Rosewater Honeycomb with dark chocolate and lavender flower

Honeycomb1_lefermier_221115Honeycomb is a fun and simple Amuse-Bouche that is full of flavour, light and delicious . It is also a great addition to many dessert recipes like waffles, ice cream or sprinkled on top of a berry crumble. Perfect little treat to go with your coffee and tea at the end of you meal or you can also package them to give them as presents to your friend or family!!!

Ingredients:

  • 300g caster sugar
  • 1 cup water, about 250ml
  • 3 tablespoon baking soda
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • Dried lavender flower, or dried edible flowers
  • 20ml rosewater

Honeycomb3_lefermier_221115Method:

  1. Line a deep stainless steel bowl with baking paper.
  2. Place the sugar and water into a saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar. Clean the side of the saucepan with a pastry brush and a little bit of water, to prevent the sugar from crystallising.
  3. Bring the sugar to the boil and cook it until it become slightly brown, you only want a pale caramel.
  4. Take it of the heat, put the saucepan next to the stainless steel bowl, and pour the baking soda in the caramel while whisking very quickly , Do not whisk for too long, only a few seconds. Once you add the baking soda it will rise very quickly a little like a volcano!
  5. Pour the honeycomb in the bowl as soon as you stop whisking and leave to cool down completely. It should  become hard pretty quickly.
  6. In the meantime, break down the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl and melt it over a bain-marie.
  7. Break the honeycomb into big chunks, dip half of them into the chocolate and the flowers. Leave the chocolate cool down so it hardens and they are ready to be served!

 

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Macarons

macaron2_lefermier_031215The Macaron appeared in Europe in the middle ages, made from sugar, almond and egg white from the very beginning. Some say that the Macaron was born in the VIIIe century in venetians monastery. They were introduced in France by Catherine de medicis for her wedding with the Duc d’Orléans. The macaron use to be eaten as individual biscuits and it’s not until 1830 that, in Paris, pastry chefs decide to stick two macaron together using ganache to create the “parisian” macaron which was later popularized by the very famous Ladurée.

They are now many different flavours of macaron like a mandarine and olive oil from Pierre hermé in Paris or lime and basil and even peach and rose! I have decided to add a festive touch to my macaron today by using Christmas spices to flavour my crème.

Watch the how to video below or visit my YouTube channel here for lots more videos

Macaron with a Christmas Spice Cream

Ingredients for the shells:

  • 210g icing sugar
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 130g egg whites
  • 150g almond meal

macaron4_lefermier_031215Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees Celsius and make sure all the ingredients are measured.
  2. In a food processor, blitz the icing sugar and almond meal until it is very fine. Make sure it is really fine otherwise the top of the macaron won’t be smooth.
  3. Sieve the almond meal and icing sugar to remove the chunky bits, and keep aside.
  4. Whisk the egg white to soft peak, then slowly add the sugar and keep whisking until it is all dissolved. Add the food colouring and whisk until combined.
  5. Using a spatula, incorporate half of the almond meal and icing sugar, mix, then add the other half.
  6. Gently work the mixture by folding it onto itself, making sure you scrape the bottom to get all the ingredients. Work it until it becomes glossy and form a ribbon when you lift the spatula (see video).
  7. Using a pipping bag with a nozzle, lay the macaron on flat baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
  8. Leave them on the bench top for about 15 minutes so that a skin forms on the top. Check if they are ready to be baked by gently touching the top with your finger, if it doesn’t stick then they are ready.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then leave them cool down before garnishing them with the crème.

macaron3_lefermier_031215Ingredients for the Crème:

  • 2 free range egg yolk
  • 25 cl full fat milk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 25g flour
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 2 star anis
  • 1 orange peel
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 75g soft butter
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds out

Method:

  1. Boil the milk with the vanilla ( seeds and pod) and the spices.
  2. Whisk the egg and sugar until slightly white and fluffy, add the flour and mix until combined.
  3. Pour the hot milk through a sieve, whisk to combined all the ingredients, and cook for about 3-5 minutes while whisking.
  4. Pour the crème in large dish, spread it as thin as you can to cool it down quickly. Once cooled completely, place it in an electric blender, whisk until it is smooth and add the soft butter. Keep whisking until the mixture is glossy and smooth.
  5. To put the macaron together, simply pipe a little bit of crème in the center of half of the shell and put a shell on top!

