Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ridiculously rich chocolate caramel tarts

Ridiculously rich. Sometimes we need ridiculously rich food. These are richer than all the diamonds in the world. Wow. Seriously.
Not too rich. The buttery crust cuts through the rich.
They are quite fiddly. But not difficult. Just be patient with the steps and they will come together. I made cute little tarts instead of one gigantic one. What I really want is some cute little petit fours pans. These are more than one mouthful. I want pans smaller that are one perfect mouthful, maybe two 3/4 mouthfuls.

240g plain flour
60g caster sugar
180g unsalted butter, chilled, coarsely chopped

225g white sugar
80mL thickened cream
70g butter, coarsely chopped

Chocolate Mousse
200g dark chocolate (53% choc solids)
4 eggs, separated
185mL thickened cream
2 tbsp caster sugar

Chocolate Ganache
165g dark chocolate (53% choc solids)
60mL cream
40g unsalted butter, softened

For the pastry: process flour and sugar in a food processor to combine. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add 2 tbsp chilled water and process until mixture just comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 190C. Roll out pastry to 5mm thick on a lightly floured surface. Line your cute little tart pans with pastry (or use one 26cm pan). Refrigerate for 1 hour. Blind bake for 20 mins or until set, then remove paper and weights and bake until golden (8-10 mins). If using smaller pans keep a good eye on the cases as the cooking time will vary.

For the caramel: combine sugar and 250mL water in a heavy based saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook, brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush until the mixture is deep golden - 10-15mins. Remove from heat, add cream and butter and stir to combine. Be very careful here as the mixture will spit and splutter. Pour into pastry bases and refrigerate until firm - 1-2 hours.

Chocolate mousse: melt chocolate in a bain marie. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature. Add egg yolks, stir to combine and set aside. Whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add sugar and continue whisking until combined. Fold 1/3 of the eggwhites into the choclate then fold in 1/3 of the cream. Repeat with remaining eggwhite and cream and stir gently until combined. Spoon over cooled caramel. Smooth top and then refrigerate until firm

Chocolate ganache: Combine chocolate and cream in a bain marie. Stir until chocolate melts. Remove from heat, add butter and stir to combine. Cool to room temperature. Spread in an even layer over chocolate mousse. Refrigerate until set.

Serve tart with whipped cream to the side.

naughty little Virgin's Breasts

sounding naughty. looking like little nipples. tasting delicious
Custard creme. Pastry. Perfectly white icing. Cherries.
I saw these in Gourmet Traveller a while back and wanted an occasion to make them. In the end there was no occasion, so I made them anyway.

Makes 20 little breasts

1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornflour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 piece lemon rind, removed with a peeler
1/4 cup coarsely chopped candied orange - use good quality peel in this case
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Candied cherries, for decorating

225g unsalted butter, softened
80g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
475g plain flour

In a heavy based saucepan whisk together milk, sugar, cornflour, vanilla and lemon rind. Place over a medium heat, whisk constantly and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, simmer for a minute, then remove from the heat to cool. Stir through the candied orange and cinnamon and set aside until required.

For pastry, cream butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Add egg yolk and beat to combine. Stir in lemon rind, 1/4 tsp salt, flour and 50mL water. Knead gently to form a soft dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 180C. Roll out dough to 3mm thick on a lightly floured bench. Cut out circles about 5cm in diameter. Spoon about 1 tbsp custard on top. Brush edges with water, cover with a circle cut with a 6cm cutter and press edges well to seal. (This step can be quite fiddly. Keep practicing with cookie cutters and the amount of custard until you get a nice neat little breast shape).

Place on baking paper lined trays and bake for 15-20 mins or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Whisk together icing sugar, 2 tbsp boiling water and remaining vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth. Spoon icing over cooled pastries and place a cherry on top.

Biscuits will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. They will not last that long.

nooooodles with sticky pork - thanks Luke!

I have drooled over Luke Nguyen's meals on his tv show far too many times. My first dish of his was beautiful.
As usual I found it hard to follow his recipe so I made a few changes of my own. I switched pork neck for pork loin with crackling on it and I could not get perilla, so I substituted coriander. Apart from that it was pretty close to the recipe.
Delicious. The pork cooks up with a wonderful caramel crispy outside and nice and tender inside.

500g pork loin, chopped into chunks

6 white part spring onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp honey
4 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil

250g rice vermicelli noodles - cooked as per packet directions
small handful mint leaves, finely sliced
small handful coriander, finely sliced
1 lebanese cucumber, halved, de-seeded, finely sliced
2 handfuls bean sprouts
1 carrot, grated
4 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
4 tbsp spring onion oil - I just used regular oil
4 tbsp fried red Asian shallots (you can buy these ready fried, or just fry up some shallots in vegetable oil until crisp, then drain well on a paper towel)
1/2 cup dipping fish sauce

In a large bowl mix the pork with the marinade ingredients. Coat well. Marinate for 2 hours or overnight.

Char grill the pork for 1-2 minutes on each side or until brown and cooked.

Pile bowls with noodles and salad ingredients. Dress with a mixture of fish sauce and oil. Top with pork then sprinkle with fried Asian shallots.

sorry no pic muesli muffins!

I wanted to make something to take to work. I was feeling lazy. Nothing in the fridge, nothing in the pantry... what could I make?
Muesli muffins.
And they were delicious and were demolished in HDA.

