Pine Nut Tart

It had been a busy week for me of hectic baking and finally I am getting some rest. I also realised that I cooked only once last week, ūüėČ hubby asked because Sunday was my off day sometimes from cooking. I had an Italian indulgence on Saturday. My dear friend invited us over for dinner, her husband who is Italian is a fab cook and wants his Italian food done in the most authentic way ever. Having said that, we know that each time we are invited we have to fast or starve ourselves for the day or actually start the day before, heheheh! Mind you there will not be just 3 courses! I just love Giovanni’s tiramisu I always told him whatever it is must have tiramisu. The glut that I am I will always have 2 or 3 servings of tiramisu, after all the courses!. Oh well, I have a fire breathing dragon in the depth of my stomach I guess because it sort of disintegrate all my food that enters. On that Italian Mediterranean note I found this recipe in Flavours magazine. That issue they were doing some Mediterranean stuff. This recipe uses pine nuts and orange blossom water. I love the scent of orange blossom water its just sweet and exotic that goes very well in custards, cookies or sweet desserts. It is actually a highly aromatic liquid distilled from bitter orange blossoms. They have been used for centuries in Iran, Africa and Turkey in their cakes, confections and desserts including their Turkish delight, sorbet or ice creams. Pinenuts, are just lovely toasted lightly and made into pesto or tossed in a salad, pasta or baked in a dessert like this or cookies too! They are the edible seeds of pine trees that grow in Italy, China, North Africa, Mexico and South Western United States. The nuts are high in fat and expensive owing to the labour intensive process of harvesting them. These little fellas from Italy or the Mediterranean variety are more expensive due to its delicate flavour and shaped like little torpedoes. The ones from China are shaped like a squat triangle and has a pungent pine flavour and aroma. Pine nuts are highly susceptible to rancidity and should be store in an airtight container or in the refrigerator or freezer. Also known as Indian nuts, pinon nut or pignoli. So here is the recipe below for anyone who wish to try it. I guess rosewater would make it lovely too, but that would be a different story. ūüėČ

Recipe for Pine Nut Tart Scented with Orange Blossom Water adapted from Flavours Magazine, Cuisine Studios

Shortcrust pastry
150g flour
65g butter
50G sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 egg lightly beaten

Custard filling
400ml milk (I used 210ml evaporated milk, 150ml milk, 40ml pouring cream)
4 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
30g cornflour
1 tbsp orange blossom water (or orange flower water some call it)
1 lemon zested
70g pine nuts (or slightly more its okay.)

To make pastry:
1. In a mixing bowl, or food processor,  combine the flour, butter, sugar, salt. Add egg gradually to form a dough.
Wrap with a cling film and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

To make filling:
1. Bring milk to  boil in a saucepan. In a separate bowl cream the yolks and sugar. Add in the cornflour and mix well.
2. Bring saucepan off the heat and slowly pour a little boiling milk in to the egg mixture and mix well. You have to work fast so that u will not scramble the eggs. Then add the yolk mixture  back into the saucepan with the balance of hot milk and cook over low heat, whisking until mixture is thick and bubbles appear.
3. Transfer to bowl mix in orange blossom water and lemon zest. Chill covering with a cling wrap touching the cream custard so that it does not form a skin.
4. To bake, Preheat oven at 180C ( remember no oven is the same in temperature so adjust accordingly). Place greased 20-22cm tart tin on a baking tray lined with parchment paper ( I just place it in tart tin when cool u can lift it off easily)
5. Roll out dough on silicon mat or between 2 cling wraps so that u can undo one side and place the other onto tart tin. Tidy edges. Fill the tart shell with cream custard, sprinkle with pine nuts and bake for 40 minutes or so. Remove from oven and cool before serving or refrigerating.
To serve Dust with icing sugar or drizzle with honey.
Happy trying peeps!

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Strawberry Jazzy Crumble Brokus

A mistake that actually turned out fine that is what this steamed brokus is about. Brokus is shortened term for brownie kukus in Indonesian meaning steamed brownies. The steamed version has a different texture than the bake ones. Kinda more spongy, springy and soft. I read the recipe through before making and understood it, not that my Bahasa Indonesian isn’t good, my family originates from there and late dad used to speak the language each day at home. So it was my own hustle and bustle in the kitchen that made me create this error. It doesn’t look that bad though. I was suppose to use a piping bag and pipe zigzag on top and then put it back in the steamer, but I made it into a crumble instead….dddduuuuhhh! One of my blonde moments. When it was ready I was wondering why it never became zigzag again, eeerrrmmm…dddduuuhhhh! Must have been too much baking that week so the brain was shutting down I guess, heheheheh! Anyway I used 11 egg whites instead of 10 as per recipe because I had 11 egg whites left after making sponge cakes and I thought I wanna make macarons out of it but no good vibe feeling so me- no make- macarons.

