Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lemon custard hearts

In the kitchen there is a box full of the things I use when I bake, there is muffin cups, icing, cookie cutters, different tools and ingredients and then there is a load of little metal tins in different shapes, sizes and varieties that are very valuable to me. I got them from my mum, and she got them from her mum and I just love using them because of the history to them. When making these shortbread biscuits filled with custard, a very typical Swedish treat usually made in heart shaped tins, I felt quite lucky to come from a family with people who shared and shares my interest in cooking and baking. My grandmother was a very good home-cook and baker, she made the most amazing chocolate fudge and baked the yummiest buns with almond paste...
When I decided to use the heart shaped tins and make these pastries I made a small change to the recipe, not so surprising at this stage...do I ever follow a recipe completely I wonder? It was only a tiny change though; the vanilla flavoured custard, as the recipe called for, was swapped for a lemon flavoured custard because I like tangy things and I had no good vanilla at home. Simple like that!

120 grams plain flour
100 grams butter
30 grams cornflour
25 grams caster sugar

Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add both types of flour gradually while stirring into a smooth dough. Let the dough chill in the fridge while making the custard.

1 egg yolk
100ml milk
1/2tbsp cornflour
1tsp caster sugar
zest of one lemon+2tbsp juice

Mix egg yolk and cornflour. Heat milk, sugar and lemon zest until it nearly starts to boil. Pour the liquid over the egg yolk while whisking. Put the mix back into the pot and on a medium heat bring the mix to 85C, or until it starts to thicken, while stirring constantly. When thick (but not scrambled!!) take off the heat and add the lemon juice. Let cool down before straining the lemon zest away.

Roll out half of the pastry and line 8 small pie tins or what ever moulds you are using. Fill with the custard and roll out the rest of the pastry to cover the top. Bake for 10-15min on 200C until golden.

Pear, chocolate and almond tart

A few years ago I lived in an area in Dublin with fabulous gourmet food shops. Unfortunately they tend to be quite expensive so for daily grocery shopping they're not ideal, but for the occasional treat they do fill their purpose. One of these shops is a vegetable and fruit shop that also stocks farm fresh eggs, hand made cheeses, pasta, jars of all sorts of condiments, grains and pulses...The list is nearly endless and I always seem to find things in there that I might have been looking for in several other shops without any luck.
The other day I did not really need anything from there, I just cycled by and decided to have a look and there they were; these amazingly pretty pears, they were red, green and shiny. To pretty not to buy so I got two of them not even knowing what to do with them. But then an idea took place in my head after finding both ground almonds and dark chocolate in my cup board. Think chocolate frangipan in a cocoa flavoured pie crust, on top of that these juicy pears baked until slightly caramelized. Success.
25 grams caster sugar
50 grams butter,at room temperature
65 grams plain flour
10 grams cocoa powder
1 egg yolk
Almond filling
75 grams butter,at room temperature
50 grams caster sugar
50 grams dark chocolate, finely chopped or grated
75 grams ground almonds
1tbsp plain flour
1 egg+1egg yolk

1 pear

Mix flour, cocoa powder and sugar, rub in the butter until it forms crumbles. Add the egg yolk and quickly mix into a dough. Roll out between cling film and line the baking tin. Put in the fridge while making the almond filling.

Beat butter and sugar pale and fluffy. Add egg and egg yolk and continue to beat until smooth and well combined. Fold in almonds, flour and chocolate. Spread out in the pie crust. Peel the pear and cut into very thin slices. Arrange the pear slices on top of the almond filling and bake for 30-40min on 160C. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.