Tuesday, 24 December 2013

THE EASIEST CHOCOLATE & SALTED CARAMEL TART

I've just made this as an alternative to Christmas Pudding (which I don't like). It is stupidly easy to make, yet looks very impressive and professional, and can be prettied up with a dusting of edible gold shimmer for a really festive touch.

The chocolate element is from The Best Chocolate Tart, and the ingredients given will yield a tart which will comfortably serve 8, or 6 generously with seconds. Serve with clotted cream, double cream, vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche.

1 ready made sweet pastry case (such as this one from Waitrose)
1 x 397g tin Carnation condensed milk caramel
A generous pinch of sea salt flakes (I use Maldon Sea Salt)
200g dark chocolate broken into small pieces (I like Waitrose Belgian chocolate; Green & Black's dark is also excellent for this recipe)
250ml single cream
40g unsalted butter
 
Spread the caramel evenly over the base of the pastry case. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes.
 
Put half of the cream in a saucepan and once near boiling add the chocolate. Take off the heat and add the remaining cream and the butter. Mix carefully to achieve a smooth, shiny consistency. Pour over the caramel and leave to cool. When cold put in the fridge to allow the chocolate to set.

Of course, if you want to be a real domestic god/goddess, make your own pastry case and caramel.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

PEANUT BUTTER ICE CREAM

I first encountered Reeses Peanut Butter Cups when I was a student at Exeter University in the mid-1980s. An American girl on my corridor in the hall of residence where I lived in my first year had Reeses Peanut Butter Cups shipped over on a regular basis, perhaps to remind her of home, and she would generously share them with the rest of us whose rooms were close to hers. I loved the salt-sweet combination of peanut butter and chocolate. We tried to recreate that special flavour combo using peanut butter and chocolate spread (on toast) but we never quite achieved the glorious moreish sickly-sweetness of the original Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.

For a long time, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups were only available in specialist retailers, usually near an American enclave. For example, Garsons Farm, near Esher, Surrey, used to sell them, along with other all-American foodstuffs. It was a bit too far to drive to Garsons Farm just to buy Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, though I would stock up if I was at the farm for fruit-picking. Imagine my delight then when my local Tesco started stocking them and I could buy them whenever I wanted to. My son soon developed a similar penchant for their salty-sweetness and is now a confirmed fan.



While on holiday in France in the summer, we spotted a Ben & Jerry's ice cream made from Reeses Peanut Butter Cups in the local supermarket, which set me thinking: would it be possible to recreate such an ice cream at home using a tried and tested and very simple method? And so last Saturday I created a monster.....

The basis for this ice cream is Nigella Lawson's absurdly easy "one-step no-churn" coffee ice cream. It makes a generous quantity which will serve six, or four greedy people, and because it is so rich, you only need small helpings anyway. And you don't need an ice cream maker either!


300 ml double cream
175 grams condensed milk
2-3 tbsp smooth peanut butter (or crunchy if you like a bit of texture)
9 Reeses Peanut Butter Cups (available in packs of three), roughly chopped

Whisk the cream and condensed milk together, and when the mixture has thickened, add the peanut butter. Fold in the chopped Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. Pour into a container and freeze.

Find the original coffee ice cream recipe here