Spiced pear and chocolate truffle tart

2016-04-17 11.01.58

This is a very simple recipe and can be finished in about 2 hours or less if you are working very efficiently. It’s delicious and a wonderful a dessert to any dinner. I hope you’ll enjoy this bake.

Ingredients

You will need to make a shortcrust pastry, the recipe for which can be found here. Alternatively, you can also purchase pre-made shortcrust pastry if you don’t fancy making it yourself.

Filling

  • 310g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
  • 270g double cream
  • 180g milk (full fat or semi skimmed)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 30g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 conference pears
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 1tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1tsp caster sugar
  1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C (392°F) or 180°C (356°F) in a fan assisted oven
  2. Roll out pastry to about 2-3mm thick
  3. Place pastry into a 23cm spring form tart tin and press the pastry along the edges into the tin
  4. Use a fork to prick holes on the base of the pastry
  5. Layer a piece of baking paper on the pastry and cover with baking beans
  6. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes and trim off the excess pastry from the edges of the tin
  7. Return pastry to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes
  8. Remove baking beans and baking paper and bake for another 5 minutes or until the bottom of the pastry is dry
  9. Take the pastry out, but keep the oven on
  10. The pears can be prepared in advance. Half fill a saucepan with water and mix in the sugar and lemon juice and bring the water to a simmer
  11. Peel and half the conference pears and put it into the simmering water, cover the saucepan with a lid and boil for about 30 minutes or until soft
  12. Take the pears out of the saucepan and drain any excess water
  13. Remove the core and stem from the pears
  14. In a saucepan, mix the milk and double cream and bring it to a simmer
  15. Place the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl and add the scorched milk and cream to the chocolate, allow the chocolate to sit in the hot milk for 5 minutes
  16. Whisk chocolate until it has completely melted
  17. Whisk in the salt, butter and egg yolks until completely incorporated into the chocolate
  18. Pour the chocolate mix into the tart case and place the pears inside
  19. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the filling is set and there is a slight wobble in the centre
  20. Take the tart out of the oven and let it cool for about 2 hours
  21. Heat the apricot jam and brush it onto the pears in the tart
  22. Mix the caster sugar and mixed spice and sprinkle onto the apricot jam coated pears
  23. Dust the tart with cocoa powder if desired

 

 

Easter cake

2016-03-26 16.50.53

I have been terribly busy, so it’s been 3 months since I last posted. But for this joyous occasion, I decided to pick up my apron again. I find this to be a nice alternative to the very sweet and full of marzipan Simnel cake for Easter. It’s fairly quick to make and the children will most likely love the mini eggs decoration!

Ingredients

Sponge

  • 4 medium eggs
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g plain flour
  • 25g unsalted butter

Filling and decoration

  • 400ml milk (full fat or semi skimmed)
  • 3 egg yolks + 1 whole egg
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 70g cornflour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • 150ml double cream
  • 100g hazelnut
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • bag of mini eggs

