Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Fonut - a turkish delight and pistachio version

Cronuts, fonuts, whatever you want to call them – the latest sweet baked confection to have a stranglehold on pastry cabinets the world over is the cronut – a doughnut meets croissant confection. How you can take the glutton’s epitome of chic – the croissant, and blend it with the street cart fried, glazed, filled, and sprinkled pouf of dough ala the doughnut has me perplexed. Ok concerned. And morbidly fascinated. I can’t keep up. Trend do as trend tells, put down the cupcakes, throw your macaroons to the wind and embrace the cronut. Exhausting non? All the while, what I really want is the cannele (my all time favourite pastry item) to take full flight. But I do love a croissant. And I certainly don’t say no to a doughnut. So while I wait patiently for the cannele trend (c’mon people) I’ll delve into the world of cronuts. And surprise surprise I like them. Perhaps a whole lot more than I should.

I’ve used a rough puff pastry here rather than the more complicated laminating process required for traditional croissant dough. If you have the time and patience, I think it would pay off in even more light and lovely layers.  To make it a wee bit fa-ancy, I’ve used a Turkish delight cream with a rose glaze topped with some crushed pistachio. Why do when you can over do? If you can’t be bothered with these elements, they are just as good doused in a healthy coating of cinnamon and sugar.

You will need to begin this recipe one day ahead.
60ml tepid milk
60ml tepid water
125g plain flour, sifted
125g bread flour, sifted
7g sachet, active yeast
45g brown sugar
Pinch of salt
150g butter, diced and cold
Vegetable oil for deep frying.
Pistachio nuts, crushed for topping

Pastry cream
3 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
25g plain flour
230ml milk
60ml pouring cream (30)
4 pieces of Turkish delight, chopped

120g caster sugar
4 raspberries, crushed
225g icing sugar, sifted
3 tsp rosewater
Place the milk, water, sugar and yeast into a medium bowl and mix to combine, set aside. Place the flours, and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the butter is in small pieces. You only need to pulse for about three seconds – you want small chunks of butter to remain – don’t over process. Add to the milk mixture and bring the dough together. Lightly knead to form a ball of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 3 hours.
After the dough has rested, place it on a floured work surface. Roll the dough out into a roughly 20cm x 40cm rectangle. Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter brushing off any excess flour, this is the first turn. Turn the dough 90° so that the folds are facing you. Repeat the rolling and folding process two more times, giving the dough a total of three turns. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate overnight before using.Use a cookie cutter to cut doughnut shapes from the dough and set aside for 30 minutes to rest. For the Turkish delight cream, whisk yolks and sugar until pale, add flour and whisk to combine. Bring milk, cream and Turkish delight pieces to the simmer in a saucepan over high heat, stirring until the Turkish delight pieces break down. Add to yolk mixture, whisk to combine, then return to pan and whisk continuously over medium-high heat until bubbling and thick (3-5 minutes). Cover closely with plastic wrap and cool to room temperature, then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 4mm nozzle.
For rosewater glaze, combine sugar and 50ml water in a small saucepan, stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, add raspberries, simmer until syrupy (2-3 minutes). Strain into a heatproof bowl, add icing sugar, whisk until smooth, then whisk in rosewater and set aside.
Heat oil in a large saucepan or deep-fryer to 170C, then deep-fry cronuts in batches, turning occasionally, until puffed and golden (3-5 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Drain on absorbent paper, gently insert nozzle of piping bag into one side and fill with pastry cream. Dust with caster sugar, spoon over glaze and top with crushed pistachios. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chocolate moelleux with malted milk caramel

This chocolate pudding is my wintery version of the properly old school chocolate malted milkshake. When I was little my grandparents were still on the land and this invariably meant long car trips to visit on weekends, which my father seized as hours of unbridled opportunity to teach us many of life’s lessons. I learnt there is nothing more important than family. I can recite Archimedes principle to anyone who cares to know that “an object immersed in water is buoyed by a force equal to the weight of water it displaces.” I also learnt about the ins and outs of the perfect chocolate malted milkshake – the real kind - those you’d find at small country service stations and random isolated highway corner stores. I relished our stops for a choc-malted; to hear dad wax lyrical that all a good milkshake needs is four simple ingredients – whole milk, chocolate, malt and a heavy handed dollop of ice cream. We would give ourselves cold headaches when we “dined in”, seeing who could reach the bottom of the anodized metal tumbler first. And if the shake “was to go”, speed was equally important for fear of losing the contents of that palm tree emblazoned paper cup as it seeped onto your lap.  While I don’t get a car trip with the old man nearly as much I might like to these days, this pudding is an equally great way of celebrating all things chocolate and malt.

