I’ve neglected this blog lately, partly because I’ve been finding it harder to fit in trying new recipes but also busy. I really felt this tart was worth writing up. It’s a rubbish photo but it gives the idea of how nice this tart looks. We’ve started doing a regular neighbours dinner party where different homes contribute different courses and it was my turn to make dessert. It needed to serve 10 people but not with huge portions and I didn’t have very much time to prepare it and my time was going to be 10mins snatched her or there during the day. I love the James Martin Desserts book. It was a present from my cousin Shanaz who also loves to bake and cook. This looked impressive, wasn’t difficult to make (although the chocolate step was a faff see below) tasted lovely and was perfect quantity for 10.
This would make a lovely dessert for a country themed dinner party as it would easily adapt to a variety of flag designs with appropriate fruit.
- 350 g puff pastry plus plain flour, for rolling out
- 1 egg, beaten
- 85 g white chocolate, broken into pieces
- 1/2 a vanilla pod, seeds only (optional)
- 200 ml double cream, half whipped
- 100 ml fresh custard
- small punnet of medium-sized strawberries, hulled and halved
- small punnet of blackberries and raspberries
- 1 large banana, sliced
- small bunch of seedless green and/or black grapes, halved
- 4 tablespoons smooth apricot jam (I used my own plum jam and sifted out the fruit pieces)
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry and cut out a rectangle measuring 36 x 20 cm. Place on a baking tray. Using a table knife, score a 1 cm border around the edge, making sure you don’t cut the pastry all the way through.
- Brush the border with egg wash, taking care not to allow any to dribble down the sides because this will prevent the pastry rising evenly. Prick the base of the tart (not the border) with a fork and chill the pastry for 20 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C. Bake the pastry for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Slide onto a wire rack to leave to cool. Once cooled, gently press the centre of the pastry down to leave the frame around the edge. [When I did this I had a lot of crumbs and flaky pieces, next time I’ll brush these off]
- Melt the chocolate and brush over the bottom of the pastry [this step was a bit of a nightmare because of all the flaky pastry crumbs. I used 200g white chocolate and had two attempts and as you can see below it looked a mess. I assume the chocolate is to seal the base so the custard mix doesn’t make it go soggy]. Leave to set.
- Add the vanilla seeds to the cream and fold in the custard. Spoon and spread the cream mixture over the pastry base.
- Draw shallow lines in the cream mixture to create even sections of the fruit, and arrange the fruit on top so that each section is a contrasting colour. [There was something terribly satisfying about arranging the fruit]
- Heat the jam and, using a pastry brush, glaze the fruit. Allow to set before serving.
I was cooking Japanese for a dinner party recently and wanted a fresh tasting dessert (I forgot to take photo’s of the Japanese food so no blog entry). I have a lovely recipe book James Martin Desserts that was a present from my cousin Shanaz for helping at her wedding. It has many tempting recipes but most were not what I was looking for this time. His apple sorbet recipe fitted the bill, I thought it was lovely; it tasted fresh and was easy to make. It is very different to commercial sorbets which means it may not be to everyones taste. Quantities below serve 6.
- 4 large granny smith apples
- juice of 1 large lemon
- 200g caster sugar
- 4 tbsp liquid glucose
- Quarter and core the apples but do not peel. Toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice. Place in a single layer in a shallow plastic container and freeze for at least an hour.
- Dissolve the sugar in 400ml water in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Bring to the boil and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Cool, then mix in glucose.
- Whizz the ice-cold apples in a food processor, gradually adding about a third of the syrup to make a fine puree. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice as you do this. Mix in the rest of the syrup.
- Transfer the mixture to an ice0cream machine. Churn until almost solid, then transfer to a rigid plastic container, seal and freeze until required. Serve in scoops.
Aidan made this, I don’t know where he found the recipe, he’d seen it made on tv. It was really really nice and wasn’t as dark as it looks in the picture above. It was best cold the next day sliced almost like a piece of patisserie. The recipe is incredibly rich.
