Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chocolate & Ginger Tarts

Who can resist the lovely glossy lure of chocolate ganache! Combine it with pastry and preserved ginger and you've got a special treat. These lovely little tarts will earn you brownie points with your loved ones...or you could just save them all for yourself ;-)
The pastry was an interesting recipe containing flour, ground almonds, icing sugar, salt, unsalted butter, vanilla seeds and an egg yolk. Once baked it held together well and it was nice and light. The tart cases were blind baked with baking beans but if you don't have beans you can use rice. To more easily line each case with baking parchment, scrunch up the parchment before lining as this means it sits more easily inside the case.
I've used this muffin pan method before to make Mini Mississippi Mud Pies and it does give you nice little tarts but the effect is rather rustic...but this is an Edd Kimber recipe and Edd's tarts were rustic too!
Preserved Stem Ginger in Syrup is easy to find at the supermarket, I picked some up at Tescos. Each little tart has a secret cache of finely chopped ginger hidden at the bottom and chocolate and ginger are perfect partners.
The filling for the tarts is a classic chocolate ganache. The ganache included the addition of light brown muscovado sugar, this always gives a little bit of a fudgy taste and it also gives sweetness which cuts through the dark chocolate to provide balance. Once ready 40g of unsalted butter was added to the ganache, when mixed in this gives a lovely glossy finish.
The easiest way to fill the tart cases is to transfer the prepared ganache into a measuring jug and then pour the required amount into each one. The pastry recipe made 12 cases but mine were quite large so I only had enough ganache to fill 10 cases fully and I would have liked to have filled these 10 a little more!
To give an extra special finish to the tarts I used a little edible gold leaf on the top of each one. You can get edible gold leaf from most cake decorating shops or websites, mine came from Surbiton Sugarart.
You can buy it as a sheet or flaked in a little pot. It is reasonably expensive with the pot above costing £4.35 but it does add that extra sparkle to a special bake.
These tarts neatly fit into two baking challenges this month. The first is We Should Cocoa, with usual host Choclette from Choc Log Blog taking a break it's hosted by Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes this month. We Should Cocoa was co-created by Chele at Chocolate Teapot and the theme this month is 'Chocolate and Ginger'.
The second challenge is Classic French, again hosted by Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes. This challenge aims to help us tackle a different French classic each month, this month the theme is Chocolate again these fit in perfectly!


275g plain flour
25g ground almonds
50g icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt
175g unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
1-2 tbsp ice-cold water
1 vanilla pod (seeds)
4 pieces of preserved stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped

Chocolate Ganache

225g dark chocolate
185 ml double cream
45g light brown sugar or light brown muscovado
40g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

Makes 12

Start by making the pastry and preheating the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4. The recipe suggests making this by hand...but I cheated and used a food could obviously do it either way. I put the flour, icing sugar, almonds and salt into the food processor and then added the cubed unsalted butter. Then whiz the mixture until it resembles rough breadcrumbs. At this stage add the egg yolk and ice-cold water and whiz again. The initial recipe suggested a tablespoon of water, however I found I needed two. Turn out the pastry on to the counter and then bring together by hand. Squash into a disc and then wrap in clingfilm before putting it into the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.

Once the pastry is ready, take it out of the fridge adn leave to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Whilst it's resting, lightly grease a 12-hole muffin pan. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and then roll out the pastry to a thickness of 3-4mm (I used spacers). Using a 10cm circular cutter, cut out 12 discs of pastry, you may need to re-roll a couple of times. Put each disc into one of the holes in the muffin pan and press in gently. Then line each tart with baking parchment before filling each one with baking beans. If you don't have baking beans you can use rice.. Bake for 12-15 minutes, then remove the parchment and beans and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool in the pan before filling. Be gentle when removing from the muffin pan.

Finely chop the preserved ginger and sprinkle in the base of each tart. Next make the chocolate ganache by finely chopping up the chocolate and putting it in a bowl. Then put the double cream and light brown sugar in a small saucepan and heat on medium until just coming to the boil. Pour this cream mixture over the chocolate and leave for two minutes until gently stirring together. Add the butter and stir to combine, you should end up with a lovely glossy, silky ganache.

Finally, pour the ganache into each tart case, I used a jug for ease. Allow to set for one hour before serving. You can then add a little more chopped ginger on top and/or some edible gold leaf. This goes really well with whipped cream.

* Adapted from Edd Kimber's Say it With Cake.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Winter Preserving Workshop

Before Christmas I went on a festive bread making course run by Anna, otherwise known as the Culinary Anthropologist. I enjoyed the course so much that I immediately signed up for another. I attended the Winter Preserving Workshop today and have come back laden with lots of delicious goodies and new ideas. The workshop is one of a series, the others being Spring, Summer and Autumn, and they are run in conjunction with Riverford who you may well of heard of, as they deliver beautiful veg boxes, meat and dairy straight to your door.

Kate from at What Kate Baked recently reported that according to Stylist Magazine, 2013 is to be the year of preserving and it seems that it may be so. There has been much talk of marmalade on twitter and plenty of recipes in the food magazines. So although I can't share with you the recipes here, I thought I would share the top tips I learnt from the course. However, if you are looking for a recipe, one lady on the course recommended Nigel Slater's recipe!

