Archives for category: Puddings

Much as I love a pudding I try not to indulge too often for obvious reasons! But there are times when one is called for the as most of us have rather busy lives it can be unrealistic to expect to have the time to spend hours in the kitchen.

Puff pastry is a great friend of the busy cook. It is one of the few things that really is worth buying, rather than making yourself. Just be sure to buy an all butter one, it truly is a time when you get what you pay for.

These little tarts can be made with or without the frangipane but I adore this soft, almond treat that whizzes up quickly in a food processor and partners so well with any sort of fruit and is brilliant with the pastry. It will spread out a bit whilst cooking but that really doesn’t matter. It adds a rather lovely home made, rustic effect and those cruncy edges are so delicious!

Use any good eating apple but I like ones with a red skin as they look very pretty. You want a good, crisp one with a sharp flavour. And in season a good English variety is a must.

Makes Six Tarts

One packet of all butter puff pastry
about 4 red skinned apples
100g softened unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
1 large egg, beaten
Vanilla extract or powder
A little melted butter
Extra sugar for dusting

First make your frangipane. Easiest in a small food processor. Put the butter and sugar in and whizz until well blended. Add the egg, whizz again and finally the ground almonds. You could if you like add the rind of a lemon or a dash of vanilla extract.

Take your apples and cut into quarters. Remove the core and slice thinly into half moons. Put in a bowl and squeeze over some lemon juice. Toss so all the apple slices have had lemon juice on them to stop discolouration.

Have ready a large baking sheet and pre-heat the oven to 180c.

Roll out the pastry very thinly and then cut into six even rectangles. Put on the baking tray BEFORE you top them. The length is up to you but the width should be just wider than your apple slices.
Spread a good dollop of frangipane onto each rectangle of pastry and cover with overlapping slices of apple. Brush melted butter over each one and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Bake in the oven for about fifteen minutes or until golden brown and serve hot, warm or cold with some creme anglaise, ice cream or cream.

For the creme anglaise, see my recipe for lemon verbena creme anglaise and replace the lemon verbena with vanilla.

There is no doubt that there are some wonderfully delicious ice creams available to buy in the supermarkets but, slightly on a par with growing your own veg, there is something deeply satisfying about making you own. Not to mention the fun of playing around with flavours and perhaps more importantly, regulating the amount of sugar you include.

This recipe is based on a very old one out of an old seventies classic ‘the Hamlyn all Colour Cookbook’. It has stood the test of time and I have just updated it a bit, using creme fraiche as well as double cream, reducing the sugar content (quite considerably!) and adding in honey as an additional sweetener. Here I am using blackberries – any frozen berries will do and in the summer, when fresh berries are abundant just use whatever you can find or pick. Bear in mind, however that the blackberries that you find in the hedgerow are not the same as the cultivated variety which I find make much better eating. That isn’t exactly relevant in April but if, like me, you have a stockpile in the freezer leftover from Autumn foraging, this is a good way to use them up. Otherwise the supermarkets are full of useful packs of frozen fruit which are perfect to use here. Play around with the flavours here and just use this as a basic guide. Roll on sunshine!!

Makes about approx a litre

500g bag of frozen blackberries, defrosted
75g caster sugar
Rind of two oranges (optional but nice)
2 large eggs
2 – 3 tablespoons runny honey
125ml double cream
150ml creme fraiche (full fat is essential)

Put the blackberries and 50g of the sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the juices start to run. Bring up to a simmer (important to cook the berries as they will be re-frozen) and after a couple of minutes, pull off the heat. Add in the grated orange rind, stir well and then strain, reserving the berries. At this point you could sieve out some of the seeds. I don’t particularly mind them but you may prefer a seed free ice cream. Put the juices back in the saucepan and simmer hard for a few minutes until you have a syrupy consistency. Pour back over the berries, deserted or otherwise, stir and leave to cool.

Separate the eggs and put the whites into a clean bowl. Put the double cream into another bowl. Whisk the egg yolks very well until pale and thick. Whisk the double cream until the soft peak stage (be careful not to overdo it). Whisk the whites until firm, adding the remaining sugar until glossy and at the stiff peak stage. Fold two tablespoons of the honey into the berries. Fold the cream into the egg yolks, followed by the creme fraiche and the berries. Taste and adjust the amount of honey you have added according to taste. Then finally fold in the the whisked egg whites.

