Puddings, Desserts & Coffee Mornings
This is a quick and easy plum tart using bought puff pastry.
What you need
1 pack of puff pastry - either one pre-rolled sheet or a block that you can roll out
6-8 large plums
Dessertspoon of plain flour to dust surface
Dessertspoon of butter
1 tablespoon of ground almonds
1 tablespoon of ground apricot kernels
4 tablespo0ns of caster sugar
2 tablespoons of apricot jam or a berry jam (but remove seeds from latter)
2 tablespoons of water
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Bring your puff pastry to somewhere between chilled and room temperature. Dust your surface with a little plain flour and roll out a sheet of puff pastry, 0.5cm thick - the same thickness as that of a pre-rolled sheet.
Place it on a greased baking tray and scatter 2tablespoons of caster sugar, 1 tablespoon of ground almonds and 1 tablespoon of caster sugar across it.
Leaving the skins on, slice your plums into eighths and order in rows so they overlap slightly.
Scatter another 2 tablespoons of caster sugar on top and bake fopr around 30-40 minutes until the plums soft and the pastry cooked.
Once the tart has cooled, glaze it by mixing a couple of tablespoons of jam with a couple of water over a low heat then paint the plums.
Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and an Earl Grey tea.
Makes one large tart.
Milanese Lemon Souffle
My husband is a true sentamentalist and keeps (hoards) everything. One example is a map I drew on a post-it note of how to get to the tube from my flat in London the first time he stayed over. Something I treasure less is a felt tip painting he bought from a lady in Bangkok, drawn with an undisclosed part of her anatomy. Needless to say this has not been hung in our family home. One thing for which I am grateful however is his grandmother's handwritten recipe book containing this Milanese lemon soufflé. More of a mousse than a traditional baked soufflé, it contains gelatin which has become increasingly fashionable to cook with as more and more health benefits emerge. It apparently stops hair loss, reduces cellulite, aids digestion, increases joint mobility and, less relevant to cooking, is used by synchronised swimmers to keep their hair in place underwater. Back to the recipe, here it is, verbatim from his grandmother's book. We enjoyed it as a lighter alternative to Christmas pudding on Christmas Day.
What you need:
2 large lemons
4 eggs separated
3-4 sheets of gelatin
1/4 gill (pint) of water
4 oz caster sugar
I adore those American store bought peanut butter cups, but they are not exactly oozing in nutrition. Here is a healthier version, using the finest dark chocolate and a filling of almond butter, dates, goji berries and agave syrup. Almonds are nutritionally superior to peanuts, goji berries will keep you alive for hundreds of years, according to Chinese legend, and agave syrup has a lower GI than refined sugar. (Let's conveniently forget about the calorific value of a date or indeed the whole thing). Good to give away as pressies if you can resist eating the lot before hand.
What you need:
250g of good dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
60g of almond butter (or another nut butter). Buy these on iherb, or try their exciting new sprouted almond butter!
20g goji berries
Blanched almonds, walnuts or rock salt to garnish
Miniature cupcake or candy cases
Take half of the chocolate, break it into small pieces and melt it very slowly using a bain marie. No need for any fancy apparatus, simply use a pyrex bowl sitting over a saucepan of simmering water. Once melted, put around 2 teaspoons of the hot chocolate into each small cupcake case, tilting it so it coats the sides a little - no need to go all the way up to the top. Place these all in the freezer to harden.
Put the almond butter, dates, goji berries and tablespoon of agave into the small section of the mixer (baby mouli would probably work well) and blend until you have a putty type mixture. Make little balls that you can press into discs. Once your chocolate cups have hardened in the freezer, place a disc of the nut butter mixture on top and return to freezer.
Melt the remaining chocolate in a bain marie, as before, then put another 2 teaspoons of melted chocolate on top of the disc, tilting it for even coverage and a flat top. Let it harden a little in the freezer before putting your garnish of choice on top, be it a bit of almond, walnut, rock salt or a goji berry. Place back in the freezer to harden then refrigerate until required.
Makes 12 but we lost a few before the photo was taken due to "testing"...
Almond Goji Cups
What you need:
20 digestive biscuits
2 handfuls of flaked almonds
300ml of whipped cream
3 firm bananas
100g of unsalted butter
450g of dulce de leche (this is hard to come by in HK, but you can buy it in the restaurant Tango in Wyndham St. You can save a lot of money by making your own if you stick 2 cans of condensed milk in your rice cooker and cook on the congee setting for 90 minutes, OR boil a couple of cans in a pan of water for a c0uple of hours. )
Serves 10-12 people
This is an excellent use of the very sweet and small Filipino bananas.
Put your 20 digestive biscuits in a ziplock bag and smash them with a rolling pin until it resembles fine crumbs.
