25 févr. 2015

Chocolate Pie Traybake.

I was in an experimental mood yesterday, so found this American recipe given to me by a friend. It's a sort of traybake pie, with pastry top and bottom and a chocolate filling. I love chocolate in any form and this sounded interesting.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4           Grease and flour a 18x30cm cake tin.

To make the pastry put 250g flour, 250g butter of margarine, an egg yolk and 4 tbspn of water into a processor and blitz. Wrap in cling film and put in fridge to rest.

For the filling beat 6 egg whites till stiff; add 200g caster sugar gently. Mix in 5 egg yolks, one at a time. Add 1 tspn vanilla extract, 140g grated or melted dark chocolate and  the juice a a lemon and mix together carefully. Fold in 80g ground hazelnuts or walnuts with a spatula or spoon.

Cut pastry in half and roll out one piece to fit the tin. Spoon over the chocolate filling then top with the other piece of pastry.

Bake for about 30 mins till golden.

You can make a white glacé icing or just sprinkle with icing sugar. Cut into squares when cold.

It's a very short pastry and not too easy to roll out. Maybe the amount of butter is wrong? I rolled it between 2 pieces of clingfilm. There's quite a lot of filling, so I think if I did this again I'd make the slices much smaller. It's very rich with a nice contrast of textures between the pastry and the filling. The chocolate layer isn't too soft; it's given some body by the hazelnuts. There's a hint of lemon in the background.  An unusual traybake which makes a good dessert.

18 févr. 2015

Cinnamon and Apple Madeleines

I seem to have made quite a lot of calorific pudds lately, so I wanted to make something simple but delicious. I love French madeleines, so decided these would be just right. I know that Proust's plain madeleine is perfection, but I wanted to make them different, so decided to add one of my favourite flavour combinations - apple and cinnamon. [I'm in apple mode atm!] I used a jar of apple purée instead of bothering to cook some.

Madeleines look very simple, but I have had a few disasters making them. Some recipes say that you use brown butter, but you have to keep a close eye on the butter or it burns [one disaster]. Then to get the traditional hump, you need to put the batter in the fridge for 1-2 hours, and some recipes tell you to put the tin in the fridge too for an hour before using. One chef even puts his tin in the freezer. Then another says before you bake them you must heat a baking sheet in the oven, and put the madeleine tin on this. Did I say they were simple?

 Making them is unusual in that you mix the flour, sugar and egg first and then add the warm melted butter. It's a Genoise sponge mixture.

I used the basic recipe which I cut out from a Marie Claire magazine many years ago, and added apple and cinnamon.  It makes 12 madeleines, just the right amount for my tin. They're best eaten fresh.

Preheat oven to 220C/gas7

Flour and butter the tin well so the little cakes come out easily.

Beat together 150g caster sugar and 2 eggs till white and fluffy, then fold in 150g flour with a tspn of cinnamon added and stir in 125g apple purée. Melt 120g butter and add this to the mixture with a pinch of salt. Spoon a generous tbspn of the mixture into each hole and bake for 10-15 mins till golden. Don't overbake. Dust them with granulated sugar.

I should have cut one open to show the inside, but they were eaten so quickly that I just had time to take this photo! Three voracious grandsons! I love Dorie Greenspan's description of these as 'cakey cookies'. They're brown and crisp on the outside, then spongy and soft inside, and the puréed apple makes them extra soft, and I love the hit of cinnamon, not too much, just a nice hint.

11 févr. 2015

Pecan, Apple and Salted Caramel Cheesecake

If you're on a diet, this isn't the recipe for you! It's a recipe for a special occasion, and as our French friends were coming to stay for a few days, I thought this was one of those occasions.

It's another case of using up ingredients that are near their 'use by' dates; this time it was a tin of Carnation Caramel, a bag of pecans and a few Granny Smith apples.
The idea for a cheesecake came from a programme I watched on Food Network - the chef was using walnuts and apples in a cheesecake.

So what you have is the usual biscuit layer at the bottom, then a layer of the salted caramel, a layer of chopped pecans, a layer of apple purée, then the cheesecake and topping it off some whipped cream with a drizzle or so of the salted caramel. What's not to like?

You need a 23cm springform tin or the same sized pie dish. Preheat oven 180C/gas4.

