Vanilla fig tart and a grown up Easter

figI’ve only realised how delightful figs are in the past 18 months or so.

I never used to trust figs because they’re so squidgy and unusually coloured and lacking a core. It’s kind of funny, because those things now make them perfect fodder for my baking. They’re downright beautiful – I searched Pinterest for recipe inspiration and ended up “oohing” and “aahing” at how photogenic such an unassuming fruit could be.

They’re adorable little sacks of beauty.

Figs can be pretty expensive in Sydney, but I found a pack on special (yay!) I wanted to keep the figs as close to natural as possible and pick other flavours that would highlight their sweetness. Vanilla and blueberry make perfect partners in crime for fig.

The great thing about these tarts is that they are a perfect “grown up” option for Easter. If you’re not a big fan of chocolate eggs (I don’t understand you, but I do know you exist), a humble tart like this is a great alternative for an Easter treat. These little tarts are completely customisable – top them with whatever you want! I

Fig and blueberry tart

closeMakes 24

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 135g butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp water

Vanilla crème patissiere

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp corn flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)

Toppings:

  • 2 figs
  • 100g blueberries

yolksRub together your plain flour and butter until they resemble bread crumbs. Add in the sugar and mix, then mix in the egg yolks. Make sure you mix thoroughly so that you don’t have mottled pastry. Add in the water, one tablespoon at a time – it may take slightly more or less than three tablespoons to achieve a cohesive dough.

pastryPress your dough together in a ball, cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for 15 mins.

Preheat your oven to 200°C and grab your dough from the fridge. Grease a 12 hole cupcake tin. Roll out your chilled dough to 4-5mm thickness and use a scone cutter to cute circles big enough to fit in the cupcake tin and create a small edge.

prickPrick each tart with a fork and pop them into the oven for 15 minutes.

While the tarts are in the oven, make a start on the crème patissiere.  Bring the milk, butter and vanilla to a boil in a medium saucepan. Make sure you stir the mixture constantly to avoid burning the milk. Once it’s come to a boil, turn off the heat and set the mixture to one side.

Mix the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour in a large bowl until you have a thick paste. This mixture does the same job that store-bought custard powder does. Grab your hot milk and pour it into the egg mixture in small increments (this tempers the mixture and ensures that it won’t separate later, if you pour all the hot milk in at once, you risk burning or cooking the egg mixture), mixing well after each addition.

Once all of the milk is mixed in, you should have a warm, silky mixture. Pour it back into the milk pan and whisk it over a very low heat. Timing is crucial at this point, because you want to thicken the mixture. Whisking constantly to encourage air into the mixture, make sure you pay attention to the texture of the mixture – once the mixture reaches the consistency of soft serve ice cream, take it off the heat and keep whisking. If you leave it on the heat any longer, it will over-cook and start to look like scrambled eggs!* The residual heat in the mixture will cook the crème patissiere further, so whisk for a good five minutes before spooning it into the tart cases.

alternativesSet in the fridge for ten minutes to cool, then top with whatever Easter-appropriate toppings you like, get creative. If you prefer Easter eggs or chocolate and blueberries on your tarts, try that instead – they’ll still look great and taste delicious!

*If you do happen to over-cook the mixture, add a generous dash cold milk and whisk into the mixture until you achieve a smooth crème patissiere.

normanCompletely unrelated to figs or tarts, here is a gratuitous photo of Norman napping. He got so impatient of waiting for the crumbs as I baked the pastry shells that he snuck up onto the lounge and had a sneak sleep.

Easter pavlova and holiday spirit

aboveThere is something about holidays that brings out the best in people. Last week I came home from a busy day at my new job to find a beautiful gift wrapped in brown paper from a beautiful friend. Buying Easter eggs for this pavlova, I had a laugh with a woman and her children about which eggs were the most delicious. Setting up the photo shoot for the cake, I was heaped with praise and kind words from friends and family who were visiting.

