You would think by now I would be 'challenged out". The Daring Cooks and Bakers were the ones that started it all. Actually, the Daring Kitchen was one of the main reasons why I started blogging in the first place. But then throw in Secret Recipe Club, Twelve Loaves, an occasional Bread Baking Day, and of course my own baby, Sourdough Surprises, and that's 1.5 challenges every week of every month! I keep telling myself I need to cut one, to slow down a bit before I burn myself out. And yet, I cannot seem to say no. I must say that I am really enjoying the Willow Bird Baking Challenges. It is great to actually sit down and think beyond just filling out this week's menu, to think "What am I going to do with this".
I've been curious about roasted grapes for a while now, and particularly drawn to one appetizer I've seen over and over again - roasted grapes with ricotta and honey on crispy bread. I decided to model my cream cheese braid on this - a ricotta/cream cheese mixture topped with roasted grapes, sprinkled with a little balsamic vinegar syrup, sealed in a buttery pastry, and then topped with a thyme honey glaze. Yeah, it was as good and as rich as you are thinking. While it was definitely decadent and delicious, I was happy to find that it wasn't too rich - I could definitely finish my piece...and might have snacked on a tiny bit more as I was cleaning up. Maybe.
Dough (slightly adapted from Willow Bird Baking)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 425F.
In the bowl of a food processor, mix the flour, baking soda and salt.
Add the butter and cream cheese into the flour and pulse to cut the fats into the dough (about 6 pulses).
Add the milk and blend into a loose dough.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead very lightly for 4-5 strokes (be careful not to overwork it or you will get tough pastry!).
Sandwich the dough between two sheets of waxed paper and roll the dough out into an 8x12 " rectangle.
Measure and mark the dough lengthwise into thirds.
Spread the grapes down the center of the middle third.
Divide the cream cheese mixture in half and place each half on the outside of the grapes (keeping everything in the middle third of the dough.
Using a pizza cutter, cut 1" strips out of two sides of dough. Don't cut all the way to the middle, leave a little dough at middle, or all your fillings will ooze out.
Fold the strips, rotating from one side to the other (like you are braiding) over the filling.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the dough is cooked through and the top is lightly brown.
Pour the honey glaze on top, cut into slices, and Enjoy!
3 cups red seedless grapes, washed
Preheat oven to 450F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
Spread the grapes on the baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and toss.
Bake for 7-9 minutes, just until the grapes begin to burst.
Ricotta Cream Cheese (slightly adapted from Ellie Krieger)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
2 TBSP honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until smooth (a hand held mixer is great for this!)
Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP sugar
Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan.
Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Allow to cool completely.
Honey Thyme Glaze: (Food and Wine)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp thyme leaves
Bring the honey to a boil over moderately high heat.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool about 10 minutes.
Stir in the thyme leaves.