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C (160C fan)
  2. Line the bottom and sides of a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper
  3. Put 4 eggs and 125g caster sugar in a large mixing bowl and use the medium setting of electric whisk and beat for about 5 minutes. Increase the speed to high and whisk until it is pale and have at least tripled in volume (should also leave a trail of ribbon when you take the whisk out). This will take about 10-15 minutes depending on your settings
  4.  While the eggs and sugar are mixing, melt the butter in microwave, just enough to melt it and let it cool on the the side
  5. Add the melted butter and sift 125g flour into the egg mixture
  6. Use a large spoon to gently fold in the flour and butter until completely incorporated
  7. Gently pour the cake batter into the baking tin and bake for 30-35 minutes. The sides of the cake should start to shrink away from the baking parchment and the skewer comes up clean when inserted into the cake
  8. Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, remove the baking paper and let the cake cool on a wired rack. Rotating the cake every couple of minutes in the 1st 30 minutes to prevent it from sticking to the wire
  9. Once the cake is cold, slice it in half horizontally
  10. Prepare the filling by mixing the egg yolks and whole egg with 120g caster sugar
  11. Beat in the corn flour into the egg/sugar mixture
  12. Put milk in saucepan and put it over medium heat until it starts to simmer
  13. Add a small amount of the hot milk to the egg mix and whisk continuously while adding
  14. Continue adding the hot milk to the egg mix until all the milk has been added. Remember to whisk continuously
  15. Return the whole mixture into the saucepan and put it over medium heat, whisk continuously until it thickens
  16. Add in the vanilla extract and the butter into the pastry cream and take it off the heat
  17. Beat in the butter until it is completely incorporated
  18. Put the pastry cream to the side and let it cool to room temperature
  19. Beat the double cream until it thickens and fold it into the cooled pastry cream
  20. Spread the pastry cream onto 1 slice of cake and place the other slice on top
  21. Cover the rest of the cake with the pastry cream and leave it in the fridge
  22. Put the hazelnuts into a frying pan and add sprinkle icing sugar onto them, heat until the icing sugar has melted and coated the hazelnuts with a light layer of caramel
  23. Take the caramelised hazelnut off the heat and let it cool
  24. Chop the hazelnut into small fragments and use them to decorate the cake (on the side only or all over, it’s up to you)
  25. To make spun sugar, heat 250g granulated sugar in a light colour saucepan until the sugar has melted (I prefer the dry method, i.e. you heat the sugar without water. You are far less likely to get sugar crystals this way, but the caramel will form and burn slightly quicker)
  26. Once the caramel is a light golden colour, switch off the heat, it will continue to brown for a little bit more
  27. Gauge its consistency, when it is too hot and runny, it’s much harder to make spun sugar
  28. Let it cool for a minute in the saucepan and it should start to thicken, once it reaches the consistency at which it runs down the fork slowly, it’s ready
  29. Over a bowl, quickly flick the caramel back and forth to form thin webs of caramel threads and continue until you have enough or the caramel in the saucepan has solidified
  30. Roll the caramel threads into a ball and put it on your cake
  31. Place the mini eggs inside the spun sugar nest

Christmas Croquembouche

It’s been quite a while since I have posted anything due to work and the manic build up to christmas. A croquembouche is normally used for weddings, but seeing I didn’t have a christmas tree in the house, I decided to make one. An edible one! This can be divided into 2 components, the choux buns and the biscuits. The biscuits is mostly for decorations. Both the biscuit and the choux recipe can be found in my previous posts. So, I’ll simply link to those and provide a simple procedure on the assembly.

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  1. For the choux pastry, please follow this link . You will need 1.5x the amount stated in the recipe for the croquembouche
  2. Creme patissiere was used for the filling of the choux buns instead of cream to provide a little bit more structural support. Creme patissiere recipe can be found lower down
  3. For biscuits, please use this link. This is purely for decorations, so you don’t have to make this for the croquembouche if you don’t want to. I did for the star at the top and the biscuit men at the bottom

Ingredients for creme patissiere

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 20g plain flour
  • 20g corn flour
  • 350ml milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Beat the egg yolks and the sugar together
  • Sift and beat in the plan and corn flour into the egg
  • Heat the milk until simmering
  • Add the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk continuously until all of the milk has been added
  • Pour the runny mixture back into saucepan and heat over medium heat
  • Whisk continuously until it thickens
  • Add vanilla extract and mix it in
  • Remove from heat and allow it to cool down completely

Assembly

  • Fill the choux buns with the creme patissiere
  • To stick the choux buns together, you will need to make caramel
  • Simply heat granulated sugar in a light coloured saucepan without water and stir occasionally to help the melting of the sugar
  • Once the sugar is a light brown colour, add in 1 tsp of water gently and keep it on VERY low heat (work quickly, or the caramel will burn and taste bitter even at low heat)
  • Dunk the filled choux buns into the caramel and stick it together to make a cone shaped tower (easily done, but not so easy executed without a proper cone)
  • Use the caramel to stick the biscuits to the choux tower
  • Decorate with melted white chocolate and icing sugar

 

 

