Tuesday, November 30

chocolate hazelnut tart

Sometimes, life just gets in the way. I'm into my second week of a new job in a new city. I've reminded myself of how to utilise public transport again after I broke up with buses over ten years ago. I'm also doing surprisingly well navigating the roads without GPS! November certainly was a month of new experiences. And now a mere three hours away from December, I am left with no more excuses. So over the weekend, I finally test drove my 'new' oven.  I think it's the beginning of a good relationship.

In my absence in both baking and blogging, I've still been hoarding recipes - magazines and cookbooks aplenty have been covered in post-it notes and ideas squirreled away for a moment when I finally had time to myself. One book full of many recipes such as these has been delicious' "More Please". Broken into seasons - much like another of my favourite cookbooks from the past year or so - it's overflowing with must-try recipes, both sweet and savoury... And takes a lot of wow factor for me to lust over a savoury recipe. First cab off the rank is this modest hazelnut tart.

My grandmother used to make a delicious peanut & caramel slice which I still often crave - and this tart is like a modern day version of that very slice, with the very welcome addition of dark chocolate. It's simple to make, especially if you are willing to pay a little more and buy the Careme pastry (which is truly delicious). Be aware it does take a while to set post-oven. I ended up chilling mine a little out of impatience.

Recipe from "delicious. More Please"

300 gm packet Careme dark chocolate shortcrust pastry (or see delicious for a basic chocolate pastry recipe)
1 cup thickened cream
60 gms unsalted butter
1/4 cup glucose syrup
1 cup caster sugar
2 1/3 cups hazelnuts, roasted and skins removed
50 gms dark chocolate

Allow pastry to thaw (approximately 1 - 2 hours at room temperature) and then roll out to 5mm thick. Line a 28cm loose-bottomed tart pan with your rolled pastry and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 180C.

Line the pastry with baking paper, fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice and blind bake for ten minutes. Remove baking paper and bake for a further five minutes until pastry has dried. Leave to cool while you make the filling.

Place the cream and butter in a small saucepan pan over medium heat and bring to just below boiling point. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place the glucose syrup and 1/3 cup water in a medium saucepan, then sprinkle with the sugar. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is clear.
Increase the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until a golden honey colour. Remove from the heat, then carefully whisk the cream mixture into the toffee - it will foam up a little. Return the pan to a low heat and stir to dissolve any hard toffee bits. Add the nuts and cook for a minute. Pour the mixture into the tart shell and bake for about 20 minutes until the tart filling is firm. Remove from the oven and cool before removing from tin.

Just before serving, melt the chocolate and drizzle over the tart.

Recommended baking soundtrack: Andrew Bird - Useless Creatures. 

Thursday, November 11

frangelico tiramisu

The past few weeks have been filled with a birth, a death, a job offer, a subsequent resignation from a six-year long job, and now packing for a move. To say I have felt overwhelmed would be an understatement. I am not one who handles change very well as it always seems to sneak up on me, violently arriving, slapping me around. I wouldn't say I'm resistant to change, but that I like to be able to anticipate it, be prepared for it - even if that preparation is merely mental. It doesn't really make any sense, but having the time to think about what's coming tricks me into believing I am then, as a result of pondering, ready and able. There are few things that console me when I'm freaking out, but routine is one of them. So how can I get a sense of routine when my whole world is blurring past at a frantic pace? I can bake.

I recently got a copy of Nigella Lawson's Kitchen, but up until yesterday, hadn't even opened it's pages. This is not like me. So flicking through it yesterday in an attempt to console myself, I found a recipe that was absolutely perfect for mood, my busy schedule, and my small amount of kitchen supplies that haven't found it's way to a taped-up box. Tiramisu. A booooozy tiramisu.

This recipe really is a breeze, barely involving any effort at all. Aside from the six hour rest period, it took me about ten minutes to make. This, in combination with my usual skepticism about tiramisu, I wasn't so certain the result would be anything but ordinary - but I was pleasantly surprised. The espresso flavour (though made slightly weaker than suggested due to a low supply of coffee!) is made even more rich by a whole cup of Frangelico. So if you do have this liqueur sitting in a cabinet, like I did, it's a great way to use it up quite quickly.

Ingredients (serves 12, or fills a 24cm square dish)
Recipe from Nigella Lawson's 'Kitchen'

250 mls espresso coffee (or 8 tsp of good quality espresso powder dissolved in 250 mls boiling water)
250 mls Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
30 (about about 375 gms) savoiardi biscuits (approximately)

2 eggs, separated
75 gms caster sugar
500 gms mascarpone
60 mls Frangelico (extra)
100 gms chopped roasted and skinned hazelnuts
3 tsp cocoa powder

Combine the coffee and 250 mls Frangelico in a jug, stir to combine and allow to cool slightly.

Beat the egg whites until frothy. In a separate bowl, beat the yolks, sugar and extra 60 mls Frangelico until sugar dissolves. Add the mascarpone, beating well to combine. Then, fold the egg whites into mascarpone mixture, mixing until well combined.

Pour half the coffee-liqueur mixture into a shallow bowl. Dunk enough biscuits to cover the bottom of your dish in the mixture - ensure they absorb some liquid but beware they will fall apart quite quickly! Pour any leftover liquid over biscuit layer.

Put half the mascarpone mixture on top of the soaked biscuit layer and spread evenly.

Pour the remaining coffee-liqueur mixture into the shallow bowl and make another, final layer of biscuits, dipping as before and layering on top of the mascarpone in your dish. Again, pour any remaining liquid over the biscuit layer, and cover with the final layer of mascarpone mixture.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

When ready to serve, mix the chopped hazelnuts with 2 tsp cocoa. Sprinkle over your tiramisu, then dust with a final tsp of cocoa powder, pushing it through a sieve for lighter coverage over, as Nigella puts it, the "nut-rubbly tiramisu". She has such a way with words.

Nigella helpfully adds that this can be kept refrigerated for up to four days in total. Alternatively, it can be kept in the freezer sans hazelnut-cocoa mix within a layer of plastic wrap and foil for up to three months! It can then be defrosted in the fridge overnight. This would be such a good idea if I had freezer space...

This is definitely a recipe I will come back to, much to the delight of my better half. It's smooth and rich, and the booze hits quite hard, in a good way. It is handy to have the liqueur laying around as I did, however, as I imagine a regular introduction of this dish would also bring a decent dent in my hip pocket. The frothy egg whites also add a particular lightness to it, which I think it really needs.

Recommended baking soundtrack: Belle & Sebastian - Write About Love.