Chocolate Galette des Rois with Frangipane

I always try and make a galette in January. You can find them in all the pastry shops and supermarkets in France, as they're made to celebrate the arrival of the Kings on January 6th. Have sadly lost all my little fèves that I collected [the little china figures that go into the galette des rois]. Whoever finds the fève is king or queen for the day and gets a crown!
Decided to make it a bit different this year and added chocolate to the frangipane.
It's so useful to have the puff pastry ready cut out into a circle, as in France, but a large dinner plate used to cut round to make the circle is fine.

You need: 2 packs of butter puff pastry, 200g dark chocolate, 125g ground almonds, 125g caster sugar, 125g soft butter, 25g plain flour, 3 eggs and 1 yolk, and 1/2 tspn almond extract

Preheat oven 200C                             A baking sheet

Beat the eggs and sugar together till light and fluffy. Add the almond extract, flour and ground almonds and mix well.
Break up the chocolate and melt in a bowl over simmering water or in a microwave, then add to the almond mixture [frangipane]. Add the butter a bit at a time, beating well.
Roll out one of the packs of puff pastry and cut into a circle. Spoon the almond mixture on, leaving a 2cm border clear round the edge and wet this border. Roll out the 2nd pack and cut another circle and cover the first one. Press the edges together firmly. Beat the egg yolk and add a few drops of milk then brush over the top of the galette.
Traditionally you make marks on the top, but this is optional. I just did a sort of crisscross pattern.
Reduce oven to 180C and bake for 20 mins till golden. Eat warm.

It is delicious, and we had it with some whipped double cream. It's very rich, but am not completely convinced that adding the chocolate improved the galette. I think I prefer it in its original form!


Season's greetings

                               Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy,                                           Happy New Year.


Malvern Pudding

I was given a bag of apples and wanted to make something different. Browsing through my recipe folder I found this recipe. It's an egg custard over apples, but the custard is made with cream.
Lovely to have as a pudding in this miserable weather.

For the apples:  50g butter, 1 kg cooking apples, 50g sugar and the zest of 2 lemons
For the custard topping: 825ml double cream, 50g sugar, 4 eggs plus 2 yolks, 50g demerara sugar and 1/2 tspn cinnamon

Heat a frying pan and add the butter and apples, peeled cored and sliced.  Cook for 6-7 mins till soft but still keeping shape. Add the sugar and zest and cook for a further 2-3 mins.
Pour into an ovenproof dish.
Beat the eggs, yolks and sugar together; warm the cream over a gentle heat then add to the eggs and gently mix in. Pour over the apples. Mix the brown sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the top.
Bake in preheated oven, 180C/gas 4 for about an hour, till set but still a bit wobbly.

It feeds about 8 people, and the next time I make it, will halve the recipe. It's really delicious, with the buttery cooked apples and the lovely creamy sauce. Love the 2 textures - the slightly tart apples and the creamy custard. I'll definitely make this again.


Toscakaka or Swedish Caramel Almond Cake

I love Scandinavian baking and have several Scandi baking books, but to honest, I've never baked from them. Reading an article recently on this type of baking, I thought I must use my books, so decided to make a caramel almond cake. I've adapted it from 'Scandilicious Baking'.

For the cake you need; 20ml milk, 1 tspn lemon juice [or 75ml buttermilk] 75g butter, 3 eggs, 150g caster sugar, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 150g plain flour, 1 tspn baking powder and a pinch of salt.

For the topping: 150g flaked almonds, 125g butter, 125g light brown sugar, 50ml milk and 1/2 tspn sea salt

 Preheat oven 160C/gas3                     Grease and base line a 23cm springform cake tin

Stir the lemon juice into the milk to sour it, or use 75ml buttermilk instead. Toast the almonds till they're a light golden colour [takes about 6 mins].
Melt the butter over a low heat then pour into a bowl and allow to cool. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until very thick and creamy - took about 5 mins in my stand mixer. 
Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together then gently fold 1/3rd into the batter with a metal spoon. Gently pour half the milk into this and fold in. Fold in another 1/3rd of flour, the rest of the milk and then the rest of the flour. Drizzle in half the butter, fold in, then the other half. Scrape the bottom of the bowl gently to get all the flour.
Scoop into the tin and bake for 25-30 mins till golden and firm.
While it's in the oven, make the topping. Put the butter, sugar, milk and salt into the pan and stir till butter melts. Keep over low heat for a few mins to thicken then stir in the almonds.
When the cake is cooked, turn the oven up to 200C/gas6.
Spread the almond mixture over the cake, then put back in the oven for 8-10 mins till bubbling and darkened. Cool in the tin for 5 mins then loosen sides with a knife and put onto a rack to cool.