To make the biscuit base - mix together 12 digestive biscuits with 3 tbspn caster sugar and a tspn of cinnamon. Melt 75g butter, add to the biscuit mixture and bring together with a fork. Press it into the tin, coming about 2/3 of the way up the sides. Bake for about 8 mins till golden, then leave to cool.

For the caramel and pecan layer you need a tin of caramel and 125g pecans, roughly chopped.
Spread a layer of caramel over the biscuit base, then sprinkle with the chopped pecans. Keep a few pecans back to sprinkle on the top. Put in the fridge.

Peel, core and slice 5 Granny Smith apples. Melt 75g of butter in a pan then add 80g light brown sugar, 1 tspn cinnamon, 1/2 tspn salt and simmer gently for a minute or so. Add the apples till soft - about 10 mins; cool, then spoon over the pecans.

For the cheesecake - beat together 250g cream cheese with 50g sugar using an electric mixer, till mixture is smooth. Add an egg and beat again. Then add 1 tbspn lemon juice and 1 tspn vanilla extract and beat in. Pour this over the apple and smooth over. Bake till the cheesecake is set - about 30 mins. Cool the cheesecake in the tin, then put in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours.

Remove the cheesecake from the tin; whip 200ml of double cream and spread over the top. Drop a few spoonfuls of caramel over the cream and swirl. Sprinkle with the leftover pecans and serve.
Keep any leftovers in the fridge.

This is a rich cheesecake; maybe the cream is unnecessary, but it adds more luxury. Our friends loved it; the soft biscuit base, then the sweet caramel, the crunchy nuts, the soft smooth apple and the silky cheesecake finished off by cream and a swirl of the soft caramel. Certainly a special occasion dessert.

4 févr. 2015

Raspberry and Pinenut Tart

Inspired by Suelle of  the lovely Mainly Baking blog, I decided to have a good sort out of my baking cupboard, to find any bits and pieces that needed using up. I found some pine nuts and ground hazelnuts, both very near their demise, so decided to use them in a tart. What would go well with them?  I always have some frozen raspberries ready to use, as they're one of my favourite fruits and thought these would work well with the nuts. For the filling I'd use creme fraiche instead of cream, not to make the tart too rich.

My loose-bottomed tart tin is 23cm. Preheat oven 200C/gas6

You need 300g of shortcrust pastry, bought or home made [ I added a little sugar to it].
Roll out the pastry to fit the greased tin, and put in the fridge.

Break 3 eggs into a bowl; add another yolk, 120g caster sugar and 60g ground hazelnuts. Whisk, then add 100cl creme fraiche [100g] and 1 tspn vanilla extract and mix together.

Put 200g of raspberries on top of the pastry and pour over the egg mixture. Sprinkle 80g of pine nuts on top and bake for 35-40 mins till the top is golden. Leave the tart in the tin to get cold before removing.

I really liked the different textures in the tart - the pastry, the creamy filling, the soft tart raspberries and the crunch of the pine nuts. The flavours worked well together.

29 janv. 2015

A Coffee Cake

There are times when you just want something nice to have with your cuppa or coffee. This isn't a cake with coffee in it, but is an American cake suitable for eating with coffee, or at least I presume that's what a coffee cake is for!. It's the filling that makes this cake - I used some dark chocolate chopped up, but you could use some nuts - chopped walnuts or pecans.
 It come from a charity shop book I bought ages ago called ' Cakes my Mom used to make'. I've made this cake several times, and have adapted the recipe to suit what I wanted. I make it in a 23cm Bundt tin, so it's a big cake.
Preheat oven 180C/gas4
For the filling:
Mix together 170g dark brown sugar, 1 tbspn cinnamon, 1 tbspn cocoa powder, 160g chopped dark chocolate or chopped nuts.
For the cake:
220g butter, 225g caster sugar, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 3 eggs, 350g plain flour plus 1 tbspn baking powder and 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda, 500ml sour cream or crème fraiche, icing sugar for dusting
Grease your Bundt tin well, or spray it with the easy release spray [I find these sprays good to get cakes out of awkward shaped tins, especially silicone ones].
In a mixer cream together the butter, sugar and  vanilla extract till light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. In a bowl mix together the plain flour with the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. On a low speed, add the flour in 3 lots, alternating with the sour cream or crème fraiche, also in 3 lots.
Pour 1/4 of this batter into the tin. sprinkle 1/3 of the filling over this, and repeat till you have 4 layers of batter and 3 of filling in the tin.
Bake for about 50 mins. Leave in tin to cool for about 15 mins then turn out onto a wire rack.
Dust the top with icing sugar.

