Apricot Tarte Tatin

 

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The story of the Tarte Tartin gives hope to everyone who is absent-minded in the kitchen. This “accidental” dessert is credited to the sisters Tartin who ran a hotel in the town of Lamotte-Beuvron, in France’s Loire Valley. One of the sisters, Stephanie, was known as an excellent cook but also a bit of a scatterbrain. As the most popular version of the story goes, one day she left the apples for her apple pie in the pan for too long and so they over-caramelised.

Not wanting to waste the apples, but wanting to hide the mishap, she covered them with tart pastry and placed the whole pan in the oven to bake. Once cooked, she flipped her concoction back over to serve in order to make it look like a normal tart.

If only every kitchen disaster could be such a hit with guests!

The great thing about this recipe is that it works just as well with any fruit that caramelises nicely. I was lucky enough this summer to have a bumper crop of apricots on my tree and they worked beautifully for this Tarte Tartin. Peaches also work a treat and for the savoury lover, some juicy cherry tomatoes rival their sweeter cousins.

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Ingredient:

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 50 ml water
  • 15-20 apricots
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 50 ml rum
  • 1 sheet butter puff pastry

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Method:

  1. Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Put the sugar and water in a medium sauce pan, give it a stir and cook the sugar until it caramelize.
  3. Pour the caramel into a tart dish, glass or non stick is preferable, and make sure it covers the entire base.
  4. Cut the apricot in half, remove the stone and place them on top of the caramel cut side towards you. Once you’ve layed down the first layer of apricots, repeat the process once more. When you flip the Tatin you’ll see the nicer side of the apricots.
  5. Dice the butter and place it on top of the apricots. Pour the rum on top of the fruit.
  6. Place the pastry over the apricots, tuck the sides in and bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Once cooked, leave it cool down a little bit then carefully flip it over. A good way to do it is to place a tray on top of the tart and using two towel flip in one move.
  8. I suggest you serve the Tarte Tatin with a delicious vanilla bean ice cream and a glass of Chateau “Suduiraut” Sauterne available from http://www.airoldifinewines.com.au .

Cherry Clafoutis

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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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Christmas Eve Dinner “à la Française”: Part 3

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Classic Bûche de Noël

Ingredients for the Génoise (sponge):

  •  4 eggs
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 125 g plain flour

Method:

  1.  Preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (392 F ).
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until it triple in size. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
  3. Sieve the flour. Slowly fold in the flour with the egg/sugar mix using a rubber spatula. Make sure you scrape the side and bottom of the bowl and that all the flour is mixed through.
  4. Line a flat baking tray with greaseproof paper and evenly spread the mixture on the tray.
  5. Bake for about 12 minutes, until golden on top. Once cooked put the sponge on a cooling rack and leave to cool.

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Ingredient for the “ Crème au Beurre” (butter cream):

  •  4 egg whites
  • 130 ml water
  • 400 g caster sugar
  • 440 unsalted butter

Method:

  1.  Put the sugar and water in a medium size saucepan and cook to 118 degrees Celsius (244.4 F).
  2. Start whisking the white on medium speed when the sugar reaches 110 degrees Celsius (230 F). When the sugar is ready, slowly poor it over the white and whisk on high speed until cooled down (almost room temperature).
  3. Add the butter little bit a the time while whisking, make sure the meringue has cooled down enough before you add the butter, otherwise it will split and turn into a soup!
  4. Once you’ve added the butter, whisk for a couple of minutes and keep aside.

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For the sugar syrup:

  •  200 g caster sugar
  • 200 ml water
  • 30 ml rum

Method:

  1. Bring the sugar, water and rum to the boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Place the sponge on the bench. Using a pastry brush slightly wet the sponge with the sugar syrup.
  3. Using a pallet knife evenly spread the “Crème au Beurre”. Sprinkle shaved coconut and finely grated white chocolate on top. Roll the sponge on itself, make sure you roll it tightly to avoid it from collapsing later on!
  4. Cut a piece of cardboard half the width of the “Bûche”, wrap it in foil and place it under the Christmas cake.
  5. Using a pallet knife evenly spread the “Crème au Beurre” on top and around the sponge.
  6. Take the Bûche out of the fridge 30 minutes before dessert time!

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With this delicious Christmas dessert I recommend a chateau Chateau “Coutet” Sauternes-Barsac 2006 available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au