Sweet Decadence – Rosemary Caramel & Chocolate Tart

It’s been a while since I have posted something. My last post was in the middle of summer and as I’m writing today’s post I feel very autumnal indeed. We actually had a mini heat wave in August so my free time was spent making the most of all the gorgeous rays. As much as I love summer though, I have a particular soft spot for autumn. It’s such a glorious season. The colours of the leaves, the golden mornings with everything drenched in caramel hues ….bliss. And what a great feeling it is being all cozy in a soft jumper. I don’t think I could ever live anywhere without seasons.

Once the weather cools I also start getting into the mood to bake things. Gone are the days where it seems acceptable to offer fruit salad as dessert option. Whole fruit, with its fibre intact is great stuff. But it is not dessert. Ever. And the only thing worse than fruit for dessert is fruit served with yoghurt for dessert. It just breaks my heart. So, bring on the cinnamon laced apple cakes, the creamy cheesecakes and the buttery pastries. Autumn calls for a steamy mug of coffee and a slice of something rich and delicious. And this wonderful tart recipe hits the spot: short crust pastry, layered with divine rosemary-infused caramel and topped with dark chocolate mousse. Yum!

I have had this recipe for years, and I don’t even remember where I first found it. It’s a favourite of mine, as it’s relatively easy to make and is a hit with everybody I serve it to.

I will warn you now that butter will be mentioned. A lot. The faint hearted will have to stop reading now. For the rest of you, here’s what you will need to create this delight:

For the sweet short crust pastry

225g all purpose/plain flour (I used type 00 pasta flour)

110g cold butter, cubed

25g fine or caster sugar

1 egg, beaten

A little milk to bind

This Combination can only end well

This Combination can only end well

For the rosemary caramel

175g unsalted butter

1 x 397 tin sweetened condensed milk

4 tbsp golden syrup

2 fresh rosemary sprigs

1 tsp sea salt

For the chocolate topping

140g unsalted butter

150g dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids)

8 tbsp cocoa powder

4 eggs

200g golden caster sugar

3 tbsp golden syrup

3 tbsp crème fraîche

Pinch of salt

Some whipped cream to serve.

Start by getting your pastry ready. Sift the flour into a large bowl and then flake the butter cubes onto the flour by rubbing it between your fingers. Work the butter into the flour – the mixture should resemble breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, egg and a splash of milk and quickly work the mixture into a dough ball. Try not to overwork it.

Alternatively you can prepare the dough in a food processor by mixing the flour, butter and sugar in the bowl of the processor on a pulse setting. When the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, add the milk, slowly, through the funnel until the dough comes together in a ball.

Shortcrust Pastry

Speed is of the Essence

(Another alternative would be to use shop bought pastry. Your secret is safe with me.)

Wrap your ball of dough in cling film and place it in the fridge for thirty minutes.

Whilst it’s tempting to start on the other layers while you are waiting for the pastry to chill, don’t do it. Things will get messy. The pastry is chilling, so do the same.

After thirty minutes, grease a loose-bottomed tart case and preheat your oven to 190 Degrees C. Dust a clean work surface with flour, remove your dough from the fridge, unwrap and roll it out on the work surface. Again, try not to overwork it. You don’t want the dough to get too warm before you bake it.

Place the rolled out dough into your tart case, carefully pushing it into the ridges around the side, and prick it a few times with a fork. Cut out a circle of greaseproof paper, large enough to cover the pastry. Pour in baking beans and blind bake your pastry for about 20 to 25 minutes.

I forgot the greaseproof Paper once. Not a Mistake you make twice.

Once it’s golden, remove it from the oven, pour the baking beans into a heatproof container (careful, they are hot – and tend to roll away), remove the greaseproof paper and put the pastry back for a few minutes to get it golden and add a nice crunch.

Once your pastry is done, turn the oven down to 180 Degrees C and leave your pastry to cool. Do not remove it from its case!

