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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Raspberry Brambles

Last month, my husband came home with two dozen raspberry-filled little tarts, a gift from a client.  Two dozen.  For our family of five.

We pretty much polished off the first dozen in one sitting.  In between our exclamations of "these are so good!" and "I have to have another," one of my daughters asked, "What do you call these?"  My husband answered, "I can't remember the name...we used to get these from the bakery when I was a kid."

As soon as he said those words I had an AHA! moment.  My friend, Gayle, has been singing the praises of raspberry-filled brambles served with tea during her childhood visits with her grandmother.  Hmmm, could these little treats be what she's been talking about?

So I asked my husband, "Do you think these are called brambles?" Yep, that's what they are.  And I just HAD to figure out how to make them.

All of these pictures were taken one week ago during my first attempt to make these brambles!  

I've made them twice since then, tweaking as I go along: 
  •  I've decided that frozen raspberries make a better filling than fresh berries--they cook faster when you're making the filling (and cooking fresh raspberries just seems a waste, doesn't it?). 
  •  I've also tried making them with ready-made pie crust (from the supermarket dairy case) a word, yuck.  
  • I tried ready-made puff pastry (from the supermarket freezer), it tasted fine but puffed up worse than frizzy hair on a humid day.
  • I'm still trying to figure out a way to totally prevent the filling from leaking.  I tried poking a hole in the top crust, figuring it would let steam out, but those are the ones that really leaked!  Any suggestions?
This recipe needs prep ahead of time--the filling needs to be refrigerated to firm up, and I've decided that it's easiest to just prepare it the day before and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  

For those of you who may be thinking to yourselves that there could be too much effort to this recipe and it's not worth spending two days to make a few cookies:  I promise you, making the filling is very quick.  Throw it together, put it in the fridge and forget about it until the next day (which is when you'll make the crust;  unfortunately, the crust is not so quick to prepare.  But I promise you it's worth it).

Today's Playlist

  • "What a Wonderful World"...Joey Ramone
  • "Listen To Her Heart"...Tom Petty
  • "Can't Stop"..Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • "Funky But Chic"...New York Dolls
  • "Let Me Go"...Cake
  • "I'm Shakin'"...Jack White
  • "Last Night"...The Strokes

Raspberry Brambles (makes approximately 2 dozen)
Printable recipe

Filling Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice from 1/2 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
Pastry Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick(1/2 cup) COLD butter 
  • 4 oz. COLD cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons COLD shortening
  • 1/3 cup COLD water
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
also needed: 1 egg, separated
                      extra-fine sugar, for sprinkling

Day 1:  Make the raspberry filling

Gather your ingredients.  

Notice that I used fresh berries (and a mixture of red and black).  As discussed above, frozen berries are a better choice!

Place berries, sugar, lemon juice and honey in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.

Stirring frequently, cook until the berries lose their liquid and resemble a berry soup.

Set a mesh strainer over a medium bowl and pour the berry mixture into the strainer.

Stir and press the berries to extract all of the liquid.

When you think you've extracted all of the liquid, pour in 1/4 cup of water and stir and press some more!

In a small bowl or cup, stir the 2 tablespoons of water, tapioca flour and cornstarch together until smooth.

Return the strained raspberry juice into the same saucepan.  Whisk in the cornstarch mixture.

Over medium heat, whisk constantly until the mixture starts to boil and thicken.

Remove the mixture from the heat when it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon without dripping.  Allow to cool and then place in your refrigerator to thicken to a gel consistency--this will take about 6 hours--I suggest leaving it in the fridge overnight!

Day 2: Preparing the pastry and assembling the brambles:

Gather your ingredients.  Be sure that the butter, cream cheese and shortening are very cold!

Place the flour and salt into a large bowl.  Whisk to combine.

Cut the butter, cream cheese and shortening into small pieces.  Add them to the bowl.

Using a pastry blender or the two-knife method, cut into the butter, cream cheese and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Stir the egg into the cold water with a fork.  Add the vinegar.  Stir this liquid, a little at a time, into the flour mixture.  

The mixture will still be dry, yet start to hold together.

Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

In the meantime, separate the remaining egg.  

Stir one tablespoon of water into the egg white and one tablespoon of water into the egg yolk.

You will use the yolk wash to stick the layers of pastry to each other, and the egg white to brush on the tops of the pastries.

Gather the items and utensils that you will need:  

two baking sheets, lined with parchment; 
a floured surface and floured rolling pin; 
a 3-inch cookie cutter (FYI, simple shapes work best!); 
raspberry filling; 
egg washes, pastry brush and extra-fine sugar.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the pastry dough from your refrigerator.  Cut in half and return one half to the fridge to stay cold.

Make sure your work surface is well-floured.  Roll out the dough to an even thickness, approximately 1/8" thick.
Cut shapes with the cookie cutter.  I used a heart shape...but simple shapes are easier to crimp.

In other words, use a circle.

Remove the dough scraps and roll into a ball.  

Repeat with the remaining half of dough in the refrigerator.  Roll, cut, remove scraps.

Then roll the scraps one last time and cut.

Place the bottom crusts onto parchment-lined baking sheets.

Using a pastry brush, lightly cover the bottom crusts with the egg yolk wash.

Place a teaspoon of the raspberry filling onto the center of the pastry.

Cover with a top pastry crust, being careful not to allow the filling to ooze out.  Use your fingers to press and seal the edges.

Then I flip the cookie cutter and use the thicker edge (off center) to additionally crimp the edges.  Added insurance against the filling seeping out during baking, you know?  It doesn't totally prevent oozing, but I tell myself it helps.

After you've filled and crimped your brambles, lightly brush the tops with the egg white wash.

Lightly sprinkle some extra-fine sugar on the tops.  Bake in your preheated 375-degree oven for 18 to 21 minutes, the dough will be puffy and flaky and slightly browned around the edges.


1 comment:

  1. I have never had or heard of brambles, but they sure look scrumptious. Way above my skill level. I was hoping to hire you for a week after we won the powerball...but alas, lol.

    It's been a mild winter but a big storm is coming. First to us, then to you. Stay warm Fran! :) Pam


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