Tag Archives: pastry

Lindt Creation Dessert Chocolates*, Fats and Bird Caramel Eclairs

We’ve been pretty spoilt this year when it comes to sweet treats. After managing to eke out our Christmas haul all the way until the back end of February, we were ready to say “that’s enough – no treats for a while, let’s be good”. Fortunately, we were snapped out of this madness when we were given the chance to sample some lovely Lindt chocolates. We’re huge fans of Lindt, so we couldn’t turn down the chance to try something new. Fats in particular has fond recollections of Lindt – unfortunately there’s no big romantic story here, instead the memories were formed in the Lindt factory outlet store in Aachen, Germany,  down the road from some offices he used to work in… he did bring Bird back one of these beauties for Valentine’s day – the gorgeous little tin is still used! If you fancy trying these out for yourself make sure you read to the bottom for a chance to win a box!

Lindt Creation Desserts are bite-sized chocolates, each one based on a well-known dessert. This is a great concept, and made for a rather obvious post inspiration – we were to chomp our way through the chocolates with the aim of deciding which one was our favourite, and we’d make the winner into a full-sized dessert and post the recipe on our blog. In fact, we decided to go one further and rank all of the chocolates. It’s a tough job, but we were definitely ready for this particular challenge…

Lindt Chocolate Box

Chocolate Box Full

So (in the style of BuzzFeed) here is the DEFINITIVE ranking of Lindt Creation Desserts!

7. Tiramasu
Tiramasu Choc

At the centre of this chocolate was a thick layer of milk chocolate praline with a layer of white chocolate mousse. This was wrapped by lovely milk chocolate and topped with a thick layer of white chocolate dusted with cocoa powder. Although delicious in its own right, we felt it could have had a stronger coffee flavour.

6. Meringue
Meringue Choc

A hard, white chocolate shell, covering a creamy white chocolate mousse dotted with tiny little bursts of crunchy meringue giving pops of texture. Really tasty, but white chocolate will always be second to milk really…

5. Chocolate Fondant
Chocolate Fondant Choc

Chocolate chocolate chocolate! Thick milk chocolate shell with a rich, gooey centre. Really gooey, the kind of chocolate that sticks your tongue to the roof of your mouth.

4. Brownie

Brownie Choc

A squishy texture with crunchy hazelnut pieces and a nutty, dark, almost burnt flavour. This was really indulgent – perfect with a mug of tea!

3. Mille-feuille

Mille Feuille

This was a lovely milk chocolate coating a rich praline, laced with specs of wafer, giving a great texture.

2. Creme Brulée
Creme Brulee Choc

A milk chocolate cup containing a delicious white chocolate cream with a smooth milky flavour, topped with a crunchy layer of caramelised sugar that gave that lovely burnt flavour you associate with creme brulée – delicious!

1. Caramel Eclair
Eclair Choc

Our winner! Caramely and classic milk chocolate surrounding a gooey centre somewhere between caramel and fudge in texture, with a sweet but complex, coffee-like, slightly burnt taste. So good, we were inspired to make them for real!

We seriously enjoyed these desserts, and we reckon you will too – there’s definitely something for everyone in there. With two weeks to go until Mother’s Day, it would be a great gift too. Read on if you want to know how to make your very own eclairs, and to find out how to get hold of your very own box of delicious chocolates!

Salted Caramel and Coffee Eclairs

This recipe is a bit adapted from a Paul Hollywood recipe that you can find on the BBC food website – we drew on some of the skills we learned at our Bordeaux Quay cookery school earlier in the year and changed the recipe a bit – we hope you like it!

For 4 eclairs (and a few profiteroles for good measure), you’ll need:

For the filling:

And for the icing:

Before you start, pre-heat an oven to 190°C. Now, make the choux pastry. This is pretty scary if it’s your first time, but take it from us that it’s nowhere near as hard as it looks! Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat along with the salt, caster sugar and water. Once the butter has melted, bring it to the boil and immediately add the flour. Keep it on the heat for a few minutes (bit different from Hollywood here!) to cook some of the flour out, while stirring fairly vigorously to bring it all together. Once everything has come together, take it off the heat.

This is what the choux looks like when an egg has just gone in - don't panic!
This is what the choux looks like when an egg has just gone in – don’t panic!

