Saturday, 31 August 2013

Berry Charlotte

WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO? I am disgusted to hear that the Oxford dictionary has added 'twerking' to their esteemed dictionary. I had always imagined a lengthy process for getting a word put into the Oxford dictionary (something involving Hogwartonian (now they should put that in the dictionary!)-dressed Oxford University English professors having heated debates in leather armchairs beside a crackling fire). It is pretty well respected after all, a source for academics and scholars around the world. Apparently the Oxford dictionary people anticipate doctorates and dissertations on the subject for which a thorough definition of 'twerking' will be required. Lord knows we wouldn't want the 'hip thrusting' angle to be overlooked....

On to the desert goodness. 

This Berry Charlotte is another creation from the beautiful 'Patisserie at Home' book from Will Torrent; a recent purchase that has filled my thoughts with delicate delicious elegance from the moment I read the first page. Homemade lady fingers (so much softer than the shop bought) encase a light electric pink raspberry mousse. And because it is summer we heap berries on top for shop window sophistication. 

Don't be put off by the seemingly intricate method. If you take your time to measure and cut the sponge so it fills the tin snugly and then leave the whole cake overnight in the fridge, you will be singing with delight. Or twerking with delight.... Although that would be pretty weird..... 

Ladyfingers (makes extra which freezes well and would be an excellent base for trifles!)

6 eggs, separated 
350g caster sugar 
350g plain flour 

Raspberry and vanilla mousse 
3 leaves gelatine
250ml single cream 
125ml pureed raspberry 
1 tablespoon of icing sugar 
125g vanilla yogurt 
1 large egg white 
2 1/2 tablespoons of caster sugar 

Start the day before you want to serve 

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC. Measure the height of your 18cm/7inch round springform cake pan (i.e. how tall the cake will be). Take a sheet of greaseproof paper and draw parallel lines the height of the pan. On another sheet of greaseproof draw a circle around the base of the cake tin. This will form your bottom. 
2. Put the egg whites in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk under soft peaks form. Add the sugar and beat until glossy. Gradually sift in the flour and fold gently  with a wooden spoon. Fold in the egg yolks. 
3. Fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe finger shapes on your greaseproof paper between the parallel lines. You should need around twenty. Sprinkle caster sugar on them. 
4. Spread the rest of the mixture onto your circle in a THIN layer (saw as thick as an American pancake). You may have extra mixture. I baked mine as a back up bottom. 
5. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden. Allow to cool completely. 
6. Once cool trim the tops and sides of the ladyfingers so that they are identical in width and height and as tall as the side of the tin. They will have spread a little during baking. Trim the bottom if needed (put you want it to be jammed into the bottom, not loose so don't trim too much), then place in the tin. Line up the ladyfingers around the outside sugar side out. They should be very tightly packed; you may have to squeeze the last one in. 
7. Put the gelatine leaves in cold water to soften for a few minutes. 
8. Beat the cream until soft peaks start to form then refrigerate. 
9. Put the raspberry puree in a saucepan with the icing sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice and heat until hot. Remove from the heat, add the softened gelatine, squeezed of excess water and stir until the gelatine is dissolved. 
10. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the yogurt. If you have Cointreau or raspberry liqueur you can check in 3 tablespoons at this stage. 
11. Whisk the egg white and sugar until glossy and quite stiff. 
12. Fold the egg whites into the yogurt mixture gently and then finally fold in the cream until the mousse is even. 
13. Allow the mousse to cool completely then pour into the ladyfinger lined pan. 
14. Put in the fridge very loosely covered in clingfilm for the night. 
15. The next day pop out of the tin gently using the springform mechanism and top with berries of your choice. 
16. Cut with a hot sharp knife. 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Salted Caramel Chocolate Tarts

People have been talking about getting older a lot recently.

You think you haven't changed but you have. I look at my closest friends and in the last 5 years we have definitely..... matured. The kids are still in there but they have learned plenty in the interim. We have been influenced by all sorts of happenings, the break up's, the hook up's, college and exams, travel, PEOPLE. Because people change people without a doubt... I'm no Dali lama but I have put that piece of the jigsaw together.

Caramel changes nothing. Salted caramel changes everything. If you haven't been there go. Then put bacon in your cookies. Because we're not too old to mix it up every once in a while.

The cheetah pattern comes from tempered chocolate spread onto a chocolate transfer sheet I bought here. Method for tempering chocolate below.