Kouglof with a Ginger Bread Crème Anglaise

Kouglof1_lefermier_221115This recipe comes from Alsace. This region, in north-East of France, is famous for their architecture like the Palais Rohan, but also for their cuisine, which incorporates some Germanic traditions being that the town borders Germany.

Their culinary specialties include Cervelas, Tarte flambée, Choucroute (Sauerkraut) and Baeckeoffe, a mutton, beef and pork stew. They have one of the richest cuisines in France and are well know for serving big portions.

The recipe I am sharing with you today is called a Kouglof, a cake containing yeast, raisins, rum, & almonds. It has a distinctive shape because of the special mold it is cooked in, and you’ll find variations of this delicious cake in Germany and Austria. Once cooked, the Kouglof is soaked in a delicious vanilla and rum flavoured syrup that makes this dessert even more irresistible. To add a festive twist to this traditional recipe, I have chosen to pair it with a ginger bread crème anglaise.

If you are looking for a wine to match this delicious dessert, I highly recommend a Domaine Bertrand-Bergé Rivesaltes Ambré from www.airoldifinewines.com.au

Kouglof with a Ginger Bread Crème Anglaise:

For The Kouglof:

Ingredients:

  • 400g bakers flour
  • 35 fresh yeast
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 150g free range eggs
  • 50g milk
  • 150 salted butter
  • 5g salt

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Method:

  1. Warm up the milk and dilute the yeast into it.
  2. In an electric mixer, like a Kitchen Aid for example and equipped with the hook attachment, place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl and mix for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the yeast mixture, while mixing on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time and whisk on high speed until the dough detach itself from the sides.
  4. Slowly add the soft butter and mix until it is all incorporated, cover with cling film and place the bowl in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius and line the mold with soft butter and place an almond in each of the small holes of the mold.
  6. Mix the dough with the hook attachment on medium speed and add the raisins, mix until well combined.
  7. Place the dough in the mold to about ¾ , leave to proof until it has reached the top. Brush the top with an egg yolk and bake for 25-30 minutes depending on your oven.
  8. Unmould the Kouglof and soak it, using a pastry brush, with the syrup.

Kouglof4_lefermier_221115For the syrup:

Ingredients:

  • 1L water
  • rum
  • 1 orange zest
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 50ml dark rum
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • 500ml water
  • 100 g raisin

Kouglof5_lefermier_221115Method:

  1. Warm up 1 liter of water then add the rum, place the raisins or currants in the liquid for 30 minutes then strain. This process will avoid that the raisins fall at the bottom of the mold while cooking.
  2. Bring 500ml of water, orange zest, lemon zest and vanilla to the boil, then turn the heat of and add the rum.

For the Crème Anglaise:

Ingredients:

  • 500ml full fat milk
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 4 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon 5 spice

Method:

  1. Bring the milk and spices to the boil.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together. Pour the hot milk over the top and whisk until all the ingredients are dissolved.
  3. Pour the mix back in the pot and cook on medium heat using a spatula to stir. Once the thin layer of foam at the top disappear, check the cream by lifting the spatula out and drawing a line with your finger, if the line remains it means that the anglaise is ready.
  4. Pour the crème anglaise in a clean bowl and refrigerate.

 

Short Bread

Short Bread

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Shortbread started off with very humble beginnings – as the slow cooked off cuts of bread dough. Eventually, butter took the place of yeast to more closely resemble the shortbread we know and love today. With its buttery richness it’s not hard to imagine that shortbread was once considered a luxury and could only be afforded for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas or New Year’s Eve. A particular variety known as “petticoat tails”, flavoured with caraway seeds was apparently a favourite of Queen Victoria.

For this iteration of the Scottish favourite, I used classic gingerbread cookie cutter shapes, which would be perfect to use if you’re cooking with the kids! For a more grown up version, you could create the classic shortbread fingers or the wheel shape sliced into triangles (i.e, the petticoat tails).

Ingredients:

  • 500g plain flour
  • 300g unsalted butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 vanilla pod (seeds only)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius (356F).
  2. Mix the sugar, diced butter (soft) and vanilla seeds in an electric mixer until the mixture become creamy and slightly white.
  3. Then add the egg yolk and whole egg and mix until well combine.
  4. Sieve the flour and baking powder together and add it to the butter mix. Mix on medium speed, until you have a smooth dough.
  5. Roll the dough on a slightly floured bench to the desired thickness, I recommend about 3-4 mm.
  6. Using a pastry cutter cut different shapes and place them on a flat baking tray lined with baking paper.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or so until the sides of the short bread becomes golden. Cool them down cooling rack.

