Our February/March “Dancer Spotlight,” Royal Danish Ballet corps member Shelby Elsbree, dances by day, but bakes by night. “I've always loved cooking and baking,” she says. “One thing from home I miss very much is the Food Network. On every free evening or day off, you will find me in my happy place with a fabulous cook book, my camera, and plenty of flour and butter.” Elsbree sent Pointe a few of her favorite Valentine's Day Recipes. Follow her baking and ballet adventures at tutusandtea.wordpress.com.
Raspberry Walnut Crumble Bars
(Recipe adapted from Real Simple)
Elsbree says: The first time I tried this recipe, I was certain it would never be the last. Raspberry Crumble Bars are a delicious Valentine’s Day treat that incorporate buttery goodness with holiday colors in the most brilliant way. The slightly tangy bite provided by the raspberry jam pairs humbly with the homemade buttery crust and crumble topping, and the individual bar size servings are perfect for dipping and enjoying any time of the day. I promise you this: One bite and you’ll fall in love.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup quality raspberry jam (Don't skimp! This is the star ingredient!)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1. Heat oven to 350° F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an over-hang on two sides; butter the face-up side of the parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
3. Transfer two-thirds of your dough to the prepared pan and press in evenly; spread the jam generously on top. Crumble the remaining dough over the jam and sprinkle with the walnuts.
4. Bake until golden, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool completely in the pan. Holding both sides of the paper overhang, lift the cake out of the pan, transfer to a cutting board, and cut into 'sticks' (sized to your liking). Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Lemon Madeleines with Powdered Sugar
(Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living)
Elsbree says: These traditional French sponge cakes are the perfect accompaniment to your favorite cup of tea, which in my opinion, is the only way to eat a sweet. They are light and nearly impossible to stop eating after just one, so go ahead and have two…as long as there’s enough left for the lucky loved ones who get to enjoy them with you.
3/4 cup of melted butter
1 1/2 cups of cake flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
3/4 cups of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of the finest vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Confectioners sugar for decorating
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare your Madeleine pan with a light swipe of butter
2. Sift your flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl
3. Combine eggs (including extra yolks), sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice in the bowl of an electric mixer, mixing until pale and thickened, about 5 minutes. Mix in your melted butter.
4. Using a spatula, fold your flour mixture into the egg mixture, and let sit for about 30 minutes. I know it's hard to wait.
5. Fill each mold 3/4 of the way up with your batter, and cook 8 to 10 minutes, rotating half way through.
6. Let cool on a wire rack and dust with confectioners sugar for the final touch.
7. Enjoy warm or at room temperature morning, noon and night. Bon appetit!
(Adapted from joyofbaking.com)
Elsbree says: In my opinion, chocolate truffles are a bite of heaven: a simple, indulgent individual-sized delicacy that take this one-of-a-kind ingredient to the next level. What’s more, they are easy to make yourself! With a little butter, cream and top-quality chocolate, you are sure to impress any lucky loved one who gets to share them with you. Have fun with different coatings too, and each “bite” will leave you with flavorful delight.
8 oz of superior quality chocolate (I like to combine dark with milk)
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons of butter
Coatings of choice (cocoa powder, powdered sugar, chopped nuts, dried fruit, toasted coconut, shaved chocolate, etc.)
1. Place chopped chocolate in a stainless steel bowl and set aside.
2. Heat heavy cream and butter over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and pour immediately over chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes, before stirring with a whisk until smooth.
3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
4. Spoon tablespoon sized dollops of chocolate into hand, rolling to form a small, bite-sized truffle. Roll in desired coatings, and refrigerate until firm.