Making treacle

T is for Toffee

This week I couldn’t choose between recipes or the type of dessert I wanted to cook, so I combined all of them. This first ‘T is for…’ recipe is for toffee, which, if you make, will come in very handy for the second ‘T is for…’ recipe, which will be the blog entry following this one.

You will need a sugar/jam thermometer for this recipe – the mixture needs to be cooked to a specific temperature and if it’s not reached, the treacle will not set properly. You can get one for about £10 and will mean you can cook up jams, fudge and toffee sweets whenever you want (so well worth the investment in my opinion).

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

Making treacle

Making treacle

Ingredients (all from the baking aisle in the supermarket):

  • 450g dark brown sugar;
  • 100g golden syrup
  • 150g black treacle
  • 5g cream of tartar
  • a dribble of oil for greasing
  • 125ml water

Recipe:

  1. In a large pan, over a medium heat, add the water and brown sugar and leave to boil until the sugar is dissolved. You need to use the biggest pan you can as the mixture will bubble up to about 4 times its volume later.
  2. When the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and add the cream of tartar, golden syrup and black treacle. Then place back on a medium-high heat and attach your sugar thermometer.
  3. Boil until the mixture reaches 140°C – this can take a bit of time, but don’t take your eyes off it, as it can burn easily. Whilst you’re waiting, line a baking tray with silicon paper lightly greased with oil.
  4. As soon as the toffee reaches 140°C remove from the heat and pour into the pre-lined baking tray and leave to cool. Once cool to touch pop in the fridge. It shouldn’t take more than an hour to harden. Then when the toffee is solid, cover with another sheet of baking paper/tin foil (to stop toffee shattering everywhere) and smash it into small pieces with a hammer or the end of a rolling-pin.

Making treacle

.Making treacle

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Quince Tarte Tatin - served

Q is for Quince Tarte Tatin

Quince

Quince is an old English fruit that is best described as a cross between an apple and a pear. It is not as fashionable as it once was and so is harder to come by, but is currently in season, so it’s worth asking at your local large supermarket or greengrocer. The fruit itself is hard and not particularly tasty raw, but once cooked it transforms from a green to a soft, sweeter pink flesh.

This fruit is typically used to make a jelly to be served with cheese or cold meats, but I wanted to be slightly more adventurous and create something with pastry and this recipe seemed to suit. In simply terms, a Tarte Tatin (which is traditionally made with apples) is a French upside-down tart – it’s cooked with the pastry on top and inverted to serve.

This dish is usually baked in a Tatin dish (a round, deep-sided and sloping sided metal dish), but if you don’t have one a skillet pan will work fine (as I have used).

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 – 8 quince
  • 1 lemon
  • 350g sugar
  • 40g butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 litre boiling water
  • sweet shortcrust pastry (shop bought is fine) – defrosted and chilled in the fridge

Recipe:

  1. In a medium pan add the water, half the sugar, the zest of a lemon and half the juice of a lemon.
  2. Peel, core and quarter the quince (I find a small knife easier for peeling quince than an actual peeler, but use whichever implement is easiest for you) and add the pan of water.
  3. Turn heat up high and bring to the boil. As soon as the pan is bubbling, clamp on a lid, turn the heat down low and leave to simmer for 8 minutes. The drain the pan and set the quince aside. The idea is to par-cook them – you don’t want them too soft yet otherwise they’ll lose their shape later.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
  5. In the Tatin (or skillet) pan, add the remaining sugar and melt over a medium heat. You must not stir with a spoon yet, but can swill round. Just as the sugar has melted and is starting to go golden add the butter – now you can stir. Then take off the heat.
  6. Add the quince to the pan with the flatter faces down in a circular pattern around the Tatin tin. Drizzle over the remaining lemon juice and cinnamon.
  7. On a floured surface, roll out the sweet shortcrust pastry to about half a cm thick and cut to a circle that is just bigger than the Tatin dish and then place over the fruit.
  8. Push the edges down the side of the pan and then bake in the over for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling up the sides.
  9. Once out of the oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then loosen around the edges with a palette knife. Place a large plate over the dish and invert. A thump on the pan or a short but vigorous shake should completely release the pie onto the plate, showing all the fruit facing up. Don’t worry if one of 2 pieces are left in the pan – just remove them from the pan and squidge gently into the place in the pie.
  10. I serve mine warm with creme fraiche

Quince Tarte Tatin

 

Quince Tarte Tatin - served

Macarons

M is for Macaroons

When I was younger, I used to live in Amiens, France – known as one of the best place in France for macaroons (or macarons in French). I’ve never yet made macarons, but have been very eager to try, so M on this blog was the perfect excuse.

