Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Orange Shortbread Biscuits with Cream and Curd filling

As you may have seen in some of my recent posts, I have been making and using orange curd, specifically Seville Orange curd, although you can make it with ordinary oranges too - it just doesn't have the same bite to it.   I thought you'd like to see how far you can take this curd, if you had any left over, or you could make some anyway - it's very easy!

Chocolate scribbles are ridiculously easy to make, and give any pudding a facelift - so very  Masterchef!  Shortbread biscuits should be crisp and delicate, with a good snap to them.  The orange peel gives a hint of flavour, and the cream and curd combination is just heavenly - at least, the priests I gave them to thought so - and they surely ought to know....

Orange Shortbreads with cream, orange curd and chocolate scribbles
Orange Shortbread Biscuits with Cream and Orange Curd

5oz/150g plain flour
3 level tbsps rice flour – if no rice flour, substitute plain flour
2oz/50g caster sugar
4oz/100g butter at just above room temperature
Zest of half an orange

Preheat oven to 170deg C/325 deg F.    Grease a large baking sheet.   Mix together the flours and the sugar.    Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients.   It will form a dryish dough, which you knead a little before rolling (this stretches the gluten and makes the biscuit stick together better).  

Roll out the dough between two pieces of greaseproof parchment, about .5cm thick.   Cut circles, about 2-3”, 50-75mm, and transfer using a fish slice to the baking sheet.  When you gather up the left overs and roll them out again, try not to over-knead it, as the final result isn’t as good (what Mary Berry would described as “overworked” – you know the feeling!)

Bake until firm and golden – the butter in the mixture will brown while your back is turned, so check it frequently after 15 minutes or so.      When they are done, dredge them lightly with caster sugar before they have cooled.  

This quantity of ingredients made about 16 or so biscuits.    

Biscuit Stacks

Pile the biscuits up in threes with a generous sandwich of curd and cream - approx 1/2 pint/10floz/300ml double cream, curd to taste.   Top with a chocolate scribble. 

Chocolate Scribbles

Line a baking tray with non-stick parchment.  Melt approx 20z/50g dark chocolate in the microwave, pour it into a piping bag and then (quickly!) make little doodles on the parchment.  Chill until set.  Resist the temptation to test one….

Orange Curd

Grated rind and juice of 2 oranges
2 eggs, beaten
4oz/110g butter
4oz/110g sugar  

The best way to make this is in a double saucepan (one with a separate chamber below for the boiling water), but a heatproof bowl (Pyrex) on a pan of simmering water works just as well, if a little more slowly. 

Put all the ingredients in the bowl/saucepan, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.   Carry on heating it, stirring from time to time, until the mixture has thickened – it coats the back of the spoon, and then becomes more difficult to stir.  Strain through a sieve (important – it gets rid of any lumpy bits of egg) into small (clean) jars.   Cover the jars as per jam – with waxed discs and cellophane tops.  Alternatively, as you will be using this up quickly, cut circles of parchment to fit the jars, and then put the lids back on firmly.  

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Eve's Pudding with Caramel and Hazelnuts

Eve's Pudding - the clue is in the name - is a light, sponge pudding with an apple base.  I used an old Good Housekeeping recipe, and tweaked it to include hazelnuts and caramel for a bit of a deeper taste.   What didn't get eaten immediately reheated very well in the microwave the next day, so that's a real plus!  

I was recently honoured to be invited to speak to one of my local WI branches about puddings and blogging.  After my talk, there was a fun time tasting the puddings the members had brought in, and chatting about recipes and methods.  We spent some time talking about how to use up left over apples that have been stored since the autumn, but which we couldn't bear to throw away.  I'm glad I wasn't alone!  

Eve's Pudding 

Eve’s Pudding

1lb/450g cooking apples, peeled and cored
Grated rind of 1 lemon (omit if you are doing the caramel version)
3oz/75g Demerara sugar
5oz/150g self raising flour
3oz/75g butter, softened
1.5oz/40g soft brown sugar
1.5oz/40g Vahiné liquid caramel (or simply double the soft brown sugar)  
1 egg, beaten
Some milk to mix
Handful of flaked almonds or blanched hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C, then peel, core and cut the apples into slices.   Grease an ovenproof dish with a capacity of about 1½  pints.   Now add the apples, lemon (if using) and the first quantity of Demerara sugar.

In a food processor/Kenwood, blend the flour, butter, sugar and egg, plus liquid caramel, and beat until well mixed.  If the mixture is stiff and won’t drop off the spoon, add some milk – I used about 3 tbsps in the end. 

Pour the sponge mix over the apples, sprinkle on the hazelnuts or almonds and bake for 40 minutes or so until golden brown.  

Mine is photographed without the dusting of icing sugar! 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Raspberry and Chocolate Ganache Tartlets

This year I'll be celebrating Mothering Sunday, or Mother's Day, with my own mother, and bringing her a pudding.  I'm still waiting for my boys to make me a pudding on Mother's Day.... no pressure, guys!   Mum adores dark chocolate in any form, so I'm hoping she'll like these little raspberry tartlets from a recipe I found in Red Magazine.   You could make it as a single tart, just make sure it is cooked in the middle to avoid a soggy bottom.

My sisters and I were given dark chocolate Easter eggs one year, which we absolutely hated!  My wonderful mother (who doesn't read this blog by the way) nobly took on the task of eating the eggs, and I remember her at the ironing board, whiling away the ironing pile with a similar pile of dark chocolate egg.... Happy Mothering Sunday, Mum.

