Cinnamon Puffs

I bought a pack of puff pastry from Waitrose, and having defrosted it, discovered that there were 2 lots of pastry in the box. I used one to make a seafood tart, so what to do with the other one? I wanted something easy and quick so decided to try a recipe my friend gave me. 

1 lb (approx 450 grams)  puff pastry
100g caster sugar 
 30g unsalted butter, melted
1 tspn cinnamon [or more if you like it!]
Preheat your oven 180C/gas4.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll pastry out to about 1/8th inch thick.
Brush the pastry with the melted butter and sprinkle the sugar evenly all over then sprinkle with the cinnamon.
Roll the pastry into a log starting from the long edge of the rectangle that is closest to you.
Cut the pastry into 1 inch pieces, and place cut side down on the baking sheet.
Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes, until the bottoms of the puffs are golden brown. Turn them over and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until both sides are crisp and golden brown. 
Cool on a wire rack.

Nothing very fancy, but tasty little mouthfuls of cinnamon, pastry and sugar. A simple treat.

                                                                  Happy Easter.


Little Simnel Cakes

I love Simnel cake at Easter and always made one for my husband and me, but the rest of my family either don't like marzipan or dried fruit, so I thought I'd try making small cakes with almost the same ingredients, then I could freeze some for me and give a few to friends.
I didn't put the marzipan layer in the middle of the little cakes, but put a layer on top, and to make it more springlike, I cut it out with a flower shaped cutter. The final decoration was a sugar flower  - I'd bought a packet a while ago and they needed using!

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                  You need a greased 12 hole silicone or metal muffin tin.

125g butter, 125g soft brown sugar, 2 eggs, 125g sr flour, 1 tspn mixed spice, 1 tspn cinnamon, 1-2 tbspn milk, 125g dried fruit and zests of 1 orange and 1 lemon [I didn't have any good mixed peel, hadn't got any home made, and I hate the cheap stuff, so decided to use zest instead], 100g marzipan, 2 tbspn apricot preserve or jam and sugar flowers [opt].

Beat the butter and sugar together till it's light and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour and spices and mix together. Then add the milk, dried fruit and the zests. Mix it well then put into the muffin tin - I used an ice cream scoop, as I find this more accurate than getting batter over the tin!

Bake for 15 mins. Roll the marzipan out and cut 12 flower shapes or any shape you want.

Once the cakes are cool, brush the tops with the melted apricot jam and gently press the marzipan on top. Traditionally you would now put them under a grill, or do what the saintly Mary B did in her recent Easter programme, and use a blowtorch, but I was afraid to put a silicone mould near heat.
I added a sugar flower to the top of the marzipan.

Sorry, photo is a bit blurred, but you get the idea! I took some to coffee with friends, and they loved them. You get the good flavours of a Simnel cake in miniature - the lovely spices, the texture of the dried fruit, the hints of lemon and orange [which worked really well instead of peel], and then the nice layer of marzipan. I don't think anyone ate the sugar flowers, but took them home! Maybe I should have put a thin marzipan disc in the centre, which would have melted into the little cake and given another flavour and texture. Recipes develop from ideas, so will try the extra marzipan next year.
They're not as impressive to look at as a good Simnel cake, but they make good little substitutes.


Little Chocolate Tarts for Easter

I love any recipes using Cadbury's Mini Eggs, so couldn't resist making these. They are a bit different in that the tarts have ground almonds in their pastry.
The filling uses crème fraîche and single cream with chocolate, but also adds a eggs and sugar mixture to make the filling more substantial.

Preheat oven 180C/gas6                You need 4 small round deep tartlet tins

For the pastry: 100g plain flour, 12g ground almonds, 50g butter cut into cubes, 50g icing sugar and 1 egg.
Put the flour, almonds, sugar and butter into a bowl and rub in till breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and mix into a ball. Cover with clingfilm and put in fridge for an hour. Take out of fridge and roll out on a floured surface. Cut into 4 circles to fit 4 small tart tins. prick pastry with a fork and put back in the fridge.

For the filling: 120g dark chocolate, 10cl crème fraîche, 5cl single cream, 1 egg and 70g caster sugar.
Melt the chocolate in a microwave or over water. Add both creams and mix together.
In a bowl beat together the sugar and egg till white and fluffy. Add the chocolate mixture then pour into the pastry cases.
Bake for 20 mins then leave to cool on a wire rack.
Decorate with white chocolate and mini eggs.

The pastry has a nice soft texture and the filling is chocolatey but has a substantial satisfying feeling. I used some coloured sugar I bought at a local deli instead of white chocolate to decorate. Theses tarts are different from the usual thin chocolate tarts you can buy in the supermarket or bakery. I doubled the recipe to make 8 tartlets, but I think you could use a muffin tin or a deep tartlet tin and make more.


Chocolate, Speculoos and Butterscotch Cake

My lovely Dutch friend sent me some goodies recently, including some of my favourite speculoos biscuits [which I mentioned a few posts ago]. I wanted to use them in a cake of some sort, and found this recipe in a French magazine. It's not really a proper cake, as it's not cooked [my definition] but it's made in a cake form.

125g speculoos biscuits [or any spicy biscuit]
4 dried figs, finely chopped
4 dates, finely chopped
2 tbspns sultanas
60g melted butter
200g milk or plain chocolate - broken into small pieces
15cl single cream
2 packets of Werther's originals or other butterscotch sweets

22cm cake tin - preferably a silicone mould

Crush the biscuits and mix them with the dried fruit. Press the mixture into the bottom of the tin/mould and put it in the fridge to harden.
Break the chocolate up into a bowl.
Put the cream in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then pour it over the chocolate.
Stir well till the mixture is nice and smooth. Cool.
Take the base mixture out of the fridge and pour the chocolate over, then put it back in the fridge again to harden [for about 2 hours].
When the cake's ready, put the Werther's or butterscotch into a polythene bag or tea towel and crush them with a rolling pin. Sprinkle them over the top of the chocolate.

Not a very good photo - this is the top of the cake. Good variety of textures - a crunchy, chewy base -  I liked the dried fruit added to the biscuits - then a smooth chocolate layer and finally the crunchy butterscotch topping. Not good for ones teeth, but delicious, and so easy to make! 
We have a new Sweet Shop just opened in town and they sell Keiller Butterscotch [showing my age] so you could use these instead. The cake itself isn't too sweet, but the topping is! As it uses dates and figs, could this count towards your 5 a day?!!


Coconut Tart

I needed a quick dessert for my family, and remembered this one which used to be a great family favourite. It uses bought puff pastry, some jam, dessicated coconut and a few other ingredients, but is very simple and quick to make.

Preheat oven 200C/gas6                  a 23cm tart tin

You need: a pack of butter puff pastry, 80g caster sugar, 4 beaten eggs, 125g dessicated coconut, 1 pot of jam of your choice, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 100g butter.

Roll out the puff pastry and fit into the tart tin. Prick the bottom with a fork.
Melt the butter, then in a bowl mix together the caster sugar, eggs, melted butter, coconut and the vanilla extract.
Spread the jam over the pastry in the tin, then cover this with the coconut mixture.
Bake in the oven for 30-40 mins. Sprinkle some more coconut over the top and leave to cool.

I like the combination of textures - the pastry, soft jam, coconut mixture then the extra coconut topping. It would work just as well with shortcrust pastry, but I had some puff to use up. It's quite sweet so a small piece suffices [or it does with me, but not with my son, as you can see from his slice!]. A simple, quick dessert.

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