Gumbo and rainy day comfort food

bowlThe weather has not been kind to Sydney this week. Earlier in the week it was so uncomfortably humid that leaving the haven of my air-conditioned house made me immediately hot – the air was syrupy with humidity. I made my watermelon and feta salad to cool down on Saturday and had planned to eat the leftovers today.

That was an optimistic plan, because today we had rain; persistent, cold and accompanied by wind.

On the plus side, it was good weather for baking! I baked a lemon and coconut cake similar to these little beauties, and one of my new favourite recipes, gumbo.

Chocolate berry tarts and sluggish weather

rainThe weather in Sydney got a bit rubbish overnight. The Boy and I went to a Mexican themed birthday bash (check us out, we dressed up and everything!) and it started to rain as the night wore on, unfortunately. The company and food was good, despite the weather’s best efforts to dampen things.

Torrential rain is perfect indoor weather, which means I crave sweets. Comfort food.

If you’re anything like me, however, the wet weather also means that you’re lazy. I’m currently writing in my pyjamas and enjoying the sound of the rain. I had intended to go to the gym this morning, but as soon as I heard the rain I excused myself because rain.

Chocolate custard tart and winter weather

It is heater weather at the moment, which is a perfect excuse for me to bake; I love filling the house with warm, delicious smells! This custard tart is delicious served warm or cold, and tastes just as delicious one or two days later…if it lasts that long.

The cinnamon in the chocolate custard gives it a little kick of warmth, which is delightful as the need for electric blankets and heaters increases. Norman is relishing the new heater in our house – he stands so close to it that I worry about him singeing his fur! If Norman was allowed chocolate I’m sure he would demolish this custard tart!

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Chocolate custard tart:

  • 2 sheets ready-made shortcrust pastry (even though I used puff)slice
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 3 free-range egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 250ml/9fl oz whole milk
  • 100g/3½oz dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 250g strawberries

Preheat your oven to 200°C and grease a shallow 26 cm pie dish.

pastryDrape your sheets of pastry over your pie dish so that they cover as much of it as possible. This recipe is probably more suited to shortcrust pastry, but I was craving puff pastry! Trim the edges so and use the excess to fill in any gaps that may remain. Press together the pastry at any point where there is a join. Cover the pie with baking paper and pop it into the oven with either baking weights or rice to weight it down for 15 minutes.

I love my baking weights, I think they’re beautiful!baking weights

While the pastry is baking, whisk the sugar, eggs and cornflour together in a bowl and set them to one side.

Put the milk in a small pan along with the chocolate, cocoa and cinnamon over a medium heat. Once the ingredients have combined turn the heat up and bring chocolate mix to boil. Allow to boil for about two minutes, stirring it regularly so it doesn’t burn, then remove from heat.

Take your pastry out the oven and set it to one side to cool.

Allow the chocolate mixture to cool for five minutes before adding the egg mixture to the pan and returning it to the heat. Whisk the chocolate mixture to remove any lumps and allow it to thicken. Remove the custard from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.

chocolatePour the warm custard into your base, (spreading it out as evenly as possible) and return it to the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the tops off the strawberries and slice them thinly in preparation for when the tart comes out of the oven. When you do remove the tart from the oven, work quickly, fanning the strawberries out around the tart, making sure each slice overlaps the last one slightly.

strawbs

As you’re doing this, press them into the custard lightly so that they stay in place.

overlaptart

To serve you can glaze with a syrup made from 1 tbsp strawberry jam and ¼ cup water heated over the stove and brushed onto the strawberries, or simply sprinkle with icing sugar.

wholeflowers