3.25.2012

Pleasantly plum-filled.


Autumn is here in Sydney. I actually cannot believe that summer flew by so quickly - even though it was definitely not the warmest, sunniest summer I've experienced here. In fact it's been rainy and cloudy a lot!
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The fall is quite lovely and its cooler evenings mean that certain deliciously hearty and pastry-rich items feature back on the house menu.
Given the buckets of plums being showcased in markets at the moment, I thought a plum tart would be great idea for dessert.  Mixing sweet yet tart plums with smooth and nutty marzipan makes for a wonderful tart combination.
Baked until sticky and golden, oozing with almond goodness and encased in a buttery crust - this is definitely dessert time!

plum & marzipan tarts
makes 4 tarts

pastry
175g plain flour
80g butter, cold and cut into pieces
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp caster sugar
1 egg yolk (keep white aside)
1/4 cup cold water (you won't need it all)

filling
5-6 small plums, sliced
50g marzipan, cut into pieces
1/4 cup brown sugar
squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp honey

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
To make the pastry: Sift dry ingredients into a bowl - using hands rub pieces of butter into the flour until mixture resembles sand. Mix in egg yolk and then bring mixture together by adding a bit of cold water (a little at a time) until it forms a ball. Wrap pastry in cling wrap and place in fridge 20-30 minutes.

To make filling: mix plums, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon together. Keep aside.

Take out pastry and with rolling pin roll out until about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into appropriate sizes for tart cases (I used 15cm tart cases) and place into case carefully, pushing in all edges. Place into fridge 20 minutes. Take out lined cases, dock pastry and blind bake with beans/rice in oven for 10 minutes. Take out and let cool. Add pieces of marzipan to each case and add plum mixture, top each case with tsp of honey. Bake in oven about 45-50 minutes or until golden and plums are soft. Take out and let cool. Serve with cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

3.19.2012

Fruit & Nut...and a muffin.


Oh, and chocolate! You can't have fruits and nuts without a touch of chocolate.
This delicious combination of fruit, nut and chocolate came together to make these delicious banana and hazelnut muffins.  Perfect for the morning or any other time of the day, these muffins are exploding with banana flavour and a touch of spice.

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Sometimes muffins can be heavy and dense but using half flour/half hazelnut meal, ensured that these sweet little treats were kept light. In addition to the sweet ripe bananas, I added a touch of brown sugar, spices like mace and cinnamon and a necessary addition - chocolate! Not just any chocolate - these were pieces of dark hazelnut filled chocolate - the perfect pairing of fruit, nut - and chocolate. Try it out!


banana and hazelnut muffins
makes 12 muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup hazelnut meal (if you can't find/make then use almond meal)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch sea salt
1/4 tsp ground mace
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 whole eggs
1/4 cup non-fragrant oil
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
50g dark hazelnut chocolate, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
In a medium bowl sift dry ingredients - flour, hazelnut meal, baking powder, sugar and salt. Keep aside.
In another bowl, beat eggs lightly and mix in oil and mashed bananas. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated - don't overmix! Then mix through pieces of hazelnut chocolate.
Spoon mix into cases and bake for about 20 minutes. Take out and let cool. Enjoy!