It's delicious, and great contrast of texture between the soft cake and the crunchy topping. We ate it cold, but could be a dessert with some cream or ice cream. A bit of a faff to make the cake, but the result is worth it!


Tarte aux Noix or Walnut Tart

I love Autumn and its flavours, and one of my favourite is nuts. I know I've mentioned it before, but every Autumn in France we got given a bag of walnuts from my neighbour's tree. She used to make this tart with some of them.
I bought a large bag of shelled walnuts on offer at a local deli, so decided to make her tart. I know the taste won't be quite the same, not using fresh nuts, but it will be a lovely memory of Reneé.

Preheat oven 200C/gas6.            23cm tart tin

Pastry: 125g flour, 75g butter, 25g caster sugar, pinch salt, 1 egg and 25ml water.

Mix all the ingredients together into a firm ball of dough. Pop in fridge till needed.

Filling: 500g shelled walnuts, 150ml crème fraîche, 60g caster sugar, 1 beaten egg, 1 tspn vanilla extract and icing sugar for the top.

Keep enough walnuts back to have enough to cover the top. Put these on a baking tray and put into the oven for a few minutes till they have some colour.

Put the rest in a blender and blitz to powder. Add the cream, sugar, egg, salt and vanilla extract. Mix well.

Roll the pastry out to fit the tin, then pour in the mixture.

Bake for 30 mins then leave to cool in the tin. Arrange the saved walnuts on the top, making a pattern if you wish. Sprinkle over icing sugar.

You can use ready made shortcrust pastry or your own favourite recipe. My neighbour doesn't do anything with the walnuts she puts on the top, but I prefer to toast then to give them a nicer flavour and crunch. Good contrast of textures between the nut topping and the soft filling. I love the flavour of the blitzed walnuts. A nice Autumnal treat.


Pear Fondant

I love pears and I wanted to make something different with them. Happily my French friend came to my aid again and gave me this recipe. It's a dessert not a cake, but is easy to make.

4 medium pears [firmish but not too hard]
150g plain flour
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
100ml milk
3 tbspn vegetable oil
2 tspn baking powder

For the topping:
80g melted butter
3tbspn caster sugar
1 egg
Flaked almonds

Oven 180C.                             Grease and flour  23cm cake tin

Put the sugar and eggs in a bowl and beat till light and fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder and oil and mix in. Pour half of this batter into the cake tin.
Peel the pears and cut into strips. Put on top of the batter in the tin and spoon the rest of the batter on top. Bake for 30 mins.
Topping- Beat the egg and sugar together then add the butter and mix together.
After the fondant has baked for 30 mins, take out of the oven and pour over this mixture. Sprinkle over some flaked almonds and bake for a further 20 mins. Leave to cool in the tin.

The fondant has a lovely mixture of textures - the soft pears, the smooth custardy filling and the       crunchy almonds.  You could use 50g of ground almonds instead of 50g of the flour, or you could       use 40g melted butter instead of the oil. You could also use other fruit like apples or plums. This is a great Autumn treat!                                                                                                                            


'Fondant au Chocolat' Cake

The small 'fondants au chocolat' were the puddings which caused the most problem when I used to watch Masterchef! My French friends recently came to visit, and knowing how I love to try new things, she brought me her recipe for a large cake version. The biggest problem was choosing the right tin, as G had used a French one and I wasn't sure which one of mine to use.

In the end, I used a tin I use to make quiches, 22cm. It has a loose base which was very useful.

The recipe:
 100g chocolate [my friend used cooking chocolate in her recipe. but I used supermarket's own dark]
 75g softish butter
 3 eggs
 100g caster sugar
 40g plain flour
 1 tspn baking powder

Oven 180C                        Grease and flour a 20/22cm tin

Break up chocolate and cut butter into pieces. Melt over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave. Mix together.
In another bowl beat eggs and sugar till white and fluffy. Add to the chocolate mixture carefully, then fold in the flour and baking powder.
Pour into the tin and bake for 20-30 mins. don't overbake. The centre should still be soft, like a brownie.
Leave to cool int eh tin for a few minutes. The cake can be served warm or cold.

I sprinkled some chocolate chips onto the baked cake, but I didn't really have enough! I also dusted it with sieved cocoa.
You can eat this cake as is, or serve it with fruit - raspberries go very well. It's also great as a dessert with ice cream, cream or to be French, Crème Chantilly. The texture was just like a brownie, soft and smooth, but not quite as ‘fondant’ as the smaller versions.