baking, celebration, christmas, desserts, food blogging, food photography, pastry

Christmas Tart

Christmas Tart
A moist tart full of festive fruit and topped with a light sponge. Encased in a crisp buttery pastry.

A moist tart that is an ideal Christmas treat. With lashings of moist fruit, soft sponge and a crisp sweet pastry, it won’t last long. It makes a wonderful alternative to a rich Christmas pudding and will accompany a freshly brewed pot of tea…to a tee. Simply decorated, with a glazed top and glittery fondant stars it creates a stylish looking pastry.

Ingredients: (Makes 10″ tart)

Pastry:
250g plain flour. Extra for rolling dough.
156g chilled butter – cut into cubes.
62g caster sugar.
84g egg – approx’ 1 1/2 eggs.
1/2 tsp salt.

Fruit filling:
50g raisins.
100g sultanas.
50g veg’ suet.
25g mixed peel.
50g soft dark brown sugar.
50ml brandy.
1 tsp mixed spice.
Juice of 1/2 orange and all the zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon and all the zest.

Jam for tart base:
3 dessert spoons of ginger jam/preserve for base of the tart.

Sponge:
60g self raising flour – sieved.
50g ground almonds.
1 tsp mixed spice.
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon.
2 beaten eggs – at room temp.
1tsp vanilla extract.
100g caster sugar.
100g soft butter.

Apricot Glaze:
3 dessert spoons of apricot jam.
2 tabls of water.

Decoration:
50g of fondant easy roll icing. Rolled to 3mm thickness and cut into star
shapes with cutter.
Edible glitter spray – lightly spray each star.

Method/cook:

Fruit filling:
Mix all the ingredients together. Leave to macerate for 24 hours in a cool place.

Pastry:
Beat the egg and sugar together until well mixed – set aside.
Add the salt to the flour.
Rub the butter into the flour to create a crumb texture.
Once all the butter has been rubbed into the flour add the egg and sugar mix.
Combine all ingredients into a dough, wrap in cling film and chill for several hours.
Note: This dough is quite sticky, so use a little extra flour to bring it all together. Refrigerate for several hours before rolling.
Once chilled, roll out and line a 10″, loose bottomed, flan tin. Pop your lined flan tin in the refrigerator to chill. Set aside.

Sponge:
Combine the flour, ground almonds and spices. Set aside.
Cream the butter and the sugar.
Gradually mix the beaten egg into the creamed butter and sugar . (Note: Eggs at room temp’ will lessen the risk of splitting when mixed with the butter. If your mix starts to split before all the egg has been added – mix in a couple of tabls’ of the flour mix.)
Add all the flour mix to the butter mix. Combine, thoroughly, with a balloon whisk. Set aside.

Preparing the tart for baking:
Set oven to gas 5 or 190°C / 375°F
With your fruit macerated, flan tin lined with pastry and the sponge mix made, it’s time to prepare the tart for baking. Place your lined flan tin on a baking tray.
Firstly, spread a layer of ginger jam over the base of your flan. (see image)
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Next, drain any liquid from the macerated fruit mix. Put a layer of the drained fruit mix on top of the jam layer. (see image)
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Finally add the sponge layer over the fruit. (see image)
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Bake on the lower middle shelf for 35-45 mins’. The tart is cooked when the middle of the sponge is firm to touch. After 35 mins’, give the centre of the sponge a light press with your finger. If the sponge is firm and springs back up after lifting your finger – it’s baked. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Time to prepare the apricot glaze.

Apricot glaze:
In a pan, slowly heat up the apricot jam and water to a, simmering, runny consistency.
Sieve the glaze to remove any apricot bits.
Now spoon the hot apricot glaze over the top of your hot tart.
Leave the tart to cool in the flan tin.

Serving:
Turn out your cooled tart and decorate with glittery fondant stars.
Serve generous slices with whipped cream.
Enjoy.

celebration, christmas, desserts, food blogging, food photography, pudding

Flaming Fabulous Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding
A Luxurious Christmas pudding made in single succulent portions. With rich fruit, treacle and brandy… it’s flaming fabulous.

A rich, fruity pudding for the festive season. This ‘old flame’ pops up once a year and it’s well worth the wait. Don’t let the long list of ingredients put you off making your own luxury puddings. They’re very easy to make and can be steamed several days in advance and re-heated just before serving on Christmas day. These puddings actually taste better if cooked several days before serving and one less thing to think about on Christmas day.