Melt the butter slowly in pan then add the biscuit crumbs and mix together thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
Put the mixture into the base of a shallow round dish and pat down hard so it covers the base completely. Put in the fridge to harden for at least 4 hours, preferably over night.
Smear the dulce de leche all over the base, then a layer of sliced bananas.
Whip the cream then spoon onto the banana layer.
Toast your almonds by dry frying the flaked almonds. Scatter on top with some gratings of chocolate. Serve. This also tastes great the next day.
Gluten Free Beetroot & Chocolate Brownies
What you need:
250g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids). I used Lindt.
100g butter, plus more to grease the tin
250g cooked beetroot - I roasted 2 large beets
150g coconut sugar (for bittersweet taste, otherwise add up to 100g more of any sugar)
150g ground almonds
2 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powde
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Icing sugar to dust
Preheat the oven to 180°C and cook your beets (if raw) for around an hour until soft. Peel them once cooked but keep the oven on.
Grease a baking tin with a little butter and then line it with baking parchment.
Break up your chocolate into small pieces and place into a pyrex bowl above a saucepan of simmering water, about 2 inches deep. Stir the chocolate pieces with a wooden spoon until they melt - do not have the heat up too high as you don't want to cook them
Blend the beetroots to a puree then add the melted chocolate, butter and eggs. Then add the sugar, ground almonds, cacao and baking powder until smooth.
Pour into the baking tin and and bake for about 30 minutes until the top is set and a skewer comes out clean if inserted in the middle. Don't fret if it seems a little soft as it will firm on cooling, plus it's good to be a bit gooey in the middle. Place on a cooling rack and once cool, dust with icing sugar.
Serve with cream, ice cream and/or berries
Last week I made a well received Victoria sponge for my husband's birthday. (He has slightly "old lady" tastes, with the exception of his young wife, clearly...) Last year I used Delia's recipe and this year it was Mary Berry - just ensure your recipe comes from a British "mature" lady and you should be fine. This week we upgraded the cake for Wimbledon, using the same cake recipe from Mary Berry but with cream cheese in the filling to make it more robust and lots of fresh strawberries. This was inspired by something we watched on Asian Food Channel. It's definitely a winner, and ideal if you are entertaining over the tennis season!
What you need:
8oz caster sugar
8oz self-raising flour, sieved
2 tsp baking powder, sieved
8oz soft butter at room temperature, plus a little extra to grease the tins
1/2 cup strawberry jam.
125g cream cheese (half a pack)
1/3 cup sugar
1.5 cups whipping cream
50g icing sugar to dust the cake
Preheat the oven to 175C.
Find two identical 20 inch cake tins and cut a perfect circle of greaseproof paper out to line each bottom. Then grease the sides with butter.
Ensure your butter is at room temperature. Cut it into small pieces to speed this up if necessary - doesn't take long in this heat.
Sieve your flours and sugar too, as I find it has the tendency to form lumps in this heat & humidity. Combine your eggs, self raising flour, baking powder and butter (at room temperature) in a glass bowl and mix on a low speed until just combined. Do not overmix!
Pour equal amounts of the mixture into the two cake tins and bake at 175c for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Try not to open the oven door before the 20 minutes to sneak a peak!
Allow the cakes to cool completely in their tins before you finish off the cake.
Hull your strawberries, wash them and pat try. Mix half of them with the jam.
Break up your cream cheese into lumps and combine with whipping cream and sugar. Mix with an electric whisk until the cream thickens and the cream cheese lumps have gone. You will just have to keep trying it!
Take one of your cakes and turn it upside down onto a plate. Smear 2/3 of the cream mixture on top, and all the strawberry & jam mixture. Ensure there are sufficient strawberries at the side to poke out. Place the other cake, right way up, on top, and smear cream over it, but not right up to the sides. Pile your remaining strawberries on top and sprinkle with icing sugar through a sieve.
Serve immediately. You can keep it in the fridge afterwards for a couple of days maximum if there is any left!
This is quick pudding you can make when you think there is literally nothing in the fridge.
One reader tells me she is a baked apple purist, rubbing the skin with a little coconut oil and baking them with nothing but a cinnamon stick inside the core. These are slightly more decadent, using butter, coconut sugar, dried fruit and spices. Delicious served with ice-cream, cream or yoghurt and leftovers work well with y0ghurt for breakfast.
Brioche & Butter Pudding
This is an enriched version of the classic bread & butter pudding. It's an ideal hearty finish to a supper party in these chilly months and is even better cold for breakfast the next day!
Croissant Berry Bake
Our croissant and berry bake is a fruitier and more decadent variation on the traditional bread and butter pudding. While traditionally served hot, it is also delicious cold for breakfast!