Now move on to the caramel. Using a large non-stick saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat for a few minutes then add the condensed milk, syrup, rosemary and salt. Keep the heat low and whisk continuously as this can stick/burn easily, so keep an eye on it. Simmer slowly for ten minutes, stirring, until thickened and golden brown.

Ahhhh....pure Gold

Ahhhh….pure Gold

Strain the caramel mixture through a sieve to remove the rosemary, then spread over the blind-baked tart case.

You need to try this. Trust me.

You absolutely have to sample this. Trust me.

This will smell amazing, and the temptation is to dip your finger into the caramel. Listen to somebody who has done just that – don’t do it. It’s about a gazillion degrees. Just reserve a bit in a little espresso cup for you to enjoy once it has cooled. It’s worth trying the caramel on its own, it really is. And hard work should be rewarded.

Okay, so now on to the chocolate topping.

Can highly recommend this for Baking

Can highly recommend this for Baking

Place the butter, chocolate, cocoa powder and a pinch of salt in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and allow to melt slowly. Keep an eye on it!

That's your Calcium and Phenylethylamine sorted for the Day

That’s your Calcium and Phenylethylamine sorted for the Day

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until well creamed (I beat the egg whites separately). Add the syrup and crème fraîche.

Cool the chocolate slightly and then stir into the sugar and egg mixture. Pour the mixture into your pastry case, on top of your caramel layer.

I love this so much I want to frame it :-)

I love this so much I want to frame it 🙂

There’s a lot there, so be careful not to overfill the pastry case. As with the caramel, reserve some chocolate for the chef. But please remember there are raw eggs in this.

Your Tart should look something like this before it goes into the Oven

Your Tart should look something like this before it goes into the Oven

Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes. At some point the chocolate will completely balloon, then sink and probably crack. All fine. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

...and something like this after it has come out of the Oven.

…and something like this after it has come out of the Oven.

The chocolate has a mousse-like consistency whilst the tart is still fresh. After a few hours (and certainly the following day) it will become more dense. Tastes just as good, though.

Heaven

Heaven

I once sprayed the chocolate with gold spray, and that was a pretty effect. You might want to give that a go. Alternatively dust with icing sugar, or simply leave as it is.

Now *this* is Dessert. Keep the Fruit Salad.

Now *this* is Dessert. Keep the Fruit Salad.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and enjoy with a good cup of coffee. Hope you love it as much as I do. Enjoy 🙂

love, lou x

Delightfully chewy Lemon Cookies (using the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough)

We are not far off from the first day of April, yet here I am in the lounge with the heating on full blast and socks so thick they would be warm enough for mountaineers. Oh, this cold is miserable! I was going to do a lipstick post, but then I had a real urge for something indulgent and baked some cookies for my blog (and my frozen self) instead.

I made Bakerella’s Oreo stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies last Saturday, which were absolutely delightful. Oreos aside, they were the perfect chocolate chip cookies, so quintessentially American. They were soft, chewy and with a slight hint of caramel. The dough itself was utterly irresistible. It was exactly how cookie dough should be – the type you get in a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.

I wanted to make the same dough today and bake some yummy cookies without the Oreos. Sadly, there were no chocolate chips in the house. I did strongly consider chopping up my Lindt bunny, but couldn’t bring myself to do that. So I used some lemon zest instead. And they turned out great.

Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees Celcius, line a tray with baking paper and get your ingredients together. Here’s what you’ll need for 14 super sized cookies:

225g butter, at room temperature

130g soft brown sugar

170g golden caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

440g flour (I used self-raising)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

My Salt Mill didn't make an Effort and was omitted from the Shoot

My Salt Mill didn’t make an Effort and was omitted from the Shoot

Beat the butter in a stand mixer until creamy. Then add the sugar and vanilla extract and whisk until the mixture is light and fluffy. Grate the zest into it, add the eggs and continue to whisk.

If you fancy a stronger Lemon Flavour add some Lemon Juice

If you fancy a stronger Lemon Flavour add some Lemon Juice

Combine your dry ingredients (flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda) and sift into a bowl. With the whisk still going, gradually add your flour mixture to your butter mixture.