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Fruit Mince Pies

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I shared these fruit mince tarts with an English friend and I could see in their expression, as they bit into the crumbly pie casing, that they were tasting nostalgia as much as spiced fruit mince. These merry morsels are historically British you see, heralding from the Crusade era when the English brought back Middle Eastern recipes mixing meats with fruit and sweeter flavours as well as exotic spices.

Mince Pies have always been associated with Christmas, though as time has gone by the recipe has evolved to leave out the meats but amp up the sweets! For this recipe I left my fruit mince to soak in brandy for 24 hours, but some people have told me tales of their grandmothers soaking it for months!

Fruit mince pie

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Ingredients:

  •  250g dried figs
  • 300g raisins
  • 150g Slivered almonds
  • 250g dried apricots
  • 300g currants
  • 300g sultanas
  • 3 granny smith apples
  • 200g mixed peels
  • 110g macadamia
  • 150g hazelnuts
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 150mL brandy
  • 1/3 cup Verjuice
  • 4 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 175g unsalted butter

Method:

  1. Peel and coarsely grate the apples, then cover with verjuice to prevent discoloration.
  2. Chop the apricots, raisin, figs, macadamia and hazelnuts.
  3. Combine them in a large mixing bowl with rest of the ingredients except the butter and mix thoroughly.
  4. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature for 24 hours, stirring from time to time.

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Ingredients for the pastry:

  • 175g unsalted chilled butter
  • 225g plain flour
  • 75g self raising flour
  • 55g icing sugar
  • 1 free range egg
  • 2 Tbspn iced water

Method:

  1. Dice the chilled butter
  2. Blend the flours, icing sugar and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. If you do not have a food processor use the tip of your fingers to mix the butter and flours together.
  3. Add the egg yolk and iced water and mix until the dough comes together. Form a ball and flatten it a little bit, it will make your life easier when you start rolling, wrap it in cling film and put in the fridge for an hour to rest.
  4. Preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (392F).
  5. Take the pastry out of the fridge 15 minutes prior to rolling it.
  6. Roll the pastry on a lightly floured clean surface to the desired thickness (about 2mm).
  7. Stir the fruit mince one last time before filling the pastry.
  8. Line the moulds with pastry (a cupcake tin works perfectly for this) and fill them up with the mince to about 3/4. Press the mince down gently in the pie. Using a star shape pastry cutter, cut a star for each of the pie and place them on top. Press down a little bit and brush them with egg wash.
  9. Bake for 18 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown on top (some oven might cook a bit faster or slower).
  10. Allow to cool on a cooling rack before serving with.

Cherry Clafoutis

clafouits2_lefermier_161214

Early summertime is cherry season and traditionally this means adorning the top of a freshly baked pavlova with these juicy little jewels for Christmas day dessert. But if you want to try something a little different (and you wouldn’t be food lovers without a sense of culinary adventure) then may I introduce a dainty little dish called the clafoutis.

This fabulous flan-like dessert is a traditional dish of the Limousin region of France and is rather peculiar in that it contains cherries that are unpitted. It may sound odd and like a lot of work to ensure you don’t chip a tooth with every bite, but believe me when I say that the pips add an extra nutty nuance that makes it worth the effort. Just make sure you let your guests know before they tuck in!

Traditional cherry clafoutis:

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Ingredients:

  •  185 mL thickened cream
  • 125 mL full fat milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • 30g almond meal
  • 400g cherries
  • 1 Tbsp Kirsch

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 F).
  2. Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Split the vanilla pod in two, scrape out the seeds and add both to the cream.
  3. Heat the cream gently for a couple of minutes, remove from the heat, add the milk and leave to cool. Take the vanilla pod out.
  4. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture becomes slightly white and foamy.
  5. Sieve the flour, mix it with the almond meal and then add it to the egg mix. Whisk well to avoid lumps.
  6. Gently add the cooled cream and whisk until combined.
  7. Arrange the cherries at the bottom of your cake tray (use a 23cm or so baking tray), pour the mix over the cherries to about ¾ of the tray.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden on top. A good trick to check if your Clafoutis is cooked is to plant a skewer into the centre, if it comes out clean then it’s cook!
  9. Dust with icing sugar and serve with a dollop of cream while still warm.

With this delicious dessert i recommend a Chateau Coutet “Sauternes” available from http://www.airoldifinewines.com.au

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