Raspberry and Chocolate Ganache Tartlets

Raspberry and Chocolate Tartlets

Chocolate Pastry:
4 ½ oz/125g plain flour
2 ½ tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp caster sugar
3oz/85g butter, straight from the fridge
2 tbsp double cream
1 tbsp milk

Chocolate Ganache:
3 ½ oz/100g good quality plain chocolate  
8fl oz/225ml double cream

Raspberry top:
14oz/400g raspberries (approx)
Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.   Make the pastry by blending all the ingredients together in a food processor until it becomes a dough.   If it won’t make the transition between small crumbs and dough, add a little more milk.   Chill the dough for 20 minutes before dividing it between six little tartlet tins.   Prick the bases before baking blind (with a small quantity of foil and something like old rice or lentils to weigh it down) for approx. 10 minutes.  Then remove the foil and put the tartlets back into the oven for about 5 further minutes until they are crisp.   Allow to cool. 

While the pastry dough is cooling in the fridge, make the ganache by bringing the cream to just below boiling, then removing it from the heat and adding the chocolate.    Stir to melt the chocolate and beat it until the mixture is smooth and glossy.    Leave it to cool and then chill.

Release the tartlets from the tins – give them a tap on the base to loosen them before turning each one out into your hand (less of a shock than onto a worktop!)

Beat the ganache slightly so that it thickens up before dividing it between the tartlets.  Decorate with the raspberries and dust with icing sugar.   Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.  

Monday, 9 March 2015

Baking for Comic Relief - Mars Bar Cheesecake

Red Nose Day is a uniquely British phenomenon where you are encouraged to do silly things for the charity Comic Relief.  OK, it's all in a good cause, and some of the charities they support are very worthwhile, but I draw the line at dyeing my hair bright scarlet!   Baking for charity is one of the nicest ways of raising money, so this Mars Bar Cheesecake (referencing the fact that Mars is sponsoring Red Nose Day) is my contribution to Comic Relief.  The cheesecake is ridiculously easy to make, and went down a storm with the students at the University Choral Society rehearsal at the weekend (Verdi and Mars Bars - match made in heaven!).  In fact, I would describe the recipe as student-friendly, child-friendly and non-bakers friendly - there's really no cooking involved....

Mars Bar Cheesecake

Mars Bar Cheesecake

7oz/200g crushed digestive biscuits (or Hobnobs)
3.5oz/100g melted butter

3 x 250ml tubs cream cheese
5 large (not Kingsize, don’t be greedy!) Mars Bars
Sieved cocoa/grated chocolate to serve

Line the base of a 9” spring clip tin (or a tin with a removable base) with baking parchment.   Mix the digestives and melted butter, press into the tin and chill until set. 

Cut up four of the Mars Bars and melt them carefully in the microwave (and I mean carefully – they cross the divide from solid to exploded in a very short space of time!).    Stir them before mixing in the cream cheese.   Chop the remaining Mars Bar and add that as well. 

Spread the mixture over the biscuit base.   Sieve the cocoa or grate chocolate on the top.    Chill again until set.   

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Lime and Basil Cheesecake

If you've been following this blog, or bought my first book, you will know that I adore the combination of lime and basil!   It is so refreshing and unusual, especially in creamy puddings, and oh, how I adore creamy puddings!    This is a twist on a 1980s classic - cheesecake - updated for the 21st century, in lime and basil. There is a gently set lime jelly on the top, which cuts the sweetness of the cheesecake (and does away with the blank white top).   I've set this on a chocolate biscuit base, for added sumptuousness....   This pudding had its first outing at my husband's office Christmas party, with gluten free digestive biscuits, and only the gluten-free girl knew that it was especially for her.

Cheesecake is surprisingly easy to make, but it does need time to chill and set in the fridge, and is best served pretty cold.   Tonight I'm visiting the Rough Common Women's Institute to talk about puddings and blogging.  I've made a couple of puds as well - hope they enjoy them!

Lime and Basil Cheesecake
  Lime and Basil Cheesecake

8oz/225g digestive biscuits, crushed to crumbs
4oz/110g dark chocolate

8oz/225g cream cheese or soft cheese
8oz/225g Mascarpone cheese
3oz/75g caster sugar
4 sheets gelatine softened in water plus 1 sheet for the topping
3 limes - juice of 2, plus juice of 1 and zest for the topping
Handful of basil leaves, torn
2 eggs, separated
5floz/140ml double cream, softly whipped
1oz dark chocolate, melted 

Line a 9” spring clip tin with parchment.   Melt the chocolate in a bowl, add the biscuit crumbs, mix well and spread them over the base of the tin.  Chill in the fridge until set. 

Beat together the cream cheese and Mascarpone, sugar and egg yolks.  Take the zest off the limes and put aside.   Heat the juice of 2 limes and add the gelatine (sheet gelatine should be softened in water before use).   Stir the gelatine until it has dissolved and then pour it into the cheese mixture.  Then add the whipped cream and the handful of basil.   Whisk the egg whites and fold into the mixture (Do 1 tbsp first to break up the texture).  Pour into the tin and level it up.   Now take the remaining sheet of gelatine and soften it in water.   Warm the juice of the remaining lime (you might need to add a little more water or lemon juice) and melt the gelatine sheet.  Wait until the gelatine has started to set again (as otherwise it will find how un-level the cheesecake is and pour off the sides!), then pour it over the cheesecake, adding the lemon zest.

Chill for a couple of hours until set.