- 750g Panettone
- 600ml double cream
- 8 eggs
- 200g sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp demerara sugar
- Preheat the oven to 150C
- Cut the panettone into 2cm thick slices and place in overlapping layers in a baking dish
- Bring the cream almost to the boil over a medium heat. In the meantime which the eggs and sugar together
- Pour the hot cream slowly into the eggs, whisking constantly to stop the eggs from scrambling
- Add the vanilla, sieve the custard into a jug and pour into the baking dish, covering all of the panettone.
- Baste and parts of the panettone that are dry and leave to soak for 10 minutes
- Sprinkle the Demerara sugar over the top for a crispy topping
- Cover with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the custard has set and the pudding is golden.
This is the first recipe I’ve tried from Italian Home Baking by Gino D’Acampo and I really must try more. I needed to make it further ahead of time as it was a little warm when I served it up as dessert. It was nice warm but it was really good the next day cold from the fridge. My picture isn’t great and the tart did come out rather more brown than the picture in the book.
For the sweet pastry
- 190g plain flour
- 100g unsalted butter cubed plus extra for greasing
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 3 tbsp cold water
For the filling
- 1 tbsp instant coffee
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp Baileys liqueur
- 1.25kg ricotta cheese
- 120g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 120g dark chocolate about 70 per cent cocoa finely chopped plus an extra 50g for decoration
- 4 medium egg yolks
- ½ tsp vegetable or sunflower oil
- Grease a 25cm x 4cm loose-bottom tart tin or equivalent springform tin with butter.
- To prepare the pastry, sift the flour in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar then pour in the cold water. Pinch with your fingers to form a dough and, if it seems dry, add a little more water. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and gather together into a ball. Cover with clingfilm and leave it to rest in the fridge for 10 minutes.
- Place the rested dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a thickness of about 3mm. Line the tin so that the pastry comes up the sides and trim the top. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate while preparing the filling.
- Put the instant coffee in a cup and dissolve in the water and Baileys. Set aside.
- Place the ricotta cheese in a large bowl and add the sugar, flour and salt. Mix everything together until smooth. Pour in the coffee mixture, the chopped chocolate and egg yolks. Stir until well mixed.
- Spoon the filling into the pastry shell and smooth the top. Cover with clingfilm and chill for up to 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/gas 4 (increase by 10-20C for non-fan ovens).
- Place the tin on a baking tray and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour. Turn off the oven, slightly open the door and leave the tart to cool in the oven.
- Place the remaining 50g of chocolate in a small saucepan and pour over the oil. Stir and melt over a very low heat. Remove the tart from the oven and unmould onto a serving plate. With the help of a fork, drizzle over the melted chocolate. Slice and serve at room temperature with a nice cup of coffee.
I think I’ve already mentioned I love Christmas leftovers. I didn’t make a Christmas pudding this year which I was a bit sad about as I love the ritual. But I’d bought a Heston hidden orange Christmas pudding last year as we were going to Dubai and we loved it so much I decided to buy one again this year, it is rare that I prefer a commercial version of anything over home-made. We made very good inroads on the pudding Christmas day but there was some left so I decided to try the Christmas pudding ice-cream from Sarah Raven’s Complete Christmas book for New years eve dinner. We have a barely unused ice-cream maker that you need to plan ahead and put into the freezer at least the day before, but I’ve had time to browse through my Christmas cook books this year and plan ahead.
Ingredient quantities are a little odd, I assume they don’t need to be precise for this recipe, also condensed milk comes in cans measured in ml in the UK so I don’t understand why the measurement is in grams.
I haven’t quite got the hang of the ice cream maker and the ice cream did have to go into the freezer for a while afterwards anyway. The pudding had a tendency to sink in the ice cream so regular stirring as it froze was essential, next time I’ll ensure the ice cream is sufficiently frozen that it can support the weight of the pudding before I mix it in.
End result is delicious, I’ll definitely be making this again next year with left over pudding.
