I start planning all of my gifts the day after Thanksgiving. Of course, this also includes making a plan of what to bake when I'm back from my crappy college kitchen. This year, it's especially important for me to get back into the kitchen after finals, as I will be traveling abroad at the beginning of January. So check back in January some travel content, starting in Cape Town, South Africa.

For this week, I wanted to work on my recipe development skills, play with flavor, and get back to chocolate instead of pumpkin spice. I've been wanting to try the chocolate-cherry combination for a while, but cherries aren't in season here in Minnesota. So I've adopted an amazing recipe for a tart using frozen cherries, high-quality chocolate, and a little bit of whiskey. 

Besides the tart, I experimented with a new no-churn ice cream process that exceeded my expectations. It's super simple and the flavor possibilities are endless. 

Here the recipe:

Winter Cherry Tart with Whiskey Candied Ginger Ice Cream

Serves 8

For the ice cream: 
500 ml whipping cream
400g sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
2 1/2 Tbsp whiskey or bourbon
1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger

In a large bowl, whip the cream to medium peaks. Slowly drizzle in the sweetened condensed milk and continue beating to just combine. Fold through the whiskey and chopped crystallized ginger.  Pour into a loaf tin or ice cream container. Cover and freeze for six hours. 

For the cherries:
350g frozen cherries
100ml whiskey
30g sugar
A strip of lemon zest

Put the cherries in a pan with the alcohol, sugar and lemon zest. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Pour cooked cherry mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Once infused drain the cherries, reserving the liquor and the fruit in separate bowls. 

For the chocolate pastry:
170g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
100g butter, chilled
2 Tbsp sugar
1 egg yolk
About 4-5 Tbsp cold milk

Sift the flour and cocoa into a bowl. Add the butter and cut in until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Add the egg yolk and just enough milk one Tbsp at a time to bring the mix together in large clumps. Firm into a ball in the bowl, then flatten dough into a disc. Wrap the pastry in saran wrap and chill for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a little flour, roll out the pastry quite thinly to line a tart tin. Tim and fold edges of dough. Prick the base with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool fully.

For the chocolate filling:
250ml whipping cream
200g dark chocolate, chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten 

Place chocolate in a glass bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan to a simmer. Slowly pour the cream over the chocolate and let the mixture stand for 3 min. Stir the cream an d melted chocolate together.
Stir in vanilla. Whisk a little chocolate mixture into the eggs, then whisk eggs back into the chocolate cream. Add 1 Tbsp of the cherry poaching liquor. 

For Assembly:
1 recipe cherries and cherry juice
--> 1 recipe whiskey ginger ice cream
1 cooled tart shell

Brush the cherry juice over the base of the tart shell. Scatter the drained, infused cherries in the shell and pour over the chocolate custard. Bake for 20 minutes. The center should still wobble slightly when you take it out of the oven. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack.

Servce with a scoop of ice cream, some cherry liquor juice, and extra cherries. 

I ended up having extra tart shell when rolling out the dough, so I threw a bit of dough into a mini cupcake pan for some mini tarts.

Just the whiskey ginger ice cream. It was an amazing consistency and only took about five minutes to make. I will be trying this again as it is a quick and delicious alternative to an expensive ice cream machine. 

Enjoy, until next week. (...or after finals season.)

Inspired by one of my favorite Minneapolis doughnut shops, Glam Doll Donuts, these baked doughnuts are a quick and easy dessert fix. And as a bonus, they are much healthier than their fried counterpart.

Baked Chocolate Peanut Butter Chili Doughnuts

Yields 12

For the Donut:
1¾ cup cake flour
1¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two doughnut pans with cooking spray.
Combine the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, espresso powder and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract, and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold until just combined. Do not over mix. 

Place batter in a pastry bag with a large round tip. Pipe batter into prepared doughnut pan about ¾ of the way up. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Transfer the doughnuts to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

For the Glaze:
6 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sriracha
Salted peanuts, chopped

Mix together peanut butter and butter until thoroughly combined. Sift in powdered sugar and stir until combined. Add vanilla extract; stir until combined. Reserve 1/4 of the glaze in a small bowl and stir in siracha to taste. Set aside.

Dip doughnuts into the peanut butter glaze. Top chopped peanuts and a drizzle of sriracha glaze. Best if served same day, can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Not a fan of the spice? Take out the chili powder and siracha. Instead, try topping with pretzels, caramel, or chocolate chips!

Check out other The Sunday Pastry recipes below! 

Flour by Joanne Chang

Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: All Levels

Bringing her Boston bakery, Flour, to life for kitchens across America, Joanne Chang's cookbook is written for the perpetual learner. Chang leaves nothing behind the bakery counter, giving witty insight, flavor variations, and detailed descriptions with every recipe. 

While I have never been to Boston, Chang's cookbook gave me a great sense of not only Flour's personality as a bakery but also of Chang herself. A self-described learner and Havard graduate, Chang set up a book to cater to those curious about baking, no matter the skill level. Her short banter before every recipe is that of a careful instructor, giving new insight into the importance of every good baked at Flour. With detailed lessons and introduction pages for beginners, as well as challenging recipes for seasoned home bakers, Flour deserves its spot on the shelf. 

My favorite part of getting a new cookbook is deciding on what to make first. Flour, as a book, was there to help me decide every step of the way. I always try to make something new, seeing how written the cookbook's instructions are, and I also try to make something simple to evaluate quality. For Flour, I chose my recipes based on Chang's short but often witty introductions included for every recipe.  

Recipe One: Hazelnut-Almond Dacquoise

Final Product: 5/5
Recipie: 3/5

I picked the Dacquise not only because I have never made it before, but because this dessert was chosen very early on Chang's planning for Flour. While most offerings in the bakery are American, this French dessert stood out to Chang so much, she knew she had to include it. 

The recipe itself was fairly easy to follow, but the ganache and buttercream had to be made well in advance. My one large issue with the recipe was the proportions. It seemed like the recipe made way to much meringue and not enough buttercream. However, I was able to change tactics a few times to get the cake covered. 

The final product was gorgeous and tasting amazing. I want to travel to Boston to see how mine compared!

Recipe 2: Lemon Ginger Scones

Final Product: 5/5
Recipie: 5/5

Back to the basics with Flour's scone. Citrus is in season, so I picked up this next recipe to make some breakfast. Flour's step by step instructions and casual banter highlighted this recipe, making it simple and fun! I would highly recommend for any beginning baker. Another highlight of the book that goes well with these scones is the multiple flavor options. Chang makes sure many flavor combinations are highlighted with each base recipe.

Other Notable Recipies to Try:

• Sticky Sticky Buns (as seen on Food Network)
• Homemade Pop-Tarts
• Lemon Sherbet and Prosecco Sorbet
• Chocolate Cupcakes

This new book is quickly becoming one of my favorites, and I cannot wait to give you more cookbook reviews in the future. Check out Flour's website here and the cookbook here.  I'm adding Flour to my growing list of bakeries to try next time I make it out to the East Coast.