Makes 12 muffins

2 1/4 cups untoasted muesli
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups self-raising flour (or substitute plain four and add 1 1/4 tsp baking powder)
1 apple, skin on, grated
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp cinnamon
Flaked almonds to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 190C. Line the muffin pans with patty cases.
Combine muesli and milk and stand for 10 mins.
Add remaining ingredients (except almonds), stir until just combined.
Divide mixture among muffin pans. Sprinkle with almonds and brown sugar. Bake for 20-25 mins until golden and spring back gently when touched.

Goulash in summer... why not?

I was hungry. I felt like goulash. Ignore the fact that it has been >30C every day for the past 2 months (with a few exceptions). Goulash can be summery!
My housemate's girlfriend enjoyed this so much she swallowed a piece of beef whole. This piece of beef got stuck in her throat and was removed 36hrs later under general anaesthetic via endoscopy. Is this a compliment or an insult? I choose to think it was so delicious she couldn't wait to chew to swallow it - optimistic!
Anyway, I thought is was beautiful.
Serves 6

1/2 cup olive oil
4 onions, thinly sliced
700g beef shin or blade, cut into 3cm pieces
Seasoned plain flour for dusting
400g can Italian tomatoes
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp hungarian paprika (not smoked Spanish paprika)
4 cloves
2 fresh bay leaves
1 stubbie stout bear

Heat half the olive oil in a large casserole dish over medium heat, add onion. Cook until very soft and golden brown (20-25 mins). Do not get any black bits on the onions, but be patient and wait until they are dark brown and sweet and caramelised.

Buy a whole piece of beef and cut into 3cm chunks. Dust the beef in seasoned flour. In a separate frying pan heat the remaining oil until hot. Add the meat to the frying pan and cook until nicely browned all over. Add meat to casserole pot.

Add tomatoes, garlic, paprika, caraway seeds, cayenne pepper, cloves and bay leaves to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and stir over medium heat for 4-5 minutes until tender, breaking up the tomatoes. Add the beer. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until meat is very tender - 1-1 1/2 hours.

Season to taste.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and scattered with chives and dill over mashed potato.

Do not omit the sour cream, chives and dill - these really take the dish from special to amazing.

mmm uncooked cheesecake with fresh berries - and frangelico!

I love fresh cheesecakes like this. The gingernuts make a beautiful base, however I do think I would go 1/2-1/2 with a plain biscuit next time to get a more delicate crust.

250g gingernut biscuits (or try 1/2 gingernut and 1/2 milk arrowroot)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

225g mascarpone cheese
170g cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Strawberries chopped in half
1 small punnet blueberries
2 tbsp frangelico
1 tbsp sugar

For topping: combine ingredients in a bowl and leave to macerate at room temperature while you prepare the filling and crust

For crust: Preheat oven to 170C. Grind biscuits in food processor until fine - or do what I did and smash them up with a mortar and pestle. Add butter and mix until evenly moistened. Press mixture over the bottom and sides of a 22cm tart pan with removable bottom. Use a cup to get a nice transition between bottom and edge of tart crust. Bake until colour darkens slightly, about 8 minutes. Press sides with the back of a spoon if they start to slide. Cool completely (the freezer is helpful here).

For filling: Combine all ingredients until smooth. Ensure there are no lumps of cream cheese - yuk.

To assemble: Leave all ingredients separate in the fridge until ready to eat. Once hungry place the crust on a plate, pile in the filling and smooth. Cover decoratively with the fruit.

Try this with any fruit and biscuit combination you desire - raspberries, nectarines, peaches, mangoes...

blogger is back - rhubarb, cherry and walnut crostata

Beautiful rhubarb from Wray avenue, a jar of cherries, a sprinkle of toasted walnuts and beautiful pastry. Yum

500g rhubarb (1 bunch) chopped into 4cm lengths
250g brown sugar
100g white sugar
Thinly peeled rind and juice 1 orange
Thinly peeled rind and juice 1/2 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
Scraped seeds 1 vanilla bean
1 jar morello cherries (340g)

150g walnuts, toasted in a pan until fragrant and nutty, then chopped finely

220g plain flour
100g cold butter, chopped
60g icing sugar, sieved
Scraped seeds 1 vanilla bean
Zest of one lemon
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

Eggwash for brushing
Sugar for dusting

For the pastry: Combine butter, flour, icing sugar, vanilla bean and lemon zest. I used two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. An alternative is to use a food processor. Combine until you have coarse crumbs. Add the egg and egg yolk and mix until the dough just comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and then leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1-2 hrs.

For the filling: Combine all of the filling ingredients except the cherries in a saucepan with a lid on top. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the rhubarb is thick and jammy. Remove the cinnamon stick. Drain the cherries and mix through the rhubarb. Leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Roll out 2/3 of the pastry on a floured surface to 3-5mm thick to line a 23cm flan tin. Sprinkle pastry with walnuts. Fill with the rhubarb mixture. Roll out remaining pastry to 3-5mm thick, cut into 15mm wide strips. Arrange in a lattice shape over the filling. Brush pastry with eggwash, dust with sugar and bake until the pastry is crisp and golden 40-45mins. Cool slightly in tin before removing and serving with ice cream or cream.