Monday, 22 November 2010

chocolate ganache tart....

not for the fain' tarted.... terrible I know.

The recipe for this tart is based on a complete experiment, part success, part disaster.... I consulted many of my recipe books before deciding on the method and then it struck me...'should I bake it or let it set'...and truth be told, I still don't know.  All I know is that this tart is serious - It's intense, and despite the fact that it would traditionally serve 10-12 people, I actually think that, given how rich it is, it has the potential to serve as many as 80!  and all 80 would be completely if this sound like your kind of tart, then read on.  I would suggest avoiding participating in this tart if you have any kind of heart condition - not that I am any kind of medic - but i wouldn't want to be held responsible for any consequential misfortunes....

250g digestive biscuits
100g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
200ml double cream
3 medium free-range eggs
275g golden caster sugar

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4.  Have a 23" loose base fluted tin at the ready (also previously used for the pumpkin pie recipe).  Process the digestive biscuits and the butter.  If you don't have a food processor then leave the butter out at room temperature for an hour or so.  Then, in a mixing bowl, cream the butter so it is smooth.  Place the biscuits into a freezer bag, loosely holding the bag shut, and bash the biscuits, through the bag, with a rolling pin.  Make sure you bash from the bottom of the bag upwards so as not to burst the bag with pockets of air.  Once the biscuits are all crumbled up, like fine breadcrumbs, add them to the butter and beat to a smooth, but probably slightly crumbly consistency.  No doubt you will want to gorge on this biscuit mixture before it has even met the tin, but rest assured, the wait will be worth it.  Patience is a virtue.  pour the biscuit mixture into the fluted tin and press into the base and sides of the tin, making sure there is a relatively even level across all sides - although i'd favour less accuracy and more passion in the end product.  Place the tin on a baking sheet (this primarily stops me from putting my hand through the loose base and allowing the ingredients to great my kitchen floor).  Place in the freezer whilst you make the filling, or, if you have not got a freezer (or like me, your freezer is full of pre-pay day rations), then place the tart base in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

This tart base is truly traditional and much like a pastry base, it is adaptable to be use for many different fillings.

Now for the filling.  Gird your loins...

Break or chop up the 200g of dark chocolate and place in a saucepan.  Add the cream and warm over a low heat.  Once the chocolate has melted, encourage the mixture to merge with a wooden spoon.  Once combined remove from the heat and whisk frantically for no more than a minute until the mixture is thick, creamy and glossy.  You will almost definitely want to dip a pinkie in this creation - and who am I to deny such a pleasure!  This is now a basic ganache mixture.

In a separate bowl, and perhaps whilst the chocolate and cream are initially over the low heat, whisk up the eggs, add the sugar and continue to whisk like a madman until the mixture is thick, pale and almost double in size.  If you have an electric mixer, then this would be an advantage over a traditional bowl whisk.  Unless you are working on developing your upper body strength.

Pour the chocolate ganache mixture into the whisked eggs and fold in until the two mixtures are combined.  This produces a dar, intense yet light chocolate filling for the tart.

Remove the base from the freezer (or fridge) and pour the chocolate mixture slowly into the centre of the biscuit base allowing it to fill every nook and cranny - it won't need much encouragement, but you may require a spatula to draw the last few moments from the mixing bowl.

Still on the baking tray, transfer the tart to the oven and bake for 30 minutes on Gas Mark 4.  Refrain from opening the oven during baking.  Remove from the oven and place the tin on a wire rack.  The tart may have risen above the level of the biscuit base and it should have developed a hard, meringue like, top.  Leave the tart on the rack and in the tin until it has completely cooled.  Do not worry if the mixture appears unset in the centre, this will all take care of itself as it cools.  As the tart cools the centre will set further and as the heat escapes the top will settle back down onto its base.

Serve when completely cool with single cream.  A crumbly biscuit base and a smooth, rich, melt in the mouth filling.