Ingredients: Makes 8 individual 150ml puddings. Tip: Heatproof plastic pudding moulds are great to use, as the cooked puddings can be chilled and re-heated in the microwave. For the purpose of this recipe I have used both plastic and stainless steel moulds.

50g strong flour.
100g veg’ suet.
100g raisins.
100g sultanas.
50g mixed chopped peel. (See recipe below)
50g chopped dried apricots.
65g glacé cherries – halved. (Extra for garnish)
1/2 nutmeg – grated.
1 heaped tsp mixed spice.
100g soft dark brown sugar.
100g bread crumbs.
25g flaked almonds.
50ml milk.
2 eggs lightly whisked.
100ml brandy.
Juice of 1 orange. (save the peel)
Juice of 1 lemon. (save the peel)
2 dessert spoons of treacle.

Butter for greasing your dariole/pudding molds.
8 good teaspoons of treacle for the bottom of each mould.

Mixed Peel:
Peel from 1 orange
Peel from 1 lemon.
600ml water
2 dessert spoons of sugar.
1 bay leaf.
4 cardamon pods.

Garnish:
200g glacé cherries.
Strips/julienne of orange and lemon peel – use mixed peel recipe.
Brandy for flaming – 2 tabls for each pudding.
50g Fondant/easy roll icing. Roll out to 3mm thickness and cut out star shapes with a small star cutter.

Method/cook:

Pudding:
Combine all the dry ingredients – set aside.
Add the milk and eggs to the dry ingredients – mix.
Now add the brandy, lemon juice and orange juice – mix.
Finally, add the 2 dessert spoons of treacle and thoroughly combine.
Cover the pudding mix with cling film and store in the refrigerator for 48 hours.
Once the pudding mix has had the time to macerate it’s ready to cook.
Grease your 8 pudding moulds with butter.
Drizzle 1 good teaspoon of treacle into the bottom each mould, then drop in 3 glacé cherries. (see image)
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Divide your pudding mix between the 8 moulds – approx 140g for each pudding. Note: Don’t overfill or pack the moulds – leave a centimeter from the top. (see image)
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When all your moulds have been filled, top with a circle of parchment paper and fix in place with string or an elastic band. (see image)
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Wrap each pudding in tin foil. (see image)
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To steam the puddings: Pop your puddings into a large pan. Top up the pan with boiling water until it reaches half way up the sides of the moulds. Bring the water to a boil and immediately turn down to a simmer – pop on a lid.
Simmer the puddings for 50 mins’.

Mixed Peel: (I like to make my own as it uses up orange and lemon peel that would otherwise be discarded. Also, the strips of homemade peel look very attractive as a garnish and taste great with xmas’ puds’.)

Place all the ingredients into a pan.
Bring to a boil, pop on a lid and simmer for 40 mins’.
After 40 mins’ drain the peel and chill.
Chop 50g for your pudding mix. Save the rest for garnish.

Serving:
Note: If you have made your puddings several days in advance, re-heat in the microwave. Place your puddings, in their plastic moulds, upside down in a dish. Heat on full power for 2 mins’.
Serve your hot puddings topped with 3 glacé cherries and strips of your cooked orange and lemon peel.
Top with an optional spoon or two of brandy.
Serve with either brandy sauce, brandy butter or custard.

Enjoy.

christmas, desserts, food blogging, food photography, ice cream, sweets

Poached Pears in Blackcurrant with Chocolate, Pistachio and Sultana Ice Cream. Served with Parisian Scrolls, Whipped Cream and Caramel Nibs.

Poached Pears.
Pears poached in blackcurrant served with a chocolate and pistachio ice cream. Accompanied with Parisian Scrolls and caramel nibs.

Christmas is here…according to the supermarkets. Don’t remember retail festivities starting quite this early.
So here is another early Christmas dessert – poached pears. I adore poached pears, but not in red wine, so these are poached in blackcurrant juice. With typical festive spices, such as cloves and cinnamon, these sweet pears are a real winner for the holiday season.
Accompanied by a lush ice cream, crunchy Parisian Scrolls and melt in the mouth Caramel Nibs – that kids and grannies’ will fight for – it’s a dessert to please most families.
Everything can be made in advance giving more time – for kitchen slaves like myself – to enjoy the company of friends and family.

Ingredients:

Ice Cream: Makes approx’ 900ml.
200ml water.
100g sugar.
100g dark chocolate.
300ml Milk – I used lactose free milk.
150ml coconut milk – full fat tinned.
1 dessert spoon of cocoa powder.
2 dessert spoon of skimmed milk powder.
1 tsp vanilla extract or seeds from 1 vanilla pod.
1 tsp of ice cream stabiliser. (optional)
70g sultanas.
70ml rum or brandy.
60g pistachio nuts – crushed.
Tip: Tinned coconut milk contains creamy coconut solids and liquid. Use the creamy solids and make up the 150ml with the coconut liquid.

