Monday, December 20

peach melba tart

I'm an unashamed Autumn/Winter-person. That doesn't necessarily mean I love extremely cold weather, given a Brisbane Winter hardly reaches below 10C. I do, however, loathe the humidity, squinting, and sunburn that Summer generally involves. As the years pass by, I think I'm becoming more tolerant and can now appreciate more daylight hours. I accept that beautifully thick rhubarb stems are less readily available. I'll even admit that lemon lime & bitters tastes better on a warm Summer's afternoon. But what I really miss during my favourite cooler seasons are raspberries. And peaches. And this Summer, haven't the raspberries been spectacular?

Ingredients (generously serves 6)
Recipe from delicious. More Please

For pastry:
1 2/3 cups plain flour
2 tbsps icing sugar
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
180 gms chilled unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg yolk

For filling:
3 ripe peaches
200 mls pouring (thin) cream
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
2 eggs, plus 1 extra yolk
1/4 cup caster sugar
250 gms raspberries

2 tbsps flaked almonds, toasted
icing sugar, to dust

For the pastry, process flour, icing sugar, vanilla seeds and a pinch of salt in a food processor until there are no lumps. Add the butter and process until sandy. Add the yolk and 1 tbsp chilled water, processing until the mixture comes together in a smooth ball. Remove pastry from food processor (kneeding a little if necessary), cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Grease a 12x35cm loose-bottomed tart pan. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to 3 - 5mm thich and use to line the pan, pressing gently into the base and sides. Trim to fit, then chill for 30mins.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Line pastry with baking paper and fill with pastry weights (or uncooked rice/beans/lentils) and blind bake for ten minutes. Remove weights and baking paper and bake for a further 5 minutes until pastry is golden and dry. Reduce the oven to 170C.

For the filling, blanch the peach halves in a large saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove, allow to cool slightly, peel, then place on some paper towel and gently pat dry.

Heat the cream and vanilla pod and seeds in a saucepan over medium heat until just below boiling point. Gently whisk the eggs and extra yolk with the sugar in a large heatproof bowl. Slowly whisk the hot cream mixture into the whisked eggs. Remove vanilla pod.

Place the peaches, cut side down, in the tart shell and scatter with half the raspberries. Slowly pour the cream mixture into the tart shell, and bake for 30 - 40mins until the custard is set. Cool slightly, then dust with icing sugar and serve with a scattering of flaked almonds.

I freaked out a little in finding that my tart had set so soon - after about 20 minutes! So please keep a good eye on it during the cooking period to avoid the disappointment of over cooked or even burnt custard. delicious also suggest using Careme vanilla bean sweet shortcrust pastry, as they do quite often throughout this book, and doing so would make this simple recipe even quicker. Sounds good to me!

Recommended baking soundtrack: Thee Oh Sees - Warm Slime. 

Tuesday, December 7

turkish delight macarons

I am by no means a health nut. I like gentle exercises: pilates, yoga, swimming... does strolling count? I do fall off the pilates wagon every once in a while and can go through lengthy periods of times without "exercise", but console my inner couch-potato by reminding myself that I have a fairly physical job. But over the weekend, I felt physically unfit for the first time in as long as I can remember... whilst folding a double batch of macarons. Due to an unintentional baking hiatus, I have lost my ability to hand-whip potatoes, whisk cream and most importantly, fold macaron batter the many times it requires to become beautiful and shiny. I pride myself on this ability. I am thoroughly devastated.

Despite my now sore right arm, these are my favourite macarons of the year, largely due to a new oven. Each are sandwiched with a rose infused, whipped dark chocolate ganache, and contain a small bite of turkish delight in the centre.


For macaron shells:
Recipe courtesy of Bubble and Sweet (based on a Pierre Herme recipe)
150 gms ground almonds
150 gms icing sugar
110 gms egg whites, separated into 2 lots of 55 gms
150 gms white sugar
37 gms water
dash pink food colouring

For ganache:
200 gms good quality dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
1/2 cup cream
few drops rosewater
1 - 2 cups icing sugar

About 100 gms turkish delight, chopped into 1cm cubes.

For the macarons, mix the ground almonds and icing sugar together and pulse a few times in food processor to make almond meal finer, being careful not to over-process and release the oil in the almond meal. Sieve into a large bowl. Add colour and 55 gms of the egg whites to the sugar/almond mixture but do not mix in.

