Fig Crostata with Rosemary Custard

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Spring 2018) and taken from a book called Feasting.

Figs are believed to have originated in the Middle East and have a strong presence in the Bible.  Showcase their sweet flavour and luxurious texture in this rustic crostata.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:-

240g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
80g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
120g cold butter, cubed
2 egg yolks
90g semolina
8 fresh figs, sliced in half lengthways
1 egg beaten, for glazing
Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

Rosemary Custard
750ml milk
2 rosemary sprigs
3 egg yolks
70g caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour

Step One: Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of cold water, and blitz again until the dough comes together.  Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball, then flatten slightly.  Wrap in cling-film and rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Step Two: Preheat the oven to 200oC / 400oF / Gas Mark 6. Roll out the dough into a large circle with a 30cm diameter. Line a baking tray with baking paper and sprinkle one third of the semolina on top. Put the dough on top of the semolina and sprinkle the rest of the semolina on top of the dough.

Step Three: Arrange the figs on top of the pastry in an inner circle with a diameter of about 20cm. You should be left with a 10cm ring of pastry around the fruit. Fold up the edges of the pastry over the fruit. Glaze the pastry flap with the beaten egg and place in the oven to bake for 50 minutes.

Step Four: While the crostata is baking, make the rosemary custard. Pour the milk into a large saucepan over a medium-low heat, add the rosemary sprigs and warm through to infuse for 5-10 minutes.

Step Five: In a bowl, vigorously whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour to form a paste. When the milk is warm, remove the rosemary and pour 250ml of the warm milk into the egg mixture. Gently combine, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk. Stir continuously over a low heat until the custard thickens.

Step Six: Remove the crostata from the oven. Dust with icing sugar, if using, and serve with the rosemary custard on the side.

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Chocolate Coconut Pots

‘Who could resist this heavenly dessert?’ asks Liz Earle in ‘The Good Menopause Guide’.  ‘It’s a treat for my friends who love the intense, rich flavour – but using relatively healthy ingredients.’ But, Earle warns, take care if chocolate triggers headaches, and eat at lunch to avoid the caffeine interfering with sleep.

Recipe taken from Psychologies March 2018.

Serves:  2    Setting time:  About 2 hours

Ingredients:  35g plain chocolate (85% cocoa), chopped; 6 tbsp coconut cream; 1 tsp coconut oil; 1 tbsp honey or date syrup; 1 medium organic egg, separated; 15g toasted unsweetened coconut flakes

Step One: Put the chocolate into a bowl with 4 tblsp of the coconut cream, the coconut oil and half the honey or date syrup.  Set the bowl over a pan of just-simmering water, making sure the base doesn’t touch the water, and heat until the chocolate melts.  You can also do this in the microwave on the lowest setting.

Step Two: Add the egg yolk to the mixture, and stir in slowly.

Step Three: Whisk the egg white in a separate bowl until thick and mousse-like.  Fold into the chocolate mixture.

Step Four: Divide mixture between two small glasses and chill for 2 hours, until set.

Step Five:  Serve topped with the remaining coconut cream and sprinkled with the toasted coconut flakes.

  • You can also serve this with a few cacao nibs sprinkled on top.

Fig and Ginger pudding

Fig and ginger puddingIngredients:

150g (5oz) dried figs, chopped
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g (3 ½ oz) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
185g (6oz) caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
210g (7oz) self-raising flour
1 heaped tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp pecan nuts, roughly chopped, to serve
Stem ginger, to serve

For the Sauce:

125g (4oz) unsalted butter, cubed
150g (5oz) brown sugar
200ml (6 ½ oz) cream

Ice Cream, to serve

Serves:  8     Prep time:  30 mins     Cook time:  40 mins

Step One:  Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Grease a 18cm (7in) round cake tin and line the base with baking paper.  Put the chopped figs in a bowl, add the bicarbonate of soda and pour over 300ml ( 9 ½ fl oz) of boiling water.  Set aside.

Step Two: Beat the softened butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition, then sift in the flour and ginger.  Add the soaked fig and the juice, then the vanilla and mix well.

Step Three:  Pour into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until risen and firm to touch.  A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.  Leave in the tin to cool, then carefully turn out on a baking tray.

Step Four:  When ready to serve, heat the oven to 200oC (gas mark 6).  Make the sauce by placing the butter, sugar and cream in a small saucepan.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Step Five:  Top the pudding with a few pieces of stem ginger and the pecans.  Pour a third of the sauce over the pudding and put in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.  Serve immediately on individual plates, and serve with the remaining hot sauce and cream or ice cream.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Chocolate and salted caramel tart

Caramel TartIngredients – For the Crust:

250g (8oz) digestive biscuits
125g (4oz) butter, melted

Ingredients – For the Caramel:

225g (7oz) caster sugar
10g (3 ½ oz) chilled butter
100ml (3 ½ fl oz) double cream
1 heaped tsp Maldon sea salt

Ingredients – For the Topping:

100g (3 ½ oz) caster sugar
2 eggs
2 extra egg yolks
250g (8oz) dark chocolate
150g (5oz) butter

Ice Cream, to serve

Step One:  Heat oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Lightly grease a 23cm (9 in) deep loose-bottomed tart tin.  Blend the biscuits in a food processor until finely crushed.

