Friday, 28 October 2016

Chocolate Apricot Sandwich Biscuits

This recipe came from a Sunday magazine, which will have to remain nameless as there's no indication on the page I have torn out... also missing was the quantity of flour needed to complete the biscuits, but I got through that hurdle reasonably quickly, plus the second hurdle of the amazing amount of chocolate originally specified - enough to coat half of Belgium...

Here I present some delicious chocolate apricot sandwich biscuits, first tested on the Army in one of its traditional inter-warfare exercises known as "Afternoon Tea".   As you can see, the biscuits weren't entirely regular or, a we say in the Army, uniform, which could be considered to be a disadvantage.  I hope that you can do better than this!

Chocolate Apricot Sandwich Biscuits
Chocolate Apricot Sandwich Biscuits

8oz/225g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
8oz/225g butter, softened
8oz/225g icing sugar
3oz/70g cocoa powder
2 egg yolks (large)
1 tsp vanilla extract
8oz/225g dark chocolate
1tsp vegetable oil
Small jar of apricot jam

Sift together the dry ingredients and have ready.   Cream (on a low speed or you will decorate yourself!) the butter, sugar and cocoa powder until it is light and fluffy – this will take about 2-3 minutes.   Add the egg yolks and the vanilla essence, continuing to beat. Now tip in the flour mixture and beat it all together slowly until it becomes dough.  Chill the dough, roughly shaped into a flat disc, wrapped in plastic, for about half an hour.

Preheat oven to 190 deg C, and line two baking trays with non-stick parchment.   Cut the dough in two and roll each out to ½”/5mm thick.  This is best done between parchment, or you could use the old-fashioned method and have a lightly floured surface and rolling pin.   Use a 2”/4cm cutter and cut as many rounds as possible from the first rolling, then press all the scraps together and repeat.  Try not to over-work the dough (as Mary Berry would say).   Put the biscuits 1”/2cm apart on baking trays and bake for 7-9 minutes (watching carefully as the chocolate will start to burn before you notice).  Cool the biscuits on the trays and then put them onto a rack to finish. 

Melt the chocolate and oil to a glossy, smooth mixture.  Now coat half the biscuits with apricot jam and sandwich them with the other halves, pressing them together so the jam comes to the sides.  Dip each biscuit into the chocolate (I had to assist this process with a pastry brush).  Allow the finished biscuits to cool on more parchment until the chocolate has set.  You could also use the fridge.   The quantity was originally noted to be 32-36, but I reckon it only made 18 or so finished biscuits. 

Friday, 7 October 2016

Tarte aux Abricots

This recipe was originally published in the Daily Telegraph by one of my favourite food writers, Xanthe Clay.   I adore her recipes!   I've hung onto it, lusting gently over the lovely photo of the apricots peeping out of the tart, dusted thickly with icing sugar... and now, finally, I've made it.

As now seems usual in my house, I had the additional problem of a peckish husband to deal with, who snaffled a few of the apricots at just the wrong moment.  As you can see from the photo, this is more tart than abricot, but it still tasted great.   Xanthe comments that no one makes a better tart than the French.  Vive les tartes!

Xanthe's original recipe was for a 10" flan tin, and she suggested halving the quantities for a 7" tin. Just to be inconvenient, I used an 8" tin (somewhere between 8" and 9" to be accurate), and used 2/3 of the quantity, which I have reproduced below, as a 7" tin is too small.   The quantities divide up and down very easily.

Tarte aux Abricots or French Apricot Tart 
Tarte aux Abricots/French Apricot Tart

Sweet shortcrust:
8oz/225g plain flour, sifted
4oz/110g butter, diced
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 large egg yolk and 2-3 tablespoons cold water

9 ripe apricots
3oz/75g ground almonds
6 fl oz/170ml crème fraiche (approx)
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp sugar

Make the pastry by hand or in the processor (mix the flour with the sugar, add the fat and mix until it looks like breadcrumbs.  Next add the egg.  Don’t add all the water until you are sure you need it.  Rest the dough in the fridge for 20 minutes.   Line an 8-8 ½ ” loose base flan tin with the pastry and prick the base with a fork before putting it back into the fridge for 20 minutes.    Heat the oven to 200 deg C and put in a baking tray to heat.  

Halve the apricots and remove the stones.  Put the stones into a plastic bag and hit them with a hammer so that you can remove the inner kernels.   Sprinkle the ground almonds over the base of the tart, then add the halved apricots, cut side down, packing them tightly (as I didn’t!).  

Put the tart onto the hot baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.  After 10 minutes, check that the tart isn’t getting too browned and, if so, cover the pastry edge with a strip of foil.  

Now chop up the apricot kernels and mix them with the crème fraiche, egg yolks and sugar.  Pour this mixture into the gaps between the apricots, so that the tops are just peeping out of the sea of custard. 

Return the tart to the oven for 10-15 minutes until the custard is just set.  Cool before serving (I didn’t manage that bit either!).  Dust with caster sugar.