy cream and have them ready to go next to the stove. Put sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and watch it. As the sugar begins to melt, swirl the pan gently to promote even carmelization. Once the sugar has reached a deep-ish amber color. Be careful, as it will burn quickly if the heat it too high. Add butter and whisk like crazy. Its going to bubble and spit and then calm down into a smooth, creamy looking caramel. Then slowly add your heavy cream, whisking again the whole time. It should now look like a slightly-runnier-then-you-would-like-it sauce. Pour it in a container of some sort and place in the refrigerator to cool until needed.

For the Cake:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
dash of salt
1/2 cup sour creme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin. Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl and place over a pot with 2 inches of boiling water (creating a double boiler). Melt chocolate mixture until smooth, then set aside to cool. Combine flour, baking soda, and powder in a small bowl, set aside. In a standing mixer, combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt, stirring to combine. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to wet ingredients. Add a third of the flour mixture, stirring until batter is thick and velvety. Divide evenly into the muffin tin, and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool completely.

For the Buttercreme:
1 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 recipe caramel sauce (about 1 cup)

Put butter in a mixer with the whisk attachment and beat the darn out of it. Slow it down and add powdered sugar and then beat it up some more. Speed it back up again and slowly add the caramel sauce (make sure it is either room temp or cold, do not add warm caramel sauce!), then beat it for about 5 minutes.

For Assembly:
8 oz chocolate
5 oz toffee pieces
1 recipe caramel buttercreme
sea salt (for garnish)
12 chocolate cupcakes

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 20 sec intervals, stirring until smooth. Level the tops of the cupcakes with a serrated knife. Place a large dollop of chocolate on top of each cupcake and use an angled icing spatula to spread the chocolate evenly around the cake. Top with a sprinkle of toffee pieces and set aside to harden the chocolate. After the chocolate has set, use a pastry bag with a jumbo star tip to create a swirl of buttercreme on top of each cupcake. Sprinkle with sea salt and place in the fridge again to harden the buttercreme for about 1 hour. 

Enjoy! These gourmet cupcakes are absolutely amazing!
Until next week!