Parisian Scrolls: (makes 18-20)
130g caster sugar.
2 egg whites – equal to 80g.
65g warm melted butter.
60g plain flour – sieved.
1 tsp vanilla extract.
Pinch of salt.
20g melted chocolate. For dipping ends of baked scrolls – optional

Caramel Nibs: (makes 260g)
120g honey.
120g double cream.
50g golden syrup.
60g white chocolate.

Poached Pears: (Serves 6)
6 firm fresh pears – peeled with stalks still attached.
200ml water.
500ml blackcurrant juice/cordial with 50% juice.
Juice and zest of 1 lemon.
6 cloves.
3 cardamon pods.
3 star anise.
2 bay leaf.
1/2 cinnamon stick.

Method/cook:

Ice Cream:
In a small dish, soak the sultanas in rum or brandy – for at least 5 hours.
Add the water and sugar to a pan. Slowly bring to a boil. Once boiling simmer for 5 minutes to create a light syrup. Set aside to cool.
In a thick bottomed pan add the milk, coconut milk, cocoa powder, milk powder, vanilla and stabiliser. Bring to a boil then simmer for 3 minutes. Sieve into a clean bowl and set aside to cool.
Once the the milk mixture is cool add the syrup and any excess liquid from the soaked sultanas – don’t add the sultanas.
Churn the ice cream mix in an ice cream maker.
When your ice cream has formed, remove from ice cream maker and mix in crushed pistachio nuts and soaked sultanas. Freeze for several hours in a suitable container.

Parisian Scrolls:
Set oven to gas 5 or 190°C / 375°F
Melt butter and add vanilla. Set aside.
With a hand mixer whip the egg whites and salt to stiff peaks.
With a balloon whisk, fold the sugar, flour, butter and vanilla into the whipped egg whites. Combine thoroughly.
On a baking tray, lined with silicon paper, place 2 teaspoons of the mixture three inches apart. With the back of the spoon spread each portion of mixture out, using a circular motion, to a 10cm-11cm circle. (see image)

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Bake on the middle shelf for 8-10 mins’. The outer edges will bake to a rusty brown while the centers will be lighter in colour.
Remove tray from the oven, leave for 10 seconds then quickly lift each wafer, flip over and roll. The wafers are hot so asbestos fingers are required – no pain no gain. Set aside to crisp up on cooling racks. (see image) When cool, dip ends of scrolls in melted chocolate – this is optional.

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Tip: Perform a test bake or two to get your technique correct.
Don’t be tempted to over bake the parisian scrolls, as over baking will cause them to brake in the rolling process.
I usually bake two to a tray until all the mixture has been used up.
Store your baked and cooled Parisian Scrolls in an airtight container.

Caramel Nibs: (Sugar thermometer needed)
Note: When making this caramel never leave the pan unattended. It will boil over and burn. Take your time, lightly stir regularly once boiling.
Place the honey, cream and syrup into a thick bottomed pan.
Slowly bring to a boil then turn down the heat slightly.
Using a sugar thermometer, bring caramel to softball temperature – 116°C / 240°F
Once reaching the required temperature, remove from the heat and mix in the white chocolate. Pour the caramel into a heat proof tin/dish lined with parchment paper. I use an oblong dish that is 21cm L x 7cm W x 3cm D. (see image)

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Leave the caramel to cool at room temp’. Once cool, wrap in cling film and refrigerate.
When you are ready for serving with the ice cream etc; cut off small chunks/nibs with a sharp knife.  Use as and when ice cream is on the menu or you just fancy a, melt in the mouth, caramel hit.

Poached Pears:
Add the liquids, spices and lemon to a large pan.
Trim the bottoms of your peeled pears so that they will stand upright.
Place your pears into the pan with the other ingredients.
Bring the blackcurrant liquid to a boil and pop on a lid. Simmer the pears for 35-40 mins’ or until soft. Once cooked remove from the heat.
Place the pears in a clean dish and pour over the blackcurrant liquid. (see image)

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Leave to cool, then chill in the refrigerator.

Serving:
Now that all your prep’ is done it’s just a matter of serving as you see fit. The dessert can be plated for each individual or the poached pears can be presented in a serving dish with the ice cream and Parisian Scrolls offered on the side. Don’t forget your caramel nibs.