It actually became a favourite of some, first of all it’s not too sweet. Good for elderly folks ‘cos they do not fancy cloyingly sweet desserts. Some friends favour it too. The recipe is adapted from Ny Liem’s book Variasi Brownies Kukus. There are plenty of gorgeous steamed brownies ¬†recipes in there to try. This was the other I had done besides the pandan steamed brownies that was posted earlier!

Strawberry Jazzy Brownies Recipe
Part A
375 ml egg whites (about 11 egg whites)
125g caster sugar
10g cake emulsifier (ovalette, or sp)

Part B – dry ingredients sift and place all in a bowl
150g all purpose flour
25g powdered milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp vanilla essence

Part C – melt
100g white chocolate (place in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water)
75g margarine ( I used butter)

Part D (streusel)
15g margarine ( again I used butter)
15g coarse sugar ( I used turbinado sugar or golden caster sugar)
30g all purpose flour

Part E
100g strawberry jam ( I used strawberry Pregel)
3 drops of red colouring (optional I didn’t use as the strawberry filling was red enough)

1. Mix A in a standing mixer or using a hand held mixer , whisk eggs, to half foamy add sugar bit by bit while whisking and then add the emulsifier. Whisk until firm peaks.
2. Add B  bit by bit until well mixed. finally add C. Fold in until well incorporated.
3.Pour into 2 ins measuring 30x10x4cm which has been greased lightly and placed with greaseproof paper. ( I used 7x10inch tin)
4.Mix ingredients D until they resemble breadcrumbs using the rubbing in method, sprinkle on top of brownie (brokus)
5.Pipe ingredient E onto the brownie criss cross or whatever design suits u.
6. Steam for 25 minutes or until done. Remove and cool.


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Decadent Chocolate Cupcakes with a Heart

end product : chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate ganache

I was asked by a matron of honour whose best friend was getting married to bake some cupcakes. ¬†Apparently her best friend saw it on my facebook page and was immediately attracted to this chocolatey indulgence. It was supposed to be a surprise. Well, I love surprises and I made sure I did something special for the bride. It wasn’t the usual fondant covered icing, although in this humid weather yes, perhaps its practical, but I still love the smooth creamy taste of butter cream. Anyway, the frosting for this cupcake was not buttercream it was white chocolate ganache. I thought of a way to incorporate the ganache so that it looked like it drizzled down from the cake. I did it first in ¬†those heart shaped silicon moulds but somehow I felt it was a tad too small to be in a cupcake liner and it may topple off when placed on a cupcake stand. I had an idea while making the rest of the cupcakes which were red velvet and ala Pierre Herme’s ispahan, lychee rose with raspberry cream, courtesy of 6bittersweets, thanks dear! Then BLINNNNGGG! I decided I should tier it up with the heart shaped ones I made in the silicon mould. The whole night my brain was running thinking how I could make the ganache flow nicely from the cake. So I did what I had to do the next day.

baked in the silicon mould

I guess I am abit old fashioned, I have afew silicon baking moulds but somehow I like the good ‘ol baking pans. Even if its “cling clang bang” noisy or need the extra space to store compared to flexi pans I still love those pans. Its also a different texture when you use them I like that nice brownish edge from the good ‘ol pans when in a flexi pan it does not brown very much. Oh well, we all have our preferences. Next was the lychee rose cupcake, I browsed different websites and blogs to see where I could get a nice ispahan recipe ala cupcake version, although I will make that macaron one of these days if the weather and good vibe permits! Its too hot, hot, hot and humid these days, even though my kitchen is pretty airy with windows, its not air conditioned, so pretty trying for macarons though I have succeeded making them before. So I baked using this lovely recipe, and it was pretty, I made it before except that I wasn’t going to put a rose petal on top with this humidity and not being able to get organic roses.