Katie x

Monday, 15 November 2010

Chocolate and Beetroot Cake

Sometimes there is nothing I enjoy more than visiting friends and baking with them.  I know I can always rely on one such friend, Linda, to have a baking cupboard stocked as well as mine - with the necessities, such as four types of flour, and luxuries, such as glitter sprinkles.

So, this weekend we took to the kitchen, in Linda's Glasgow flat, and prepared a Chocolate and Beetroot cake - which I have never attempted before!  And what a treat it was!  Few ingredients, simple to make and delicious with creme fraiche.... I highly recommend it.

We found the recipe online, and after tasting I have adapted it slightly.  Enjoy!


1 oz cocoa powder
4 and 1/2 oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of Salt
6 oz caster sugar
8 floz. of corn or vegetable Oil
1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
3 free-range eggs lightly beaten
9 oz cooked beetroot, pureed (cook from fresh if possible - if not, buy pre-cooked in 'natural juices')
4 oz plain dark chocolate (no more than 70% Cocoa Solids)


Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 (190C).
Line the base of a 7" loose base cake tin and grease the sides.
Into one bowl, sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the sugar and stir together lightly.
In another bowl mix together the pureed beetroot, oil and vanilla essence.  Add the eggs into this mixture, a little at a time, folding between additions to blend the mixture together.  By the same method, of a little at a time, add the dry ingredients from the other bowl, folding between additions to bring it all together.  You should have a dark red, velvety looking mixture, thick and glossy... 
Chop up the dark chocolate into small pieces and stir them into the mixture.  Don't worry about the exact size of the chocolate pieces as they will completely melt into the mixture once in the oven.
Pour the mixture into the lined tin and then pop it onto the middle shelf of the oven.  After 45 minutes, check to see if it is cooked through, by inserted a skewer into the centre of the cake.  If the skewer comes out clean then the mixture is done.  If the skewer is wet, or if the cake wobbles as you remove it from the oven, place it back in for another 5-10 minutes.
Allow to cool for around 20 mins in the tin before sliding it out and placing it on whichever piece of crockery you think it best suites - I would recommend something pink or red.  Best served warm with cream or creme fraiche, however, also lovely with a cup of tea of an afternoon.

Katie x

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

midweek musings...

Whilst I find other things to occupy my weekends this month (a hen party, a trip to glasgow and a wedding) I thought I would share some of the intended sweet things that I am excited to bring to life in the coming months....

pasteis de nata
portugese egg custard tartlets made with puff pastry

chocolate brownies
absolute chocolate heaven made with dark, milk and white chocolate

carrot cake
dark, moist and utterly satisfying

lemon and lime drizzle cake
sharp, bitter, sweet and delightfully moorish

gluten free chocolate cake
served with whipped cream, berries and preferable a glass of port

On another note, I intend to visit a couple of my favourite places when I return to Glasgow next week...The Pig and Butterfly tea rooms, as well as Kember and Jones in the West End and I'm sure I'll be popping into Felix and Oscar at some point too....

Katie xx

Monday, 1 November 2010

pumpkin pie revised

So...after baking and eating pumpkin pie for the first time I would like to make a couple of minor amendments to the recipe.  Firstly, I think there is probably too much cinnamon and that the sugar quantity needs to be split between two types of sugar and more of it - the dark sugar on it's own makes the mixture quite bitter and heavy.  I also think that as far as eggs are concerned, the less faffing about separating them, the better.  Here are the revised ingredients and quantities:

450g / 1lb pumpkin flesh (no skin and cubed)
3 free-range medium eggs
2oz / 60g soft dark brown sugar
2oz / 60g soft light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg (1/4 of tsp if using ground nutmeg)
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
300ml double cream

Instead of using ground cinnamon you could incorporate a cinnamon stick into the mixture when heating the cream.  Remove the stick before combining the warm ingredients with the whisked egg.

Katie xx
(P.S the original method worked well and therefore remains unchanged)