I wish all my friends' houses were connected to mine via secret tunnels.
~ Blue Lady at tumblr.com
Whenever the Secret Recipe Club event rolls around, I feel as if I'm being given the opportunity to bear someone a precious gift. Not only to the blog owner that I'm assigned to by the event host, Amanda of Amanda's Cookin', but also to you, my friends and readers. So this month I'm lucky enough to get Savor The Thyme owned by the incredibly hip and talented Jennifer. I'm not sure why I've never come across her blog before this assignment but once I looked through it, I was hooked. There are plenty of healthy recipes using fresh and 'real' ingredients that I felt rather spoilt for choice. More than that, there is a paragraph in her 'About' page that sums up everything I myself personally value where she says:
"I believe in a healthy lifestyle and family: To us that includes being healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It includes great times with friends, life experiences and lots of hugging and laughing."
Well, I don't know you from Eve, Jennifer....but I think we could be psychological twins! I hope you will view this attempt at one of your recipes as a gift from me, 8000 miles away. To everyone else, go and discover Savor The Thyme now, for that is really my gift to you.
For several weeks, I looked through Jennifer's blog and in the end settled for something sweet (you regulars should know me and my insatiable sweet tooth by now). Her homemade Nutella, Apple and Almond Pop Tarts called out my name. No, they were positively yelling! The pop tarts seemed easy to make (and they were) but not only that, they also looked easy on eyes and I suspect, very acceptable to the palate too....they're just so pretty and thoroughly tempting!
I made very few changes, one of which was to ramp up the chocolatey-ness of the pop tart (sometimes that Nutella just needs a soulmate, something that understands it, you know). So I made a chocolate tart crust that gave off a lovely deep, rich color, taste and backdrop to complement the inimitable Nutella. And instead of almonds, I toasted coconut flakes and sprinkled them on top of the baked pop tarts. I couldn't help it, part of me wanted to stay true to my tropical roots.
I must say the flavor and textural combination of juicy apple, crisp coconut and sweet chocolate hazelnut spread really made these pop tarts, how better to say it... pop. And that chocolate crust recipe was so good, flaky in parts, brownie-like in others...a bit like what life is supposed to be.
Speaking of life, did you notice the quote right up at the top? I had also intended that this post be a gift to one of my best friends, WL, whose unflinching friendship have made me realize that truth, beauty and goodness do exist during the tough times. She's my rock and my worldly confidant, second only to God in knowing my deepest secrets. As life would have it, WL now lives in Hongkong with her husband Stephen and strangely, for most of our years of friendship, we have lived in separate countries. But she is Bruneian so tries to come back here with her kids twice a year to visit her aging parents. Those are the times when we would catch up face-to-face. In between we would exchange emails, phone calls, texts, snarky comments on social networking sites and in the olden days of yore, letters. It's safe to declare that I love her and her family to bits.
We were all excited to see WL and her kids again as they were due to visit/come home for the summer break. Unfortunately, about a fortnight ago, Stephen was hit by a taxi while doing his usual morning run (he constantly dreams of doing the Boston Marathon). He suffered 9 fractured ribs, a broken shoulder blade and a punctured lung. Just like that. He is on the road to recovery now but just right after the accident, seeing the numerous tubes inserted into his body had totally broken my friend's heart and by proxy, mine. So yes, I often wish for that secret tunnel to exist. WL, you've always been my rock. This time, please allow me to be yours.
Homemade Nutella Apple Coconut Chocolate Pop Tarts
Yields: 4-5 pop tarts
Chocolate Pop Tart Crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder*
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, chilled but softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons chilled water
1. Place flour, sugar, salt and cocoa in a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Rub the butter in the flour with your fingertips until the dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the rest of the butter and mix everything until the biggest pieces look like large sized peas.
2. Slowly add in water, stir, then slowly add in more until the dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through your fingers, until it’s ropey with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon of water. Keep tossing until you can roll the dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-round disc and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
Nutella Apple Coconut Chocolate Pop Tarts
1 recipe pie crust* (above)
6-7 teaspoons Nutella
1/2 apple, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Nutella, melted
1-2 tablespoons unsweetened desiccated coconut, lightly toasted*
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400ºF.
2. Bring the pie crust to room temperature and then roll out atop a lightly floured surface. Roll into a rectangle-ish shape, then measure and score it into 3x4 inch rectangles. Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut out 8 rectangles.
3. Place 4 of the rectangles onto a cookie/baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Spoon 1 teaspoon of nutella onto each rectangle, leaving about 1/4 inch of space at each edge. Place a slice of apple on top of the nutella.
4. Cover the pop tart by placing an unfilled rectangle over the top of the nutella and apple. Using a fork, seal the edges together gently, and bake for 13-15 minutes.
5. Place 2 teaspoons of nutella into a microwave-safe bowl and warm for 30 seconds on medium. Mix and repeat until the nutella is melted. Transfer it to a small plastic bag, cut a tiny piece off the corner and then drizzle the nutella over the pop tarts, sprinkle with toasted coconut and serve.
* These were the modifications I made.
Don't forget to check out what secrets were withheld by the SRC participants over this last month by clicking on their post links below!