Chocolate and cinnamon biscuits

Ingredients

  • 120g unsalted butter (room temperature and very soft)
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 20g coco powder
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Cream butter and icing sugar together
  2. Sift the flour and coco powder and add in the cinnamon
  3. Mix the ingredients with hands until it forms a non-sticky dough (if the mixture remains sticky, add 5g plain flour and knead the dough again)
  4. Chill the biscuit dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes
  5. Meanwhile, Pre-heat oven to 180°C (356°F) or 160°C (320°F) in a fan assisted oven
  6. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 4-5mm thick
  7. Cut out the desired shaped biscuits
  8. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and place the cut out biscuits onto the tray
  9. Bake for 15-17 minutes
  10. The biscuits will remain very slightly soft when taken out of the oven, but this will firm up as it cools over 5-10 minutes

Sweet potato and hazelnut tart

2015-09-20 14.06.35

Ingrdients

pastry

  • 90g unsalted butter
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 190g plain flour
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1tbsp water

Filling

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 800g sweet potato, excluding skin)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 400ml double cream
  • 40-60g caster sugar
  • 80g hazelnut, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  1. To make the pastry, mix plain flour and icing sugar and add in the butter in small cubes
  2. Use your finger tips to rub the butter and flour together until it resembles breadcrumbs
  3. Add in the egg and the water
  4. Gently combine the ingredients until it forms a smooth dough
  5. Chill the pastry dough in the fridge for 30 minutes
  6. Roll out the pastry to about 2-3mm thick and line a 23cm tart tin
  7. Prick small holes at the bottom of the pastry using a fork
  8. Place a sheet of baking paper on the pastry case and put baking beans on top
  9. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
  10. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 200°C (392°F) or 180°C (356°F) in a fan assisted oven
  11. Blind bake the pastry case for 8 minutes and trim off the excess pastry from the tin and bake for another 15 minutes
  12. Remove the baking beans and baking paper and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the base is golden and dry
  13. Take the pastry out and let it cool down
  14. Lower oven temperature to 170°C (338°F) or 150°C (3202°F) in a fan assisted oven
  15. Finely chop the hazelnut and sprinkle 2 tbsp icing sugar over it in a pan
  16. Put it over medium heat until the icing sugar has melted
  17. Take it off the heat and let it cool down
  18. Cook the sweet potato by opening it into halves and steam it for about 30-40 minutes over medium heat, or until it is cooked in the middle
  19. Scoop out the inside of the sweet potato and put it into a saucepan
  20. Add the sugar (depending on the sweetness of your sweet potatoes) and the double cream to the cooked sweet potato
  21. Put it over medium heat until the cream starts to bubble
  22. Blend the mixture until it forms a purée
  23. Let it cool down slightly for about 15 minutes
  24. Add and mix in cinnamon, vanilla, eggs and the hazelnuts to the purée, mix thoroughly
  25. Pour the filling into the pastry case and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the filling is just set, it should have a slight wobble in the middle when it is done
  26. Take it out of the oven and let it cool down

Kinky boots musical: Adelphi theatre

It has been more than half a year since we heard about the transfer of Kinky Boots from Broadway to the West End. Was it worth the wait? Yes! Absolutely! It is a ferocious musical with fantastically written music and a heart-warming story. Both the story and the script remain very faithful to the film of the same name released in 2005. The show is upbeat and certainly deserving of the Tony Awards for best original score and best musical. Anybody who loved the film is likely to enjoy this show, some well known quotes such as “Red is the colour of sex, burgundy is the colour of hot water bottles!” and “Sex shouldn’t be comfy!” made smooth transfer from the big screen to the stage.

So, did the musical rip these lines straight out of the film? Yes. Yet, these were undeniably effective classical quotes that should be and absolutely ought to be included with this story.

Needless to say, the leading cast members did some wonderful work on stage. This is the second time I have seen Killian Donnelly on stage this year. Ever since seeing an inspirational performance of his in Memphis The Musical, I have been waiting to see him perform in Kinky Boots. Donnelly carried a certain bad boy attitude with him in his performance, adding uniqueness to the goody two shoes Charlie. Many people would agree, Charlie Price is a less dramatic character when compared directly with Lola (played by Matt Henry), and oh my did Matt leave a mark. I simply lost count on the number of times the crowd went into total frenzies with endless applause whenever Lola and Lola’s Angels burst into song and dance. To me, Lola’s Angels were marvelous and I would be happy to watch the show again and again just to see them!