There is something that changes as holidays approach. People in traffic seem nicer, strangers smile more readily, grumpy neighbours laugh more easily. I just adore holidays.

Nutella raspberry puffs and hype

aboveI don’t think it’s any secret that I love Nutella. It’s also pretty well documented that I love Easter. So in my mind, these little morsels are the perfect unison.

The fact that they’re puff pasty is just a bonus.

…and did I mention that they’re pretty speedy to whip up?

I feel as though I’m over-selling them slightly; try them, I promise they’ll live up to my hype!!

weird eggThe Boy says these are the best things that I’ve made so far. I’ve been blogging for almost 12 months, and have accrued over 100 recipes – I think this verifies their deliciousness!

Choc chai melting moments and routine

closeEvery now and then it’s good to shake up your routine. I’ve been in a bit of a baking rut because I’d been so intent on using up leftover pears. Don’t get me wrong, pears are delicious (I’ve baked them, caked them, poached them and more), but I was lacking inspiration.

So I went back to an old recipe and jazzed it up a little with some of mydelicious chocolate chai fudge. Nom.

The original chocolate melting moments were dense and deliciously dark, so the addition of chai fudge is a welcome gooiness.

Lime curd tarts and tart sweets

saucerI wrote yesterday about my body’s desire for things that weren’t sweet. I’ve got a zucchini galette in the oven as I type, and I promise that I’m capable of doing things that aren’t tooth-achingly sweet. But I do love my desserts.

This recipe is not a sweet one. It’s got sugar in it, but the limes cancel out that sweetness instantly. These tarts are face-puckering, jaw-clenching, lime-laden delights.

Lime curd and cravings

limesLately I’ve been craving things that aren’t sweet. Salty, savoury, tart foods. I’m fairly sure this is my body’s way of telling me that I should slow down on the baking, or cut down my sugar intake or something.

Silly body, you love sweet things.

I do listen to it sometimes. I try and eat healthily when I’m not testing baked goods (mostly!) So instead of making cupcakes or a cake for this post, I made some gloriously tart lime curd.

Chai chocolate fudge and acceptance

sceneA friend of mine refuses to accept that white chocolate is chocolate. She also refuses to eat it because of its ambiguity, the fact that it masquerades as something that it isn’t.

This is fine, it’s her choice (actually it’s rather advantageous to me, more white chocolate consumption on my part), but she is definitely missing out. I never really sided with my friend until this recipe, when I actually contemplated white chocolate.

White chocolate, I’ve realised, is not really chocolatey tasting at all – it’s smooth and sweet and that’s about it…not that there’s anything wrong with this! In being so indistinct, white chocolate lends itself perfectly to other flavours, it welcomes them openly – it works perfectly with the caramel of the sweetened condensed milk, and also complements the spicy, warm notes of the chai flavouring.

Copycat creme eggs and ambition

singleThis project was a little ambitious. There wasn’t any baking involved, but I was so inspired by all the creativity and enthusiasm floating around at the Cake Bake and Sweets Show that I thought I’d re-create one of my favourite foods ever.

Cadbury creme eggs.

If these babies were available all year round, I would probably have already eaten myself to an early grave.

Thankfully for my health, they’re only available seasonally. Now that I’ve cracked a recipe to make them, however, I may be able to eat them whenever I want!

Chocolate clovers and chevrons

Yesterday I posted a delectable little cake in preparation for St Patrick’s day – it was chocolatey, Guinness-y and whiskey-y. Delightful. What I held off posting, was a little recipe for the chocolate clovers I decorated the cake with.

This Friday I’m having a bit of a “take it easy” post, so I’ll give you two cake chocolate decorations to jazz up your cake. These two are appropriate for Irish themed cakes, but can be tweaked to suit any cake your little heart desires.

