Almond and Cherry Pithivier

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There’s one cooking show that I could watch endlessly over again. For me, it’s the perfect mix of Francophilic nostalgia, mouth-watering food and my style of cooking: rustic. It is…Rick Stein’s French Food Odyssey. If you’ve never had the pleasure before, you can find it online: www.amazon.com . You’re welcome.

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With its focus on French favourites, there are lots of dishes on Rick’s menu that were regulars at the dinner table growing up, but one that I have never tried was something called a Pithivier, and so, I decided to make one. My only regret…I shouldn’t have waited so long!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets butter puff pastry
  • 125g softened butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolk
  • 125 almond meal
  • 15 flour
  • 2 tablespoon Kirsch (cherry liqueur)
  • 225 fresh cherries, stone removed

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Method:

  1. Cut a disc of puff pastry using a medium size plate (about 25 cm) for the bottom and a slightly larger one for the top (about 29 cm), using a larger plate. Rest them in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  2. For the almond filling, cream the butter and sugar together until white and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and one of the yolks, gently add the almond meal, flour and Kirsch, stir until combine.
  4. Stir in the pitted cherries.
  5. Place the smaller disc on flat baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Spoon the almond mixture in the center and spread it to about 2.5 cm of the edge.
  6. Beat the remaining yolk with 1 tablespoon of cold water and brush the edges of the bottom disc. Place the larger disc on top of the filling and press the edges together to seal, pressing out any trapped air. Press the outside of the edges of the pastry with a fork to give it a attractive finish. Place the Pithivier in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius (428F). Brush the top of the Pithivier with the rest of the egg wash, then with the tip of a small sharp knife, score radiating arcs from the center out towards the edge, taking care not to cut too deeply. Make a hole in the centre to let the steam escape.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 220 degrees Celsius(428F), until the pastry puffed up and is golden. Then lower the temperature to 180 degrees Celsius(356F) and bake for a further 40 minutes or until a skewer pushed in the middle comes out clean. If it start to become too brown, loosely lay a sheet of foil over the top.
  9. To give the Phitivier a classic glazed appearance remove it from the oven, increase the temperature to 220 degrees Celsius (428F). Dust the pastry with icing sugar and bake for 4 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool slightly, then serve with vanilla bean ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
  11. I also recommend a glass of Chateau Viranel “Gourmandise” available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au

Almond Cream, Coconut crumble and berries tart

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There’s something wonderful about bite-sized desserts, in particular tarts. I love the images they conjure, of the salons of Marie-Antoinette, of teahouses and of fancy soirées. They are also somewhat of a culinary contradiction seeming exclusive yet shareable, and indulgent yet somehow restrained.

Like a good building, the most important element of the tart is its foundation, that is, the tart shell. Becoming a master of a good tart shell pastry is one of the basics that I highly recommend if you’re an avid at-home cook. Whether you fancy a tangy lemon meringue filling or a strawberry topped vanilla crème pâtissière, you’ll need a good basic tart shell recipe on hand to hold all these wonders within.

I can’t say exactly what inspired the filling that I’ve chosen today, but I will say one thing – it’s delicious! The coconut crunch of the crumble and nutty flavour of the almond crème are balanced perfectly by the sweetness and tartness of the berries. They’re the perfect bite-sized treat (which in French means you eat one or two and share the rest, not eat the whole tray of “bites” by yourself until you fall into a sugar coma, but to each their own!)

With this delicious treat i recommend a Chateaux Viranel “Gourmandise”,which is a fortified red wine from the Languedoc region in France, available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au

 

Bon Appétit!

 

Almond cream, coconut crumble and berry tarts:

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Ingredients for the short crust pastry:

  •  250 g plain flour
  • 125 g unsalted butter (diced and soften)
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 1 pinch table salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Method: Sieve the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the soft butter and the salt. With the tip of your fingers combine the butter with the flour until you get a sand like mix (sablée). Make a well in the middle and add the sugar, vanilla seeds and baking powder. Then add the egg, with your finger tips mix the ingredients in the center together then slowly incorporate the flour and mix until you have a smooth bowl. Transfer the dough on a floured bench and knead for a minutes to make sure there are no lumps of butter. Glad wrap the ball of dough and put it in the fridge to rest for a couple of hours, you can flatten the dough to make it easier when you want to roll it. I recommend taking the dough out of the fridge 20 minutes prior rolling.

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Ingredients for the crumble:

  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 100 g unsalted butter (diced and soften)
  • 100 g almond meal
  • 100 g grated coconut

Method: Preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius. In a mixing bowl combine with your fingertips all the ingredient except the coconut until you have a sand like mixture, the add the grated coconut. Lin a flat baking tray with grease proof paper and thinly spread the crumble mix on it, put in the fridge for 10 minutes. Put the crumble in the oven for 10 minutes until golden and crunchy. Take it out of the oven and keep aside.

Ingredients for the almond cream :

  • 160 g soft butter
  • 160 g almond meal
  • 160 g caster sugar
  • 160 g eggs (3)

Method : In a mixing bowl or an electric mixer, whisk the sugar and the butter together until you have a creamy mixture and the sugar has dissolved. Then add the eggs slowly one by one, adding the eggs too quickly will split the mix. When combined add the almond meal and mix until just combined.

Preheat the oven at 200 degree Celsius. Roll the dough using a rolling pin on a flour bench, to the desired thickness, I recommend about 2-3 millimeters. If you’re doing one big tart, roll the dough on the rolling pin and unroll it over the round non stick baking tray. Make sure all sides a nicely tucked in, trim the edge of the tray so it’s neat and tidy. Then spread the almond cream to about half way up the dish. Dispose your berries all over the cream and press them down a little. Bake for 10 minutes, you’ll know it’s ready when you put a knife in and it comes out clean. Take the tart or tartlets out and top with the coconut crumble mix. Sprinkle with icing sugar for decoration.