Serves 4
Chocolate Moelleux
170g dark chocolate
170g butter
170g light brown sugar
85g plain flour, sifted
4 egg yolks plus 2 eggs, lightly beaten
Malted milk caramel
150g condensed milk
3 tbsp malted milk powder (plus extra for serving)

Prepare 4 ramekins by greasing and lining with baking paper.
Melt the chocolate with the butter in a saucepan over very low heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Combine the sugar and flour in a bowl.  Mix the melted chocolate with the eggs then add to the flour mixture. Divide the mixture between the ramekins until three quarters full.
To make the caramel add the condensed milk and malted milk powder to a saucepan. Place over a very low heat and cook, stirring constantly until the powder has dissolved. Remove from heat and pour into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle (or you can just use a spoon to transfer the caramel to the puddings). Pop the nozzle into the middle of the chocolate mixture and squirt in the filling – the chocolate mixture will rise to the top. Place puddings in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C. Bake the puddings for 20 minutes or until the eges are firm and the centre feels slightly runny to the touch. Leave to rest for 2 minutes then gently turn them out onto serving plates. Dust over a little extra malt powder and serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

La Beef Cheek Mac n Cheese

Gird your loins fine people. This is not a recipe for the faint hearted. Think of the ultimate comforting feasts of mac n cheese or a slow braised beef that collapses to the touch. Now combine them. With a béchamel sauce. Welcome the beef cheek mac n cheese to your life. Traditionally from Lyon in France, this super nostalgic and rustic winter dish is made with slow braised oxtail. The meat is layered with macaroni cheese and a béchamel sauce then finished off in the oven for a crisp top. Here I’ve opted for beef cheeks – no particular reason other than I love to cook with them and it avoids man handling the bones and hot meat later on. This is the simplicity of a mac & cheese turned into a totally and completely decadent feast – it’s what the French do best really. This serves 4 – 6, you could stretch it to 8 with a fresh green salad and some crunchy bread. Mac n cheese for grown ups. Just the way it should be.

1 tbsp butter
800g beef cheeks
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 cups good quality beef stock
500ml Beaujolais wine (or any red will do at a pinch)
Salt flakes and pepper for seasoning
500g Macaroni pasta
20g sourdough breadcrumbs

60g butter
30g plain flour
300ml milk
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to season
60g gruyere cheese plus extra to brown on top
100ml crème fraiche

In a large cooking pot, add the butter and brown the meat well on all sides. Add the thyme, bay leaf, chopped onion and garlic and cook until the onion softens and only just starts to colour. Deglaze with the wine, add the stock and cook over low heat for 3 - 4 hours until beef is tender and collapsing to the touch. Keep an eye on the liquid and add more stock if necessary. Remove from the heat. Shred the meat into a bowl.
Cook the sauce over high heat for a further 15 minutes or until it looks thick and glossy. Strain over the meat, stirring to combine. Cook the macaroni pasta until al dente – rinse with cold water and drain. Set aside.
Prepare the béchamel sauce: In a saucepan on a medium heat, melt butter and add flour. Whisk until smooth and gradually add milk whisking away. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg and stir until sauce thickens to a desired consistency – this will take approx. 8-10 minutes. Add the gruyère cheese and crème fraiche. Mix well until cheese has melted. Set aside.
Preheat oven 210 °C. Line a baking dish with butter and place one layer of beef and sauce, one layer of macaroni, one layer of béchamel sauce. Repeat procedure and finish with a layer of béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with additional gruyère cheese if using and the sourdough crumbs. Bake for 20 minutes until golden on top. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Banoffee Crumble

Sometimes I make things and think. That’s it. I’ve passed the brink, the dessert point of no return. Someone bring me an apple. Case in point – this banoffee crumble. I wouldn’t recommend this as being part of your daily eats but as far as the wee baked treat goes, this is a winner. A lot of love goes into the making of a crumble. A lot of butter also goes into the making of a crumble. But the end result? Golden, gooey, heavenly banoffee inspired coconut and pretzel crunch sitting atop a caramel swirled blondie base. And bonus points for this one because it has banana in it. And nuts. That’s a tick for two essential food groups, which practically makes it good for you. But a wee warning. The first bite can be disorderly if you're not careful. Subsequent bites get even more dangerous, because you may want several. A plate of the stuff will ensure you swoon dangerously, and is likely to make sharing near impossible.

250g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
200g brown sugar
5 eggs
185g white chocolate, melted
½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
320g plain flour
2 tsp ginger
395 dulche de leche caramel plus extra to serve
2 bananas, peeled and sliced on the diagonal

Crumble topping
1 cup salted pretzels
2 tbsp coconut chips
3 tbsp butter, cubed
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp plain flour

Preheat oven to 150C.
Grease and line a 30 x 23 x 4cm baking tin with baking paper.
To make the base, cream the butter and sugars together until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the melted white chocolate and pecans. Sift in the flour and ginger, stirring gently to combine then pour into the prepared baking tin. Bake for 25 minutes or until just set and a crust has formed on top. Remove from the oven and pour over the caramel. Gently push the banana slices into the caramel.
For the crumble topping, place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until a rough crumb is achieved. You still want chunks of coconut and salted pretzel so make sure you don’t over process. Scoop the crumble mixture on top of the banana and caramel – don’t worry about being uniform – anywhere will do. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 30 - 40 minutes. If it is starting to darken too much on top, cover with foil for any remaining cooking time. Once golden and just cooked through, remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing. Serve with additional caramel, freshly sliced banana and coconut chips should you feel the need.