Here's what we made on the course:

1. Seville Orange Marmalade
  • The oranges are boiled first to soften the rind which is then sliced, you can choose your favourite, fine or thick shread!
  • Sevilles only have a short season...and it's why not make up a batch of marmalade and then save it until next Christmas and give it out as Christmas presents. By then it will taste great!

2. Moroccan Preserved Lemons
  • The lemons are preserved using a lacto-fermentation process.
  • Once ready the lemons are great in dishes such as Morrocan tagines. We enjoyed them in a chickpea salad at lunchtime.

3. Spiced Pickled Oranges

  • This has white granulated sugar and light brown sugar in, along with white wine vinegar.
  • Goes well with meats.

4. Clementine Jam
  • We tested a sample of this jam at the beginning of the day and it had a lovely bright colour and tasted delicious.
  • This is ridiculously easy to make, it just involves blitzing quartered clementines in a food processor, adding the sugar and then leaving it overnight. It's boiled for a short period of time and then jarred. So simple and yet so tasty...amazing!
  • You can also make this one with Tangerines and Satsumas.

5. Blood Orange and Port Jelly

  • This was a lovely clear liquid which was strained using the jelly strainer you can see above...a nifty bit of kit.
  • If you don't have a jelly strainer, line a large bowl with muslin and pour in the liquid and solids. Tie the muslin together at the top tightly and then hang it over a bowl so that all the liquid drips out. This can take some time.

  • This is a lovely recipe that goes really well with gammon, game and cheese.

How to tell if your preserve has set:
  • The mixture will start to give off less steam as it turns syrupy and the bubbles will also appear less watery.
  • You will see a visible change in the mixture and the bubbles will start to rise up the pan.
  • You can try the 'Flake Test' which could really be called the blob test - put a wooden spoon into the mixture and then hold it up so the mixture runs off. It is ready when the last few drops hang on the spoon and then drop off in a blob rather than run off (sorry not a very technical explanation!)
  • Finally, the 'Wrinkle Test' - when you think the marmalade might be ready put about half a teaspoon on a chilled saucer. Leave it for a minute or two and then push your index finger through the marmalade, if it wrinkles up and leaves a clean area where you swiped your finger through then it is ready, if not then keep going! The picture below show marmalade that isn't ready!
  • Finally, if you want to be technical you can use a sugar thermometre where the setting point is 104.2 degrees.

Some top tips:
  • When filling the jars you can use a jam funnel to prevent spills.
  • Putting lemon juice in the marmalade helps it to set as it is high in pectin and apparently it keeps the colour bright. Most recipes should include the lemon juice.
  • To steralise the jars wash them thoroughly and put them on a baking tray which then goes in the oven, switch on the oven and heat to 140 degrees. They should be in the oven for at least 10 minutes but it is probably best to just leave them in there until you need them.
  • To steralise lids you can either boil them in a saucepan for 10 minutes or it's actually easier to place the lid straight on the jar when ready, tighten and turn it upside down for a little while which will also steralise.
  • When filling the jars, use two jugs, one for pouring into the jars and a filling jug to transfer the marmalade to the pouring jug. This prevents mess, you can also hang your filling jug on the edge of your preserving pan when you're not using it.
  • Fill your jars to the top to try and eliminate air.
  • Always put a date on your preserves so you know when it was made and when it will be good until.
  • Finally, you may find a scum forms on top of your marmalade as it boils. You can either skim this off the top or towards the end add a small knob of butter which will dissipate the scum. Although, don't add too much as you may flavour the marmalade.

Some useful items for making jam and marmalade:

3. Sugar thermometre (if using)
4. Jars/Clip Top Kilner Jars (maybe essential rather than useful, it could be rather messy otherwise ;-)

5. Labels - The labels for our preserves were hand-drawn but a lady who had previously attended the course but if you want to make your own, here are some sites that you could try: The Jam Labelizer, HW Desgins, Lakeland or the Preserve Shop.

Most of these links take you to Lakeland but obviously lots of other companies offer everything you need for preserving.

Did you know?
  • In order to call your jam, jam it has to contain at least 60% sugar! Our European counterparts have less sugar in their jam as they take advantage of a loophole in EU legistlation.

Finally, you may be interested in this article from the Guardian on 'How to Make the Perfect Marmalade' and if you've been inspired to try making marmalade then Riverford offer a Marmalade Kit with all the lovely fruits that you'll need, along with a recipe. They also offer a number of other kits using seasonal fruit throughout the year. Interestingly, I saw a marmalade kit in Tesco's the other day too!
Once you've mastered the basics, why not be more adventurous. For example, we tried Bergamot Orange Marmalade when we arrived for our course, it had a distinct flavour of Earl Grey. You can also add alcohol such as Cointreau. Then once you're feeling really flash you can enter into the Dalemain Marmalade Awards which are held annually.

This is a rather information heavy post, so I hope you're still with me but here's one last lady asked what is the difference between jam and marmalade and a conserve and a preserve? I'd love to know your thoughts on this one! I'm by no means a preserving expert, in fact quite the opposite, so any other hints and tips would also be gratefully received :-)