Step Two:  Place the biscuit crumbs in a bowl, add the butter and mix well.  Press the biscuit mixture evenly into the greased tin and up the sides.  Chill the base in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Remove the tart tin from the fridge, place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the base feels dry.  Set aside to cool.

Step Three:  To make the caramel, bring the sugar and 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) water to the boil in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Add the butter, return to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the mixture is a toffee colour.  Pour in the cream and salt and boil for another 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.  Allow to cool.

Step Four:  To make the chocolate topping, whisk the sugar, eggs and egg yolk for 4 minutes, or until thick and pale.  Gently melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water), leave to cool for a minute and then add to the sugar and egg mixture, whisking until smooth and glossy.

Step Five:  Spread the caramel over the cooled base and spoon over the chocolate mixture, spreading it evenly.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until it is almost set but still a bit wobbly.  Allow to cool in the tin.  Serve in thin slices with vanilla ice cream.

Tip: A food processor is the quickest way to crush the biscuits for the crust.  Alternatively, place the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Honey and Fig Semifreddo Cake

Honey and Fig SemifreddoRecipe Courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Jan 2016) and taken from a book called Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe.

Serves:  8

Ingredients:  200g hazelnuts, or half hazelnuts and half almonds; 7 dried figs, hard stems snipped off, chopped; 3 good-quality dates, pitted and chopped; 2 tbsp coconut oil; 2 tbsp sesame seeds; honey and fresh figs, to decorate.

For the Semifreddo:  1 whole egg; 6 egg yolks; 150g (blue gum (eucalyptus) honey, or whatever substitute you can muster; 300ml whipping cream; 150g Greek-style yogurt

Step One:  Preheat the oven to 180oC and toast the nuts for 5-10 minutes, or until most of them look golden-brown.  Rub the skins off the hazelnuts by wrapping them in a tea towel and agitating furiously.

Step Two:  Place the cooled nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely crushed, but not completely ground – there should still be plenty of chunks left.  Tip the nuts into a bowl, then add the figs and dates, coconut oil and 1 teaspoon of water and pulse until the mixture is like sticky glue.  Return the nuts to the food processor, along with the sesame seeds, and pulse until it looks like gravel.

Step Three:  Take a loose-bottomed 23cm round tin and cut out a circle of baking paper to fit the base, then place the lined base on a large sheet of plastic wrap.  Lift up the plastic wrap and base then drop it back into your tin, so the base is lined with baking paper and the sides are lined with plastic wrap.  Press in the gluey nut mixture and freeze for at least half an hour.

Step Four:  For the Semifreddo, put the egg, egg yolks and honey in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  As the heat makes its way through, whisk until you have a frothy-textured sabayon – it should take about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.  Whip the cream to stiff peaks.

Step Five:  When the sabayon is cool, gently fold in the yogurt, then the whipped cream.  Pour over the base and freeze for at least 4 hours.  About half an hour before serving, transfer the cake to the fridge to soften a little.  Drizzle with honey and serve with wedges of fresh fig.

Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Cream and Honeycomb

Chocolate mousseRecipe Courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Jan 2016) and taken from a book called Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe.

This chocolate mousse is improved by adding raspberries and cream, with honeycomb shards for pure theatre.

Serves:  4

Ingredients:  120g chocolate, with at least 80g dark chocolate; 4 eggs, separated; 1 tbsp caster sugar.

Honeycomb Shards:  165g granulated sugar; 1 ½ tbsp runny honey; 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Raspberry Cream: 100ml double cream; ½ tsp vanilla paste (optional); 50g fresh or frozen raspberries

Step One:  First melt the chocolate, either in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water or gently in the microwave (on medium for bursts of 30 seconds).

Step Two:  Next, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks with a tiny pinch of salt, then slowly add the sugar and keep whisking until you have stiff peaks.

Step Three:  Lightly beat the egg yolks, then add to the slightly cooled chocolate and use a whisk to combine.  Gently fold in about a third of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then fold in the rest.  Pour into a serving dish (or small glasses) and leave to set for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Step Four:  For the honeycomb shards, line a large tray with baking paper.  Combine the sugar, honey and 1 ½ tablespoons of water in a tall, heavy-based pan and heat until it registers 154oC (310oF) on a sugar thermometer.  This is called the ‘cracking stage’.  If you don’t have a thermometer, test by dropping a little of the syrup into a bowl of cold water and then fishing out the result: if it is still stretchy, keep cooking: if it ‘snaps’, it is ready.