Start adding the eggs, a little bit at a time, and stir to incorporate into the rest of the mixture. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come together immediately, you really need to put some effort in! Hollywood reckons 2 eggs for twice this mixture, but we got nearly 2 eggs in – what you’re looking for is a really shiny, silky texture that isn’t runny but will be easy to pipe.

Ahh - perfect silky choux!
Ahh – perfect silky choux!

Once the choux mixture is done, put it in a piping bag with a 1 cm nozzle (we used disposable bags and cut a 1 cm nozzle), trying to make sure there are no air bubbles. Pipe out four 12cm-long eclairs onto a pre-prepared baking sheet lined with baking paper, and as many profiteroles as you can get out of the rest of the mixture – we managed 4 fairly large ones (about 3 cm across).

Choux going in bag

Eclairs going on

Dab down any spikes of choux with a wet finger, and whack in the oven. Bake until a light golden-brown colour – this should be about 30 minutes. As soon as they come out, put a small hole in each one with the tip of a knife, to let any steam out – otherwise they’ll go a bit soggy, and no-one wants soggy choux.

Cream

Now for the cream filling. Beat the marscapone in a bowl until smooth, and then add the coffee and icing sugar and mix in. Beat the cream until it holds soft peaks and then fold into the rest of the mixture. Spoon into a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle, and pipe into the eclairs and profiteroles. This is another step that’s a bit scary if you haven’t done it before! Just stick the nozzle into the hole that you made and squeeze (making sure that the cream is going to come out of the right end of the piping bag!). The eclairs will hold a surprising amount of cream, inside they’re nothing but air. They’ll be pretty weighty when you’re done!

Perfect one-hand filling from bird there!
Perfect one-hand filling from bird there!

Eclair Filled

For the icing, heat the sugar, butter and salt in a saucepan. Don’t stir initially – give it the odd shake around though. When everything is melted and a bit smoother, add the milk and bring to the boil. Keep it boiling for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take it off the heat and sift in the icing sugar. You’ll need to be quick now, the icing will harden surprisingly fast! Slather over your eclairs, and dip the profiteroles in to get a little cap of icing.

For a last extra-special touch, sprinkle over a little sea salt and gently press into the top of the icing. This lovely burst of flavour and texture just puts the icing on the cake… or should that be the salt on the icing?

The sea salt is a really excellent touch!
The sea salt is a really excellent touch!

Now – eat them! We have to say thanks to Lindt for this, not only for the lovely chocolates, but for inspiring us to get in our kitchen to cook up this quite frankly incredible dessert.

Eclair Done

We also have an exciting announcement – head over to our twitter feed for a chance to win a box of your very own Lindt Creation Desserts. A perfect gift just in time for Mother’s Day (or a treat to scoff yourself!). UK only, competition closes 21/03/2014, one box available and winner is chosen at random from followers who have retweeted – retweet and follow us on Twitter for a chance to win!

*Lindt Creation Desserts were sent to us free of charge by 4Ps Marketing. You can buy them at the lindt shop

Tart Tuesday: Egg Custard Tarts

Hmm….. bit of an epic fail this one really! Some combination of warm filling, raw and very thin pastry and loose bottomed tart tins resulted in all of our carefully crafted custard being spread over the baking tray (thank GOODNESS we put them on a baking tray!) within approximately 3 seconds of the tarts going in the oven. We didn’t even manage to close the oven door before they sprung a leak – probably a very good thing in hindsight! Wish we’d taken a photo, it was so comically tragic but we were too busy having a strop (Bird) and rescuing what was left of the precious custard (Fats).

However our evening was not lost, in what can only be described as fate (not a word we use lightly) Tesco had our favourite biscuit/cookie type affair (these bad boys) on offer for £1 and there was only 1 packet left. See? Fate.

When Bird returned triumphantly clutching the cookies Fats had rescued and cooked a good amount of the custard which was cooling in the fridge. So, during The Great British Bake Off although we missed our tarts, an Extremely Chocolatey Cookie dunked in cold custard wasn’t the worst thing in the world…..

You may turn your nose up but try it.... it's like milk and cookies amplified!
You may turn your nose up but try it…. it’s like milk and cookies amplified!