Back to this chocolate cupcake recipe, which is courtesy from joy of baking, very lovely moist texture and oooh so sinful, best is, one of the ingredients is only cocoa, no other melted chocolate involved (I used Cacao Barry of course). I had some extras (of course) and kept those in the refrigerator, the ones with no icing I will use it for crumbs or truffles later and the ones with white chocolate ganache, was still had a good texture and very moist. This recipe is definitely a keeper. The matron of honour said something very sweet when she came into my kitchen that day and said my oven must be fantastic that I bake alot of fabulous goodies out of it, until I showed her. It was the regular stove top and oven below, no fancy smancy, though I know which ideal stove top and oven I have in mind! The only thing is I do know the oven temperature well to bake those cakes and desserts so that they turn out pretty presentable. Plus they’re all baked with the heart and soul, lots of love was put in it. ūüėČ I think that is the essence in every dish, desserts, cakes that you create, agreed? ūüôā

see I had to 'glue' the heart shaped ones to the bottom


taken by the wedding party
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Raspberry Jelly with Lychee and Longan Trifle

Happy Vesak Day to those celebrating the birth, enlightenment and final nirvana of Buddha. Prince Siddartha Gautama as he was originally known left all his worldly pleasures in search of the true meaning of human life. His compassion, wisdom and power are completely beyond conception. Such in our daily life that we see so much suffering each day, we read them in the newspapers, or internet, humans, animals, nature alike and some are beyond our control when Mother Nature takes over and decide to unleash her anger on Earth. Such as the last major catastrophy that fell upon Japan. That was really upsetting and depressing when you read each day about the devastation and there is nothing much you can do except to try and see what you can do to help through the different channels that have been set up to give aid. I believe Japan is strong and can pull through it, it will be a long process but slowly and surely. I have Japanese friends and I am very glad that their families are fine.

Sometimes you go through life each day and wonder why do you work so hard and do overtime, get your salary and pay all your taxes and bills, when there are people living in villages or remote areas, having simple stuff like grow their own vegetables organically and aging gracefully. Us city dwellers with our stress and smog, which is why you sometimes read people having heart failures or weird illnesses at middle age 30s to 50s when they have no records of any health issues throughout their adult life. I always find people who have little just want to share with you what they have when they have not much but people who have plenty just become more self centred, well gladly not all of them. There are some people in this world who do selfless acts of kindness that need to be applauded for. They go beyond and outside their comfort zone just to reach out. Sometimes you ask yourself are you happy? If yes why, if no why? I guess happiness differs amongst us all, and through various ways. Okkkkkkkkkkkk… in a very touchy feely mood today I guess. Today is also the day my hubby says I should not be doing anything in the kitchen, as we are going out in the evening, plus I should rest because I have bake orders to do for the weekend. I am also thinking, sshhhheeessssh… I think am having withdrawal symptoms for not doing anything, my fingers are itching to get something cooking when reading about food. I suppose this dessert I posted should be dedicated for Japan, lovely colors like the flag that stands strongly, and like the people who strive. Its a lovely dessert actually concocted from another which I decided to change and make it my own. Simple to make not much fuss. Its also very pretty and when you are so pressed for time you can make this ahead and refrigerate. On that topic of happiness, if anyone were to ask me if I am happy, my answer would be “Yes”. I am contented with what I have, with what I cook or bake each day, good friends who still remember to be in touch and a lovely husband who does his selfless acts of not having me do anything on some days and shower me with lots of love. That, to me is happiness itself.

Raspberry Jelly with Lychee and Longan Trifle serves 4:

1 box raspberry jelly of your choice (make according to instructions)
1 can of longans (or fresh if you can get them)
1 can lychees (or fresh)
250g mascarpone cheese
100g whipping cream ( I use Arla or Emborg)
80g caster sugar
1 pack savoiardi sponge fingers
Some fresh raspberries to decorate

1. Place both lychees and longans in a large bowl and strain water.
2. Put some longans or lychees in individual glasses or a glass bowl of your choice. (I placed 1 lychee and 4 longans per glass.
3. Make raspberry jelly according to instructions behind box. Coll slightly and pour into the glasses prepared or bowl. Refrigerate until firm or you can place in a blast chiller for 15mins.
4. Meanwhile using a hand held mixer or standing mixer, whisk mascarpone cheese, sugar and whipping cream, until fluffy and creamy. Texture should be like making tiramisu but minus the eggs.
5. When raspberry jelly is chilled through take them out and break savoiardi sponge fingers according to size and place them over the raspberry jelly. Then layer with mascarpone cheese mixture and top with fresh raspberries. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

FoodNote: you can drizzle with some raspberry coulis on the sponge fingers if you like or sprinkle the mascarpone with red coloured sugar for that special touch. If you wish to have the mascarpone mixture to be more of a lighter drizzly texture then add more cream accordingly. Enjoy peeps!