If you have an ice cream machine, turn the whole thing into it and churn until frozen. Otherwise just put into a tub and if you remember take it out every now and then and whisk well with a fork to break up any ice crystals. This ice cream is much more forgiving than the traditional custard base and this whisking is not as essential, but does make a difference to the final result.

If you like you can keep back a few tablespoonfuls of the berry mix to use as a sort of sauce, or to marble through at the end.

Remember to take your ice cream out of the freezer and give it half an hour in the fridge before serving.

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It has certainly been a wonderful year for blackberries. The best are the cultivated sort – these are the ones you will find growing in peoples gardens and allotments. They tend to be larger, juicier and I think more flavoursome than the wild variety found in practically every mixed hedgerow. I have always loved making a classic blackberry jelly that you keep in a jar and spread on toast but lately I have been revisiting that old nursery favourite and serving it as a pudding. Marry it with some home made custard and serve in a pretty glass or tea light and you will have something that can hold its own in the most sophisticated of company.

Make these jellies with just blackberries or add in some plums. The flavours work marvellously together. Raspberries would be delicious as well and at the end of July, when blackcurrants are in season you can use those. Their extraordinary depth of colour and intense flavour is quite wonderful.

This recipe is very simple. Gelatine leaves are very easy to use and as long as you measure the liquid accurately and use 1 gelatine leaf per 100ml of liquid you will have a perfect set. The jellies last for a good few days in the fridge so are brilliant for a dinner party as you can get them made well in advance. The custard is best made the day before so that it has time to chill and thicken before settling on top of the set jellies. Flavour with lemon verbena, vanilla, cardamon, citrus rind or cinnamon.

Serves Eight

JELLIES

400g blackberries
4 plums, chopped and stoned
400ml water
180g – 200G caster sugar
Dash of cassis or creme de mure (optional)
Gelatine sheets (about six)

Put the fruit in a saucepan and cover with the cold water. Add the sugar (save a couple of tablespoons for later) and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer very gently for about ten minutes until the fruit is very soft. Add the cassis or creme de mure. Taste the liquid and if you like add a little more sugar. Strain into a big jug and let any excess liquid drip through. Do not press the fruit as this will result in a cloudy jelly.

See how much liquid you have and take one sheet of gelatine for every 100 ml of liquid. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for a few minutes. Squeeze out in your hands and put into the hot strained liquid. Stir with a whisk and then divide between eight glasses or whatever container you are using. Cool and put in the fridge to set.

When ready to serve, top with the cooled custard and serve with crisp little biscuit (recipes below)

CREME ANGLAISE

250ml whole milk
250ml double cream
Vanilla pod, seeds scraped out or big handful of lemon verbena
or use a dash of vanilla essence or vanilla powder
50g caster sugar
5 large egg yolks

Heat the milk and cream together in a saucepan with your vanilla pod or lemon verbena leaves. Leave to infuse for about an hour.

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until thick and creamy. Re-heat the milk/cream mixture and pour through a sieve onto the yolks, whisking gently as you go. Clean out the saucepan and return the custard mixture to it.

Cook over a VERY gentle heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. Do not boil or let it get too hot. You will end up with scrambled custard which will have to go in the bin!! It will take about eight minutes of patient stirring. Always make sure you are able to put your have on the base of the saucepan. Also have a bowl of iced water to hand in case you have to cool the mix down quickly. If it does look as if it is going a bit grainy plunge the base of the pan into iced water and whisk like mad until you have a smooth custard again. Better to do it longer and slower or if in doubt, use a bowl over a pan of simmering water. It takes a while but you will have a smooth result. The custard is ready when it coats the back of a spoon. Then take off the heat and continue stirring for a few minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir every time you walk past until cold enough to put in the fridge. Cover and leave until it is time to serve your jellies. Or put in an ice cream machine and turn into ice cream!

Divide amongst the jelly glasses so there is a good thick layer on top. It is quite nice to have a bit left over so people can help themselves to more if they like.

LITTLE CRISP BISCUITS

90g plain flour
60g unsalted butter
30g golden caster sugar
Pinch of vanilla powder or dash of essence

Heat oven to 180c

Whizz everything together in a food processor until just coming together. Turn out and knead to a dough.

