Blood Orange and Hibiscus Curd Tart with a Gingersnap Crust

A round curd tart on a platter

Blood Orange-Hibiscus Curd Tart

Our ruby-hued blood orange and hibiscus curd makes a delicious and luscious filling for this beautiful seasonal tart. The crust is made from crushed gingersnap cookies, and couldn’t be simpler. With a great balance between sweet, tart and spicy, this is a real showstopper of a dessert.  

When blood oranges are in season, we just can’t get enough of them so when we found a local shop selling a big bag of them for under 5 bucks, we knew we couldn’t pass them up. But what do you do when life gives you lem… oranges? Make curd! 

We are legit curd crazy in this house. Curds with knives, they call us (no one calls us this). Lemon curd is pretty much a bi-monthly event in our kitchen. We’ve made blueberry-lemon curd, strawberry curd, even rhubarb curd. In fact, it was our experience with rhubarb curd that led us to add an extra ingredient, hibiscus, to our blood orange version (more on this later in the article). 

Blood Orange-Hibiscus Curd Tart

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Best Blondies Ever (with Brown Butter, Bourbon & Butterscotch)

Brown Butter Bourbon Blondies

I was that weird kid who, when offered the choice of a brownie or a blondie, would always choose the blondie. Something about that cookie bar, packed with chocolate chips and toasty nuts, was just more interesting to me than straight chocolate (though I wouldn’t toss a good, fudgy brownie out of bed either. I’m not a monster).

Unfortunately, more often than not, blondies can be underwhelming — either dry and crumbly or doughy and flavorless — so we set out to develop a foolproof recipe for what we consider to be the perfect blondie: a tender, moist crumb filled with deep caramel flavor from brown butter, vanilla and (optional, but oh-so-delicious) bourbon. Then we packed in our favorite mix-ins: chocolate chunks, butterscotch chips and toasted hazelnuts. 

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Ultimate English Toffee

We couldn’t let Christmas come and go without reposting this. It’s one of our earliest posts, but one of our very favorite recipes and something we make every single year for family parties. It just may be the toffee of your (my) dreams and while I may be indulging in a tiny bit of hyperbole, once you try it, you’ll know that I might be dramatic, but I am not a liar. In the past, I proclaimed this Salted Caramel Sauce the best thing ever and I stand by that. It’s just that there’s room on the pedestal for that sauce’s cousin from across the pond, real English toffee.  

FACT: This toffee is so good, it caused this face from Loki, this one from Arya, and best of all, this one from Matt. Okay, nerd business done.

While other toffee types are available, this toffee is hard and brittle, and thin enough that you won’t need a tiny hammer to break it up.

Why This Toffee Works

I’ve made a lot of toffee recipes over the years and this one is by far the tastiest and the easiest. It not only has a really nice balance of sweet and salty but a clever secret. The addition of a very small amount of corn syrup pretty much eliminates the danger of the sugar crystallizing (this has happened to us a few times, and can be a real bummer). This problem is caused when the sugar crystals start a chain reaction of crystallization (the process of sugar particles clinging together) which makes the mixture grainy. Once it happens there’s not much you can do about it, but there are a few things that will help prevent it from starting.

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Cheese and Blueberry Blintzes with Blueberry Preserves Syrup

Cheese and Blueberry Blintzes with Blueberry Preserves Syrup

Sweet, fruity, cheesy blintzes are a great Mother’s Day treat for the Mom in your life. But let’s face it, they’re equally awesome as a weekend splurge you can make for yourself!

Breakfasts at the Nerds household are probably a lot like breakfasts at your house. During the week, we never have time to indulge in anything luxurious – it’s grab-a-slice-of-toast, open-a-yogurt, pour-a-quick-coffee time. So the weekend is when we really get to enjoy ourselves. And when it’s a special weekend like Mother’s Day, we really feel like going for the luxury option. These blintzes … well, let’s just say, if they were on the breakfast-in-bed menu at a classy hotel, I would not look at anything else. No, not the pancakes. No, not the eggs benedict. Well, maybe the eggs benedict, but I’d ALSO order a round of these blintzes. But here’s the thing – I’ve never seen them on a hotel menu, and maybe I’m going to the wrong hotels. but that’s all by-the-by because I’m making them at home now. And yes, they are as good as they look.

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Strawberry Lemon Curd

Strawberry Lemon Curd: A balanced spread, not too sweet, not too tart, that lets all the fruit shine through. 

Getting a reputation can be a mixed blessing. I once revealed to the cook in our local deli that we own chickens, and from that day on, whenever I walk through the door, she yells “Hey, chicken man!”. Over the years, we’ve made several friends in Beacon through introductions to our lemon curd. We’ll meet a new person, tell them about Nerds with Knives, and then their eyes will light up and they’ll exclaim “I made the lemon curd! It was so lemony!” It’s very flattering, but it does mean we feel that we have to keep ahead of expectations. After all, we can’t coast on lemon curd forever. So it’s a good thing that we have a glut of garden and local farm strawberries, because that means we can make Strawberry Lemon Curd! (It’s like normal lemon curd. But with strawberries.)

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British Bourbon Chocolate Biscuits with Three Buttercream Fillings

Bourbon chocolate biscuits

Call it winter blues, call it having a massive sweet tooth, or call it being homesick for my mother country’s dessert items, but over the last few weeks I’ve had a big old hankering for biscuits. Brits (and Commonwealth-based readers) will know exactly what I’m talking about, but just to make the point clear: I don’t mean American-style “biscuits”, the savory (sometimes cheesy) risen doughy product with a soft interior that you might slather with butter and eat for brunch. Neither are they exactly “cookies”, in the strictest sense.

What IS a biscuit?

If I was the dedicated type, this is where I might insert a Venn diagram of dessert snacks with a big circle in the middle representing the set of “cookies”, and another circle representing the set of “biscuits”. Depending on who you ask, “biscuits” might totally be a subset of “cookies” (i.e., all biscuits are cookies), or it may have a significant overlap (many biscuits are cookies, but not all), but it’s hard to make the argument that the two are completely separate. As for the “all biscuits are cookies” camp, while that may be technically true, if you asked me for a cookie and I gave you a Rich Tea biscuit you’d be pretty miffed. So here’s the best definition of “biscuit” that I can come up with:

A small, lightly sweetened, unrisen baked item, that will break with a snap (it should definitely not bend), and is typically eaten as a light snack with a drink (tea, coffee, milk). Some are a single layer (digestive or Rich Tea), and some comprise two layers sandwiched with a thin cream filling (custard creams, Bourbons). 

If it helps you to think of them as “tea biscuits” or even “sweet crackers”, feel free. Of course, living in Britain, few people would go to the trouble of making a variety of a store-bought biscuit, since it’s a matter of minutes to pop into the nearest shop and pick some up. Here in the US, though, we’re just going to have to roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves. And we’re going to start with the classic sandwich chocolate biscuit, the Bourbon.

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