Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas treats

I love other bloggers. It's so fab to get new ideas from people who love food and baking and messing about with recipes.
Lately I've had top fun with the blog from the very ace Mary-Anne Boermans, one of the final three in this year's Great British Bake Off. M-A is the sort of woman I'd enjoy hanging out with, and the recipes I've tried from her blog are delish. You can follow her on Twitter as @wotchers
Incidentally, I've had to go back and edit out the word 'ace' in that paragraph 3 times - I clearly associate that word with M-A very strongly!
Anyway, my most recent bit of playing as been with her recipe for millionaire's shortbread cups. Their appearance of dainty little treats are a disguise for the buttery sweet explosion of tastes that take you back to childhood. I made them last night for Luke because he's not a fan of the mince pies, Christmas cake and other fruit-laden things filling my house and I wanted him to have a baked treat he'd enjoy.  We swapped the dark chocolate for milk in this case, because that's his favourite, but I would stick to the dark otherwise to offset the super-sweet caramel.
Thanks to someone on a parenting board I play on, I also found the truly scrumptious Exclusively Food site from Australia.  It was the chocolate Christmas pudding truffles that took me there.  Chopped up Christmas cake/pudding, pecans, melted chocolate, cream and rum mixed into little balls then dipped in dark chocolate. I put a blob of white chocolate on top and a pair of sugar holly leaves and berries from my sprinkles collection to make them look properly festive (I'm going through a phase, I think - all my chocolate cupcakes look like Christmas puds at the moment too!)
I made them far too big; they should just be a little mouthful as they are so very rich. I will definitely be making more!  My 9 year old son, with tastes far above his age, thinks they are delicious.
The last bit of domestic baking I've been doing is my home made mince tarts.  They aren't technically mince pies as I don't tend to put lids on them.  I like more filling than pastry, personally.  The pastry is utterly delicious, though. It's adapted from my tutor Judith's recipe, and is called German Paste; a very rich shortcrust. I love butter, so have swapped it for half the fat.  You could stick with Judith's method of all veg fat.
Here's the recipe. It makes masses, so scale down as needed:
600g plain flour
200g caster sugar
200g butter
200g vegetable fat (like Trex)
1 beaten egg.
Stick the flour, sugar and fats into the food processor and whiz until breadcrumb-y.  Add the beaten egg and whiz again. Tip it out and pull it together into a soft dough. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate.
I am rubbish at handling pastry - hot hands, hot kitchen - so I find rolling it out between two pieces of cling film means I get thinner pastry without overworking it, using heaps of flour and making it tough.
For mince tarts I grease my tart tins, roll out the pastry thinly and cut rounds slightly bigger than the holes in the tins, pop them in gently, add a heaped spoonful of mince meat (recipe for that next time I have a moment) and bake at 180 for 10 to 12 minutes.
Right, back to the kitchen,
Happy Christmas!
Jay x