The recipe I used was inspired from my favourite patissier, Eric Lanlard. I only made a couple of his varieties, but there are plenty more to be made (pistachio, chocolate, lavender etc.)

Macaron ingredients

 

Macarons - whisked egg whites

 

Macarons - whisking in the ground almonds

Preparation time: 30minutes

Cooking time: 15minutes

Ingredients:

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 3 egg whites (or 95g grams if using liquid egg white)
  • Food colourings (I used red and yellow)
  • Food flavourings (I used rose essence for the pink macarons and lemon essence for the yellow macarons)
  • Lemon curd
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 75ml double cream

Recipe:

  1. With an electric whisk, beat the egg whites into soft peaks then gradually add the caster sugar until there are stiffer peaks and the the whites have a sheen to them.
  2. Sift in the icing sugar and ground almonds into the beaten egg whites and fold together with a metal spoon.
  3. Divide the mixture between two bowls. In one add a teaspoon of lemon essence and several drops of yellow food colouring and fold together. In the other bowl add a couple of drops of red food colouring and a teaspoon of rose essence. Add a couple more drops of food colouring if you need to, but each drop goes a long way. Have a little taste and add a couple more drops of lemon/rose essence if required. The mixture should have a hint of flavour and not be too strong.
  4. Line 2 trays with baking parchment. The take a piping bag and fill with one of the mixtures, folding the top of the piping bag back over your hand to avoid getting the macaron mixture all over you.
  5. Snip of the end of the piping bag, and gently squeeze out the mixture into 3cm discs on the baking parchment. Repeat for the other colour mixture. You should have enough mixture to make 56-60 macaron discs in total.
  6. Leave to dry for 5 minutes whilst you pre-heat the oven to 150°C. Then put all the macarons in the oven for 12-15 minutes.
  7. Take out the over and carefully slide each sheet of baking parchment onto wire racks and leave to cool.

Macarons - piping

 

Macarons - pre-baking

 

Macarons fresh from the oven

Whilst the macarons are cooling, you can make the white chocolate ganache for the filling of the pink ones. Place a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Tip in squares of the white chocolate and pour over the double cream. Leave for a couple of minutes and then take off the heat. Mix together with several drops of red food colouring until the chocolate has melted. Place in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.

For the yellow macarons, sandwich a teaspoon of lemon curd between two of the meringues discs. For the red macarons, sandwich a teaspoon of the red coloured white chocolate ganache between the meringues discs.

Try not to eat them all at once!

Macarons

Limes and mint

K is for Key Lime Pie

Over the past couple of weeks, I managed to do my L blog before the K one, so I’ve been holding off publishing it to ensure they go in order.

K this week was always going to be a fruit-based dessert, perhaps a kiwi or kumquat…something, but then it hit me, Key Lime Pie! As a fan of all pies, and with help from my all time favourite chef Eric Lanlard, the blog this week is Key Lime Pie.

Key Lime Pie Cheesecake - ingredients Key Lime Pie Cheesecake - ready to bake

Preparation time: 30-40 minutes

Cooking time: 35-40minutes

Whisked egg whites

Limes ready to be mixed into pie mix

Ingredients:

  • 350g digestive biscuits (crushed into small rubble)
  • 125g unsalted butter – melted
  • 175g caster sugar (125g for syrup & 50g for the filling)
  • 125ml water
  • 4 large eggs (separated into yolks and whites)
  • 6 limes (2 finely sliced; 4 zested and juiced)
  • 1 tin (397g) of full-fat condensed milk
  • handful of fresh mint
  • 300ml whipping cream (whipped to peaks)

Recipe:

  1. This recipe starts backwards, as we start making the decoration first. Mix 125g of caster sugar and 125ml of water over a medium heat until it reaches a boil. Add 2 finely sliced limes and poach for 10minutes with a few of the mint leaves. Then take off the heat and leave the lime slices to stoop in the syrup overnight.
  2. To make the pie base, mix the melted butter and crushed digestive biscuits together and press into a buttered loose-bottom pie tin (ideally fluted). Leave to chill in the fridge for an hour.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Bake the biscuit base blind for 10-15mins until it takes on colour. This is done by lining with baking parchment (crumpled) and carefully half-filling with ceramic baking beans.
  4. To make the pie filling, beat the egg yolks together and then stir in the condensed milk (making sure to not waste any from the tin – it’s precious stuff), lime zest and lime juice.
  5. In a separate, clean, dry bowl, using an electric whisk beat the egg whites together, slowly adding the remaining 50g of caster sugar until firm peaks are formed.
  6. Fold together the egg whites and lime mixture together then pour into the biscuit-lined cake case. Bake for 25minutes until the pie mixture is set. It should be lightly golden on top. It will rise a little and then sink back once out of the oven.
  7. Once completely cool, loosen and gently remove from the spring-form tin. Decorate with the whipped cream, fresh mint and the syrup-infused sliced lime.

Key Lime Pie Cheesecake

Key Lime Pie Cheesecake - badly decorated

H is also for Honeycomb

This week I’ve needed a sweet tooth, so I’ve managed to create both another H recipe (honeycomb) and homemade ice cream (the upcoming I recipe).

Honeycomb is deceptively easy to make, you just need to keep an eye on it as sugar gets very hot!

Baking soda

 

Honeycomb - sugar and golden syrup

Preparation time: 1 minute

Cooking time: 5 minutes (plus 1hour of cooling in the fridge)

Ingredients:

  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of golden syrup
  • 1.5 tsps baking soda

Recipe:

  1. In a saucepan, stir the sugar and golden syrup together. Stir as much as you want now but as soon as you apply heat, you must not stir, only swirl.
  2. Put the saucepan over a medium heat until the mixture has completed melted and bubbles until the colour of maple syrup, which takes about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the baking soda and stir vigorously. The honeycomb will froth up instantly. Pour this onto greased tinfoil.
  4. Put in the fridge and leave to set for about an hour. Smash with a clean hammer or rolling pin and it’s ready to eat.

Honeycomb - bubbling

Honeycomb - frothing Honeycomb - setting

F – Fig and Almond Tart

My fig and almond tart takes enough effort to blitz together a few key ingredients and slice up a handful of figs to produce a special dessert.
Fig and almond tart - ready to cook
Ingredients:
  • 350g all-butter puff pastry
  • 1 tbsp double cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zested
  • 6-8 ripe figs, washed and dried
Recipe:
  1. Heat the oven to 200C.
  2. Roll the pastry on a lightly floured work surface into a rectangle approximately 34cm x 18cm.
  3. Beat the double cream and egg yolk together and use to brush the edges of the pastry. Fold the edges of the pastry over to make a 1cm wide border. Brush with more of the glaze and chill the pastry on a baking sheet for at least 30 minutes. The idea here is to produce a frame of pastry to hold in all the fig juices and almond and lemon mixture.
  4. In a food processor, add the ground almonds, caster sugar, softened butter, egg, lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Whizz together until smooth – you will probably need to use a spatula to push in all the bits stuck on the side. Don’t worry if the mixture is thick, it’s meant to be.
  5. Spread the almond filling over the bottom of the pastry and chill for 10 minutes while you prepare the figs.
  6. Cut each fig into quarters through the stalk. Arrange the figs cut-side up over the almond mixture. Slide the baking tray into oven and cook the tart for about 35-45 minutes until golden.
  7. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Fig and almond tart

Eton Mess

E is also for Eton Mess

This is an incredible easy recipe, unlike the previous E. Just a few key ingredients, a few moments of effort are required to deliver this delicious dessert.
Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 8 meringue nests (homemade or bought)
  • 300g strawberries
  • 200g raspberries
  • 400ml double cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons of caster sugar
Recipe:
  1. Cut off the green stalks front the strawberries and cut each fruit into similar sizes as the raspberries.
  2. Set aside a couple of pieces of strawberry and raspberr and dribble the balsamic vinegar and caster sugar over the strawberries and leave to stoop for a couple of hours. Don’t worry, the balsamic ail help bring out the taste of the fruit rather than overpowering it.
  3. Crush the meringues. You want a mix of chunky pieces, small pieces, and sand-like dust.
  4. When you’re ready to serve the dessert, whip the double cream until it forms soft peaks (this should only take 1 minute by hand).
  5. Fold in the fruit (juice and all), meringue into the cream and top each serving with a couple of pieces of fruit.
  6. This recipe should serve 4 greedy people

Eton Mess - fruit

Eton Mess