Tart Tuesday: Tarte au Citron

Just a mini post tonight, it was of course Great British Bake Off night (how amazing was Christine’s Bavarian clock??) so it was time for another Tart Tuesday! Because we had some simple grilled plaice for dinner we plumped for a lemon tart for dessert. Bird has made a tarte au citron before but it was with a shop bought pastry case and it was a large one – miniature ones made from scratch were untrodden ground!

We used one of the portions of sweet shortcrust pastry that we made last week and froze, you can find the recipe on our Nectarine Frangipane post. Take it out of the freezer 24 hours before you want to use it and put it in the fridge to defrost, then just take it out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before you want to use it – easy! So the same as before, roll out the pastry, place it in mini loose-bottomed tart cases (we greased with butter and then coated in a little flour) and chill it in the fridge for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Prick the pastry with a fork, fill the tart cases with baking beans after lining with foil or greaseproof paper and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or so until firm, then remove the baking beans and bake for 3-5 minutes more until dry and pale gold in colour.

So here’s where this one differs a little from last weeks – the pastry has to be cool before you add the filling. We blind baked our cases before dinner, ate dinner and then filled them afterwards so there wasn’t any unnecessary hanging around. Once they’ve cooled make up the filling.

Ingredients (for 2 mini tarts plus some extra)

  • 2 eggs
  • 50ml double cream
  • 90g caster sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 and a half lemons

Heat the oven to 150°C. Simply whisk the eggs for a few minutes and then stir in the other ingredients, it’s as easy as that! Pour the mixture into your cooled pastry, the easiest way to do this is to place the tart cases on a tray, fill them most of the way up, carry the tray carefully to the oven and slide it in and then fill them up the rest of the way while they’re in the oven. These need to bake for around 15 minutes but keep an eye on them, we turned the oven down to 100°C as they had coloured on top and were still very wobbly! They’re cooked when they have a very, very slight wobble.

Now what you should do is leave them to cool for at least half an hour, release them from the tins, then chill them down more (partly in the fridge) for another couple of hours so they are set firm with a lovely soft texture. We did not do this. There was Bake Off to be watched, Bird had a blood test earlier, Fats had a hard bike ride home – we were in need of a treat and sharp! So ours were a little… gooeyer (it’s a word!) than they were intended to be but they tasted ah-may-zing. What will we make next week? Dare we attempt a custard tart?

Lemon tart

Tart Tuesday: Nectarine and Frangipane

In light of the new-found pastry confidence we’re going to attempt to bring you a mini tart recipe every Tuesday because, if you’re anything like us, you’ll understand the need for a tasty treat while watching Great British Bake Off. So after work tonight Bird knocked up a batch of sweet shortcrust pastry using the recipe below which is taken from a Jamie Oliver recipe. This will make far too much for two little tart cases so we will be freezing it in mini tart case sized portions and then defrosting it on a Monday every week ready to fill and bake on a Tuesday! For tonight’s Tart Tuesday the filling is frangipane and fresh nectarine. We have some nectarines which are on the turn (ooh-err!) and thought they would be perfect nestled in a bed of almond-y goodness.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 125g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • a splash of milk

Sift the flour and the icing sugar together into a large bowl, and then rub the butter in until the mixture is pale gold with a fine breadcrumb texture. Throw in the beaten egg and 1-2 tsp of milk and start to bring together, adding more milk if needed until it just comes together. Make sure not to add too much milk at the beginning because it barely needs any and you can always add but you can’t take away. Bring it together with the minimal work required so it doesn’t become tough and then wrap the ball of dough in cling film and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour before you want to use it.

From this point on you can do what you like, this is the point you would freeze it, you could use it to make a large tart, a medium pie, or as we’re going to  – mini tarts. We divided the pastry into 4 and froze 3 of these. Just remember to blind bake it first to avoid the dreaded soggy bottom!

_MG_3023

Frangipane Filling (this makes a bit too much for 2 mini tarts, but who can be bothered splitting eggs? I’m sure you’ll find some other clever use for it)

  • 65g unsalted butter
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 65g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tbsp plain flour

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well until it becomes smooth and pale. Using a metal spoon fold in the ground almonds and flour, mix well and it’s ready to use, or you can refrigerate it until you need it.