White chocolate clovers:

Makes 15side

  • 150g white chocolate
  • ½-1 tsp green food colouring
  • Heart shaped chocolate mould

spoonChop up your white chocolate and zap it in the microwave for about a minute. Give it a stir and return to the microwave until the chocolate is JUST melted – you don’t want to overcook it because your chocolate will seize.

doneTake the warm chocolate and add your food colouring slowly until you achieve your desired green-ness. Spoon the mixture into the moulds and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Remove from the fridge and test whether they’re done by pulling the sides of the mould away from the chocolate to see if the chocolate is set yet – if the chocolate stays in one piece, it’s done.

Arrange in groups of three to mimic the formation of a clover.

Chocolate chevrons:broken

  • 450g white chocolate
  • 25g dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp green food colouring

meltedLightly grease and line a 20cm square tin. Chop up your white chocolate and pop it in the microwave for about a minute, then give it a stir. Return to the microwave until the chocolate is JUST melted. Pour into your prepared pan and set to one side. Don’t allow it to set.

Working quickly, melt your dark chocolate and spoon it into a snaplock bag. Pour your green food colouring into a small dish or egg cup and grab a bamboo skewer. Use the thin edge of the skewer to draw a number of lines across the surface of the still warm white chocolate. You may need to clean the skewer as you work.

drawSnip the end off of the snaplock bag and draw some lines of chocolate across the white chocolate as well. Don’t worry if your lines aren’t completely straight – mine were pretty wonky, and they turned out fine.

Flip the skewer around, and use the thicker end of the skewer to draw more lines in the white chocolate. When you’ve finished, you should end up with a collection of lines running parallel to one another with thin gaps of white in between them – try not to let any lines intersect.

setFlip the green-edged skewer to the thin side again and drag it up and down, through the lines to create chevrons. Again, you may need to clean the skewer as you go to maintain clean lines.

cakePop in the fridge for 20 minutes or until set.

When it’s set, chop roughly and serve atop your cake, or set on the side of the dish.

There you go – two easy chocolate decorations to jazz up your cake!

 

 

 

 

Caramel and high tea

aboveI’m a big fan of caramel. Actually, that’s kind of a redundant statement, because I don’t know anybody who isn’t a fan of caramel. If you happen to know someone who doesn’t like it, please send them my way, I’ll remedy their ailment.

I’ve made caramel sauces and icings for the blog, but I realised today that I hadn’t posted a chewy caramel recipe. For that, I apologise. Caramel is pretty simple to make – it has a reputation for being difficult, but as long as you’re careful you should be fine.

So I’m fixing this right now. With these delicious, chewy delights. They’re just the right amount of chewy – not teeth-shatteringly hard, but not too soft either. (Insider tip: the longer your boil the mixture, the harder they’ll set; I boiled mine for ten and they were in the middle. Boil them for more than that and they’ll be harder, boil them for less and they’ll be gooier.)

These gorgeous little mouthfuls were the top tier of my high tea set up, (the high tea that I threw to celebrate having Cristina Re tea cups on loan!) I’ll post the other two recipes from the high tea in the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled!

Chewy caramels

shatterMakes 24 pieces

  • 395g can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup cup caster sugar
  • 125g butter, chopped
  • 1/2 cup golden syrup

Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.

ingredientsToss the condensed milk, sugar, butter and golden syrup into a medium sized pan. Turn the heat up to medium so that the butter melts, the sugar dissolves and the mixture combines, mixing regularly. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to boil for 10 minutes, making sure you stir consistently to avoid burning the mixture.

pourTake the mixture off the heat and set aside to let the bubbles subside.

Pour into your prepared pan and allow to cool briefly before putting in the freezer for at least an hour. Be careful, because your tin will heat up because the caramel is so hot. If you want salted caramel, take a pinch or two of salt flakes and sprinkle liberally.

saltRemove from the freezer about ten minutes before cutting. When it comes to cutting, lightly oil a knife so that it glides through the caramel more easily when you’re cutting. Personally, I like to allow the caramel to shatter slightly – when cutting, put pressure on the tip of the knife while it’s in the caramel without pressing the rest of the blade down, this should cause little fractures in the caramel.

tier