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Chocolate Fudge Cake

Well peeps, it’s another public holiday again tomorrow! There certainly is plenty of holidays this month of May. Woohoo! Love that cake? Yes, really wicked isn’t it? There is always something about chocolate that makes me smile. I love chocolates, and I made this when I was in one of those wicked moods. Theobroma which means “food of the gods” cocoa is one of the most valuable and desired substances in the world. That is why there are chocolate boutiques or confectioneries, springing up everywhere around the world because there is always that desire for chocolates. Call it an aphrodisiac or whatever it may be, but chocolates, given for any occasion can just make someone’s day! I know if I am given or surprised with chocolates, I would be death by chocolate happy. They are just pretty gift wrapped with a ribbon or a sweet paper bag all dressed up, I would grin from ear to ear. For those on a diet, smelling it could also be “deathly”, but not me no DIE-with a T and I certainly would enjoy it. I am no doctor but it is touted that dark chocolate has antioxidants and is considered the healthier chocolate, about 55%-70% cocoa content. Hey let’s face it we only live once, if you don’t eat it now then when? My motto is eat what you want but of course everything you eat, do it in moderation that is only logic and not cram it up, then that is really asking for trouble! I used to be chocolate mad that all my trips abroad I’d have a spare little bag just for chocolates, but not all for me, some for friends and family. Now not anymore, age is catching up, ahemmmm! Hahahaha!!! My travelling days now are spent finding that cute little cafe, a special dessert, ingredients, browsing in supermarkets, (I love!) gourmet shops, sigghhhhhhh….then packing them into my suitcase would be a real challenge each time!

My last trip to Paris and popping by G Detout at Rue Tiquetonne was like ingredient nirvana. That shop stocks plenty of ingredients which you cannot find at some places. I got my violet, bergamot, jasmine and lavender flavoured essences for some stuff I am planning to make in the future. I lugged back Valrhona chocolate blocks and Cacao Barry which cost astrocious prices here. Ooooooohhhh…I could linger longer, getting me out was a BIG problem for hubby, heheheh! Those fanatic bakers and cooks like me can go absolutely beserk here. Hubby always love to look at how I am going to pack my stuff, I usually manage well. Though it feels like I am lugging back a refrigerator(sulk), but all for a good cause, if I may say, heheheh!! This gorgeous cake is adapted from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts. I love Maida Heatter because of how she started off with all her desserts and that her recipes and instructions are so precise and detailed but in any recipe one must read from A to Z to get clear picture, that is important. I decorated it with chocolate ganache and fresh strawberries, and chopped some white chocolate in the centre. This is one yummy scrummy heavenly cake!

Chocolate Fudge Cake Recipe – adapted from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts


  • 125g dark chocolate (preferably 55-64% cocoa mass)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa sifted
  • 210g light brown caster sugar
  • 70g light brown caster sugar extra for adding to melted chocolate
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 240g cake flour (I used Top Flour or you can use all purpose)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2/3 cups milk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 egg

Preheat oven to 175Celsius, and line two 9inch cake tins with baking paper and grease the sides.

Place chocolate and 1/2 cup hot water in top of a double boiler and stir with a rubber spatula occasionally until chocolate melts. Add in the 70g caster sugar and 1 tbsp cocoa powder and  stir further until mixture is smooth.
Remove from heat and set aside.

Sift together, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl at medium speed beat with an electric mixer or standing mixer, the butter until it soften slightly. Then the 210g sugar and vanilla extract beat for about 2minutes. Scrape the sides of bowl occasionally to keep mixture smooth.
Beat until pale and creamy. 

Add the eggs one at the time beating thoroughly incorporated after each addition.

Lower the speed of mixer and add sifted ingredients in 3 additions beginning with dry ingredients and milk alternately, ending with the dry ingredients. Beat until smooth (remember to scrape sides) finally add the melted chocolate (its ok if its still warm) beat until well mixed.
Pour into the lined tins, equally, tilt gently to level batter. ( I got approx 535g batter per tin)

Bake for 30-40mins depending on oven until top springs back when lightly touched or insert a skewer to test doneness.
Cool cake pans for about 5mins on wire rack and invert again to cool right sides up.
Place the bottom layer upside down on a platter or a board to prepare for the fudge filling. (I made chocolate ganache)


I have 2 versions of fudge or ganache filling that u can try with my chef’s recipe :

Chocolate Fudge:

  • 590g chocolate 55%-64% cocoa mass
  • 260g milk
  • 130g glucose (from Phoon Huat or any bake supply shop)


Boil the milk and the glucose together  until well incorporated, before putting the chocolate in, and stir until dissolved.