The result will be quite a wet and sticky dough. It should resemble something like this:

One for me, one for the Tray...

One for me, one for the Tray…

Using your hands, form the dough into snow ball shaped balls. I wanted my cookies big and chewy, so I used a decent amount for each cookie and didn’t bother patting them flat.

Cookie Dough Ball

Check your cookies after about 11 minutes to make sure they are not burning. I took mine out after 13 minutes – they had turned golden brown at that point. They will be very soft when you take them out of the oven but don’t worry, that settles as they cool. Don’t let them cool too much, though. These really are best eaten warm.

Baked Cookies

These cookies have a delicate crunch to them and a soft, chewy and thick centre. So scrumptious! Keep them in resealable food bags so they stay nice and soft. Must remember to put chocolate chips on my shopping list for the next batch 🙂

Sooooo yummy

Sooooo yummy

Have a great week-end happy Easter

love, lou x

Super smooth & super tasty – Marmalade & Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (and no Ice Cream Maker needed!)

My past home made ice cream efforts have never resulted in anything other than one solid, inedible block of ice. Lacking any creaminess associated with good quality ice cream, they invariably end up in the kitchen sink, melting into a pitiful sludge of ice crystals. That is, until I tried the most wonderful (and foolproof) ice cream recipe ever, courtesy of the imaginative Nigel Slater.

February might seem an odd month to have a go at making ice cream, but the recipe really caught my eye when I was perusing Nigel’s ‘Kitchen Diaries II’. It was a definite ‘gotta try this one right now’ moment. I practically raced to the supermarket before the ink on my shopping list was dry! Plus, I quite enjoy ice cream any time of the year. Especially after a spicy meal, a scoop of cool, dairy creaminess is the perfect finish.

This one is quite an unusual combination, and certainly the first time I had come across marmalade ice cream. The marmalade, by the way, is what gives this ice cream its beautifully soft consistency. What I didn’t know was that glucose prevents ice cream from turning into a solid block. In this recipe, the marmalade does the trick. And it really works amazingly well.

Here’s what you’ll need. Simplicity at its best.

500ml whipping cream

4 egg yolks

2 tablespoons caster sugar

400g marmalade (I used one with finely sliced orange zest in it)

100g dark chocolate (or not so dark, depending on your preference)

Start by bringing the cream to the boil. Whilst it’s heating, beat the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl until thick (I used a stand mixer).

Pour in the hot cream and stir. Rinse the saucepan you used for the cream, pour the egg and cream mixture into it and stir over a low heat until it starts to thicken. The custard won’t become really thick, but you will definitely be able to see the difference.

Whilst your custard is heating, fill your sink with cold water (shallow enough for your saucepan) and throw in a few ice cubes for good measure. Keep an eye on your custard! You don’t want it to boil over.

When the custard is ready, take it off the heat and plunge the saucepan into the cold water, whilst stirring continuously. Careful not to get any water into the pan! Chill thoroughly.

Stir the marmalade into the chilled custard, then pour the mixture and the chopped chocolate into a freezer box (I used a Tupperware container with a lid) and place it into the freezer. Remove from the freezer every hour or so and give it a quick whisk until the mixture has set.

I made the ice cream quite late in the evening, and only repeated this process twice. I was stirring my (worryingly un-set) mixture at eleven o’clock and decided to put it back in the freezer and just go to bed. I thought this would result in another failed effort at making ice cream, however…I woke up the following morning to perfect soft scoop ice cream. Yay!! Not only was it soft and smooth, but it tasted heavenly. The slight sharpness of the orange peel, the smoothness of the cream and the texture of the chocolate chips all made for pretty much the best ice cream I have ever tasted!

I'm even using a scoop, not a chisel!

I’m even using a scoop, not a chisel!