Not a very good photo, but you can see the layers. It's got a good crumb and a nice contrast of flavours and textures in the filling. You get an extra bit of chocolate flavour from the cocoa.  I think I prefer this chocolate version to the original nut one.

21 janv. 2015

Crumbly Cranberry Cheesecake Pie

The idea for this cheesecake came about because I had a punnet of cranberries and some cream cheese to use up, so I thought of a cheesecake. Crumble toppings seem to be in fashion and this would give an extra dimension to the dessert.
So, there's a pastry crust, then the cheesecake, the cranberry layer then a final crumble layer.
The cranberry layer has the same consistency as cranberry sauce, so you could use a jar of sauce instead of fresh cranberries.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4       23cm tart or pie tin

To make the cranberry filling - put  250g cranberries in a pan with 6tbspn granulated sugar, 1/2 tspn lemon zest, 1 tspn lemon juice and 120ml water. Bring to the boil on medium-high heat, then reduce to simmer for about 10 mins till cranberries are soft; leave to cool.

To make the crumb base and topping - mix together 175g plain flour, 100g sugar, 1/2 tspn baking powder, 1/2 tspn salt ; add115g butter cut into dice and rub together till breadcrumbs. Take out about 50g crumbs for the topping, and bring the rest together to make a ball.
Press into the base of the tart tin; try to make it even.

For the cheesecake - put 250g cream cheese in a bowl with 100g caster sugar; beat with electric mixer till light and fluffy. Add a large egg and 1 tspn vanilla extract and beat gently to mix. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the pastry base and spread it evenly.
spoon the cranberry mixture over the cheesecake then sprinkle over the rest of the crumbs.

Bake for30-35 mins till the topping is golden and the cheesecake filling is set.

Cool, then put in fridge for about 2 hrs before using. Keep in the fridge.

I didn't spread the cranberry mixture to the edge of the crumb base, but left a border all round. I think I'd make more crumb mixture another time to get a better crumb topping.
 Not sure whether to call this a pie or a cheesecake! We loved the sweet/tart flavour with the cranberries, and the cheesecake is smooth and creamy .A good contrast of flavours and textures.
 An unusual dessert, and a good way of using fresh cranberries.

14 janv. 2015

Chocolate and Pear Tartlets

My turn to host Book Group, so thought I'd make tartlets rather than a cake. Found a small tin of pears in the cupboard that needed using, hence the idea for these tartlets. I love any chocolate and pear combo, so this would be the base.
So, a pastry shell filled with an almond cream, slices of pear, then a creamy chocolate topping. I used 2 pears from a tin of pears in juice, but you could use fresh pears which have been poached in a sugar syrup.

I made a sweet sc pastry with 150g flour, 50g caster sugar, 75g butter, 1 egg yolk and 1-2tbsp water, but you could make the pastry without the sugar if you prefer. You don't need to be told how to make this pastry, but put it in the fridge for about an hour before you use it.

Roll this out to about 2mm thick then cut out circles with a cutter to fit your tart tin. It makes 12; prick bases with a fork then put in the fridge.

For the almond cream, in a bowl mix  together 50g ground almonds with 50g icing sugar, 40g soft butter, a beaten egg, a couple of drops of almond extract and a tbspn of single cream.
Take the tartlet shells out of the fridge and spoon a layer of almond cream into the bottom. Bake for 15mins at 180C/gas4. leave to cool.

For the chocolate cream, heat 6cl of milk in a pan with 6cl of single cream. - don't boil. Beat an egg yolk into 25g of caster sugar till white, then pour in the warm liquid and stir well. Pour back into the pan and over a gentle heat stir continuously to thicken the mixture. Break 85g dark chocolate into pieces, pour the milk mixture over and stir gently till the chocolate has melted - leave to cool.

Slice the pears thinly [you only need 2 pears] then put a couple of slices onto the almond mixture and cover with the chocolate cream. Smooth the top then put in the fridge for about 30 mins before serving.

Excuse the silly ribbon in this photo - my daughter's idea! These are the finished tarts.

My Book Group loved the various textures - the crunchy pastry, the almond cream which has some  texture from the almonds, then the soft juicy pear and finally a lovely creamy chocolate topping. I'll certainly make these again.