Step Five:  Take the pan off the heat and sift in the bicarbonate of soda.  Be careful – the mixture is hot and it will foam and rise up the pan.  Stir with a wooden spoon until combined, then pour it onto the baking sheet, getting it as thin as you can and smoothing it out with a spatula.  Leave the honeycomb for at least 15 minutes to set.  Store in a cool, dry place – but not the fridge, or it will go sticky.

Step Six:  Just before serving, make the raspberry cream.  Whip the cream and vanilla to soft peaks.  Fold through the raspberries, crushing them a little as you go to give pretty red streaks, then spoon over the mousse.  Break honeycomb into shards and use to decorate.

Self-Saucing Dark Chocolate, Fig and Hazelnut Pudding

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine November 2015

Self saucing dark chocolate pudding

Slow-cooking isn’t just for savoury dishes – you can make delicious and comforting puddings and cakes in the slow cooker or on the stovetop.  They have used healthier alternatives to refined sugar, such as rice syrup, honey or, in this recipe, coconut sugar.  This pudding’s autumnal ingredients of figs and hazelnuts, and a rich chocolate sauce, mean it will be a favourite.

Serves : 6-8  –  Preparation Time : 10 mins  –  Cooking Time : 45 mins

Ingredients: 125ml melted butter; 235g coconut sugar; 225g self-raising flour, sifted; 1 egg, lightly beaten; 250ml almond milk; 2 tsp vanilla extract; 55g cacao powder; 6 dried figs, coarsely chopped; 100g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped; 4 tblsp blanched hazelnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped

Step One: Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF/Gas 4).  Grease a 2.5-3 litre baking dish.  In a bowl, combine the melted butter, 155g of the coconut sugar, flour, egg, almond milk, vanilla and 3 tablespoons of the cacao powder.

Step Two: Fold in the figs, chocolate and 3 tablespoons of the blanched hazelnuts, then spoon into the dish, spreading it out evenly.

Step Three: Scatter with the remaining sugar, cacao power and hazelnuts, then gently pour over 625ml of boiling water.

Step Four: Cook in the oven for 40 minutes until set, then set aside for 5 minutes before serving.

Some of the ingredients from Amazon:

Slow cooking recipe book:

Psychologies Magazine:

Passion Fruit and Mango Brulée

Although you’ll save even more time by using canned mango, peeling and cutting a fresh one is well worth the few extra minutes – the taste and texture is so much better.

Serves : 4  :   Prep : 6 mins  :   Cook : 4 mins  :  Cals per portion : 440

Ingredients: 1 large ripe mango; 2 x 200g tubs Greek yogurt; 2 passion fruit; 250g tub mascarpone cheese; 2 tbsp light Muscovado sugar

  • Cut flesh from mango. Put pieces into the base of four ramekin dishes.
  • Beat the Greek yogurt and the seeds and juice from the passion fruit into the mascarpone cheese to form a thick creamy mixture.
  • Spoon the yogurt mixture over the mango, then sprinkle the sugar over the top.
  • Grill until the sugar melts and forms a hard crispy caramel. Cool before serving.

Rhubarb and Apple Crumble

Serves : 4-6  :  Prep : 15 mins  :  Cook : 20 min

Rhubarb and apple make a delightful combination of flavours in this traditional favourite.

Ingredients: 1 oz / 25g butter; 1 1/2 lb/ 700g rhubarb, chopped; 1 lb/450g cooking apples, peeled and sliced; 1 tsp/5ml ground ginger; 3oz / 75g caster sugar; 3 tblsp/45ml water Topping: 6oz / 175g plain flour; 3oz / 75g butter, softened; 3oz / 75g demerara sugar; 2oz / 50g ground almonds; 2pt / 1.2 litre ovenproof dish

  • Melt the butter in a pan over a gentle heat, then fry the rhubarb and apples.  Add the ground ginger and caster sugar and simmer gently, covered, for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to Mark 6 / 400oF / 200oC.
  • To make the topping, sieve the flour into a mixing bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and ground almonds.
  • Spoon the rhubarb mixture into the dish. Pile on the almond crumble, smoothing it to cover the fruit. Bake the crumble for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden.

Easy Upside Down Apricot Pudding

Always keep a couple of packets of sponge mix in the cupboard for a fast, easy pudding.

  • Stir 5 tbsp apricot jam into 225g / 8oz of no need to soak apricots and put into the base of a 1 1/2 pint pudding basin.
  • Make up 2 sponge mixes (you’ll find that one is not generous enough) according to the instructions on the packet and spread over the fruit.
  • Microwave on medium for about 8 minutes or bake in a tin half filled with water and entirely covered with foil at Mark 5 / 375oF/ 190oC for 40 minutes or until the sponge is risen, springy and firm to the touch.

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