Up until Lauren’s solo (The History of Wrong Guys), I felt the musical lacked its own identity and had not separated enough from the film. However, Lauren (played by Amy Lennox) has quite a different personality in the musical compared with her film counterpart. This was absolutely necessary to adapt her onto the stage. I felt that this is true for Charlie Price also. Both Charlie and Lauren were more reserved and laid back in the film, but much more vibrant on stage. It is precisely this that made the musical stand out from the film, providing it with a much-needed distinction.

Cyndi Lauper tailored each song perfectly well to the characters and has created a number of musical numbers that are simply beautiful to listen to. “Take What You Got”, “The History of Wrong Guys” and “Raise You Up” to name a few were all exceedingly well done. This album is likely to hit the most played album on my playlist in the weeks and months to come.

There is little more to add to this. How can actors who put on 8 inch sexy kinky boots on stage eight performances a week not deserve our praise? To the people who have decided to watch the show, those who have decided not to and those who are yet to make up their mind, these drag queens are unlikely to leave the Adelphi Theatre in the foreseeable future.

Score: 4/5

Original review published in: http://www.lastminutetheatretickets.com/londonwestend/review-of-kinky-boots-at-the-adelphi-theatre/

Chocolate and Raspberries baked cheesecake

2015-08-29 16.07.23

Ingredients

  • 7 digestive biscuits (original)
  • 50+50g unsalted butter
  • 180+70g cream cheese
  • 80+60g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
  • 80+50g caster sugar
  • 30g plain flour
  • 3 medium eggs (separated)
  • 150ml double cream
  • 200g raspberries (plus extra for decoration)
  • 4 gelatine leaves
  1. Soak the gelatine leaves in water for at least 5 minutes before use
  2. Blend raspberries and add 70ml water to it
  3. Cook raspberries until simmering
  4. Turn the heat right down
  5. Add gelatine a little at a time to the raspberries and stir until completed incorporated
  6. Take it off the heat, sift out the seeds and set the raspberries juice aside to cool
  7. Pre-heat oven to 180°C (356°F) or 160°C (320°F) in a fan assisted oven
  8. Line the bottom (not the sides) of a 20cm spring form round baking tin with baking paper
  9. Break up the digestive biscuits
  10. Heat up 50g butter until melted and add to the biscuits
  11. Mix the melted butter and the biscuits and the add it to the bottom of the baking tin. Press the biscuits down until it is fairly firm
  12. Melt 80g chocolate, 50g butter in a microwaveable bowl (use mid power as high power will burn the chocolate). Check the chocolate every 1 minute to ensure it is not burn (alternatively melt in a heatproof bowl over simmering water)
  13. Add the egg yolks, 180g cream cheese to the chocolate butter mixture and beat until incorporated
  14. Add the flour to the mixture and beat again
  15. Whisk the egg white and add 80g caster (1 tbsp at a time) to the egg white, whisk until the  egg white forms firm peaks
  16. Add 1/3 of the egg white to the rest of the cake mix and beat it in
  17. Add the remaining egg white to the mixture and gently fold it in
  18. Pour the cake mix over the biscuit base
  19. Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, once it’s done, the middle of the cake should have a very slight wobble. If it wobbles too much, bake it for another 5 minutes and check again
  20. Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool in the tin. Leave the cake in the tin for now
  21. Make the chocolate topping by heating the double cream with 50g caster sugar until it boils
  22. Pour the hot cream over 60g dark chocolate and mix until the chocolate has completed melted
  23. Let the chocolate ganache cool down to room temperature and add 70g cream cheese to it
  24. Spread the chocolate cheese filling over the top of the cake and completely cover the cracks and fillings between the cake and the cake tin
  25. The raspberry jelly should be starting to set at this stage, pour it over the cake with the cheese filling on top to give a smooth finish
  26. Leave the entire cake with the tin and put it into the fridge for 2 hours
  27. Melt the white chocolate and let it cool for at least 20 minutes
  28. Pipe the white chocolate and decorate the top with raspberries
  29. Run a sharp knife along the side of the cake to release it from the tin
  30. Transfer the cake onto a plate to serve