So, to put these beauties together, roll out the pastry to around 0.5 cm thick and place in a greased tart case. Place this in the fridge for at least 10 minutes before baking. Prick the base with a fork and then blind bake them in an oven preheated to 190°C for 10 minutes, remove the baking beans and allow to colour in the oven for a further two minutes. Scoop in lots of the gorgeous frangipane mixture, try and spread it out but don’t worry – it will even as it bakes. Top with some slices of fruit. We used nectarines as we had them in, but some other lovely options would be peach, apricot, fig (very seasonal), pear – basically any soft fruit you can think of! Drizzle with a little honey, these tarts are very sweet but they’re dinky so it doesn’t get too sickly. If you were serving them at a dinner party rather than sat in front of the tv like us then a dollop of crème fraîche would be perfect.

_MG_3035

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until fluffed up and golden on top. Leave to cool in their cases for as long as you can bear and then release them and tuck in, preferably when they’re still slightly warm!

_MG_3043

We absolutely loved these, they were sweet and soft inside with a really crisp pastry shell and then a burst of fresh flavour from the nectarines. We’ll get thinking about next week’s flavour… maybe lemon tarts? Or pear and chocolate? Any suggestions will be gratefully received!

_MG_3049

Broccoli, Leek and Gruyere Quiche

This is not a health food post. If you’re looking for healthy, look away now (although there is some salad porn at the bottom so you’d really better keep reading…). This quiche has flaky, buttery pastry, a rich cheesy filling with caramelised leeks and then the bite and freshness of the broccoli. We apologise now for the lack of photos, Fats was painting a wall and evidently Bird doesn’t multitask well.

First things first – pastry. Pastry is one of those things we’ve always been a bit nervous of, the fear of a soggy bottom is nearly too much to handle. But this was really easy, so give it a go!

Pastry Ingredients (makes enough pastry for a 25cm tart case)

  • 280g plain flour
  • 140g cold butter, cubed
  • 6-8 tbsp cold water

Rub the butter into the flour until you have a fine breadcrumb texture. Then add the water, being careful not to chuck the whole lot in as ours needed less than suggested, until you have a smooth dough that holds together but isn’t sticky. Give it a brief knead so it comes together nicely and then put it in the fridge, wrapped in cling film, for 20-40 minutes before you want to use it. That’s pretty much it! Told you it was easy. The things that seem to help most here are keeping your hands cool, keeping all your ingredients cool and not working it too much at all.

After it has chilled place it on a floured work surface and roll out so it is more than big enough to fit in your tart case, ours was about 5mm thick. Place it in the tart case and use a ball of excess dough to work it into the fluting of the case so you don’t thin it or break it with your fingers. Then place back in the fridge for another 20 minutes while you preheat your oven to 200°C. Once the oven has come to temperature take the tart case out of the fridge, prick the base of it with a fork, line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Place in the oven to blind bake for 20 minutes, meanwhile you can get on with the filling.

Filling Ingredients

  • Broccoli (around 200g, just the florets)
  • 1 small leek, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 280ml double cream
  • Gruyere cheese, grated – as much as you like!

Bring a pan of water to the boil and then chuck the broccoli in to blanch – it only needs to be cooked for about 2 minutes so after this time take it out, drain it and put in a bowl/pan of cold water to refresh it and stop it cooking. This means it retains it’s lovely green colour when baked. Sweat the leeks in the butter until soft and lightly caramelised. Whisk the two eggs, slowly add the cream and then mix in the leeks and half the cheese.

By this point the 20 minutes on your pastry should be up so remove the baking beans and allow it to colour slightly for 5-10 minutes more in the oven until it is a pale biscuit colour. Once done take it out and arrange the broccoli evenly across it, we made sure not to put a piece bang in the middle because although it would look lovely it would make it a right faff when it came to serving it!

_MG_2986

Pour over the filling and then sprinkle over the other half of the cheese. Put it back in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until lovely and golden on top. Leave it to cool in the case and then remove and serve!

_MG_2991
Use your rolling pin to gently press down on the top of the tart case fluting, this will naturally break the pastry rather than faffing around with a knife before baking!

We had ours with a delicious salad of sultanas which were briefly soaked in the juice of half a lemon giving them a burst of sweet and sour all at once, slivers of carrot, thinly sliced radishes and cucumber and spinach leaves, dressed with olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper, a perfect sharp contrast to the rich quiche.

_MG_2998

As you can see, this leaves plenty when there are only two of you, you could make it when you have a lot of people round but then you’d be missing out on all those gorgeous leftovers!

_MG_3000