For the pastry "Pate sablee"
200g butter softened
100g icing sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean
finely grated zest of one lemon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
250g plain flour

1. Beat the butter, sugar and salt together until pale- about 5 minutes.
2. Split the vanilla bean lengthways and using the knife at a 45 degree angle scrape the seeds out. Add to the bowl with the lemon zest.
3. With the beaters running, gradually add the eggs mixing until fully incorporated.
4. Gently fold in the flour but do not overwork.
5. Bring the dough together into a bowl with your fingers, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate until needed- at least 2 hours and overnight is preferred. The pastry is very soft so the longer you leave it in the fridge the better.
6. Cut the pastry into six. Roll each piece out and use to cover a tartlet tin. Cut off excess. Cut out squares of greaseproof paper and put inside the tartlet tins. Weigh down with baking beans or rice. Put back in the fridge for a half hour.

For the Tarts
25g dark chocolate

Salted caramel
125g sugar
75ml single cream
1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt

Chocolate ganache
150ml whipped cream
2 tablespoons of butter
pinch of salt
275g dark chocolate

1. Bake the tartlets for 10-15 minutes at 180oC. Lower the temperature to 160oC and remove the tartlets. Remove the greaseproof paper and beans from the tartlet pans and return to the ovven for 5 minutes.
2. Melt the 25g of dark chocolate and brush the inside of the tartlet tins when they are cooled. This will seal the pastry.

For the salted caramel 
3. Heat the cream in a small pan over a gentle heat.
4. Put the sugar in a pan over a low heat. Do not use a teflon pan as the teflon may prevent the sugar from caramelising. Do not stir. It may take 20-30 minutes but keep an eye on it. The sugar will start to melt on the inside but still do not stir. The sugar should turn a deep golden brown- for those with a sugar thermometer that is 320oF -350oF. Stir with a silicone spatula to ensure that all the sugar is dissolved.
5. Add the cream to the caramel a little at a time keeping the pan over a low heat. The caramel will splutter but that is a good sign. Keep stirring if the caramel goes lumpy as you add the cream. It will go smooth with a little heat and constant stirring. Add the vanilla bean seeds. Keep stirring over the heat for another minute or so and then add the butter and salt. Remove from the heat and stir until the butter has melted. You should have a smooth glossy caramel sauce.
6. Allow the caramel to cool for ten minutes and then divide among the six tartlet cases.

For the filling 
7. Put the cream, butter and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour the boiled cream into a heatproof bowl. Add the broken up chocolate. Using a spatula mix a tight circle in the centre of the bowl until the chocolate starts to melt smoothly. Gradually widen the circle until all the chocolate has melted and the ganache is shiny and smooth.
8. Spoon the ganache over the salted caramel and leave to cool overnight at room temperature. Do not put in the fridge as the ganache may go grey.
9. Pop out of the tins and serve with cream.

For the cheetah chocolate transfer sheet 
1. Cut a strip of transfer sheet and place on a big sheet of greaseproof paper with the rough/cocoa butter side up.
2. Melt the chocolate and temper using the 'seeding' method.
3. Put two thirds of your desired amount of chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Do not let the bowl touch the water and don't let the water into the chocolate.
4. Heat the chocolate to 45oC/113oF and measure using a thermometer. If it goes too high take off the heat and allow to cool to the correct temperature. Add in teh reamining third chocolate and continue to stir until it reaches 32oC/89.6 (for dark chocolate), 31oC/87.8F (for milk) and 29-30/84-86 (for white chocolate). Use straightaway before the chocolate cools.
5. Pour onto the chocolate transfer sheet and spread into an even thin layer using a palette knife or spatula. Don't dig at the design.
6. Leave to cool for an hour at room temperature.
7. Turn the transfer sheet around and pull off the plastic sheet. The chocolate should have your design and should be shiny and snap like a cracker.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Lavender Macarons

Lavender reminds me of my holidays in Croatia. Of basking sun and lavender scented islands. Of crystal clear waters and white stone beaches. The islands of Hvar are famous for lavender and the shops all along the coast sell lavender in hand stitched cloth bags. I love it. 

Naturally when I got home I wanted to bust out the culinary lavender I bought to make this lavender shortbread. Lavender is in season now so you can buy some fresh, wash it and grind it up. 
And if you haven't tried lavender before, it is lovely used in small quantities, not soapy at all. 

When you need a little 'posh' in your life pull the macarons out. You'll feel like Kate Middleton pre poop and nappies. 

Make using the Bravetart basic recipe here with 1 tablespoon of lavender ground into the ground almonds and my swiss buttercream recipe here