Sandwich the cakes with the choc fudge.

Version 2: Chocolate Ganache using sour cream (it taste good believe me coz these are recipes I did in bake school)

Sour Cream Ganache Recipe

  • 370g chocolate pref 55%-64% cocoa mass ( I use Valrhona chocolate Caraibe or Manjari 61-64% u can also use Cacao Barry or Callebaut)
  • 400g Sour cream

Melt chocolate in double boiler.

Add sour cream. Cool Slightly before use.

FoodNote: You may sandwich cakes with slices of bananas if you wish instead of berries. 

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Dutch Apple Pie

this looks absolutely gorgeous, happy with this Dutch Apple Pie, thanks Ellie from Almost Bourdain. Have tried afew types this recipe works well.

I love apple pies, its an old classic dessert that never goes out of fashion. There are apple pies, apple crumbles, apple tarts, apple turnovers, apple bread pudding, I can go on. Apples as a fruit itself are high in fiber with insoluble cellulose and lignin in the peel and soluble pectins in the flesh and rich in vitamin C and its mineral contribution is potassium.  Okay that was my nutritional brain talking as an intro, now the other food brain speaks, heheheheh!!! Apple pies are served in many ways, with whipped cream, ice-cream, caramel sauce, baked, stewed, grilled etc. I am always looking for a good apple pie in town, most of the time they fail to please me. Either the apples are cooked through that they become mushy, or too tart, or too much cinammon, or pie pastry suck big time.

Travelling alot gives me the opportunity to try various types of food or desserts wherever I may be, I am always looking for that little nook or corner that may serve the best pies, desserts or food whatsoever! I realise that portions here are usually small, can’t they be a wee bit larger than a mere tiny or small morsel to match this huge appetite of mine? Hehehehe! Yes I am abit of a glut when it comes to food. ¬†Having Dutch inlaws gives me a chance to return to the Netherlands much often to eat and bring back the goodies from there, specially from the village bakery! First up, I love the apple pies ¬†or rather any of the desserts there, they are thick and always served with cream. I will put on kilos if I live there! I also noticed they use the springform pans for their pies hence the size and height. When I first met my mother in law Hetty, I had noticed she baked something like a pie in the springform pan that I usually would use for cheesecakes. I asked my husband Bart if that was what she uses for pies as well and he said yes. I never actually tried baking pies in that pan until recently, most of the time its in a pie tin or tart tin etc, but in a springform pan definitely is satisfying! What I love when I am back there too, are”stroopwafels” which are like little caramelized waffles that you can find made fresh from a little stand or at their supermarkets sold in a pack.

In the village I love “kniepertjes” which are something like love letters here abundant during festive season, but they are more like waffles flat and crispy and the smell, oh that smell when its baking in the village bakery, scent-sational! Back in Groningen there is a shop called Granny’s Appeltaart, that sells just apple pies and other confections in the shop, it does a roaring business and always busy. Another dessert is called Vlaai, originating from Limburgh in the South, its like a fruit tart but its something else! I will touch on that in my future tales of the food world. Now back to pies, I like baking any of those pies and serving them up with freshly whipped cream and a drizzling of caramel or a dollop of vanilla ice-cream. When I bake these babies, I do not cook the apples or stew them beforehand because I like them to have abit of a crunch, after all when you put them under the dough and bake, it softens up anyway. All I do is slice ’em thin and nice, toss with some brown sugar and some raisins or cranberries, some tapioca or corn starch and you are done. I love the scent of apple pies in the oven specially that cinnamon smell it wafts up from the kitchen and you get a whiff of it from upstairs heavenlicious! You can literally float down and follow that smell. Yummo!

Recipe for Dutch Apple Pie – adapted from Ellie of Almost Bourdain

Ingredients :
300g self raising flour
200g chilled butter and cubed
160g caster sugar (I used golden caster sugar)
pinch of salt
1 egg beaten
1 kg apples (I used Granny Smith or Golden Delicious peeled and sliced in my case I left skins on)
50g caster sugar ( I used light muscvado sugar 80g)
2 tbsp cinnamon
75g raisins, soaked in warm water (I used 100g cranberries)
2 Tbsp custard powder
2 tbsp breadcrumbs or almond meal

1. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients, flour, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Dice the butter and mix into the flour. Using hands to rub in the flour, or you can use food processor or a standing mixer with a dough hook so that mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Add 2/3 of the egg yolk and knead everything together so that it forms into a firm ball.
3. Grease a 24cm round springform pan with butter and press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom or sides. Alternately, you can roll between 2 cling wraps, release one side and place the unwrapped dough face down and release the other facing you. Tidy the edges.
4. Refrigerate the pan and remaining dough until ready to use. Preheat oven to 180C. Drain raisins and pat dry with a paper towel.
5. Sprinkle custard powder over the base of the pastry base. (the custard powder will soak up the moisture released from apples while baking to avoid a soggy pie bottom. I sprinkle some almond meal over as well it has same purpose as custard powder.)
6. Combine apples, cinnamon and sugar, spread over the pastry base.
7. Roll out the balance of the pastry dough and cut to thin 1cm or 1/2 inch strips.
8. Arrange in a criss cross pattern on top of the apple mixture or you can use a lattice cutter too. Press the edges together. Brush with remaining egg yolk (I add abit of milk to it)
8. Bake apple pie for about 1 hour 10 minutes in the oven until golden brown.
9. Remove from oven and cool before serving with vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzle or freshly whipped cream.

FoodNote: Every different oven varies in  temperature. Please gauge your time accordingly. This is a lovely recipe, thanks Ellie!



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Almond Tart

I really salute the food bloggers who can update each day recipes that they try from books or other bloggers. I salute all of you. I must admit I am trying real hard to get it up and running and I am getting the hang of it, I should and have no excuse (besides my baking orders) as I have no children to bother me, just my cats! I want to share this recipe which is adapted from Skye Gyngell who ¬†started off with an interest in cooking when she worked at a store-cum-deli, she realised her passsion for food was there. Later on after various “kitchen years” she was asked to open an establishment in a garden nursery which is next to the Petersham properties, called Petersham Nurseries. They were awarded one Michelin star a little humble place that sat 15 now sits 120 people now and a staff of 20 running it. I want to write about chefs which some people may not know of, but have lovely recipes and I for one love this particular dessert which is a favourite of hubby’s and mine. I love the texture of the almond filling, when made fresh it’s totally different than those store bought ones. The French would call it Tarte Frangipane of course in simple terms its just almond tart! This recipe means alot to me because I had done a recipe book project for a religious school where this dessert was a favourite of some (it was on a stand for peeps to try) and I added pears to it. It tasted fabulicious. ¬†This is a moreish dessert served with cream or warm jam and ice-cream very old fashioned style lovely with a cup of tea in the afternoon.

Recipe for Almond Tart ala Skye Gyngell

Ingredients for short crust pastry :
12/3 250g flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
125g chilled unsalted butter cubed
2 tbsp cold water as needed

For the pastry and almond filling:
1. Place the flour, sugar, vanilla extract, egg and butter in a food processor, blitz until you have a consistency of wet sand. (you may also do by hand or in a mixer with a hook attachment.
2. Add 2 tbsp of cold water and continue to process, the dough will come together into a smooth ball. Remove from machine and enlcose with a cling wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile heat oven at 200C. Lay almonds on a bake tray and place on middle shelf of oven for about 3-4 minutes to warm them to tickle the flavour. Remove and cool.
4. Grind almonds in a food processor until they are coarsely chopped. Add butter and sugar, continue processing. With the motor running still, add the egg yolks one at a time through the feed tube.
5. You should have a smooth paste by now. It can be used right away, or chilled for later use. Stir in the lemon zest.
6. Take out the chilled dough from refrigerator, and between 2 cling wraps roll out your pastry dough to a thickness of 3-4mm and use it to line a 25-26cm tart tin. Remove one side of cling wrap and placed the uncovered pastry dough face down and remove the top half and voila, no mess. Tidy the edges.
7. Preheat oven at 190C. Line the pastry dough with greaseproof or parchment paper and place some uncooked beans, rice or pastry weights, bake blind about 15-20 minutes.
8. Remove the beans, rice or weights and paper, spoon in the almond filling and smooth over. Return to middle of shelf and cook for a further 30-45 minutes, until surface is golden brown and firm to touch. Cover the tart loosely with a foil if its browning too quickly. When done, remove and cool serve with jam or cream. I like it as it is!

FoodNote: If adding pears, I used canned ones before, slice and arrange pears all around the tart before baking. You may use apricot glaze for the finishing touch when its out from oven. No food processor, no problem, buy ready made ground almonds and toast it slightly before following instructions as above in a standing mixer.

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