Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Hazelnut and Cranberry Florentines

'Tis the season for giving and my favourite foodie gifts to give and receive for Christmas are the homemade ones, packaged beautifully, with a bit of love in there. And chocolate, usually.

These Florentines with a festive spin will be in my Santa sack this year. They have all their almondy toffee goodness along with fragrant orange zest, ruby red cranberries and rich roasted hazelnuts. Deeeelish.

Over the coming weeks, Sydneysiders may find them, along with my Christmas mince tarts, at Bacino at Chowder Bay and Clifton Gardens, Thelma & Louise at Neutral Bay wharf and in the CBD at Two Penny Blue, Pitt St in The Westin, and Joe Black X, next to Louis Vuitton on King Street.

For more homemade gift giving inspiration, check out these super cute truffles and yummo cherry tarts.

Got anything planned for your foodie Santa sack this year?

Larissa x

(Makes 15)

100g flaked almonds
100g roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
150g whole dried cranberries
80g plain flour
Zest of 1/2 a small orange
80g butter
50g brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
200g couverture dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 170C. Spread two to three large baking trays with baking paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the almonds, hazelnuts, dried cranberries, flour and orange zest.
Melt together the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 mins.
Mix the caramel into the dry ingredients.
Using a round medium sized pastry/cookie cutter, place tablespoons of mixture inside the pastry cutter on the prepared baking trays and squash the mixture with a spoon until it is spread to the edges of the cutter. Remove cutter and you should have a round shaped florentine. Allow about 3-4cm between each biscuit for spreading.
Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. Leave on trays to cool and harden.
When the Florentines are completely cool, melt the chocolate gently in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until it reaches between 43C and 46C. Take off the heat, avoiding steam from the water, and cool to 35C before spreading onto the back of each biscuit.
Wait for the chocolate to almost set on each biscuit before recoating and creating a wavy pattern with the prongs of a fork.
Allow the biscuits to set completely before serving or packaging.
They will keep in an airtight container or package for a week.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Tarte Au Citron

A couple of months ago, three-year-old Master N suffered the trauma of his best mate moving preschools. It was a big deal. Enough for both families to swap details. There have been play dates, and recently we were invited over for lunch.

One of the loveliest perks of being a Mum is the social network that has come with the territory - be it mothers group, park, or preschool. All of my newest friends are linked to my son. Colleagues in a different guise, I guess, who I've come to rely on and cherish.

We swap (mainly horror) stories, share belly laughs, and turn up on each other's doorstep with coffee, an adult vocabulary and a playmate for our rug rats.

Lunch with Master B's parents was a lot like this, only with wine, and I came away with that buzz you get from forming new friendships as an adult. And full from a delicious lunch of slow cooked lamb.

For dessert, I brought along this tarte au citron, a classic baked lemon tart. While I didn't know our hosts all that well at the beginning of the afternoon, they know I bake for a living, so I was under a bit of pressure to deliver.

This tart is a bit different to the lemon curd ones I make routinely for my cafes. There's no meringue and it's a little sharper on tang. I used a combination of lemon and lime, based on this Donna Hay recipe. As usual, I tweaked, and I used my own sweet shortcrust recipe because it has never failed me. My version is below. 

All up, it was light, zesty and yum. Perfect to serve at the end of a long lunch. Dust it with icing sugar and plate it up with a dollop of double cream for a touch of decadence. 
I know, there's no saving me from myself.

Tarte Au Citron (Baked Lemon/Lime Tart)

250g plain flour
50g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
125g cold butter, cubed
1 egg, lightly beaten 
Dash of milk

1 cup pouring cream
2 eggs
3 egg yolks extra
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
Zest of 1/2 a lime

Place flour and icing sugar in a food processor and blitz until combined.
Add cubed butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Whisk the egg and milk together and add to the processor while the motor is running.
Pulse until the mixture just comes together to form a dough. 
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180C.
Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to form a large circle, enough to cover the base and sides of a 22cm loose bottomed fluted tart tin.
Place pastry in the tin, press into the edges, trim excess and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. This will help to prevent shrinkage when the tart bakes.
Blind bake with baking weights for 15 minutes.
Remove baking weights and bake for a further 10 minutes until golden.
Set aside and reduce oven temperature to 140C.
Whisk together the cream, eggs, egg yolks, caster sugar, zests and juice.
Strain into a jug and carefully pour the mixture into the tart case, filling to just below the brim.
Place onto a baking tray and return the tart very carefully to the oven.
Bake for 40-45 mins or until just set. Cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge to chill.
For a nice clean slice, cut the tart with a hot knife (run knife under hot water and wipe with paper towel between each slice. Laborious, but you will get a clean-cut result).
Serve it dusted with icing sugar and a side of double cream.