IMG_5898

This is for demonstration only. I ate most of the ice cream straight out of the container

I urge you to try this recipe. You will not be disappointed. And not only will you not be able to stop smiling after you’ve tried this delight, but you will also feel rather smug about creating something to rival any shop bought ice cream. Your friends will be impressed – and nobody needs to know how easy peasy this actually was 🙂

love, lou x

Simple, zesty & scrumptious – Lemon & Thyme Cake

Some days are just perfect baking days and Saturday was exactly that. The skies were gray and there was enough drizzle to make the indoor warmth hard to part with. I was watching Nigel Slater’s ‘Simple Suppers’ where he whisked together a very moist and delicious looking lemon cake with an interesting twist – thyme. I immediately decided to give it a go.

Now, I’m all for decadent tortes with chocolate ganache and crème anglaise filled profiteroles, but you really cannot beat a good old-fashioned loaf cake. As I have said before, simple pleasures really are the best and this cake is easy peasy indeed. It’s also great to be able to knock up a yummy coffee time treat without having to barricade yourself in the kitchen for an entire day.

So, here’s what you’ll need:

200g/7oz butter 

200g/7oz golden caster sugar 

100g/3½oz plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

100g/3½oz ground almonds

4 free-range eggs

1 lemon, zest only

1 tsp thyme leaves

2 tsp vanilla sugar (this one’s mine)

For the topping

4 tbsp sugar

2 large lemons, juice only

½ tsp thyme leaves

Once again, I have used my own method and separated the eggs. I know, I know….I just can’t help it. But it really works every time and I swear it makes the cake extra fluffy. So just go with it. It will be fine 🙂 In an act of selflessness I have also swapped the ground almonds for flour and have used 200g of flour (instead of 100g flour and 100g ground almonds). Selfless because I adore almonds but my husbands hates them. The things you do for love. Sigh.

Start by preheating your oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3 and line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.

Separate your eggs and whisk your egg whites with the vanilla sugar until they start forming peaks. Cream your butter and with the food mixer (or blender) still going add the sugar until well combined. Slowly mix in the egg yolks one by one.

Make sure your butter and sugar mixture is creamed really well before adding the yolks

Keep your food mixer (or blender) going but turn down the speed. Then, using a spoon, add the egg whites little by little. Make sure the egg whites are well combined, but don’t overdo the mixing.

Grate the zest from the lemon and mix it with the thyme leaves. Pound the two together with a pestle, or some other heavy weight, and stir into the cake mixture.

In ancient times, Thyme was used to medicate bandages. So it had medicinal purposes. Which makes this cake health food.

Sift the flour and the baking powder into a bowl and combine with the almonds.

Slowly mix the flour, baking powder and almonds into the cake mixture.  Your mixture should be really fluffy. It also tastes good. Taste it.

Sooooo creamy and fluffy

Spoon your cake mixture into the loaf tin and bake for about forty minutes. It should feel springy to the touch  – insert a toothpick and if it comes out clean it means your cake is done.

For the topping, dissolve the sugar in the juice of the lemons over a moderate heat and stir in the thyme leaves (a few flowers would be good here, too). Once your cake is done, spike the surface with a skewer and spoon over the syrup.

One drizzle away from coffee and cake happiness

The cake is airy, zesty and the thyme adds a very subtle aromatc twist.

This filled my kitchen with a lovely lemon scent

Fluffy and ready to go onto my plate. And into my tummy.

It’s also super moist and leaves you with sticky fingers. Enjoy 🙂

love, lou x

Chocolate Heaven – Brooklyn Blackout Cake

I have been feeling rather uninspired over the past couple of days. I knew I wanted to bake something, but I just wasn’t sure what. Inspiration came to me this morning in the supermarket, in the form of Annie Bell’s Brooklyn Blackout Cake in the October edition of Waitrose Kitchen. The picture of the cake looked so decadent and chocolaty that is was pretty much begging me to try it out. It had me at “hello.”

I had never heard of a Brooklyn Blackout Cake before, but a) it has Brooklyn in the title and I’m already super excited about going to New York next week and b) if you are going to have a blackout, then surely a chocolate one is the one to have. Sounds good to me.

Thick chocolate custard is sandwiched between layers of chocolate cake and the whole extravaganza is covered with cake crumbs, which make the ‘blackout’ part. It will take a bit of time and a messy kitchen to bake (beware, those crumbs get everywhere!), but it’s definitely worth it.