- 568ml milk
- 100g caster sugar
- a few drops vanilla extract
- 220g sweetened condensed milk
- pinch salt
- 475ml whipping or double cream
- 150g Christmas pudding broken up
- slosh rum to taste
- Heat the milk, sugar and vanilla extract and bring to boiling point. Remove from the heat and cool
- Add the condensed milk, salt and cream
- Put in an ice cream maker and freeze/churn for 20 minutes. Fold in the Christmas pudding and add the rum to taste. Put into a container and freeze
- If you don’t have an ice-cream maker pour mixture into a plastic container and freeze for 2 hours. Remove from the freezer and stir well. Return to the freezer and repeat this process twice, stirring at 2 hour intervals, before serving.
I made this cookie Christmas tree from a cookie cutter set I bought 2-3 years ago from Cox & Cox (they don’t do the set any more but you can get similar sets from amazon Wilton Cookie Tree Cutter Kit). I baked the cookies a good week before I assembled the tree and kept them in a tin. Tonight we had parents of friends of our boys coming over and I wanted a fairly easy dessert so I assembled the tree. This was lovely with coffee and between 4 adults and 4 teenage boys we ate almost all the tree!
We have friends with children/teenagers coming to dinner next week so I think I’ll make this again. This would also make a nice present wrapped in cellophane and ribbon.
- 600g/22oz Self raising flour
- 110g/4oz cornflour
- 350g/12oz butter, diced
- 350g/12oz caster sugar
- 4 egg whites
for assembling and icing the tree
- 120-150g royal icing sugar
- 75-100g icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/350F
- Grease 3 large baking trays
- Sieve the flour and cornflour into a bowl
- Rub in the butter and stir in the sugar.
- Stir in enough of the egg white to get a fairly soft dough
- Knead lightly until smooth and roll out until 5mm thick.
- Stamp out two of each size of every star with each size of cutter (the set contains 10 cookie cutters).
- Bake until cookies are a pale golden colour
- Cool cookies and keep in an airtight container until you are ready to assemble
- Sort cookies into size order on the counter where you are working
- Make up the royal icing sugar into a stiff mix and use to stick the biggest cookie to the plate then use to stick each cookie onto the tree in size order. As you assembe you need to twist/offset the cookies so you get a layered effect.
- Make up plain icing sugar into a more liquid mixture and drip onto the tree.
- Add silver balls or sprinkles to decorate.
Several years ago Jon was given a voucher for a one day cookery course at Anna Venturi’s Italian Secrets cookery school in Beaconsfield (I think she has now moved it to London and focusses on catering). He made a number of lovely dishes from her book Secrets from an Italian Kitchen, and also made this wonderfully simple and delicious Christmas pudding which unfortunately isn’t in her book. As there’s quite a few people coming for Christmas dinner tomorrow it is the perfect excuse to make several puddings.
According to Anna It can be made up to four days in advance, and the size below serves 6-8. I had a 1kg panettone and scaled up the other ingredients accordingly. The servings don’t want to be large it is very rich.
- 1 panettone (500g)
- 300g mascarpone
- 3 eggs, separated
- 6 tbs icing sugar
- 1 espresso cup Marsala
- 1 espresso cup coffee
- Place the panettone upside down into a bowl that fits it perfectly and with a sharp knife cut the lid off and reserve. With your fingers, gently remove all the inside of the panettone, ensuring the shell stays intact. Shred the panettone that you have removed and reserve.
- Separate the eggs; beat the yolks with the sugar and add the mascarpone while still beating. Add the shredded panettone, mixing gently. Although it feels like there will be too much mix you really do need to add all the shredded panettone.
- Whip the egg whites until firm and gently mix them in as well.
- Now you are ready to assemble: mix the Marsala with the coffee and brush the inside of the panettone generously.
- Fill the panettone shell with the panettone/mascarpone mix, pressing gently, and place the lid on top to close.
- Refrigerate overnight in its container. When ready to serve, turn it onto a serving plate and decorate with icing sugar