Place remaining 55 gms of egg whites in bowl of mixer fitted with the whisk.

Place white sugar and water into saucepan stir to combine and cook without stirring to 118C. Once the mixture reaches 115C start mixing the egg whites on high. Once the sugar syrup reaches 118C remove from heat and immediately pour in a thin stream down the side of the mixer bowl continuing to whisk on high. Continue to whisk the meringue on high until the side of the bowl is only a little warm to touch. The meringue mixture should be beautifully glossy.

Add meringue mixture to almond mixture and using a large spatula fold the mixture together until it starts to shine and forms a ribbon that stays visible for about 30 seconds.

Add the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe in lines onto baking trays lined with baking paper. Tap trays on the bench a few times to eliminate any air bubbles.
Set aside for about 30 minutes or until the macarons have formed a skin that doesn't stick to your finger.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 140C . Bake the macaroons for around 13 to 15 minutes depending on size, they should not be browned. Remove the baking trays and immediately slide off the macarons and the baking paper onto the work surface and let cool completely before removing the shells.

For ganache, finely chop chocolate and place in a the bowl of your electric mixer. Place cream and rosewater in a small saucepan, and heat until it just begins to boil. Pour hot cream over the chopped chocolate, cover with a dinner plate (or saucepan lid, or... anything) and leave for 1 minute. Stir mixture until smooth, and allow to cool for ten minutes. Add 1 cup icing sugar to ganache, and whip using paddle attachment until smooth and slightly lighter in colour. Add more icing sugar until desired consistency - the mixture should just be able to hold its shape when piped, but should also be glossy-- about 1 1/2 cups of sugar should do. 

Place whipped ganache in a piping bag fitted with a plain 1cm tip, and pipe half the macaron shells with a dollop of filling. Top with a piece of turkish delight before sandwiching with remaining halves. 

Macarons are apparently better a couple of days after being filled, and prior to this recipe, I can't say I've really had many lying around after that point to really know the difference. I made these in the evening and had my first taste the morning after and could already taste how the flavour had developed and permeated the shell. So, if you can wait that long, fill them and leave them for at least a few hours, or a day if you are really self disciplined. 

Recommended baking soundtrack: Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can. 

Thursday, December 2

fruit mince brownies

When I saw the December/January issue of delicious displayed in my local newsagent, I felt both utterly elated and sorely disappointed. Elated: the cover is simply gorgeous. Disappointed: I don't have a copy! Elated: So, so many Christmas recipes and gift ideas. Disappointed: If I don't have my copy, and it's already in store, that means my subscription has officially ended. You get the picture.

Of course I bought it straight away, and have since poured over its pages repeatedly since this time last week. I love Christmas desserts that incorporate an element of Christmas cheer into my already favourite sweets. The recipe of last year was Christmas pudding ice cream (again, courtesy of delicious), and this year it's the fruit mince brownie. I plan on making my third batch in a week this coming weekend. I know what you're thinking, but just for the record, I've only had two servings though I could certainly have a lot more.

Ingredients (serves 12 generously)
Recipe courtesy of December/January issue of delicious.

200 gms good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
300 gms brown sugar
250 gms unsalted butter
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cups plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa, plus extra for dusting
1/3 cup fruit mince
1 tsp mixed spice
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 22cm square cake tin and line with baking paper. 

Place chocolate, butter and sugar in a medium saucepan over a low heat, stirring until melted and well combined. Remove from heat and cool slightly. 

Stir in the eggs, followed by all other ingredients and mix until combined. Spread into the tin and bake for 25 minutes until just set. Allow to cool in pan, then dust with cocoa before cutting. 

These are dreamily rich. If you think it will be borderline too rich (what, are you crazy?!), maybe omit the dusting of cocoa. Second time 'round, I upped the quantity of fruit mince, making it closer to 1/2 cup - maybe even more - and they still managed to set fine, but were of course even more moist. You could also increase the amount of mixed spice if you want a truly festive, spicy taste. 

Now I'm dreaming of making fruit mince brownie ice cream! Aaaah!

Recommended baking soundtrack: The 6ths - Hyacinths and Thistles.