There are two parts to this recipe, the custard filling and the cake. Here’s what you will need:

Custard Filling

  • 75g cornflour
  • 600ml whole milk
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g unsalted butter, diced

Hershey’s Cocoa is now available in the UK. Yay!

Cake

  • 180g unsalted butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 280 plain flour
  • 200ml whole milk
  • 1 sachet of vanilla sugar (my own addition)

My Vanilla Sugar always finds its way in. Sneaky little Thing.

Here’s how:

Start with your filling, as it will need to cool before you assemble your cake. Blend the cornflour with 200ml milk until smooth. In a medium sized saucepan, bring the remaining milk to the boil with the sugar, syrup and cocoa, whisking until smooth.

Keep whisking, and don’t leave the mixture unattended as it has a tendency to clump fairly quickly. Add the cornflour and milk mixture and bring to the boil, stirring constantly until you have a rich, thick custard.

This requires such vigorous Whisking you can skip the Gym without Guilt today.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and butter, stirring until it melts. The mixture should be thick, smooth and glossy. If it still seems lumpy, whizz it in a food processor. Pour into a large bowl, cover with cling film and set aside to cool.

Gooey, thick and insanely good. You’d be a Fool not to try this with a big Spoon.

Preheat the oven to 190 Degrees C, grease two 20cm loose-bottomed cake tins and line them with baking parchment. According to the recipe, the cake tins should be at least 5 cm deep – mine were 4 cm deep and worked fine.

Separate your eggs and whisk the egg whites with the vanilla sugar until they form peaks. Cream the butter and sugar together in a food processor, then add the egg yolks one by one. Slowly fold in the egg whites and mix until they are incorporated. Add the vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.

Sift together the dry ingredients and add them half at a time to the mixture.

You can also sift the dry Ingredients directly into the Bowl. Works just as well.

Finally, add the milk with the motor running.

The final step to whipped Yumminess

The result should be a whipped mousse – which, by the way, tastes amazing!

Spoon needed.You will regret it if you don’t.

Divide the batter between the two tins, smooth down and bake between 30 and 40 minutes.

Could also be served as is.

My cakes were done after 30 minutes and would have started to burn after that, so keep an eye on them. A skewer inserted into the cakes should come out clean.

Once the cakes are cold, slice each one in half lengthways using a bread knife. To make the blackout, whizz one of the top halves to crumbs in a food processor.

The crowning Glory

To assemble the cake, leave one of the cake bases on the tin base. Place on a wire rack set over a sheet of foil (to catch excess custard and crumbs) and spread with a quarter of the custard, taking it almost to the rim.

Step one of assembling the Cake. So far, so good.

Sandwich with the remaining cake base and spread another quarter of the custard over the surface.

Still holding…

Top with the last layer of custard and use the rest of the custard to coat the top and sides.

And it keeps holding…

Smothered in Chocolate. All good.

To finish, liberally coat the whole cake with the crumbs and transfer to a serving plate.

With Hindsight I really should have put some Kitchen Foil under the cake. Crumbs *everywhere*

Chill for at least a couple of hours and remove from the fridge 15-30 minutes before eating.

It’s heavy. It’s high. It rocks.

I will post an updated picture once I have cut into the cake, but having tasted the individual components, I will say now that this is probably the best chocolate cake in the world! It’s not too sweet, just rich, full of chocolate and utterly indulgent. It’s a serious chocolate fix – simply divine! 🙂

love, lou x

And here’s the update, a few hours later. This is the perfect chocolate cake and absolutely scrumptious! My husband doesn’t even like chocolate cake and he loved it. It’s not too heavy, not too sweet, but has a true chocolate flavour. The different textures work really well. The first bite makes you fall into a state of bliss. Heavenly 🙂

20120928-212444.jpg

White Chocolate & Mascarpone Tart with Fresh Berries

We had an unusually warm Saturday last week-end and we were able to enjoy a great BBQ with friends. I said I’d bring the dessert and after hours of deliberating on what to bake, I decided to merge two recipes.