Roll out thinly. I use clingfilm to help me do this otherwise it just sticks in a very unfortunate way to the rolling pin. If the dough is getting too warm, just pop back in the fridge for a few minutes and it will be easier to handle.

Use a small fluted cutter to stamp out rounds of biscuit dough and put onto a flat baking sheet. Bake for about eight minutes until just turning lightly golden. Take out and cool on a rack. Store in an airtight tin until needed.

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Makes about 12

For the Salted Caramel

60g soft brown sugar
40g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
125ml double cream
1 teaspoon black treacle
Sea Salt (e.g Maldon flakes)

Brownies

200g dark chocolate
175g butter
250g caster sugar
75g light muscovado sugar
125g plain flour
3 eggs
50g pecan nuts, toasted and chopped

First make the caramel. Melt the sugars and butter together in a pan over a gentle heat and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the double cream and treacle. Simmer for a minute or two more and then add salt to taste. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool, stirring every now and then until cooled and thickened.

Pre-heat the oven to about 160 fan.

Break the chocolate into a bowl and add the butter. Sit over a saucepan of gently simmering water and melt. Don’t allow the chocolate to get too hot.

Remove from the heat. Add the sugars and stir well. Stir in the plain flour (quickly whisk first to remove any lumps). Whisk the eggs and fold those through until the mix is smooth. Add the pecan nuts.

Take a 9 inch square shallow baking tin and line with baking parchment. Pour half of the brownie mixture in and spread out to cover the bottom. Top with spoonfuls of the salted caramel so that you have a thin layer. Pour in the remaining brownie mix and drizzle a little more caramel all over the top. You will probably have about half of your caramel left – don’t overdo it or it will be too much!

Bake in the oven for around 25 to 30 minutes or until just set – you want it still soft and if the top is beginning to crack it is certainly ready.

Cool in the tin and then set in the fridge. Although they are delicious warm with vanilla ice cream.

Cut into squares and dust with icing sugar.

Store any leftover caramel in a jar in the fridge. It will last for at least a week or more.

brownie

Homemade ice cream is one of life’s great pleasures and it is very easy to make.
Of course, there are some great ice creams nowadays that you can buy in the supermarket but nothing quite comes close to your own and this recipe is so much easier to make than the classic method as you don’t need to go to all the bother of making a home-made custard.  This is really a matter of stirring some rather wonderful ingredients together and then sitting back and accepting the inevitable compliments, safe in the knowledge that it really wasn’t an entirely taxing experience in the first place.  But no less delicious for that and not necessarily a detail that you have to share.

I made this ice cream the other day for a Friday night supper party.  I was rather short of time and had one of those tubs of peaches rapidly ripening in the larder.   The ginger ice cream made  a lovely accompaniment to them which I braised in a marsala syrup, stuffed with amaretti and dark sugar and spiced up with some cinnamon and vanilla.

STEM GINGER ICE CREAM
Serves Six to Eight

1 tub mascarpone
250ml double cream
Four pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped plus syrup from the jar
2 tablespoons ginger preserve (I use Waitrose own)
2 egg whites
50g caster sugar
Lightly whip the cream and whisk in the mascarpone.  Add the ginger preserve, the finely chopped stem ginger and about three tablespoons of the syrup.  Whisk the egg whites until stiff and then gradually add the caster sugar until you have a glossy meringue.  Add to the ice cream mixture and fold in.

Pour the whole lot into an ice cream machine and churn.  If you don’t have a machine then put in the freezer in a plastic tub and whisk with a  fork every half an hour to break up the ice crystals that will be forming.  You will have to do this about four or five times.

Keep in the freezer but take out and put in the fridge for about 45 minutes before serving if you are not using it immediately.

PEACHES IN MARSALA with AMARETTI
Serves Eight

Eight fairly ripe peaches
Eight amaretti biscuits (crunchy ones)
Dark muscovado sugar
400ml sweet marsala
100g caster sugar
One fresh vanilla pod
2 sticks of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180c
Remove the skin from the peaches by sitting them in boiling water for a minute or two.  The skins will slip off easily.

Cut in half and remove the stone.  Put in an ovenproof dish and fill the centre of each peach half with some crumbled biscuit and a teaspoon of sugar.  Heat the marsala with the caster sugar and pour around the peaches.  Bake in the oven for forty minutes, basting the peaches occasionally.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with the ice cream or softly whipped double cream.