I have a real soft spot for creamy fillings and shortcrust pastry and this gorgeous dessert brings the two beautifully together. Fresh berries, mint leaves and chocolate curls are its crowning glory and the slight tartness of the berries provides the perfect balance for the indulgently sweet filling.

The shortcrust pastry is a recipe from Jamie Oliver and the rest is a variation of a recipe scribbled on an old piece of paper. You will need a little bit of time to make this, but it’s not terribly complicated and makes a fantastic tart. It’s full on indulgence – and so worth it.

Here’s what you will need:

For the shortcrust pastry:

• 500g organic plain flour, plus extra for dusting

• 100g icing sugar, sifted

• 250g good-quality cold butter, cut into small cubes

• zest of 1 lemon

• 2 large free-range or organic eggs, beaten

• a splash of milk  & a bit of vanilla essence

You will also need baking beans to blind bake the pastry.

The basis of all good things in life, right here

Please note that this yields quite a bit of dough. I used a regular, loose bottomed 10”/25cm tart case and had a fair amount left over. Not sure there’s enough there for two regular sized tarts, but you can definitely get two mini ones out of the remaining dough.

For the filling and topping:

450g mascarpone

227ml double cream

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out

200g white chocolate (I used Green & Black’s – it’s gorgeous)

50g white chocolate for the curls

Fresh strawberries & raspberrries (you can pile them as high as you like)

Fresh mint

With the amount of Fruit, this is practically Health Food 🙂

Here’s how:

Let’s start with the shortcrust pastry. I know people often cave in and opt for the shop-bought variety, but it really is worth making your own. This is the first time I had a go at it and it worked out really well. Just follow the recipe, keep cool (literally) and you will have a pastry to be proud of!

Okay, you will need a decent amount of clean space on your worktop. Start by sifting the flour onto your work surface. Make sure you sift it from a height, so you incorporate as much air as possible. Next, repeat with the icing sugar. Again, make sure plenty of air goes in. Be prepared for a sweet dust cloud in your kitchen!

Let it snow!

Your hands should be as cold as possible for the next step. Jamie’s tip is to run them under cold water, dry them off and get to work. I held a tray of ice cubes for a few seconds. Work the cold butter cubes into the flour and icing sugar by rubbing your thumbs and fingers together. Eventually you will end up with a fine and crumbly mixture. It will happen – be patient.

The Butter should be one cool Cucumber

You will find this oddly satisfying 🙂

Add your lemon zest as you go along. I didn’t use the entire zest, as I didn’t want the lemon to be too overpowering.

Adjust according to Taste

In a bowl, whisk the eggs with a fork, then add a splash of milk and the vanilla. Pour this onto your mixture and quickly work everything together – before the eggs trickle away from you!

Work quickly, or you will have to wipe down your Kitchen Units

You will need to lightly flour the dough as it comes together, so you end up with a smooth ball. It’s important not to overwork the dough! As soon as you have your smooth dough, pat it down so it’s flat and round, dust with a bit of flour, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge. It will need to rest for at least half an hour.

If your Dough looks similar to this, you’re on the right Way

Now you can get to work on the filling. To start off with, whisk your double cream with the vanilla seeds.

Cream. Vanilla. Excellent.

Spoon about 100g of the mascarpone into a heatproof bowl and add the 200g of white chocolate chunks. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir whilst the chocolate is melting.

Grab a Piece of Chocolate. Nobody will notice.

You should end up with a glossy and smooth mixture.

Almost done…

Take off the heat and quickly whisk in the remaining mascarpone. Then add your double cream and briefly whisk in a food processor.

Now comes a very important step. Pick up a large spoon and try some of the filling. Just to make sure it’s alright, of course. If in doubt – try again 🙂 Place your filling in the fridge and leave to cool.

Yum

Preheat your oven to 190 Degrees C and grease your tart case. Once your pastry has sufficiently chilled, remove the cling film and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. When you have a big enough circle, roll the pastry up with your rolling pin and roll it out onto your tart case. Gently push the dough into the case, making sure you take it up to the edge for your crust.

With hindsight this was probably a bit chunkier than necessary. But, hey.

Cut a circle out of greaseproof paper and place it on top of your pastry before filling the case with baking beans.

There are 516 baking Beans here. Not sure what compelled me to count them.

Bake in the oven for about thirty minutes. The pastry should be golden and have a bit of a crunch.

Leave your pastry to cool, then spoon in the mascarpone and white chocolate filling and smooth it down. Get your berries (making sure they are not wet after you have rinsed them), and arrange them on top, pushing them gently into the filling.

To make your chocolate curls, get the remaining white chocolate, hold the flat side of a sharp knife against the surface and gently  – and carefully – start scraping until curls are forming. Scatter them on top of the berries.

My first sweet Shortcrust Pastry – so proud 🙂

Just before serving, decorate your tart with fresh mint leaves and a dusting of icing sugar. And there you have it.

Tah-Dah!

My friend Uta’s lovely kitchen was the perfect Backdrop

Four happy Tummies later…

Rich, luscious and sweet  – a slice of happy. Enjoy! 🙂

love, lou x

Easy Peasy Apple Crumble

Happy Friday! It’s time for a little recipe post and even though summer calls for sorbets, fruit tarts and ice cream pies, I am going to throw you a curve with full out comfort food. After all, August (especially in the UK) doesn’t mean you can’t wake up to a grey and rainy day that is just perfect for sitting on the sofa eating a warm, cinnamon scented apple crumble out of a big bowl. I do know how much I complain about the weather, by the way. But living here, you’d be hard pushed not to.

So, my humble apple crumble. It’s so simple and fast to make, yet utterly satisfying to eat. With just a few ingredients and about fifteen minutes to spare you can have a dish of pure comfort in the oven. The recipe I used is from the BBC Good Food website, but I skipped the raisins and didn’t really have the required amount of apples. I just used the three apples that had been bored senseless in my fruit bowl for the last week. I’m sure they were happy I made something so yummy with them. Even with a thin layer of apples the crumble was absolutely delicious. It was just more of an apple double crumble.

Also, the recipe says you can add either butter of margarine. But I don’t really get the whole margarine thing, so it was butter for me.

Here’s what you will need:

For the crumble

100g of rolled oats

100g of plain flour

75g of brown sugar

100 grams of cool butter, cut into chunks

For the apple filling:

800g of cooking apples, peeled and quartered

100g of caster sugar (I only used 50g for my three apples)

4 tablespoons of lemon juice (I used a whole lemon, but it worked out well)

1 tea spoon cinnamon (love cinnamon, so added way more)

(75g raisins)

Here’s how:

Preheat the oven to 190.C/375.F/gas 5. Put your apple chunks into a pan along with the sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon and leave to cook until they are soft. If you are using raisins, add these once the apples are cooked and leave to simmer on a low heat for another two minutes. Pour the mixture into a large baking dish.

No, its not the world’s biggest pan. It really was a pitiful amount of apples.

In the meantime, place the ingredients for the crumble into a food processor and whiz together until you have a, well, crumbly mixture. I also added cinnamon to the mixture. Told you I loved cinnamon! If you don’t have a food processor, put the flour, oats and sugar into a bowl, then rub in the butter, making sure you don’t have large chunks of butter left.

My butter wasn’t cool, so it was more blobs than chunks. No big deal.

You now have two choices. You either try a bit of the crumble mixture and risk eating the whole lot, or you stay well away from it. Up to you. Worst case you’ll end up with a tummy full of raw crumble and a dish with some stewed apples in it 🙂

Tastes heaps better than it looks

Place the crumble on top of the apple mixture, smooth over and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the crumble has a nice bite to it. Done.

This really has to be eaten warm to be enjoyed. Traditionally it is served with custard, but if you want to keep it summery, you can always add a big dollop of ice cream. I used single cream (anything creamy will do, really) and it was delicious.

It’s true what they say about simple pleasures – they really are the best ones. Enjoy 🙂

love, lou x